Monday 5th August 1.44pm on a train from Manchester to London.
£5.50 for a meal deal. A cardboard sandwich, a chocolatey-nutty-thingy bar and some lukewarm water. And it had all been going so well...still, at least I got on this train - with only 10 minutes between arriving at Manchester Piccadilly from Blackpool North and leaving for Euston it was touch and go, but I made it, as did many others. First world problems eh? And the quiet coach is actually quiet for once. Maybe things aren't so bad after all.
Actually things aren't bad at all. The Rebellion Festival at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool once again lived up to all expectations (which it must be said, were pretty high to begin with) and indeed might have been the best that I've ever attended. Mind you, it was bloomin' hot, especially in The Empress Ballroom. I don't remember ever being hotter on stage, or indeed in a venue. Surely they can fit some air conditioning? Or even open the doors? Or windows? Or something?
|Your humble narrator|
at work with Ruts D.C.
The Empress Ballroom, Blackpool,
August 2nd 2019.
Gig-wise the Ruts D.C. show in the afore-mentioned ballroom was, even though say so myself, an absolute stormer. We'd considered playing 'The Crack' in it's entirety but eventually we opted for some lesser-played songs from the album alongside some old favourites and, for the first and maybe only time, an excerpt from 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' during 'In A Rut'. We'd been rehearing on the previous Tuesday and Segs was saying how he'd just seen and enjoyed the film 'Sound City' - we jammed the Nirvana song for a couple of minutes and decided that it'd be interesting to include it in our show. It certainly seemed to catch people by surprise... and the following night's acoustic show in the hallowed confines of The Opera House was pretty special too. It's impossible - well it is for me anyway - to stand on the stage and not think of who has stood there in the past. From Charlie Chaplin to The Beatles and from Frank Sinatra to Jimi Hendrix and beyond, it really is an extraordinary place. And we were all absolutely astonished by how many people came to see us there - I'm told that they had to open the top balcony, which means that there were at least 1,500 people in there. Amazing. They saw a show which mixed familiar songs with less well-known material like 'Soft City Lights' and 'Walk Or Run' and we also used the strings from the album recording of 'Golden Boy' - well, it is an opera house after all.
I was very familiar with that stage by the time we played on it, having joined T.V. Smith & Friends (including Pascal Briggs, Attila The Stockbroker, Jennie and Mandy from The Crows and Jamie Oliver) and played with Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants immediately prior to our show. Three consecutive gigs on the same stage - I must have been mad... no I wasn't, I absolutely loved it! And I played 'Ignore Them' with Eddie And The Hot Rods on the same stage the previous evening - well, I was invited, and it would have been rude not to wouldn't it?
I also saw The Damned, The Skids, The Stranglers, The Professionals - it's amazing how many punky bands have names that begin with 'the' isn't it? - in the ballroom, caught local (to me anyway) heroes Lead Shot Hazard on the Introducing Stage, Department S, Walter Lure and The Godfathers in The Opera House and many many more. Oh and I had too much too drink, not enough sleep, too much junk food - all in all it was something of a triumph. Same time (more or less) next year then. Hopefully.
Do you know, it's strange - that all seems ages ago now... anyway Ruts D.C. will return in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime it's time for some more gigs with Alvin and co. Great stuff!