25 Feb 2012
Everyone occasionally has a bad day at the office. You missed your alarm or the bus, there's no milk for your coffee, the meeting you rushed in for is cancelled.
Stephen Cummings is having a bad day at the office. Except it's night time and the office is the Idolize. He thanks us for coming to his "..annual trip to
Inevitably somebody yells out Boys What Did The Detectives Say, The Sports breakthrough single from 1978. Cummings bangs through a terrific version of it with great confidence. She Set Fire To The House from the Lovetown album also has some problems. A couple of times he uses a machine that makes a rhythmic thud track to play along with, but he seems unhappy with it and has trouble making it do what he wants it to do. At one point he says "I'm going to sit up here til I get one of these songs fucking right!".
He debuts two songs off the forthcoming new album Reverse Psychology and both of them (Stupidity and All Day) demonstrate he still has the goods as a singer/songwriter. By now it's 11 o'clock and I am hyper aware that these Fringe venues in the Garden have pretty tight turn around times and shows that are queued up back to back. But he starts playing Strangers on a Train, another great Sports classic, so I'm not complaining. This too is a victim of the thud box, and half way through he aborts it and starts over with just the guitar. I'm becoming aware that the Idolize staff are now trying to get his attention, sending people down front to try and catch him between songs. There's a flashlight from the back of the room and at one point they turn the house lights up. However Stephen is concentrating and misses all of these hints that it might be time to wrap things up. The audience is mostly unaware of this because he is playing Sports classics like Suspicious Minds, and an aborted How Come. When that one crashes into a heap someone down front says "Okay Stephen one more Who Listens to the Radio", and he happily complies.
It was a far from perfect gig, but everybody is entitled to a bad day at the office. I hope we see you again next year Mr Cummings.