And we were bound for Botany Bay* (nearly)..

IMG_1795Morning came with a very achey shoulder thanks to the previous night’s tumble.  One of the perennial mysteries of Ferocious Dog folklore was answered for me by sharing a room with Ken – he does indeed sleep with his hair spiked!  He’s pretty disciplined in keeping his head on one side, switching sides occasionally – so there ya go!  A bit of random telly passed the time before we nipped to the adjoining restaurant to grab some breakfast.

Dan, Waggy and Wez were already getting their morning repast, and once we’d done it was back to get cleaned up in the room.  There were some running repairs to Ken’s rearmost two spikes with a bit of hairspray and a hairdryer (which was a bit too hot, oops, sorry Ken) before reconvening with everyone outside to get on the bus and head to Margate.  John and Scott surprisingly lively considering another late night.

Since they had missed breakfast though it wasn’t long before we were breaking into the Jersey cheese from Julie and Paul – and very delicious it was too.  We were a bit cowardly in the bag to tackle the very ripe looking camembert – but passed it up to the front where Waggy and Wez proceeded to pop it on the heater to get it even more well done.  Pair of animals.  In the back we were listening to House of Pain interspersed with the meerkat sat nav voice up front.

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Freeborn Al / 18th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Triumphant return to an old Haunt..

IMG_1781In Southampton I was lucky enough to wake up in time for breakfast this time, and once everyone had convened and Wez had fetched Cerebus round for the next leg of the journey it was rather a more sombre trip along the coast to Brighton as the full extent of the awful events in Paris became apparent.  There was a degree of mood lightening with the scattered remnants of the previous night’s entertainment that John and Scott, both surprisingly chipper considering, could actually remember.

The hotel we were staying in was actually in Newhaven, some miles outside of Brighton, we opted to head there first to get checked in – Waggy’s sat nav amusingly taking us to a Premier convenience store nearby instead – but soon enough we did find our destination.  I ended up in with Ken for this night as Les was travelling home after the gig since Margate is just down the road for him relatively speaking – we got our bags dumped, freshened up and it was back on the bus to get to the venue.

Of course we were all at The Haunt earlier in the year – it’s an ace little place, sound checking seemed to go pretty well.  Ken had casually announced Jeremy from the Levellers was coming later, and Nick Burbridge too – hopefully getting up to perform with the band.  Nick is one of my all time favourite songwriters – so this was unfeasibly exciting for me even more so than normal!  Waggy and I also cased out the balcony – not open that evening for the public – as a good potential photography spot – the video below shows the soundcheck from up there.

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Talking heads and moshing elephants..

IMG_1766Premier Inn has a good night sleep guarantee (this is definitely something endorsed by Scott – but you’ll have to ask him about that), and they certainly delivered after Camden – both Waggy and I slept in and missed breakfast.  By this point the cold I’ve been having an on-off relationship with over the last few weeks seems to have developed into a nocturnal rasping cough, but that didn’t seem to disturb Waggy, unlike the early hours phone calls for the late night revellers looking for directions back to our digs, haha!

Having not really attempted to get my mohawk up for Camden I actually did a reasonable job of it in the hotel room with the hairdryer and some hairspray, we headed down to the eatery which was being cleared up and charmed some tea from the cleaning staff who were very taken with Kenny, discussions centring around the best hair products to use to achieve his liberty spikes (Schwarzkopf got2b glued blasting freeze spray, if anyone was wondering – I’ve got some now since I used all my hairspray up at the weekend!).

As we drove through London heading inexorably south Scott’s observation skills came to the fore “It’s fucking ginormous int it, London?” he opined.  There was lots of speculation on house prices as we saw the many facets of the capital, meanwhile no matter how far we got out of Camden John, Ken and Scott were adamant that they’d wandered down passing streets at some point last night whilst out galavanting post-gig.  The missed breakfasts on board  was causing some widespread hunger issues, so it was time for me to bring out my secret weapon…

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Lock, stock and three smokin’ artists..

IMG_1738It was only back on Thursday I was preparing to head off to London town – it feels like a month ago!  The day started with a phone call from Wez who had ended up in the wrong town due to a satnav mishap, soon enough that was remedied and we were hotfooting it up the M1 to Warsop to convene with Cerebus and the rest of its happy band of travellers.  Soon into the journey Scott was sharing his beauty regime secrets meanwhile Ken was absorbed in a book entitled Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones.

