Jet lag, detox and work
19 November 2015
Stuff the lot of ‘em.
Back to the lime lights this Saturday (21st) supporting Tim V’s Sham69 at the Borderline off Charing X Road. This is what I live for. Tread lightly round the bloody great hole where the Astoria, Enterprise Studios et al used to be and join us for the first gig since we got back from the USA.
Ticket info and other stuff at : Click here for an incredibly long facebook link!
Planes, Vans and Hippos : Menace in the USA
26 October 2015
Ah! Heathrow, waiting for Noel, Finn and Harv. Every minute I’ve ever spent at Heathrow is a minute of life down the drain. But eight hours later, though that’s eight hours of being crammed into a bloody toothpaste tube and propelled across the Atlantic, we’re in Brooklyn! Enough complaining, time to wake up, Menace are in the U. S. of A!
Down to the guitar shop on the excuse I need some picks. Actually I know from last time they have some real gems in there, but they know their value, so only looking. Finn and Harv have the same idea and the same conclusion.
The place, The Grand Victory, is beginning to fill up, not bad for a Thursday night. Locals ‘Under Fascist Control’ do their thing, followed by ‘Breaking Sounds’. I’m wondering if this crowd is just here for these guys and girls, it just seems to be one big gang. Our tour mates The Clap, up from Philadelphia, play… people are still here, that’s a relief!
Well here we go, shades on (poser? They’re prescription! I can see bugger all without them), spare picks in pocket and “One Two One Two…”; the mosh is on!
Can’t remember too much except one mosher almost coming a cropper on the breeze block holding the drum kit in place; Harv (2nd gig after one rehearsal) giving me that “what chord?” look during one of Finn’s solos; and Finn splitting his lip on a manic microphone. Beer time! Thanks to Spencer for promoting this one.
L-R: Spencer, explaining to Finn they don’t serve water; Harvey; Finn; Mike; Noel
Art, The Clap’s guitarist, drives through the night to the hotel. Oh! The irony, it’s in Danbury, named for a place a few miles from where I live. Up with the lark (like hell) and Art is back at the wheel and we’re off to Boston. The trees are on the turn, and I know it is a cliché, but the colours are fantastic. We stop off at historic fishing port. Passing a school party: “That man’s got orange hair!”; Yep, that’ll be The Clap’s Johnnie; old punks are still revolting. (Cheap joke)
The Boston gig is in the basement of an Elk lodge. I’m getting visions of the Fred and Barney on the rampage in moose antler hats. However it seems I have a small mind, on the wall is the lodge president’s picture, she is African-American.
Just jamming: Harv and Mike
I’m jet lagged and crawl off to the van for a kip. I’m woken up by (I think) Noel saying ‘The Clap’ are on, so I’m afraid I missed everyone else. Harv states I had a good sleep, which roughly translates as “you were snoring like f*ck”.
Seems a Thursday night in Brooklyn is livelier than a Friday night in Boston. Least said about that the better, but we gave all we had and those that came got their money’s worth I’m sure. In the audience, a fan from Swindon, the one in Wiltshire that is.
Then Art, he who never sleeps, drives us back towards NYC and another bland motel, so bland I can’t remember anything to distinguish it from the others.
Back in the van, and the rest of the journey to Philadelphia. Sleep; Wake; Sleep; Wake; Sleep… How does Art keep going.
Right then. Philly as I am constantly reminded by Joe (child name check there) has the most independent breweries in the world, or some tosh like that. Statistics are for mathematicians, beer is for drinking so let’s get on with it.
On the road
First band up are “The Up! Up! Up’s” (I hope I got that right), playing their first gig. They made me smile, I might even have tapped a foot, as near as I get to dancing. And that was a first gig? Next up the Olde Tigers, hardcore punk. Rock hard core I’d say. Then The Clap on home turf and amongst friends.
By now I’ve discovered something called “River Horse”. That’s a hippopotamus right? I’m assuming it’s beer. Noel has discovered the whiskey and Finn is croaking so bad that McCartney wants him to audition. Down to you Harv.
Adrenalin kicks in, Noel and I sharpen up and Finn finds a voice from somewhere and it’s into overdrive. The crowd follow. Mike from the Clap is making obscene gestures at Noel continuing a conversation they were engaged in before kick off apparently. We hurtle through the set and the crowd hurtle through each other. Art plays guitar on the Young Ones (in between recording the entire thing : https://youtu.be/GYbzBPkY18M ) and it’s back to the hippos. And here my story for the day ends… the hippos won.
The day starts on the floor of Art’s basement with a hangover. People are concerned for my well-being. Oh dear, that bad. Art’s family feed us breakfast. They’re not going to be able to get rid of us at this rate. I now feel able to downgrade the hangover to a “fuzzy head”. As a big “Thank You” to Art’s family, Noel, Finn and Harv perform an acoustic C&A, while I mime on an unplugged bass, I’m such a wannabe.
