Not extinguished at the Old Fire Station..

IMG_1514As morning broke in Newcastle I was feeling pretty good – both Carl and I had a great night’s sleep and were up and ready to tackle breakfast downstairs where we found Waggy and Ellis already seated.  That’s right, Ellis was already there!  Folk started arriving downstairs, piecing together the night before – Les had walked to the wrong Premier Inn who gave him a map to find the right one, John and Scott had been on an adventure that saw them end up at the University and in the middle of a busy traffic island – but everyone was unscathed.

Breakfast was very welcome, that’s for sure!  Eventually with everyone sorted and checked out we returned to Cerebus for the next leg of our journey, Brad hopping in Ellis’ car, Les coming with us as he’d travelled up by train from Leeds.  We needed to get a bit of fuel, and as Carl spotted a convenient petrol station Scott and John’s choice of location for a cigarette break gave Ken the chance to spot and recognise The Denton, which was the venue for Jay’s wake last year.

Having bought some poppies in the garage Ken decided we needed to go and have a pint to honour our old friend – Carl duly drove the bus over there and we did just that, a fitting way to be heading out of Newcastle to follow the course of Hadrian’s Wall (every wall we passed on the way loudly announced to be Hadrian’s Wall).  Kenny’s battery had run out so I let him use mine to peruse Facebook.  Amazingly he resisted the urge to ‘Frape’ me – unless he left inappropriate comments somewhere I’ve yet to find – I don’t think he did though, what a gent!

There was lots of inane chatter, and I finally managed to win a game of rummy having utterly failed so far on our travels – including some exciting disclosures about plans for Rock City that must remain top secret, and it didn’t seem long at all before we hit Carlisle and parked up at the back of the venue.  As the name would suggest, it is exactly The Old Fire Station – recently refurbished and opened as a bar/restaurant and live music venue back in May – it’s a really nice place indeed.

It was quick to load in the gear and get set up – so sound checking could commence quickly.  Scott started to make good on demonstrating his throat-singing skills only to be ousted from the mic by Kenny.

The sound check was a fairly intricate affair, but the place was sounding good by the end – the venue is a big open area with curtains at the back separating it from the bar and restaurant – by the time to appropriate levels had been found it was sounding really good.  We’d ordered some food to have for later – Les arrived in the nick of time having managed to get lost finding his way back from the hotel he’d gone to check in to (spotting a theme here?).

I was dead impressed with the food – I’d only ordered a main course but the waiter took pity on me and brought me a delicious soup out, followed by the main course.  After that it was a fair bit of hanging around – backstage at the venue was very comfortable.  A few folk headed out to find a pub, since I’d be driving home once we’d got back to Warsop and was pretty happy talking nonsense (and watching Beavis and Butt-head videos – impressions of them had been a staple boredom solver throughout our time on the bus).

It also meant I didn’t miss the hilarious accidental obscene gesture from Gaz’s dad when he was describing a particular part of his camper van, gleefully replicated by Gaz for anyone who’d missed it.

IMG_1519Soon enough it was doors time, I hopped on the merch desk whilst nobody was there and even sold a couple of hoodies before handing over to Leanne and getting ready for Gaz Brookfield opening proceedings.  The music venue was pretty empty but his entrance and guitar strumming drew people into the room, I stood next to his dad for the set, both of us merrily singing along – although Mr Brookfield was much more tuneful than I know I am – haha!

As he’d used the same set list the previous two nights I’d confidently copied and pasted it in my notes – but well, I was wrong – he’d swapped out The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke and moved Towns up a space and slotted Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen in – along with the backstory that the video he made to accompany it was picked up by Sailor Jerry’s and netted him loads of free rum, which is always a good thing!  This followed by a particularly passionate rendition of Be The Bigger Man.

At the end of the gig I was talking to Gaz’s dad and remarked at how absolutely angry Gaz always looks when performing that particular song, he agreed – but we both concluded to have addressed it with such an awesome response that I know has helped so many other people since was particularly laudable.  I really like Gaz’s dad!  I was a glad that Elizabeth Duke had been dropped partly because I’d half planned to get some paper and a marker to write out the lyrics as a reminder after the slip in Newcastle, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Ha!

