The Princes Are Coming!

© Grace Gelder

Princes In The Tower – the Tudor Power Trio comprising Antony Elvin, Will Summers and Michael Tyack – are making a rare appearance in the North West in September.

The band, who are set to appear at the Port Elliot Festival later this month alongside Hot Brew and The Ralfe Band, are to take part in a very special celebration in Salford to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the ground-breaking Bridgewater Canal.

The event promises to be a  ‘green’ family friendly free music event in the city’s Monton district, with live folk music and traditional crafts.  It takes place on September 10th, and naturally – as TVO has connections to Salford itself, we’re aiming to be there to cover the band’s appearance.

We’ll provide you with more details as soon as we’ve got them, and you can find out more abut the band (and hear samples of their work) over on their newly improved Facebook page now.

In the meantime, the fabulous Mr Elvin has sent us his own summary of a recent Princes In The Tower gig in Paignton, Devon back in May… and it’s a lyrical treat to savour, which really helps give you a flavour of what to expect from their unique live experience. Click to read more to, you know…

© Edward Lloyd

I was in  a bit of a  Wizz-Bit craziness the night of the Hot Brew gig at The Albany.

I had come back, sleep-deprived, from a  Princes In The Tower gig in Paignton Devon that morn, which was a grower not a shower., and had very little sleep before costumes and tid bids had to be assembled and scripts run through.

The drive, a familiar one past Stonehenge, pig farms and the wonderfully sixties Newcott Chef service station on the A303. The Liver And Onions was mouth-watering and melt-in-the-mouthy . William Summers, our woodwyndyst, ate vegetarian sandwiches in the car-park looking out across the Blackdown Hills towards the mysterious Rosemary Lane, but joined Michael Tyack and I for a tea at sarnie’s end.

We arrived at Paignton with hours to kill and we went cavorting along the west side of the bay to the headland, whereupon a monstrous seventies block of flats sits like an alien’s forgotten pic-nic hamper.

Arriving at the venue – Spinning Wheel – a one-hour drum soundcheck , that would have done justice to the voluminous dimensions of a quarry or cricket stadium rather than the pub it was, was in progress.

The din was cochlea-stiffening and so we went and sat on the scrubby esplanade opposite the venue and rehearsed.

We were called back in after another hour and the wonderful soundman, who had a Channel Islands smart/casualness about him, checked our sound meticulously. (Later he was to prove responsive and attentive throughout our performance at eventide, and made us sound mighty fine!)

© Grace Gelder

Some women with chins like pelicans’ crops joked to each-other about our clothes. With perfect timing my fencing shirt button popped and the more garrulous of the birds shouted ‘Ooh, I ‘ope the rest pop open later, luv! He he he!’

I made good my escape and one of them pinched my bottom with a tattooed thumb and forefinger as I climbed on to the stage.

I clenched my buttocks like warm tripe about a walnut and found my Anglicised African drum, that I call ‘Dingaka’ – Masai for ‘healer,’ awaiting me reassuringly on the stage.

Soundcheck over, we were whisked off to the wonderful sixties-built café -‘Shoreline’ – for a sterling fish and chips treat. This wonderfully brutalist cathedral to cod has a full view of the bay. We found seats on the terrace overlooking the sea. We were warned about seagull attacks by waitress and poster and sure enough, no sooner had I squirted tartare sauce onto Michael’s crotch (some of it hitting my cod), than a squadron of the things were upon us. By the way, the waitresses do not take part in seagull attacks.

Back at the venue the audience were sniggering awkwardly as we readied our fingers and throats.

‘Here are some English songs to herald the Maytime and grease the summer’, we cried.

The hour-long set boasted ‘Sumer is Icumen In, ‘Three Poor Mariners’, ‘Lady Winkfield’s Round’, ‘Stingo,’ Henry Purcell’s ‘Cakes and Ale,’ ‘Blow thy Horn Hunter’, John Dowland’s ‘Flow My tears ‘, ‘Give Me My Yellow Hose Again’, Henry The Tude’s ‘Pastime With Good Companye’ and many other nonny gems.