Right, in the van and off to Pittsburgh. It can’t be far it’s in the same state. Wrong. It’s the other side of the state. We hit a breath of snow as we climb over the mountains and it is getting chilly. Why didn’t I pack my flying jacket! Down the other side and it gets warmer though. Harv is going cold turkey as he’s not had a fry up for 5 days. An emergency stop at a Denny’s then, well it’s as near as we are going to get and we need him! Denny’s is well, fast food, but in this case it came in well down the field. Somewhat later than intended we arrive in Pittsburgh and look for the venue, “The Shop”. That could be anything. It turns out to be an old workshop. This show is “all ages”. Fortunately Mike and Art know that means bring your own beer, which they do. I don’t get it, you can turn up with a ruck sack full of cans and drink to your heart’s content with no question of proof of age, but they can’t sell the stuff to over 21’s with “all ages” present. But then it’s easy to throw stones when it’s not your glass house.
Pretty short sets from the support bands, this one has to be over by 11pm. On stage, well stage, step perhaps with the audience in your face but we like it like that, and get the drums and mikes re-positioned. Banging through the set and the snare drum is doing just that, banging with no snap. So a snare drum repair interval for Noel to recite “35 Bus”. Indeed the very bus that took me from my house to my girlfriend’s way back then, but her name isn’t Gertrude, it’s Mrs Rob now. Back on with the set, the snare drum lasts a couple of whacks and gives up. Fortunately a support band loner appears. Thanks, can’t be fun seeing Noel whack hell out of your instrument. We finish up and the organisers stretch a rule for a few encore numbers, I guess it was good. I’ve got an awful dry throat. Saved! Off to the bar up the hill, Pittsburgh is doing alright for breweries too.
Well if you ever motor west take my way that’s the highway that is long and interminably boring. It winds all the way from Pittsburgh to Chicago, god knows how miles all the way. Four states in a day! Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Finn and me are bored, the iPod is on random, so a game of first one to name the song and band. Musicians I-Spy. Eventually sleep takes over. And still Art drives on…
Chicago! Near Southside and Reggie’s! An hour to kill so back in the van and off to the pier to peer at Lake Michigan. 180 miles across, and that’s the narrow dimension. It makes the English Channel look like a brook.
Back to Reggie’s and food up. Damn, good beer again, I have a bad feeling about this. Upstairs at Reggie’s its a record shop, open until 11pm. Stashes of brown paper bags full of vinyl now add to the van debris.
I’m pretty wrecked by now and full asleep in a chair by the door. Noel wakes me up, somebody wants some photos. Why does anyone want my photo? There was a reason I was once in a band called The Uglies. I pull my best nasty face for the camera, about as menacing as angry guinea pig. Time to console myself with a little drinkie.
Right. Crank it up to number 11 one more time, overdrive engaged, c’mon Chicago let’s do it! A storming set, Art joins in for the Young Ones. And then an encore… Oh my, ska falls flat in Chicago. Perhaps no-one will remember that bit! We seem to be forgiven, I try to buy more beer but get told “it’s on the me”. Cheers!
One more time then, another Motel, just like all the others.
Your band needs you!
Ah O’Hare airport. Been here before. But for that matter who could tell airports apart if it wasn’t for the variations in language and accents. Manly hugs all round and farewell to Johnnie, Mike and Art of The Clap. They’re on their way back to Ohio for a gig. I hope it went well fellas, you deserve it.
Groan, the airplane is going to be late. And the reason? If it left on time it would arrive at Heathrow before 6am and they can’t land before 6am. This is a daily flight, this must happen most days. Another 45 minutes of trying to find a distraction.
Finally, crammed back in to the toothpaste tube to be squeezed out at Heathrow, after 6am, too many hours later. Tube, train, foot, house, bacon sandwich, and at last, bed.
From under the covers
25 September 2015
Multi-instrumentalist Mick Moriarty on stage with Rob at the Undercover Festival III.
What can I say? On stage with Mick, it doesn’t get any better! Well you may be laughing, but I’m serious. I turned up; drank some cider; stood on stage and showed off; drank some more cider and then got taken home. Mick mortgaged his life and soul to put this event on, and spent 3 days making sure it ran smoothly. And I got the compliments. It’s a shame guilt has no tradable value.
So, Mick and all the crew at Undercover, I salute you, and sincerely hope that you can continue. If you can’t then I think you’ve given far more than enough. Thanks for making my life richer.
(Thanks also to Linda for the photo).
I was going to put some links to Menace@Undercover videos here, but instead here’s a link to the whole event https://youtu.be/DlZecNPtTKY?list=PLY8E6XmCECQ_kYeQmeTXPb4XE6iwZuYDT because it wasn’t just a Menace gig.