Monday, April 06, 2015

'I've got dreams to remember...'

So - how do I describe the last few days? 

Well yesterday is reasonably straightforward to get to grips with - I got up, did my washing, caught up on phone calls and went to see a great gig by The Razors at The Feathers in Rickmansworth. Easy. It's the previous few days that's a bit trickier to put into words.
Here, in essence, is what happened -

Wednesday - rehearsed with Ruts D.C. during the day and The London Sewage Company in the evening.

Thursday - travelled to Paris with Ruts D.C., where we stayed in Montreuil in anticipation of playing a show there the following evening.

Friday - Ruts D.C. played said show at Cafe La Peche, part of which was filmed for inclusion in 'Tracks', a long-running Arte television show.

Saturday - travelled back to London where I played at The Shepherd's Bush Empire with The London Sewage Company and The Water Rats in King's Cross with Neck.

And that, in simple terms is what happened. But there was more, so much more to it all than that.

When you're a kid trying to learn to play the guitar, you dream a lot. Well I certainly did. I've realised that some musicians are more career-orientated from the word go when it comes to what they want out of playing music. Some want money, some want fame, some want sex, some want drugs, some want all of the above and more - and some of course get all of the above and more. I realise now that I was much more naive than that - maybe that's why I don't get very much of any of the above? On the other hand I get to do the things that I do - and that's alright. 

So what were my dreams about? Well as I say, I was pretty naive; I wanted to play music here, abroad, on television, in big venues, in bands that people had heard of - and I did all of those things in the last few days. Pretty good huh? Well I think it is - maybe one day I'll get some of the other things too? 

Blackpool Tower looks different
at this time of year...
The gigs themselves were great. Really great. Ruts D.C. last played a show way back in January at The 100 Club and rehearsals since then have mostly involved working on new material, so this week's get together was to revise our live show. And revise it we did - alongside the new song 'Secondhand Child' we also added a version of 'Brand New Cadillac' which Segs had sung at last month's Joe Strummer film gig; I'm not sure how long it'll stay in our set but it's certainly good fun to play and it made a good encore song. A film crew from the French and German television show 'Tracks' filmed part of our performance and an interview with Dave and Segs; they also filmed us at the Le Rond Point bar which has been our virtual home for the duration of our visit. We were staying next door at The Hotel de Belfort and had gone there shortly after our arrival on Thursday evening - Segs used to live in Paris and his astonishing command of the French language (or more specifically Parisian French, which I'm told is quite different) meant that we were accepted almost immediately, and indeed were in there until closing time. Despite our headaches we returned there the next day for lunch (which I missed as I decided to be a tourist and head for Place de la Concorde for some sightseeing) and for some food before the show. If I was to say that Segs was presented with a large bottle of red wine by Omar the owner as we were leaving for London on Saturday morning then you'll realise how well he was thought of in said establishment. The presence of the TV film crew also shows how well The Ruts and indeed Ruts D.C. are thought of in France - the 'Chorus' footage remains the best visual record of the original band playing live, and anticipation of our show was high. I don't think I'm being big headed when I say that we delivered the goods - you know when you've played a good show in the same way that you know when you've played a bad one, and this was definitely a good one. Our next gig is in Bedford on April 25th with The Neville Staple Band, and I'm looking forward to that being a good one too. Well you have to think like that don't you?

And then there was Saturday. After our Eurostar journey (isn't The Channel Tunnel an amazing thing?) I got something to eat before heading to Shepherd's Bush where I was playing at The Empire with The London Sewage Company supporting The Men They Couldn't Hang. The Empire. I've seen so many great gigs there over the years - The Who, The Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop... and then there are those OGWT gigs from back on the seventies that I used to watch in between dreams - Rory Gallagher, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton... I'd not played there before and it has always been a place that I hoped that I'd play at one
Your humble narrator on stage
at The Shepherds Bush Empire.
Or is it a dream?
day. Things like this have a habit of being something of an anti-climax, and I was all too aware that this could happen here - thankfully our breathless 30 minute set was all that I hoped that it would be. And it was impossible to look out from the stage and think of the other people who had stood where I was now standing. I get far too romantic about this stuff sometimes don't I? Or maybe I don't get romantic enough? I should perhaps had stayed there all evening, watched main support band Merry Hell and headliners TMTCH, had a few drinks, talked to anybody that wanted to talk - but no, I had work to do. Neck were headlining an Easter Rising Commemoration gig at The Water Rats at 10.30, and as I left The SBE just after nine I'd be lying if I didn't say that part of me wished I was staying - but the other part of me was looking forward to playing at another venue that had previously eluded me on my (ahem!) musical journey through the venues of the World. Two name London venues in the same night - well, why not? And the Neck show was great too - it's good when that happens. Then again The Metropolitan Line was closed so I had a long and circuitous journey home - I don't remember that being in any of the dreams... 

Yeah I know, this piece is all a bit garbled - you should see the stuff I've left out!!

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