18/03/01 The Arena Tavern, Letchworth
Well, cold wet and snowy, we descend back onto The Arena Tavern. The playing area is quite small, so after all the gear has been unloaded, there is nowhere to set up! Lots of shuffling around, shunting chairs and tables out of the way, sees us eventually get set up. We also have another new toy. A smoke machine!! Bought for a bunch of tenners from a mate of Mac's, its..er..different! We are also trying for the " how many appliances can we run off of 1 plug" award! Right! Now we're ready, and on goes the ligts and the smoke machine. Not that we really need it, what with the walking cancer spreading twins, Mark and Mac, doing their best to compete! So, 8.30 draws near, and we ready to go, with a squirt on the smoker. It puffs…and that's it! So, on goes Darrens size 10s, and we fill our area with a thick cloud of white stuff! Lights blazing and smoke effects, see us rattle through the set. It was a bit different this time we were here, there was actually quite a lot of people in this evening, and…wait for it… actually stayed! COSP didn't strike! Resonable applause and many seemed to enjoy the evening. Thanks to Martin Parsons, ardent Quo fan, who travelled the miserable M1 and not an insignificant number of miles to come and see us. Cheers! And so we turn off, quieten down, and open the back door to let the smoke escape! Money was payed (not much actually, from this place) and we head off home. Will we play here again? Not sure. Landlady apparently praised us a lot, saying we were a lot better than many of the bands that play there, but when we asked for a return gig, "sorry luv, I'm booked for the next 2 months, I ring you then". Hmmm, doesn't sound too promising? (AA)
30/03/01 The Cornerhouse, Bedford
Well what can you say? An absolute stormer of a gig!!! We do enjoy playing here, and tonight was no exception! Setting up was the usual grind, but lightened up with the arrival of an electro-acoustic from Mac, that Mark was going to use for GerdyDoola. First up, no strap. So off he goes trying to get a shoe lace from various people so that he can use his strap with it. Oi! Mark! NO! Go and use your own! So, he refuses his own feet, and marches off to the local newsagents and comes back with a set of laces! Minutes later, he's ready to folk rock! So I borrow his tele. and we give GD a go. Very impressed with his guitar, it makes such a better sound than my cheapo planks! Its now that things get funny. Mark starts walking about as we play, but because the thing is so butt heavy, it just keeps sliding down to his knees with the neck pointing to the ceiling!! So he ends up doing his best James Hetfield impression! So, he decides he's had enough, and promptly says he will just sit down for the song. And so he does! He plonks himself down on the pool table and does his best Val Doonican impersonation! What a star! Will he use it again? Not sure, but it did sound good on the song.
We get going, with not too many people in the bar, which was a little disappointing, since the place is usually heaving. But give it a few minutes, and more bodies pile in. A little while later, and it is pretty full, with loads of people giving a lot of support! And we put a fair bit of effort into slowing the whole thing down, 'cos it just seems a lot of recent gigs are playing at breakneck speed! And because of this, it all sounded soooo much better and composed. Then a quick look at the watch…bloody 'ell!….an hour and 5 mins later sees us finish off the first half! It is usually only 50mins! We did see the return of The Way It Goes, and it was good! Second half gets going, and before long, its nearly 11.15! We close things down, dropping off a handful of songs, 'cos we are normally told to stop playing soon after 11. But raucous applause, gets us up for the expected encore. That's it! But no! Even more chanting means we do yet another! Pushing 11.25, means we shut off, and start to unplug. My wireless system is already packed, when the constant barracking leads Mac and Mark and Darren to agree to yet another! The wife…she keeps saying "NO!!" when everyone shouts "MORE!!". And seeing the others donning their instruments, she promptly nicks the wireless! But fear not! I have a lead out, so on goes the bass again! But Mark decides he wants to play the bass, so I grab his SG and we rattle through Bye Bye Johnny. Quite enjoyed it actually! And Mark did a sterling job on the bass as well! This was really it now! About 11.35 and time to pack up.
What a great reception, and thanks to all who came along and supported! Its nights like these that really give you the buzz to carry on! And player performances? Me - probably 8/10, a few little errors, but then that's just me! Its as good as it gets! Mark The Human Chimney - 9/10, fine performance, one of his better ones, even with the Val Hetfield impressions! Mac-The-Stick? 8/10 - one or three errors, and especially during Break The Rules, where it makes a change to have The Face Of Thunder directled away from me! And of course the guru himself…9.5/10 - damned fine show, especially since he was still recovering from a bout of the the ol' gut trots!
Right, that wraps that one up! Next up is the Mulberry Bush. Hmmm. After this one, er…no contest! But you never know, it may turn out to be just as good! (AA)
19/05/01 The Red Lion, Stevenage
Let's be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this one. Not because of the place (we went down pretty well last time we were here, and John, the landlord, is a Quo fan), but because we haven't seen each other in five weeks, let alone done any practicing! Other commitments, holidays, you know the score. So it was with great uncertainty that we all descended on The Red Lion, Stevenage.
