Songs for the deaf..
It was a leisurely drive up to Manchester from Telford with no real incident, news of the extent of Gaz’s throat infection filtered through from Facebook so we were feeling a bit glum – and set about researching a bit about Sammy Battle, drafted in to replace him as the support act. It looked promising, so whilst of course we were both gutted to be missing out on some Gaz action, it’s always good to get a chance to take in a new act too.
Checking in at Ibis in Manchester there was a suspicious package waiting for me at reception – highly dubious it turned out to be from the good folk at Laterooms – I hadn’t used Laterooms since the debacle at Stamford earlier in the year, so I guess this is their way of dealing with customer complaints – and well, I quite like it! Clearly they’d had a look at my Twitter bio and picked a few presents compliant with that. Really nice customer service!
Kind of wish I’d complained via my @FerociousBlog account rather than my personal one now to see what kind of gifts that would’ve inspired! In the hotel we caught up on snoozing, as well as exciting news from The Leylines who’ve launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for their new album next year – take a look at the campaign and see if any of the rewards tickle your fancy. I’m a big fan of these ways of raising capital without resorting to begging for record labels.
Anyway – I digress – our first stop was a pub just over the road from the venue called the Pub/Zoo – a pretty ace place, with plenty of familiar faces already in attendance. We ordered ourselves a burger and chips to share, not hungry enough for a whole meal and had a few cheeky ciders whilst catching up with folk (many of whom we’d been with last night so there wasn’t much new news – but it was great fun nonetheless).
The Deaf Institute is a stunning little venue – we immediately gravitated to the parrot-themed wallpaper to pose for silly pictures, whilst the barmaid suggested we go back down to the main bar to get larger measures of cider for the same price (bless her). A high stage with a dance floor, bleacher style seats at the back with a small balcony to the side – and a gigantic glitter ball at a sufficient height not to incumber any would-be surfers. Pretty much the perfect venue, upstairs drink price discrepancy aside.
When we’d finished being silly Sammy Battle had subtly taken to stage and went straight into his first song – melody and folky, a man and a guitar, what could go wrong? He risked a new song second in, of course there’s no chance we’d know whether it went well or not – but it sounded alright to me! Sporting a moustache, he addressed the question we were all asking ourselves “Is it for Movember?” No, it wasn’t! Haha! Saved me the hassle later.
He upped the pace of his set with plenty of foot stomping and harmonica accompanying guitar and vocals – we had singalong sections (which just comprised of us shouting “Where were you” – so pretty easy), and a closing track of Church War which he dedicated to those affected by the awful events in Paris a little over a week ago. The other thing I noticed was how far away he sang into the mic – a powerful voice, this lad.
After the set I popped over to the merch stand to buy a CD from him – after a hectic weekend I’ve not had a chance to listen yet but have got it ripped to iTunes now so once I get my phone synced later I’ll hopefully get to remedy that on my commute tomorrow. I’m certainly looking forward to it. The prohibitive drink prices in the upstairs bar were probably a good thing as the walk to the toilets is the equivalent of getting down from base camp at Everest.
I popped up onto the balcony for the start of Ferocious Dog‘s set to grab some photos from a different angle, returning down to enter the fray which was basically a spectacularly lively mosh pit right from the off. The set list mirrored what we’d enjoyed the night before, but with a bit more room to play with and a few enthusiastic unfamiliar faces and plenty of familiar ones it was definitely one to classify as a bit of carnage.
Wez spent much of the evening thoroughly enjoying himself trying to knock over the most gigantic fella I’ve ever seen in a mosh pit. Fitzy, I later learned, proved an immovable object to Wez’s irresistible force – gleefully having folk bounce from him whilst corralling them back into the mosh pit. Nicki went on Paul’s shoulders for Too Late, for Freeborn John it was decreed it was my turn – not a great performance, but at least I didn’t fall off!
Then things escalated quite dramatically – Mick at once point was standing just on a couple of shoulders whilst I’d popped out to have a slurp of cider and a toke on my vape, meanwhile balloons were cascading down on us from the balcony which proved highly entertaining in the mosh pit and probably quite irritating for the band when the wafted on to the stage – Ellis soon put paid to one with his lighter after a while!
For Mairi’s Wedding Part Two Leanne thought she was just being put up on shoulders like normal only to be compelled to repeat the standing feat. The poor security folk had apparently looked to intervene during Freeborn John but been intercepted, they left alone after that which is probably for the best! There was only time for Raggle Taggle Gypsy for an encore before we were left thinking ‘What the hell just happened’ – tired and achey, but happy!
Tiredness and a bit of a cold we’ve been battling saw us retreat to our hotel room pretty soon after rather than opting to party on in Manchester – something that sounds like went spectacularly well for those folk we caught up with in Clitheroe looking decidedly worse for wear, but well, that’s for another post entirely, isn’t it?… but well, in a different way Manchester was up there with Telford for craziness and fun. A stand out gig in what has been a tour full of awesome.
I met countless folk unfamiliar with the band who left the venue enthused and buzzing – which is always a reassuring sign. Without wishing to take anything away from the amazingness of the night before, it was kinda preaching to the choir – here there were people to win over, and won over they surely were… which boded well for the following day’s trip further north to the Lancashire outpost of Clitheroe.