Last night's gig was, as Sherlock Holmes might have remarked, a singular evening for quite a few reasons. Here are some of them:-
Friday afternoon and we're on our way to Bath. The M4's moving reasonably well and we're looking forward to the show, not least because it's a place called The Priory- cue rehab gags a-plenty. I'm in the car with Mike Hyde- he's depping for Pete (away in Las Vegas celebrating one year of marriage) and I'm on the phone to Squirrel who's in the bus with the rest of the lads. It seems the P.A. boys are there already and tell us the room we're playing in is a small one- 'about the size of a front room'. They've taken a full P.A. and a 40 channel mixing desk with them which, if what they say is true, could be seen as overkill. 'If you're there before us, check they've got the right room' says Squirrel, in a voice that could politely be described as 'shaky'.
Arriving in Bath it's time for the latest round of Sat. Nav. lottery. After going round in circles for a while we opt for the 'let's ask that bloke over there' option which turns out to be rather more entertaining than even I was hoping as he's probably the local acid casualty ('I don't really know where I am at the moment') who let's his dog jump up at the car a few too many times than he should have (Mike wasn't happy!)and leaves us more confused than ever. To confirm this we go the wrong way down a one-way street- every car in Bath suddenly comes towards us- re-trace our steps (if you see what I mean) a bit and eventually spot Squirrel outside The Priory which turns out to be a very well-to-do hotel with a car park full of giant cars and people smoking. Perhaps it is a rehab hospital after all- albeit one that's hosting the wedding reception we're playing at.
Well if this is the size of a front room then the P.A. boys have got very big houses indeed- though putting a mixing desk that's the size of a double bed into it does restrict things a bit I suppose. As I walk in I hear the words 'good musicians don't need mixing desks' from a man who I decide is something like the head waiter... I do the decent thing and retreat to the Gents where I decide that the local acid casualty had the right idea. Either I'm seeing things or there's a Brazilian football shirt signed by Pele on the wall in a frame. Now there's something I've never seen in a hotel toilet before. I took a picture of it on my phone- it really was there, honest.
Soundcheck time and things actually sound pretty good. And the horns have arrived- Ian Richards on sax and Matt Winch on trumpet depping for Richard and Dave respectively. Time for some food and to find out if we've got a room to change in. Oh, we can use the spa changing rooms can we?. Ok. We head down to the spa to find the girl on reception is (a) the best looking woman in the world and (b) at a loss as to what we're doing there. Eventually we're allowed to use the changing rooms though by now she's on a rowing machine which causes us all to walk into each other rather a lot.
Back upstairs and it's nearly showtime. But hang on a minute- isn't the lighting rig going to burn that large and rather expensive looking oil painting that it appears to be touching? It gets moved but will reappear in our story before long... the happy couple have their first dance to 'Let's stay together' by Al Green (good choice) and then we're on. As 'Peter Gunn' kicks things off we realise the lights are right in our eyes (Oh good) and, of course, the dancefloor's cleared. But we're playing well and people are getting into it which can't be bad although that guy right down the front seems to be getting into it a bit too much; he manages to stay on his feet until 'Hold on I'm coming' when he falls into Matt's music stand sending paper and beer everywhere and bending the stand in the process, much to his understandable annoyance- although his comment afterwards about billing the guy for it might be a bit optimistic. By 'Knock on wood' it's all getting a bit weird with Michael's comment that the guy he's got up to sing with us looks like Buddy Holly (he wore glasses so I suppose I do too!) giving me and John a chance to go into 'Peggy Sue'. And then, during 'New Orleans', it all goes dark. Yes, you've guessed it, the lighting rig's been knocked over. Oh well- at least that means the painting's safe, at least until it's put back up again.
After the show we go down to get changed to find that the best looking woman in the world's gone home. Boo hoo. And if that wasn't bad enough all our stuff's been moved out of the changing room and dumped in the spa reception area. Some people might have stolen a towel or two in protest...
After a final look at Pele's shirt it's roadtime again with (Mr.) Sting on the radio telling us all about his new found prowess on the lute (why doesn't he just leave us all alone?!?) and Steve Lamacq (I wonder if he'll ever answer his phone to me again?) plugging an upcoming documentary on The Damned as a horrific-looking accident closes all but one lane of the M4. As we're nearing home Mark Lamarr plays 'The power is yours' by The Redskins. It's 1.30a.m. and it sounds fantastic.