The usual welcome waited us as we pulled into the car park, broken glass scattered across the floor. One space left, in a corner, hmmm… can't guess what this is used for after a long nights drinking! After introductions are complete (you are…oh yes, Mac, our drummer…its been so long!), Mark sticks his head round the door, and wait for it…yes! the pool table is in use! While it is being moved, we look around, to see a wasted Maestro, just ripe to be picked to pieces, and opposite a Capri! Not drivable, just dumped. No wheels, not even any bricks, no interior, but Darren recognises it as a Laser. Secret Capri Spotter?
This time round, the pool table is moved away from our playing area, giving is a fair bit more room. We get set up, amongst the already semi paraletic clientele, and get sound checking. Wood everywhere, with very low ceilings, gives this place a bit of an odd sound. It's also long and thin, and we are playing across the place, not down it. Mac has aquired a couple of drum mics, and decides he wants to use them through the PA, giving him that much more punch on his snare and bass drum. Ouch! First time we've played together for 5 weeks, sees the 3 minute sound check go well! Right, sit down and wait for 9.00pm.
Last time we were here, it was a good gig. People really did seem to enjoy the music, and got stuck in. This time, there did seem to be more people in the place, Darren noticing that the other bar was packed and some people outside as well. We get going, and STOP PRESS!! we were sooo good!! I don't think we could really believe how good the set was! Tight, mostly well paced and few bum notes, sees the first set draw to a close! A good crowd starts to swell just as we finish Roadhouse and go for a break. Don't stop now, we've just come in for some music, shout a few punters! Typical! But hot and sweaty, we go for a drink, and cool down a bit outside. Where we find a whole load of bikers encamped in the car park. A couple of nice machines there too. Loads of people milling around now, lets hope they come inside later!
We crank up and go for the 2nd half. Loads of bodies in here now, and everyone's up and rocking! Even some of the bikers are up for it! Legs spread and air guitars flying! Great atmosphere, which sees us plough through another dozen songs. The only one which seemed to suffer a little from lack of practice was probably Shy Fly, but John-The-Landlord seemed quite chuffed it was played, and we think we probably got away with it! Pictures-OMM sound great for some reason, even saw a few mouths miming along to! After almost 2 hours, we finally pull the plug, and call it a day.
As we start to pack up, and go outside, we are greeted by the police. Not us, mind, but someone had damaged a car or two in the car park. So we trudge out, over even more broken glasses (good night!) and survey our own cars, along with the police looking over mine! I initially thought he was checking to see if mine had been damaged, but then later realised he was actually looking to see if it was the car that had done the damage in the first place! Luckily the only scrapes were self inflicted, so he went off looking elsewhere! We get back inside to shouts of John -T-L to drink up and get out. He seemed a bit worried, that there were police outside his doors, and his punters were still drinking! Come on you lot! Time to go! Well, the pub was eventually evacuated, apart from the bloke passed out on one of the benches, with two barmaids trying to get him to wake up (was he really unconscious?!!), and started to be swept down. The glass bill in here must be huge!!
We pick up the money, John-T-L still asking for Big fat Mama. Next time, mate. Honestly! It's one we are working on! Hope he believed us! That's it then, another great night comes to an end. Not sure if I speak for the rest of the band, but I thoroughly enjoyed this gig, and its great to be somewhere where you are appreciated for what you play. If you want to come and see us, this is one of the better places to do so, along with the Cornerhouse in Bedford. We play here again in August. Be there!! (AA)
18/08/01 The Red Lion, Bozeat
This is a new place for us. Got the call a week before, to fill a cancellation. Good place to play this, well known on the local circuit. So we all turn up, pretty much on time for a change, and get unloading. Where are the punters? Maybe it'll get busy later. (there's hoping!) So we get set up, usual playing around. Decided to use our own lights, after seeing the "house"lights! Two rather suspicious looking lamps hanging from the ceiling and a third white spot light, ained directly at the drummer! He didn't like, not because it looked like a fire hazard held together with vast quantities of gaffer tape, but more because it would probably highlight how little he actually does as a drummer!!! So it is "persuaded" to point in another direction, and he is now happy. Sound check is started, and COSP strikes again.
With all the other Quo cover bands around, there would seem to be a market for the music, apart from this area of the world! There is a vacuum of Quo fans here!
We haven't practiced for a long time, but couldn't really turn this gig down, so we would have to give it our best shot. Not that we were bad, but we were also only about average. We can play alot better than this, and it can be frustrating to known that you can! But even to the handful of Quo fans there, it seemed to go down well, and were pretty complimentary. Big Fat Mama was asked for, but again, we just haven't rehersed it yet, so we will keep that one on the back burner for another occassion.
