Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Cavern Club

Possibly my favourite gig of all time...

The Cavern. Just saying those two words conjures up images of John, Paul, George & Ringo making a name for themselves amongst other acts like the Rolling Stones in the 60's. Of all the gigs I've ever played this was the one to put on the CV!

Start at the beginning

It's Friday and for the first time ever Matt is early for a band practice (even though it was his Birthday the night before and he guaranteed he'd be late!). Phil and myself pack the guitars into the car and head to the 'shack-like' Bolton studio where we record/jam. We get to grips with a Beatle's medley and get the harmony sounding sweet. Three hours later and we're feeling ready.

Quick bite then back in the car...

Road trips are usually special in the band because it gives us time to talk to one another without a clatter of drums or a drone of bass or a twang of guitar like in our normal rehearsals. I'm driving (as ever!) with Phil and Matt for company next to me. To begin with I disagree with TomTom's directions and believe I have a much faster way... Never mess with TomTom.

An hour and a bit later...

And we're parked up and walking down to find the famous Cavern Club with guitars on our backs and nerves in our stomaches. Nothing that a cheeky beer on the docks won't settle! For a fairly sunny day it wasn't half cold - lets just say if I'd been 'bagged' then it wouldn't of shown me in the best of lights!

Inside the venue

As you walk up to the club itself you see a busker singing Beatle's tunes and foreign looking people taking pictures next to a statue of John Lennon (Phil immediately feels at home and starts to sing with the busker as we pass... what a man!). We go down a few flights of stairs and into the famous setting of arched brickwork, accompanied by the sound of 'Love Me Do'. Unfortunately this wasn't our room and we ventured past the bar and into what can only be described as a scene from CBeebies.

14 Years Old!

I know rock and roll begins at an early age. I mean, I played my first 'gig' at 11 in a high school talent contest with Matt. But to play an over 18's venue, with more musical heritage then any other venue, when you are 14, is a bit of a piss-take. Especially when they are on after us! To top it all off the opening band arrives and they're not much older, at a premature 15! I wouldn't mind, but they didn't even offer us one of the cans of Foster's that they'd stole from their Dad's fridge!

Pre-drinking - friend or foe?

Now, as you will have gathered, I am usually the designated driver. This gig was no different. Yet, for about 3 hours before we were on, we went to numerous pubs where the band were getting steadily merrier and less coherent! When we we're in one Karaoke pub we all wondered what we'd done to end up in a place like this... Still, our friend and harmonica god, Guy, was enjoying himself, playing along to every tune under the sun!

The Gig.

8.45pm and we begin the set. I can't hear a thing except bass and rhythm guitar. The crowd don't seem to impressed by the attempt at harmonies that me, Matt and Phil have... But, luckily they are distract by the sweet sound of harmonica that Guy was throwing at them! A few tunes later and things seem to settle down. Cue our Beatles melody that we'd practiced earlier that day... at 100MPH!! I've never heard a band sing "beep beep, beep beep, yeah" so quickly! Seemed to go down well though!

10 minutes later and its all over

The gig was good. Not great. It was a bit too loud and as a band we'd probably been to too many pubs before hand, but all in all, it was good. People seemed to enjoy themselves and I'd had a good time on stage with the lads. Unfortunately our good friend 'Mule' couldn't be there as he'd crashed on the motorway on the way down. He and his passenger, Ash, were fine but nonetheless they should have been there and we're sorry they weren't.

Time to go...

We left half the band in Liverpool (the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle is a 24/7 job you see) and I set off with Matt, Guy and our fantastically drunk friend Aron in the car. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life! The conversation between Aaron and Guy in the back was priceless! Aaron, "how's your KFC guy, is it nice?" Guy, "it was at first... but now I'm just used to it" - was a particular favourite of mine!

A lot of fog and a weird route home later (TomTom's revenge)...

And we were back in Manchester. We had a brief stop off where Aron was staying and had a sing-song with the guitar and harmonica. Aron sang a song about a man whose uncle died. Matt cried. The whole day had been a wonderful experience and all in all it was probably the most fun I've ever had with the band. Now though, it was time for bed...

We played The Cavern. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Venue Review: MOHO LIVE

Moho Live 

"...when we were sound checking at the venue a bouncer tried to have a fight with me..."

Read the full review here.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Vintage Rock Club

Doncaster is a strange place...
It's 6.45pm and I'm in the shower. My iPhone lights up and I stupidly answer dripping wet (the speaker has only just started to work again... ). One thing that our band is never great at is organisation. This gig in Doncaster's Vintage Rock Club is a prime example as we're supposed to be at the venue in an hour and a half and it takes us an hour and a half to get there! Perhaps I should get out of the shower...

Two hours later...
We arrive in Doncaster to be met by a man who looks like a tubby Jesus. I immediately like him. Looking around Doncaster we see many people with golden chains around their necks with polo shirts and Reebok shoes... Not a place I would associate with underground rock bands. We set up and sound check with Jesus who performs miracles on the sound of the tiny basement we're in. So far we're all tired, fed up, and not looking forward to playing. Did you know that Doncaster only has 5 live music venues?

How things change...
We have 40 minutes to fill with our own tunes. Sounds easy but choosing the songs for a set is a difficult art. You have to start big, but not too big. You have to bring the crowd up with crisp sounds to draw them in followed by a catchy tune to make them stay put.  Then you bring them down with a slower tune somewhere in the middle to try and captivate them. End big and leave them wanting more.

That's what we did.
Despite the disorganised beginning, the long journey and the "chronic cba" we felt before the gig, it actually turned out to be one of my favourites. It wasn't a massive show. There wasn't a big crowd. But somehow the band (and Jesus) put on a great performance and importantly we have planted a seed in another town.

After the gig...
We stuck around for a while and listened to the other band (who spent more money on their equipment than time on their song making) and went to the upstairs to have a few beers... well, lemonade for me as I was driving! All of us had experienced an equally fun gig and we enjoyed singing along to 'My Shorona' while looking at the strange mix of young, old, 'chavtastic' and 'piratey' people around us...

Doncaster is a strange place.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Ram & Shackle

No matter how well you play...
You can still sound as terrible as a one man band falling down a staircase if the set up is terrible. And on Monday night the set up was terrible; no monitors to hear ourselves; no microphones for the guitar amps or drums; and no stage to give presence to our set. 

And yet, I still had a good time. Even more surprising was the fact that the crowd seemed to find us bearable if not actually good too! 

The moral of the story is... long as we're enjoying our playing, people will enjoy our gigs... even if it doesn't sound great!

Although it just might've had something to do with the amount of alcohol consumed...