The build up to ‘Burn The Shard: Part One’ was full of JAMs chaos, wonder and intrigue. The title of the event was immediately divisive to the point that some people refused to be associated with it and fears of appearing on watch lists were raised. Then it was made clear that the 99 attendees would be required to break the law. However, that statement was soon retracted on the Bido Lito announcement (but we knew that the activity would be part of proceedings). This time, admission would be free to 49 pairs of ticket holders and one golden ticket winner. Application was via email and then we all eagerly awaited an announcement…
I did not receive a notification telling me that I had succeeded. Gutted!
But as numbers were so limited, I was not surprised. However, I held hope. Surely somebody would need a Plus One or maybe there would be some drop outs last minute or maybe my email was in digital customs awaiting clearance. Surely a way would be found…
Amidst all the finger crossing, it soon became evident online that some of those who had not been picked out of the hat, had become disgruntled. A Twitter account popped up shedding light on certain probabilities (or more like improbabilities) and other conspiracy theories also arose. Regardless of the outcome of the draw and how it may have been conducted, demand was far greater than supply and when such conditions are in play, disappointment will arise.
Part of ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ was a commentary on the music industry as mainly told by the tale of Badger Kull. What may have been part KLF parody of their own career was also part observation of creating a successful band. For ‘Burn The Shard: Part One’, we may have seen another reflection (and possibly inadvertently) on a differing dark side of the modern music world, and that is ticketing. Reselling of tickets is a real problem and has been so for many years. It can be sorted or at least improved but certain parties need to come on board. However, greed will succeed, sadly. For this JAMs happening, it appears that no tickets ended up financially exchanging hands but the limitation and selection method caused controversy. With just 99 attendees allowed, the choice of pairing tickets (49 pairs and one golden ticket) seemed unnecessary, restrictive and unfair. It then turned out that people involved had tickets – they really should have been exempt. It was clear that numbers needed to be small but there are ways to address that – a financial barrier could have been placed (but you have to respect and appreciate that this was made free). ‘First come, first served’ may have helped alleviate the selection doubters too. It was never going to be easy but it could have been slightly fairer…
Something, somehow happened. A little bit of magic via Liverpool, via the beautiful people of The 400, via the universe. I received a message. It was incredibly kind, considerate and touching. The words contained a generous gesture. I’m still blown away by the action of these people. They know who they are, they are beautiful, they are special – thank you so much x
I was granted the opportunity to partake as one of The 99.
23/11/17. East London. Haggerston. Get to N1 5RY. 7pm. Don’t be late.
This was cool – a secret location, small event, mystery. Reminded me of the squat rave scene.
We knew we were close, the parked Ice Kream Van had greeted us.
We convened at The Barge House on the river. A small, funky and stylish venue. Not quite as expected given the locations chosen in Liverpool – but, as it turns out, this choice of meeting point was no accident as it has sound links to the events of August. The Speaker Stack was absent (in Liverpool, we were reunited with it at each venue). I’m paired with an intriguing and interesting individual and together we are ticked off the list and ushered in. There was no wristband exchange on this occasion, instead we were stamped.
In another first brought about by Cauty and Drummond, I had been revising for the night on my journey up. It appears that many of The 400 are skilled speed readers and had devoured the 376 pages of 2023 in record times. I had already consumed the novel but I needed to freshen up. We were instructed to attend with a copy of the delightful hardback and we were also told that The Dead Perch Menace may quiz us on it. Failure to answer correctly could result in penalties. As an Englishman, I don’t like penalties. Luckily, there was no Mastermind session but my recapping would help me enjoy events…
We were informed that ‘ticket holders would be volunteers’ again – the ‘Jobs’ were back! We had been directed downstairs to collect our missions for the evening. On entering the back room, The Officiator, Oliver Senton had returned in all his suited glory but looking Gillette fresh and directing the allocation of work. This time we were given a choice of jobs. Not many are left. Not only that, we have a second job too, one that is mandatory for all. Dead Perch Posters x 99. Stricktly Fly Posting. So this was the illegal act…
There were many other roles to be played too:
Emotional First Responder
Lighter Of Daisy And The Officiator
Dead Perch PR
Pies Of Mu
Very Trusted Person – Guardian Of The Book
Hander Out Of Posters
And possibly more..
Having secured ungainful employment, we headed back upstairs and grabbed a drink. My fellow ticket holder opted for a beverage that will make an appearance again later on, whilst I went for the once in a lifetime Dead Perch Ale.
I really must read the small print on these things before glugging!
‘WARNING: May contain raw sewage courtesy of the Regents Canal. Drink with abandon.’
