It's been a case of 'four-gigs-in-four-days-with-four-different-bands' for your humble narrator - I thought this was supposed to be a holiday weekend? Still it's good to be busy - here are the notes that I made as I went along:-
FRIDAY - THE UPPER CUT at PATRICK'S BAR, CRYSTAL PALACE.
When we played here last month the guv'nor kept telling us (and particularly me) that we were playing too loud, then at the end of our second set he said that I was the best guitarist that he'd ever seen, that we were the best band that he'd ever heard and then offered us more money to play another set. He wasn't there this time so we played two sets at a reasonable volume (honest!) and went home on time... there could have been more people there but it wasn't a bad turnout for a Bank Holiday weekend and those who were there certainly enjoyed themselves if their comments afterwards were anything to go by. A good start to the weekend.
SATURDAY - BIG AL REED AND THE BLISTERING BUICKS at THE CAT AND FIDDLE, WEST DRAYTON.
After a fairly busy day in the shop it was off to the venue formally known as The Rowan Arms, although I believe The Cat And Fiddle was it's original name? Either way Johnny Squirrel was once again excellent depping on bass, and with Al on top form the band sounded good - as with the previous evening there could have been more people there but again those who were there seemed to really enjoy it, even going so far as to applaud the band as we were leaving. Mind you, they may have just wanted us to go?!?
SUNDAY - RUTS D.C. at THE 3 CHORDS FESTIVAL, PENZANCE.
Now I'd been looking forward to this for quite some time - billed as 'Cornwall's First Punk And Pasty Festival' we were headlining the Sunday evening with 999 and Vice Squad also on the bill among many others. Our epic journey down to Penzance took around 6 hours but went very well - with Dave (drums), Segs (bass), Seamus (keyboards) and Nick (sound engineer) all coming down by train from various different parts of the country myself, Molara (vocals) and Mark (driver) met up with Tina the backstage co-ordinator who was very helpful as indeed was everyone else on the site. Somewhat inevitably pasties were on the menu almost immediately, although there were also some splendid homemade crumpets (oh yes!) among other culinary delights. I set up our merchandise next to Andy T. and his other half Cheryl (I was next to them at Rebellion too!) and said hello to Sarah Pink, Arturo from 999 and The Lurkers, Rebellion Festival supremo Jennie and a fair few punters who were looking forward to seeing us play. No pressure then...
Vice Squad sounded good as did 999 - leaving Mark behind the merch table I made my way backstage where Segs and Molara were in the middle of an interview with Steve from local radio station The Source FM (he presents the 'Punky Reggae Party' show - excellent!) With everything running late and a strict 11 o'clock curfew courtesy of the local council (whatever happened to anarchy eh?) there's something of a scrabble to set up - by the time we go on we know we've got to cut our set down, and Tina is going to give us a '10 minutes to go' sign when there's, er, 10 minutes to go. Three songs in and 'Back Biter' up's the ante, and with 'Something That I Said' nearly starting a riot the gig is shaping up to be a classic - until the dreaded sign from Tina brings us all back down to Earth. Segs tells the audience that we've only got time for three songs and asks what they want to hear? 'Mighty Soldier' sees the stage invaded by children (oddly appropriate given that it's about child soldiers in Angola) before 'Staring At The Rude Boys' and 'Babylon's Burning' bring our show to a premature end. The audience wants more and the band want to carry on playing but it's not going to happen. Shame.
With everything packed away we're invited back to The Farmers Arms by Taf the landlord for a drink. Or Two. At least. They serve Todka there - no I didn't know what it was either. I left at 6am - you don't need to know anymore now do you..?
MONDAY - BACK TO ZERO at THE BOOGALOO, HIGHGATE.
My alarm went off at 10.30am. The band are due to be leaving for London at eleven o'clock. I recieved a text message from Dave saying that they're all at the Waves cafe - I replied that I'd be there as soon as possible - and then attempted to move. Oooh...
Incredibly I would have got there on time if I could have found my way there, as it wasn't far at all; the problem was simple - everyone I asked for directions was a tourist except for one chap who said that he'd lived in Penzance all his life but had never heard of either the pub or the cafe. Strange! I eventually got there around 20 minutes after the allotted time to find that Mark and Dave had gone to retrieve the van and to attempt to raise Nick from his slumber - he eventually decided to catch a train later in the day leaving us to wend our weary way homewards. I spent much of the journey drifting in and out of consciousness (don't worry, I wasn't driving!) and wondering if I'd be back in time for my evening gig. Fortunately the journey went very well, and I arrived home in time to drop my gear off before heading up to Highgate for a gig with Back To Zero at The Boogaloo. It's a party to celebrate BTZ's songwriter Sam and his wife Jeanette's 20th wedding anniversary, and when I arrive everything is set up and ready to go. Sadly our show is blighted by the presence of one of those perpetually annoying volume restriction devices that mean that the band can never really relax during the show - it cuts the power during our second number and goes off again here and there throughout our set which consists of BTZ songs interspersed with an eclectic selection of cover versions chosen by Sam and his family. If you ever wanted to see a band play 'Starman', 'Le Freak' and 'I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor' then this was your chance...
And I spent a large portion of today asleep. You knew that I would didn't you?