Good news on the guitar front, though! Mr Woodhall bit the bullet and bought a Rossi copy from the bloke on the Quo message board, Telemaster. It is the 5th one he has produced, and I think we all agree it looks fantastic and sounds just as good. Darren is very pleased about it, and used with his AC30, gets a great sound, esp his lead! Haven't yet heard of any other bands using this guitar, maybe we are the first to gig it!
A word of warning to anyone reading, playing in a band. We were approached by a bloke claiming to be from Virgin Records, offering to take us to London for a demo session. He sounded very convincing and stayed with us for the night, always talking about it, even to other punters in the pub. It all sounded too good to be true, so we checked directly with Virgin Records, who confirmed that they have never heard of this guy (Mark Smith !!!). Seems he was either having a joke or trying to arrange some kind of con. So be warned!
After this little escapade, the night came to an end. Not a bad show by any means, just could be tighter. Looking forward to next week though, Stevenage is a great gig, and the punters over there have seemed to be up for it. If you can make it, be there! (AA)
25/08/01 The Red Lion, Stevenage
Well, not sure how to say this, but what a stormer! Maybe I've said this before, but what a place! Takes a bit of time to warm up, but when it gets going, it "rocks!", to coin a phrase.
As ever, we arrive, to find the pool table still in use. The barman is friendly enough, with John-The-Landlord not in tonight. Maybe he has got fed up with asking for Big Fat Mama! Next time, honest! It really is in practice, just not quite together yet. Talking of practice, we may start to practice between gigs again soon(!), and not a moment too soon! It been quite a few months since we were last together seriously, apart from gigs. We have a handful of new songs that we started on, but still haven't had the time to finish. So hopefully over the next few months we can get them finished and into the set! 4500x was rushed in, but that seems to be gelling much better now, and starting to sound excellent!
Anyway, the 3 of us turn up, and....no drummer. He was actually early last week, maybe we should continue to tell him arrive 2 hours earlier than necessary! I have just bought a new bass amp, a rather nice Trace Elliot 300W head and cab. It sounds superb, and well worth the investment! I can now give the guitarists a run for their money! We get set up, with the pub seeming pretty empty. It must be one of the most humid days of the year, and most people are sitting outside, quite wisely, since me and Darren are sweating absolute buckets already! Last week, while packing up, I trapped my finger in the PA stands, bleeding nicely, but has healed quickly. So it was with some pain, that while setting up, I dropped the lighting rig on another fretting finger! Ouch! Trapped it right where it folds round the fretboard and rubs on the fret edges and strings! Hope this isn't an omen for the rest of the night!
Mac eventually turns up, and finally gets set up. We have to wait about 15mins while he fiddles and tweaks his kit, then decides to mike up some of his drums. The old PA head has of late, started to come in for some heavy use! So finally we crank up and rattle through a couple of songs. Sounds good tonight, Darrens new Rossi-Tele souning excellent through his Vox, and particularly loud, while my TE rig really does deliver, far more clarity, and I can even use the actives on the guitar for better punch and far more range. Its odd to be able to have the scope to alter the sound that I use, so I had better start learning how to do it!
Darren spots a Quo fan at the bar. Hmmm. Lets hope we can pull off a good gig! He goes and has a chat, and finds out that he apparently goes to loads of Quo gigs, as well as other cover bands, even travelling up to Yorkshire to see State Of Quo! Double hmmmm!! I think the guys name was Ben, apologies if it wasn't! My memory, you see......er what was I saying ????? Right, 9.00pm arrives, and we crank up. Even after the first song, me and Darren are swimming in our own private lakes! After we leave tonight, the landlord will probably find 2 salt circles where we were playing! Jesus, we sweated! Surprisingly, the other two seemed not to, although they both said they had! They just seem to...whats the phrase....glisten! As ever with The Red Lion, it takes about half of the first set before people become interested, maybe because its now dark outside, and they start to wander in. Then, like last time, we get a good crowd, some going for it in front of us, just as we break after the first half! This of course, gives people time to wander off, so when we start for the 2nd half, the numbers are back down! But we carry on, then an influx of punters, and the floor is packed! The 2nd half of the 2nd half was excellent, people up and dancing, and a couple of blokes head banging infront of us. Half way through Summer of 69, Darren stops playing, looks around, to find no power. The blokes by the plugs try looking innocent, as Darren frantically prods and pokes the socket. Finally he gets the power back, and later said that he had trouble when he first inserted anyway, he had to finger the little button before he managed to fire up! So on we crack, and come to the end of the set! What a reaction! They want more!! A tall lady infront of us shouts we must carry on, and promtly nicks the set list. Caroline! She spots it, shouts we have to play it, and then goes off into the riff and starts singing the chorus! OK, if we must! Mark cranks up, seemingly inspired, 'cos it actually sounds alot better than some of the previous gigs we have been doing! Well done that man! That ends, Darren say thanks, and we have already gone over, and thats all folks! More whistling, and shouts for more, and just as I'm unplugging, a big cheer! I turn around to see the others donning their gear again! OK, seems we are doing another! Don't know if the barman said yes, but what the hell! What Your Proposin' is run through, and after which we really do call it a night, but for the next few minutes, you can hardly speak for the shouts of more!
