A few photos from Bentley

I know it was over a week ago, but it’s taken a while for these to come in.

Mostly camera phone photos I think, but it just goes to show you how the cameras built into our phones have really come on – especially when you look back through my blog (which now goes back 15 years!) and see some of my early photo entries.

At the time I started this blog I was taking photos on one of these, with it’s only camera having a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.

Nokia N9500 Communicator

Hatfield – the third.

Having looked through my photos and my timeline it appears to be the third time we’ve played Hatfield Main club. A leftover from the old Hatfield Main pit and now standing at the edge of a housing estate and with miles and miles of desolation and spoil heaps on the other side.

Regardless of location though, Hatfield club is yet another thriving club which seems to get the balance right. A nice mix of age groups and no “that’s my table” rules. The “that’s my table” only ever seem to happen at the very worst clubs. The clubs full of cliques; the clubs which don’t welcome in younger customers; the clubs which see their clientele die off of old age; the clubs which eventually close.

So I arrived at about twenty to six, only to have to tell Dennis off as he had single handedly unloaded the van without waiting for at least one of us to arrive. I went ballistic at him! Had he injured himself it would have been a health and safety nightmare!

We started building the stage between us, only to be followed shortly after by Jake; then pretty much immediataly after that Craig and Steve. We cracked on and built all the stage in under 40 minutes. We are really getting this polished now!

After finishing the build of the stage we had a through runs through the new Lady Antebellum cover. A fairly easy song for me but with some really weird off beat riffs which I’ll have to nail perfectly.

The club really started to fill up and we prepared for our first set at 8:30 (Hatfield is traditionally a three set venue).

I was in my green/navy checked suit for this one. The trousers are still feeling rather snug on the waist but my weight loss continues. Putting on 3kg at Christmas was a bad move!

The first set was played superbly! All the band locked in tight and we were edgy as hell. I feel somewhat sad that our old agent never actually gave us the support or gigs we needed as we are now a modern tight good looking and good sounding band – and we never fail to get the dance floor moving.

After what seemed like all too brief a half hour slot, finishing one song earlier than planned, we left the stage for just 30 minutes to refresh our drinks. I stayed suited – hardly seemed worthwhile changing – and then went and changed for the second set at 9:30.

Craig and I went for the Wiggles look for the second set. Him in red, me in pale blue.

Again, an incredibly powerful and we’ll played set and again cut short (the compere actually tried to cut us off just after Proud Mary but Craig had already started playing I found love).

The third set at 10:45 was played in front of probably 80% of the original crowd. That is another thing I notice these days – our crowd retention is very good. In the days before Belinda we’d lose about half the crowd after the last bingo game. Not any more.

The third set started with Justin Timberlake and took us through to Red Light, with the usual encores of I’m Alive and Sex on Fire.

By the time we had finished and loaded out it was about quarter past 12 and I was in bed before 1.

Amusingly, the new lights were criticised by someone. Because they “didn’t do enough”. It amused me, because the guy didn’t realise that we now have full scene control and we use them more as a band should, rather than previously when they used to run sound to light and we looked like a discotheque!

I have to say though, the UV wash we use to fill the stage pre gig looks really effective!

Yet More Giggery Pokery

Yesterday we gigged again. Another wedding.

Have I already mentioned I love playing at weddings?

This one was on a cricket field in Tickhill, in a marquee. That always means good things – a marquee has great sound because there are just no reflections to deal with.

So we arrived at 2pm (as I found later, this was far too early – we could have arrived at 3 and still been set up in time; but it wasn’t a problem. The club itself was great and it was lovely sitting outside in the warm September sun as a last little breath of summer came and gave us a reminder it wasn’t too far gone.

The marquee itself was about 60ft long, with a decent size stage and a 32A power supply laid to exactly the right place on stage – it looked absolutely lush!

Dennis arrived shortly after me, and we started to load in and set up straight away – and after getting the generator started (the keys were “missing” but it turned out they were in it all along!).

Jake was just post-operative so he didn’t lift anything, but being able to reverse up to the back of the stage and load in from both sides of the stage at once made life nice and easy and we weren’t tripping over each other as we were setting up.

So set up and soundchecked and with over 3 hours to kill, what do you do? Well Dennis went home, and the rest of us sat outside and enjoyed the weather. Watching the sun set was rather nice it has to be said!

The outside temperature was actually in the low 20’s which was great for just sitting around, although you can tell it’s now Autumn. As the sun began to set the chill came very rapidly.

The happy couple arrived and their guests arrived at about half past five and the marquee really started to fill up.

They ate first, and then our first set began. It was a suited up one, and of course having a new phone I had to take some rather splendid photos of us. Craig showed off his new suit – bought reduced in Next (my favourite way of buying suits – reduced end of line because they’ve run out of jackets). It was very “Peaky Blinders” it has to be said, but I thought it suited him and looked good onstage (bold works onstage!).

