Saturday, 22 August 2009

HI-ON SOUTHAMPTON / MAIDSTONE - July 25/26

HI-ON SOUTHAMPTON & MAIDSTONE

July 25 had arrived, and it was time to go back to The Brook! One of my favourite venues on the circuit, this Southampton bastion of rock is always a blast to play with an enthusiastic crowd. This gig would prove no exception. But I race ahead of myself...

After Kettering's head-gear fiasco, I had made a mental note to remember my wig. Packing my bag in the morning before any ablutions had taken place, I suddenly realised that I had NO idea where the bloody hell me syrup was. A frantic scramble around my bombsite of a bedroom resulted in a bigger mess than there was before. Thankfully our blonde friend was found atop the wardrobe. A quick wash later and it was, as they say, in the bag. It was around this time that I looked at my phone (which was on silent - clever, that) and saw that young Nicko "no moon, gay power!" McBrain Jnr had been trying to get in touch. The poor chap had encountered train trouble and was talking about having to go via Cambridge to get to London from Harlow. Several phone-calls later and the sensible lad had found himself a lift to the nearest tube station instead. Good boy. By this time I had already found myself a seat on a train towards Southampton, and arranged to meet our incumbent tub-thumper at Southampton Airport Parkway. Sneaky pint time!

Guinness...

So'ton pint

McBrain arrived around 5pm and we were on our way to Das Brook.

Drummer Attached to Phone...

Joe

The train which whisked us towards the closest station to the venue (St. Denys) seemed to have arrived replete with Deceased Passenger. A poor chap across the way from us did not seem to be inhaling, exhaling or otherwise stimulated. "One too many cheese rolls?", I posited on our way off the locomotive. After hardly any walk at all we found ourselves at the venue.

Das Brook

Arriving to find that we had completely missed the load-in (what a shame), I proceeded to set up my gear. After the sweat-drenched Kettering gig a few weeks prior, I had asked Mister Adrian "don't forget yer wig!" Swift if he'd be so kind as to re-string my axe. I'd have done it meself but the guitars venture back to 'Ull with Swifty after each gig. Unfortunately, it had slipped his mind as many things do (the whereabouts of his phone, his glasses, his phone, his passport, his phone...), and I would brave the gig with potentially-breakable strings. Not a massive issue as my back-up guitar had brand new strings 'ponst it. With amp set up and ready to rock, I retired upstairs to the dressing room for a cup of coffee with Bruce "nothing to not drink for" Dugginson. We had a chat about wigs - your humble narrator is getting rather fed up of 'Jenny' (or 'Johnny', if you prefer!) and is in the market for a new rug. Let me know if you've any ideas!

Soundcheck I...

Soundcheck

II

Joe soundcheck

Soundcheck went well, and afterwards some of my cohorts naffed off to Big George's for a vat of chips. My good pal and local progressive rock leg-end Mr Lee Abraham had finally made it to a Hi-On gig at The Brook. An absolute joy catching up with you sir! After a cheeky pint with Lee it was time to wig up and get going. No Eddie tonight sadly - he was busy terrorizing Germans in a field somewhere!

The gig itself went well. I had several Brown Notes sending my solos spiralling out of control, and thusly didn't enjoy myself very much. Making mistakes is all well and good, but being consistently rubbish all night is not something that's bound to make you feel good!! That said, the performance overall was splendid. Dugginson had an absolute belter, as did the rest of my cohorts. Mr McBrain threw in a couple of interesting fills to keep us on our toes, especially that little unexpected break in the middle of Murders! Highlights of the night for me were The Prisoner, and Rainmaker which we had never played with this line-up before. Speed "womb room" Harris and I had played it previously at some of my very first gigs as Manic Gers back in November 2003, but I don't believe it had been aired since then. Lovely bits from Mr Murray in there! No sound clips from this weekend I'm afraid folks as there were a few technical difficulties with the sound recording we gained on Swifty's trusty minidisc recorder.

After the gig it was time to pack down. Very slowly! I got all me gear squared away and went to join the publican and his crew at the bar. Unfortunately missing the load-out (honest, when I turned around all the gear was gone off the stage.........), I had a good ol' chat to Bryn and the other charming folks of The Brook (including sound man Jake - top job sir). (At least I think it was Jake. It's been two weeks as I write this!). Then it was a two-hour drive back to Manic Towers for a spot of beer and some kip. I jumped in the Harris family bus and sped off with Speed, realising about ten minutes into the journey that I was busting for a piss. The relief at the other end was spectacular!

I awoke the next morning to be greeted with the news that I was now an uncle. I celebrated this with a yawn, an expulsion of gas and a cup of coffee. Once the rest of the lads were awake we ambled down into Dartford town for a slap-up breakfast. Poor Swifty couldn't quite manage his, and he was somewhat bloated for the return journey. In order to avoid him destroying the lav at Manic Towers I suggested a cheeky pint in one of my local watering holes. A pint of wonderous ale in the back garden of The Royal Oak was in order, followed by another in the Rose & Crown at the top of the hill. Whilst Swifty, Dugginson and I supped on our ale, Messrs Harris and McBrain chucked sharp things at a coloured circle.

Jim Bowen just out of shot...

Witless Darts

A Swift pint

Swift pint

Upon returning we had a butchers at Flight 666, which I had not seen yet. Highly enjoyable, with McBrain Jnr shouting out the names of just about everybody in it! In no time at all it was 5pm and time to roll out to Maidenstone. Flaming Henry's provided us with a nice gig upon our last visit 2 years ago (check out the diary from that weekend on our forum...somewhere!). The only thing we weren't looking forward to was the upstairs load-in / downstairs load-out. Gritting our teeth we lugged the gear up the stone steps and through the upstairs kitchen towards the concert hall. The public address system looked a little sad, and had apparently been left on all night much to the dismay of the sound-man. As the rest of us wouldn't be mic-ed up, the naff system was causing Mr Dugginson much fluster. It does massively suck knowing that no-one will be able to hear your remarkable talents as a musician. One speaker stack seemed to be working, the other not. The red mist was rising, so I quickly set up and retired to the dressing room not wanting to be Bruce's next victim!!!

Backstage antics I...

Matt and Joe

II...

Photobucket

III...

Clown

IV...

Speed

V...

Swift

VI

Laz

The gig itself was well played by all members, but to a teeny tiny audience. This was the cause of some consternation amongst us Hi-On chaps, as the gig had been rescheduled twice because the venue had apparently not received our posters and thusly couldn't advertise. We arrived to find that they had received our posters, put up a few of their own and assumed people would just turn up. This was a crying shame as the gig last time had been fairly well attended and received rapturously. Such is life, it seems. My personal diary from the evening sums it up thusly: "Good gig, no audience, shit P.A.". Not a lot more to say, really!

We sat around drinking for roughly three weeks before finally giving into our fate and lugging all the gear back downstairs. Not anyone's idea of fun, but at least the load-out wasn't upstairs. That would be killer. Nicko went home with his mother and Mr Harris bid us farewell at the base of the stairs. Swifty, Duggan and I buggered off back to mine and enjoyed a Pink Floyd DVD with some beer before turning in for the night.

That's it from us until September, which sees us doing a mini-tour of Yorkshire. Looking forward to some nice views and some even nicer beer!

Til then, up the irons!

Dave "Uncle Manic" Hurry

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