Tuesday, May 07, 2013

'You don't have to be mad to work here...'

Well that's another busy few days been and gone - it all gets a lot quieter in a few weeks time which I don't mind admitting that I'm not looking forward to. In the meantime...

Thursday then, and time at last for Back To Zero to take to the stage for the first time in getting on for 33 1/3 years. You couldn't make that up could you? 'It feels like we've been rehearsing for ages' said Squirrel a few minutes before the show was due to start, 'and yet I'm not sure that it's been enough'. I knew what he meant but decided to tell myself that it was all going to be brilliant - which I'm pleased to say that was how it all turned out to be, but more about that in a minute. 
Your humble narrator
in mod mode.
I must buy myself
a better shirt!
I arrived at The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden around 6.30pm just as Eat This were soundchecking with 'Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand' - always nice to hear a Who track being played! The evening (which also featured The Duel and The Phobics) was to promote the recently released 'See You On The Other Side' Paul Fox tribute CD, with all money raised going to The Michael Sobell Hospice where Paul was cared for towards the end of his life. As you might expect on an evening such as this there were more than a few familiar faces in the building - punk promotess Sarah Pink and John 'Football Factory' King among them - as well as a fair-sized crowd, all of whom saw excellent sets from all the bands. The Phobics sounded tight and powerful as did The Duel (who finished with a fine version of 'Babylon's Burning') and although I missed a bit of Eat This due to packing gear away and getting changed what I did hear sounded good to me. I described the Back To Zero set to Andy the drummer as 'a loosener' - his comment that he considered it to be 'a strengther' probably gives a better view of the show, which saw Sam coming into his own as a guitarist / frontman and the rest of the band (Stuart on keyboards, Squirrel on bass and your humble narrator on the electric guitar) matching him moment for moment. The first show by a band is always an odd one - it's often a mixture of 'let's get this one out of the way' and 'right, we've done the rehearsals now let us get at 'em!' which certainly describes how this one felt for me. One thing we all agreed on was that it was a good start but the best is yet to come - and that wasn't a bad feeling to have.

And here are a fine set of BTZ photos taken by Rhiannon at the show, while Joe's Gig Vids has a song from each of the bands ...

On Friday Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks returned to The Swan in Iver. A good-sized audience saw a good-sounding show - Bob did a good job depping for Dave on drums, Pete joined us on guitar for a good few numbers and some very good looking young ladies had a good time dancing, particularly in our second set. Hmmm... some nights are just 'good' aren't they? This was one one of them!

And so to Saturday and The Mods Mayday 2013 in Cambridge. The evening also featured Squire and The Killermeters and took place at The Ida Darwin Social Club (in the grounds of the Ida Darwin Hospital, which itself is part of The Fulbourn Hospital a.k.a. The County Pauper Lunatic Asylum For Cambridgeshire, The Isle Of Ely And The Borough Of Cambridge - oh yes!) which for the evening became The Alley Club. Paul the promoter distinguished himself immediately by bringing out cases of lager and promising imminent pizza and chips (top man!) and with Squire arriving later The Killermeters were first to soundcheck with us close behind. Craig was joining us on vocals for a few songs (he was one of the band's singers first time around) and although we were initially too loud on stage (whoever heard of an electric guitar being too loud?!?) we got things sounding good in the end. Or did we? Our first number was dogged by feedback which threatened to all-but-scupper the song - we got through it and I for one found the burst of audience applause at the end something of a relief. From there on in things improved dramatically, with our version of 'Making Time' by The Creation upping the ante and the last song 'Your Side Of Heaven' bringing the proverbial house down. A quick encore of 'Land Of A Thousand Dances' and it was all over - but it turned out to be a great show after a shaky start. Well - that's better
Back To Zero at Mods Mayday Cambridge 2013 -
Leigh, Sam, Andy, Squirrel and Stuart
than a shaky show after a great start... back at the bar a very nice chap called Bryan comes across and says that he saw Ruts D.C. the previous weekend in Minehead and thought we were great. Good man! A young lady comes over with a copy of the BTZ single and asks me to sign it, she looks disappointed when I tell her that I wasn't in the band then but she cheers up when I direct her to Sam and Andy. In the meantime The Killermeters are playing a fine set of mod-pop songs (once again good to hear a Who song or two) and I see Mike Herbage from Department S for the first time since I depped on bass with them last year - I also met Mark the bass player for the first time at our Camden show. 'We should get a gig with the two bands shouldn't we?' is his cheery suggestion - well, I'm not going to tell him that he's wrong... by now Squire are on and 'Walking Down The Kings Road' sounds as good as I remember it sounding all those years ago. We all reflect on what a great night it's been - and it has, even with a 'we are the mods' chant or two. Well - they are!

And here is 'Back To Back', our second song from the show...

Sunday's duo show with Big Al Reed at The Coy Carp in Harefield could easily have been something of an anti-climax after that but I'm pleased (and not a little surprised!) to say that it wasn't. It was the first live music evening at the pub - always good to see another place trying to put a band or a duo on - although I remember going to The Mystery Blues Club to see bands like The Hamsters play Sunday lunchtime shows there back in the 1980s. For this show we were joined by Pete for a fair bit of the evening (as well as joining us on Friday he also depped for me with the band on Saturday evening while I was off modding around) and after a quiet start the second set saw much dancing and merriment all round with the promise of a return show, maybe with the whole band. A successful evening's work - and last night I made another visit to The Three Wishes in Edgware for their jam night. Big Al, Pete and myself played a couple of songs with the houseband before the venue bought out the sandwiches to honour Al's birthday this week. All good stuff, although I don't half feel tired now...

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