Did you see Derren Brown's show on Channel 4 the other night? In the midst of the usual strangeness a guy went to have his picture taken in a photo booth in London and woke up in a photo booth in Marrakesh, with predictable bleary bewilderment. Yesterday I got into a Joe's van at South Mimms services and woke up in a theatre in Bolton. Something like that anyway. Actually I didn't but it felt like I did. Sort of. In the meantime we'd picked Andy up in a hotel car park just off junction 15 of the M1, stopped at the services on the toll road bit of the M6 and, on arriving in Bolton, lost reception on the radio just as The Grand National was getting exciting. And I'd read rather a lot of the Mojo 'Album Covers' special, talked to Stuart the guitar repair man on the phone and drifted in and out of the kind of 'half-sleep' that I tend to get on journeys such as this.
Still as we pulled into Coronation Street (really!) and stopped outside the venue it all came back to me- we played this one a couple of years ago, first set Blues Brothers, second set Dave Finnegan's Commitments, and I'm sure the busker outside was playing 'Fly me to the Moon' that night too, though maybe I'm being a bit fanciful there. (Squirrel- 'I wish someone would fly him to the moon') We got there a few minutes before Pete and co. and were setting up as they arrived, all in good spirits especially considering he'd just been stopped for speeding...
The Octagon Theatre's a great little place, though little is the word- about a 200 capacity auditorium, great for the kind of stuff we're doing. With no stage we're on the floor- always an odd situation- and, since tonight we're The X-Commitments, spend the soundcheck running the girl's song's (Tracy had bought along Chantelle who none of us had met before) and trying to decide upon a key for 'Stand By Me'. We finish at 6.30 and we're on at 7.30 so just time for a bowl of soup before a quick drink with Squirrel before getting changed for the show. And what a great gig it was, despite a few 'we've not played this one for ages have we?' moments. 'Stand By Me' sounded good, with the audience singing it nearly as much as Pete and it somehow turning into 'Cupid' at one point, and Chantelle and Tracy worked brilliantly together. And the bar was still open when we finished. How cool is that?
On the way home the slip road to the M1 was closed and we had to go all the way down to the next exit and double back on ourselves. I blame that Derren Brown bloke off of the telly- he's always doing things like that you know.