Sadly I don’t believe in magic, but I reckon that the relatively high concentration of Glastonbury folk who do have somehow created an environment that lends a unique character to the town, one that apparently bestows magical qualities on the gigs that I attend there.
So it was on Saturday when my friend Dean and I went along to see the aptly named Magic Bus performing at The King Arthur pub. Our intention was to get there at about midday, walk around Cheddar Gorge and then return for refreshments and the band. Sadly the wind and rain made for treacherous and heavy going in the gorge (the cheese had turned to something that looked suspiciously like mud!) so we cut short our walk there and went for a quick, windy rain-lashed jaunt up the tor instead.
Our spirits somewhat dampened we made our way down to the town from our parking spot and sat down in the The King Arthur to have a drink and a natter while waiting for the band to arrive. Fortunately it didn’t take too much of that to restore our faith in Glastonbury gigs, and by the time Magic Bus took the stage we were right up for it having set the world to rights and laughed out loud at the delightful shenanigans going on all around us.
I’ve somehow managed to miss Magic Bus on two prior occasions, so it was great to finally catch their energetic and enthusiastic blend of psych, folk and rock, delivered over two sets and a couple of encores. There was a tight, practiced precision to the performance that reminded me of Gong, Caravan and even Steely Dan in places, although in saying that I’d like to stress that there’s more to Magic Bus than tributes or homages; they are doubtless proud of their influences, but weave them very subtly into their joyful, contemporary sound. I had to sit out the first set for technical reasons I will not divulge here, but was able to join the happy throng of dancers for the second one and encores.
While the band took centre stage the audience definitely contributed to the entertainment too, whether it was the young guy who played and won a game of chess during the first set, then proceeded to get his considerably funky groove on for the second one, or the young lady who arrived after the show had started, cast off her winter coat and got stuck in to a lovely, energetic dance that lasted the entire show, or the casually dressed fellow who danced throughout, and to whom I owe an apology for the appalling photograph I took of him and Connor at the end!
We managed to grab various members of the band at different points of the evening in order to buy merch or simply thank them for their efforts, and they all seemed like a really lovely bunch. I gather that they tend to play the South West of England, and if the opportunity comes your way I’d strongly advise you to seize it wherever you find it with both feet, preferably with your dancing shoes on!
Finally a plug for the venue: this is the second gig that I have attended there* and I really can’t recommend it enough, or indeed wait to return there in May for Cary Grace’s show, which promises to be amazing, not least because Steffe Sharpstrings will be playing in her band. It’s got a nice range of beers, decent whisky and interesting clientele. The sound was terrifc, loud and clear without necessitating earplugs, and the performance area was just about right as far as small venues go, although it was better without the tables last time around in my opinion… less cluttered.
* the first being Sentient