To pass the time John, Scott, Brad and I had a few rounds of rummy – I didn’t have masses of change and was running up a substantial gambling debt (okay, it was four quid..) to John before mercifully I won a game and enough cash to clear my increasing arrears.  A trip to the service station saw Brad’s hat end up on the roof of the van, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in Camden – and doing a few laps of it to find the spot we needed to unload into Dingwalls. Mercifully it was clear so parking up wasn’t a problem ready to get the gear off the back of the van.

Of course, avoiding the glaze-eyed sauntering dawdlers wandering like a zombie procession down the pavement between the van and the venue was more of a challenge – but we’d soon got the assorted cases and boxes and instruments into Dingwalls enabling Wez to find somewhere to leave the bus until later.

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Freeborn Al / 16th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Having a Hoot in Norwich..

IMG_1636Norwich is a strange place to get to – in my head getting Snotty to train up to Loughborough so that we could head from there made sense, Norfolk’s main (only?) city is kind of across and down a bit from there, and going via Stevenage would’ve been a massive L shape.  Blindly following my Sat Nav though took us most of the way back there before hopping over the A1 and into East Anglia. Ho hum!  I had kind of assumed it would take me on a more direct cross-country route!

After negotiating a bit of traffic we were soon checked into the Travelodge in the city centre and in the market for something to eat.  Along with Dave and Caroline we were off towards the venue, and found The Woolpack nearby that provided us with food and drink, and some riffraff in the form of much of the band arriving shortly after – and Mick too.  Scott was in trouble for what he described as ‘long distance darts.’  They provided some pretty awesome bangers and mash in a Yorkshire pud.

Shortly before heading off Dave had summoned me outside for what could’ve been a sinister conversation – it turned out to be quite the opposite – and soon enough we were off to the venue.  The Owl Sanctuary unfortunately didn’t have any owls in it, although I don’t suppose they would’ve appreciated the noise levels once the acts got started.  An administrative complication meant Waggy et al didn’t actually know The Lagan were up first, so a bonus for us but I guess extra faffing with sound-checking, but it all went off pretty well in the end.  The front bar area was in a horseshoe shape, with the venue out the back.

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Freeborn Al / 31st October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Not extinguished at the Old Fire Station..

IMG_1514As morning broke in Newcastle I was feeling pretty good – both Carl and I had a great night’s sleep and were up and ready to tackle breakfast downstairs where we found Waggy and Ellis already seated.  That’s right, Ellis was already there!  Folk started arriving downstairs, piecing together the night before – Les had walked to the wrong Premier Inn who gave him a map to find the right one, John and Scott had been on an adventure that saw them end up at the University and in the middle of a busy traffic island – but everyone was unscathed.

Breakfast was very welcome, that’s for sure!  Eventually with everyone sorted and checked out we returned to Cerebus for the next leg of our journey, Brad hopping in Ellis’ car, Les coming with us as he’d travelled up by train from Leeds.  We needed to get a bit of fuel, and as Carl spotted a convenient petrol station Scott and John’s choice of location for a cigarette break gave Ken the chance to spot and recognise The Denton, which was the venue for Jay’s wake last year.

Having bought some poppies in the garage Ken decided we needed to go and have a pint to honour our old friend – Carl duly drove the bus over there and we did just that, a fitting way to be heading out of Newcastle to follow the course of Hadrian’s Wall (every wall we passed on the way loudly announced to be Hadrian’s Wall).  Kenny’s battery had run out so I let him use mine to peruse Facebook.  Amazingly he resisted the urge to ‘Frape’ me – unless he left inappropriate comments somewhere I’ve yet to find – I don’t think he did though, what a gent!

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Freeborn Al / 25th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Howay the Dog in Toon..

IMG_1504… and so seemingly no sooner had my head hit the pillow it was time to get up again for the reverse journey of a few hours before, Mansfield to pick up Scott and John, then onward to Warsop to reconvene with the Ken, Waggy, Carl and Brad to get into Cerebus and head north to Newcastle.  It was a decent run, punctuated by card games – some pretty impressive card tricks from John and some unfortunate experimenting with sherbet and crushed Parma Violets.

The least said about that the better.  Let’s just say that the crushed Love Hearts were a step too far.

The Cluny is an old converted industrial spinning mill in the Ouseburn Valley area of Newcastle.  A cracking venue with a low dance floor/stage area overlooked by a balcony with a small bar at the back of a nice looking eatery/bar area.  As this was my only gig of the weekend where drinking was really an option we’d indulged a little on the way up, and carried on in the venue after loading in all the gear whilst everyone went about their setting up.  It was quite nice to just sit up on the balcony and chill for a bit – Mick had arrived early too so joined us.