As we sup, we are reminded to collect either a high vis jacket or a kagool. The high vis are gone so it is time to get bright yellow as we set out on an adventure in the East Of London.
In the window entering the venue, we spot the return of the DPM Rules Of Engagement. This lot can be so strict!
Once the 99 are in and jobs have been given to all the volunteers, we are all ushered back into the downstairs room at the rear of the venue. Oliver Senton initiates proceedings by telling us that we will now be joined by the returning Daisy Eris Campbell who will be reading an extract from 2023. As Daisy is the voice of the audiobook, to get a live rendition was going to be a treat and a nice real-time advertisement for the merch that would be available later that evening.
Daisy (sporting a copy of Andy Gell’s sublime ‘Whatever‘) dips into the 2023 novel with aplomb as we discover Yoko and John debating their artistic name, are told about Tony Blair’s effect on the world, get introduced to Bill and Jimmy’s characters and discover the intent to Burn The Shard. Oliver joins in with a Norwegian accent to compliment Daisy’s Northern tones that she attributed to John. As ever, any performance featuring these two gifted stage personas is superb. The scene is set and we are ready to leave the building…
We converge outside The Barge House on the canal, 99 people in a swarm of bright yellow and fluorescent orange high-ziz. The instruction from The Officiator is simple ‘When Winnie runs past, run after her.’
After a short wait, apparently Winnie has run past. I didn’t see her but it didn’t matter. The pursuit was in action and we were off. If this was running, I was Usain Bolt. As we walked along the canal, the ‘yellow smoke’ that we had been informed would be our guide starts to appear. Gimpo is in charge of lighting the flares which have a strong fragrance (they stink).
Soon, we come to a bridge, where we stop and crowd around. Above us on the street is Oliver Senton and the Ice Kream Van is tracking along too. As Oliver begins to recite from 2023, he introduces us to a character from the book, a young man by the name of Henry Pedders. The narrative shared tells us the back story to this important character from the JAMs hardback (and now audiobook).
We soon carry on as a group, marching along by the river, making way for cyclists and trying not to fall in the canal when the yellow smoke becomes overpowering. In a sweet moment, we see Gimpo wishing his kids goodnight whilst he is trying to orchestrate events.
Soon, we are heading into the streets of East London as a pack of artistic sightseers. As we voyage, Yoko Ono (the younger) appears and fly posts a 2023 poster onto a bus stop.
After zigging and zagging a number of roads, we come to a stop outside a block of flats – Henry Pedders place, next to a bus stop and by some shops. Tangerines are handed out. I’m hoping that as per Day 2 at The Bombed Out Church that these will be used as projectiles. Alas, my mischief was not fulfilled as these were for us to snack upon. With loud speaker in one hand and kindle in the other, The Officiator continues the adventures of Henry Pedders. The tenants above us are bemused so we greet them with waving and cheers.
Daisy takes back narrative control as we are told to form a single file line and to hold on to a piece of rope. This time we are receiving extracts from the book as we move towards Dalston. The guy who has the honour of ‘lighting’ Daisy is doing a fantastic job as he runs up and down the line with the equipment in order to keep the darkness at bay. The character of Chodak joins us in Buddhist Monk costume and his mantra ‘Big Mac With Fries’ becomes the chant of The 99. As we approach the high street shops, the yellow rope is reclaimed and we are instructed to chant once again when we see The Golden Arches.
With McDonald’s in sight, there was only one thing for it… That great moment from Day 2 at The Bombed Out Church had to be recreated. We strode into the burger emporium chanting ‘Big Mac With Fries’ repeatedly and immediately filtered out in a walk-through fashion. The local kids were amused, we were constantly asked what was going on and I even heard that things got a little heated with McSecurity at one point which was sad to discover. At least we had Ronald McDonald on our side (he also features in 2023, he had not defected from his employer in Dalston McDonald’s)…
In what was one of my favourite tweets of the night, we get a view of how those not involved interpreted our actions: https://twitter.com/VincentOliver/status/933798798429708291.
Having caused confusion and comedy, we then crossed the road, entered a pub in one door, strolled across the premises and left by the other door. Silly – but really made me chuckle. Kagooled walk-throughs are so in right now.
This was no Great Pull North. There was no face painting of The 99 (except for the actors). The Ice Kream Van was road worthy and escorting us along our journey. No ragwort was scattered. Tesco were not deprived of their shopping trolleys. But this was a JAMs adventure, much of 2023 is based in these streets of East London. Walking tours of cities are now a common thing. But this evening had been stamped with the Cauty and Drummond style. They are clearly fans of participatory art. An experience made by those attending. This audience was not passive. By teaming up with the JAMs ensemble, we were experiencing the book in situ, both geographically and with its protagonists. This was a really refreshing way to release an audio book.