I wore the teal suit, and took this rather splendid image using my front camera and the live focus mode.

The first set went pretty well. A few mistakes, but nothing major – apart from cutting short the Meghan Traynor song and missing out a huge section, for some weird reason?

After our first set, the second round of food was served – Pig in a bun – with cheese and crackers also available (yes, cheese and crackers – I was in my element!).

After eating too much cheese (can this be a thing?) and changing into my second set outfit (but not before trying on the leather jeans Craig had been in possession of for the last few years, which now had a chance of fitting me) we played the second set.

At 11 we finished and Jake took over doing his DJ thing – for about 25 minutes whilst we packed down the stage. This was interrupted by the best man telling everyone on the mic that due to noise complaints they had to move into the bar.

…I could have told them that in a Marquee you generally have to wrap up noise by 11, but it’s not my job!

I finally arrived home just before 1am and now I feel flat and lacking energy. Just as I always do the day after a gig.

Beautiful venue last night!

It has to be said that whilst the load was quite awful (helped very much by a lot of our equipment being on wheels, and the loan of a roll cage by the venue) and the acoustics in the room were somewhat “cavey”, the gig was flipping awesome!

We played two very well crafted sets, very few oopsies (all live, remember, we’re not robots!). (Well I have my doubts about Craig as he never sweats).

The lights looked great, and the laser now combined in with it added a little – although I have my concerns that it’s not quite perfect as occasionally it glitches. I spent a little more time on positioning and using the small DJ strip as footlights worked great. We even flipped them around for the DJ set at the end and lit the dance floor a treat!

The only glitch I’ve noticed is that the cameraman had wireless flashes and they would sometimes cause the back lights to freeze for a fraction of a second.

The Wireless DMX sender kit seems good. The quality is somewhat iffy, but it works for now and I think we’ll be sticking with it.

The stage looked awesome with our new, slightly brighter, standby lighting settings.

Great gig!

It has to be said that Saturday’s gig was probably one of the best we’ve ever played! The crowd were brilliant and really up for it. The venue was a nice place and we played so well. Tight and sounding great. We’ve since had a few posts go online and a review which always makes it feel worthwhile. We’re still on 100% verified 5* ratings.

It was the hottest gig in ages. The suit in the first set was dripping by the end. I’m glad I remembered to take a second suit though – I always remember at weddings (strictly it was a vow renewal) that there will be at least 3 cobalt blue suits in the audience. You don’t want to look like the guests do you?

It was a 10:30 finish for us, although Jake couldn’t finish DJing until half past 11 so we broke down the stage whilst he finished off and got all the cases ready to go, and then whilst the guys loaded the van I packed down the PA and wrapped all the speaker cables.

And thus, that was the weekend… Part one.

You know every so often you get a few days when you wonder how the hell you survived it? Well this was that weekend.

I can’t complain… It was all very much self inflicted by my being in three bands. Two of those bands had activity this weekend.

Friday

A full-ish day of work, follower by a gig in Sheffield. I picked up Odette at 7 and we proceeded to the venue to see John Hackett and Nick Fletcher play a classical concert. Not usually my thing, but I fancied a change.

At £10 I thought it was great value, so I paid, and because we were so close to the start arriving we took our seats at the back of a rather full room for what was to be 2 hours of beautiful music.

John was superb on flute as always, and Nick Fletcher’s acoustic guitar was beautiful and so skillfully played.

We were treated to a selection of Baroque, Classical and Modern songs, many of which I knew, although I was introduced to a few pieces.

After the gig I briefly talked with John, but we couldn’t hang around for very long because of the impending following day praying on my mind.

Saturday

The second big day. A gig, but first, a shipping trip. Hannah’s Christmas and birthday present – a new tent with blow up poles. She’s been wanting one for ages! Not cheap, but apparently it’s a one man build.

After getting the tent we went to mum’s for a bit, before I headed home and gathered myself and my things ready for the first FTM gig in 6 weeks.

When we quit our previous agent he hadn’t exactly filled our diary for a few months. We’re now in the lull between his work ending and our new work starting.

Today, was Pennywell Comrades Club. A far flung gig – 120 miles away. A long way to go, but a fantastic place to play.

Arriving just before 6, we were set up and soundchecked before 7.

The stage looked nice…

As did we!

The gig itself was absolutely superb. Really well played. A great responsive crowd, and loads of dancers.

The second set finished at about quarter past eleven and we packed down and loaded out. Home time was 2:30am.

Another very musical weekend.

Friday’s Allan Chapman talk was postponed due to the horrible weather (lots of snow) and so we had a nice night in the house.

