Sunday 26 February 2012

Blast From The Past - CARPATHIA - The Unicorn, Camden - 27 January 2012

Working hard at rehearsal...

Can it be that I've now "blogged" 3 weeks in a row? Great googly moogly.

Around this time last year, I went out for a drink with some fine upstanding young gentlefolk with whom I attended university. Thomas "where's me capo?" Sullivan and Tom "how does this all go together again?" Atherton were a couple of years below me in age, but their work ethic was rather more spectacularly advanced than my own. I had once been told I was a lazy academic and would forever be an "underachiever", so I took that wonderfully positive thought and ran with it, blossoming into the high-potential, low-output twonk that many of you have come to know and tolerate (fret not, I have since shirked that limiting belief and become all hippified and self-aware - still a twonk sometimes, though!). No such words could be used to describe these two; both were dedicated, committed and driven to achieve everything they could in music. I nicked Athers to play the drums for me during my last year, and developed a very comfortable musical rapport. Sadly, at the end of my third year of university I went back down south and continued to do, well, very little on the whole, while they stayed in the sunny Midlands and honed their composition, performance and teaching skills.

When I learned that the chaps had moved to Norf Laandan, I was delighted at the opportunity to catch up. I soon found myself, Guinness in hand, merrily catching up with the lads in a pub just by Tufnell Park tube station. I was soon invited to go and stand outside (so Sully could get some fresh smoke in his lungs), and before I could say "they're bad for you, you know?", I'd been asked to join their band, Carpathia, as keyboard player and additional percussion / guitar / whatever-else-needed-doing. I've never been very good at saying "No" to joining bands, so of course I agreed. A year of sporadic rehearsals followed while Sully wrote, recorded and notated, and eventually there was a gig in the book.

Even Ziltoid needs to rehearse...

And so it came to pass that my first gig of 2012 would not be with Hi-On Maiden, as is usually the case. I found myself wandering up Leighton Road with keyboard and stand in tow on a grey January Monday about to embark on a career as a keyboard player.

Readers of my past gig diaries may have noticed a pattern emerging. Just as I'm about to leave, or as I've just left, I will invariably get a telephone call from Adrian "chortle" Swift who's left something behind and needs me to nip to a shop and pick up a replacement. It came as a reassuring surprise, then, to hear my phone chirping away and find it was Sully asking me to bring along a couple of things which had failed to find their way into his gig bag. Textbook.

Sully eyes up some talent in the front row...

Arriving at The Unicorn, I remembered that, on the very night I'd agreed to join this band, I had left the boys in Tufnell Park to walk to this very venue to catch the last of Silent Front's set. Ah, the circle closes (ya da ya da). Taking this as a good sign, and combining it with the fact that I'd missed the load-in and all the gear was onstage, it was a very cheery Harrison that headed straight for the bar and bought everyone a drink and a pack of Monster Munch. I'd decided to be deliberately careful in terms of the "state of refreshment" I would allow myself to get into, and limited myself to one or two before going onstage. I can find my way around a guitar after copious amount of alcohol without too much trouble (providing I can still stand up). However, I had no idea what impact it would have on my keyboard skills, and in the interests of avoiding Les Dawson-esque cringe-worthy foul-ups, I erred on the side of caution. I managed to resist the temptation to drink myself silly while we all waited patiently for our beloved drummer, who was trying his best to put the "HMS Atherton" together from photos he'd taken of it all set up. Hah!

After setting up and soundchecking, we settled back to let the support band do their thing and prepared ourselves for the first gig. The boys have been gigging together for years, but Carpathia hadn't been dusted off for a year or so. With myself joining the ranks, and a brand new guitarist in the shape of Paul "Punning hell" Nazarkardeh, it might as well have been a new band. I would have normally been bricking it at this point - I usually get very shaky and nervous before playing keyboards in front of an audience, as opposed to the confidence I have developed in playing guitar and singing for people. However I had managed to relax myself enough in the company of some fine friends who had made the journey to see us, and in no time at all it was gig o'clock. "Doctor, Doctor" rolled out of the P.A. (by my request - after nearly ten years of gigging with an Iron Maiden tribute band, I can't get ready for a gig without hearing that song), we took a breath and walked onstage.

Peter "onion" Mannion looking eeeee-vil...

The set list

Solitary Red
Tearful, Part II
Fallen Angel (King Crimson cover)
Wherever The Silence Dwells
Finding It Hard To Contain

The nearly hour-long set flew past in a flurry of downtuned guitars, electric piano and wilfully ostentatious rock-keyboardist gurning. I had an absolute blast. There were some humorous moments - particularly memorable was the moment I hit one of my drum pads so hard it fell of the stand! - and our intrepid leader Sullivan had a few issues with his MIDI gear which seemed to have lost it's MIDI-mind, but all in all it was a well-performed and well-received set which was worthy of the work that had been put into it. I wasn't quite ready to stop; in fact, I believe my first words to the lads after the show were along the lines of "When's the next one?"

There's talk of a gig in Coventry next month, and all sorts of other plans in the works for this band. I'm quite excited to be a part of it all.

So, when's the next one?

Until next time,

Christopher "got a new theremin sound!" Harrison

First time I've been onstage without a wig in a while...!

PS: Gig photos courtesy of "Metal" Tom Webster. You can read his review of the gig on Thrash Hits by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Great read, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels pushed in a positive way by the Tom's insatiable work ethic! ><