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Sunday 10th April 05                                                                                                                                          

Palace Theatre, Southend.

It's three weeks since our last show and we all have reason to be at least a bit grateful to be back on the road.  We have our ups and downs but we are like a little family when we need to be.  There didn't seem to be the usual sense of dread at the long journey ahead and the atmosphere in the car was quite serene, for want of a better description.  This was helped perhaps by the soundtrack CD to one of our collective favourite films, The Wicker Man.  I'd found it in HMV last week, knowing that it would meet with universal approval.  We nearly all joined in with "The Landlord's Daughter" and were haunted with the beauty of "Willow's Song".
The peace was broken with a loud bang as a stone hit the windscreen.  Of course, it couldn't be just a chip, it had to be the full 6" crack that appeared in the passenger side.  A replacement and the 60 quid excess is now inevitable!

Arrived at the Palace shortly after Dave and Ade, but they hadn't begun to unload the van yet so we crossed the road to the Chip shop....... by the route that has become sacred to our rite. (sorry!!  Wicker Man bollocks).  Oldhams have evidently become complacent as the cod was not up to its usual mediocre standard.  Forgot to tell Roy we were going to the chippy and on return to the theatre he pretended not to be narked about it, but he clearly held a grudge.   You can always tell.....The 12 year old edition of Practical Classics comes out and Roy sits in the dressing room reading the same description of the Rover V8 engine.  This is a pointless thing to do as he already has enough knowledge to do a rebuild in under half a day.





Should I really eat this shit?? Kebab shared by Eddie and Roy...or was it the dogs dinner?

During the sound check, the bracket holding the snare in place on the snare drum completely sheared off, rendering the drum useless.  Roy was about to make an attempt at a repair using chewing gum and cigarette papers, when Sam, one of the theatre technicians announced that he was in fact a drummer himself and had a very similar snare drum at home, just 10 minutes away.  Sam saved the day.
On the way out of the theatre to get the drum, Roy's mood was much improved by bumping into a chap in the foyer who was setting up a display all about a motorcycle "Wall of Death".  The bloke in question was Ricky, a wall of death rider since the early 60's who never so much as broke a nail during his career.  He let Roy and I hold his "lucky boots".  Roy muttered some shit about 'never washing his hands again' and he had to be gently coaxed away from his 2-stroke based conversation with a reminder that we actually had a job to do here.

Maybe the break had done us good, I don't know, but it seemed that we played a really good first set.  Our only concern was for Eddie, who had put his back out turning off his shower tap this morning.  Every 20 minutes on the way down in the car, we heard... "Arrrrrhhh.....f**kin' 'ell" as either Ed moved too quickly or we hit a cats-eye.  We pumped him full of Junior Disprin prior to the show in the hope of relieving his suffering, but it was always going to be hard with the guitar changes.  For the first time, Eddie worried more about the pain rather than pulling his rug off.  Dirk was on top form and delivered a more amazing Long Tall Sally than I can remember.
During the interval, it was time to try on the new Shea jackets.  In our typical fashion...the first time these jackets come out of the cellophane, is five minutes before we take to the stage for the second half.  Fortunately...... they fit.  Dunno if the jackets had anything to do with it, but the Shea section was performed with more gusto than usual.... we all loved it.  The audience, who incidentally were double in number from the previous year, seemed to enjoy it too.

After the show, we all popped next door to the Kebab Express for a quick bite before the journey back.  Eddie and Roy shared a dogs breakfast of doner and chicken kebab.  Dirk went for the Chicken, but organised his food in the paper in a much more aesthetically pleasing fashion, and topped it off with just a sprinkling of fresh lemon juice.......lovely!

You could've knocked us over with a hairdryer on its lowest setting at Hilton Park services;  Dave and Ade pulled in 10 minutes after us.  One can now see Spectrum's reluctance to let go of their van...it must have a turbo or something.  Proves a point though......  they must be really crap at map reading on some gigs!!!!

Friday 15th April 05                                                                                                                                             

Hall For Cornwall, Truro.

