Monday, August 08, 2011

Rebel Rebel

'If you don't go now you'll miss breakfast...'

Wise words at the best of times, but at 2.15 a.m. this morning they were particularly pertinent. Your humble narrator was musing on the merits or otherwise of staying at the after show party for yet another drink when the former bass player of popular punk rock combo The Adverts made the above observation. I thought for a few seconds before deciding that she was probably correct, bade everyone a cheery farewell and stumbled off into the Blackpool night in the general direction of my hotel. As I neared my quest I ruminated on the fact that (a) should I find myself at The Rebellion Festival again I'll book somewhere that's a bit nearer to The Winter Gardens than The Ambassador Hotel, and (b) that was the best night out I'd had for ages.

The journey to Blackpool had been simple enough - a tube train to Euston Square, walk around the corner to Euston Station with enough time for a vegetarian breakfast in The Britannia before catching the 12.25 p.m. Glasgow Central train to Preston where I changed onto the Blackpool North train. Arriving in Blackpool around 3.40 I rather extravagantly got a cab to The Ambassador Hotel - I've got room 312 in what is a classic old fashioned seaside hotel, as I'm checking in the jolly lady behind the counter asks me if I'm 'one of the turns down at that festival' and tells me that she recently went to see 'that Katherine Jenkins, she's really good and really young looking'. As I'm sorting my stuff out in my room I hear a jet aircraft roaring overhead, it sounds like you'd imaging one of The Red Arrows would sound if it had flown over the hotel. As I begin my walk along the promenade in the general direction of the venue I realise that it hadn't been one of The Red Arrows making all that noise - it was actually two of them. Excellent.
It was about a 20 minute walk to The Winter Gardens ('turn left at "Harry Ramsden's", you cant miss it') which is far enough with an acoustic guitar and a bag of leads but it's bright and breezy and there's something about the seaside that always makes me smile. As I get closer to The North Pier the ratio of punky-looking people starts to increase, and by the time I get to the venue there are multi-coloured Mohicans everywhere. The atmosphere is good and the policemen and women don't seem to have much to do - I picked up my A.A.A. wristband from the box office and climbed the stone steps into the main part of The Winter Gardens. I was last here when I depped in Foxy's Ruts way back in August 2007 and I'm here to play with T.V Smith this time, nothing much has changed from what I remember and I find T.V. behind his merchandise table doing a roaring trade. He shows me to the backstage area of The Bizarre Bazaar where we're on at 6.30, I drop my gear off while Captain Sensible soundchecks with 'Astronomy Domine'. We agree to meet up at 6 o'clock so there's time for a look around - I catch a couple of songs by Goldblade in The Empress Ballroom before saying hello to Arturo of The Lurkers whose merchandise stall is by the Bizarre Bazaar backstage door. Then it's back into The Empress for Glen Matlock And The Philistines, Matlock's playing guitar alongside James Stevenson which is a bit of a shame as I've always thought of him as one of rock's great bass players although 'Burning Sounds' and 'God Save The Queen' both sound pretty good to me. Meanwhile over in The Olympia Neck are setting up; I played in the band around 10 years ago and would love to have seen their set but sadly they're on at the same time as us although I managed a few words with Leeson and agreed to meet him later for a drink. I see their first song 'Loud 'n' Proud 'n' Bold' before I had to leave to meet up with T. V. - time to go to work...

We start with 'No Time To Be 21' at exactly 6.30. The room looked full when we started and was definitely full by the end of 'Bored Teenagers' with somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people in depending on whose estimate you believe watching our set. Longtime T.V. fan Kevin had asked for 'The Servant' which I'd like to have made a better job of (I messed up the opening riff - bugger!) although it goes well enough overall. By 'Expensive Being Poor' things are really hotting up and the audience are really on our side - before 'Lion and The Lamb' begins T.V. introduces Pascal Briggs who joins us for the rest of our set, they've worked together out in Germany although I met him for the first time as I shook hands with him on the stage. His arrival pushes us on to even greater heights and 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' even gets a bit of pogoing, a strange sight at an acoustic show. We finish with 'One Chord Wonders' to audience pandemonium and decidedly non-punky onstage hugs. There's no time for an encore but it didn't matter - we'd been great. Great. Sorry if that sounds big headed but you know when you do a good gig and this wasn't a good gig, it was a great gig. There, I've said it again. I'll stop now. There, I've stopped.

