So there I was, minding my own business on the main stage at Butlins in Skegness as Ruts D.C. were in the process of closing this year's Great British Alternative Music Festival - to my left Segs is flanked by Jake Burns and Kirk Brandon, behind me Dave Ruffy is on the drums and steering the ship in customary fashion while Stan Stammers is with me at my microphone; we're all singing 'if you're in a rut, you've gotta get out of it' - as the song ends Stan throws his arms around me and I shake hands with Kirk and Jake before the three of them leave the stage. We're about to slam into 'Babylon's Burning' when I allow myself a moment's thought - 'how the bloody hell did that just happen?' followed swiftly by 'and didn't Richard Jobson say that he was going to join in too?'
All in all it was a suitably surreal end to a wonderful run of Ruts D.C. shows. In the last month or so we've played all over Britain and Ireland and barring the odd mad moment or two it's been an absolute pleasure from start to finish. Our new friends Harry, Adam and Mike from Riverjuke have shown devotion above and beyond the call of duty (well I think that they have, they'd probably say that they're 'just doing their jobs') which has made the band's job immeasurably easier, and even though I say so myself we've played some really great shows. After a batch of gigs like these there's often one or two that stand out as being better or indeed worse that the rest, but I can honestly say that's not the case this time. Ok, maybe Aberdeen (where we were to say the least concerned that the P.A. system wasn't up to the job but which turned out to be a classic evening) and Cardiff (which saw my Marshall amp go wrong again meaning that I was in a less-than-cheery mood; thankfully the Riverjuke boys had thought to bring a spare and the show saw one of the best audience reactions of all) stand out, but not by much. Incidentally my amp's back at the factory for repair and I'm looking at buying the spare - there go the wages. Again. But maybe nothing tops the 'crikey, I'm on stage with members of Theatre Of Hate and Stiff Little Fingers' moment. Strange days Indeed. Most peculiar mama.
So - what now? Well Ruts D.C. return to the stage at the start of November so it was back to basics on Friday night when I rejoined Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks for a show at no lesser venue than Hayes Working Men's Club. Al was recovering from a minor operation on his left hand and so wasn't playing acoustic guitar (we usually start the evening with a few acoustic numbers) and so Pete and myself split the duties on his very nice Martin HD 28 - I really must get myself a good acoustic guitar one day... I'd spent a while revising the songs as I'd not played with the band for over a month and had restrung my Stratocaster accordingly - shame I'd neglected to try it through an amplifier as the volume pot had developed a fairly serious-sounding crackle when used. This sort of thing can happen when a guitar isn't played for a while, and hopefully will be cured with a squirt or two of switch cleaner when I get five minutes. (Thinking about it I should perhaps be doing that instead of typing this? Hmm...) And last night I went to The Hope And Anchor in Islington to see the debut performance by RiVeR who feature Matt on guitar - he writes the excellent Elvis In The Clouds blog and attends many of our gigs so it was good to go along and give him a bit of support. A highly enjoyable night saw your humble narrator chatting to quite a few people who had seen and indeed enjoyed Ruts D.C. on this tour, and one gentleman who recognised me as a member of Big Al's band. As I say, strange days indeed... but proof were it needed that you don't get something for nothing in this godforsaken life comes with the news that this coming Friday's Upper Cut gig at The Dolphin in Uxbridge looks like being the band's last ever show. Shame - but nothing lasts forever (sadly!) and we've had a good run so hopefully we'll go out on a high. What was that line that Michael Stipe said when REM split up? A lofty comparison perhaps, but a comparison nevertheless - let's we don't leave our dignity at the front door eh?