Main Site | Blog Home


M A Y   2 0 0 7 

Thursday 10th May 07                                                                                                                                        

Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel, London.

We are due to be on-stage at this charity ball at 10pm, so we would like to be arriving at the hotel at around 9.  Unfortunately, it is now impossible to accurately predict the time it will take to travel from Liverpool to London, leaving us no option but to err on the side of caution and set off at one o'clock.  This should get us past Birmingham before all the real madness begins.  Indeed it does, and leaves us halfway down the M40 with plenty of time to hang out at Cherwell Valley services.

As Eddie and I stepped outside for a smoke, we were unable to use the ashtray because a Blue Tit had made a nest in it.  Taking great care not to disturb, we could not resist a little peek at the chicks inside.  Eight tiny mouths, all wide open expecting food gave us quite a thrill.  Not the sort of thing we see everyday and something that one can only feel privileged to witness.  We stepped well back, and watched for a few minutes as the Blue Tit flew back and forth to the nest with food for the chicks, greatly relieved that we hadn't frightened her off.

In spite of having his ear-drum perforated at some time in the past, it turns out that Roy has perfect hearing.  He's been using ear-defenders to protect his precious lugs for a few years now , and a recent re-fitting and hearing test carried out by Specsavers, has suggested that they are in tip-top condition.

After so much waiting round and having our on-stage time put back, the actual performance seems to be over quite quickly.  A 45 minute set is probably about right for this sort of occasion and we keep the dance floor full for the duration.  This is seemingly the benchmark for a successful corporate.  Our on-stage sound was pretty dreadful, but I believe any problems we were having, were not transferring to front of house.


Saturday 12th May 07                                                                                                                                         

Thameside Theatre, Grays.

With Roy taking the wheel for the entire journey down souf, I was afforded the luxury of a back seat perspective which I really quite enjoyed.
Dirk appeared to be quite tired and was asleep for most of the journey, and he didn't even touch his scotch eggs until we hit the M25.

The street furniture in the road next to the Theatre had us slightly confused.  According to the signage, one was not allowed to turn right or left at the "T" junction.  You'd think someone would have sussed that, with it being so close to the council building.....  but then again, who am I kidding?

Dave has returned from holiday in Lanzarote and is suitably tanned, but that is about it.  There was nothing out of the ordinary about today.  The concert went down really well with the audience and we played fine, even throwing in Michelle for a bit of a change.

The boring journey home was punctuated with hurling profanities at the increasing number of people who choose to drive in the middle or outside lane of the motorway.  Yes!... I'm still banging on about that...but it really is a serious problem that doesn't seem to be being addressed.

Monday 14th May 07                                                                                                                                           

Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage.

I had to have a long think when deciding whether or not to bring out the nurse on today's blog, but I figured that strong doses of Ibruprofen and Yeast Vite was fulfilling the criteria for an appearance.  It's Dirk's shoulder that is cause for concern.  Now, it's either sleeping really awkwardly that has caused his problem, or it has something to do with his training regimé.  As a fierce advocate of very little exercise, plenty of fags, Echinacea and Pot Noodles, I am suspecting the latter!  The point is, Dirk is in quite some discomfort on the journey down the M6.  There are several wimpers and the odd scream of agony, and all this without the CD player being on.
We arrive at the Gordon Craig in plenty of time for a decent sound check, but we give a thorough going-over a miss in favour of a visit to the Tesco store opposite the Theatre.  With three pieces of hot, cooked chicken at 96p, and as much salad as one can possibly squeeze into a plastic carton for about the same money....we eat like kings.

It was good to see Jean and Barbara in the bar before the show, cleverly concealing their disappointment at having turned up early to witness a non existent sound check.  Also great to see Clare, who hasn't come to a gig since our suits were last dry cleaned.
Getting ready for the performance in the downstairs dressing cubicles (rooms, would not really be a proper description, they were far too tiny), Roy and I, hear what sounds like the chilling screams of a murder victim coming from upstairs.  We breathe a sigh of relief when we realise that it is only Derek putting his shirt on.  Once he has been helped into his bass guitar strap, we are ready to rock!  Of course, for the duration of the gig, there were plenty of oohs and owws coming from stage right, which served only to make me laugh.... not that I was unsympathetic or anything, it is just my twisted sense of humour.

In the bar after the show, I met up with Sharon, husband Andy, Sarah and Tina.  The three ladies make up three fifths of a very talented art group called SG5, whose work I've been enthusing over on t'internet for a while.  The photography of the Sausage has provided much inspiration for the images on this blog, and it was a delight to meet up after the internet provided such a serendipity.

Wednesday 16th May 07                                                                                                                                    

Colwick Park Hotel, Nottingham.

This was "An Evening With The Rugby World Cup Champions".  A charity fundraising event featuring appearances and Q&A sessions with Martin Johnson, Neil Back, Martin Corry and Lewis Moody.  All names that I'm afraid don't mean too much to me, preferring the game that does not allow the use of hands, but I think everyone has heard of Martin Johnson....?  Also on the bill, was the lovely Lucie Silvas.

As with many of these types of events, it was running seriously behind schedule, and our stage time was being put back at least an hour.  It was difficult not to notice Martin Johnson's appearance in our dressing area, as he really is a truly big bugger.  We were going to get a photo, but as someone had just paid 400 notes for the privilege during the auction and I'd left my wallet in the car, I decided not to bother.

As things were running later and later, it was requested that there would be the minimum of downtime between Lucie's half-hour set and ours, and basically we would be going on straight after her.  We got caught a bit short, as she ended up only doing 20 minutes.  This is where the fun really begins.

