FD put a smile on Cambridge’s boat race..
Back on the road for the recommencement of the tour. My original plan for Cambridge was just to drive there and back, it’s not a million miles away from where I live and there’s the promise of Derby the following night, but thanks to the hospitality of Brian and Karen I did end up staying and having a few cheeky ciders in Cambridge which is a nice bonus – particularly with them both off on their travels today. Thank you very much, both!
On the drive into Cambridge along with Brian’s cousin John, a Ferocious Dog debutant, I wondered whether Ken had been sticking up the assorted Vote Labour boards I saw on the way in. It doesn’t strike me as a typically Labour area – maybe that’s why those supporters that are there feel the need to advertise! – but I didn’t see any other political parties represented. Either way, it was no time at all before we’d parked up coincidentally arriving at the same time as Simon and Ella and parking up right behind them.
The Portland Arms is a nice pub – that charges the most random amounts ever for drinks. £3.91 for a Stowford Press (I was too cowardly to go for Old Rosie) meant my pocket was full of coppers and 5ps by the end of the night, yet a round of a few beers and the aforementioned cider oddly came to a round £11. Very confusing! My favourite pre-gig moment was a very stereotypically posh sounding Cambridge student arriving in the bar from the beer garden denouncing the profligacy of ‘people with mohicans’ out there. Haha. I wonder if she went to the gig or was just having a drink?
The beer garden was where most people were at – great to chat with the assembled hell hounds and the band alike – and admire the new t-shirt that Ella was pretty desperate not to be seen wearing. Ha ha! Bev had been wandering around Cambridge’s parks and areas distributing posters for the event, John was keen to make sure it was he who won the ‘dance off’ I mentioned after the Nuneaton gig, but well, I don’t want to upset anyone! Also Waggy’s beard is looking increasingly awesome!
On to the venue area – it was pretty compact, with a bar at the back in the ‘headroom’ area, the area immediately before the stage had a very low ceiling height, and a low stage which upon getting in to the venue was being gamely guarded by a couple of security dudes by standing in front of it as support act Freedom Faction were underway to get the crowd warmed up.
They’re a local straight-up punk band who certainly got a few folks having a mosh early doors, ending by inviting people on the stage to join in but apparently didn’t make it clear what they were meant to be shouting into the microphones. As ever Les was in the crowd smiling and nodding in time, lost to the music – the venue continued to fill up and it was pretty snug by the time the support slot was over and Ferocious Dog were starting to set up their gear.
Ferocious Dog took to the stage with the by now all too familiar intro music playing, and we were underway again! The security guys at the front weren’t too concerned as the mayhem began to start, although certainly for much of the set we were quite kind in keeping the whirling dervish of the pit from getting too near the stage. Given how low it was you do have to consider the risk to Ken’s teeth if somebody gets launched into his mic stand, after all!
It was another solid performance and the sound quality sounded good to my admittedly untrained ear. The timing went awry on one song – through the cider-fug I can’t recall which but I think they probably got away with it, although I did catch Dan’s eye after that song had finished and he was looking a bit frustrated! Certainly they didn’t dwell on it and the remainder of the set went off without a hitch aside from a few monitor level issues which were quickly resolved.
Now logistically there was an issue with the lowness of the ceiling immediately before the stage which is of course usually the scene for the surfboard for Freeborn John. After a quick consultation we decided to set up a little further back where it looked like there was loads of head room, but as you can see (pic mercilessly stolen from Mark!), Dean was still a little bit hunched under there! If we’d gone further back still there’d have been loads of head clearance but no visibility of the stage or vice versa back there! After an initial tumble Dean sprung back up and completed the task!
Being too bad at remembering details the set seemed short by a song or two to me – I’m assuming the venue operates a pretty strict curfew on live music but frankly by the end of it I was a sweaty knackered mess. As ever I forgot to bring a spare t-shirt to change into which normally wouldn’t bother me but it’s a bit rude when you’re about to get in someone else’s car! Checking out the merch gave me a choice of t-shirts I already have – so elected to ask what was going cheap, so now I’m a proud owner of a Ferocious Dog ladies t-shirt too. Ha!
I think I carried it off pretty well. There was time for a few goodbyes, avoiding the vomit on the floor before heading off – Brian is off to Cambodia as we speak, so it was ridiculously kind of him to entertain the idea of putting up random stragglers with packing still to finish off. Karen is heading to Wales, which is arguably more risky. Brian even treated us to a rendition of Ferocious Dog, Gaz Brookfield and Leatherat songs with his guitar and nearly-gone voice from bellowing along at the gig – a nice way to wind down!
In other news Dan has become a reviewer for Louder The War – an awesome music website that cuts through the genre-fication and pretentiousness most mainstream websites and publications are blighted by. It’s edited by Goldblade frontman and all-round musical geek John Robb and is always worth a read anyway, and I’m sure Dan will be a great addition to their team! It’s also his birthday today so be sure to wish him many happy returns either on Facebook or if you’re going to see him in Derby later!