Har-low can you go?
After a bit of an enforced break from ‘dogging’ it was back into action yesterday, hitting the road for I think my furthest flung Ferocious Dog gig in Harlow, Essex. With the threat of the M25 around rush hour I allowed plenty of time for the drive and predictably hit no traffic at all, arriving at the venue and parking up with an hour and a half to spare before opening. Oops! Dan and Leanne arrived moments later, the rest of the band were already in situ.
Luckily The Square has a bar area that was open so it was there I headed and earwigged the sound-checking as more folk began to arrive. After getting armbanded up and heading upstairs the gig venue was pretty compact – wide with a shallow dance floor with a worryingly nearby staircase you could end up getting launched down – luckily the mosh pit wasn’t too expansive so that never proved to be too much of a risk!
I already knew Doozer and Deferred Sucess were supporting but there was an act on before them too – Black Water County kicked off proceedings with energetic folky madness. A really entertaining performance despite the singer Tim claiming man flu and a sore throat, definitely worth checking out – keep an eye out for them down Dorset way or on tour. Their set culminated in a rowdy version of The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond which saw most of the band hit the dance floor to whirl and dance with the crowd.
I picked up a CD that Ella was kind enough to keep hold of for me rather than smash it up in the moshpit later which normally stops me buying CDs then forgetting after the gig! I’m looking forward to having a listen once I’ve had a chance to rip it to play on something I actually use for music! Next up birthday-boy Doozer led the next act which continued the folky high energy theme so well set up by Black Water County – with the added bonus of lots of singalongs usually with the easiest lyrics ever to join in with.
Then the main event! We’d spent much of the pre-gig time insisting that Ella was going to be surfing in the face of the most unconvincing reluctance I’ve ever seen in a person from her – there was concern that there weren’t that many regulars who’d made the trip to ensure a stable surfboard for her, but Dean gave her the expert briefing, Daren took the crucial knee-bracing position and a few ‘props’ were recruited from the locals to ensure it’d work – a sneaky peak at the set list (which hadn’t changed) confirmed the seventh song was the one.
It was a more casual entrance for Ken who – having spent the support acts in the crowd – was loitering chatting at the front of the dance floor as the intro music kicked in, before hitting the stage and launching into the increasingly familiar new songs. Less regular FD gig-goers makes for a more spacious mosh-pit which is nice for a change, although gradually folks were lured into the fray for a good natured wrestle. Very civilised it was too – disappointing to discover after that apparently the security ejected some people for no apparent reason.
Cheating on the set-list meant I was hoisted horizontal by Wez, Dean and a mixture of familiar faces and new recruits before the song even properly started. Ella was legged up to clamber on board and make a mighty fine job of doing the surfer routine for Freeborn John. Certainly from my admittedly limited vantage point she made a much more graceful job of it than I did in Nuneaton (albeit ably assisted by an overhead thing to hang onto occasionally!). All in all, an impressive performance – and the smile on her face afterwards betrayed the utter pretence of reluctance beforehand!
The rest of the set list went by in a blur of dancing and moshing – including most of the members of Black Water County which was great to see before drawing to a close with the interesting claim by Ken of ‘we don’t do encores’ and running straight into the finale rather than pop off and come back on stage, which given the singular apparent lack of a real backstage area might’ve been a venue-specific decision, or possibly a timing one – the upstairs bit of the place seemed to be opening for a club night as we were leaving.
All that remained for me was to pop Brian and Karen back to their campsite on my way back North to the lovely midlands. Another splendid evening – it was good to be in less familiar territory for the band, their first appearance in Essex, and seeing them go down so well with the folk there, and it’s always good to discover a new act that you want to see again given the chance, so an unfamiliar and very familiar sandwich with Deferred Sucess the filling was just the ticket and well worth the couple of hours each way blast down the M1!
A couple of weeks to go now ’til Cambridge. Is it April yet? Although we do have Waggy photos to look forward to in the coming days! 🙂