The not so Jingle Bell Ball..

IMG_2266Just how do you follow up a sell-out show these days? Well, two consecutive sell-out shows in Kenny’s case, well – Ken and Dan gave up their time for free to support a charity event set up by Georgi and Heather from Chesterfield College.  They were raising money and awareness for FairPlay, who support children and young adults with disabilities or other needs across the North Derbyshire area, as part of their Health and Social Care studies.  So far their fundraising total is over £900 – which is awesome, huge well done!

I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to the event at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium but as work took me to Leeds on the day it seemed like providence as that made the gig pretty much on the way home.  So upon leaving our office just north of Leeds into the mysterious and misty weather it turned out the M1 was a bit of a nightmare – my sat nav came up trumps and diverted me round the back of Meadowhall and through a labyrinthine route around the backstreets of Rotherham and Sheffield to eventually spit me out on the road to Chesterfield past Dronfield.

Now as a proud Stag being asked to play at the home of the Spireites is a big ask for Ken.  It’s a new ground so it’s very shiny – and The Spires restaurant is a cracking venue, it was going to be a bit odd being at a Ferocious Dog gig – albeit a two-piece one – and sat in dinner party table arrangements!  Whilst Ken and Dan were sound checking I settled on a table with Karen, Bev, Emma, Jamie and Dylan – it was good to have a natter, and coo over Lacey-Lee a bit who was with Leanne and family on the next table.

IMG_2269Tuesday nights are a tricky prospect to get folk out – but people did start arriving, Colin, Gail, Paul, Kim and Andy arrived as did numerous other Hell Hounds dotted around the place.  The first act up was Casey Lowry – a local solo acoustic performer, for a young lad he had one hell of a voice.  Whether it was part of his act or nerves there were a few occasions where lyrics would disappear from his mind or tuning went askew on his guitar – but he was pretty confident in handling it.

IMG_2271Being pretty detached from mainstream music I may well have missed some obvious songs he did – there was some original material in here, Sing by Ed Sheeran made an appearance.  A possibly ill-considered medley of R. Kelly songs saw Ken and Bev up amongst a handful of dancers.  The set ended with a cover of Vance Joy’s Riptide and then another original song which will apparently be a single.  Casey plays with a full band and will be gigging around the Chesterfield/Sheffield area.

Our table loaded up on raffle tickets whilst Ken and Dan got set up for the next set.  I’m pretty sure Dan was using his usual fiddle but it’s had one hell of a clean.  With tickets in hand we settled down for the unusual prospect of a sitting down Ferocious Dog gig – even the performers were both on chairs.  If it weren’t for a few young folk in the crowd in band merchandise it might be the future for their gigs considering none of us are getting any younger – haha!

IMG_2276They started with Gallows Justice and frankly, it’s really difficult to just sit still – Jamie was tapping along on the table whilst I was dying to barge into Andy on my right.  Verse for Lee and The Glass well-placed after to quell the urge a little.  On The Rocks led into Unconditional then Ken briefly told the story of Ruby Bridges before the song commenced.  Freeborn John was introduced with a mandate of no stacking – egged on by the table a bit I improvised from floor level.

Pretend-surfing wearing a suit, it was pretty cringeworthy really but gave us a good chuckle.  Only one photo has surfaced on Facebook so far – hopefully no more follow!  Karen had popped up to the stage to have a quick word with Ken only for him to do the ‘condom machine in the ladies toilets is broken’ gag – haha, it never gets old… comedy gold!  Mairi’s Wedding Part III was up next followed by Slow Motion Suicide (loud cheers to it being dedicated to the death of Margaret Thatcher as ever).

With time pressing Hell Hounds was the final song for the both of them – although I’m pretty sure that Dan launched into Marikana Massacre initially then Ken remained on stage to do a cover of The Pogues Fairytale of New York.  A little too eager initially to get to the ‘you scumbag, you maggot..’ bit and missing out a verse – then returning to do the song from there, with Georgi and Heather waiting patiently ready to do the raffle draw.  A lovely set that went down well with the assembled crowd.  One thing I noticed for the first time was Dan occasionally picking at his violin – is that a new thing?  Answers on a postcard.

IMG_2280Both Ken and Dan helped draw the raffle tickets for the fifty odd prizes that had been gathered – our entire table managed to not win a single prize despite having a decent cache of tickets.  It’s a shame, I know that Andy had his eye on the One Direction hamper and well, there was a signed Ferocious Dog CD in there too.  But well, it’s the taking part that counts after all – and indeed, the aim of today was to raise money for a great charity not win prizes!

The next act up was Alex Wallhead – skinny jeans, man-bun, X Factor contestant – a bit of a change.  He’d got some backing tracks lined up on his iPad and was a cracking singer to be fair, but just not really to my tastes.  The Power of Love opened, I must admit I started to get distracted by socialising when One Direction songs started to enter the fray, although he pulled it back with Let’s Get it On by Marvin Gaye and U2’s One Love – much as Bono has become a cartoon villain, I do like some of their earlier stuff.

IMG_2283Andy Williams’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You saw Kenny and Karen dancing – pretty much the whole table were up for Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 before apparently some Justin Bieber nonsense killed the mood for me completely (the one that says Baby a lot). Not really my cup of tea, but certainly he could sing and we had a laugh, and he went down very well with some of the less curmudgeonly and old sections of the crowd (not including Ken who is a consummate supporter of everyone and everything it seems).

Ken had promised to show me a video that will probably hit the social media soon that Gaz Brookfield compiled during the From Without tour, so we snuck into the lobby to watch that after Alex had finished – it’s really ace, captures some great memories of an amazing few weeks trogging around the country either with or following the band.  I remember having a discussion with Gaz about his highlights videos – being surprised they are made up of mere 2-3 second clips – but it really works so well.

In the meantime the final act was on stage handing out squeeze boxes to kids – alas for me I needed to hit the road to get home at a reasonable time, it looked set to be a chaotic and fun set though.  A great opportunity to spend some time with friends, meet some new ones and be entertained whilst raising money for a very worthy cause – huge congratulations to Georgi and Heather for doing such a good job at organising it.  Meanwhile the M1 was now wonderfully clear so I was home and ready to finish up a bit of work.

I’m really glad I made it to probably the last Ferocious Dog gig of the year – what a year it’s been!  Interestingly the first Ferocious Dog gig of the year was a two-piece show in The Brown Cow in Mansfield, which started this whole blog thing off really – so what a great way to have bookended a year of total mayhem!

Last weekend was the album launch party for DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show – and from what I’ve seen on Facebook I’m gutted I couldn’t make it, it looked like a great event in an amazing venue.  I wrote about the album a while back – well you can order it now, and I really think you should.  I’m quite tempted by this event they have coming up on 30th December too – who could resist a shooting rooms busk and fuddle?!

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