One constant theme throughout the shows is listener involvement. There are a number of “squadrons” commanded by A&J (your “squadron” is dependant on your listening time/style), a weekly feature called “Text the Nation”, and numerous other interactive options. This listener involvement recently stretched to “Live Audience Member” at Adam and Joe's Song Wars gig at the BBC's Electric Proms. Firstly an invitation was extended to engage in A&J-based karaoke (winners to perform on stage!) and secondly to enter a competition to win one of forty or so pairs of tickets. Well, I don't do karaoke, not even if I'm a little merry, but I can email for tickets, so I did. Not really expecting anything, imagine my delight when I saw a BBC Ticket email in my inbox! Let the gloating begin!
The 22nd of October dawned, and Bev and I set off early from Cheltenham. A pleasant drive across the Cotswolds was marred only by the ludicrous traffic bottleneck that is the A40 through Oxford. Eventually we emerged on to the M40 and proceeded to Hillingdon where we boarded the Metropolitan line for Kings Cross and onward to Chalk Farm. A brief stroll brought us to the Roundhouse where we picked up our tickets and joined the queue. What an eclectic bunch of people Adam and Joe fans are! Certainly, if you're going to do a show on a Thursday lunchtime having a healthy student fanbase will always help fill seats. There were also a number of A&J Facebookers who knew each other by username, and were now able to communicate with one another without a keyboard. A number of Song Wars Karaoke competitors were in the queue too. Soon, we were ushered in to a small studio and, for me certainly, the realisation of what was going to occur hit home. There were four “proper” TV cameras (two fixed, two handheld), a fairly good-sized mixing desk/directing whatnot and all sorts of production types scuttling about. This wasn't just a little sideshow, it was a proper part of the Electric Proms!
Keeping everyone amused while a few last minute adjustments were made was Adam's desktop which was being projected on to the backdrop of the stage. File titles such as “Brad and Jen's Holiday Pics”, “Begging letters from BBC 3”, “Joke Ideas for Michael Macintyre” and “Pics of Own Genitals” had the audience gently tittering. I did overhear someone whisper “Are they real files?” Hmmmm, a Literalist.
Then the lights dimmed, a voice informed us that statistically we were special, and A&J appeared to much applause. First impressions were, yikes Joe really is very tall, either that or Adam is an Ewok. They both appeared very relaxed and chatted to the audience from in front of the stage. First order of business was the Song Wars Karaoke winners so after a coin toss to decide order of play, Didds and Trish arrived to perform their close-harmony take of Adam's Nutty Room song, and very good it was too. However, personally speaking, I would have to say that Ben Mercer's version of Joe's Sontaum of Qualace song was the winner, scoring particularly highly with the East German judge (5.9).
We were then treated to Stupid Question Time (apparently an old Adam and Joe concept dusted down and brought out especially for the occasion.) Whilst we had been queuing we had been asked to jot down any stupid questions that we would like to ask and these were now about to be pulled out of their box and answered by Buckulees and Cornballs. I can't remember clearly the questions, but I remember that in answering one Joe admitted to recently buying a model of the bus he used to ride to school, to Adam's amusement/envy. Particularly entertaining was Adam's audience interaction technique, which appeared to involve being very uncomfortable if there was the possibility of any physical contact with said audience member.
Joe seemed to have no problem with physical contact, serenading Ben Mercer with Dr. Sexy, ably backed by Adam as Nurse Totties. Disturbing!
Other bits and bobs followed, including Joe showing impressive torpedo handling skills when Adam unveiled his Word doc of ideas for Saturdays show. Possibly one of the funniest sights had to be a previously unreleased video of the young A&J performing to Deee Lite with Louis Theroux. Adam does not appear to have changed in twenty years!
Highlights can be seen here.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience. The A&J dynamic was really cool to see first hand and to be honest, an hour just wasn't long enough.
Stumbling blearily in to the light of day we then set off towards Camden, briefly stopping at The Monarch for a refreshing beverage and a bowl of chips. A wander round the impressively large market followed. Bev found her spot sat in a Moroccan cafe watching the world go by. Highlight for me was a young guy with a trilby, mac and an old Olympus-type slr (probably with a film full of artistic shots of urban decay), easy there! A further peruse through a never ending selection of goth/punk/hippy shops and stalls followed. It was a refreshing change not to see your usual generic High Street but after a bit I was “too cool for schooled” right out.
Deciding it was time to head home we boarded the tube for Hillingdon, where we collected the car and set off for home. Realising that we would hit Oxford perfectly for the rush hour we swung off at Junction 5 in search of a pub. “Left or Right at the junction?”, “Left to Ibstone”. Two miles down the road Ibstone hoves in to view, and rather splendidly, there's a pub. Not just any pub, but The Fox, a really rather pleasant hostelry. Nice décor, good food, fine ale (or orange juice in Driver Ken's case), an open fire and very friendly staff meant we were particularly happy/smug with our choice.
Replete, we could now face the journey through Oxford and on towards home.
What a great day!