Lock, stock and three smokin’ artists..
It was only back on Thursday I was preparing to head off to London town – it feels like a month ago! The day started with a phone call from Wez who had ended up in the wrong town due to a satnav mishap, soon enough that was remedied and we were hotfooting it up the M1 to Warsop to convene with Cerebus and the rest of its happy band of travellers. Soon into the journey Scott was sharing his beauty regime secrets meanwhile Ken was absorbed in a book entitled Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones.
To pass the time John, Scott, Brad and I had a few rounds of rummy – I didn’t have masses of change and was running up a substantial gambling debt (okay, it was four quid..) to John before mercifully I won a game and enough cash to clear my increasing arrears. A trip to the service station saw Brad’s hat end up on the roof of the van, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in Camden – and doing a few laps of it to find the spot we needed to unload into Dingwalls. Mercifully it was clear so parking up wasn’t a problem ready to get the gear off the back of the van.
Of course, avoiding the glaze-eyed sauntering dawdlers wandering like a zombie procession down the pavement between the van and the venue was more of a challenge – but we’d soon got the assorted cases and boxes and instruments into Dingwalls enabling Wez to find somewhere to leave the bus until later.
Mad Dog Mcrea had arrived in their van (presumably it must be dubbed ‘The Happy Bus’) and once inside we were quick to find Gaz, Dan, Leanne, Lauren and a first chance for me to meet the beautiful Lacey Lee, Les and Louise had arrived too leaving us to pass the time whilst leads were plugged in – Ken changed his guitar strings, whilst comparing routines with Gaz (all guitarists apparently have their own way of doing it!) and soon enough it was time for the sound checking to commence.
In the bar Lacey Lee was the main focus of attention – Scott is absolutely smitten with her. She was pretty unfazed by the goings on around her, safely ear-defended up whilst the assorted instruments were tested out through the sound system. Once done John, Scott, Brad and I wandering into town to grab a pint in The World’s End followed by wandering back towards the venue to The Ice Wharf for some food – in true Wetherspoons style it had lots of customers and not enough staff, I was getting worried about getting back to Dingwalls in time but managed to wolf down a burrito in record time in time to see Gaz.
Of equal importance to not missing the music was the chance to catch up with Dave, Caroline and Simon – and eventually Ella once I located her down near the front as Gaz Brookfield was getting started. This was to be my only chance to see her this weekend. With there being three acts on he had a slightly shorter set than usual – cantering through Land Pirates Life, Diabetes Blues and its reprise, Godless Man brought him through to Ode to Ozzy, The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke before unleashing a strong finish of Bigger Man, Let The East Winds Blow and Thin.
A great response from the crowd who sang along in all the right places, and indeed mostly throughout the entire set. I haven’t made much by way of notes of any unusual utterances or amusement so I’m going to half-assume he rattled through quite quickly in order to fit as much music into his set ahead of Mad Dog Mcrea getting ready to provide the first of what was billed a dual-headline show. A triple header of Gaz, Mad Dog Mcrea and Ferocious Dog really is a good example of my ideal gig!
They took to stage and immediate launched into A Longer Road and then Raggle Taggle Gypsy. Heart of Stone from their latest album was up next then one of my favourites – the ludicrously catching Johnny No Legs charting the misfortune of a chap who had both his legs shot away by a cannon. New song Sugar Water Sunday followed and the pace of playing along with some of Mick’s interludes suggested they perhaps didn’t realise how long a set they had.
Climb a Hill led neatly into Simon’s favourite Black Fly, which starts deliciously slowly and builds up to full pace compared to the recorded version (which, in fairness, I also love!), which led us into Am I Drinking Enough, Curly Whirly Jig and a rampant finish of Happy Bus. They were home and hosed about half an hour early but unfortunately some quick unplugging and dismantling meant an extension was rendered untenable before it could be considered.
A bit of a pity really, Ella was hoping to hear Bee’s Wing whilst I was hankering for a spot of Pikey Killed My Goldfish or Mad Dog Coll. It was still a bloody cracking set though, and given what was to follow perhaps a little respite from dancing was a bit of a treat really! In the meantime a drum kit swap around was in operation – where that extra bit of time might’ve come in handy, whilst those of us in the crowd had the chance to catch up and grab refreshments or loo breaks.
Ferocious Dog took to the stage following the intro music – the light man had been to talk to Ken before so had been briefed on giving them red lighting before putting Ellis in the spotlight as he launched into the intro of Gallows Justice on his bouzouki – it looked great. After this Ken had just told him to do what he felt was right – I have to say I don’t normally pay much attention to the lights but they seemed particularly good here in Camden Town. Maybe it’s because I overheard the earlier conversation.
Poor Angry and Young followed with inevitable lobster hands – I’d brought the lobster head with me and forgot to bring him in from Cerebus (where he now resides as a headrest cover unless he got destroyed after I was dropped off!), Living on Thin Air makes a reappearance to the set list for good reason which will come to the fore on the blog for saturday in Brighton. In addition to the set list Crime and Punishment is snuck in there with a bit of extra time to play with.
We’d been trying to keep track of Dean and Sarah’s progress – as ever leaving it ’til the last minute, so after Verse for Lee, The Glass, Lee’s Tune, Unconditional and Too Late had been and gone we faced Freeborn John still with no surfer. We had earlier been trying to get Ella to do it, Paul decided that his struggling to stand on a lying down person put him out the running – we eventually peer-pressured Brian into getting up with me as the board – and what a great debut he had!
At some point around the Ruby Bridges or Marikana Massacre mark Dean arrived in the moshpit – it had been a pretty lively one, some exuberant younger lads smashing around fairly indiscriminately not really considering the low stage and that shoving folk onto it wasn’t a great idea. Out of thoughtlessness rather than malice, I might add – although not without consequence – Ella ended up battered and bruised whilst Dave ended the gig with an icepack on his elbow!
On The Rocks was followed by Criminal Justice – Ken had a slight word-slip but was put back on track by Ella at the front, in the meantime John had an amusing chewing gum-related mishap on stage. By the time we’d worked our way through Quiet Paddy, Hell Hounds, Freethinker and Mairi’s Wedding Part II it was encore time, and Slow Motion Suicide was the choice – slightly extended through Dan’s violin needing some last minute tuning ahead of the violin solo – I quite like the extended version in truth!
Once we’d packed up (and Leanne had a slight altercation with a merch table) a few of us opted to head back to the hotel rather than be lured out by the Mad Dog Mcrea boys to a place they referred to as Smokey Joe’s (but I think is now just called Joe’s) around the corner – to be fair, Ken, Scott and John were raving about the place but a combination of conserving budget and not wanting to destroy myself on night one of four (lightweight, huh?) so whilst they were partying it up in Camden, Waggy and I headed to our hotel room to go to bed!
So ends part one of four. I aim to get the whole weekend covered by Thursday otherwise subsequent trips to Telford, Manchester and Clitheroe are going to see me with a huge backlog of things to write about! Watch this space.. (thanks Simon for the headline, I was really struggling – I really need to go and catch up on some sleep!)..