Our next stop was the Arcola Theatre, another landmark from 2023. Again, things got a little tricky. We were drawing interest from the locals, and now they were joining in and following our course as well as being a bit of a nuisance. How dare they be a nuisance when we were being a nuisance. Apparently, despite being expected at this location, the cops were called so our time was cut short but we did get a rendition of pidgin a la the book and other associated creative works.
We head over to our next gathering point – somewhere I have a warm association with – Gillett Square (home to the superb NTS Radio Station). The Ice Kream Van pulls up. Treats are served. Mince Pies (apparently made by Bill himself) with a shot of Jura Whiskey. The design of the cakes was rather special. Our concerned Tweeter needn’t have worried. Mince pies were not gone for long!
Here is where the pairs came into play. We were all directed to collect a 2023 poster and a bucket for each duo. The final task is imminent and potentially the most risky.
Before we move on, we gather by a wall, another scene from the novel is enacted, this time it is the meeting of Yoko and Winnie which doubles up as a lesson in how to fly post.
Equipped with vandalism tools, we carry on our route. A cyclist sees us and shouts ‘No hanky panky. No more riots please!’ Again, the outside world, without the context that we have, sees events very differently…
Soon we arrive at an area covered in grey boardings. On the lead of Winnie and Yoko, we are all to join in as part of a movement known as ‘synchronised fly posting’. And we do. We all collaborate to create art, give free promotion to the book and risk the wrath of the forces (nobody was required to run from being approached by the police after all). Personally, I love fly posters. Perhaps they are even part of my own story...
Tasks completed. Time to head back to the Barge House.
Near the canal, an idiot has started a fire by some trees. Fortunately, we happen to have buckets and several of The 99 utilise the canal to stop a disaster from happening.
Safely back inside our starting point and the Badger Kull return is imminent. Steve Badger is in the house and in full outfit. Becci James, stylist, is also in attendance. Both are oblivious to the line-up and image of this so called Badger Kull. Will this be a performance by Bill and Jimmy? Will Jarvis re-join The JAMs? Speculation is rife. All predicitions are wrong!
We are handed song sheets by Oliver and Jimmy. This time, there is no rework of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ or ‘Justified And Ancient’. This time, there are substantial lyrics. Badger Kull are due on stage at 11:00pm but arrive early – on the stairs. The look is rather different as is the genre of music. Boots, Jeans and White Sweaters with ‘Badger Kull’ sewn in. This is a radical departure. Even the Sugababes did not go this far in their re-imaginings!
As the 99 welcomed the new line-up, the band (barbershop quartet???) broke into song, paused to prepare us for a good ol’ sea shanty and then in a call and response style, ‘Burn The Shard’ was lead by the four and then the 99 joined in to complete each line. Bill was sat near me at this point and was thoroughly enjoying the rendition. Through the reincarnated Badger Kull, the parody of the music industry was furthered. So many bands are splitting up and reforming – it is almost a required part of their story now. Not only that, bands are coming back or changing line-ups to the point of ridiculousness and ridicule. Ultimately, it is about the music and in many ways you could argue that the players and the performers are secondary. In some cases that may be the case, but we all know that two people playing the same piece of music, no matter how good they may be will still result in different expressions of the soul. We should not have been overly surprised at what looks like a u-turn by Bill and Jimmy with the band. It is not the first time that they have announced one thing and then done the other.
Pete Wylie previously commented that the original Badger Kull spent more time on the stairs than on the stage. For this outing, they seem to have fully embraced that sentiment by performing their entire set (song) on the stairs!
On the reverse of the song sheet was another song, one more familiar to the following.
A little later, Ronald McDonald and Henry Pedders were in full flow leading The 99 through ‘Jerusalem’. I never thought I would be writing a sentence like that at the start of the evening.
Whilst all the sing-songs had been going on, Dead Perch Merch were back and it was time to acquire the latest product. Or was it products? As with in Liverpool, this was non-traditional retail.
Fundamentally, there are three products but all are packaged together and available as one item. Within the trio of goodies is a 7″ single (with no music, released shortly after Bill’s ‘No Music Day’), a poster and an audio book download. All the items are the same but are available in three ways:
(i) 7″ single with free poster and free audio book download
(i) Poster with free 7″ single and free audio book download
(i) Audio book download with free poster and free 7″ single
The only difference between the three is the sticker on the packaging!
A test of any collector!
Grab yours from L-13 Light Industrial Workshop now!
There were no graduation forms or signatures to collect for completing tasks on this occasion. Instead, the rubber stamps returned to be used in copies of 2023 that were compulsory for attendees to bring. It appears that three new stamps were created to reward your law breaking.