What a great reception! Cheers to all who came! Special mention to Martin Parsons, who came from Northampton to see us, seems he is turning out to be a bit of a fan. And of course to (again apologies if I've got your name wrong) Ben, who drove up from Potters Bar. Both seemed to enjoy it, and several other people came up to us with very favourable compliments. I think we all really enjoyed this one. I've said it before, but it really goes to show how much audience participation matters! We were all riding so much on the reaction that we get here, that it doesn't seem to matter how unrehearsed we actually are, it just goes so well. Granted there were some unforced errors, which will only be ironed out by practice, but they probably weren't really noticable!
Excellent evening, great fun, and hope we can get some return bookings!(AA)
28/9/01 The Cornerhouse, Bedford
I volunteer we change our name to Rusty Parts, 'cos I think we have only really got together once over the last few months, and that was the evening before this gig!
So, the evening gets off to a flyer, with me arriving on time for a change, and got set up, had a drink and half way through the paper, before Mark gets here! Worries of a big wind up subside when he pokes his cheery face round the corner. Phew. So, we both end up set up, once again waiting for the Milton Keynes Posse, debating which songs from the set we can do as a duo. None in fact. Relief.
Mac and Darren arrive, with tails of woe of traffic jams, and dead pheasents. Nice. By this time, its getting on to 8pm, so Darren hurries with the setting up, and we 3 guitarists are ready soon after, and as usual, sit waiting for the drummer to meticulously set his kit up. Strange breed this, they have no sense of time!!!! (some may argue timing to??!!). Finally ready to go, sees Mac remember he wants to mic up his bass drum and snare. So another 10 mins.......
3 min sound check wraps things up, and its with a sigh of relief that the barmaid asks if she can turn the jukebox back on. At 9.00 we crank up and get the show underway. Oh what a start. A new begining, with Caroline intro straight into Paper Plane. Hey Mac, you gonna start soon? Oh yes, here he goes! Shakey start, but we're off now. Things are motoring a little bit, but most goes well. 4500x is put in to end the first half along with Juniors Wailin. I do like 4500x, it brings a bit of class into the set, its a big song, and played right, sounds superb.
2nd half goes much like the first, rusty in places, but also rocking in others. We changed the set around quite alot for tonight, to give the ending abit of a harder, rockier edge. Don't know about the others, but the set seems more balanced, and builds up to a strong end. Like it. By the end of the night, quite a good crowd was in, a few regulars, but many new faces I didn't recognise, which was good. By 11, we pull the plug, and say our goodbyes, good applause shows that once again we are appreciated at the Cornerhouse.
Just a final word to say cheers to Rik for dropping in, and to the blokes who had a word with us after the show who were very complimentary about our performance. Cheers!
Well we should be back here in a few weeks time, but as ever, check with the pub before hand! See you soon.(AA)
12/10/01 The Cornerhouse, Bedford
Don't know why, but we seemed a bit more keyed up for this one. We were two weeks ago, it was good, but not great, so we wanted to put on a good show. Once again, with words of "lets get there early", I arrive just after 7, with, guess what? no one else there! Pool table was in full flow, so couldn't even get unloaded. Sat around for 10mins waiting for the game to finish (it was at least half the time of a game if I was playing, though!), finally sees Mark arrive. He abandons his car on a grassy knoll, and we subsequently get set up. OK. Where are the others? 10 to 8 sees Darren stroll in, looking stressed again. More tales of woe, "traffic everywhere, left my house at half 6" etc. What is it with the roads just recently? There just seems to be an explosion of cars! Mac stumbles in at 8, with the same stories (both come from Milton Keynes). 45 mins later, Mac has finally screwed his last bolt, and we get sound checking. Quick one today, just 2.5mins. Strange low frequency feedback is coming from somewhere. But where? All eyes fall onto me as usual, but I plead my innocence, and Darren goes searching for another culprit. Mark's Bag'O'Noises doesn't include feedback, so that's him out. Darren starts pulling out plugs from the PA, to find that it is one of Macs mikes. Drummers again!!
Some familiar faces turn up tonight, thanks to Darrens' and Marks' mates, and to "Sid" and his big Quo fan mate who came down from Rushden. Come 9 o'clock, and there is a reasonable crowd, which is a little unusual, it normally starts thin on the ground, and gradually builds as the night goes on. So we crank up, and get the show going. Smoke machine was in good use tonight, swamping Darren everytime we stamp on the button! It could do with a fan or something to spread the fog, 'cos at the moment it comes out in thick ball, and wafts through the pub to the door! Its great to see some of the audience frantically waving their arms to try and dissipate the fog ball and get some fresh air!!
