Two songs into our opening performance at the Arden Road Social Club in Halifax a thought wandered into my mind…it was simply…. ‘your flies are undone’. This was typical of the kind of thought that would invade my mind at the most inopportune time. A similar panic later in the set revolved around the durability of a piece of garden twine I had wrapped around my guitar neck in order to keep the strap on.
The day had started in chaos when in a routine test of equipment revealed that my guitar pick-up wasn’t working, this was followed by a bass amp packing up on the way to the venue. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare, something will happen. The subsequent gig in beautiful Halifax at the Phoenix Nights-ish Arden Road Social Club was worth all the stresses and strains. We were supported by a myriad of electronic acts easing us into the evening with pastoral floating electronics, eventually we stumbled through our set, full of mistakes but after 5 years and just four rehearsals we’d done it.
After that we needed a rest so it wasn’t until three days later on the following Wednesday that we reconvened in the beautiful northern city of Newcastle. Upon arrival at the venue we were approached by a group of people of retirement age enquiring
as to when we were on stage. I know we’ve been away for awhile but surely our fan based hadn’t aged that dramatically? The audience that actually turned up was much younger and we were happy to see our former violinist Sarah Kemp allowing herself a rare night out post baby. Following the slightly ramshackle Halifax show this was much more like it. A great sound was achieved by the guy on the desk (even if he did subject us to the Tame Impala album during the soundcheck) and the support acts consisting of two different Michaels in Wreaths and Waskerley Way were an excellent starter course.
Following an eventful journey back to York in which Richard and Mick battled through two closed major roads before being stopped by the police (for erratic driving), we were off to the big smoke. A tube strike threatened to derail the entire thing but we arrived in so much time that we were set up and sound checked by 5 pm. Just the 5 hours to wait until showtime then. Promoters James and James treated with the usual high level service and we were entertained by support acts the ever eccentric yet touching folk of Chris Tenz and the pummelling, bleep laden Petrels. For some strange reason the venue was icy cold and so it was more difficult to connect with the shivering crowd. Maybe that’s why they all have beards in Dalston?
The after show sit and chat with our host the genial and welcoming Dave Callahan (of two of my favourite bands the Wolfhounds and Moonshake) was great fun and so we rose early to head up a traffic choked A1 for the final show in our 4 day world tour. Entering a Wharf Chambers was like coming home to a warmer world and it was so lovely to see lots of old friends in the crowd. Gerrard Bell-Fife was as wonderful as ever as ever with his rich chocolate voice and finger picked guitar whilst Manyfingers produced complex neo classical clattering from another universe. I loved every second of our performance and almost…..almost began to relax. I’ll forever be grateful though to my brother in the dj booth for pumping out music immediately after we went off as we had nothing more to play!
As well as the marvellously talented and hard working band of Paul Elam, Mick Harrison and Chris Lanigan there are so many people to thank…….
Katie and Jonathan in Halifax, James, James and Marky in London, Daniel Skevington and MOR Music York for equipment repair, Dave Callahan for London accommodation, Chris Adams for general help, Richard’s mum for looking after the cat, Tim Hay for Leeds sound, everyone who attended shows and came up to say hi and bought merchandise and all the marvellous people we played with.