And by 23:23 things were pretty much over.
There was also a Golden Ticket Winner. It is not clear if Charlie had a special role in the event or something private just for them (much like with The Mystery Prize Winner Joe Turner on Day 2 at The Bombed Out Church). We hope to find out…
But there are some other aspects to touch upon…
This was the first major get together for members of The 400 since ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’. And that was really rather special. Friendships have formed since August, creativity has blossomed, a network of support has grown and inspiration is rife. I had the great pleasure of mingling with many of the wonderful people that I have embarked on this journey with. The 400 are now a family. The bonds are strong. There is far more to come. This is an exciting time. And whilst talking to Daisy, she really summed it up perfectly, ‘Something happened in Liverpool!’
Was this event as good as ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’? Possibly not – if you want to measure things in that way. Realistically, the Liverpool event was a true one-off that will be looked back upon as significant, magical and important. But, ‘Burn The Shard: Part One’ was special. It was a continuation of what was created earlier in the year. It had elements of the former event but was its own entity. In some ways this one was more lighthearted – especially if you look at the jobs. Many probably weren’t even called upon or actually required much action. And also, making ticket holders into volunteers didn’t have quite the same impact of statement when the event was free. However, the ability of The JAMs to take a narrative from their novel and turn it into a ‘walking tour of 2023’s London’ that included performance, book readings, audience participation, fly posting, reforming Badger Kull, book stamping and selling new merch – all in under five hours, is a real achievement. Cauty and Drummond have totally revitalised how to launch a book. If you are lucky, you normally get a reading and a Q&A with the author. This was SO much more than what most authors are doing to launch their products. This was SO much more fun and interesting than what their peers are doing. This was not an occasion that you forget about in a day or two. Much like The Dark Ages, it has an impact on you that you carry forward with you. This event also showed us that The JAMs return is not just a flash in the pan. The boys looked relaxed and happy and appear to be really enjoying their current activities. Whilst they are putting on extravaganzas of this stature and pushing the boundaries, we will all be hungry for more.
This was just Part One. Who knows what is in store for Part Two. If I overheard correctly from Jimmy, then the sequel is in 2018. It may possibly be The Toxteth Day Of The Dead but don’t quote me on that as I was not party to the full conversation. Perhaps an open top bus tour of destinations where ‘Grapefruit Are Not The Only Bombs’ were delivered to is in the pipeline as well…
Tonight I was a tourist in my own city. A sightseer on roads often trodden. This seems strange to me. But that is the power of The JAMs – they can transform us. We saw this back in August as we became alter egos. A new world was created for us and we ventured into it. We were lead visibly by Oliver and Daisy yet again, but behind the scenes (or in the Ice Kream Van) were the architects pulling the strings. This was theatre, the stage was the familiar territory of East London but the costumes changed the scene. Again, we did things we would not normally do in any other situation. Mu Mu manipulation was in full force. But it was glorious, surrounded by the like minded and a celebration of creative culture. Thank you The JAMs. We need more of this.
One lovely tribute was spotted at The Barge House behind the bar. Simon Cauty, (brother of Jimmy) who passed away earlier in the year, was paid homage in fine style.
As we look forward to more from Cauty and Drummond, here is a sneak peek into the planning that went into the night.
And as intimidating as the Dead Perch Menace sound, you know everything will be okay when they close their rules of engagement to you with:
‘We hope you enjoy Burn The Shard and have a safe trip home’
Telephone Box Photo courtesy of D. Hopkinson
Ice Kream Van Photo courtesy of K. Woods
Burn The Shard Check-in Photo courtesy of L-13 Light Industrial Workshop
Stamp Photo courtesy of A. Bailey
Dead Perch Posters x 99 Photo courtesy of D. Hopkinson
Dead Perch Ale Photos courtesy of A. Cartwright
DPM Rules Of Engagement Photo courtesy of Mary E Epworth
Daisy Eris Campbell Photos courtesy of A. Cartwright
Bus Stop Fly Post Photo courtesy of K. Woods
Ronald McDonald Photo courtesy of H. Jupiter
MU Pies Photo courtesy of A. Nathaniel Standen
Bucket Photo & Yoko and Winnie Photos courtesy of Mary E Epworth
Synchronised Fly Posting Photos courtesy of Mary E Epworth
Badger Kull Lyric Sheet Photo courtesy of D. Hopkinson
Jerusalem Lyric Sheet Photo courtesy of D. Hopkinson
Book Stamps Photo courtesy of A. Bailey
Riot Shield Photos courtesy of A. Cartwright
Timings Photo courtesy of D. Hopkinson