It's always a bit weird coming back after to the real world after a few days away gigging and this time was no exception- straight into the shop Friday which after a 'here's-what-Line6-amps-can-do' day (the rep was in!) ended with a 5.25pm delivery of parts for the ever-expanding back room. Or rather, it didn't. The ever-so-slightly-stroppy delivery man complained about the lack of parking outside the shop (poor lamb) and then asked where our fork lift was. Er, we haven't got one. But there's half a ton of stuff here and... to cut a long and frankly boring story short he left without delivering. I've since found it was several days late- the lads had been in the shop all week waiting for it.
The next day was suitably busy with Ian the Saturday boy (sorry Ian if you're reading this but I can't think of a better way to describe you) showing me his 'My Space' space (he's got a girlfriend and everything!) while I busied myself with pricing up God knows how many books and serving the odd (sometimes very odd) customer. Then it's off to tonight's gig, which as we'll discover, deserves it's own introductory paragraph...
...because it's an as-yet-undiscussed phenomenon- it's a playback gig. Pete & Michael do quite a lot of these- they use backing tracks and do a 'mini' Blues Bros. show in places that only have room or facilities for a smaller set-up. However sometimes there's the situation (and indeed the budget) where one or more of us band boys get to go along too- in this case Gary, Squirrel & myself. Now, you might be thinking 'but aren't your parts already on the tapes?' Well, er, yes they are- so we play along! As I sometimes put it, in my case I get to be Keef or Ron...
So tonight the 'Keef-or-Ron Show' hits Phyllis Court in Henley to play at a wedding. As we came up to the High Wycombe junction on the M40 I was about to mention my brother Terry who lives near there when my phone rang. It was Terry.
'Hello mate, I'm just passing your junction but I can't come round 'cos I'm on my way to a gig'
'That's alright, I'm in Tangiers'
And he is- he's filming out there. They don't start 'till Monday so he might pop over to Gibraltar tomorrow. Or Spain. Maybe. Other people's lives eh?
Meanwhile we're at the venue and I'm trying not to rant. Right, let's go through this again. We can't mix with the guests. Or eat with them. Or drink with them. Or anything. WHAT MAKES THEM THINK I'D WANT TO?!? Because they're rich of course, and rich people always think that. The gits.
So we're upstairs somewhere in this bloody great house with no food or drink and one of those nights in prospect. But we're making the best of things with Pete disappearing regularly to try to get us something to eat and/or drink and everyone's in a surprisingly good mood considering the situation. After a while we're given a bottle of wine and a bottle of water between the 7 of us and, eventually, a plate of food each. That's better. Oh and you're on in 20 minutes boys.
So we load our gear in through the kitchen (getting in their way in the process) and eventually are allowed to see where we're playing. It's the usual big room full of drunken posh people. As we're setting up Steve the DJ mentions that there's one of those volume restriction thingy's here, there it is, the yellow ball-shaped thing in front of us, but don't worry, he's bypassed it. That's good. We finish setting up then it's OUT OUT OUT before we lose control and attempt to talk to someone.
The gig's going well (to my bigoted surprise!) with plenty of dancing and singing along. We're roaring through a particularly spirited rendition of 'Try a Little Tenderness' when... absolutely nothing happens. Because the power's gone off. That's what those volume restriction thingy's do- the yellow ball-shaped thing lights up when the volume goes above the level it's been set for and then if you don't turn down it turns the power off for several seconds. You then have to turn down before it'll let you carry on playing. That's why people (including venue people who don't want them but have to use them because of 'regulations') bypass them. Clever eh? Especially if you actually do bypass them.
So we turn it down, restart and, incredibly, the evening continues to improve- by our second set the Blues Bros. brief has given way to any-song-Pete's-got-the-backing-track-for with 'Is this the way to Amarillo?' and 'Loco in Acapulco' severely testing what's left of my punk credibility, and me proving once and for all that I don't know the solo to 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. All a lot better than it sounds here and than I for one thought it was going to be a couple of hours earlier I can tell you.
It's 1.40-something and I'm home at last. Walking up the front path I realise I've forgotten my keys and am locked out. So- it was one of those nights after all.
PS I've just read back through this; don't I sound a primadonna?!? Next I'll be complaining that the bread's the wrong shape. Ah well. I guess it comes to us all in the end.