And we were bound for Botany Bay* (nearly)..
Morning 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.
Getting to Margate and finding the Westcoast Bar was pretty straight forward (nestled as it is on the east coast of the UK – hmm!) – by this point I had a pretty urgent appointment with the gents. Once sorted the route from stage to van was discovered – with three flights of stairs from the street – ouch. Once unloading was finished there was quite a bit of sitting around, a trip to the vintage shop next door – Ken was after some new oxblood boots, Scott found himself a new top.
Gaz and Les had arrived and once sound checking was underway there was a scary moment when the latter dislodged a light on stage that fell terrifyingly close to landing on Dan’s violin before blowing up. Luckily no damage was done (aside to the two lightbulbs). The soundcheck was pretty difficult, but with some patience eventually it was sorted – I made myself useful and got some tea from upstairs which led to the upsetting revelation that Gaz Brookfield doesn’t actually like tea!
Often at gigs the band are given a ‘buy out’ – basically some cash to go out and find some food, on this occasion though the venue were providing a two course meal. Because the soundcheck took a while it came later than was ideal – but by gosh it was amazing – a gigantic roast dinner for main courses that left us in a food coma in the green room, I think Scott and Waggy were hallucinating as they were doing synchronised pigeon impressions.
It was really nice to have had the chance to all sit and enjoy a meal together though rather than disparately heading out into whatever town we were in and buying whatever food we fancied. And should you ever find yourself in Margate, the food at The Westcoast Bar comes highly recommended from me! The venue didn’t have any music to play as doors opened so it was a bit eerie in there
Meanwhile backstage I had the odd experience of Gaz singing a song from Grease to me, it had popped into his head and he was sure the chords must’ve been fairly easy. Hey, whatever helps you prepare to perform, right? On another note, he’d brought some rather excellent cheddar with leek that we defied our full stomachs by sampling – and very nice it was too. I headed out to the venue in time for Gaz’s set to start.
Gaz Brookfield took to the stage and Wez and I sat on box-shaped stools near the merch stand, still working off a big dinner – but they did make for excellent pretend cajon drums to add a bit of percussion to proceedings! He started out with Land Pirates Life and then on to Diabetes Blues and reprise before a stamp took out his DI box – without skipping a beat he speculated whether another stamp would restore it – it did!
That said, he was pretty cautious about moving about too much after that – he played Maps for Chris after a discussion outside earlier prompted it, then on to a more familiar set list of Godless Man, Ode to Ozzy and Ballad of Elizabeth Duke. Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen was preferred to Towns for this set before Bigger Man, Let the East Winds Blow and Thin brought the set to a close.
Backstage Gaz was pretty frustrated at not feeling able to be his lively self, for me it didn’t detract from the performance and I imagine given he’d had a similar sized meal to the rest of us his stomach at least was probably thankful! I stashed my glasses and e-cigarette and returned to the venue. A decent sized crowd had mustered in Margate on a Sunday night, Waggy hadn’t had any word on ticket sales from the venue so they were a bit worried – needlessly, t’was a good crowd.
Again it was a bit eerie with no music on in there – until at least the Ferocious Dog intro music boomed through the venue. Gallows Justice kicked us off, Poor Angry and Young to follow – by this point my left shoulder was hurting a bit so to stop me from using it tried to keep it to my side. Eventually it sorted itself out, so all is well – Living on Thin Air took us into Verse for Lee, The Glass and Lee’s Tune.
Unconditional followed by Too Late where Nicki’s ascension onto Paul’s shoulders was to be the only real opportunity for crowd lifting, Freeborn John was next but a combination of low ceiling and fearing electrocution from touching anything meant we stayed on the floor for this one – which was a bit weird! Ruby Bridges ran us into Marikana Massacre then what I consider ‘classics’ On The Rocks, Criminal Justice and Quiet Paddy.
Ken had a dodgy cable moment during Quiet Paddy which was quickly dealt with by Ellis before any panic could kick in. Hell Hounds was dedicated not only to Jay but to the numerous folk who’d travelled to all four gigs over the weekend, Freethinker saw a circle being formed around a pillar in the middle of the dance floor – risky for the finale, but nobody ran into it – it did draw it to our attention for some silly ‘pole dancing’ shenanigans.
Mairi’s Wedding Part Two finished off the main set – with an encore of Lyla and Raggle Taggle Gypsy to finish everything off. I’ve seen no mention of Slow Motion Suicide in here but feel sure it must’ve been played! It was really hot in there so we cooled off chatting to folk, laughed at Ellis nearly taking out the merch stand getting off stage, and discovered the amazing ice cold air conditioning in the green room next door.
Once we were loaded up folk were keen to get home – certainly I was, I had work the following morning. I’d planned to try to sleep on the bus but that didn’t really happen – however did discover a shared love of National Lampoons movies with John, and chuckled at John and Scott’s agony uncle services being offered to Brad. Dartford tunnel was a bit scary for Scott – and amazingly I was home by 3am. Wez is an absolute hero.
As I reflect over the last few days it’s been great to spend such extended time with everyone and seeing everything that goes on in preparation for a gig – it’s a real honour to have been afforded the level of trust I have considering I’m going to go off and write about it when I get home. And wow, after three frenetic days back at work it all starts again tomorrow when we head off to Telford, this time under my own steam with the bonus of having a weekend of Ferocious Dog with Ella. Can not wait.
* okay, so the Botany Bay near Margate isn’t the one referenced in Crime and Punishment, but still, an irresistible reference!