It's a 335 mile journey today, and I can't recall ever having a gig this far South West.  So it's an early start into unchartered territory.  Unusually, by Stafford, 50% of the bands bladders are requiring urgent evacuation, so we pull off into the services which would otherwise never be considered for a scheduled stop.  We all get coffee except for Eddie who announces that he won't bother "cos I'll only spill it on me kecks".  We point out to Eddie that this is an entirely defeatist attitude to have.  Eddie shrugs, and selects a black Americano from the machine and figures he may as well go the whole hog and join us in a Ginsters as well.  You can't smoke in this garage so we retire to the car. On the forecourt, Eddie slips on petrol and spills coffee on his kecks, proving that you just can't upset the natural order of things.
The hours pass and the distance is taking its toll...we are becoming bored and we have run out of insults for each other as we hit the A30.  Fortunately, lady luck is smiling on us and we come up behind the Spectrum van.  Four pairs of sleeves get rolled up as we prepare for some serious piss taking. The van easily does 70 on level ground....over 80 downhill, but a leisurely 50 as it struggles up the Cornish tors.  The cat and mouse game wears very thin after a few switchback sections of road and when we see a sign for services we decide that we have plenty of time to take another stop.  "Services" was a rather misleading description.  A breeze block toilet and a trailer proudly branded "Anthea's Country Kitchen" was all that this particular retreat had to offer.  Stewed tea, sugar in an old ice cream carton (plastic spoon with hardened sugar stuck to it) and bits of cake wrapped in cling film... you get the drift.

As we arrive at the Hall, we find four of the theatre crew pushing the van the final few yards to the load in.  The arduous journey had dislodged the starter motor by all accounts.  There was no Adrian on this job as he was overseeing the Spectrum installation of a gazillion watt PA system in Pontins, Ainsdale.  We, however, now suspect a more nefarious reason for our chief sound engineers absence.  The lucrative Billy Butler contract can't be denied as a motive, but when brother Dave let it slip that Ade has gone through a major image change this week involving a razor and a pair of scissors, it occurred to us he may be trying to avoid us. Filling in for Ade was young Chris, who has his own PA company and recording studio.

After such a long day, the show itself seemed to pass very quickly and before we knew it we were back in the car on the way to Taunton which would be our base for the night.




Saturday 16th April 05                                                                                                                                        

Nailcote Hall, Berkswell.

We would normally arrive much later for a gig at Nailcote Hall, in fact it is very rare that we see it by daylight.  A stroll round the golf course was very pleasant, although Eddie proved the kind of irreverent scum we are by shouting "ooww me feckin head" in response to an anxious golfers cry of "FORE!!"  Roy, childishly hid in a bush with tears rolling down his face.

The contrast in size between the stage last night in Truro and the postage stamp proportions of Nailcotes Lant Suite was difficult to reconcile.  So often we have played this stage, but tonight it seemed smaller than ever.  God knows how many time Rick and Derek have to exchange "sorry"'s over the 90 minute set.  On paper, joining the first half of the theatre show together with the Shea section seems to work fine.  In practice, we might have been better off making some alterations.


Friday 22nd April 05                                                                                                                                            

For blog readers only, here is a Real Player file of Long Tall Sally. Not exactly sure when it was recorded.
Click the link just once, the file should play within a few seconds.  Audio quality is compromised with the compression used for these files.  You will need Real Player on your computer to play them. Download it for free HERE!

Saturday 23rd April 05                                                                                                                                        

Music Hall, Shrewsbury.

Anything under 100 miles we consider to be a local gig, there is not enough time in the car to get bored and there won't be any stops on the way.  Normally, Dirk would have gone to this show on his own, but today it's the four of us piled into the car, with the usual struggle of packing the boot with our stuff which only just fits. It's years since we've played in Shrewsbury, and the first time we've played at The Music Hall.  The Beatles played here on 26 April 1963 so it was nice to notch up another venue for the list of ones we've also played.  I'd forgotten what a beautiful town this is and I promise myself to return and explore its history.

Dave and Ade were very familiar with this venue, having put PA's in many times. By the time we arrived, they were almost completely set up and ready to go.... so what did we do?...  darted out to the chippy and stuffed our faces before the sound check.

It's a near sell out show tonight and we all enjoyed it.  maybe Eddie enjoyed it slightly less as his back is still giving him grief. 





Friday 29th April 05                                                                                                                                             

South Hill Park, Bracknell.

