Portobello Gala 10th Aug 22

Mike, Pop & Mags wait in anticipation of the best seats being snapped up by the lucky few.

Under ( Blue) Portobello Skies – Wakeylele at Manygates 10th August 2022

by Phil Barr. Videos John Sargent, Photos Jane Barr

Paul Simon was at the heart of the film Under African Skies and though the scene greeting us as we arrived alongside Manygates Park couldn’t quite replicate images of savannah and exotic wildlife, the cloudless blue skies and heat emanating from the sun made it seem possible –   and the tabby cat that emerged from a bush did have the look of a lion about it.

Back in the real world the band gathered under the welcome shade of a tree to one side of an open tent where The Sing Along Singers were performing including Maria who had been given special licence to appear for a rival group.

Time to chill before the start (John in camouflage outfit watchful for possible sightings of Lionesses)

Meanwhile Roy was doing his best to distract the audience from appreciating the harmonies of the Sing Along Choir, in their rendition of Wagon Wheel, by erecting our Wakeylele Banner inches from the singers ( see below). His request for a mallet to secure the banner was fortunately ignored.  

ROY…..”Have any of you ladies got a mallet?”

Knowing we were on a tight schedule the band were ready to move in swiftly and once the signal was given by a vivacious lady dressed in a Victorian bathing suit we were soon ready to go with our well rehearsed first set. During this time slot David rightly paid tribute to Judith Durham (who sadly died this week) prior to performing  A World of Our Own where Sue , Lynn, Beryl, Pippa, Carol, Mags and Maria  came into Their Own.

Another success was Bad Moon Rising which was belted out with a stomping rhythm as the temperature rose another notch.

It was at this point that David noticed that time was at a premium and that some potentially unpopular editing was needed. As Mike puckered his lips in readiness to display his skills with the whistle for Chattanooga and Sue led the push for a debut stage performance of Come Up and See Me, David had to adopt a Brian Clough style management approach along the lines of  “I’ m very happy to listen  to other people’s opinions before deciding I was right.” And so, unseemly scuffles narrowly avoided, we merrily continued with Enjoy Yourself and then raced to the interval with Green Door and Honolulu Baby.

There followed a pleasant lunch interlude where there was a chance to cool off in the Manygates Centre with refreshments on hand, or to wander round the stalls and watch children tackling the climbing wall – a vibrant and colourful scene on a hot but not oppressive summer’s day and definitely helped by a cooling breeze in the shade. Indeed, those brave souls who sat out in the searing heat to watch the performances were in serious danger of  sunstroke and when the impressive Freddie Mercury tribute appeared “Another One Bites the Dust” had to be the signature tune of the day.

 …And so as the warm up act concluded( ah-em), we were ready to resume  and the swelling audience ( puffy feet) were treated to a string of favourites with the band in confident form playing to the top of their game as the summer break fast approached – in fact so fast that another crisis loomed – whether to finish with the Old Time Medley or to also squeeze in YMCA.  David attempted to test the water but even he was wilting under the group  indecision so we did it anyway and so rounded off the summer season. 

   It was Lynn who first drew our attention to today’s event  so many thanks to her for her efforts and to the organisers and volunteers  who all did a great job in putting on such a show for the local community. The efficiency of the helpers was nicely summed up when a volunteer litter picker moved in swiftly to remove John’s coffee carton when he had just put it down by a tree to cool!

It is already obvious from the individual messages of support how much we appreciate David’s input and that as well as making for enjoyable practice sessions and gigs there is a proper sense of progress which is very satisfying. No resting on your laurels mind you as we have already been reminded – an hour of ukulele practice a day (and an apple) keeps the doctor away.

 Until September…..


4 Comments on “Portobello Gala 10th Aug 22

  1. I only requested 6 seats most said they would bring their own , sorry if more were required but did request refreshments for 20 . I hope that was adequate lol

  2. Another great report Phil perfectly capturing the whole occasion and conditions. With the Mercury in ascendency, on reflection, the entire episode could, I think, be well documented using titles of certain Queen songs.
    “Under Pressure” (supposed time constraints from the beginning )
    “Time Waits for No-One”/ “The Show Must Go On” (to get ready for Freddy)
    “Killer Tine” (sorry! abridged first set)
    “I Want To Break Free”/“Save Me” (escape to lunch away from the heat)
    “Barcelona” (temperatures)
    “We Will Rock You” ( pledge to audience?)
    “A Kind of Magic” (playing hardly suffered despite conditions)
    Truly folks, in times like this it’s hard not to feel “These Are the Days of Our Lives”. It’s difficult too not to think that on occasions like this “We Are the Champions” at having a good time, making and enjoying music together.
    Sincere thanks to everyone involved …”Another One Bites the Dust”
    P.S. “You’re My Best Friends”

  3. An important addition to the credits – Linda Sargent – who, as our group already knows, contributes in many different ways to our successes – worked very hard to bring about our appearance at the Gala and was indeed THE main player in making it happen with Richard once again on hand to help with the dreaded risk assessment forms!

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