What better way for your humble narrator to continue the euphoria of the previous evening than with an impromptu gig at the Load of Hay last Sunday, when I joined Alan (vocals) and Pete (guitar) from The Good Old Boys for a spontaneous acoustic set. Actually it wasn't totally spontaneous - Grant the landlord had been running a weekend in aid of the Help For Heroes campaign, and had asked The 'Boys to play; when only Pete and Alan were available we came up with the idea of trying something a bit different. With no rehearsal possible due to time constraints we met at the bar around 7.30 to see what we could come up with to play - we decided to start with a couple of Good Old Boys numbers then see where it took us, a policy which could have all gone horribly wrong... it turned out to be a really good gig (I wouldn't be writing about it here if it had been terrible!) with us playing for much longer than we were originally supposed to. Alan came up with the name The Ricardo Brothers (or is that Richardo or even Rikardo?) for reasons best known only to himself and Grant offered us a gig at the end of May. Excellent!
Monday evening saw the first Upper Cut rehearsal for some time, at Bush Studios in Shepherds Bush. Our drummer Roger has been out of circulation for a while so it was a chance to get some new songs together as well as running through a few flash points from our standard repertoire. Of the new material 'Hold Back The Night' turned out to be the surprise of the night; we based our version on the Graham Parker and The Rumour recording which features a horn section as well as an introduction played on two harmonised guitars - I managed to find this clip of them playing the song on YouTube the next evening which enabled me to see what Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont were playing, as well as making an attempt at playing something that suggested the horn parts especially in the run-up to the chorus. It turned out well enough for us to try it out at the weekend's gigs, the first of which was on Friday at The Halfway House in Rickmansworth. We were due to play there back in December but it got cancelled because of the snow - judging by Friday's gig it could turn out to be a good venue for us, with Rusty the guv'nor promising us 2 more shows this year after a performance that wasn't without it's shaky moments but that received a good audience reaction and even a fair bit of dancing. When a band hasn't played together for a while there are always going to be a few things that go wrong - we started 'Knock On Wood' before Terry the bass was ready (he was blowing his nose!) and missed a couple of cues here and there but overall it was a good show for Roger to return with.
Saturday saw us brave Sweeneys in Ruislip for a show that was nowhere near as enjoyable as the one the previous evening. We've played there twice before and there's been a fight both times - this time that thankfully didn't happen (or if it did then it happened outside or before we got there) but the atmosphere was as unpleasant as ever. When we got there we were told that '2oo drunks' had just left (it was St. George's Day after all) and most of our first set was played to a sparse but actually quite appreciative audience, although an odd moment occurred during 'Knock On Wood' (again!) when a chap from the audience invited himself up onto the stage to sing a few lines then walked from the stage straight out of the front door. Maybe he had a cab waiting? By the time we started our second set the place was full (and I mean full) of impressively built young ladies looking for a footballer or two to help them start off their modeling career, alongside any number of less impressively built young men anxious to assure them that it actually them that they were looking for. A couple of girls get on to the stage (why do they keep doing that?) during 'Maggie May' - I think it was more of a case that they wanted everyone to see them rather than thinking that they could somehow contribute to the performance - which set the tone for the rest of the gig, with people walking up and talking to Terry while he was trying to sing and a clearly totally out-of-it guy with a rather disturbing Afro hairdo deciding that he knew all the words to 'You Really Got Me' (he didn't) then spending most of 'Hold Back The Night' attempting to remove my glasses from my face. Moments like this are always very difficult - I'm not a violent person (although I've a funny feeling that I'm about to sound as though I am!) but I just felt as though I wanted to flatten him; the problem with that is that his 40-or-so mates who are laughing at his antics will then of course want to flatten me, which is obviously not a good position to be in. I looked across at the bouncers - they weren't even looking at the stage (and of course if I'd have walloped Mr. Afro they'd have clobbered me, not him - funny old life sometimes isn't it?) so I did what I've had to do in every other situation like this - humour him and wait until he gets bored, all the while thinking 'WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?' Not a good moment, and not a good gig. Our set ended to no audience reaction whatsoever - we packed our gear away then braved the pavements outside, threading our way through young men swearing on their mother's life and young women swearing generally. Roger and myself both declared that we wouldn't care if we never set foot in the Godforsaken place again, and I still feel the same now. This really upsets me as I love to play the guitar and whatever else Sweeneys might be they are a venue for live music at a time when such places are disappearing left, right and centre - but I can't help thinking that the people who go there would still do so whether there was a band on or not... and maybe that's the problem here; in a place like Sweeneys people aren't there to see a band so they consider it to be just something to be toyed with (let's face it, anyone who wears glasses is there to be laughed at, right?) like everything else that magically appears in their little World. And anyway, I'm sitting here agonising over the evening's events whereas they've long since forgotten it all. Perhaps I should do the same?!?
Then again I've just (just!) got back from playing an informal show at a party in Horsepower Hairdressing supremo Adam's back garden - myself and the two Terrys ran through a fair bit of the Upper Cut's material with Adam's mate Steve playing along on a cocktail drum kit. Great fun, friendly people - in short it was everything that Saturday's show wasn't. Ah well - you can't win 'em all, but at least the ones that you do win make up for the ones that you don't. Well, I think they do.