Here’s what you can expect from a Broken Switch gig
The Rolling Stones, The Who, Broken Switch.
Yep, we’ve all now played Eel Pie Island, the tiny boaty, hippie community on a small crop of land in the middle of a not particularly wide part of the River Thames in Twickenham.
The big difference, apart from the maybe 50-year gap between our gig and the Stones’ last one there is that there’s now a bridge across from the mainland. Keith and co had to push their gear over in a boat. We had to push our drum kit, full PA with giant speakers, amps, guitars, keyboard and a couple of harmonicas over a steep footbridge then along the short winding path to the venue, the Twickenham Rowing Club boathouse. But boy it’s worth it; what a fantastic crowd and amazing, historic venue.
The original and now legendary music venue, a hotel, burned down decades ago in one of those fires that never quite gets explained but usually happens to well-insured businesses that aren’t doing so well in the bank account.
We’ve played some pretty unusual gigs and this is up there with the best.
Our biennial Belles’ gig is particularly special. A couple of hundred women – ‘the belles’ - rock up at lunchtime for a gala in aid the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. After the meal and a generous helping of wine, they pay moving tributes to people affected by the disease, before dancing off the blues and the booze to a fun Broken Switch party set.
The Bacchus Marathon is another one of our regular outings. To celebrate the annual grape harvest, the impressive Denbies Vineyard in Surrey organises a marathon, half marathon and fun run through the vines and over the hills, with a series of wine and water stops along the route. We provide the entertainment at one of those. There’s nothing quite like playing on a hill overlooking some of the country’s finest scenery to 2,500 drunk runners in fancy dress on a Sunday morning in September. OK, they’re not all drunk but the party atmosphere is incredible - especially at our stop, we’re told.
Mostly we play charity fundraisers and private parties. Another regular is for party people Graham and Suzanne. The great thing about this one is they’ll request a couple of songs we’d never consider playing which we learn for the night. It’s why we now play one of the best versions of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing by a band that doesn’t have Mark Knopfler in it. Our Dave Hall’s a pretty substantial substitute though.
Our sets are packed with classics - but not hopefully the usual cliches. The Zutons’ Valerie, made famous by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse and ruined by amateur bands across the globe, is frankly as boring and overdone as Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. You won’t hear those at a Switch gig.
So what will you hear? Well, here is the set from our now (let’s call it) legendary performance on Eel Pie Island, a fundraiser in the shockingly quaint wooden boathouse on the banks of the river. We were joined on stage by local star Emma Gridley, with her voice and ease of performance that shames even Lady Gaga.
SET LIST – EEL PIE ISLAND 23/09/17
1 MAN ON THE MOON
4 RED RED WINE
5 ONE I LOVE
6 HAZY SHADE OF WINTER
7 STICK TOGETHER
9 BAD CASE OF LOVING YOU
10 I LOVE ROCK N ROLL
11 STANDING THERE
12 JUMPING JACK FLASH
13 SIT DOWN
14 TAINTED LOVE
15 MAMMA MIA
Mick and Keith would have been pleased with our version of Jumping Jack Flash. Perhaps we’ll invite them next time. (Mick and Ronnie, if you’re still living in Richmond, it’s only a few strokes of the oars down river.)
The second part stepped up the volume and tempo for a relentless and thunderous party, building up to a stonking version of the Kinks’ Victoria in honour of the amazing Victoria Lowery, who organised the event and who shares that name with one of the all-time the classic pop songs. Thanks so much for having us Vicki and everyone who helped make it such a special evening!
16 SHOULD I STAY
17 TEENAGE ICON
18 EVER FALLEN IN LOVE
19 I LOVE TO BOOGIE
20 WHAT’S UP
21 ECHO BEACH
22 KIDS IN AMERICA
23 I’M A BELIEVER
24 ROCKS OFF
25 GREASED LIGHTNING
26 TWIST & SHOUT
26 DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER
27 500 MILES
Sometimes we’ll open with a rip-roaring straight-to-the-party type of song, maybe Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones. It depends on the evening. No one dances for the first song.
On Eel Pie, we opened with REM’s Man on the Moon, which features a line about Mott the Hoople, who wrote All the Young Dudes that David Bowie later made famous, and who played on the island in 1970.
It’s a gentle tune about the nutty American actor Andy Kaufman and his infamous blurring of reality and make believe. He was the actor with the high voice in the classic sitcom Taxi who went on to become a fake (or was he genuine?) wrestler among other things. Some say he faked his death.
Someone said we should open with David Bowie’s ZIggy Stardust.
What do you think? It would be great hear what songs music fans would like to hear first and last at a gig. And any you think we should have a go at.
Until next time.