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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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, 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.
It might seem unusual to have a rock/pop band for an 80th Birthday, but the birthday boy has followed us for a number of years now so it seemed apt.
The hotel it was held at was a great place. Top end of Heckmondwike; a place called Healds Hall.
It was an early start as we had to be set up by 6. The load in was quite easy although I think the staff were very surprised when we kept loading more and more boxes into the place though.
Setup went well. It was the first full length gig for a while so we ran through a few of the songs we’d not played to just brush them up. Strangely, the last few gigs had all been around an hour performance time. We had to be silent at 6:45 as the special guest was arriving for a “meal in the restaurant” but he was then told the restaurant was very busy so they were in the back room…
The first set was a blue suit set. It felt a little tight on me and even though the scales show my weight hasn’t changed I need to keep an eye on that. It could be that my newest jeans all have stretch in them and I’m not used to a rigid waistband? After all the waistcoat and shirt felt fine.
In-between we had food. That, for me, wasn’t great. No detriment to the food, but as a vegetarian any mention of buffet or hot buffet fills me with dread. If it isn’t the mixed sandwiches cross contamination hell, or the “has it got meat in it” roulette with quiche, it’s the hot buffet “that’s your entire vegetarian choice” which contained aubergine. I don’t like aubergine.
The chips were nice though.
For the second set, after much threatening and teasing I wore the PVC suit. Dennis had been searching for one for himself and like many others who weren’t quick enough when I told them about it, he’d missed the boat. He then ribbed me about it onstage… Twat.
I combined with with the new shirt I got from River Island.
I looked good. Kinky good.
Sadly that’s where the good ends, as I’ll never wear that suit onstage with Face the Music again. 45 minutes in a plastic sauna suit under hot lights… Nope nope nope nope nope.
I suppose the one amusing thing was the stereotyping thing… Apparently shiny suits like that are usually worn by gay men.
I’ve got thick skin. I don’t actually give a toss.
So, back to normality for a few weeks. And next time it’ll be back to normal jeans for the second set.
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.