First half was OK, the odd bum note was caught, but all in all, not bad. The second half was very good, enjoyed that loads! It was very hot in here, me and Darren once again sweating buckets for the cause! Mark sweated absolutely nothing! How does he do it?? Baths in anti-perspirant before he comes out?? Who knows! We snuck Gerdundula back into the set, it makes for a refreshing change, before we stampede to the end of the set, in true rocking fashion. Much shouts for more, and we do 2 more songs, before calling it a night, by which time there are a lot of people in the bar.
Must say thanks to all that came and listened. It was a very appreciative crowd tonight, much appreciated from ourselves. Enjoyed it loads.
And we also found out, that the 2 blokes that looked like they were from another band were actually Guy and Luke from The Quireboys! Mark went over and used all his sales rep experience to flog them a couple of radiators that they didn't need, while also asking what they thought of the set. They were very complimentary (the pesimist here might say they were only being polite, but lets smack him on the head, and listen to the optimist for a change, who says they were being honest!!), and even said that this is the closest to Quo as you'll get, without actually being Quo!! Praise indeed!! Remember that these guys opened for Quo on several occasions on a recent tour!!
So with healthy glow of pride, we pack up and leave. Another great night at The Cornerhouse, shame on you if you missed it!! (AA)
19/10/01 The Boot Inn, Earls Barton
Let's set the scene, shall we? New place for us to play, I'd seen it advertised in some local rags. Dropped off a demo, and phoned a few days later. Basically, "no, I haven't listened to it, we leaving anyway, I'll get my diary". Riiiiight, OK, but don't you even want to know what we play? "not really" kind of attitude. Great. Really looking forward to this one! Well, we all turn up, me late for a change, and find our little corner. Not exactly playing to the pub, more like playing to the bar. A suspicious looking white box with flashing lights catches The Maestros attention, and gets Mac to bash his bass drum a few times, to check it out. No movement. Few, thought it was a sound monitor for a minute! Great to see the crowds tonight! The bar area that we can see is empty, while the other area, we can't see is … er….Oh no, not quite empty! there's a goldfish in a bowl and 2 barmaids (PC correct? Bar ladies? Bar PEOPLE?) Quick sound check, I think it sounds OK over my side, the others say naff sound. Oh well, always differing! During the sound check, the lights on the white box start to flash. Bugger, it is a sound monitor! The cause is found to be me, it registers low frequency bass. Oh joy.
We set sail on the good ship Parts at 9.00 as usual, by which time a semblance of a crowd is now in. Quite a few younger people, playing pool etc, but still watching. Half way through the first half, sees Mac climbing out from his kit, with Mark telling him to calm down, and carry on. I had no idea what was going on, I'd thought one of the other two had said something to him and he was walking out!! As it turns out, someone was talking the mick, and must have been directed to Mac. Luckily he saw sense, and got on with it. Phew. We draw the first half to a close, with a ripple of applause, mainly from the people we had with us! A few of the locals came up asking if we do Oasis or The Who stuff. No! Why do they seem annoyed if we say no?! We do what we do, and that's that! Second half was under way, and soon the crowd round the pool table settled down to watch. Some even attempting something like dancing, but I suspect clubbing kind of dance routines don't gel well with Quo style rhythms! Second half finishes, Darren says thanks, goodnight, and I wait for Summer of 69 and Caroline, only to turn round and he has disrobed already! Guitar, that is. I'm thinking, he'll put it back on, and we'll do the others. But no. That's it. Bugger, and I was up for a couple more numbers to! All a bit sudden, but you can't push things. So we unplug, to a few shouts of more. But alas, nothing is forthcoming.
So what can we say? I thought it was OK, kind of nice to see some younger locals watching and not ignoring. A reasonable number in by the night was over. Not sure about the future of this place though, with the landlords leaving. But thanks to Richard and Julie (Mrs Bandits dad and girlfriend) for coming over to gain a first glimpse at the Parts. Hope we didn't scare you too much! And Darren was doing his bit for local community relations, when a bloke comes up to him and asks if he is the guitarist, Darren replies "yes" and walks off out of the pub! The bloke is left standing there, looking around, and wanders off back to his seat!! It was funny though, just to see this guys dazed expression! Next time mate, and he'll have a chat!! (AA)
20/10/01 The Mulberry Bush, Kempston
Mulberry Bush. What joy. Another one that we aren't really looking forward to, really because of the way the place is structured, and where the bands are stuffed, down the end of a long bar, away from where most of the people are, in an open area. I turn up, and wait politely at the end of the bar for a minute or two waiting for the only barman to finish his round, when I spy Mark at the other end of the pub. What is he doing? I go over and have words, to find we are now back in the open area! Good news, feeling better about this already! The band is finally set and ready, another quick sound reveals a nice even sound, that Darren seemed keen on to! A good sized area, means we're not all cramped together either! By the time we start, there is a good number of people in, and we get to work. We sounded good, and tight, and is probably the best we've played for a long time! Just goes to show what a few gigs can do to get things back into line! Oh how good we could sound if we practiced regularly to!! Second half goes along the same lines, Marks sounds suspiciously louder than before, and we even have some locals dancing! I reckon it took them 3 minutes to get the bottle up to do it, 'cos they always started just as we were finishing a song! They'd look around, and then go back to their chairs! RAOTW sees a good mosh pit (well OK, not quite that energetic!), which continues into Caroline, to bring the evening to a close.
