Monday, February 18, 2013

'Gizza job! I can do that!'

Only one gig for me this weekend, but as previously discussed I've been looking forward to this one for a while. I last depped in The Pistols back in (I think) January 2008 so when Paul / Rotten called just before Christmas to ask if I'd be available to play with the band again I jumped at the chance. I've made my admiration for The Sex Pistols clear on a number of occasions in these hallowed pages so I won't repeat myself here other than to say that I don't think rock 'n' roll guitar gets much better than when it's played by Steve Jones. Personally I've never had much time for the post-Rotten 'Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle' material (although 'Silly Thing' was pretty good!) but for me 'NMTB' and the b-sides of the associated singles is some of the most incendiary music ever written and recorded - so the chance to play it live is definitely not to be missed.
We arrived at Fat Lil's in Witney to find that co-headliners The Clashed were nowhere to be seen. After several fruitless attempts at contacting them it was clearly time to rethink the evening. We were due on at 10.30 for an hour set, but this was quickly revised to 'go on whenever you like and play for as long as you can'. Good job I looked at the 'Swindle' stuff then... 
The most expensive
amplifier stand ever?
As we were setting up Toby the drummer discovered that he had no hi-hat clutch with him - as he attempted to solve the problem with some gaffa tape (is there nothing that you can't use that stuff for?!?) I sent a text message to my mate Jon (who I'd arranged to meet later, he's also known as Johnny Guitar) to see if he knew anyone who could lend us one. Sadly he drew a blank, but in the meantime Toby had managed to improvise a solution of sorts. Meanwhile I'd been looking around for a chair or some beer crates to put my amplifier up on (I generally try to get my amp up off the ground, it helps with hearing what you're playing!) and was eventually given two small Marshall cabinets to use, which certainly looked good if nothing else.
Yes, that really is a Union Jack
handkerchief on my head...
With everything set up I went up to the bar to look for the afore-mentioned Jon but instead bumped into Alan, another old mate who has moved out into the area. It was good to catch up with him and indeed Jon who arrived while we were talking.
10.15 and it's time for 'Holidays In The Sun'. Paul is in suitably anarchic form at the front of the stage, Tim / Sid is prowling around next to him and Toby is coping very well with the ailing hi-hat. When someone shouts out 'you're shit!' Paul is straight back at him with 'you're ugly mate, but we can practise!' and the crowd love it. The set fells like it lasts no time at all, which is always the sign of a good show; we close with 'Anarchy In the U.K.' and 'Pretty Vacant' to scenes of general audience mayhem, and encores of 'Bodies', 'Friggin' In The Riggin'' (like I say, it was a good job that I looked at the 'Swindle' stuff) and 'My Way' finish a great show. Me? I haven't sweated so much at a show in ages, and my ears are still ringing. Mind you, they normally are! I hope it's not such a long time until I next play with them... and they're at Tropic At Ruislip on March 1st with The Ramonas which I'll definitely get along to if I'm not gigging that night.

Talking of not gigging I decided to use the fact that I wasn't out playing on Saturday evening to attempt to scour up some work in the Uxbridge area for The Upper Cut. First stop was The Abrook Arms where The Undersound were plying their trade - with 2 out of 3 band members suffering from the dreaded ManFlu their first set could have been a lot worse than it was. After leaving a CD with Andy the guv'nor it was down to The General Eliott to catch the second set from Power Of Soul, who sounded somewhat looser than usual although maybe the aural assault of the previous evening was beginning to catch up with me. Pausing only to sort out a gig in July (it's Simon the DJ's birthday bash - more about that nearer to the time) myself and ex-Cane Toads guitarist Pete decided to venture across the road to The Dolphin where Noel the guv'nor distinguished himself by (a) buying us both drinks and (b) offering The Upper Cut 4 gigs throughout this year including Boxing Day. Top man! In the meantime, my phone had been busy...

A plan had been hatched earlier on Saturday for another Back To Zero get-together on Sunday, this time involving perspective bass player Rob. All seemed straightforward enough, until Rob told Sam that he couldn't make it after all. In the course of their conversation it emerged that he couldn't really commit enough time to the project so him and Sam suggested that it was probably be best if he wasn't involved, which was announced to me while we were at The Abrook Arms with a text message that read 'it's time to get The Squirrel in'. Over the next couple of hours texts and conversations went back and forth, the end result of which was that my old Chicago Blues Brothers mate Johnny Squirrel met up with Sam, Andy and myself on Sunday afternoon in North London  to discuss tactics. The meeting went so well that we are very likely to find ourselves in a rehearsal studio in the not-too-distant future. This is good news - it'll be great to work with Squirrel again, and there are some really good songs to play. 
From there it was back to Uxbridge (incidentally due to track repair I was obliged to travel the entire length of The Piccadilly Line in both directions. How cool is that!) to continue with my gig-getting frenzy by heading down to The Crown And Treaty where a jam night was in progress. Old mates Pete, Grant and Sam were cheerily propping up the bar - they somehow managed to talk me into playing 'In A Rut' and 'Johnny B. Goode' with them. I'm really wary about borrowing a guitar (I always think I'm going to break it, or that it'll suddenly fall apart!) but I managed to play the songs without anything awful happening. After a couple of drinks with the lads and getting a couple of possible gig dates it was time to walk down to The Crown in Cowley where an acoustic session was in progress. I've known Dave there for quite a while and he coerced me into playing a few songs, although by then I was flagging a bit. In fact I can really remember what they were! Still I dropped a CD in there too, so hopefully there'll be a chance to return there with an electric guitar sometime.

And I've got no gigs this coming weekend either - bah! Oh well, perhaps I'll go out and look for some more then too...

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