Talking heads and moshing elephants..
Premier 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…
You are sure to have noticed on Facebook that Ferocious Dog tours have become a bit cheese-obsessed – Ellis is a cheese monster, and Gaz Brookfield has been fuelling the fire by bringing cheese for him to sample. I’d got a decent selection of cheese in my bag along with some crackers, a board and a knife – I had planned on saving it for a dressing room share since Ellis and Gaz weren’t on the bus, but well, we relented and had a smorgasbord of cheesy goodness on Cerebus instead as we headed down the M3 towards Southampton.
At the venue everything was unloaded whilst discussions centred around strange culinary combinations – I’m still not quite sure of the virtues of bacon and custard, but certainly Gaz’s suggestions of making chilli with chocolate or even coffee in it probably do justify some more investigation! The video above is a time-lapse of the unloading and stage-building going on at Talking Heads, a cracking venue on the outskirts of Southampton itself and surrounded by some awesome takeaways!
Hanging around the venue was fun – Dean, Sarah, Paul, Nicki, Daren, Michelle, Jacqui, Geoff, Claire, Chris and countless others had arrived early – Mick had brought his daughter Shola for her first experience of the band, and there was much cooing over Lacey Lee too. Brad was sitting a bit too comfortably on one of the settees in the venue prompting a big pile-on cunningly orchestrated by me and Scott – not that it seemed to faze him very much it has to be said!
It was great having the chance to just have a natter and a drink with everyone as the venue was limbering up to get open for the masses. A bonus for tonight was that Brad had managed to wangle a support slot too before Gaz so soon enough we were getting ready to watch him kick off the evening’s music with a short set.
He kicked off in fine style with I’m Still Here and followed up with Far Away and Festival Bar Blues, finishing up with Special Brew (which made me happy as I’d asked him to play it!) – a nice little unexpected bonus performance. It’s these kinds of things that is a definite benefit of attending so many dates on a tour – there are the occasional extras or moments that just don’t happen on every date. There’ll definitely be more of that come the Brighton update! Here’s a video of Brad’s final song. One of my favourites!
Moments later Gaz Brookfield was up on the stage and commencing as he does with Land Pirate’s Life and straight into Diabetes Blues and its reprise as a nice means of reminding folk he has an album out (which you surely must have by now, right?). Under The Table makes a return to the set list before my favourite atheist fruit anthem of Godless Man leads us into Ode to Ozzy and a bit of Grant Shapps bashing for The Ballad of Elizabeth Duke.
The opening chord saw half the room joining Gaz with the opening line of ‘I grew up in Swindon..’ as Towns commenced a bloody strong quartet to finish – followed up with Bigger Man, Let the East Winds Blow and Thin. The singalong bits seem to be getting louder as the nights go on – certainly another energetic and thoroughly enjoyable set. Talking with Geoff after – off to see Frank Turner in Nottingham a could of days later – we both scratched our heads at why Gaz isn’t operating at that kind of level of popularity.
Soon enough the intro music was booming around the venue calling folk to return their attention to the stage as Ferocious Dog made their way up there. The set list is getting pretty familiar now, Gallows Justice into Poor Angry and Young (lobster claws at the ready) Verse for Lee and Unconditional providing a gentler paced sandwich for The Glass and Lee’s Tune before Too Late picks up the pace again – with Nicki up on Paul’s shoulders.
Since Dean missed his chance in Camden it was clearly his turn to surf here – so when Freeborn John kicked in I got myself horizontal and Dean did his thing. The mosh pit was energetic and fun as ever – but what struck me here was the spirit of it all, a couple in wheelchairs were right at the front and protected throughout by the Hell Hounds. They rattled through Ruby Bridges, On the Rocks, Marikana Massacre, Criminal Justice, Slow Motion Suicide, Quiet Paddy and Hell Hounds in what felt like rapid succession.
For Freethinker Dean had formulated a plan to wheel the chap in the wheelchair (I’m terribly sorry to have forgotten his name) into the centre of the circle for a maximum immersive experience before getting him back to safety once the song really kicks into life again. Mairi’s Wedding Part Two finishes off the main set – but there’s the treat of a two song encore comprising Lyla and Raggle Taggle Gypsy. As the stage was packing up and heading out news was filtering through of the awful events occurring in Paris, albeit not the extent of them.
One thing of note were Kenny’s vocals were particularly strong for this gig – he hadn’t spent much time around the crowd before the gig this time, as is his custom. It’s a real tightrope walk for him to fulfil his role as ambassador for the band and all-round nice guy, and not wrecking his voice by chatting and talking over music to people before he performs – it definitely paid off tonight, one of the best vocal performances I’ve seen from him I would say!
Back in the bus Wez was having a break from driving, and as such had consumed a fair amount of alcohol. Ken, Les and Brad were on the back row, I was sat next to Wez whilst John and Scott were fiddling with the CD player before immediately retreating to cower in a corner. It turns out that Nellie the Elephant by Toy Dolls triggers Wez into one-man-mosh-pit action! Unawares I was propelled head-first into the floor-well near the sliding door, my cider can mangled whilst the bus – driving by this point – lurched dangerously.
Certainly memorable! I only have the above video of the calm after the storm – Brad has one of the heat of the moment which is certainly worth a watch! We’ve started to try to talk the band into slipping a cover of it into one of the sets just to see the mosh pit go up… if that’s ever likely to happen I definitely want to keep an eye on the set list get away from the immediate vicinity of any Hot Dog clad people that might be in there! Back at the hotel it was another case of a good night’s sleep at a Premier Inn for me.