A bright and beautiful day which I'll wager is the warmest so far this year, a slight heat haze on the road and the cars' A/C will get its first proper testing.  It's not the kind of day to be sad........but I can't help it!!
Roy can't help it either, but for different reasons.  As I have explained before, Roy doesn't exactly resemble the Man from Atlantis in the body hair department, and the hairs act as a thermal shroud.  Wonderful in winter, but a downright pain in the summer.  I had a physics teacher at school who was arguably more hairy than Roy, but his was apparently due to an accident while he was working at the Windscale power station in Cumbria.  Perhaps Roy's loathing of the warm weather was best explained by Mrs. H.   "I don't know why you don't like the summer Roy!....When you were a baby you were always sitting out in the sun strapped in your pushchair..... you'd be as brown as a berry!"
The very dense M6 traffic due to the bank holiday at least kept moving today and we managed to catch the van on the A404, about 20 miles from our destination.  Eddie had brought his mouth organ with him and was serenading us from the back seat......the three of us had previously predicted Derek's reaction to this, and he did not disappoint....  his scowl was venomous!
Arriving at the venue simultaneously with the van, Rick, Derek and Eddie decided to scarper up the road to the local Starbucks and watch the world go by over a coffee.  Eddie managed to spill some on his shoes and we must now believe that this is some sort of deliberate ritual act because nobody could be this consistently clumsy...mind you, with Ed, you never know.  My whole life, I have taken silly amounts of sugar in my tea and coffee.  For the last week now, I have been totally sugar-free with these beverages and I am yet to taste one that really satisfies without the calories.  I suppose when one gives anything up, you have to expect that it will take time to adjust.

The sound check was marred by a hideous misunderstanding between myself and Ade.  Ade got in a bit of a twist over a conversation he overheard me having with Derek.  We were flummoxed when Ade was recounting after the show and we did our best to reassure him that we were not talking about him at all.

We don't blow our own trumpets very often, but we all felt that our performance tonight was particularly good.  We were therefore quite bemused that we had the collective thought that we were not going down very well with the audience.  In the interval we did a bit of wig scratching to try to work out what we were doing wrong.  No one could recall anyone making a balls-up of anything.  The sound was really good, we were as tight as a hamsters arse, and everything seemed to have a good feel about it.  So why did we feel so down?
Speaking to people after the show, we were reassured that in fact we had impressed everyone and it was very well received.  Our mate Tracy from Essential who lives just up the road and had (yet again!) blagged some freebie tickets said "That was amazing....the best I have ever seen you.....quite magnificent.....you are without doubt the best group I have ever seen in my life....etc etc."   Of course, Tracy is normally teetotal.




Pic. Clare Ellis Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut Pic. Clare Ellis
Pic. Clare Ellis Pic. Clare Ellis Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut
Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut
Photo  Jean Herbaut Photo  Jean Herbaut

Saturday 30th April 05                                                                                                                                        

Robin 2, Bilston.

What a difference a day makes!  So sang Esther Phillips and d'you know what?  There is nothing so apt to describe this appearance at the Robin.
We haven't been here since the alterations were made and the capacity doubled.  It was quite pleasing to find that the stage hadn't changed and it was basically the same venue.  Brand new dressing rooms, a new restaurant, a new Noddy's Bar, new green room, but this is still the best rock'n'roll venue in the country.  Cheffy is still here serving up the cottage pie, it's pretty much business as usual.
Dave and Ade have opted to use the clubs own monitor desk instead of the desk we normally use.  Dirk winces a bit at the sound check and can be heard muttering numbers to Ade.... a code that only they seem to understand.  It's all 250K this and 400K that.  Ade nods knowingly and fiddles with some knobs.  After adjusting the decibels on the imbalance, (or some such shite) Dirk declares  "I can live with that".  

Exactly 15 seconds after striking up on stage in front of 700 people, Derek realises that it would be easier to live with hemorrhoids.  The onstage sound is atrocious, it's all one big noise.  On top of the sound difficulties, we are soaking wet within three songs, the band are playing like cabbages and although Dirk is playing and singing all the right notes, it is by his own interval admission, probably the worst performance he can recall giving.  Something had to be done.  The desk was brought out from the van and wired up in time for the second half.  Perhaps this helped mentally, as the set was much more enthusiastic if still smattered with the odd fluff.  The on stage sound was certainly an improvement.  A broken telecaster B string during the Sgt. Pepper reprise, provided a Les Dawson moment as I tried to transpose the lick onto another string, and Derek just couldn't let it lie.....spluttering through the second verse with barely contained laughter.

On the plus side.....  The Robin audience was fantastic, as ever, and they gave us a brilliant reception.  The chants of "Ringo Ringo" really thrilled Roy, but of course he can't display it on stage for fear of losing 'tache adhesion.  Thanks to everyone who turned out to support us...we love ya!  Special thanks to Lou for the live pics.


Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell
Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell Pic. Lou Russell
Pic. Lou Russell

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