Unusually these days I took the time to video Godless Man too – so that’s up there.  I was determined to get a photo of his jump at the end, so hit burst mode on the phone for it but they’re all a bit blurry – however, I’m quite pleased with this animated gif they’ve turned into!  It was an ace set and really drew the crowd in from the bar area, who immediately disbursed again afterwards interestingly.

There was time for wandering around to chat to Michael, Rebecca, Paul, Nicki, Matt and Stephenie before the rumble of the didgeridoo intro music coursed through the venue, the signal to return back to the venue ready for Ferocious Dog to hit the stage.

The room was full as they kicked into Gallows Justice, but there was a definite gap at the front where seven or eight of us were dancing around like loons.  Folk were dancing and smiling but it was more of a ‘moshlet’ than a mosh for those of us who’d travelled.  It meant Paul and I had the dilemma of whether de-shirting was appropriate or not – we decided not to and both regretted it by the end as it meant we needed fresh t-shirts – although that gave me a chance to add Gaz’s latest apparel to my wardrobe so all’s not lost!

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Gradually the crowd lost their inhibitions and as Hell Hounds kicked in people had joined us at the front – once chap in a Bearded Theory t-shirt’s glasses flew off and ended up on the floor, having been there before I was quick to spot them and get them back to him, I always take mine off for moshing these days!  He reappeared later having found somewhere safe to stash them!  The sound was good from where I was, although there were a few technical wobbles with the monitors, John having to crouch playing next to his amp by the end as his had died completely.

That didn’t spoil anything for the crowd who were really getting into it, again the circle for Freethinker did its job at bringing more people into the fold, whilst for Freeborn John we needed to improvise due to a combination of lack of numbers and an unforgiving concrete floor so I lay on the floor for Paul to do the surfing – apparently it’s quite difficult to balance on somebody lying on the floor but he did an admirable job once his knees were braced, although it was funny watching either Nicki or Rebecca end up with a face full of bum when he got down for the surfing bit.

The call for an encore was significant, and they came back out to run through Lyla and Raggle Taggle Gypsy which really drew people to the front for a final dance before it ending.  Wandering around after I spoke to a fair few folk new to Ferocious Dog who’d loved it.  One chap, clutching a CD was telling me he couldn’t believe how great it was – he’d just seen the event on Facebook that morning and decided to take a punt on it and felt well and truly hooked.  I bought a new t-shirt from Gaz before lugging the merch back to the van ready to get loaded in – final goodbyes being goodbyed before we were all back in the bus and good to go.

IMG_1611Carl heroically drove Cerebus back to Nottinghamshire through the night – at some point due to adjustments in our timing system we lost an hour, a brief stop at a services saw my hilarious idea of a prank by buying a whoopee cushion backfired when it turned out to be burst, leaving us intermittently sleeping, talking nonsense, playing ‘Punkeroo’ (trying to balance things on Ken’s mohawk spikes when he’s asleep), or generally getting a bit cabin-feverish.

To the point where we even made a video of what would really be rather over-sized feet kicking sleeping Ken in the head. Poor Ken, I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be kicked in the head by giant feet, but it’s too fun not to share.  Sorry Ken.

Waggy and Scott were the first drop, then Brad, then to Ken’s where we dispersed into our assorted vehicles – I dropped John off at his sister-in-laws which was on the way home for me, then finally I made it to by bed by around 4:30am, certainly there was no difficulty in going to sleep this time.  Huge thanks to Ken, Dan and Waggy for inviting me along for the ride, and everyone involved for being so welcoming – it really does open your eyes to how unglamorous the life of touring musicians can be at times, but it’s been lovely to have had the chance to do it again and get to know everyone that bit better.

Next week I’m back to travelling under my own steam for Norwich and Bedford, but giving Liverpool a miss through a combination of expensive accommodation but also it would be good to have a bit of a weekend free to just have a bit of relaxation time too.  I know there’s plenty going to Liverpool already to make sure that it will be a night not to forget.  I’m absolutely aching and shattered – but what a weekend it’s been, back to reality tomorrow – I’m not looking forward to that alarm clock going off in the morning!

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