Monday, April 14, 2014

To Helsinki and back (a.k.a. Oh Lordi!, Seven Deadly Fins etc etc)

Time for the first ever Ruts D.C. show in Finland, at a night celebrating the 25th anniversary of Stupido Records at The Circus in Helsinki.

Dave, Segs and myself met up at The Music Complex in Deptford at 11 o'clock on Thursday morning; after a three hour rehearsal we then made our way to Jamm in Brixton to resume work on our upcoming live album. Up until this point we had been listening to a show recorded last year in Bremen but we since we have just been provided with a multi-track recording of our gig at The Carlisle in Hastings from March earlier this year we decided to have a listen through that to see if anything could be considered for release. It was an energetic show if a little rough around the edges in places (it was our third show of the evening and they'd all been in pubs...) but even so a couple of songs stood out and so were earmarked for further consideration. Work then continued on Friday afternoon before I took the tube up to Angel Station to catch punk covers band No Lip supporting The Sex Pistols Experience at The Islington Academy. I've known No Lip guitarist Pete for many years - he used to play in a band with my brother Terry back in the day, and since their old bass player Steve was depping with the band it seemed like a good opportunity to both meet up with them and see how the band was getting on. They sounded good, better than when I saw them back in June last year, although I don't mind admitting that it was a bit odd to see them playing Ruts songs and dedicating them to me. Weird! I had only intended to stay for a few songs from The Sex Pistols Experience as I had an early start on Saturday morning, but they sounded so good that I ended up watching the whole show (and it must be said that a few beers from the No Lip lads were quite persuasive in this area too!) Somehow I found myself behind their merchandise table too - I'm really not sure how that happened, but it was good to spend a bit of time talking to Dave their drummer after the show. A good if possible ill-advised evening, as my alarm was set for 4am...

...which was exactly when it went off. I'd had a little under four hours sleep, and too much to drink at the gig. Not good frankly. Still no point in worrying about that now - there's a cab booked and I've got to be in it. And somehow I made it to Heathrow Airport in time for our intended meeting at the Finnair check-in - in no time at all we were through security and in The Bridge Bar getting breakfast (or in the case of Segs and Nick the soundman a pint of Guinness!) I managed to sleep for much of the flight despite the best efforts of some noisy children in the seats in front of me and some nasty turbulence; after collecting our luggage and guitars we met Ollie from Stupido Records who drove us to The Hotel Presidentti (narrowly avoiding a collision with a car just as we left the airport) where there was a certain amount of confusion over our reservations and indeed who was paying for our rooms. Fortunately it all got sorted out in the end.
Judging by the posters in and round the venue The Circus seems to be a thriving place, with the likes of Television, The Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream all making appearances in the not-too distant future. When we arrived at our allotted time for setting up and soundchecking we found all the doors to be locked - after spending a couple of minutes attempting to call the promoter and to attract the attention of somebody inside we went to the restaurant next door for a coffee before someone from the venue eventually came in to find us. We were on with The Valkyrians, JMKE and the astonishingly-named Anal Thunder - remember this is the country that unleashed 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' by Lordi on the unsuspecting Eurovision Song Contest - I was using the latter band's Marshall JCM900 set-up which despite looking a bit tatty (I went to grab the handle in the side of the 4x12'' speaker cabinet and my hand went right inside as there was no handle there!) sounded excellent. Soundcheck went well, after which we met Stupido Records mainman Joose and went back to the restaurant for something to eat before walking back around the corner to our hotel.
I woke up around half past eight, which meant that I'd missed Anal Thunder. Bugger. (I realise that I haven't perhaps used the best word there, but you get the idea...) Still I did see a bit of their soundcheck and they sounded good, as did JMKE and The Valkyrians, who included a splendid version of Wire's 'I Am The Fly' in their set. We went on at midnight - there could have been more people there (apparently there was a punk festival on nearby) but there was more than enough of an audience to make it work, and it's a great show from start to finish. Afterwards there's a 3 litre box of vodka (Ooo!) in the dressing room and lots of people to talk to (including members of local band The Rude Boys who specialise in Ruts cover versions) before heading back to our hotel - the night club is still open, where the music is not particularly to our taste but we're still in there until gone 4 o'clock...

I woke up a little after midday. (Molara had very cleverly had the foresight to arrange for us to have the late check-out time of 2pm - excellent!) All things considered I didn't feel bad, although I'm not sure how. Still I've long missed breakfast so it's time for a shower and then to search for some coffee before meeting up with the rest of the troops and planning the rest of our day. We're not due at the airport until half past five so we put our bags and instruments into storage at the hotel and walk into town for a look around and something to eat. We then returned to the hotel and somewhat inevitably found ourselves in the bar. Nick and myself are following the Liverpool vs. Manchester City game on our phones until Nick has a brainwave and finds it on one of the computers in the lobby - we tune in just in time to see City's first goal. Bah!
At 5 o'clock Ollie arrives and takes us to the airport - we check in and go through security with no problems before waiting for what seems like an age in The Sports Bar, eventually we give up trying to get served (Nick attempted to catch the attention of a waiter who just said 'yeah yeah' and walked off!) and go to a cafe. Whatever happened to service with a smile eh? Still our flight home was pleasingly uneventful (no noisy children, no turbulence - hurrah!) and I got home just in time to see the Liverpool game on 'Match Of The Day'. Could they win the League?  Oooh I hope so...

No comments: