Sunday, 3 September 2017

Professor Elemental takes Trowbridge!

 On Friday night, Professor Elemental actually did a gig in Trowbridge!

Why the excitement? Well, Trowbridge isn't a place where lots happens. I like living here, but despite being the county town of Wiltshire, it often gets overlooked, I always feel because it's very working class. When the council gave up the old Victorian Town Hall there was a fear it'd be turned into flats, but it's become an arts centre for the people. I actually make monthly donations to Town Hall Arts; I feel very strongly that the arts should be for everyone, not just the privileged, and not just people of school age. (My monthly donation is a tenner; it might just keep the place in loo roll, but every little helps.) The Town Hall hosts tea dances and free art exhibitions, theatrical performances and much more. It really does do stuff for most sections of the community. Sheer Music is a Wiltshire music promoter doing more in Trowbridge, and they brought the Prof to town. A venue I support hosting an artist I admire? That was Friday night sorted.


I hadn't expected a support act, but local 'agricultural hip-hop' artist Corky was on first. He had a tough job in one way; a gentleman and his friends came along to celebrate his 40th birthday, which meant a good chunk of the audience were distracted during Corky's set, but he held the stage. He kicked off with his 'unofficial anthem of the West Country Nation', Ginster's Paradise, and carried on in good form from there.
It's easy for an act playing on regional stereotypes to pander to them, especially when those stereotypes are that country folk are thick, but there was a real wit and strong political undertone to Corky's songs – a real awareness of rural poverty and pressures. That said, the one that had Mr Robot in fits of giggles was Corky's cover of Goldie Lookin' Chain's 'Your Missus Is A Nutter'.

After an interval, and cider, the Prof took the stage. Before the gig, Mr Robot had worried that the venue would be too small, or the crowd not what he was used to. However, Corky had got everyone's spirits up beautifully, and Professor Elemental bounced up and on to what used to be the Magistrate's bench. Most of the songs were off his recent album Professor Elemental and his Amazing Friends, so were new to Mr Robot. That said, I think they were new to a lot of the audience. Whereas in the past I've seen Professor Elemental at Steampunk events, on Friday the number of people dressed steampunk numbered in the single digits (I don't know how many might have been steampunk-adjacent, like myself). This was more of an arts centre crowd, and it was great to hear the Prof talking about the importance of arts, and creativity, which is as I've mentioned something I believe in. He even got one member of the audience rapping at one point, and you could see the lad felt a little out of his depth, but Professor Elemental encouraged him, and we all gave him a massive round of applause at the end.
This felt like a very different gig from Professor Elemental than the ones I've been to in the past, perhaps because he didn't have so much weight of audience expectation, and had a small crowd who were loving every moment. It felt really joyous.

All in all, it was a fantastic night. I look forward to seeing what other acts Sheer Music bring to Trowbridge, and to going to the Town Hall more.

9 comments :

  1. I have no idea whom Prof,. Elemental is but if Mim says he's good I'll start listening to him!

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    1. Chap-hop - rap in a posh English accent, subjects usually whimsical/steampunky. His diss song about Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, 'Fighting Trousers' is a good starting point.

      To be honest, I just like him as an artist. He collaborates with people on books, comics, radio plays and more, and generally encourages other people to explore their creativity and talents. He's one of those people who seems to bring something positive to people around them.

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  2. That sounds like a fun night, Mim, and you were supporting a local venue and promotions company. You can have ten brownie points!

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    1. Heh, as long as the centre is able to stay open, that's brownie points enough. Everybody should have nice things, even my ordinary little town.

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  3. It was a really good night. I was there as one of the birthday celebratees and it was my introduction to the arts centre, Corky and The Prof! Loved it and am glad to have been invited by the Birthday boy.

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    1. It's great to hear you had a good time. Rob did very well at helping out on 'Fighting Trousers'.

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  4. I love the Prof and that you donate to the arts fund on a monthly basis. So many people think art is elitist which is utter rubbish, art is for all.
    We've been told that The Village Pump Festival in Trowbridge is coming back next year and that it's one of the best festies around. xxx

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    1. Yeah, though it's moved from Trow to Westbury in recent years, so I'm not 100% sure where it will be next year. The local press reckons it's back at the Stowford site (basically, Farleigh Hungerford, which is a really chocolate-boxy little place with a ruined castle). It's still run as an indie, it's not one of those mega-festivals run by big corporations, which I'm sure helps, though I'm really not into folk music so I've never been.

      I think all people deserve nice things, and being able to express creativity is really important for people's health and happiness. Working-class people can be creators as well as consumers. We don't just exist to buy what more privileged people sell us.

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  5. Good to hear that the old town hall has been saved and turned into an arts centre, and I applaud you for supporting the project. I'm afraid I don't know Professor Elemental, but I somehow like the sound of the "agricultural hip-hop" of his support act! xxx

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