Last night I was out in Kingston enjoying a few beers with a mate. We started off in the Bishop out of Residence but quickly had to move because the shouty pub quiz started up. (Great if you’re taking part – unbearable if you aren’t.) We moved on to The Ram and had just settled down when a band started playing. But rather than quickly down our pints and find yet another pub in which to start our much-delayed conversation, we elected to stay.
After all, live music is a bit of a rarity these days. And will become rarer still thanks to ex-Culture Secretary Andy Burnham. But mostly we stayed because of the guitarist. When he played, it was if Jimi Hendrix himself had come back from the dead, wandered druggily into the pub (releasing a few parakeets on the way), and started riffing on a handily-placed guitar. When he didn’t play it was still a bit like some of those things but without the music, as he did bear a slight passing resemblance to the late axe-wielder. He sang well, too.
The rest of the band – drummer, bassist and a guy who looked like he was a customer who happened to have a harmonica on him – were competent but not competitive. In other words, they knew who had the real talent. My mate, who plays guitar, said at one point “He’s got his eyes closed in Hendrix”. Eyes closed in Hendrix? Is that some Coen brothers film? What he was remarking on was the fact that this guy was so proficient, he could play long stretches of coruscating guitar work without opening his eyes. Apparently that’s quite hard.
The crowd lapped it up. It’s a studenty pub, The Ram, and before long the crazy kids were dancing about in a drink-fuelled frenzy, all flailing limbs and tossed hair. I think it was that way round. One young lady had an unusual dance routine that even had the guitarist looking a little perplexed.
Notice how the pub helpfully leaves Sky Sports on while the band is performing.
Anyway, the guitarist’s name is Alex Anthony and he’s at The Ram every Wednesday, if you’re in the area. In fact he’s there every Wednesday even if you aren’t.