One local bloke was saying that it was busy in here for a Saturday night, and we have got ourselves a bit of a name, one of only 3 bands or so, that seem to get a good sized crowd in. He was very complimentary, cheers mate, but he said his mate was disappointed that we didn't do DownDown. Oh well, as we say, next time!! So all in all, a very enjoyable night, and nothing like the last couple of gigs there. It makes so much difference playing at this end of the pub, let's hope it continues! Next time we're here is 22nd December, Christmas gig!! Slade songs, anyone????
11/11/01 The Builders Arms, Leamington Spa
Only a brief review coming up, 'cos it was a while ago now, and can't remember to much from it! Not sure how we got this one, I think I must have sent a demo into the pub. Landlord Trev, or Toddy to his mates, so we'll just call him Sir, seemed pretty keen, to have us. Rang us on a Sat., says in gruff Northern accent (by Northern I mean north of Northamptonshire, but not quite as far as Scotland; as you can tell, my knowledge of British dialects is not great!!) "what're you doing tomorrow night?" Sorry no-can-do, I reply. "You do play in a ****ing band, don't you?!!" comes the reply. Nothing like getting off on the right foot!
Anyway, we all find the pub OK, hidden off some backstreet away from the town centre. Well, its going to be busy here tonight, then!! Especially as no posters were put up. Although this was through no fault of the pub, 'cos good old Royal Mail wouldn't bend the letter through the letter box, so returned it to the sorting office. And since then, it hasn't been seen since, although Toddy, sorry Trev, says a mate of his does see it occassionally wandering around the place!! Good playing area tonight, although the pub was a U shape, with us stuck up one end, so could only really see about a quarter of the place. Since The Maestro enjoys challenging Mac The Stick to a game of Who Can Be The Last To Arrive, myself and The CancerMan set our gear up away from the roasting radiator that is covering half the wall. The perks of being on time!!
All set up and raring to go, we crank up and have the usual 3 min sound check. The Landlord is very strict on the timings, I suspect trouble with the neighbours means that he will not let us play later than 10.35. We suggest a longer first half, then a shortened 2nd half, much like a real gig. He nods, and listens, says good idea, but no. You will do this…45 mins, 5 or 10 mins break, then onto 10.25, with a few encores, and shut down at 10.35. OK, that put us in our place!! The actual gig was OK, not the best, but probably a 7and a half out of 10, with me forgetting my lines during Break The Rules, with Darren having to jump in after seeing my wide eyed expression at What The Hell Comes Next??? Ta mate. Not a large crowd by any stretch of the imagination, but appreciative, with polite applause. Must say thanks to Ray and his mate for coming down to see us, hope to see you again sometime!
All in all, an OK night, would have been better had there been more people in, but beggars can't be choosers, and do we beg for work!!!! Landlord wants us back for a regular slot next year (that's what they all say!), so hopefully we'll be back. (AA)
18/11/01 The Woughton Centre, MK
Woughton Centre. Back again, big stage, loads of room to move around, quite a few people, more than normal apparently, all enjoyed the set, including us. Thanks to Ben for making the trip up from Potters Bar. (AA)
01/12/01 The Rose and Crown, Welwyn
Another new place for us, sees us making the trip down to Welwyn. Not sure how this'll be, especially since it is in the village, and not the City. Finally get there, and bloody hell, Mac is already here! Seems he has lost todays game of Who Can Be The Last To Arrive, and that winners medal goes to none other then The Meastro again! Uncanny. How does he do it? Nice pub though, very old, low ceilings, wooden beams, no walls that are vertical and straight etc. Nice area to play in, already cleared to. Tookey, the landlord or bar manager, not sure which, seemed keen to book us when I spoke to him a while ago, and there were some people already in and milling around. Bad side to that is that they are all looking suspiciously young. This of course raises the issue of COSP, young and Quo music are like oil and water….they do not mix very well! PA stands are set to about half the normal height, 'cos the ceiling is only just over 6 foot high! We're all set up quite quickly, and get sound checking. A long one today, about 2 mins! Sound check over, sees a mate of Mac The Stick come in, and whisks the drummer away. We do not know where he has gone, but at least he came back in time to start!
