Wednesday, January 25, 2017

'At The Hop', A Step In The Right Direction', 'Toe The Line' etc etc

Saturday 21st January at midday, in seat 9F on Eurowings flight 4U9467 at Heathrow Airport awaiting take off 

Well. Here we are again. Indeed here we go again, this time to Dortmund via Dusseldorf Airport for a Ruts DC show at The Ruhrpott Ska Explosion Festival. No, I'm not too sure what we're doing at a ska festival either.
It seems strange to think of flying to gigs as 'routine' - which is why I don't think of it as that or anything like it. There's still something exciting about it, even though I've done it a fair few times over the years. I really must grow up one day - then again I've got this far, so maybe not? 
I broke a toe this week. Silly me. Then again I didn't do it deliberately... I guess that at this point there should be some crazy rock 'n' roll story attached to the incident ('there I was in a New York hotel having a drink with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood when Iggy Pop suggested that I swung from one of the chandeliers. I wouldn't have normally but gripped by the spirit of Keith Moon I though that I'd give it a go...') but no - I somehow caught my foot on a table leg in the front room. Gawd knows how - serves me right for not wearing shoes or indeed (gulp!) slippers eh? It hurt a lot when I did it on Thursday but it hurts a bit less now - then again I have taken some industrial strength Ibuprofen, as advised by the chemist that I hopped in to see not long after the frankly ridiculous table leg / toe equation took place. They also advised me to tape it to an adjacent toe (it's the one next to my little toe on my left foot) and to 'take it easy for a week or so'... as I limped my way towards gate A24 30-odd minutes ago I reflected upon how much we all take 'normality', or whatever 'normality' is in our world, for granted. Without wishing to tempt fate I, like most of us, am lucky enough to be reasonably healthy most of the time - and yet we all moan about the most trivial of things don't we? Well, we do don't we? 
I suppose that last night was a chance to 'take it easy' - so I of course went out to see a Led Zeppelin tribute band at Tropic At RuislipLed Zeppelin are revered both as a band and as individuals for a reason, and Hats Off To Led Zeppelin made a very good job of what is some notoriously difficult material - their two set show saw a good selection from the catalogue (finishing the main set with 'Wearing And Tearing' really was a moment for the diehards!) with the obvious classics getting the biggest audience reaction. A good night all round - I'd not been to the club for a while and it was splendid to see it continuing to thrive in these difficult times. 

Right - it looks as though it's take off time so I'm going to try to have a snooze. It's bloomin' tiring having a broken toe. Maybe I should have had a quiet night after all?

Sunday 22nd January at 2.25 pm, in seat 12D on Eurowings flight EW1466 at Dusseldorf Airport awaiting take off

Strange. Very Strange. Well, I think that it is. 
While I'm away doing these crazy jaunts around the rock 'n' roll world I usually take an iPod with me, along with a little battery operated device to play it through; this means that if I get my own room I can use it to play whatever peculiar song has somehow found it's way into my warped mind while I'm attempting to get some sleep. 

('But Leigh' - I hear you cry - 'what of the women? The drink? The drugs? The wilful destruction of hotel rooms? Whatever happened to the spirit of Keith Moon from earlier?' Good question...) 

Anyway last night - oh ok then, very early this morning - I thought I'd play a bit of, wait for it, Eddie and The Hot Rods. Oh it won't work. Flat battery. Very annoying, and strange since I charged it up yesterday. And for some reason it won't charge up now. Bugger!
That's the strange bit, but not the very strange bit. That's coming in a minute.
So I played a song or two on my phone before eventually getting tired enough to get to sleep. Good. After a while I woke up and, since it was dark I attempted to switch my phone on to check the time, like we all do these days. Well, we do don't we? It didn't work. Turn the bedside light on. Try again. Nothing.The battery was as dead as the proverbial dodo. But it was over 70% charged when I went to sleep. Weird. I was of course immediately wide awake, gripped with terror with the hideous realisation that there was obviously an enormous magnetic field (or something) in the hotel that was causing every battery in the building to go flat and so no one's alarm would go off and we'd all be there forever. Or something. A very strange moment- well that's how it felt at the time.

We'd arrived a Dortmund Airport after a pleasingly uneventful flight, and were met by Tony who drove us (at quite a speed, it must be said) to the venue where preparations for the evening were well under way. After checking the drums and amps we were all set to go to our hotel, but with our stage time less than two hours away we decided to stay at the venue. This proved to be a good move as it gave us chance to get something to eat and drink as well as to meet the other bands on the bill. 
Showtime was 7.15 - with things already running late (an unusual situation at events such as this) there was an unwelcome urgency in setting up which caused the odd fraught moment but we go there in the end.
Remember my broken toe? I'd almost forgotten about it too until a few songs into our show when I bought my foot down onto the stage just a little bit too hard - In a split second a heavy metal bolt of pain shot up my leg and out through the top of my head. I remembered it then. Absolute agony. The resulting, er, jazz chord hadn't appeared in 'Vox Teardrop' before, and I for one hope that it doesn't appear again - although a similar one turned up later in 'Psychic Attack' for the same reason. Argh! If you see these performances on YouTube then please cut me a little slack... having collectively wondered what on Earth we were doing at a ska festival we all reached the conclusion 'doing rather well' by the end of our set. A great gig, and it must be said a great evening all round. All the bands played well although I must give a special mention to The Valkarians who were simply brilliant. By the time headliner Roy Ellis hit the stage we were all flagging a bit (well I certainly was!) so we headed for our hotel during his set, but we all agreed that it had been a splendid event to be part of. 
With no more Ruts DC shows for a month or so it's now time to prepare for the Stranglers tour in March which should, to coin a phrase, be something to write home about - which if you think about it, is exactly what I'm likely to do here...    

Tuesday 24th January at 4.27 pm, back in Blighty and at home 

So there you have it - some great gigs and some (hopefully) interesting times. I thought that it might be fun to structure successive posts in a similar manner. There has been minimal editing - they really were written in the places and at the listed times, and this is reflected in the writing, which is sometimes scrappy but often oddly revealing. All good stuff!

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