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A Y 2 0 0 7
Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel,
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.
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.
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.
Colwick Park Hotel,
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 height...it
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.
Hull City Hall,
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
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.
The Robin 2,
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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