And 9.00pm arrives, and away we go. Quite a good crowd has now assembled, and even more surprisingly, not many left! In fact, the crowd grew as the night went on. Not sure if people were expecting a rock band, 'cos the amount of faces that came in and were taken aback by noisy Quo tunes as they came in through the door, was quite a few! The look of surprise on their faces was very funny. But credit to everyone, I could see a lot of people watching, and enjoying the set, and applause after each song. It really does go along way to see a crowd enjoying what you are doing, and helps lift the band. The second half was even better, with 3 or 4 young clientel just dancing away for all they were worth! It is usually the older types that get up and dance, so it was certainly nice to see this lot at it!! Tookey had said, quite adamantly, stop at 11. So we round off with RAOTW, and even get them to sing the chorus to!. 11 is up, so we stop, but raucous applause and chants for more lead us to break Tookeys Law, and crank into Caroline. That really was it, but for a few more minutes afterwards, loads of shouts of one more!! The crowd are now at it, singing RAOTW for themselves!! They soon get bored of this though, and the girls start into Heeeeeeeeyyy Baaaaaaby, Ooooo Arrrrrrrgh! for the next 45mins!! In fact, I think they were probably still singing it, as we left!
To be honest, a complete surprise. Really enjoyed this one, mainly 'cos of the crowd. Thanks to everyone who came. Must say thanks to Martin Parsons, who made the surprise journey from Northampton, and again to Ben, but this time it was only 10 mins up the road for him! Tookey was well pleased with the night, Well Pukka! was his catchphrase. Brilliant was also heard! He was saying that they have had some crap in there, giving them their taxi fare home soon after they've started! Well, at least we made it to the end though!! Its good to get a pat on the back occasionally, and a big pat to The Meastro for overcoming his cold to make the evening. Oh yes, almost forgotten! Down The Dustpipe was aired for the first time, replete with Darren mouthing at his organ. Well done that man! Looks like we will be back, hope the next time goes down this well, and it wasn't just a one off! (AA)
7/12/01 The Cornerhouse, Bedford
Now the avid reader out there may have noticed a new game we have been playing of late, Who Can Be The Last To Arrive. With this in mind, we were truly expecting a battle of epic proportions this time, since Bedford seems to be the place of the great leave it to the last minute before turning up approach from the Milton Keynes posse (see earlier reviews of the Cornerhouse). But I had a sneaking suspicion that The Maestro may get here early, just to try and prove us wrong. So, at 7.15, I pull in and low and behold I spy him already parked up! Seems he has lost this round to his great rival, Mac The Stick.
The three of us get going, and are finished setting up, when The Stick sidles in, at about 8.00. Fun and games ensue since he still hasn't got his boot lid catch fixed, and all the gear has to be removed through the folded down rear seats! Half an hour later, he is ready, and we have the usual Parts sound check. 2mins passes quickly, during which time we are told to lower the sound (although we all thought it was quite quiet). The Maestro is having problems with his organ again, stopping and starting, until he is a bit more happy about handling it and projecting it to the crowd.
9.00 comes and off we go. Just about half full, sees us tear into the first half. Any band will have good and bad days, this was not a good 'un, at least from my point of view. It was littered with little one note mistakes, receiving a 7 on the bad bass note scale, when I probably usually run at about a 3. But talking to a couple of people later, revealed that they hadn't really noticed, so as long as their enjoyment hadn't been spoiled, that's OK then! Proud Mary and 20 Wild Horses were played in the Thrash Metal style, we all feed off of each other, maybe we should have a band metro-gnome rhythmically swinging his rod to keep us all at the right tempo! Any offers? All work, no play, and no definitely no pay, but just think of the fame and prestige?!! Anyway, first half draws to a close with 4500x and Juniors Wailin'. 4500x is my current favourite in the set and even if it isn't spot on, I still lurve playing this song!
The usual 10min break sees us start again 20mins later (where does the time go??) and into WYW and ROLD. How many times have we played this? And where did the middle section go this evening?? Not sure, but it sure wasn't here! By this time, the place had got a fair bit more busy, and we marched on. DWMT had Biscuit (Trevor) sing the vocals (through my mike, which is, shall we say, rather quiet to mask my rather dodgy backing vocals!), while Rick from Rubberneck played the harp on Roadhouse. Come 11, and we finish with Caroline. A few shouts of more, so we break the 11o'clock rule and play RAOTW. That's it, and we finally give the moaning neighbours a rest. They probably did moan tonight, the 2nd half was certainly a fair bit louder than the first! Even with a ropey first half, I enjoyed the second, and not a drop of foggy smoke from the smoke machine in site!! It pleased the Bedford Bands web site reviewer Rob Vernon (see his reviews on the Bedford Bands site ). So another evening at The Cornerhouse draws to a close, but at least we get a few more dates for next year! At last, some dates!! Thanks to the support, and hope you enjoyed it. Cheers. (AA)
16/12/01 The Watts Arms, Hanslope
The game of Who Can Be The Last To Arrive, hots up for the final 2 gigs of the year. Hanslope is just up the road for the Milky Beans Posse, so I expect them to be there on time. CancerMan is usually on time anyway, that just leaves me to try for the full three points. Family duties call for the afternoon, which means I arrive half an hour later than usual, fully expecting to have won the game for a change. But no. Would you believe it?! The Maestro has not yet arrived!! Git. He's probably seen I'm not there, and has gone for a drive around the village, just so that he can win! Mac has arrived already, so looses out this time. Oh well, almost but not quite!
