Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From Bristol to Brixton and beyond

It was around half past eight yesterday evening and I was walking towards Brixton Underground Station. As I rummaged in my pocket for my Oyster Card I thought to myself 'hmmm - I've just left Segs with one of the biggest dope smugglers the World has ever seen, someone who used to work for The Kray Twins, and that mad bloke out of The Happy Mondays. What could possibly go wrong?...' 

This frankly astonishing thought came at the end of a splendid three days for Ruts D. C., beginning with a set at VegFest in Bristol on Saturday night. The show went well until about halfway through our set when, as the old saying goes, the heavens opened - I must admit that I didn't realise how heavily it was raining until I saw one of the sound men turning over various plug boards (including, rather worryingly, the one that my effect pedals were plugged into) over, presumably in an attempt to lessen the chance of water getting into them. I have feeling things were possibly a little more dangerous that I thought at the time... before us Goldblade had played a typically boisterous set with John Robb as crazy as ever out front; after us Peter Hook And The Light took the place by storm with a brilliant show that particularly impressed Segs, to such an extent that he even attempted to shake Hooky's hand from in the photographers pit mid-song. John Robb also appeared alongside us the next night at Strummercamp in Cheadle Hulme, this time as lead singer and bass player in The Membranes. I think I last saw them around 30 years ago, and I'm pleased to say that nothing much has changed in the interim period with them sounding every bit as spiky as I remember them sounding first time around. Our show began with a burst of P.A. system feedback that was so severe that we had to stop our first song so that it could be sorted out. From there on in however it was a great gig - we'd decided to play 'Generations' (a song that Segs wrote with Joe Strummer and Rat Scabies) and since Seamus Beaghen was going to be there (he was on later with Lee Thompson and used to play with us) we hoped that he would join us for that and a few other songs, but sadly he was delayed and couldn't make it which was a real shame - still it was great to see him again. We'd also added the old Ruts track 'S.U.S.' to the set all weekend which was great to play and went down really well so hopefully that'll stay in the show for the next batch of shows. We went down well enough that we could have played an encore but with things running late we thought it was better that we didn't and so made way for Lee Thompson's Ska Orchestra who finished off proceedings in fine style. And we made it to Jamm in Brixton yesterday afternoon (while he was queueing in a motorway service station toilet Segs was stopped by someone with the words 'this is a strange place to meet a bass legend'. I suppose it was if you think about it!) in time to make a 'surprise' appearance (well it certainly was a surprise to us as we didn't know that we were definitely appearing until two days before!) at the 'Best In Brixton' charity event. After checking in it was time for a drink - we arrived back from The Crown And Anchor (well, we had a set list to write!) just as Howard Marks was presenting extracts from his 'Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe' one man show, and from what I saw I wish I'd seen the whole thing. As we were about to go onstage a chap came up to me and asked 'are these The Ruts who did 'Babylon's Burning' and all that?' I told him that, yes, some of them are... Tenor Fly joined us for 'Mighty Soldier', 'S.U.S.' seemed even more powerful than on the previous two evenings (I really hope that it stays in the set!) and the final adrenalin rush of 'Society' bought the proverbial house down. A great show, after which I met the afore-mentioned Mr. Marks, Freddie Foreman (or 'Brown Bread Fred' as he was known back in the day. Oo-er!) and Bez, who was DJ-ing later in the evening. Sometimes I can hardly believe what I type here.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering - Segs is fine, although he didn't get to bed until gone 9 o'clock this morning. I don't suppose that I would have either...

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