It’s a Brum do…

IMG_1356I was dead excited when the tour was set to open in Birmingham – as I work in Solihull it would be a short shlep from the office to get there.  Fate conspired against me and saw me up in Manchester for a meeting instead – but planned with sufficient time to dash down the M6 (well, dash until the West Midlands were breached!) to get to my hotel probably earlier than I would’ve done had I gone from our offices!  Having missed a turn I ended up driving past the venue to double-back and saw the band unloading Cerebus.

The Old Crown is a brilliantly quirky old pub a stones throw from the venue which was why I chose it – the car park was full but I found a pay & display one down the road at a reasonable rate.  Once I’d got checked in (and remembered not to smack my head on the low beams) it turned out Mick was staying here too – so after getting a little too engrossed in building a new coil for my e-cig and watching Tipping Point I headed down to the bar to join Mick for a few cheeky beverages.

No sooner had we done that then another Mick arrived to join us, as did Tina and crew, followed by most of the band along with Wez, Gaz and Dom, Dave and Nadine, Michael and Rebecca, Darren, Colette and their lad, Paul and Kim, Geoff and probably loads of others I’ve forgotten – what an auspicious gathering!  Mick R and I had succumbed to the lure of ordering food which took a while to arrive in the busy pub, but was worth the wait – although left me eating a little closer to gig time than I’d have liked ideally!

It is a short stagger up the road to The Rainbow, definitely an intimate venue – there we found a healthy crowd already mustering ready for Gaz Brookfield‘s set.  A quick diversion to the merch stand to confirm arrangements for Snotty’s photos which Wez had kindly taken from me earlier in t’pub. Gaz is, as ever, on top form, it’s a real treat to get the bonus of him on most of the tour as well as Ferocious Dog of course.  There was singing along aplenty, and it gave us a chance to check out the layout of the room.

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There’s no bar or toilet in the venue so that needed a trip back to the bar, which is no real hardship.  Compact with a low ceiling until you get to the front, facing the stage is a raised area to one side, on the other side of the moshpit area there’s an ominous pillar which Wez had already identified as something he’d rather not bash into at pace.  A nice sized place though, no security to be seen anywhere and a cracking atmosphere from the many familiar faces in attendance and those I didn’t know.

Dean had been busy making surfboard arrangements, Sarah had broken two ribs in Skegness so relinquished her normal spot at the front for the safety of the sidelines, and as the intro music kicked in the band were out amongst the crowd in the absence of backstage area to emerge from.  We have become pretty accustomed to the set list – kicking off with Gallows Justice which is of course now a familiar situation for the crowd too since that kicks off the album too.

12141575_10156075677665702_6775032923825464606_nThe sound in the venue was great, the layout worked really well too for a sizeable mosh pit to ensue with plenty of room for the folks who prefer to remain in the peripheries.  We were keeping tabs for song 7 to set up the surfboard but there’d be a bit of tweaking to move Freeborn John further into the set.  We were still able to pre-empt the start through to get me horizontal to give Richard the opportunity to surf (he’d done so in Looe earlier in the year too) – he did very well to maintain his balance as it was a pretty turbulent one!

It was great to hear I Stand get a live airing – although the wonderful electric guitar work that it turns out was Ellis on the album was proxied with his acoustic guitar it still works really well, and well, it’s frankly a bloody awesome song!  Dean was lurking ominously behind me before Slow Motion Suicide kicked in which saw me up on his shoulders again for the song – only to find Mick on Dave’s and Darren picking up his lad too.  It was amusing watching John try not to crack up at the expansive air violin playing during the fiddle solo.

Maybe we’ll try for some air bass at some point too!

Soon enough Hell Hounds was played dedicated to Jay, Freethinker saw a big circle – in launching myself into the middle at revolution a bit too boisterously, accidentally executing a flying chin-butt on Graham, sorry Graham, and soon enough the set was brought to a sweaty close with Mairi’s Wedding Part II and Paddy on the Railway leaving us time to take stock and cool off outside before folk dashed off to their respective transport, hotels or whatever else – a short stagger for me, the pub was still open so I didn’t have to try to remember where the night entrance was.

Now I’m awake and blogged I’m off to explore the possibilities that breakfast has on offer!  Then it’ll be time for a gentle amble down to Bristol to do it all again – this time with the not inconsiderable bonus of some Mad Dog Mcrea thrown into the mix as well!  Ah, it’s good to be back on tour – although I need to do some more moshpit training if last night’s excesses are anything to go by!

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