The soundcheck was over quickly for the band, when it was Gaz’s turn he even did a few Brad impressions – meanwhile Waggy had been sorting out who was rooming with who at the hotel later, and gave Brad a few tips on how to get Ellis to settle down to sleep.  I hope he didn’t take it too seriously!  I was sharing a room with Carl which worked quite well – we were both knackered from lack of sleep so were up for a few drinks post-gig but not a ridiculously heavy night.  Meanwhile Scott dropped the revelation that he could do Mongolian throat singing and promised to demonstrate at the soundcheck in Carlisle.

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Freeborn Al / 25th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Bringing the ceiling down in Leeds..

IMG_1490I had intended to get the Leeds blog up on the night, but tiredness won – but rather than write a mega-long blog post I’ll split this into three instalments for each of the gigs.  So first up was Leeds, and it was to be a return to Cerebus for me – so first order of business was to get up to Ken’s where Carl and John were already getting on board, Dom arrived shortly after then it was just Waggy and Scott to pick up before we hit the road to Leeds, mercifully avoiding the M1 tailbacks that struck others on the way.

One of the nice contextual things about travelling with the band is experiencing their build-up to a gig – Cerebus (the Ferocious Dog tour bus) is a well appointed van, with a section at the back for all the gear (which just about fits), a seating area at the back around a table with lighting and its own music player and then the cab at the front seats the driver and up to two more.  It’s great, but not exactly comfy for extended periods – boredom soon struck, an eclectic selection of gangster rap John had compiled was playing, and the cards were out for rounds of ‘bullshit’ and rummy.

But luckily Leeds isn’t too far away and we’d soon arrived and parked up behind the venue between a camper van an act in another part of the venue were using, and a pizza van that would open later to provide much needed sustenance.  The Brudenell is an ace small venue – it’s my first time there but a good sized room over a couple of levels with the bar at the top and a lower level dance floor in front of the stage.  We were soon unloaded leaving the band, Dom and the sound man to get everything set up and plugged in.

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Freeborn Al / 25th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The shizzle in Brizzle..

IMG_1362Tonight has been bloody brilliant.  I leisurely got up in Birmingham and had an awesome breakfast at the Old Crown and had a slow wimble down the M5 to get to Bristol to coincide with check-in time at the Travelodge rather than fart about.  Having parked up and settled in I might’ve succumbed to a little snooze – but that left me time to get showered and out in time feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready for more of the same.  With the huge bonus of some Mad Dog Mcrea thrown into the mix too!

The Hatchett was our first port of call – just over the road from the venue and chock full of familiar faces, including Justin – unscathed from his epic voyage from over the sea.  Amongst other random pre-gig nonsense being talked the thing that has stuck in my head ever since was Waggy’s revelation that the story behind Mad Dog Mcrea’s Happy Bus in real life culminated in them driving a minibus into the sea.  Fully populated.  The mind boggles!

Given my sneaky nap it was soon time to get into the O2 Academy – with a strict 10pm curfew Gaz was on ludicrously early.  But first, the venue is very swanky and new looking, the merch and loos were encountered first, the steps up to the auditorium with a raised bar/standing area and steps down to an extensive dancing area.  It reminded me of the gig they played in Newbury earlier in the year but on a much grander scale!  The sticking point was the price of £4.55 for a pint of cider – outrageous!  I was planning on taking it steady given the need to get to Nuneaton tomorrow for noon – and well, there was some extra motivation!

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

It’s a Brum do…

IMG_1356I was dead excited when the tour was set to open in Birmingham – as I work in Solihull it would be a short shlep from the office to get there.  Fate conspired against me and saw me up in Manchester for a meeting instead – but planned with sufficient time to dash down the M6 (well, dash until the West Midlands were breached!) to get to my hotel probably earlier than I would’ve done had I gone from our offices!  Having missed a turn I ended up driving past the venue to double-back and saw the band unloading Cerebus.

The Old Crown is a brilliantly quirky old pub a stones throw from the venue which was why I chose it – the car park was full but I found a pay & display one down the road at a reasonable rate.  Once I’d got checked in (and remembered not to smack my head on the low beams) it turned out Mick was staying here too – so after getting a little too engrossed in building a new coil for my e-cig and watching Tipping Point I headed down to the bar to join Mick for a few cheeky beverages.

No sooner had we done that then another Mick arrived to join us, as did Tina and crew, followed by most of the band along with Wez, Gaz and Dom, Dave and Nadine, Michael and Rebecca, Darren, Colette and their lad, Paul and Kim, Geoff and probably loads of others I’ve forgotten – what an auspicious gathering!  Mick R and I had succumbed to the lure of ordering food which took a while to arrive in the busy pub, but was worth the wait – although left me eating a little closer to gig time than I’d have liked ideally!

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments