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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Soho Hobo puts on the best little show in London - if you can find him

They say that even when you're starting out you've got to behave as if you're playing Wembley stadium.

That's what Tim Arnold, who performs under the name of The Soho Hobo, was doing last night in front of a hundred people in an Islington pub at our latest Word In Your Ear show. He's made a record which is all about Soho - its history, vice, glamour, deprivation and gents tailoring - and he's still looking for a record company to put it out.

Meanwhile he performs intermittently but with a professionalism and determination to entertain most performers don't achieve until they're on a headline tour in support of their third album. He fronts a band who look like members of the team who pulled off the Italian Job - apart from saxophonist Kit Mlynar, who dresses like a lady accustomed to men drinking from her shoe.

He has his own MC, Jud Charlton, and brings on famous guest singers including Gary Kemp and Jessie Wallace. (Phil Daniels would have been there, but he was recovering from playing Coachella with Blur.) For one song, The Windmill Girls, which is dedicated to his mother who worked as a showgirl, he's accompanied by Miss Giddy Heights, a fan dancer, who finishes the song with one of the stationary nudes that were The Windmill's trademark. He finishes the act with a headstand that lasts fully thirty seconds.

The music comes from that place in British pop which has one foot in the theatre. He made me think of Ian Dury, the Divine Comedy, even Deaf School. I asked him when his next show was. He said he didn't know. Amazing.