Cŵn ffyrnig ar daith yng Nghymru..
Online translations are always a risky prospect, I’ve tried a few to double-check the headline – but don’t pretend to be a Welsh speaker (much as I’d love to be!) so apologies if it’s completely nonsensical to any native Welsh speakers out there! Snotty and I had decided to make a weekend out of a trip to Swansea and travelled there on Friday evening and missed the Swindon gig, which according to Mick was an awesome evening’s entertainment.
We checked into an awesome B&B for a couple of nights, I wouldn’t normally write loads about accommodation (and I won’t write loads, don’t worry!), but The Mirador in Swansea is worth bit of a mention for its quirkiness.
A town house run by the incredibly affable Phil and Jeanette, each room there is themed on a different part of the world – there’s a Venetian room and a Parisian room (that’s two blogs on the bounce that have mentioned Parisian – what’s the odds of that?!) or in our case an Egyptian themed room, with pharaohs and Nefertiti looking down on us – it was brilliant. Should you ever find yourself travelling to Swansea then I’d heartily recommend it – breakfast was awesome too. Next job after this is to head to trip advisor and leave a nice review.
But anyway, a bit of moseying around the seafront, casing out the venue and generally having a splendid time not rushing around it soon came around to Saturday afternoon/evening. We headed to the Uplands Tavern – round the corner from the hotel, opposite the venue – and were immediately faced with a sizeable gathering of members of a motorcycle club over from Ireland, I’m not sure what for – it transpired they weren’t coming over to the gig, which is a pity, I reckon they’d have enjoyed it.
Outside the pub we’d met Belinda, a familiar face from Facebook – and once we’d got a drink and settled inside she found us again and corralled us over to a table with other gig-goers – including Martin and Frank, and several others whose names I’ve been crap at remembering. She proceeded to do the same for other disparate folk scattered around the place who’d not met each other yet, soon enough Mick arrived right on cue, shortly followed by Dave, Paul and his lad. Paul informed us the pub used to be the Dylan Thomas’ local – to my shame I wasn’t familiar with his work, maybe something I should remedy.
Just as things involving Jägermeister and red bull were starting to make an appearance Gaz Brookfield had wandered over for a drink and a chat – he’s finally sussed out who is responsible for the blog, haha! I thought he must’ve known by now. Some of the band were loitering outside as we started wandering over to the venue – my tickets had been lost in the post, but I’d been able to contact the venue and have them changed to collection on the door which went smoothly leaving us in the venue itself.
It’s a nice little space – The Garage has a bar area up top with some seating booths then a ramp leading down to a dance floor and a not exactly huge stage. The capacity is probably around the 250-mark, although I don’t think we were likely to get close to that. Karen was manning the merch near the bar (and alarmingly near the toilets, bless her!), and we’d acquainted ourselves with Craig, Hazel, Andy, Wez, Waggy and most of the band too – “Are you going to get down to the front, please?” chimed Gaz as he dashed past getting ready to start his set.
We did of course head to the front – he launched into Land Pirate’s Life then into Diabetes Blues with its reprise and Towns. Despite the relatively low numbers there was good energy between performer and crowd – Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen was in there again and well, a song about a rum brand is surely well followed up with drinking song Under The Table. It’s been interesting noting the slight tweaks to Gaz’s set lists from night to night, they are tweaks – I wonder what drives the differences?
Godless Man comes up next – I could be wrong but at the first chorus I’m sure caught my eye and smirked a bit – which is probably confirmed by the end when he told the godless mango tale again and even called me a prick into the bargain – haha! Fame at last! A strong finish of The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke and the always emotional Bigger Man warmed the crowd up perfectly for the crowd-participation finish for Let The East Winds Blow and Thin. Plenty of applause and calls for more were duly shouted – another top job jobbed by Gaz – I particularly enjoyed the forays he made with his guitar on to the dance floor!
With the intro music on it was soon enough Ferocious Dog time – we’d tried to gently coax our B&B hosts into coming to the gig when they asked why we’d come over to Wales. They visibly recoiled when I said we’d come to see a band called Ferocious Dog, however, by the time we checked out they had at least been checking them out on YouTube at our insistence that they really probably would rather enjoy them, so perhaps if a return visit to Swansea ever occurs they might take the plunge!
Gallows Justice launched us into a frenetic start, there weren’t masses of people who’d braved the move down the front but a healthy number of us. The sound was cracking in the venue from where I was standing – Snotty and Waggy flanked the moshpit with cameras on standby (in fact, Snotty’s photos are already online, and well worth a look). I’d taken a fairly safe bet on the set list remaining similar and acquired a new prop for a certain point of the gig – always likely to be song two, I wasn’t disappointed when the bass-leaden chug of Poor Angry and Young kicked in.
