“The lights of the pub are shining. Though we can’t be there to hear, in spirit we’ll all be singing, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
– ‘The Lights Of The Pub’ by Dave The Keys
In normal times, if you were to head down to The Lamb on London’s Holloway Road on a Thursday evening, you’d be sure to find a certain Dave The Keys tinkling the ivories and playing popular songs at the piano. Said Dave is Mute stalwart David Baker, one half of I Start Counting, Fortran 5 and Komputer, whose prowess with the pub’s upright piano might come as a surprise given how every iteration of his pairing with Simon Leonard has been almost exclusively centred on electronic music.
Well, these aren’t normal times, and The Lamb, like so many pubs across the country, is on its knees thanks to two lockdowns and financially punitive – though necessary – restrictions. In response, Baker has recorded ‘The Lights Of The Pub’, a beautifully evocative song where all sales go toward The Lamb’s crowdfunding campaign to avoid its metaphorical last orders.
‘The Lights Of The Pub’ is the singalong around the Joanna that never was, carrying a gentle sway like the last song before closing time. The song is led by Baker’s piano, around which a softly fluctuating synth meanders, joining up with festive bells and a beat as crisp as a frosty winter morn. Here you will find a wistful nostalgia for more carefree times, deeply rooted in a sense of a London community that could permanently lose the centre of its community. Poetic reflections of Baker’s North London locale abound here; an ambulance screams down the Holloway Road; a desperate man sits outsides the Tube station; he sings of an empty train, an ironic inversion of the movement of people across the capital that he sang about in Komputer’s ‘Looking Down On London’.
“I’d been wanting to do a Christmas song for years, but never got round to it,” Baker explains. “I had an idea of doing a London version of ‘Fairytale Of New York’. It started off as ‘The Lights Of The Thames’ but it evolved into ‘The Lights Of The Pub’ when I connected it to the plight of The Lamb and many other pubs around the country. The Lamb is a lovely pub on Holloway Road in North London where I’ve been playing piano for singalongs on Thursdays for a few years now. Unfortunately, it is closed due to the current regulations so they launched a Crowdfunder which I thought I’d try and help out with.”
The Lights Of The Pub by Dave The Keys was released December 4 2020.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2020 Documentary Evidence