For an event of this profile, the stage was quite inadequate.  Dave and Ade had been unable to set our gear up as usual, as there was not enough width to get all the backline straight, so all the amps were turned in at an angle.  Not the best scenario when the stage is a "box", producing much more bass frequency than usual, and a lot more noise.  Worse than the dimension across the width, was the was far too low, with Dirk and I having to duck under a ruffled curtain thingy, every time we stepped forward for the mic.  There was no way those rugby players could've stood on the stage without stooping.
We had the dance floor full for the majority of the set, but there was a fair amount of indifference from the audience between songs, we've come to expect that at some of these functions.  What you never really get used to, are the tossers that come close to the stage and ask if you are wearing wigs.
I don't think any of us enjoyed tonight.

Thursday 24th May 07                                                                                                                                        

Hull City Hall, Hull.

I might be a bit of a saddo, but I really like seeing things like the Humber Bridge.  This is only the second time I've seen what used to be the longest single span suspension bridge in the world, and it is an awesome sight. These days it has been relegated to the the forth longest, but it it makes it nonetheless impressive.

Last time we were in Hull, we'd arrived very late and it was dark.  Now we had the opportunity to have a look at the fabulous architecture the city has to offer.  The City Hall itself is an incredible building, and I never become blasé about having the opportunity to play in such magnificent venues.

Of course, this place was never designed with amplified bands in mind, but I bet the huge organ sounds wonderful.  At the sound check, it was evident that there was bugger all we would be able to do about the massive amount of natural reverb the hall produces.  The most we could hope for was to get a reasonable enough on stage sound to make sure that at least what was going front of house made some sense.  Hopefully we managed that.

There was a really decent turnout for the concert and the audience were fab once again.

Saturday 26th May 07                                                                                                                                         

The Robin 2, Bilston.

Roy caused all sorts of confusion prior to us going on stage, with a request for extra plates at dinner.  Writing this a few days after the event, I can't remember the outcome, but I'm sure we were all fed.
We thought that we had sussed a way to make this gig a little less sweaty by keeping the on-stage sound down to the bare minimum.  Tonight, though, it seemed to be almost as hot as ever....maybe it's those new lights in the venue!
There was a bit of a bollocks with the play-on CD for the second half, skipping and jumping the way that they do. So, as we stood back-stage we were not entirely sure whether it would ever reach the point of an introduction, and if it did.....would it be intelligible?  We thought..."to hell with it!....  let's just get on to Norman Collier!"

The show was a typical Robin affair....fantastic audience and I guess a more ballsy performance from us than is usual in a more sedate theatre setting.
One thing I had noticed, which I don't usually, was the amount of smoke coming up to the stage from the audience.  At one point I looked over at Eddie and saw him gulping in a huge cloud of fag smoke smoke as he was singing.  As smokers, Eddie and I would probably never be too bothered by this too much, but it really affects Dirk.  In the past, this has all gone with the turf of performing in venues with smokey atmospheres. Maybe since we are now more used to playing in venues with smoking bans, we notice it more....dunno?

Sunday 27th May 07                                                                                                                                           

Grove Theatre, Dunstable.

An accident and consequent diversion in Dunstable town centre, had left us slightly stranded for orientation to this brand new theatre.  Dave was able to guide us in the right direction over the phone, and we arrived at the electric gates not much behind schedule.  The relentless downpour of rain throughout the whole journey had not subsided at all and had exposed quite a few leaks in this new building.  Backstage, there were several puddles to be found and slip hazards aplenty.
Adrian was busy with his tool kit, rebuilding the acoustic guitar, which we noticed last night had sustained a serious injury around the strap button.....I think this instrument is almost ready for ebay!...but Ade did a great job of knocking it into shape for the show.
I could hardly believe it, when Dirk, Roy and Dave shushed me when I came in the Green Room.  They were watching the telly and I thought perhaps some great drama was unfolding on the news. In actual fact, they were waiting anxiously for a value to be revealed on the Antiques Roadshow!  Some rock 'n' roll band this is!

7.28, and in two adjacent dressing rooms a nightmare is beginning to unfold.  Both Eddie and I, are having a seriously bad wig day.  For those of you who don't know what it is like to wear a hair-piece in public, let me tell you, it can be the most stressful of experiences.  When you feel it's all wrong, it plays on your mind and festers uncontrollably.  Nothing else seems to matter.  In my case, the guitar solo of I Saw Her Standing There seemed to be of little consequence compared to the certain knowledge that a falling fringe was making me look a complete twat.  The acoustics of the room are such that we have a dry sound on stage and it seems that we are all only able to hear ourselves and not much else.  The spotlights are bright, accurate and completely unforgiving.  I'm caught in them like a rabbit in headlamps before it gets run over.  The entire audience is pointing at my floppy synthetic, and laughing.....some of them are sending text messages to their friends and making dodgy videos to send to Jeremy Beadle.   
"Get a grip will yer"...I tell myself  "You'll be off in two hours".

Eddie, as I mentioned, was having similar problems.  After nearly lifting his headgear away whence putting on his guitar, he started to sweat profusely from the part of his forehead he imagined was revealed to all and sundry.  Ed was also struggling with his voice after the smoke from last night, and this manifested itself with the odd yodel on the higher notes.  Dirk was not barley from smoke related vocal issues either, and we had to drop or substitute a couple of numbers as he simply couldn't manage the notes he would normally reach with ease in things like Long Tall Sally.

The heat on stage gave us all a few problems too, Roy having to towel off his rug during the interval.  All in all, it was a quite a hard gig for everyone and certainly not our best, but the audience seemed to enjoy it and that's what counts I guess.


Blog Home

© Fab Productions 2007