Oh yes, and the gig? Well, don't think we will be rebooking here. The landlord who was very keen on us has now retired through ill health, we wish him well, and the new owners? well seem OK, but not sure if they want to carry on with the live music, and probably not with a loud 4 piece band like us. Bands really do not suit the place, too much of a quiet country pub. Pity, 'cos the first gig here was great, but all the others have been pretty dead, more like relaxed practices. The landlord wants us back for a beer festival he wants to do in summer 2002, so that'll be good, outside and marquee is much better. We'll just have to see. (AA)
22/12/01 The Mulberry Bush, Kempston
Last gig of the year sees us return to the Mulberry Bush. After some pretty crap gigs there, the last one was surprisingly good (see review above). So with expectations quite high, we prepare for the Christmas gig. I arrive, just after Mark, and we get going. Surprise surprise, we wait for the arrival of the MK Posse. So who's it going to be? We both think Mac, 'cos it'll some excuse about how busy it was down at the shop. Low and behold, that cheery and cheeky face appears at the window, of that leader of men, that hero of all parts that are going spare, The Maestro himself. Yep, final year-end honours go to Mac. Haven't totted up the finals board but it is going to be a real close finish. I reckon Mac has probably edged it by a nose. I'll have to set up a Who Can Be The Last To Arrive league table for 2002, and keep a running total!
Well the optimism for a high octane year end bash starts waning early. No posters up. Arse. Last time we were here, we had several people say that punters were talking about us from the posters, and probably drew in quite a few of the crowd that were down here last time. Isn't this part of what places like this do live music for, get in the people and up their bar takings? Yes, it is entertainment, but they surely don't want an empty pub? So, good start. And to top that, most of the 20 or so people in the bar looked suspiciously well dressed!! Hmmm…. Later we looked out the window and saw a mini coach pull up….wey-hey!! we have some customers! Er….no. Bubble bursts with a limp farty sound, as the well dressed troupe up and off, maybe to catch some sounds in Bedford?!?! Well, that leaves…1,2,3,4…and…..5…oh don't forget the 2 little kids running around the place! Great. Back to normal. Even the landlord/landlady who 'are really into us' have gone out for the night!!
So, we get set up, and I mention that I'm half way through a cold, and well asthmatic, so I'm going to be well on song tonight! My excuses for poor singing are therefore better tonight, but the Maestro is unimpressed and promptly sets up the mic anyway! OK, if you insist! There's hardly anyone around anyway, so even if it does sound like Donald Duck's in the house, who's going to know?!!!! Mac wants his bass drum mic'ed up, and it once again sounds like we are being bombarded with German howitzers! The levels are adjusted, and it sounds better, its only mortars instead! Sound check goes well, and we all settle down to wait. We then get informed that 'remember its an extended bar tonight' i.e. you are playing longer. Yea, right! Mac's first reaction as ever, is I want more money. Err.. that ain't gonna happen mate, so we decide to go on later, play a bit slower and flesh it out.
Come 9.30, we get going to a pretty limp crowd (what numbers a crowd? Is this instead, perhaps a gathering?). Mark and Darren get it going with Caroline intro and then into Paper Plane. Buts something's not quite right. My bass is abnormally quiet. It was OK a second ago when we were tuning up. So I'm frantically twiddling my knobs, pulling leads, flicking switches etc., but to no avail, so carry on in the best Top Of The Pops tradition, and mime to the end. The bass sound is a real quiet flappy noise. I was really worried that the head had blown something. During all this Darren sounded as thought he was playing 2 different songs during PP, which didn't help matters! Great start to the set. So after one song, we all fall silent, as everyone watches me try to find out what is wrong. Last desperate attempt is to change the battery for the actives, but the power light is still on. Would you believe it?! It was the battery, and what a time to fail! So, fully recharged, we head back into the set and stampede on. I did my Donald Duck impressions on a couple of songs, no-one complained (unusual!!) so I carried on in the second half to. Second half sees us break out the Santa hats, much to our ammusment! The Cancer Twins both had limp ones all night long, while me and The Maestro had quite pointy ones. Mine would flop occasionally, but then it was seeing a lot more action than his! Mark was even seen to be slightly mobile, doing battle with me on occassions, like 2 stags on heat! Maybe we should make him wear a hat all the time?!!! Perhaps he could be the next JK or Bubble (big Bruvver fame) and have different hats as his trademark?? Come 11.45pm and we call it a night. Polite applause from the few, sees us draw 2001 to a rather quiet end.
Well, just to say thanks to anyone who has seen us this year, we had some good gigs, some bad but enjoyed it alot. We will be back next year, so perhaps we may see some more people then. Merry Christmas and New Year! (AA)