Sunday, October 15, 2006

Take the high road (again)

People often say to me- 'Leigh, your wild'n'wacky rock'n'roll lifestyle must be wonderful. All those women and drugs, all that money and acclaim; how on earth do you keep your feet on the ground?' And I often say something like:-

It's 6a.m. (again) and the long-suffering Shirley is dropping myself and Gary off at South Mimms services (again) to meet the boys in the bus (again) to go up to Scotland (again). This time however there's only 4 of us in the bus (myself, Gary, Squirrel and John) as there's more gear to take with us this time; Pete's taking Michael, Dave and Richard up in his car.
Yes, Richard. He's coming with us after all- Amy Winehouse's rehearsal's not until Monday. That's a relief. Of a sort.
Anyway with Squirrel at the wheel we begin our epic journey North through some rather nasty patchy fog (is there such a thing as nice patchy fog?) before through the magic of mobile phones we meet up with Pete & co. at a service station somewhere in Durham (I think!) for some much needed breakfast and to listen to Richard telling us that he'd rather be with us anyway. Or something.
By now the weather's improving by the second as is our collective mood- upon spotting the burger van we stopped at last time we went up to Scotland we decide to stop there again (wild'n'wacky huh?) for a coffee and a break from being in the bus. Suitably refreshed we make the rest of the journey to Greenock without too many incidents though the fact that I think I slept through quite a lot of it certainly helped things, from my point of view at least.
On arriving in Greenock first thing is to find where we're staying (the Travelodge behind MacDonalds- rock'n'roll eh?) and check in before making our way to tonight's venue, the Arts Guild Theatre. As we stop at a set of traffic lights by a paper shop we notice a hoarding outside a newsagents for The Greenock Telegraph proclaiming 'FOUL STENCH HORROR' in huge letters. Suitably impressed we arrive at the venue and set up. It's a nice venue but the sound's not too good- and we've got these guys again tomorrow night. Hmm... I'm off for some chips and a bit of head clearing.
7.30 and it's showtime. We're not playing badly but the sound's conspiring against us- Pete says 'good evening' and we realise all the vocal monitors are off. Not good. There's feedback, there's levels going up and down- what's going on? At halftime we're all pretty fed up; instructions are issued and things improve in the second half with Pete getting a young lad up out of the audience to help him with the introduction of 'Do you love me?' and a generally better feeling all round. It all goes down well so maybe I should just stop moaning.
Everyone's off for a curry but being the miserable tortured artist that I am (!) I decide to go back to our hotel. After a long phone conversation with Shirley (she's been to Watford today and seen some handouts for our upcoming show in Hertford. So we'd better do that one then.) I turned on the T.V. to find an excellent documentary on renowned jazz nutcase Sun Ra. 'I wasn't born man, I was abducted by aliens' proclaimed our hero whilst wearing a pharaoh's hat. Excellent.

We're leaving for Kirkaldy at 11-ish so it's a nice leisurely start to Saturday. Everyone drifts vehicle-wards around the alloted time with tales of varying levels of regret at the visit to the curry house. Most got away with it but there was some suffering- which was actually why I didn't go. Without going into too many details I don't like eating that late at night- I like it while I'm eating it but am not so keen on it in the morning... anyway it's a lovely day and we don't need to be at tonight's venue until 4.30 so we decide to go to Edinburgh for a few hours.
On arriving we park up near the castle. There's a farmer's market on which as a vegetarian isn't too much good to me but I found a porridge stall which was superb- heroically resisting 'Scotch Whisky porridge' I went for 'single cream and brown sugar' which was magnificent. And I know that might seem like a bit of a overstatement to apply to a carton of porridge eaten with a plastic spoon but, well, I guess you had to be there.
Last time Michael and myself were in Edinburgh he distinguished himself by buying not one but two kilts. This time he bought himself a guitar amplifier. His wife must hate me. However this was a serious bargain, a Vox combo at virtually half price from the Sound Control shop in the Grassmarket. I tried and was very tempted by a Peavey 'Valveking' combo (my Laney combo that I use with the band is showing signs of suffering) but got told off for playing too loud.

Too loud! In a guitar shop! Surely that's not possible?!?

I might just put that on my C.V...

After a pub meal it's back to meet the rest of the lads and to set the controls for the heart of Kirkaldy. So we're back over the Forth Bridge into the 'Kingdom of Fife' and through some spectacular scenery before winding our way to 'The Larn Town' itself (no, I don't know what it means either) and tonight's venue The Adam Smith Theatre. The auditorium on the 2nd floor but there's a lift (phew!) and everything's set up in no time. But storm clouds gather in the soundcheck- more problems with monitoring means that it's a 'one-minute-I-can-hear-you-the-next-I-can't' situation which doesn't bode well for the show.
Time for a walk then. Some of the lads are off in search of chips but myself & Michael spot 'THUNDER ROAD'- can it really be a Bruce Springsteen theme bar? Well, sadly not but it's good fun all the same, the classic 'Hard Rock Cafe' impression that seems to everywhere these days. Large pictures of Rotten and Hendrix cheer me up no end although a silver disc for 'The best of The Platters' seems a bit out of place. And am I the only person who finds cashpoints in pubs to be rather a worrying concept?
The venue's nearly sold out and it's time for action. And you've guessed it, the sound- on stage at least- is all over the place. Mine and Gary's monitor's not on, and then suddenly the world's loudest trumpet roars out of it. John's is so loud he's faced it away from him. Pete & Michael are struggling; Michael even all but trips over at one point. At halftime the feeling is very bad indeed. Amazing then that not only is the second half infinitely better but we're re-booked on the spot, something I for one would never have predicted.
Hometime and the lights on the Forth Bridge turn it into a work of art. Phones are going, apologies for heat of the moment comments are everywhere and all roads lead to South Mimms services (again) where we meet Shirley (again). It's 6a.m. (again). She's been watching rats in the car park. Rock'roll eh?

No comments: