MJ Hibbett is not a household name. More fool us, then, because every day he toils in what it would be unkind (and inaccurate) to describe as obscurity is a day on which someone new isn't being exposed to his unique mix of comedy, social commentary and heartstring-plucking candour.

The people of Edinburgh and associated hangers-on from around the world, though, are getting the chance to see the error of their ways by going to see his new show, 'My Exciting Life in Rock', at the Edinburgh Festival. He played a preview show at the Cross Kings pub in King's Cross on July 14.

Clearly taking his inspiration for the show from Socrates, who said that the unexamined life is not worth living, Hibbett's new show is an examination of rock from the point of view of a not-quite-insider. It was born, he says by way of an introduction, “in that cradle of rock and roll ideas, Stoke Newington”, when a bloke at one of his gigs told him he should write a book. In fact, the guy told him to write the antidote to the conventional rock biography, which is pretty much what this show is (it appears to have taken the place of the book).

The show is part-comedy and part-song, taking in his one fairly famous song, of which more later, and many more besides. It starts with 'I Did a Gig in New York', a tale of exactly that: attempting to do an unlikely gig in the city over Thanksgiving, the one weekend on which all the Americans go home and no-one goes to gigs.

The whiteboard in the corner of the stage at this point turns out to have chapter headings written on it in large text, the next one of which is 'Paying Your Dues', including one disastrous show when “it would have been cheaper, after expenses, to have put the entire audience on a train to my flat. Because then the three of us could have gone for a drink.”

There's the story of how he once (again, disastrously) supported Zodiac Mindwarp, and a rendition of recent single 'Do The Indie Kid', which is a lesson on how to dance correctly to said music, and includes a lyrical aside about a French indie disco: “The French were enthusiastic, they poured the beer in pints/But they partied like it was 1959.”

Next up is 'Life on the Road', followed by 'The Hit', which in Hibbett's case was the self-proclaimed 'World's First Internet Single', a jaunty, catchy tune called 'Hey Hey 16K', which sings the praises (literally) of old-fashioned home computers. “Other people might have their own claims to having the first-ever internet single,” he says, “but they can get their own fucking show.”

More IT-related music follows, in the form of 'It Only Works Because You're Here', a truly poignant tale of love in the technical support community (“you've got my Windows to open”). A section on 'The Big Time' follows – our hero does a Radio 1 session for Steve Lamacq but forgets the words, and then 'My Drug Hell', which is less than hellish.

The show finishes with 'The Comeback' and, of course, an 'Epilogue'. That's the cue for some of the funniest stories, one involving the apposite motto “What would Bobby Gillespie do?” and another about supporting an extremely famous band with an extremely surprising cover. It goes down well tonight, but it sounds like the folk at the Cornbury music festival took it
less well.

Hibbett certainly doesn't look like a conventional rock star, and this show is in no way the conventional rock story. It's extremely funny, for a start, and the songs are top-notch. In fact, it's probably the best-value musical in town.









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