Fly on the wall..

IMG_1943Over the last year I’ve been privileged and humbled by the fly on the wall opportunities I’ve been afforded by the band.  Last week I was lucky enough to join them in the rehearsal studio after a day of exploring then driving back from Clitheroe to get a sneak preview of some of the treats in store for Rock City.  Of course, I couldn’t write about it then as it would’ve spoiled some of the surprises – but I can now!

It is a small glimpse into the work that happens behind the scenes from the band – after a gruelling three days with Ken suffering from what turned out to be laryngitis it was essential they got some time in to run through some of the finer details.  Les and Scott had never played Pocket full of Madness before, John had a few times and the rest of the band hadn’t played it in ages (nor had Kyle!).

Whilst Chloe and Megan had worked out their dance routine it was important to get a chance to practice with the band – timings between live and recorded songs can differ quite dramatically, and then of course there was the extended version of Freeborn John to work through with The Afterdark Movement rapper Bru-C (as an aside, since then I’ve been listening to a bit of The Afterdark Movement and I really like it (aside from referring to my favourite football team as Notts Forest – haha!)).

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Freeborn Al / 30th November 2015 / Band, Music, Photos, Thoughts, Videos / 0 Comments

Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Run with the wolves while I hunt like a hound..

IMG_1964I’d booked tickets for Prodigy ages ago and kinda forgotten about it – subsequent Ferocious Dog tour marathoning has rendered me pretty much without holiday now so it was a straight-from-work driving job.  Ella and I met up with Phil in Nottingham and headed on to the venue, Nottingham’s Ice Arena, a fairly characterless carbuncle of an arena.  Once in we were directed outside to join a monstrous queue for those of us with standing tickets (one of the bouncers inside did clock my Ferocious Dog hoody though!)

Seeing Prodigy at the G-Mex centre in Manchester back in 1997 was my first ‘proper’ gig really – I was with Phil then too, funnily enough.  We had naively made our way to the front for a good vantage point, getting smashed around the mosh pit during the support act – some band called the Foo Fighters – before Prodigy took the stage.  My then girlfriend passed out at some point during their set meaning we watched the second half from the medical area while she recovered.

But well, you live and you learn – whilst I’m a fan of being up close and personal in my general gig going this one was always going to be one to appreciate from a distance so upon gaining entry past the zealous and unfriendly arena staff we were faced with a pretty packed floor space and Public Enemy already underway.  Eventually we settled in a spot not far from the exit around level with the mixing desk, occasionally being impolitely compelled to move in by some jobsworth harpy with a radio.

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Freeborn Al / 25th November 2015 / Gigs, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Stroud and Cardiff cancelled..

I’m sure you’ll have seen the news already, but with regret Ferocious Dog have been forced to pull out of this week’s shows at Cardiff and Stroud. Ken has been suffering with laryngitis and under doctors orders has been told he needs to rest his voice to have any hope of being able to perform at Rock City on Saturday.

 
Listening to Ken practically miming through rehearsals on Sunday, and having been privy to some of the deliberating over the decision I know how gutted all the band are. They have been agonising over the possibility of needing to let down those folk with tickets for the two shows – but well, medical mandate has made the call for them.

The Cardiff gig has been rescheduled for 6th February 2016, and tickets remain valid – if folk need to get refunds then get in touch with the ticket provider you used. It’s really regrettable and nobody is more gutted than the band – I know how excited they were about all the gigs on the tour.

Freeborn Al / 24th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments

A Grand day out..

IMG_1891A relatively early night and a lateish check-out time saw us exit Manchester around lunchtime for a frankly stunning drive through the wilds of Lancashire up to Clitheroe – I wish I’d taken some photos really, but I didn’t.  I’ve never ventured beyond the urban areas of the red rose county before – it really is quite pretty, suddenly I don’t think Maelor Hughes is telling fibs when he extolls its virtues in Milltown Boy!

I must admit I didn’t know much about Clitheroe aside from it being up a bit from Manchester – so it was lovely to discover a scenic town.  The hotel was duly located, but without parking – so we eventually found somewhere to dump the car over night and got our stuff up to the hotel.  The Swan and Royal is a cracking traditional pub and our room was decent – it even had an extra bed, which would come in handy later…

We had something to eat downstairs (delicious it were too) before heading upstairs for a nap in my case (and accompanying inevitable photo on Facebook) before getting ourselves sorted and downstairs to join Matt and Mick for drinks.  In the meantime John called as he and Les had decided to stay over rather than travel on the night, the hotel only had one single room going spare – so after a quick conference we booked it and donated our spare bed to one of ’em. Job’s a good ‘un.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Songs for the deaf..

IMG_1853It was a leisurely drive up to Manchester from Telford with no real incident, news of the extent of Gaz’s throat infection filtered through from Facebook so we were feeling a bit glum – and set about researching a bit about Sammy Battle, drafted in to replace him as the support act.  It looked promising, so whilst of course we were both gutted to be missing out on some Gaz action, it’s always good to get a chance to take in a new act too.

Checking in at Ibis in Manchester there was a suspicious package waiting for me at reception – highly dubious it turned out to be from the good folk at Laterooms – I hadn’t used Laterooms since the debacle at Stamford earlier in the year, so I guess this is their way of dealing with customer complaints – and well, I quite like it!  Clearly they’d had a look at my Twitter bio and picked a few presents compliant with that.  Really nice customer service!

