Forgive the delay, but waking with a fuzzy head then a 433 mile drive home left me not exactly feeling like firing up the laptop during the evening before recommencing a working-week! The trip to Aberdeen of course started in Glasgow, I awoke fuzzy-headed with a vague memory of getting back to the hotel – although a walk outside and to the car sorted me out. T’was pleasant enough out, but the air was certainly fresh enough to blast away the cobwebs of the night before.
We hit the road and headed out to Aberdeen – again once out of the built up area appreciating the lovely scenery on offer, and the scores of stately crows and ravens by the roadsides. We did fall foul of the temptation to follow a brown sign promising a scenic route, which promptly stopped being signposted and with limited signal to get the sat nav to help us having been ignoring her for a good few miles, but never mind! It was a pretty drive, and we made decent time to the granite city, eventually finding our hotel.
We’d had a bit of a side mission – we’d got a bit of a battery shortage issue for our electronic cigarettes, and neglected to pack the charger. Despite trips to Maplins and even a Vape Scotland shop (outside which a young lad seemed delighted to shout ‘mohawk!’ repeatedly at me at a traffic crossing) we utterly failed at resolving this, so started rationing our supply of electricity quite severely. A lesson for the future – pack the battery charger, or get more batteries!
Our hotel was a converted church which was also a ‘life centre’, whatever that is- about a fifteen minute walk from Aberdeen proper, and – well – frankly, a thoroughly bizarre place. We got ourselves sorted and double-checked with the chap running it the night entrance didn’t need a code or a key, he said it didn’t. More on that later. It was a decent enough place and the best price I could find within staggering distance, but definitely one to file as weird.
As we’d meandered on the journey and been distracted by failed electrical missions we opted to head straight to the venue, even though it was still pretty early. Having been to it before I knew it was a nice place to go anyway, and upon arrival were greeted by Dean, Sarah and the band who were either mingling (Ken and Dan) or setting up the stage (John and Scott with Dom) or recuperating (Ellis and Les).
With no support act lined up by the venue it gave us a pleasant afternoon and evening of having drinks and chats with the folk already there, and in no time we were joined by Fritz, Paul, Kim, Wez and countless others who gradually and inevitably made their way to join the party. Whilst I always like to check out support acts it was nice to not have to worry about remembering too much about one for a change this evening – just concentrate on Ferocious Dog.
When I was last here The Moorings Bar was a straight up rock bar, now it’s reimagined as a Tiki Dive Bar called Krakatoa with lurid decor and exciting cocktails – Ella and I indulged in one, but they took so long to make we went back to cider after. Mine was on fire though when I got it, which is pretty rock and roll. There was a Moh-ito on offer with a 10% discount for folk with mohawks but I was drawn instead to a parrot-themed one. Very nice it was too.
Once the stage was set the band sound checked to those already assembled – unlike my previous visit the venue did actually check for tickets, which we had bought. Dom soundchecked on guitar, deputising for Les who was feeling poorly upstairs. Get well soon, Les! Glancing at the stage from the merch desk there was a neon sign promising live nude bands – a pretty scary prospect, fortunately one that wasn’t lived up to. There was also some helpful advice on vomiting in the gents toilets.
The gig was great fun – a lively mosh pit but fairly small, probably a good thing with the proximity of the merch desk – and the absence of Dean, watching from near the sound desk with a poorly shoulder. A friend of mine from a former life had made it down to the bar and found me just before the band came on, I apologised on my way down to the front and promised we’d have a proper catch up after the gig!
There was a bit of a re-think on the set list – before the gig Dean had thought I Stand might make an appearance, which excited me, alas it didn’t. Gallows Justice opened as ever kicking into Poor Angry and Young (or ‘Raw Angry Onions’ if you insist, Mick!) then followed by Verse for Lee, The Glass, and Lee’s Tune. The mosh pit was probably only 6-8 folk strong with occasional interlopers – but it was certainly energetic and fun.
Crime and Punishment kicked into Too Late, then Freeborn John – with Dean out of action and limited numbers we didn’t bother with a surfboard. Readers with good memories might recall that last year with similar numbers we did set a board up, which I promptly feel off upon attempting to disembark – we decided to not risk it! Ruby Bridges followed then rather than Lyla as the set list suggests they pulled out Blind Leading the Blind as a blast from the past.
Marikana Massacre was up next and I was sure to keep a proper ear out for Dan’s magic pedal giving the illusion of a more orchestral sound for Slow Motion Suicide. Again dedicated to the death of Margaret Thatcher to thunderous applause (at the second attempt). On The Rocks led into Raggle Taggle Gypsy which went down well – understandably, it’s a reworking of a Scottish folk song.
The set was finished up with five of the older favourites as ever – Criminal Justice, Quiet Paddy, Hell Hounds, Freethinker and Mairi’s Wedding Part II left us all in a sweaty happy mess. I love the far away gigs for the quirkiness of it, but with a smaller limited mosh pit there’s not much opportunity to sneak out for a rest!
Finally I got to have a chance with Joe – I met him in what seems like another life when I was more into football, he has a really interesting obsession in that he wants to collect a shirt from every country affiliated with FIFA – and he’s tantalisingly close to achieving it. I once helped him get a Bahamas shirt from a relative that lives there, it was good to have a natter and a drink. If you are intrigued by his mission you can check out his blog here.
Eventually after much merriment we found ourselves wandering back via some food again – Ella again proving an excellent navigator in Scottish cities, we soon found ourselves back at the sinister hotel. And a locked late night door. In no mood to hang around I pressed all the buzzers on another door until the harrassed looking chap that checked us in leaned out a window with no clothes on to look confused that a door might be locked late at night.
He came and let us in – so everything was okay, by the time we were up and ready to leave assorted worshipper types (or we preferred to think of as cult members) were amassing, so we decided to hit the road sharpish. Around eight hours later we made it back home – pretty sure that’s my longest drive yet as obviously last time I was up that way I shared the driving with Lisa and ‘The Stig’.
Just shy of 900 miles over the course of the weekend, two excellent gigs with friends both old and new. Totally worth it. I do like trips to Scotland! It’s Bridport, Buckley and Burnley up next and I’m sad to say that I won’t be able to make any of them (not too sad, two at least are because I’ll be at the awesome Rockstock and Rolling Out The Barrel festival) – but I’m still pondering Exeter and Newbury. We shall see.