Sunday, December 03, 2006

Train time

'He shaped a lot of my thinking you know'.

I'm sitting on a tube train reading and I can hear someone talking rather loudly nearby. Mustn't look up. Well you don't do you?

'He shaped a lot of my thinking back in the the '60's. Mind you I'm more left wing than him.'

He's talking to me. I'm reading Bob Dylan's autobiography 'Chronicles volume one' and the man nearby is talking to me about Bob Dylan. I don't know him but that, of course, doesn't matter. Welcome to the wonderful world of travelling to gigs by train. Later in the journey I'll get people saying things like 'GIVE US A SONG MATE' and then laughing uproariously with their friends as I (paraphrasing John Lennon) reply 'you have to pay me first', all the while thinking to myself something like 'you've never got a gun handy when you need one'.

I like it really- as you can probably tell.

It's Friday evening and I'm on my way to Old Street on the tube. We're playing at (ahem) LSO St. Lukes- the 'home' of the London Symphony Orchestra when they're not at The Barbican. Sadly we're not on with them- we're playing a corporate Christmas party. I arrive just as the boys are loading in so give 'em a hand- the venue is- you guessed it- an old church, very impressive. As we're setting up we find we're doing 2 sets, finishing around 11.30 so I should be ok for the tube home. Excellent.
Then- almost by accident- we find that at 11 o'clock the barriers come down around the venue and don't come up again until 9 in the morning- not good... after a bit of negotiating by Pete we're down for one long set, finishing at 10.30 which, if we go into Isle of Wight mode (see earlier posting 'Watson- the needles!!'), means we should just about make it out of the venue in time. Soundcheck's not much more than a line check i.e. each instrument and microphone gets a quick blast through the P.A. due to lack of time for anything more. Good job we did it though- the battery needed replacing in Squirrel's bass. That would have caused trouble mid-gig.
A quick bit of food and a visit to The White Lion with Michael and Rick (depping for Gary on keyboards who's away gigging in Poland) and we're on- to almost total indifference. Ah, the corporate world- and the Swiss event had been so good. Ah well... still Rick started 'Shake your Tail Feather' in the wrong key (hilarious!) and some very strange things were going on in 'Mustang Sally' so it wasn't all bad news. Then the mad dash for freedom... we made it. Just. Not something to make a habit of!!

Saturday and I'm off to Essex. We're playing in Rochford town square where they're turning the Christmas lights on. When I get there the morris men are on and it's another 'Wicker Man' moment... there's plenty of people about and a good atmosphere all round. Also on the bill are Late Night Episode who feature Pete's son Adam on bass and Joe who drives for us on guitar. Last time I saw them they were a Busted/McFly tribute band working with backing tracks, now they write their own songs so I'm really looking forward to seeing them. Joe's got a problem though- he's trying to buy some fingerless gloves (it's cold!) and the best we can find are red ones from Boots. He buys them then asks the lady behind the counter for some scissors... with the glove on his left hand he starts cutting the tops of the fingers.

It's the scariest thing I've ever seen.

Meanwhile Sinbad the Sailor's turning the lights on (he's in panto locally. I think.) and then it's time for Joe, Adam and the boys. And pretty good they were too- any group that's got a song called 'Girls are weirdoes' and who cover 'Teenage Kicks' can't be all bad can they?
Then it's our turn. I'm using Joe's AC30 (hurrah!) so I set up and go backstage for a minute and there he is- ladies and gentlemen, John Saxon. John used to be in The Immediate with Pete and my old mate Paul Cope (see the 'History' section on the Price website) and he's come along with his wife Cathy; I don't think Pete and him have seen each other for nearly 20 years. Fantastic. Just fantastic.
Suddenly it's got colder. Much colder. I know this because as I've moved up the guitar neck during my solo in 'She Caught the Katy' my hand's touched the back plate on my Telecaster and stuck to it. Really. Richard's holding his sax up in front of the lights to try to warm it up. Michael's just told me that he thinks his sweat's freezing on him. But we're playing well, really well in fact, and the audience thinks so too. We encore with 'Jailhouse Rock' and take a bow. That's better. I talk to John and Cathy- they loved it, videoed some of it too. Excellent. We pack away and I go for a drink in The Golden Lion with Rick who gives me a copy of 'Essex Delta Blues Vol. II' which features 'Killing Time' by his band The Zoltans. (It's playing at the moment Rick, honest!).

Then I can hear a girl to my left saying 'my boyfriend gave me this black eye. Still the bouncers got him, gave him a right beating' to a lad she's clearly never met before. Meanwhile someone's pulled the communication chord. The driver's not happy, says he's calling the police. The girl's shouting 'make sure you're there when I get off the train babe' down her mobile phone and inviting the lad to a party with her. The communication chord's been pulled again. The driver's still not happy.

Me? I'm in New York with Bob Dylan. It's 1961, and it's a very good year.

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