A Grand day out..
A 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.
Everybody who’d travelled were in the same boat as us in that Clitheroe was an unknown and surprisingly lovely entity. Both Matt and I had wondered whether it was actually an x-rated computer game (ha, you’ll have to work that one out yourselves), but in fact you had a scenic stone-built town nestling in the shadow of a castle. More on the castle later, though (there’s a pub called The Castle too, which we ended up walking past countless times).
More and more folk arrived to make a merry band of Hell Hounds as we contemplated heading to the venue – when we did that we were diverted en route by John, Scott and Dom with threats of high drink prices at the venue. I’m glad we did though, a quick pint in the White Lion meant we got to meet a ridiculously cute puppy called Bella. However, keen not to miss the support acts we were soon wandering on to The Grand.
It’s a very swanky venue – it is apparently quite established, but looks brand new – I was a bit pensive heading to the bar with no labels on the pumps and metal fronted fridges, but a pint of Stowford Press for £3.50 isn’t too bad I don’t think! There’s a big stage, dance floor then raised seated area where the bar is – so ideal for however you like to enjoy a Ferocious Dog gig either up close and personal or from afar.
By the time we’d caught up with everyone there the first support act of the evening were getting themselves sorted upon stage, the Ferocious Dog logo projected on to the back wall negating the need for risky clambering to get their banner up. Bad Cardigan are Jack and Tom, and immediately launched into guitar picking melodious goodness – both contributing guitar and vocals to the soundtrack.
They reminded me me of the Civil Wars initially (although obviously more masculine!), titles apparently bore no relevance to the songs – but I enjoyed Spin and Half a Tea Cup particularly. They swapped singing duties, and it was a really engaging set. I’ve picked up a couple of CDs from them which as with Sammy in Manchester I’ve yet to find a chance to listen to – so that’s something to look forward to tomorrow.
Unsurprisingly Accrington’s Maelor Hughes was also drafted in – hitting the stage with a swagger of a man on home turf, quickly announcing he wasn’t Gaz Brookfield. A typically quality set from him, Morning Sun, Big Golden Pot and Milltown Boy the highlights for me and of course a nice singalong opportunity (well, an ‘Oi oi’along opportunity). I do enjoy watching Maelor so whilst we obviously missed Gaz we did have some quality substitutes!
Ferocious Dog‘s intro music kicked in and whilst there were plenty of people in the venue, it’s also a pretty big venue – I’d say a hundred or so more people would’ve filled it to an optimal level. Certainly initially it was a familiar looking mosh pit – although Bad Cardigan soon joined us, and indeed Maelor with his lad aloft on his shoulders was in there too. It was all thoroughly good natured – a posh-mosh if you will, which was frankly welcome after the chaos of the two nights before.
A bouncer arrived to interject with Paul having Nicki on his shoulders during Too Late, but was largely ignored – eventually retreating and not returning for future crowd shenanigans. Dean was restored to surfing duties for Freeborn John, with me returning to board duties – it was a pretty slick set up and well, Dean just makes it look easy doesn’t he? The sound in the venue was great, and it was nice to have an inclusive mosh pit which saw frequent visitors.
And some point we had a bit of verse repeating for On The Rocks, and the assorted bugs doing the rounds might just have found their way to Kenny too as he’s starting to sound a bit throaty – so plenty of honey and lemon and taking it steady for him this week! A gigantic circle was created for Freethinker (albeit with some rebellious folk in the middle – which upset Dave’s OCD ha ha!) before the set was brought to a close with Mairi’s Wedding Part Two.
No encore here, and after unloading had finished (and a spot of ‘guarding’ duty near the gear) we headed off to take in the night life of Clitheroe. A splinter group headed off for a curry whilst Les, John, Ella, Becky, Michael, Nadine and I headed to the Ale House – finding pleasant drinks, surroundings and company within. Unfortunately we only had time for a couple of rounds before closing – which was a shame as I’d have merrily wiled away a few hours there.
Although I’m not sure the revelation about ‘sea-gulling’ was strictly necessary. Les did reveal that Ferocious Dog is ‘the weirdest band I’ve ever been in’ – which is quite an amusing revelation considering some of the colourful bands he’s been involved with. We headed back to our hotel where a disco was raging downstairs, reuniting with the curry party and enjoying a few more drinks in a relatively quiet corner before eventually everyone headed off up to bed.
Ella wasn’t at all up for getting up for breakfast so John, Les, Matt and I had a most civilised repast. After checking out – in no real rush to head off – we went to meet Michael and Becky in Costa for a drink and a chill, before having a wander up to the castle with Les the consummate tour guide. The dogs in Clitheroe are very well dressed. John, Michael and I were up for some silly posing in front of a YMCA shop, but couldn’t find a fourth ‘letter’.
We had some lunch at the Inn at the Station then hit the road – the hanging around had been because we were heading to Mansfield for 6pm as Ferocious Dog were doing a rehearsal of a few bits and pieces. Heading over Snake Pass we got to the rehearsal room to find John, Les and Scott – everyone else arrived and got going, Scott amusingly labelling up the cup of tea he’d made. It was very welcome after the drive through the eerie Derbyshire peaks in twilight though!
I can’t write much at all about the rehearsal as there are surprises planned on the night – but will be able to share videos and photos after the weekend. I’ve never seen a band rehearsing before, it was interesting and impressive to see them in ‘musician’ mode rather than ‘band’ mode – hard to explain, but I suppose as they’ve become somewhat demystified as people as I’ve got to know them I forget they’re all actually bloody talented chaps.
It’s made me even more excited for Rock City. There’s some real treats in store – although first up for us is we’re off to see Prodigy and Public Enemy at the Arena in Nottingham tomorrow night. A bit of a diversion from the norm but one I’m thoroughly looking forward to. I might even have to pop a few words up here about that too!