Finalé..

What a way to end a tour!  For us the day started with a wander across Nottingham from our hotel to Annie’s Burger Shack and Freehouse.  As Matt has recently turned 40 celebration was very much the order of the day – and appropriately around forty of us piled into the basement bar thanks to Dave and Nadine’s organisational skills for a few beers and some epic burgers served up in a buffet style, so whilst you don’t quite get the extravagance of the restaurant offering, boy do you get a superb plate full of scran!

It was great to see Matt’s family and friends mingling with the gig-going types and having an awesome time – probably the most amusing bit of proceedings for me was daring the two Daves into eating the scotch bonnet I’d bravely picked up then cowardlyly deciding not to eat – it’s fair to say that one of the Daves clearly has a higher spice threshold than t’other!  With plates cleared there was time for some cake cutting (an epic violin-shaped creation!) and Happy Birthday singing before we started to make our way gig-ward.

By the council house we bumped into Lee doing promotion for EM-Con complete with a dalek, a quick catch up and we wandered up to The Tap n Tumbler, where we found a few early starters – with more arriving all the time.  The jukebox got a bit of hammer – probably a decided step to the strange for any regular pub goers there expecting a decidedly more rock-based playlist!  It was great to catch up with the folks who’d not been around the rest of the weekend – I’m not gonna start listing ’em, I’ll miss some out, haha!

With an early curfew the music was starting at 6:45, we headed Rescue Roomsward in plenty of time to find first act Brad Dear outside mingling with folk.  Soon enough though it was time to wander in and get ready for some music.  Brad kicked off his set with a new song he’s yet to name, it sounds like a good ‘un from my hazy recollection.  After that it was one big singalong – Festival Bar Blues felt really apt with fields beckoning us tantalisingly as the days pass – can. not. wait!

Next up was The Only Road I Know and Far Away, taking the opportunity to showcase some of the tracks from his (excellent) EP.  There was a shout from the crowd for Special Brew which was duly obliged – which led to a pretty impressive conga line which snaked its way around the ground floor before nipping up the stairs and on to the balcony and back down again!  I’m Still Here followed this up – and then another new song called All Your Dreams Are Made which sounded great too.

He finished up with Circles and Roundabouts to close a brisk set to give the next act time to get themselves set up.  A healthy crowd was already in but more and more folk were arriving.  We spent a bit of time loitering by the merch as The Outlines got themselves set up on the stage and launched themselves straight into Waiting, they were sounding pretty huge – then straight into Static it was a bit like putting their album on!  I still can’t quite get my head around how just the three of them can generate such a full bodied sound.

She Don’t Know was up next showcasing the backing vocal skills of the band – having attempted such things whilst doing something as simple as banging on a cajón and I find myself losing the beat – so to be playing a full on drum kit or bass (or indeed, guitar for Kyle) and keep it together impresses me.  I realise most musicians are capable of this, haha!  Calm Down was next and then followed up by Sound of Rain.  This was a short set too so there was minimal between song banter this time.

Panoramic photos do odd things to guitar and bass guitar necks!

Concrete was next, then Streets of England and finally they finished up with Vanilla Poison.  An ace energetic set – the ever swelling crowd was getting itself psyched up.  A quick trip upstairs to deposit breakable possessions with Ella and it was time to start to find a space downstairs in the increasingly packed moshpit area.  Having had such a fun time the night before I had intended to spend the whole gig in the mosh pit, of course – the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition!

The intro music kicked in and Ferocious Dog took to the stage with the crowd going crazy – Ken was wearing a t-shirt of the portrait he’d created of Kurtis Mann (that was also on the banner dedicating the stage to him) which was a really lovely touch.  They launched right into Gallows Justice in the slightly more familiar set configuration, we got our lobster claws out for Poor Angry and Young.  The mosh pit was heaving – very good natured but difficult to be able to move, I’d already been on my arse a couple of times (and picked up, of course!) and lost my t-shirt that I’d tucked into my shorts.  Oops!

Verse for Lee gave some respite before The Glass got us moving again and Lee’s Tune whipped everyone into an absolute frenzy.  Ruby Bridges brings the pace down a smidge before Crime and Punishment eases it back up a notch and into Raggle Taggle Gypsy.  It was sounding really good – it was so hot in there though!  As Paul had decided to risk his ankle in the mosh pit so he was able to hoist Nicki and Dean then picked the pair of them up, it just wouldn’t have been right to have not had the totem pole of awesome for one of the nights!

So Freeborn John was up next – I wasn’t sure who was doing what so got myself hoisted as a plank – only to find Dean doing the same next to me, haha.  He had a plan for his surfer (although he wasn’t there), Nadine climbed up on me and did a splendid job, whilst Mick ended up on Dean and kept falling off – haha!  Bru-C was again in the building to add the rap section to the song.  Unconditional give a little more respite, during Lyla there was a bit of a dance-off going on between the Johns whilst Ken seemed to be having a few issues with his in-ear monitors – it didn’t seem to have much impact of the sound to me.

As I noted in Friday night’s update – there were only two songs they hadn’t yet played, and they were up next – Mairi’s Wedding Part III was up first – such a lovely song, great to hear it (and again, a nice chance to catch a breath from the more frenetic songs!).  Next up Kyle was back on stage for a rendition of the excellent Pocket of Madness – it’s such a bloody good song, it’s always a treat to get to see it live and have a proper tear-up in the mosh pit.  Alas though, fatigue was setting in for me and the lack of space was a bit too challenging so I retreated upstairs.

Of course, as I noted before I lost my t-shirt so once I’d dried off a bit I availed myself of a new one courtesy of the merch that The Outlines had on sale!  I really enjoyed the rest of the gig from the balcony – Quiet Paddy and Criminal Justice had us bopping around the narrow area we had, then it was Freethinker and Mairi’s Wedding Part II with the set proper finishing up with Paddy on the Railway much to the delight of those of us who hanker to hear it more often!

Then the final surprise, and a lovely one, was Scott appearing on stage (and Alex leaping into the mosh pit) for the encore – that comprised Hell Hounds and of course Slow Motion Suicide which saw Alex standing aloft above the crowd – what a great moment.  An epic finalé – Scott took to the mic after, he was clearly buzzing to have had a chance to return to the stool.  As the crowd cleared I went on a t-shirt hunt (and found it thanks to some help from two lovely ladies) and retreated outside to wait for Ella who was looking after the merch for Brad and The Outlines.

I had a chance to catch up with Scott which was great – don’t get me wrong, I love the new guys but I do miss Scott and Ellis too, so it’s great to bump into them when you get the chance!  Soon enough it was back to the Tap for the after-party, it was such a fun night with lovely folk.  The Johns and Alex arrived later too, still buzzing – it was great to have a chance to have a proper natter with them over a few too many Jägerbombs, as people started filtering away eventually we decided too to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

It’s been such a fantastic few days – it’s really made me realise how much I missed the Ferocious Dog experience – meeting up with old friends and of course making some new ones like Sigrit who’d been over from Holland having discovered the band during the Levellers tour was a really much-needed tonic, plus there’s no better release of tension than getting smashed around a mosh pit by Hell Hounds.  I’ve pinched quite a few photos and forgotten where from, which is terribly remiss of me (and Ella took most of them anyway!), but well.  What a night.

I don’t think finale should have an accent on it.  But sod it!

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