Saturday, on the other hand, was set to be a very busy day. First, Mum’s boiler is playing up, so I had to go and get that going again.

The afternoon was an early set-off. The gig was at Ackworth so not too far away (and because it was a self booking rather than an agent booking it was great to be able to negotiate our own terms).

Arriving at the venue at 3, we had ’til 5 to soundcheck as it was a surprise party.

Amusingly, we could probably have arrived a whole hour later! The event didn’t really kick off until after half past six.

First set at 8 was a suited one. Blue suit. New shoes.

It was also a change of dry for us. Stay Together is now gone; replaced by Shallow (Lady Ga Ga). It was a good, well played set. Very enjoyable.

The second set was at half past nine. Blue shirt. PVC leather look trousers for this one.

I did manage an onstage selfie for this one. Caught using my watch as a trigger.
Second set has now lost “Never Forget You” and gained the Pink Song – Cry.
Again, a great set, and with a 10:15 wrap up we could leave just after 11. I was home and in bed before midnight!
Today was my second Strangefish rehearsal. Again we booked the big room at Redwall Studios, Bury. A nice quiet journey over. I arrived to find Bob waiting outside. Unfortunately the owner Carl hadn’t turned up yet.
He wasn’t long though, and we started loading into what was the coldest rehearsal room on the planet.
Paul & Jo decided to hog the heater!
Of course I was manly and Yorkshire about it and set the trend for t-shirt only.
I won’t spoil too much for you, but we’ve now got 75% of the target material in a good state of performance; and we will soon choose a set for the May gig.
The rehearsal finished at just after 3:15.
Tonight. That’s fuelled by lemsip. Craig had a cold for Saturday’s gig. I truly hope it’s not going to become my child too.

New Year’s Eve

New year’s eve this year was a gig in Gainsborough. The last gig arranged by our current agent before we go freelance and head to pastures new.

Sadly, because of the timing of everything it’s left us with a rather large 4 month hole in our schedule now, but that works great for me as it lets me give my Strangefish material a lot more time. I suspect stuff will come in though, it’s just the air has to clear first.

We’re now freelance but we have two agents booking gigs for us already and May onwards is looking pretty cool now. I think we’re going to sort our own new year’s eve though.

The gig, however, was superb. I really liked the club. It was a private member’s club which always means you’re going to get an element of filtering. They had booked “an evening with” type of thing and got us and a DJ.

£20 a ticket with a buffet! Can’t be sniffed at.

So we arrived. Loaded in (a nice flat load) and set up. The onstage sound wasn’t good though, mostly due to the corner stage, but it’s something you learn to deal with.

The place filled up. Really filled up.

So the first set arrived at 9pm. I suited up in my blue suit, which I thought would be tight and actually wasn’t – that 3kg on the scales is all lies! And we played our hearts out.

The new song (Lady Gaga’s “Shallow”) was rather epic! The audience really went mad at that one. I suspect being brave and doing such an out there and new song earns respect.

The second set at 10:50 took us up to about 15 minutes off midnight. Great for the DJ to take us through the bells.

This set I was a little more conservative in my looks than I’ve been at previous gigs. Absolutely no shiny trousers this time, just skinny blue jeans and a blue shirt. It’s a very slimming look and I have to say I look rather good in it!

Once midnight was out of the way we packed down and headed home. It was just before 2am hometime. Not bad for new years eve.

Another gig weekend.

A very strange weekend.

Friday night was a late one for me. Hannah was in Bridlington and I was called out. A great but busy finish to a hectic week.

Saturday

Saturday was somewhat of an unusual day. A weather bomb was set to hit us from about 2pm, and sure enough it did. Rarely for this country we were forecast freezing rain and snow. We went to see mum. Her dogs are bonkers!

I had to go shopping for groceries before the weather bomb hit, and as I was on the way home it stated to drizzle. The roads became very slippery really quickly.

Thank God I got these…

Luckily we didn’t have to go anywhere else – although I had contemplated Asylum (our local fetish venue and a bit of a haunt for me), but the weather put me off. In the end I watched Krampus (great Christmas horror) and had an early night.

Sunday

Sunday, Unusually, was gig day. It’s very rare we gig on a Sunday with the covers band. This week’s club was local to me (Firth Park).

Not a great load – upstairs – although there was a small lift. It helped a lot, but it could only take one speaker cabinet at a time so the load in and out took a long time but wasn’t too tiring.

We set up in plenty of time to rehearse the new song (Pink). We did it so quickly we actually managed to put it in as an encore!

The bad thing about Sunday gigs though is that all the members of the band appeared to be loaded up with sprouts. It was very windy backstage!

To wrap up a long evening, I arrived home at 1am to find a dickhead had parked overlapping our driveway by a good 18″. I consider myself to be quite good at reversing and I struggled with this one.