Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

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

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

Oh we do like to be beside the sea-side…

IMG_1318I’d been looking forward to the Alternative Weekend at Butlins, Skegness for ages – of course, it was a return to Ferocious Dog action but with plenty of other awesome acts on offer too.  Upon arriving an going through the check-in process that would’ve been slick if only they’d made it a bit clearer which check-in gate to go through we found ourselves in a three bedroom apartment rather than the two bedroom one we’d paid for – always a bonus!

Upon settling in and getting unpacked Snotty, Simon and I headed to the arena – once there we found Scott who’d arrived before the rest of the band for a night of debauchery the night before their gig.  Our first port of call was the stage in Reds where Neville Staple was opening events for us.  It was a solidly professional and engaging performance until an unfortunate mishap involving kicking a football into the crowd, a loose cable and a trip saw him end up tumbling over a monitor.

He laughed it off though and finished off a cracking set in style – it was great to get a dance on early and plenty of singalongs for his more well-known songs of The Specials fame like A Message to you Rudy and Ghost Town.  I’ve always liked 2 Tone and Ska but only really fleetingly picked up on it through the snippets my Dad listened to when I was younger – so it’s been good to do a bit more catching up and this weekend offered a few opportunities to do that!

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Freeborn Al / 12th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

A triumphant homecoming..

unnamedI talked about my reservations over Splendour as an event before – a little too sterile, a bit too rule-bound, and it didn’t bode well when arriving at the site as it opened to see loads of people having assorted things confiscated.  In defence of the security guys, they were very courteous and I thought the organisers had done a decent job in communicating what would and wouldn’t be permitted on the site – but well, taking a lads water off him because he’d had a swig on the way to the park?  A bit much!

After the state I got in three years ago I didn’t attempt any smuggling of contraband this year – more’s the pity as I wasn’t so much as patted down on my way through the gate!  It’s probably a good thing though!  Early on to the site my first objective was something to eat, which was duly purloined from the bacon cob van – shortly after this I bumped into Ian and Lucy for a quick chat over our assorted food choices.  They’d hit the bar already, which was my next stop.

Ah, beer tokens.  I loathe them – but grudgingly bought some in order to get that all important first cider of the day.  You can see why they don’t want people bringing their own booze in when they’re charging £4 a pint for their own edited range of beverages.  That said, ales, lager, cider, jägerbombs and Pimm’s were all on offer in exchange for a magic token.  After picking up a drink I wandered down to the Confetti Stage where Georgie and her band were getting set up.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Warsop Carnival fun..

IMG_0477Warsop is a place I’ve become more familiar with than I was (which was not at all) before Ferocious Dog entered my life.  It’s a really nice north Nottinghamshire village – that would’ve been developed to support the colliery sunk there and obviously subsequently closed.  The carnival there is one of many years standing and held on the first or second sunday of July, on The Carrs, nestled between Market and Church Warsop.  It’s a cracking community day out in its own right – although of course there was the obvious lure for me of a certain band closing it off in their three piece acoustic guise.

Upon parking up in the middle of Warsop I wandered over just ahead of the procession to find the field set up with an assortment of stalls, a funfair and a central arena, with the music stage in the far corner of the field.  With events like jousting and falconry on offer as well as music there was plenty to entertain.  I bumped into Ken who was talking with a chap from Warsop Remembers, an organisation that he’d painted a picture for that might potentially end up as a raffle prize to raise money for the cause – so look out for that for a bit of unique Ferocious Dog related memorabilia.

IMG_0468However, it was the music that was my main motivation for going – so I soon found myself settled in front of the stage where Ellie Keegan was up first.  I’ve seen Ellie play a few times now and she’s a cracking performer – although not to my knowledge with the addition of a loop pedal (remember spare batteries next time!).  She played a mixture of covers and a couple of original ones – with things ranging from Crazy by Gnarls Barclay, a mash-up of Come Together by the Beatles and Lose Yourself by Eminem (I think – that’s not my genre!) with plenty of use of the loop pedal on both guitar and vocal layers.

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Freeborn Al / 5th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Here comes the Willow man..

IMG_0361To be home in Leicestershire, showered and in bed with t’laptop before 11pm having spent a day basking in a fine array of talent at a festival in North Yorkshire is both a good thing and perhaps in another light testimony to a missed opportunity of spending more time at the Willowman Festival.  It was a cracking day and I’m reliably informed by friends who spent a long weekend there that today was certainly not an exception – definitely one I’ll be looking out for in the future.  I reckon Brian might well blog in more detail about the whole festival later.

Whilst of course I can offer no guarantees of my intentions and what I end up doing to watch Ferocious Dog, it had been my intention to ‘settle for Settle’ this weekend and skip Willowman, but with the twinned revelations that the former gig had been cancelled and that Ferocious Dog’s closing set was in fact finishing before 8pm it opened up the opportunity to travel up for the day and still get home at a reasonable time to get to bed at a reasonable hour in preparation to get up for work in the morning.

So come Sunday morning in the car I hopped and quick service station stop aside it was an event-free journey.  I elected to leave my car outside on the road rather than go into the car park simply to aid the quick escape, and it wasn’t far from there to the entrance to the festival.  E-ticket exchanged for an armband and at just gone noon I found myself walking into the field – almost immediately bumping into Mick, buying the most gigantic portion of nachos I’ve ever seen in my life!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Whoa-oh.. the dogs of Brixton..

IMG_0310Gracetonbury in Brixton was going to be another of those pauses in my Ferocious Dog diary that turned out not to be a pause.  A sell-out event, I was lucky enough to spot some returns go on sale in a moment of weakness and snapped them up.  With Simon and Ella kind enough to offer me crash-space for the evening it made the decision all the more easy (not that I take much persuading, as you may have noticed!).

First order of business was to get myself down to their place, from where we picked up Ella from work.  Her boss was somewhat confused to see her literally pounce upon an unsuspecting customer wandering into the place (me), and soon enough we hit the road – the plan being to park the car up in a secure spot in Camden that Simon had access to, tube it down the Victoria line to Brixton and get a taxi back to Camden later.

After parking up and meeting a horse that was close to where we parked (no really!) it was a quick schlep to Kings Cross and off we went.  I had planned on playing my favourite tube game of looking at people and smiling – this backfired when a lovely friendly lady sat opposite me, but that was better if anything, friendly people on the tube!  Even better still, she asked if Simon was my dad – ha ha!  Sorry Simon.

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Freeborn Al / 14th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments