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

Gig the Second

Two in a row is always tiring. The second one was Easington; a small town on the Durham Heritage Coast just north of Middlesbrough.

So yet another journey up our favourite dual carriageway, the A19, and a fairly easy ground floor load (with possibly the weirdest load in door) and we were up and running.

Back to two sets for this one. I much prefer 2 X 45 minute sets as you get into the flow much better.

No silly rules regarding smoke machines again, so we set two hazers up on stage in an attempt to balance the haze across the full width of the stage.

As per usual the first set was the more dressed up one. Double breasted suit for me. I do rather like wearing suits these days.

The first set was very well played, although there was no dancing at all.

The second set, a less dressed down affair, on the other hand did gain us some dancers. Amazingly, they didn’t start until about half way through though!

Yet another really nice club, and as we found out later, about 90 regulars were missing! Apparently there were two coaches in Scarborough on a trip! D’oh!

We’ve been put forward for a re-booking – a complete different situation to when we were with our previous agent. It feels great to get good feedback!

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!

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.

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.

Gig night

Last night’s private party was a rather good gig.

Ok, so the room was bijou – and as a result the stage area was very limited, but we managed to load in and set up in less than an hour, with a little more time to run through some of the newer tracks.

For the first set I wore the light teal suit… And even though I threatened to wear the PVC suit for the second set, I decided against it just because I thought the atmosphere wasn’t quite right.

It was, however, not an amazing hotel. It felt run down and slightly sad. The carpets and furnishings were worn and the bar was poorly stocked and under staffed. Looking at the Google reviews it seems I’m not the only one with this opinion.

Backstage was a cupboard by the way, although being a hotel I don’t expect anything more.

Double gigger

Friday and Saturday was a double gigger. It’s a while since we’ve done one of those.

Friday was a private function in Hessle… A wedding.

Saturday was a typical club gig, although this club was rather good. A nice easy load, great staff, nice and clean, and a half decent chippy across the road.

It even had a church next door judging by the half deflated balloon found in a puddle.