The saga continues…
From Stoke-on-Trent (and the correct hotel) we sprang into action like the collective pack of coiled vipers that we are and stumbled down towards Blackpool . About half an hour after leaving the hotel, Associate Professor Stump became most unexpectedly animated when he realised that he may have left his shirt behind. The ever-calm Doogie took charge and phoned the hotel.
“Hellooo. We are the hairy people that just left, yes..the ones with unusual hair colouring for gentlemen of our ages, and we appear to have left a shirt behind. It’s a black satiny blousy thing…he’s American you know.”
As it transpired, the professor was being absent minded, and he had actually packed the offending ‘blouse’ so catastrophe was averted. Otherwise, it was a cozy and uneventful little drive to the show at the Waterloo venue. Now, this place is just something else. It was rescued from dereliction by a fine group of men who poured every ounce of effort into creating a truly spectacular venue. Complete with Lemmy’s Bar and some fantastic mementos from the Mighty Head, the place just oozes rock and roll from every pore. Owner Ian and the entire staff and crew were awesome and we were camped out in the room upstairs, which was über handy for us.
Doogie had earlier floated the idea of departing the Stoke hotel at stupid o’clock in the morning so that we could reach the town earlier and all troop up Blackpool Tower during the day. The unprintable response from everyone, which almost certainly involved anatomically impossible suggestions, failed to ruffle our imperturbable lead singer, though he issued the empty threat of a prolonged and vigorous sulk. Fortunately, we know he is just not that guy, so justice prevailed; departure had been at a reasonable hour, and no tower for Doogie.
Before things got going I was fortunate to see Scott (I.C.O.N. guitar) and his much nicer wife Caroline, whom I have not seen for some years. ‘Twas great to meet up 🙂
By the time the show rolled around there was a good crowd and tons of good vibes floating everywhere. As we have been alternating with Girlschool, we opened the show and it was an absolute belter. Loved it. The whole band played well and Doogie ended up doing a large part of the encore without his mic as the audience sang along. Proper goosebumpiness (is that a word?) Anyway, all too soon it was over and then Girlschool staged their four-woman blitzkrieg and reduced everybody to rubble. Superb.
A reasonably early night was unfortunately required as the next day was a six-hour drive to Swansea and my trusty (and talkative) GPS took us by way of the Welsh countryside to enjoy the views and indulge Jimmy’s peculiar habit of photographing sheep. Now…I’m a fairly liberal-minded guy, but, although he swears that the photos are for his wife in Chicago who loves all animals and is particularly enamoured of our woolly friends, I remain vigilant and will keep an eye on our little keyboard deviant.
For about thirty miles we encountered a peculiar creature that must have been one of those rare Welsh tortoises that I heard about. This particular species was crouched behind the wheel of his micro white VW and threatening the very existence of the time continuum as he appeared determined to actually move in reverse with the speed at which he travelled. With many twists and turns of the road, as well as oncoming traffic and the periodic disruption of the crazed Jimmy yelling ‘Look! Sheep!” (not exactly a rare event in Wales), I was unable to overtake the tortoise who, when faced with 500 yards of straight road actually accelerated to what must have been at least a double figure velocity! By the white hairs of Hermes’ beard, would this purgatory never end?! It was indeed a challenging drive, alleviated at least by travelling through some quaint, picturesque and, dare I say it, old-fashioned Welsh villages and pondering out loud what would happen if we simply deposited Joe Stump and his unnaturally hairy chest amongst them and observed the results in our finest David Attenborough narration. Alas, we had no opportunity to attempt such an experiment. Instead Joe sat up front and instructed me in the fine art of mixing cocktails.
Eventually our tortoise took a left turn, opposed to our right one, and we were able to speed up events, reaching Llanelli and the Travelodge in time to drop bags and move on to Swansea and the gig at Hangar 18. Nice venue, still a work in progress upstairs in the dressing room. Sadly it was up several flights of stairs, but before long we were set up and soundman Pete began wiring it all up. On the floor above, the dressing room was still being finished off and there was a brand new toilet which had been cemented into the floor that very day. This, of course, did not dissuade our esteemed manager Mister Lavery from perching on said porcelain and tipping it over. Marvellous. On a band destruction scale it is only baby steps towards the Keith Moon Rolls Royce in the swimming pool, but Mister Lavery at least gets a D+ for inventiveness.
So, the gig came around and went pretty well. It seemed a little quiet on stage to be honest, but there was much activity at the merch table afterwards, so you never can tell what is going on. All in all, a good show.
The unparalleled joy of a six hour drive began at 9.30 the next morning, and we ignored my blabbermouth GPS and stuck to the tortoise-free motorways. The next show was Grimsby and the fine Yardbirds club run by the Warlocks MC. I’ve played there many times over the years and the guys are always very cool, especially Robbo that books the bands. During lockdown they completely revamped the place and it’s now much bigger with a huge stage, PA and lights. A superb job they’ve done on it. Though it was raining and cold…no actually, make that COLD!…outside, we were in and set up in no time, ready to rumble. We were on first and hit the stage running. Sadly, my drums and associated equipment had other ideas.
First song: snare mic falls off. Okay, no problem. Lands on snare, but Danny to the rescue. Cool.
Second song: tom mic falls off. Okay, can deal with this. Avoid tom. Fix after song. Cool.
Seventh song: bass drum splits. Really? I mean, REALLY? Bollocks!
Fortunately, it was during Joe’s guitar intro so I leapt out from behind the kit and ran across the stage to the dressing room which no doubt puzzled the collected Girlschool people as I burst in, ransacked my gear bag, and scrambled out again. I always carry an Aquarian patch – heavy duty adhesive beast —so while Joe extended his solo (you never need to ask him twice…he must be paid by the note 😉 ) I slapped the patch on and we were once more ready to rumble. The patch worked a treat for the rest of the night. Other than that, the gig was grand. A good crowd, pizza backstage, only half an hour later to the hotel in Hull…Wunderbar!
Two days gig-less now follow. Ahhh…sleep, laundry……….beeeerrrrr! Toodle pip.