During a pause in the music , when Michael had to move from Cittern to Lute and make some technical adjustments, William gave a beautifully elucidatory demonstration of his goodly arsenal of woodwynd instruments; comprising three sizes of crum horn, a sliver flute and a wooden renaissance flute, five or six recorders and Rauschfeiffer. Then he and I performed a ‘Bow-off’.

Now, a ‘Bow Off’ is a beautiful thing. The two bowees stand facing one-another. They then touch their respective breasts and begin to bow at each other in an attempt to out-do the bow of the opponent. The only contact is eye-contact which must be maintained without laughter, for the ‘Bow Off’ is a serious martial art.

The audience were amusedly bemused but luckily Michael had readied his lute and we were off again.

The venue was full of transclucent men who looked like raw gollies! You know, those baby birds that fall out of trees unformed. These raddled Devonians were cocks-o’-the-walk in their day but now are all see-through with bottle blonde Rod Stewart hair and wire-brushed skin and a yellow finger in which they grip  a Richmond fag  and a ceramic thumb that takes them back to a Torquay United game in ’82 after which they were cornered by Birmingham City roughs and made to swallow Special Billy’s piss in a car park. One of them even had an egg tooth!

We won them over and, at ditties’ end, they screamed for more like sherbert-tickled schoolgirls right after their first Dib Dab.

‘ Who are you, anyway – Fuckin’ Pirates of The Carribbean? Nah, only jokin’. Good on yer matey!’

© Edward Lloyd

There were many interesting people to meet after the show. Tale of woe followed tale of woe. It seems many had fled family misery in their teens and ’ran away to Paignton. You can keep yer London. Went there once -hated it! The tube train’s like an enema!’’

The town almost denies the ocean, with its sunken scrubby lawns, that buffer the moody townsfolk from the gaily bibbity-bobbity sea.

The grass verges on the traffic roundabot as you approach the town, shaved into the proud announcement ‘The English Riviera,’ might equally read, ‘Welcome to Torbay, please ignore the sea. – it is vain’

There were a lot of compliments after the set. The audience, used as it was to cover-version bands, seemed happily surprised by our performance and sartorial attention-to-detail.

My ruby crushed velvet doublet was stroked and prodded by ebullient youths who could not tell their mates that they were gay but probaby freely snogged them on pills at the Big Chill…….perhaps.

Phew, what a night it was! Michael and I screamed as I drove Rosita (the van) at a conservatively jaunty pace up the hotelly hill to escape a disolving moon of our undoing, that sherberted our spines as it died over the niggardly Torbay of childhood English Riviera cream-of-tomato-soup-and-a-bun dreams.

Will reassured us not one grain; ‘Yes, he’s a relative of mine and he was just trying to be helpful by offering us a room in his hilltop Torquay  mansion. And i know he looks like he’s 90 but he really is 50!’ Mister Tyack and I, like the silly, ungrateful little 16th Century bell-ends that we are, wheezed with laughter as the van folded the faded seaside splendid town behind it; ‘No! No! He wasn’t 50! No-o-o-o-o! Aieeee!!’

Blessed by our re-union with the Vein of Safe Return (the A303)  from which we were spat onto this beach of fools, we sighed with relief and celebrated with poisonous coffee bought from a plastic Bengali vending man at a petrol station. I gaily faced the caffeine-gnashing teeth of white lines and tunnel vision and occasional dips in driver conciousness as Michael’s cold finger bones forced the thermostat up its ladder. The hefty Citroen swerved ev’ry so once in an occasion but soon closed the gap between the fading village beaus of Devon and our cots in the hessian chambers of our distance-splattered various boroughs of The London.

The people of Paignton were by now lovingly enfolded in the arms of Alcoholeus and muscling in on the fatty dregs at the bar, then vomitting in nervous, disappointed spasms onto the limpet print of last weeks half-digested tribute.

Another one under our belts!

Princes In The Tower perform at the Port Elliot Festival on July 25th, and Escape From The City in Salford on September 10th.

2 Comments on The Princes Are Coming!

  1. Utter genius!


  2. Finally a hefty serving of the Elvin gift of gab! More, she cried.


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