Up the wooden hill to Bedford..
The trouble with staying over after a gig and heading to the next one after the hotel boots you out is you end up in the next place ludicrously early – unless you find an awesome falconry place near your destination, which is what we did with our early afternoon. So we had entertainment from an assortment of owls, hawks, falcons and eagles to tide us over until a reasonable time to be heading into Bedford – in the absence of any owls in the Owl Sanctuary the previous night it felt like balance had been restored!
Once we headed into Bedford I followed the Sat Nav to what it thought was Greyfriars car park, but it wasn’t quite right (we discovered after paying) so moved the car to the right car park which didn’t charge after 6pm and wandered to locate the venue before repairing to the nearly Ship Inn for a drink since it was early. Who should we happen upon shortly after arrival but Mick? It’s funny how that always happens! Haha, after drinking up in the absence of serving food we nipped a few doors down for a pizza.
By the time we’d finished that the downstairs bar at the venue was open so we headed there finding a few folk already there – not least Ellis and Dom playing pool, the rest of the band we saw heading out for food as we were heading in. Sue, Paul, Brian, Karen, Claire and assorted other folk soon started joining our merry band – tainted by the sad news coming in from Stevenage that Simon was feeling too poorly to make the trip up – get well soon, Simon!
Much fun was had with balloons from the halloween decorations, and the amazing discovery of what happens when you blow e-cigarette vapour into a glass (which I’m sad I never recorded now), before long it was time to head upstairs into the venue proper.
Esquires has a cracking sized room – converted from an old church there’s still plenty of original features lurking beneath the fake ceiling with tiles over them (fear not, the tiles weren’t that low!), a stage at far end with the bar on one side. A cracking sized place for a gig, albeit with a slightly worrying step up onto the wooden dance floor in front of the stage. The crowd soon started to gather in time for Gaz Brookfield to open the show with the promise of a longer set with only the two acts on for this evening’s entertainment.
He was on good form again and getting a good response from the crowd, many of whom were clearly already very familiar with him – again we saw the set list tweaked slightly, his opening gambit of Land Pirate’s Life and Diabete’s Blues remained the same, followed up with Godless Man where he actually referenced the misheard lyric drawing I posted a while back – haha. Ozzy retuned to the set list as did The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke and Towns, with Norwich’s inclusion of Deathbed making way for Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen.
The trinity of finishing songs remains the same though, and why wouldn’t it? Bigger Man is not a singalong song by design but certainly is in practice – warming the crowd up perfectly to lead into them providing the backing vocals for Let The East Winds Blow and then performing the singalong section of Thin with plenty of gusto. Another ace performance, another appreciative crowd – much as I clearly never tire of seeing Ferocious Dog play, I’m pretty happy with the bonus of getting to see Gaz every time I go to see them too.
Soon enough the Ferocious Dog intro music kicked in, I’d withdrawn to the back of the venue to get a reasonable picture of them all before it all kicks off before heading into the mosh pit. There were plenty of us in there, and plenty of room for everyone else to avoid it if they wanted to – whether it be at the front where Snotty, Sarah and Jacquie were stationed or further back. Gallows Justice opened what was to be pretty much the same set list as Norwich, and a suitable amount of mayhem ensued.
Wez, in the hotdog suit, was decided damp from the off since his costume hadn’t really dried from the night before which was a nice surprise for folk who hadn’t realised that was likely to be the case. Poor Angry and Young followed and again Living On Thin Air had an outing before heading into more emotional territory, people staying stationary for A Verse for Lee, more subdued for The Glass before returning to causing mayhem once Lee’s Tune kicks in.
Unconditional starts off with just Ken on his guitar and vocals with minimal drumming that had seen John and Les ‘dancing off’ between each other on occasions – Les wasn’t looking when John tried to catch his eye, but he spotted me looking at him so we had our own little dance off instead. Simple minds, simple pleasures and all that! As with Norwich Too Late slowly brings up the pace before Freeborn John kicks in – Dean’s turn to surf, I was the board and seemed to be a bit ‘arched’ – I think it was Sue who stepped in to prop my head up a bit more which was much appreciated!
A few sound wobbles struck during Ruby Bridges with Dan’s fiddle missing from the mix, but it was soon remedied once the pace kicks in again with Marikana Massacre. Again we end up with the ‘old school’ run through first album tracks – back to back renditions of On The Rocks, Criminal Justice, Quiet Paddy, Hell Hounds, Freethinker and Mairi’s Wedding Part II can do nothing but leave you in a tired sweaty mess. Freethinker had a cracking circle, which Sue captured an awesome video of.
Given the venue setting they were able to go off before quickly returning to promise an encore of two songs, again it was Slow Motion Suicide and Raggle Taggle Gypsy to bring everything to an end. Dan’s fiddle solo for Slow Motion seems to get better and better every time I see it – it’s mesmerisingly good, leaving me at risk of being flattened by the more enthusiastic in the mosh pit as I find myself rooted to the spot just watching. Again, Sue was on hand to video it. Another splendid evening in a splendid venue with splendid folk.
Snotty and I both decided to give Liverpool a miss – overdue a bit of time together, and knowing there was a good crowd of folk heading up there it doesn’t seem such a bad thing – although seeing some of the bands’ fancy dress commitment does make me regret the choice a little bit, but not too much. Next up for us is Swansea a week from now, so not too long to wait!