Surfin’ bird in Shropshire..
Once again a weekend is over and I’m kinda regretting not taking my laptop on my travels to write as I go – so here comes part one of a triple-header of gigging with Ferocious Dog again. The day started for us heading off to Telford in Shropshire via Loughborough train station where Ella arrived from down south. A pretty uneventful journey arriving just in time for a strange window of closedness for our hotel.
So with a couple of hours to kill we wandered to find the venue where Dom and Waggy were already engrossed in a skill-ridden game of pool in the main bar area. Wez, Dan and Leanne were hanging around too. Tour tattoos were in progress for some of the others, Waggy was due to go under the needle too – whereas we’d killed enough time to head back to the hotel – timing it perfectly finding Mick driving past so he kindly dropped us off.
By the time we’d got ourselves sorted it was time to wander back again – via a cheeky pasty from the local shop just down from The Haygate, only to find the venue properly locked up, with a few folk already waiting outside. Bumping into John having a smoke was fortuitous as it gained us entry to hang about inside before the place opened up – it was getting a bit chilly outside!
Useful sofas provided lounging space with Wez whilst the band ran through a late soundcheck – it seemed quite a torturous one, the Haygate is a small venue and probably not geared up for a six piece band, but eventually the sound man worked his magic and had them sounding great, Gaz Brookfield was a lot less palaver to get sorted. Whilst Ella had popped to the loo I asked him if he’d mind including a song she loves in his set which he agreed to – thanks Gaz!
People started arriving into the venue and well, it was a sell-out after all – and it’s a fairly small space so it filled up fast. With lots and lots and lots of familiar friends, it was a big like a mini Farmer Phil’s but indoors (unsurprisingly, nestled as we were in Shropshire) – indeed, Farmer Phil himself was in attendance. Plenty of helloing and catching up was underway, amazingly Ella and I avoided getting ‘Pastaed’ unlike many of the people who’d been out with her in the afternoon.
Gaz had been suffering with a bad throat, and whilst upon taking the stage suggested that his remedy of drinking port was the answer it was clear that he was suffering a bit – not that it detracts from the entertainment he provides. He kicked off with Land Pirates Life including the ‘whoa oh oh’ bits he doesn’t normally do – one thing that would prove invaluable was a bustling and lively crowd guaranteed to sing along to pretty much every song.
Diabetes Blues and reprise followed and frankly the singing along was ridiculously loud – nestled a bit further back compared to normal near the frankly ridiculously under-protected sound desk it was practically the whole room singing along. It must’ve sounded great from the stage! Godless Man followed in honour of a snack I’d picked up earlier in the day on the way to Telford and followed by Sailor Jerry’s Kitchen – a cunning move, it’s gentler on the voice than Towns.
Maps followed with Chris in the crowd again and went down well with the crowd, then he paused to announce this song was for Alan and Ella – the look on Snotty’s face was pretty priceless as she twigged what was going on as he went into Glass Half Empty, which left him with his typical finishing three songs of Bigger Man (where the crowd covered the strenuous bits with gusto), Let The East Winds Blow and Thin.
Popping over to thank him at the end for the dedication he was a bit frustrated at the voice issues he was having, but as I said to him at the time, it really doesn’t detract much from the show for me. I guess when you’re a bit of a perfectionist it must be annoying – he of course subsequently had to pull out of the next few gigs as a result, which is sad for him and the crowds at those gigs. Hopefully you’re feeling better very soon, Gaz.
Soon enough he intro music was shuddering through the sound system and the packedness of the room became rapidly apparent as Ferocious Dog took to the stage. A low ceiling, limited space and many many eager dancers made for a very warm venue! Gallows Justice was barely over before it was time for shirts to come off, Poor Angry and Young led us into the first reprieve of A Verse for Lee, as The Glass and Lee’s Tune brought the energy right back up.
Crime and Punishment gave us a bit of line-dancing practice before Unconditional and Too Late led up to Freeborn John. Tim had already asked Dean if we could fulfil a dream of his to be the surfboard, which we duly obliged. Looking at the low ceiling, we’d nominated Magz to take up surfing duties, Dean had already got her to take her lethal looking shoes off ahead of the song and in no time she was up and doing a sterling job. One of my favourite surfboard moments!
Ruby Bridges led us back into the pacy numbers with Marikana Massacre bringing the mosh back to life – Dave elected to put me on his shoulders for the slow bit, he’s a glutton for punishment that fella. This of course made Tim feel a bit left out so no sooner had I returned to the ground Tim picked me up for Slow Motion Suicide – which is always entertaining as you get to do an extensive round of ‘air violin’ for Dan’s epic solo, which apparently amuses Leanne no end.
On The Rocks, Criminal Justice and Quiet Paddy led into the frenetic blast that is – as ever dedicated to Jay – Hell Hounds, then onto the final straight of Freethinker. At this point I had to get out the eye of the storm and cool down by the merch stand, I was literally steaming but got to watch Mairi’s Wedding Part Two and the encore of Lyla and Raggle Taggle Gypsy from the seats near the merch desk whilst wafting cool air from outside in to the venue with the door.
By the end there was a fairly marathon round of goodbyes – this gig was like a home from home performance with so many of our festival friends in one place, which was always going to be awesome – but after a couple more drinks a stagger back to the hotel via a kebab shop was most definitely the order of the day, with Manchester beckoning the next day – it might be a city renowned for partying, but it would have to go some to beat Telford!