Sunday, September 13, 2009

4 strings good, 6 strings bad?

Well if last Friday's gig was in an 'out-of-the-way' place then Wednesday's was on another planet- at South Farm in Shingay-cum-Wendy (and if you think that's a mad name, the village next to it's called Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth!) in Cambridgeshire. It's a wedding with a difference as it's a goth couple getting married; add to this the fact that there's a volume restriction device (why? We're on a farm in the middle of nowhere!) in the venue that cuts the power if the music goes over 90 decibels and the scene was set for a rather unusual gathering, which I'm bound to say didn't disappoint. Some extraordinary hairstyles, tattoos and outfits (some band members were shocked, others rather bemused!) mingled among the more traditionally dressed guests; if that wasn't enough the serviettes were shaped like daleks and there was a model of Stonehenge on top of the wedding cake. Excellent! From our point of view it was only ever going to be a difficult gig- in the end the power went off at least 4 times by my reckoning, and that was with Marc using hot rods instead of sticks in an attempt to keep the drum volume down and Pete manning the P.A. system throughout the show. (He had the venue manager next to him most of the time- no pressure then!) Rather than stopping when the power did go off we kept playing and waited for it to return (systems such as this switch the power off for several seconds, the idea being that it gives you time to turn down before it comes back on again) and with Marc's drums still audible (albeit rather quiet!) the people on the dancefloor kept on dancing. This resulted in a rather strange sight- a bit like one of those silent discos. Maybe that's what they should have booked?!?

Friday it was back to a regular gig for us, at The Pizza Express in Maidstone. We've played here quite a few times, and as I think I've written before it's an unlikely venue for us, but it always turns out to be a great gig. Chris is in for Ian on keyboards and Ian replaces Richard on saxophone but other than that it's the A-Team (minus Tracy) from 2 nights previous; conversation topics during the pre-gig pizzas included a discussion on eating woodlice (apparently they're related to shrimps and have a similar taste- I'm not making this up, honest! If you think you're hard enough click here and here and you'll see what I mean!) and the watercolour paintings on the walls (Dave said he'd drill a hole through the wall under the ones of sea scenes and use a water pistol from next door 'to make them more authentic for the people looking at them') of our dressing room. The show seems deafening compared to the Wednesday gig (maybe it was!) and is a energetic, high temperature affair- I don't remember the last time I was so hot on stage, and Mike and Matt drank what seemed like 100 glasses of water. We went down well, sold many a CD afterwards and quite a few people said that they'd be returning for our just-before-Christmas show- a fine evening.

And Saturday saw your humble narrator wielding a bass guitar in public for the first time in many years- I think the last time was 6-or-so years ago when I was playing in Neck and our bassman went AWOL! Sam's on guitar, Andy's on drums and we're playing at Dave and Suzanne's wedding at Mill Hall in Newbury. Without wishing to sound too big headed I must say that it all went very well indeed, especially considering our limited rehearsal time and the very echoey room (yes, another one! At least we could play at a reasonable volume this time...) The bride and groom had a few requests, many of which we were able to play- I must admit that I didn't think that this was the most appropriate song for a wedding reception although I guess you could argue that this was even more unlikely to work, but they both went down really well even considering the fact that I was singing (yes, singing) them... but the maddest request surely had to be this which implausibly nearly started a riot. Whatever happened to wedding 'classics' like this eh?!? Times have changed... I really enjoyed playing bass not least because it was something different for me and although I don't think that a new career beckons it's something I'd definitely do again if the opportunity arises, especially if I get chance to play this song again...

Don't forget- The Flying Squad are supporting Larry Miller at Tropic at Ruislip this Friday; we're on at 8.30 and you can get cut price tickets from the venue website if you e-mail them and say that you're coming to see us! Hurrah!

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