Monday, July 21, 2014

'To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness...'

Well, that was a very - make that very - busy few days in mad-guitar world. I wrote about it all when I got home in the early hours of this morning after playing with Ruts D.C. at Guilfest - to be honest with you, it was a bit of a rant. I was tired but I wanted to get my thoughts down, and while that's sometimes a good idea (if nothing else it helps to clear your head of whatever is rattling around in it at the time) it was somewhat coloured by the fact that I was still annoyed about our set earlier in the evening being cut short due to overrunning. Not good frankly. Not good at all. I've thought about reproducing it here but to be honest it doesn't read very well - it's very disjointed and it must be said not particularly pleasant to the band who were on before us who after introducing their 'last number' then proceeded to play three songs. The nicest thing I call them is 'hippie tosspots' - it then goes downhill from there, ending with a quote from a song that I played on Saturday evening. It's quite funny in places (even though I say so myself!) but I'm not sure that anything would be served by it being here.

Things had all been going so well up until that point. Thursday - which I don't mind saying seems like a lifetime ago after a weekend such as this - had seen a splendidly-enjoyable Ruts D.C. rehearsal (the studio had air conditioning which with temperatures outside in the 80s made it a very pleasant place to be!) after which your humble narrator appeared at The 100 Club with The London Sewage Company. We played well, and with The Morgellons and Menace also on good form it was a suitably energetic start to this run of shows.

Friday was a long - maybe that should be l-o-n-g - day. Vern the driver arrived in the bus to pick me up just after midday - by the time we'd collected everybody else (including meeting Cadiz Music supremo Richard England in a petrol station where he was with Jay and Paul from The Urban Voodoo Machine - surreal!) and journeyed to Southend it was 6pm. But the mood was good, and soundcheck at Chinnerys took no time at all. With a bit of time before the first band I walked up to The Railway Hotel - when I arrived landlord Dave Dulake was testing a Theremin that was sitting on top of the piano in the bar. I did several gigs with him a few years ago, and it was good to catch up with him again. The food there is good too! I got back to the club in time to see The Dogtown Rebels who began proceedings well; after them Eight Rounds Rapid were as excellent as ever, but with the temperature in the club soaring (oh for the previous day's air conditioning!) I went outside for a bit of air and was greeted with the sight of heavy rain and forked lightning across the sea. Scary! Our set went very well until water began leaking in from above Segs's head - someone gave him a comically small bucket (I think it was the sort that you build sandcastles with!) which provoked much merriment from all concerned, although it goes without saying that this could have been a very dangerous situation indeed. In the meantime Segs told some very funny stories about his time living in Southend, and despite the risk on electrocution our show went down well with band and audience alike.
Marc Whiles takes a well-earned
breather after having been
driven insane by Ruts D.C.'s
outrageous backstage demands.

Last week I'd received a call from Sex Pistols Experience drummer and manager Dave asking if I'd be available to dep with them at Guilfest on Saturday evening. Given the fact that I was already playing at The Penn Festival with Ruts D.C. that afternoon and that we were also playing Guilfest on Sunday a sensible answer might have been 'no' - but where's the fun in that? As we were on at 1.30pm the shows didn't clash, but there was the problem of getting me from Penn to Guildford. At this point my good friend Andy Miller (a.k.a. Big Andy) exhibited the same problem I had with the word 'no' and offered to drive me from gig to gig - when we arrived at the festival he was already in attendance and raring to go. With Marc Whiles stage managing (he's worked with us as a driver / tour manager on several occasions, and it was good to see him again) everything went according to plan, and we were on stage at exactly half past one. With more than a few Ruts and Ruts D.C. t-shirts in the crowd we had a better reaction than I for one originally thought that we might (we were on after Whigfield - really!) and all pronounced ourselves to be pleased with the show. After watching The Selecter (who were excellent) Big Andy set the controls for Guildford - after some confusion upon arrival we eventually we given wristbands and a car pass and were able to make our way to the Vive Le Rock stage where we met up with the rest of The Sex Pistols Experience and saw a few songs from The Bermondsey Joyriders and Imperial Leisure. It's showtime at seven o'clock - with five minutes to go there's no sign of Big Andy (he told me later that there were so many people in the tent that he literally couldn't get through to the backstage area!) and I can't get into his car to get the Steve Jones t-shirt that I'd planned to wear during the show so I have to go on in the striped shirt that I've been wearing all day. It had been a while since I last played with the band but everything fell into place straight away, and our 30-odd minute show went by in no time with (as this clip shows) the audience in the packed tent going crazy throughout. The only downside was that a lady was injured when some clown decided that it would be a good idea to crowd surf - she was taken away in an ambulance but was apparently well enough to leave hospital the next day. The Urban Voodoo Machine were up next, I hadn't seen them play for a while but they were as entertaining as ever although their last number didn't quite go according to plan. A scantily-clad young lady came on fire-eating - it was part of the act but clearly nobody had told the security man who ran past me and attempted to manhandle her from the stage. Singer Paul tried to stop him and things descended into chaos... by now things were over-running, and headline act The Buzzcocks were obliged to cut their set down, but with Pete Shelley sporting a beard and Steve Diggle as crazy as ever they didn't disappoint. Well, they certainly didn't disappoint me.
Big Andy and Dave Ruffy
 - sharp dressed men.

Big Andy and myself arrived back on site at five o'clock the next afternoon. I'd spoken to Dave earlier in the day when among other things we agreed that surely they wouldn't allow things to run late again - would they? Surely not? Oh well, we'd all know soon enough... I saw three-and-a-bit songs from Electric River (and very good they were too) before the rest of our band arrived and much jollity ensued. With The Ramonas roaring through their set we all agreed that the scene was set for a classic show. The Skints were on before us and the place was packed - this was indeed going to be a classic - and it was (including this version of 'Love In Vain' which I'd say is among the best versions that we've ever played) right up until the moment that Richard informed us that he'd been asked to tell us that we only had 8 minutes left. What?!? But we've still got 4 songs left to play... what followed was one of the strangest incidents that I've ever been part of on a stage, where we played a verse each from 'Staring At The Rude Boys' and 'West One (Shine On Me)' before finishing with a crazed 'Babylon's Burning' which ended with all the lights being switched off. Big Andy filmed it, and here it all is as it happened - strange but true. Afterwards there is much anger - why was this allowed to happen? Was nothing learned from the previous evening? Apparently not. But it had been a great weekend - and in case you were wondering which song I quoted in my scribbly spleen-vent scrawl when I got home this morning it was this one. Can you guess which line it was? Of course you can...

Enough of this wilfully obscure nonsense - it's my birthday this week and those loveable funsters The Upper Cut are playing at The Dolphin in Uxbridge on Friday so why not come along and see if I can still play guitar after that frankly unwise amount of lager. And if that wasn't enough Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks are playing at The Sunningdale Lounge in Sunningdale on Thursday (my 'actual' birthday) and The Swan in Iver on Saturday - see you at the bar!

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