Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ear guitar

I can't hear out of my left ear. Well I can, but not much. It's full of wax. Well, to be pedantic, I guess it's not 'full' of wax or I wouldn't be able to hear anything- but there's a lot in there. I normally stand on the right of the stage when playing with the Blues Bros. show which means my left ear gets more of the band than my right one so I often get wax in it. Just as well really as I'd probably have blown a big hole in my eardrum without it. So normally wax is my friend- but not at the moment. This made for an amusing day in the shop yesterday with me mis-hearing everything from people's names to which strings they wanted and beyond.
A good time then for a gig with a Sex Pistols tribute band. Or is it? At least one shop visitor told me to leave my guitar tuner at home as I wouldn't need it- I said something like 'actually there's aren't any out of tune notes on the Pistols album so I probably will need it' when I really wanted to say was much nastier (I'll leave you to think about what it might have been but I'm fairly sure the words 'useless hippie' would have appeared somewhere along the line). That's a problem when you work with the general public. I'm sure I've bitten a big hole in my tongue.
Bedford Civic Theatre took a bit of finding. With Shirley at the wheel and me on the mobile phone we got there in the end, spotting Pistols singer Paul before he spotted us and arriving just in time for a soundcheck. I set my guitar and amp up, played a few chords- and had to ask if (a) anyone could hear it and (b) if it sounded ok. Not the best questions to be asking. We ran through 'Substitute' which to me sounded very strange- distant, almost crackly- but to everyone else in the band sounded fine. I guess that in a situation like this all you can do is trust other people's judgement which is for me is far from ideal. Still The Pistols are an excellent bunch- Toby's on drums and Tim's in Sid's shoes with the aforementioned Paul as Uncle Johnny- as are the support band The Ramblers who sport impressive quiffs and are annoyingly young. After checking set times- we're on at 9.30- it's off for a pizza and a walk around town. There are some very underdressed people around- either that or I just feel the cold more these days.
Back at the venue The Ramblers are in full swing- sometime in the mid-'80's they would have been described as 'cowpunk' by Sounds magazine, now they're probably on MySpace with no need to court journalistic interest. Their mates are down the front dancing and heckling the band members by name, unwittingly adding to their 15 minutes of playground fame. I go to our dressing room and see a setlist for the first time- we're starting with 'Holidays in the Sun', finishing with 'Anarchy in the U.K.' and in between times playing some of the greatest rock songs ever created. And, it must be said, at least one of the worst. Does anyone with a brain really like 'Belsen was a Gas'?
Suddenly Tim looks like Sid, Paul's looking Rotten and we're off- the second song's 'I Wanna Be Me and tonight Matthew I am Steve Jones. I found myself feeling oddly awkward before the show, suddenly doubting myself, wondering if I could do it despite the fact that I've been playing the songs at home since they came out and had played with The Pistols before- but on stage it all seemed to fall into place and I enjoyed every minute of it, even when the idiot who'd been down the front pointing at his P.I.L. t-shirt all night got on stage and just stood there (aren't drugs great eh?). The audience seemed to me to react exactly as I'd imagine they would have sometime in '76- initially seeming almost shellshocked, then polarised- those who 'got it' got it and those who 'didn't' didn't. They'll have been the ones throwing beer then. We encored with 'My Way' with Paul on bass and Tim in a white tuxedo jacket with a bootprint on the back. As we left the stage for the final time a full pint missed us by miles. What a waste. Still, rock'n'roll don't mind.

I wonder what we sounded like- after all it's no good asking me is it?

Title from a conversation with John King and Eastberg. Thanks lads.

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