Sunday, April 13, 2008

'Mr. Arthur Brown in person...'

...which turned out to be highly enjoyable, and not uneventful.

Shirley and myself arrived in Norwich some time around 3 p.m. amid some suitably strange weather- heavy showers alternating with occasional blinding sunshine. I played at The Playhouse Theatre a couple of years ago (the band played there last year but I couldn't make it due to shop commitments and other madness) and surprised myself by more-or-less remembering the way there- only to discover that the road to it was closed and we had to go all the way around the block to get to it. Ah well... with all the gear loaded in we're still an hour or so early (for once!) so we decided to go and check in at our accommodation for the next couple of nights.
We found our way back to the travelodge (we'd spotted it on the way to the theatre) and park in St. Stephen's car park next door. As we're carrying our bags towards the lift a strange sight greets us- the Lucky Star Chinese restaurant. Yes, I know there's nothing too unusual about seeing a Chinese restaurant, but I must say that I've never seen one in a multi-storey car park before. Have you? We check in and, pausing only to pick up a street map of the area from reception, walk back through town to meet the rest of the band at the venue. It's the A-team again- Mario & Mike as Jake & Elwood, Richard & Dave on sax & trumpet, Ian on keyboards, Squirrel on bass, Marc on drums and Tracy on vocals with sound guru Ian Bond manning the P.A. and Pete's wife Jayne helping out with the costume changes. Soundcheck gives the dancers chance to sort themselves out- there's a lot of them causing myself and Squirrel to retreat to the back of the stage on several occasions ('this is mad!' was his highly amused opinion of things) but it all bodes well for 2 good shows.
With soundcheck over Shirley and myself walk down to the local cafe. As we sit down the heavens open outside- but it's not rain, it's hail, so much falls that it's running down the road like a river, an absolutely extraordinary sight. 10 minutes later it's bright sunshine again. Weird.
8 o'clock and it's showtime. Both nights are sold out (excellent!) and the first show's definitely a good one, although the 20 or so seconds of silence that proceeded 'Green Onions' gave us all a nervous moment- Ian had looked at the setlist that the singers use (it's taped to the back of the P.A.) and was waiting for 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' to start. 'Green Onions is of course an instrumental so isn't on it...

What could be better than a sunny Saturday afternoon in Norwich- city of culture, castles, cathedrals and... cinema. Yes, whilst many would have journeyed back in time and taken in the local historical sights myself, Pete and Squirrel went to the pictures. Well, they were showing the new Rolling Stones film 'Shine A Light'- and very good it was too with some tremendous performances (though I'm not too sure how 'live' some of them were!) and some hilarious moments particularly in the first section of the film where director Martin Scorsese attempts to get some semblance of order into proceedings, with very little success. Brilliant stuff.
Just before the show Squirrel and me talked about the Stones film- how great the songs sounded and how much fun they looked as though they were having playing them. We could do that tonight... and we do- the show starts well and gets better, until halfway through 'Respect' when I'm sure I can hear a strange noise. As we do the 'R-e-s-p-e-c-t' bit we can definitely hear a strange noise- it's the fire alarm. The band stops playing, no one's sure what's going on- but it's for real, and a minute or two later we're all out the front of the theatre watching the fire engines arriving. It seems that either someone went outside for a smoke and weren't far enough away from the building, or the smoke machine that they use at the theatre got a bit out of hand- either way the alarm went off. Still the good news is that the building's not actually on fire, and within a few minutes we're on our way back in, giving Tracy a chance for a 'hello boys' moment with the firemen, and for Richard to complain that it means he'll be home late. We restart 'Respect' and carry on as if nothing had happened- at the end Squirrel said that he thought it was the best show we'd ever played. We must go to the pictures more often.

Sunday morning and Shirley and myself take our stuff back to the car, only to find that somebody's been sick next to it. Maybe a Chinese takeaway in a multi-storey car park isn't quite such a good idea after all?

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