Finally!

After absolute hell both Belinda and I finally arrived at Dennis’s and we’re now on our way to the gig. Prospected arrival time is 19:58. We’re onstage at 20:40!

All this because of solar panels. I wonder how much fuel has been used dealing with a poor installation?

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

Fishy Happenings

My third gig with Strangefish last night. It was a long day…

I started at 7:30am – I had planned to be at the venue at around 10:30 and with a 2 hour journey ahead I needed to be ready.

Freshly showered and breakfasted I set off – only to make much better time than originally planned. Aren’t the motorways dead on a Sunday morning (apart from the mandatory middle lane owner’s club).

My route took me down the M6 Toll… And since I was on the “posh road” I thought I’d call into the country’s most exclusive service area. Only because you have to pay a toll to stop there.

Norton Canes Services. Britain’s most exclusive motorway services.

After a brief stop I carried on to The Robin, arriving there at about 10:15. The organisers and sound guys were already there so I loaded my gear in (my bass amp was being used for all bands).

The rest of the morning was pretty much spent waiting for the rest of the guys to arrive, and since we were partaking of a full soundcheck (our gear was being used by a few bands) we were rather lucky!

The rest of the day was pretty much spent fooling around and socialising, although I did have a walk into Bilston in an attempt to find a sandwich of some variety. I failed. It was closed. All of it.

Mexborough or Bilston? It’s hard to tell. One has trams…

Come 6 o’clock we started getting ready for our performance. That, of course, involved blowing up inflatables (we have a thing about inflatables in this band)

Bob found the golfing supplies…

The gig itself was superb. I’m sure more photos will be coming soon, but for the moment all I have is a few camera phone ones. There were some seriously good cameras in there though.

We take our bows.

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!

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.