Dream gig?

slide1By a considerable margin I’ve not seen any live act as much as I’ve seen Levellers, Ferocious Dog and Gaz Brookfield – but I’ve never seen them all on the same bill, much less one after the other in the cozy confines of Rock City.  It’s doubly fitting as if it weren’t for my enduring love of the headliners, I wouldn’t have discovered the other two (well, maybe I would eventually) – so Sunday’s trip to Rock City felt like a poignant and fitting way to close a circle of sorts.

Being a geeky data mangler by profession I couldn’t resist a cheeky Venn Diagram!

img_0549Unfortunately a season of festivalling and gallivanting off around Europe meant I didn’t have holiday from work to spare for the day after – coupled with a bit of mosh pit flu starting to kick in, driving to and from the gig seemed the way forward for Ella and I.   That said, we were keen to get into Nottingham early enough to join the socialising in the Tap n’ Tumbler – immediately faced with Mark Chadwick surveying the swelling crowd of other familiar faces.  It’s funny, I still find it really difficult to go and chat with members of Levellers unlike the other two acts on the bill.  No reflection on them, just me being a starstruck wuss!

img_0551Elsewhere in the pub it became increasingly packed with countless gigging and festival friends – it was great to see Wez back amongst us in particular.  Being in non-drinking mode and mindful of an early start I’d planned on spending the gig further back and taking in the show – until Dean beckoned me over.  “I need a word with you, Al” he said, looking a bit stern – after last year’s Rock City mix up he was insistent I needed to surf on him for Freeborn John to make amends – not that it was necessary, it’s a signal honour though.  Looks like I’m in the mosh pit then!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

In-Spire-d in Chesterfield..

IMG_3611I’ve been feeling a bit ropey all week – by the time I’d got in from work I regretfully couldn’t drag my arse out on Friday night for a The Leylines and Under A Banner which was a pisser.  Yesterday was touch and go whether I opted to head up to Real Time Live to see Ferocious Dog and The Outlines, but having rested up in the day the relatively short drive up the M1 didn’t seem too daunting so I jumped in the car to hook up with some of the early revellers in the Barley Mow pub.

First order of business was food, we left Kieron and Helen in the pub cheering on Norwich in their bid to beat Arsenal (which didn’t go too well, bad luck Kieron!) and eventually ended up in Einstein’s, a German themed bar / eaterie – the food there took a while to arrive, but bloody hell it was nice!  I ordered a schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) – it was a thing of meaty beauty.  The food Mick, Michael, Becky, Mark and Amanda had was similarly impressive.  Next time I’m in Chesterfield I’ll be sure to eat there!

IMG_3613Back to the pub it was, later than planned as the food took a while so it was a short stay before wandering over to the venue.  Real Time Live is a cracking venue sat above a music shop on a very domestic looking street – apparently it used to be a Conservative Club so it’s nice that such vestibules of corrupt ideology are being reappropriated for better purposes.  A big Ferocious Dog sold out poster adorned the wall along with other adverts for mostly cover bands.

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Freeborn Al / 1st May 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Newbury revisited..

Aye aye, Capt'n Burns!

Aye aye, Capt’n Burns!

Whilst obviously disappointed at missing out on what sounded like an amazing night at Exeter (actually we only partially missed out, Laura was thoughtful enough to video call Ella during the gig so whilst the audio stream was pretty bad we had fun watching the moshpit and the band for three or four songs, including getting the chance to wave to Ken, John and Ellis and watch Dean surfing!), there was a high degree of consolation in making a return visit down to the Arlington Arts Centre just outside Newbury.

On Friday night, clearly sympathetic to my dilemma, Addie had invited Ella and I to go with him, Jane and Tommy to West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday too.  Sod it, we thought – it’s practically on the way to Newbury from here so why not make a full day of it – we also considered the logistics in heading into Newbury itself after the gig to catch the end of Gaz Brookfield‘s set in The Monument.  That would prove a step too far in a very long day, so sorry Gaz, the minds were willing but our bodies weren’t!

IMG_3381So a fun day was spent of accidental crocodiles, sea lion shows, feeding lorikeets and goats and other general animal fun – followed by the M42-in-rush-hour simulator that is the drive through safari experience.  With the added danger of the fuel light coming on part way round, we were genuinely worried we might have to survive for days on a sachet of mayonnaise and some deer food the traffic was so bad – that said, we did see some wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and assorted deer-like things before we took advantage of a shortcut to escape.

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Freeborn Al / 10th April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments

A bit of bothering on a Sunday..