I popped behind a speaker stack where I’d stashed a sinister looking bin liner I’d been carrying – it contained something Snotty and I found by chance last weekend. We’d popped to Asda in Stevenage to grab some shopping and in the remnants of the Hallowe’en fancy dress displays found a foam lobster hat – in case you hadn’t realised it’s a bit of a running in-joke that the intro to Poor Angry and Young sounds a bit like the B52’s hit Rock Lobster. We are quite oft found doing ‘lobster claws’ at them during the song.
This time I got to cavort around in a silly lobster hat – I didn’t really gauge reaction at the time, Snotty was laughing too much to get a picture (hopefully Waggy got one, but he was towel-wrangling at the time), she reckons John had to face the other way whilst Ken just shook his head in a disappointed way. Haha! Wez took one look, contemplated for a moment and proclaimed “I like that!” – from a man in a hot dog suit, that’s praise indeed. It’s Wez’s dream to see the whole moshpit in fancy dress though – so I guess any step towards that is likely to meet with his approval!
The set list quickly swung around to more serious matters with Verse for Lee, The Glass and Lee’s Tune so I popped the head off and onto a speaker stack – it would seem a bit disrespectful somehow! Anyway, I hope Waggy got a photo although the lobster is still sitting sinisterly in the boot of my car so it might well not be his last appearance at a gig – although of course the surprise element is gone now! Too Late followed which is of course the signal for Freeborn John to come up next.
Having noted the lowish ceiling, and the suspended tiles (argh, not tiles again) I’d tried to get Craig to go up and surf but he was insistent on being the board so t’was he who was hoisted and me going up – this time I was very careful not to put my head through the ceiling but again a bit of a hunched-over number. The security weren’t too happy about it, but we kinda ignored them until the fast bit when I looked down and saw nobody in front to spring down from – luckily a chap did come to my rescue and no harm was done.
Ruby Bridges followed, then On The Rocks and Marikana Massacre and Criminal Justice (we are back to pinkie-swears for ‘Together We Are Strong’ which always raises a smile. Slow Motion Suicide is restored to the pre-encore slot it definitely deserves – Dave got in trouble initially for lifting Snotty on his shoulders, then oddly doing the same for me during Dan’s violin fiddle – both pretty short lived endeavours! The owner of the place definitely didn’t seem to like much in the way of crowd elevation! Never mind, the moshing was still fun!
Classics Quiet Paddy and Hell Hounds got the energy levels right back up in time for Freethinker which lead to a pretty big circle being created. One lady declining joining on account of the sweatiness – haha – which lead us seamlessly into Mairi’s Wedding Part II. The encore was immediate and made up of Raggle Taggle Gypsy and Lyla – it’s great to see Lyla featuring at more gigs, it’s such a hypnotic song when it gets going but with that deliciously misleading gentle start.
By the end it was a pretty sweaty affair – handy towels chucked from the stage were very welcome indeed leaving us to get ourselves composed. By the time we’d done that the bar was closed but the upstairs venue was open – so Snotty, Dave, Mick and I headed up there for a cheeky one – looking around the clientele we weren’t exactly the right demographic so we snuck back downstairs whilst the clean-up was happening and chatted with Kenny, Gaz, Karen et al before heading off into the night.
Once outside it transpired Dave’s arse was literally hanging out of his shorts thanks to a large tear in them – with a reasonable walk back to his van in the Marina area he quickly protected his modesty with a hoody-round-the-waist and judiciously opted to get a taxi back there. We wandered back to our hotel and collapsed, only to be shuddered into wakefulness periodically by the most ridiculously loudly snoring man in the room directly below us – made worse by his immediate neighbours banging on the wall, and another room turning their telly up to deafening volumes. Oh well!
Once breakfast was breakfasted we hit the road back to Stevenage then on to the midlands for me – on the M4 we carried on the motorcycle theme by encountering a convoy of literally hundreds of bikers marking Remembrance Sunday, and a further group on the M25. Upon reading online it turns out they wanted to turn the M25 into a pseudo poppy by wearing red and filling it with bikers – it was certainly quite a sight. There’s more information here about it.
All in all, another splendid weekend with friends both old and new. Now I can say I’ve seen Ferocious Dog in three different countries – admittedly they’re all in the United Kingdom, but still!