Bringing the ceiling down in Leeds..
I had intended to get the Leeds blog up on the night, but tiredness won – but rather than write a mega-long blog post I’ll split this into three instalments for each of the gigs. So first up was Leeds, and it was to be a return to Cerebus for me – so first order of business was to get up to Ken’s where Carl and John were already getting on board, Dom arrived shortly after then it was just Waggy and Scott to pick up before we hit the road to Leeds, mercifully avoiding the M1 tailbacks that struck others on the way.
One of the nice contextual things about travelling with the band is experiencing their build-up to a gig – Cerebus (the Ferocious Dog tour bus) is a well appointed van, with a section at the back for all the gear (which just about fits), a seating area at the back around a table with lighting and its own music player and then the cab at the front seats the driver and up to two more. It’s great, but not exactly comfy for extended periods – boredom soon struck, an eclectic selection of gangster rap John had compiled was playing, and the cards were out for rounds of ‘bullshit’ and rummy.
But luckily Leeds isn’t too far away and we’d soon arrived and parked up behind the venue between a camper van an act in another part of the venue were using, and a pizza van that would open later to provide much needed sustenance. The Brudenell is an ace small venue – it’s my first time there but a good sized room over a couple of levels with the bar at the top and a lower level dance floor in front of the stage. We were soon unloaded leaving the band, Dom and the sound man to get everything set up and plugged in.
Cue lots of hanging around for me, Gaz Brookfield had arrived too with his dad – it was great to get the chance to spend time with them both, Gaz is one of my favourite performers but I’ve never really had a conversation with him before beyond “That was a great set!” or “Could I buy a t-shirt please?” – and his dad of course is referenced in a number of his songs too – both are thoroughly good company! Once everything was plugged in soundchecks took place and everything was pretty much sorted.
Steve, coming to the gig later, arrived with some beers for the band from Brewdog – which made him incredibly popular with Les and Dan in particular, even cider-drinking Waggy agreeing it should be added to the rider immediately. Leanne was there setting up the merch along with Carl, whilst basically everyone else was killing time in the green room, Ken intermittently going off to do some video interviews with a lass recording some stuff around mining (I know Ken doesn’t like talking about that, but she must’ve twisted his arm – ha ha!).
Ellis arrived to a gift of some rather awesome cheese from Gaz (Ellis is obsessed with cheese) – surprisingly he didn’t immediately scurry off to a quiet corner to eat it all, but shared it with everyone, it was a nice bit of cheese. Next time I’m scheduled to go on the bus I might have to bring a cheese selection. Meanwhile chatter in the room included the time Dom made Ellis a guitar strap from his belt and a seatbelt back when Ferocious Dog were touring in Germany.
Meanwhile Waggy had acquired some horse jerky (called ‘My Brittle Pony’) which was actually really nice. We were treated to a surprisingly accurate impression of a buzzard adjusting its flight by Gaz’s dad as conversation had turned to ornithology (one of my favourite subjects so that was a treat!), printer/photocopier maintenance with a teaspoon, Scott made an amusing alternative film poster and then proceeded to get the venue manager to stamp his forehead instead of his hand – before long stage times were looming large.
Out front the room was pretty busy ready for Gaz to come out with plenty of familiar faces to catch up with – the sound system sounded great as he launched into by now fairly familiar set, kicking off with Land Pirate’s Life, Diabetes Blues (and reprise), glasses were raised to toast drinking song Under The Table before the welcome addition of Godless Man featured (particularly welcome as in my head it’s always Godless Mango – ha ha!) then Ode To Ozzy paying tribute to his long-suffering van.
The second half of the set saw Grant Shapps get his usual lambasting for The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke, the distinctive chord at the start of Towns saw Andrea and I singing ‘I grew up in Swindon..’ just before Gaz did amusingly, then the emotional rollercoaster of Bigger Man led us into the proper singalong sections of Let The East Winds Blow and Thin. John and I were laughing that there were signs that Gaz had been hanging around with FD for too long – he used the term ‘mint’ and forgot a few words to Thin. Ha!
Because getting caught up in the mosh pit renders remembering set lists nigh on impossible I’ve started to try to grab a picture of them – of course, that is fraught with problems as they don’t always follow them religiously, but we had the usual start of Gallows Justice running into Poor Angry and Young. It was a lively mosh with many of the usual suspects in attendance, not least Wez in his freshly laundered hot dog costume. Verse for Lee led into The Glass then Lee’s Tune to bring the energy levels down briefly then right back up again.
Too Late has become our signal of what was to follow, as Freeborn John kicked in my half-arsed attempt to get Dean to surf failed, he insisted on being the board. Once it was set up I had a quick look at the ceiling, low up to right before the stage and thought I’d got my angles right – until I got my feet planted and myself upright – into darkness as my head went right through a ceiling tile that crashed down onto the assembled folk below. Oops. “Don’t you ever look up, Al?” asked Dean after the gig – I probably will in future! How embarrassing!
The security got a little bit upset, but I chose to ignore the insistent tugging on my leg and the assembled Hell Hounds below pointed out it was pointless stopping it and leaving it for the song – which mercifully they did. So it’s fair to say I left my mark on the Brudenell. I’m terribly sorry about that. The rest of the set passes by in a blur of flailing limbs and bodies – at one point I ended up on the deck tripping over an already prone Mick, luckily Shauni was on hand to drag me up, which if you look at the size differential between us is pretty hilarious.
During Hell Hounds I think we got a bit of duplication in the first verse – but well, if it serves to accidentally extend a song then where’s the problem? By the time the set wound down we were in a sweaty mess – there was an awesome circle for Freethinker, we put arms round each other and swayed for Slow Motion Suicide and generally flailed and wrestled through the rest. Once the room cleared it was time to start to pack everything back into the van and hit the road.
The biggest challenge in hitting the road is always extricating Ken from doing his rounds after the gig – he loves talking to everyone, which is one of the many reasons the band has such a loyal following, but you can also understand the frustration of knackered colleagues waiting to hit the road! Eventually we were back in the bus and on the road back to Warsop – watching Ken checking through Facebook after a gig is always quite touching, reading through reviews, messages, comments – checking out photos and videos.
Bad planning on my part meant I had insufficient stuff with me for staying up with Ken or Waggy, considering the overnight trip between Newcastle and Carlisle the next day, so I drove back home in the wee small hours via dropping John and Scott off in Mansfield then making the grave error in succumbing to munchies at the all night garage on the way home and troughing myself silly upon getting home – I had intended to write this then, but a combination of tiredness and food-coma-ness meant instead I managed about four hours sleep before it was time to get up again… but that’s when the next instalment begins…