10393576_733673203416234_6760695815172788004_nWith work on a Monday morning and travelling logistics to sort out on Sundays it renders Star Bothering on Sunday something I’ve not had the chance to do before.  A bank holiday and evening plans with friends in the area made it a distinct possibility this weekend just gone.  Albeit one we had to cut a bit short – missing the final act entirely (doubly gutting, as my friend Lynn plays flute and pennywhistle for Last Word Dogs – another time, Bart tells me they were great).

We arrived in sunny Warsop in time for a sneaky visit to the chip shop before making our way into the venue – the remnants of Mac-Stock evident from camper vans still in the car park and a pretty full room.  Star Bothering nights happen in the front room, we grabbed ourselves a drink and a seat and watched Dave and Bart grappling with the not inconsiderable amount of electrical stuff Last Word Dogs had with them.  In the meantime it was nice to just have a relaxing drink and natter with assorted folks.

IMG_3201Star Botherers were up first, already somewhat later than initially planned.  As it was Easter Sunday they introduced themselves as offering up a religious themed set – which comprised a quick run through Just Around the Corner, the song that I’ve yet to divine the title of that’s about ringing in sick at work and finally One Inch Death Punch.  Certainly it got the feet tapping around the room – and it was a very full room!  We were cautiously keeping an eye on the time.

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Freeborn Al / 29th March 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments

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

A Grand day out..

IMG_1891A relatively early night and a lateish check-out time saw us exit Manchester around lunchtime for a frankly stunning drive through the wilds of Lancashire up to Clitheroe – I wish I’d taken some photos really, but I didn’t.  I’ve never ventured beyond the urban areas of the red rose county before – it really is quite pretty, suddenly I don’t think Maelor Hughes is telling fibs when he extolls its virtues in Milltown Boy!

I must admit I didn’t know much about Clitheroe aside from it being up a bit from Manchester – so it was lovely to discover a scenic town.  The hotel was duly located, but without parking – so we eventually found somewhere to dump the car over night and got our stuff up to the hotel.  The Swan and Royal is a cracking traditional pub and our room was decent – it even had an extra bed, which would come in handy later…

We had something to eat downstairs (delicious it were too) before heading upstairs for a nap in my case (and accompanying inevitable photo on Facebook) before getting ourselves sorted and downstairs to join Matt and Mick for drinks.  In the meantime John called as he and Les had decided to stay over rather than travel on the night, the hotel only had one single room going spare – so after a quick conference we booked it and donated our spare bed to one of ’em. Job’s a good ‘un.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Songs for the deaf..

IMG_1853It was a leisurely drive up to Manchester from Telford with no real incident, news of the extent of Gaz’s throat infection filtered through from Facebook so we were feeling a bit glum – and set about researching a bit about Sammy Battle, drafted in to replace him as the support act.  It looked promising, so whilst of course we were both gutted to be missing out on some Gaz action, it’s always good to get a chance to take in a new act too.

Checking in at Ibis in Manchester there was a suspicious package waiting for me at reception – highly dubious it turned out to be from the good folk at Laterooms – I hadn’t used Laterooms since the debacle at Stamford earlier in the year, so I guess this is their way of dealing with customer complaints – and well, I quite like it!  Clearly they’d had a look at my Twitter bio and picked a few presents compliant with that.  Really nice customer service!

Kind of wish I’d complained via my @FerociousBlog account rather than my personal one now to see what kind of gifts that would’ve inspired!  In the hotel we caught up on snoozing, as well as exciting news from The Leylines who’ve launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for their new album next year – take a look at the campaign and see if any of the rewards tickle your fancy.  I’m a big fan of these ways of raising capital without resorting to begging for record labels.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Surfin’ bird in Shropshire..

IMG_1830Once again a weekend is over and I’m kinda regretting not taking my laptop on my travels to write as I go – so here comes part one of a triple-header of gigging with Ferocious Dog again.  The day started for us heading off to Telford in Shropshire via Loughborough train station where Ella arrived from down south.  A pretty uneventful journey arriving just in time for a strange window of closedness for our hotel.

So with a couple of hours to kill we wandered to find the venue where Dom and Waggy were already engrossed in a skill-ridden game of pool in the main bar area.  Wez, Dan and Leanne were hanging around too.  Tour tattoos were in progress for some of the others, Waggy was due to go under the needle too – whereas we’d killed enough time to head back to the hotel – timing it perfectly finding Mick driving past so he kindly dropped us off.

By the time we’d got ourselves sorted it was time to wander back again – via a cheeky pasty from the local shop just down from The Haygate, only to find the venue properly locked up, with a few folk already waiting outside.  Bumping into John having a smoke was fortuitous as it gained us entry to hang about inside before the place opened up – it was getting a bit chilly outside!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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

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