Kind of wish I’d complained via my @FerociousBlog account rather than my personal one now to see what kind of gifts that would’ve inspired!  In the hotel we caught up on snoozing, as well as exciting news from The Leylines who’ve launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for their new album next year – take a look at the campaign and see if any of the rewards tickle your fancy.  I’m a big fan of these ways of raising capital without resorting to begging for record labels.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Surfin’ bird in Shropshire..

IMG_1830Once again a weekend is over and I’m kinda regretting not taking my laptop on my travels to write as I go – so here comes part one of a triple-header of gigging with Ferocious Dog again.  The day started for us heading off to Telford in Shropshire via Loughborough train station where Ella arrived from down south.  A pretty uneventful journey arriving just in time for a strange window of closedness for our hotel.

So with a couple of hours to kill we wandered to find the venue where Dom and Waggy were already engrossed in a skill-ridden game of pool in the main bar area.  Wez, Dan and Leanne were hanging around too.  Tour tattoos were in progress for some of the others, Waggy was due to go under the needle too – whereas we’d killed enough time to head back to the hotel – timing it perfectly finding Mick driving past so he kindly dropped us off.

By the time we’d got ourselves sorted it was time to wander back again – via a cheeky pasty from the local shop just down from The Haygate, only to find the venue properly locked up, with a few folk already waiting outside.  Bumping into John having a smoke was fortuitous as it gained us entry to hang about inside before the place opened up – it was getting a bit chilly outside!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

And we were bound for Botany Bay* (nearly)..

IMG_1795Morning came with a very achey shoulder thanks to the previous night’s tumble.  One of the perennial mysteries of Ferocious Dog folklore was answered for me by sharing a room with Ken – he does indeed sleep with his hair spiked!  He’s pretty disciplined in keeping his head on one side, switching sides occasionally – so there ya go!  A bit of random telly passed the time before we nipped to the adjoining restaurant to grab some breakfast.

Dan, Waggy and Wez were already getting their morning repast, and once we’d done it was back to get cleaned up in the room.  There were some running repairs to Ken’s rearmost two spikes with a bit of hairspray and a hairdryer (which was a bit too hot, oops, sorry Ken) before reconvening with everyone outside to get on the bus and head to Margate.  John and Scott surprisingly lively considering another late night.

Since they had missed breakfast though it wasn’t long before we were breaking into the Jersey cheese from Julie and Paul – and very delicious it was too.  We were a bit cowardly in the bag to tackle the very ripe looking camembert – but passed it up to the front where Waggy and Wez proceeded to pop it on the heater to get it even more well done.  Pair of animals.  In the back we were listening to House of Pain interspersed with the meerkat sat nav voice up front.

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Freeborn Al / 18th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Triumphant return to an old Haunt..

IMG_1781In Southampton I was lucky enough to wake up in time for breakfast this time, and once everyone had convened and Wez had fetched Cerebus round for the next leg of the journey it was rather a more sombre trip along the coast to Brighton as the full extent of the awful events in Paris became apparent.  There was a degree of mood lightening with the scattered remnants of the previous night’s entertainment that John and Scott, both surprisingly chipper considering, could actually remember.

The hotel we were staying in was actually in Newhaven, some miles outside of Brighton, we opted to head there first to get checked in – Waggy’s sat nav amusingly taking us to a Premier convenience store nearby instead – but soon enough we did find our destination.  I ended up in with Ken for this night as Les was travelling home after the gig since Margate is just down the road for him relatively speaking – we got our bags dumped, freshened up and it was back on the bus to get to the venue.

Of course we were all at The Haunt earlier in the year – it’s an ace little place, sound checking seemed to go pretty well.  Ken had casually announced Jeremy from the Levellers was coming later, and Nick Burbridge too – hopefully getting up to perform with the band.  Nick is one of my all time favourite songwriters – so this was unfeasibly exciting for me even more so than normal!  Waggy and I also cased out the balcony – not open that evening for the public – as a good potential photography spot – the video below shows the soundcheck from up there.

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Talking heads and moshing elephants..

IMG_1766Premier Inn has a good night sleep guarantee (this is definitely something endorsed by Scott – but you’ll have to ask him about that), and they certainly delivered after Camden – both Waggy and I slept in and missed breakfast.  By this point the cold I’ve been having an on-off relationship with over the last few weeks seems to have developed into a nocturnal rasping cough, but that didn’t seem to disturb Waggy, unlike the early hours phone calls for the late night revellers looking for directions back to our digs, haha!

Having not really attempted to get my mohawk up for Camden I actually did a reasonable job of it in the hotel room with the hairdryer and some hairspray, we headed down to the eatery which was being cleared up and charmed some tea from the cleaning staff who were very taken with Kenny, discussions centring around the best hair products to use to achieve his liberty spikes (Schwarzkopf got2b glued blasting freeze spray, if anyone was wondering – I’ve got some now since I used all my hairspray up at the weekend!).

As we drove through London heading inexorably south Scott’s observation skills came to the fore “It’s fucking ginormous int it, London?” he opined.  There was lots of speculation on house prices as we saw the many facets of the capital, meanwhile no matter how far we got out of Camden John, Ken and Scott were adamant that they’d wandered down passing streets at some point last night whilst out galavanting post-gig.  The missed breakfasts on board  was causing some widespread hunger issues, so it was time for me to bring out my secret weapon…

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments