Friday, August 10, 2012

Rebellion Festival 2012 - with my little stick of Blackpool (punk) rock!

Ruts DC at The Rebellion Festival, Blackpool, Saturday 4th August 2012.
From left to right - Seamus Beaghen, Leigh Heggarty (me!), Segs Jennings, Dave Ruffy, Molara. 

I spent last weekend at the 2012 Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. Between Thursday and Sunday I saw all or part of the performances by The Buzzcocks, The Business, Snuff, The Filaments, The Heavy Metal Kids, Atilla The Stockbroker, Social Distortion, Anti Pasti, Chelsea, The Piranhas, Conflict, Seven Seconds, Citizen Fish, Vince Ray and The Bone Shakers, Eastfield, Kevin Seconds, The Dirty Folkers, Neck, Public Image Limited, Slaughter And The Dogs, The Slackers, Penetration, 999, King Kurt, The Lurkers, The Downtown Struts, Thee Spivs, The Crows, T.V. Smith And The Valentines, Rancid, Argy Bargy, Goldblade, Stiff Little Fingers, Ginger Wildheart, Louise Distras, T.V. Smith (solo), Arturo Bassick, Texas Terri, Henry Cluney and probably some more that I've forgotten. I also caught book readings from T.V. Smith and Esso from The Lurkers and saw John Robb interview John King, former SLF man Henry Cluney, Tom Hingley from The Inspiral Carpets and Gaye Advert. Oh and I played with Ruts D.C. and did a duo show with T.V. Smith. A busy few days then... it certainly felt as though it was a long few days, although that may have something to do with the fact that I was at the aftershow party until gone 3 o'clock on Monday morning then walked back to my accommodation through a raging thunderstorm. My shoes were still soaking wet the next morning. Urgh! But it was also a great - make that great - few days with more than a few magical moments. Rancid were brilliant as were Stiff Little Fingers, The Buzzcocks and T.V. Smith And The Valentines. I also thought The Downtown Struts were absolutely superb, with the Clash-style 'three man front line' reminding me of, well, The Clash such was their excellence. And Ginger from The Wildhearts gave an extraordinary performance, maybe the only time that I'll ever see crowd surfing at an acoustic show (although for an acoustic show there were rather a lot of electric guitars involved!) and with the whole thing being a reminder of just how great so many of The Wildhearts songs are. I don't mind admitting that I had a lump in my throat during '29 x The Pain', such was the passion of his performance. Wonderful stuff. And as I say, I also played a couple of shows myself...

Sometime late on Friday afternoon I decided to go for a walk and get a bit of fresh air. It was rather hot and stuffy in The Winter Gardens, and it was time for a break from things. I was minding my own business eating some chips and musing on how calm the sun's reflection on the sea looked (poetic eh?) when my phone made that annoying honking sound that it makes when someone sends me a text message. It was from T.V. Smith - 

'Valentines delayed. We're playing tonight on main stage.'

T.V. was due to be playing three times at the festival - 8pm on Friday with The Valentines in The Empress Ballroom, a duo show with me at 7pm on Saturday in The Bizarre Bazaar and a solo show on The Almost Acoustic stage on Sunday at 8.30pm. The Valentines were flying in for their show - timings were always going to be tight, and the band were stuck at Frankfurt Airport. Time I got my guitar then!
T.V. and Leigh face the braying hoards.
An hour or so later I'm in dressing room 3 with T.V. and Pascal Briggs. T.V. and myself are considering what songs to play and in what order while Pascal is ensconced in the corner with headphones and guitar. He was due to join us for the last few songs of our set as he done at last year's festival, but thought he had another day to revise the songs, and as we were expecting to play in a smaller room we had planned a low key opening to our show which we decided to reconsider since we were now on the largest stage of the festival. We ran through a couple of songs and checked some endings before deciding that we could do no more, and anyway it was nearly showtime.
Pascal, T.V. and Leigh in
'rockist posing' incident.
I walked up the stairs towards the stage. We were about to go out in front of a couple of thousand people who are expecting a full-on guitar-bass-and-drums punk band playing songs from the Adverts albums armed with just two acoustic guitars. This should be interesting... two songs in and I'm thinking that we're doing well, a few more songs (including 'Ready For The Axe To Drop') and there's every indication that this is one of the best shows T.V. and myself have ever played together, and by the time Pascal joins us and we finish with 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' and 'One Chord Wonders' to scenes of audience pandemonium I remind myself that we're not just playing any old songs, we're playing T.V. Smith songs, and they don't let you down. And they didn't let us down here. A great gig.

Would you buy a t-shirt
from this man?
Ah-ha, an electric guitar.
That's better!
Judging by the comments I received from people at the festival before the Ruts D.C. performance a lot of people were looking forward to it. Some wondered if would we be doing old Ruts numbers, some asked who would be singing? In the event we played a fair few old songs alongside new material and all points in between, Segs and Molara both sang brilliantly and the band rose to the occasion to give a performance that even several days later I'm still trying to think of a way to write about here. The best that I can say at the moment is that it reminded me that music can be such an important thing in people's lives that it catches you unawares sometimes, and we caught quite a few people - including I suspect ourselves - unawares on Saturday. I felt as though I shook hands with half of the audience on Sunday, with people telling me that it was the best show of the festival, even the best show that they had ever seen. They were all correct of course, because that's what it meant to them. I coaxed Dave and Segs out onto the merchandise stand after our show where they were treated like film stars - a lot of people had been waiting for this moment for a very long time. I know I certainly had - I looked out from the stage at a crowd of people who were fans of the band I was playing in, whilst myself also feeling like a fan. It's really hard to describe, it's like you're on the stage but you're also in the audience. Weird... but as I saw people punching the air during 'West One (Shine On Me)' and attempting to stage dive during 'Babylon's Burning' I found myself wishing I was out there with them while trying as hard as I could to give a performance that lived up to their expectations. And I'll be very honest with you here - I haven't had many better feelings during a gig than I had during this one. I always consider myself very fortunate to do what I do - there are a lot of better players than me that never make it out of a rehearsal studio let alone on to a stage, and I've been very lucky to do what I've done with a guitar in my hands. But last Saturday night - well, we did what we did and we did it well. If you were there I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did, because that means you'll never forget how it made you feel. And you can't ask for much more than that can you?

You see - I told you that I'd write something hopelessly over-emotional didn't I? Sorry if it doesn't make much sense, but the whole thing is still sinking in. Maybe I'll manage something a bit more sensible in the future... in the meantime here and here are the Louder Than War reviews of the shows, and I must say thanks to T.V.'s mate Craig Casson for the Pascal/T.V./Leigh photo, Dave of Balcony Shirts fame for the merch man pic and Dave's mate Greg for the others. Well, I couldn't take them myself could I? 

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