I Know, It’s Strictly Rock n Roll And I Like It…
The call came in on at half past eight on Thursday evening and the band were reformed, reassembled, rehearsed and on stage for the same time the following Wednesday. Such is the redemptive powers of rock n rock. Yes, that and the prospect of getting your face on the biggest show on television, the BBC’s juggernaut TV show, Strictly Come Dancing.
Connecting the dots between STENCIL and the prime-time Saturday night ratings-strafing dance contest is MD Andy Afford’s relationship with one of the show’s greenhorn contestant, former cricketer Graeme Swann.
The pair formed rock band Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations a decade ago as ’something to do in the winter’.It was at a time when Swann was a battling county cricketer, playing with Northamptonshire. And Afford was editor at a newsstand sports title. “Graeme contributed a very funny diary-style column for me, which was hugely popular with readers,” adds the guitar-windmilling creative agency boss “Swanny ended up moving to Nottinghamshire where our shared enthusiasm for music saw us form the band. Almost instantly – and the rest of the band think it was simply because of the magic of rock n roll and not Swann’s abilities as a cricketer – that he was picked for England. And that was pretty much it. So, from there on, and even though we didn’t see so much of him, we did end up playing some great shows when he was available, including accompanying Keane frontman, Tom Chaplin at what was the old 100 Club on Wardour Street in London. That was a mega-high.”
“We finally parked the band in August 2017 after ten great years. With the final gig – or so we thought – being my daughter’s wedding last summer, which was simply magical. But as every good rock band on ‘creative hiatus’ always very wisely say, ’never say never’…”
And so it proved. The recording of the show saw a mix of performance and interviews, all happening in STENCIL’s local pub, the Fox and Grapes in Sneinton Market. An audience was quietly assembled comprising of friends, family and local creative types, all ‘in on the secret’ of what was happening down in Nottingham NG1 1DU.
The band, complete with superstar backing vocalists Paula and Nya, plus the addition of keyboards from ‘band friend’ Glenn, the now nine-piece ‘Flying Dr’ grinned, twanged and sang its way through versions of Primal Scream’s Rocks, James’ tup-thumper Sit Down and the oddity that is Oasis’ poorly spelled b-side and Swanny favourite Round Are Way. Before the show feature’s centrepiece, a rendition of soul classic Try A Little Tenderness. This RnB standard, performed by the late great Otis Redding being a particular favourite of Swann’s dance partner on Strictly, Oti Mabuse.
A couple of run-throughs of the song, a version of which the pair will dance to on Saturday night, and that was a wrap. All done for ten o’clock. On a school night. With not even the neighbours complaining.
With a predicted TV audience of 17 million on Saturday night, what more can be said about the restorative powers of rock n roll? Let me tell you what… nothing at all x
We also supported Graeme during his Testimonial Year, producing his genre-busting Magazine.