All about Evesham..

I'm not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

I’m not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

Evesham on a school night is actually a pretty convenient destination for me – much of my working life is spent in Solihull so upon clocking off for the day it was a relatively short trip into  Worcestershire.  Arriving at the venue rather early I was lucky enough that Dan was loitering outside gaining me access to their green room since the pub wasn’t open yet – so a chance to sit and have a natter rather than wandering off into the town.

As everyone started to arrive food was eaten, assorted things were signed including the paper that will eventually comprise the excellent lyric art prints that were revealed on Facebook this week, a few of ’em practiced Ruby Bridges, restored to the set list given it’s just been released as a single, Les restringed his guitar, Waggy revealed he used to have a parrot.  As opening time loomed non-band folk were politely dismissed as they did, well, whatever it is they do right before a gig!

Meanwhile the Iron Road had opened itself up – a rock pub that has risen from the ashes of the Railway Inn, what was probably a traditional near-the-train-station pub.  Now on the one side there’s a big screen and seating, on the other a fairly cramped (for a six piece at least) stage and small dance floor.  There were concerns on the size – and more than a few people had noted the fast-spinning ceiling fan above the mosh pit area.

Supporting were Dolls Eye Weaver, a west midlands based punk outfit – an energetic and loud performance culminating in a memorable cover version of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.  The name of the band intrigued me enough to get on Google too – apparently Dolls Eye Weaver is an example of an ‘evasive answer’ to somebody asking what you do for a living – so there you go!  They were good fun.

Having been appraised of the lowish ceiling and rapid spinning fan situation by a number of people much like I had been, Dean very kindly pointed out it was my turn to go up for Freeborn John, thoughtful fellow that he is – but before that we had a return of the intro music, a bit of smoke machine action and dimmed lights as the band took to the stage and got themselves in position to launch straight into Gallows Justice.

It was looking so promising until Ellis almost immediately bust a string on his bazouki – after a bit of a pause he conspired to seemingly be able to play it without the errant string and we were underway.  The compact mosh pit was being well managed and quite a crowd had gathered of both old and new fans alike.  We were probably about 8-10 strong in the mosh pit with a few occasional visitors which was probably about right for the venue.

I had been eyeing the cord to turn off the fan pre-gig but getting carried away in the whirling dervish of the mosh pit I’d let it slip my mind as the songs wend their inevitable course.  A couple of verse-reversals or repeats probably wouldn’t have been noticed by anyone but the keenest of ears (sorry Kenny), and soon enough the distinctive drum and bass-chugging intro to Freeborn John was upon us.

Not sure if I was on the way to a chest-point or rapidly withdrawing my hand having been buzzed by the ceiling fan!

Not sure if I was on the way to a chest-point or rapidly withdrawing my hand having been buzzed by the ceiling fan!

Dean was hoisted and I clambered – the ceiling wasn’t as bad as Aberdeen for height although I did managed to buzz my thumb on the fan to my left, but still, my performances on the surfboard are always going to be a bit graceless compared to Dean’s!  There were no dismounting issues this time, I managed to get down forwards with a bit of help from Andy who’d travelled up with the Wales contingent for the gig.

Geoff got this picture of me doing something strange with my hand.

A couple of ladies braved the mosh pit shortly after, and at various points we’d accosted Brad and Addie to join us in the bedlam.  By the time we’d got to Freethinker we’d a sizeable circle in a fairly tight space, and once Mairi’s Wedding Pt II gave us the finale to the set it was definitely time to stop dancing about like a loon – a cracking performance, existing fans delighted, new fans recruited – what more could you want?

The venue deserves praise too – the bar staff were great and seemed to be loving the gig, the sound was great and the security, if there was any, very non-invasive.  All in all, a thoroughly splendid evening with fine company of friends and a few new friends too.  After an initial lull there was brisk trade being done at the merchandise stall with CDs, t-shirts and hoodies aplenty being brandished by smiling happy people.

After what is becoming the typical post-gig long goodbyes I followed the Dog Bus out the carpark and got my foot down to get out toward the M42, a road I travel most days but was relishing the chance to do so when it was empty.  Wez succumbed to the directive to stop at the first service station they saw denying me even the chance for an overtake and abuse opportunity.

Even at nearly 2am with not a car or lorry in sight sections of the M42 near the M6 toll junction still had the variable speed limit set to 50.  Bunch of bastards.  But anyway, it was a pain free journey back to the east midlands – and now I’m limbering up for Brixton on Saturday which should be another splendid occasion with some excellent bands on offer, and of course some excellent friends.  Can’t wait!

I’ll leave you with this ace picture of Dean, based on Paul’s everyone-elsie-stick picture of Dean at Something To Smile About, but just made up of the words FEROCIOUS DOG FREEBORN JOHN courtesy of a new app I’ve been playing with…

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