A few years ago Our Dave and Dwayne (who record as North South Divide) took me to see Francis Dunnery. I was initially put off by the fact that he was the lead singer of crap 80’s band (my words) ‘It Bites‘. Calling all the heroes was never on my turntable! As it turned out he was nothing like the bleached blonde plastic pop star I’d imagined – he was a ferocious character, brilliant guitar player and never short of something to say. He threw a woman out of the gig for smoking at the front…..you were allowed in those days, but she apparently blew the smoke up at him on purpose which he took offence to…..he’s not to be messed with!
At that gig he announced that he was taking a break from music go to the states and do a degree in Psychology (or something like that) and that’s the last I heard of him until Dwayne contacted me to say he was having Francis round to his house to do a gig. For a few years now (6 I think he said) Francis has been all over the world playing in fan’s houses. Dave and Dwayne had been to one in York some time ago and Dwayne being such a fan had asked for one at his place.
You sign up at his website and he’ll let you know. The word goes out and fans in the area can attend at the hosts discretion. There were about 20 of us in Dwayne and Margarets front room, a good mixture from die hard fans (Me: “I saw him about 3 years ago at the New Roscoe” Die hard fan “The New Roscoe, no, that was January 2003″) to those who’d never heard his stuff before, but had been told it would be a great night which it was!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the whole experience was quite wonderful. Francis has, you won’t be surprised to hear, some house rules that you have to adhear to faithfully (no alcohol allowed before or during the show, no photography, no mobile phones). A bit cheeky you might think as it’s someone elses house but they were respected and nobody had to be ejected!
The show was based around his Tall Blonde Helicopter LP. He’s one of those artists who’s done it all and his stories were wound around the tracks to tell, not only a collection of great Rock’n’Roll excess stories (being reprimanded by the Sex Pistols Steve Jones for his bad behaviour), but incorporated his philosophical (that Eckhart Tolle knows a thing or two) and Astrological beliefs (“never bullshit a Scorpio”). He was backed by singer Dorie Jackson, who admitted afterwards to being a bit rusty with this set – most people ask for the ‘It Bites show’ (!).
Francis has experienced the highs of number one singles and drinkies with Mick Jagger countered by the lows of being dropped by your label and alcoholism (he hasn’t ‘Partied’ for 19 years now, hence the no booze rule). He was very honest about the love of his hair and how shaving it all off in a fit of mild insanity, whilst in a Southern US state, wasn’t a great idea…..he was then accused of being in the clan! Whilst at an AA meeting, someone did his star chart “There’s your problem – too much Saturn and not enough moon!”
He was asked if his song ‘I believe‘ could be used by Barack Obama and ended up on his tour the week before he was voted in – “Who knows what lies ahead!”
Dwayne and Margaret were great hosts – I’ve never been to a gig so close to home before. Francis made great play out of Margarets not really being into it but putting up with us all for Dwaynes sake: “I can see her drifting off now – what are you thinking about Margaret?” “I’m thinking of when to put the sausage rolls on!”. The whole night was such a great experience that has left me not only with memories of a unique gig, but also left me thinking about the meaning of life. There’s not many gigs do that to you now are there!
Bob the Chiropodist