Life begins at fifty..

IMG_2943These birthday party/gig combos are starting to become a thing – I love it!  This time round it was for Dave’s 50th – Caroline had been busy organising all manner of exciting things.  Dave knew he was having a party, but he didn’t know who was playing.  For us the day started with gathering a few bits and pieces – Ella was frantically finishing off some paper cuts which were gifts for Dave and Caroline (who shares his birthday), I grabbed some food from the shops.

Caroline picked us up to go to the pre-party at their house – which meant we got to spend some time with Murphy the awesome festival hound, and have a few drinks with the gathered folk who were either staying with them or outside in camper vans – their street had become a mini festival by the looks of it!  Then it was a short taxi ride to the venue, Brennan’s in Long Eaton, where we were ushered into the function room which was stocked to the gunnels with food and people already.

IMG_2947Dave meanwhile was in the second taxi run – which gave us the opportunity to catch up with folk already arrived – and prepare to film Dave’s reaction when he walked in to see the magnificent Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican banner on display over the stage (not to mention the band themselves).  Ken had called me to ask where the venue was – when he was parked next door – and it didn’t take long to get the party underway.  The venue had a novel power system that cut out if a certain noise level was reached – with a gauge over the bar.  Luckily the sound system was plugged into the kitchen which bypassed this!

I think it’s safe to say that Dave was rather chuffed with Caroline’s choice of band to entertain for the evening!  Before the music got underway there was plenty of mingling time with the folk who’d gathered from all over the place and a cursory cruise of the awesome array of food that folk had brought with them.  Before long though it was time for the band to take the stage so we made our way down to the front to enjoy the show.  The plan for the evening was to have two sets from the main act with an interval.

IMG_2951It was a cracking first set – a mixture of the familiar and a few less familiar tracks – Bar Steward Bop opened followed by Tarn Life and then the less often heard Saturday Neet’s Alreet for Feightin.  Plenty of singalong opportunities in I’ve Won The Lottery (I don’t think I’ve heard that before, it was fun!), Born To Get Riled and Big Coffee Brand were raising plenty of laughs – it’s always fun to see folks reaction to seeing BSVD for the first time – and there were plenty of those in the building!

Viva Skegvegas was properly funny – as a Nottinghamian plenty of our family holidays were taken on the Lincolnshire coast – we used to joke that it was basically Nottingham/Sheffield on sea during the summer, I guess that it must be true of Tarn folk too!  A skit involving the He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands tue was followed up with the homage to Kraftwerk that is She’s from Dodworth into You’re So Vain and Avon Calling – apparently Sam is an Avon lady, so it seemed to go down well with her!

The first set came to an end with At The Bar of the old Number Seven and a skit involing the singer out of Slipnot going to Rome to see the Pope – reminiscent of old football chants!  During the set we’d been periodically looking at the soundometer above the bar – frequently putting it into the red, which was quite funny.  Heaven only knows what the regulars in the front bit of the venue were making of what was going off in the back room – which they could catch glimpses of over the bar. Ha!

IMG_2954For the interlude the first act up was Brian Stone – kicking off his set inevitably and essentially with his own tune Life Begins at 50 – the perfect tune to be playing at someones fiftieth bash, surely?  He followed it up with Why is all the Rum Gone? Evoking memories of one of those chilly nights by the campfire at Farmer Phil’s last year – before opening up his final song to an audience vote, an initial shout of Sell Out by Levellers making way for calls for Elation.

IMG_2955Brian rightly pointed out that Maelor’s rendition of that song on Bostin’ Days has basically rendered it untouchable for anyone else – however he manfully took on the task and with some backing vocal help from Scott did a splendid job I would say.  It’s a stunning song – fair play to anyone who has the balls to play it live, I say!

Scott took the mike again to introduce the next interlude act – Andrew Hawkins aka Bart.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bart playing whilst stood up before – I joked about it with him afterwards, he made the obvious point that when Star Botherers started out as a two piece with Dave on kick drum he had to play sitting down, and he felt a bit daft stood up next to him – so it’s just become the norm.  It makes sense really when you think about it!

IMG_2957He opened up his short set with Just Around the Corner and seemed to be pretty taken aback by how many people watching were also raucously singing along to this fairly recent addition to the Star Botherers canon.  He followed it up with My National Trust giving rise to some empassioned bemoaning of the price of jam.  He ended with Bad Guys (the ‘catchy bass theme tune’ was contributed lustfully from the crowd) which went down really well.  A fun set indeed.

IMG_2959Next up was Ken for a stint, beaming from the stage he clearly hadn’t put much thought into what to play, plumping to open up with Paddy on the Railway to get the crowd moving about a bit.  After a bit of pondering he opted to chuck a cover of Good Riddance (Time of your Life) by Green Day which was a nice surprise – opening his last song up to requests from the crowd, the shout went up for Gallows Justice which gave us the opportunity to have a little mosh (whether we liked it or not given Naomi’s presence!).

IMG_2968IMG_2970Then the Bar Stewards were back – launching into Massage in a Brothel then Bono Bloody Bono.  Pint Fever then took us into Since You’ve Been Ron – always a firm favourite in our particular group.  Scott had appeared a little vexed at the smaller crowd at the front, being the comedy genius I am I went to sit at the front – folk joined me, the band performed the song crouched down with Björn sat in the crowd next to Ella.  Comedy gold!  Or maybe you just had to be there!

and with festival season looming (hey, I’m an optimist!) and of course much of our festival family in attendance, Festival Weirdo and Portaloo seemed like sensible choices to me.  If I Could Punch a Face It’d be Justin Bieber was always going to go down well before Scott lay down a gauntlet of sorts.

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He talked about the kind of crowd participation that he’d seen at Ferocious Dog gigs and wanted us to recreate something like that tonight.  Initially fingers pointed in my direction for some surfing but, well, there was really only one candidate for those duties on this occasion wasn’t there?  We mustered enough folk to get me horizontal and got Dave up in position – who insisted on taking his boots off first (an error – socks aren’t grippy!), despite a few wobbles he did a great job up there – performing what I’m sure was a moving routine for Lady in Greggs and a rendition of Happy Birthday!

The final set was finished up with crowd pleasing covers One Way, Riverflow and then The Ace of Spades before returning to their own material of The Devil went down to Barnsleh (during which Dave got hoisted up to have the bumps – I don’t think we quite made it to fifty though!), then they finished up with Jump Arahnd and Scott’s customary crowd-surf to the bar and back (for a Diet Coke – he’d been over-indulging slightly on John’s vodka jellies during the interlude, ha!).  A splendid night of music.

IMG_2973All that remained was a quick speech from Dave (with Scott’s wig on) to thank folk, not least Caroline who’d pulled the evening together with great aplomb.  For us then t’was time for a round of goodbyes and sorting out a taxi back home.  An awesome evening to celebrate the 50th birthday of an awesome fella – happy birthday Dave, for Tuesday!

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