The world turned upside down..
Ah, it’s good to be back writing about Ferocious Dog for a change! Upon arriving at the Rescue Rooms with Jamie and Teresa to find Ken holding court outside. A gentle chide about my rather less than impressive attendance record was followed up with a big grin – he was clearly really excited about playing the first of three sold out nights on home turf. With a full on day I’d arrived straight at the venue, with another today I’d opted to drive, saving Friday and Saturday for alcohol opportunities.
So I wandered straight into the venue – in addition to the Ferocious Dog banner, on equal billing was one depicting Kurtis Mann, a fellow fan of the band who lost his life last year, a lovely touch. It was emblazed with The Kurtis Mann Stage. Sadly I never got to knew him although must’ve bumped into him at countless gigs – in a small world moment I do actually know his dad from pre-Ferocious Dogging days, I’m looking forward to catching up with Cliff over the next couple of evenings – it’s been a long time since he guided me to walking on hot coals, broken glass and breaking boards with my hand!
But I digress from the off. There were, of course, countless people to catch up with milling around in the venue with more arriving all the time as the place filled up to a really healthy crowd in time for the support act for the evening… the inimitable Mr Gaz Brookfield, who needs absolutely no introduction to any vaguely regular reader of these pages. He unassumedly took to the stage to a rapturous reaction from the crowd, Gaz always goes down well in Nottingham (I note another Maze date slotted in to October, just sayin’ like).
He launched into Diabetes Blues, looking delighted at the nearly already full house in ready to watch – and the pretty impressively loud singing back from the crowd. Next up he went for new material, March of Progress from his new album didn’t do the ‘oh no! a new track!” thing – still plenty of bopping and singing along. The Tale of Gunner Haines seemed to go down particularly well with a couple of chaps stood nearby who were audibly extremely delighted – I can see why, it’s a cracking song!
New album theme continued with It’s All So Rock and Roll, there was a more lacklustre ‘la la la’ from the crowd (but it did happen!). Looking at the proliferation of Gaz t-shirts in the crowd there were an awful lot of people there already very familiar with him. We stayed with the new stuff – and I’m not sure I’ve heard him play this live yet, largely with the caveat that he can’t as the crowd is so lovely. Well the crowd was lovely tonight too, and I’m sure like me nodding sympathetically to I’ve Paid My Money – it’s such a wonderfully scathing indictment on inconsiderate people at gigs we’ve all encountered from time to time!
The last track from the new album was I Know My Place, another empassioned delivery – before leading us onto more ‘classic’ Gaz territory of Bigger Man (worryingly I knew this from which fret he put his capo on, I really need to get out more) and a finale of Let The East Winds Blow, with some fairly impressive crowd participation to finish before the customary bows and jump. A riproaringly good set – not a lyric slip in sight (I was hoping for another ‘fuck it, let’s go to the chorus!’ session again, haha!). Short but very sweet indeed!
Soon enough it was time for Ferocious Dog. The intro track boomed initially, was stopped, then boomed out again – with the stage darkened and smoke machine running in overdrive. Once it was drawing to a close Alex hit the stage first, followed by John A. They both struck up an extended intro as the rest of the band joined the stage ready to kick into Mairi’s Wedding Part II, it’s a new extended intro as at first I was half wondering if it might be a new song, haha! Clearly I am out of dogging practice! Of particular delight for me was Ken wearing his new The Star Copiers t-shirt!
Rescue Rooms did a bang on job of getting the capacity just right for a comfortable Ferocious Dog gig (or possibly a few folk didn’t make it for that night) – room for the mosh pit, not claustrophobic elsewhere in the venue which can be a problem there. As I was having my ‘sensible’ night I spent most of my time just behind the ‘pit – before roving around a bit for some different photo angles. Next up was Freethinker in a very unfamiliar set configuration (more on this later), a combination of swaying and a circle was set up in the middle.
Hell Hounds produced a typically frenetic mosh, with Chris being ‘taken down’ before being launched back into action – it was dedicated as ever to Jay Barsanti but also to aforementioned Kurtis, which was a nice touch. Quiet Paddy came next – John L has added pennywhistle to the soundscape for this which is a really welcome addition, as was his periodic forays to the drumkit to smash the cymbals in between instrumental duties! Criminal Justice is an obvious anthem and evocative of the political times we find ourselves in (again!), Ken took the opportunity to reference this before striking up.
Unconditional was dedicated to Caroline and Dave who are going through a shit time of it lately – although as far as I’m aware they’re not attending ’til Saturday when I’m sure it will be repeated! Lyla saw Stu perform an impressive lifting feat of getting Big Dean up on his shoulders for the full song. This was followed up by Freeborn John where Dean surfed, with a secondary board comprising of Paul set up just behind for Dan. Amusingly Ken autopiloted his way through the song forgetting the extended section for Bru-C to join and add his rap section, but they corrected themselves so it was a double-extended version! It still kinda worked though, haha!
It was funny watching Bru-C waiting literally in the wings looking confused, though!
Next up was Too Late, with Paul B sidelined with injury there was no triple stacking – Dean had Emily on his shoulders whilst somebody did at least elevate Nicki up one level! Then – exciting for me – I Stand was up next, with John L on electric guitar (it could do with turning up next time, John!) – I bloody love that song! Whilst John swapped out to his banjo Ken revealed the set list did approximate their normal one – but backwards (hence the title) – he actually singled me out for being someone who should’ve noticed this, I must admit, I didn’t! I was just enjoying myself!
The banjo was for Crime and Punishment, and then it was straight into Raggle Taggle Gypsy which had the crowd whipped up into a bit of a frenzy. On a Ferocious Dog set list The Glass generally signifies the trio of Verse for Lee, The Glass and Lee’s Tune – and that was the order we had here. For the former the singing along from the crowd was exceptional – it was visibly moving for the band. I changed vantage points for Ruby Bridges, although the balcony was pretty packed it was good to get an aerial view for a while. On The Rocks was a nice bit of blast from the pastage to follow it up.
Poor Angry and Young kicked in with its distinctive bassline, which could only mean the traditional starting song of Gallows Justice was up next. Which brought a barnstorming set-proper to an end, before a loudly demanded encore was duly provided in the form of rarely-heard-these-days Paddy on the Railway and then of course the soaring and emotional Slow Motion Suicide to finish with an epic instrumental flourish. A fantastic performance – they’ve upped their game a notch or two since Wakefield.
The band look like they’re having so much fun on stage – with Dan and the two Johns operating wirelessly now they’re roving all over the stage over the course of the set, Les is grinning as ever – but often close to the front of the stage instead of skulking at the back – Ken is exuding new levels of confidence and stage presence and whilst Alex impressed me a great deal on my last encounter of him, he’s really on his game to the max now. A cracking night.
After the considerable job of goodbyeing my way out of the venue we hotfooted it back to the car at home – Jamie’s off to Something Else in the Dean this weekend, whilst I’ve got another full on day before having the luxury of a hotel to stay in for the next couple of nights so it’ll make post-gig less of a logistical challenge for the next two nights. Bring it on! I’m looking forward to sampling a Ferocious Dog Ale which is on sale at the venue – a percentage of which will be contributed to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund. Also remember contributions for the food bank – there was quite a haul there by the end of the night.