Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friends in high places

Hello and welcome to the lobby of the Speedbird Inn at Aberdeen Airport. As I type it's 9.15am Sunday. Here's the story so far.

Gary and myself are meeting up with Pete, Squirrel & Michael in the van at South Mimms Services on the M25; we're then meeting Andy the sax on the A1 with Roger the depping drummer flying up to Aberdeen separately. Heroic as ever the long-suffering Shirley has offered to drop us at the rendevous point so it's a 5am kick-off and with Gary & gear in the car we're on our way to South Mimms. We're meeting the boys in the garage which when we get there turns out to be not much more than a building site with a distressing lack of coffee. The van arrives and we're off to the A1; Andy's at the allotted point and it's time for a sleep.
I'm just drifting off when suddenly there's a bang and I'm very awake indeed. We've hit a pigeon. Hard. Very hard. It's cracked the windscreen and as Gary put it, it'll have a hell of a headache. I fear it'll have nothing of the sort...
Then I wake up as we're passing Hard Hill. It's light and Gary's shouting 'Sheep! I'm spoiled for choice!' He's Australian.
A stop at roadside cafe wakes us all up and then it's time for our inflight movie (that's what Pete called it anyway). It's 'Ray' the recent biopic of Ray Charles and very good it is too. Partway through I looked out of the window to see a sign for Dunblane; it's interesting what catches your eye sometimes isn't it?
At Dundee we stop for petrol and in an amazing co-incidence Jeff (Geoff?) and Big John the P.A. boys are there too. They left Leicester a lot earlier than we left home so we're making very good time indeed. Next thing I know we're checking in at the hotel... and at this point the news reaches us that the Blockheads are playing at The Lemon Tree in... Aberdeen! Gary knows Mickey Gallagher, Squirrel (who used to play with r'n'b harmonica wizard Lew Lewis and was on Stiff Records at the same time as them) knows Norman Watt-Roy and Jeff knows all of 'em! A quick phone call or 2 and we're going to their soundcheck. Result!!
However we've got our own to do first. We eventually find the Arts Centre and after loading in it all goes without too many hitches.
It turns out The Lemon Tree is visible from the Arts Centre so we walk across, go in and... it's really them. I first saw them when I was at school, I've seen them many times since and think they're one of the best bands of them all- and there they are, sounding... less than convincing. But that's soundchecks for you. As the saying goes, 'bad soundcheck, good gig'. We're due to finish at 10 which means if we hurry we can see some of their show so we'll test that theory later...
Time for some food so it's off to the German market. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it's a common enough site in these here parts... so I get some Chinese noodles. At the German market. In Aberdeen. Of course.
Back to the venue and it's showtime. Not a huge crowd but they're up for it and it's a good gig despite the odd set-list mix-up (we were tired!). A quick packaway and it's over the road to the Blockheads and they're magnificent. New songs mixed with the classics and the place is going crazy. They finish with 'Blockheads' and at that moment they're best band in the world. After the gig we stay for a drink and manage a chat with Norman- what a hero. What a hero.
Back to the hotel and as we pull into the car park a rabbit crosses our path. 'Rabbits! I prefer sheep, they're slower. Anybody got any gaffa tape?'
I'll leave you to guess who said that. We're off to Ayr.

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