Out on the merchandise stall I shake what seems like the entire audience's hands and T.V. signs CD's and poses for fan photos with Gaye Advert. I grab a few words with John Robb who's on the neighbouring stall before getting asked by several people if The Price will ever play at the festival - I reply as best I can along the lines of 'maybe one day...' I'm talking to Tom from The Phobics as the band in The Bizarre Bazaar are playing 'Louie Louie' it's only when they play 'Love Lies Limp' that it dawns on me that it's A.T.V. so go in for a listen, and very good they are too.
Meanwhile I realise I've left my glasses back at my hotel room and while it's tempting to continue posing in my (prescription) sunglasses it would also be nice to see where I'm going so while it's still light I decide to walk back to get them and to drop my guitar off while I'm there. I'm away for about an hour which give me a chance to clear my head a bit as well as catching up on phone calls and getting something to eat. Well the phone calls went well but the seemingly endless chip shops and takeaways are all closed or closing and there's a huge queue at the afore-mentioned Harry Ramsden's so I go back to The Empress Grill in the venue for the inevitable chips. While I'm there Malcolm from The Price calls, he's at a pub quiz and can't remember the name of the character that Barry Humphries plays that isn't Dame Enda Everage and wonders if I know the name - to my surprise I do! I tell him off for cheating (!) then say something like 'actually I was just talking about you...' before telling him where I am - he's very enthusiastic about a possible gig for us so I decide that I'll see what I can find out a bit later on.
In the meantime there are bands to see - The Lurkers roar through 'I Don't Need To Tell Her' in The Arena, Slaughter And The Dogs are blasting out 'Boston Babies' in The Ballroom and The Beat are skanking their way through 'Twist And Crawl' in The Olympia. I decide to spend most of my time in The Ballroom as I'd not seen Slaughter And The Dogs before, they're very good with their final encore of 'Cranked Up Really High' reminding me what a great song it is even if the singalong end section got a bit to 'showbiz' for my liking.
Out in the bar I bump into Steve Drewett from The Newtown Neurotics who's bemoaning the fact that they've run out of lager; as we're talking I get a call from Leeson who's in the backstage bar (what backstage bar?!?) at The Olympia and Jello Biafra's on soon - meanwhile there are more hands to shake and more Price enquiries, not least from Peter who used to write 'Murder By Fanzine' all those years ago, and a tall Geordie chap called Malcolm - maybe we could get a gig here?
With the lager deficit getting more acute by the second I go back into The Ballroom in search of a drink where The Adicts are doing their stuff - I was never their biggest fan but what they do they do very well. Captain Sensible is on soon in The Bizarre Bazaar but the main event for me is in The Olympia where Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine delivered a show which was a good as any gig I've ever seen. Biafra has been always one of the great punk orators and his performance here showed that he's showing no sign of mellowing with age. The band were astonishing, he was incredible and by the final encore of 'Holiday In Cambodia' it was obvious that I'd just seen one on the greatest gigs I'll ever be lucky enough to witness. Yes, it was that good. In fact it was better than that. Inspirational stuff.
When I meet up with T.V. and Gaye back at The Bizarre Bazaar Captain Sensible is playing 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' - Paul Gray is on bass, Dave Berk is on drums and Monty from The Damned is on keyboards and it's a great way to end proceedings. The encores of 'Wot' and 'Happy Talk' bring a smile to everybody's faces, T.V. and Gaye are surrounded by well-wishers and I finally get to have a few words with Pascal. 'If we never do anything together again then we did that' he says proudly. Good man.
There's an after show party up in The Spanish Bar where I'm introduced to Jennie who's one of the festival organisers - I brave asking 'the Price question' and to my amazement she seems to be interested in us playing. We agree to e-mail each other to see what can be done. Well - maybe, just maybe...

Incidentally I didn't miss breakfast. But it was close.


Anonymous said...

Hello Leigh, great blog that captures the spirit of Blackpool entirely. I'm the tall chap called Malcolm who implored you to do "Not in my Name" and pestered you with the personal reasons! Please note that I'm from County Durham and a Sunderland supporter s being called a Geordie is horrendous (tantamount to calling a scots bloke English). Thanks for the show with TV - a major highlight.

Leigh Heggarty said...

Ooops! Sorry Malcolm, a schoolboy error on my part, although in my defence your honour I'd had a few drinks and... (continued on page 94)

Glad you enjoyed the show, will put your song suggestion to the man himself and hope to see you again

Cheers - Leigh