Monday 11 June 2012

CARPATHIA - Boston Arms Music Room, London - 25 May 2012

"What do you mean Mr. Right could be sitting beneath this ad?"

Once upon a time, there were five smelly boys who played some long songs and did some gigs. They were really smelly. Sometimes they smelled so bad, they were forcibly removed from moving vehicles. This is their story. It smells...

Gig number three with extreme progressive metal outfit Carpathia had been in the book for quite a while. This chapter of the tale begins on the searingly hot day prior to the gig, whereupon your humble narrator was lucky enough to stumble out of his Dartford office at the same time as a colleague who just happened to be driving to Boringwood. Huzzah. Perhaps the only time I have ever been relieved to be getting in a car and heading around the M25 to a Watford postcode. This act of kindness landed me in proximity of the rest of the band well within time for our pre-gig rehearsal. 

Tom "it's a bit like one of those magazines where you get to build your own remote control car, or cybernetic pleasure slave..." Atherton was nearly home and very kindly let me into his humble abode (once I'd removed the remnants of Cornetto from my beard) while he went off to teach a youngster how to beat the skins 

[ALERT! ALERT! Smut Detector! Drums. Hit the drums. He went off to teach a youngster how to hit the drums. That's better ]

Once the rest of the band arrived, we set off in the Athers-mobile to the rehearsal studio, where we found Tom "my farts have got a direct line out of my pants" Sullivan already messing about with guitar sounds.

I haven't got any pictures of the gig, so here's a photo of King Crimson.
Looking as if somebody just farted.

I wasn't feeling particularly rock and / or roll, having done a full day at work and not really eaten anything, so I was glad when the rehearsal went reasonably well and was over relatively quickly, giving Pete "titties of love to you too, sirrah" Mannion and I plenty of time to get back to the station before the last train. There began the adventure - Sully dropped us off, only for us to quickly discover that the station was shut! The reason given was a power outage in the area. Curious, given that the high speed train had just gone past. Ever the man of action, Pete got straight on the dog to Sully and in no time at all we were dropped off at Stanmore tube. I got back to London Bridge in the nick of time to get home for some kip before getting up for work again the next morning. It's a hard life.

I couldn't get out of work for the Friday morning due to some poor scheduling on my part, although my afternoon was clear. As such I found myself at the venue before anyone else, even the staff, had arrived. I took this as a sign from Dog that I needed a pint, so off I went to the Aces & Eights bar across the street (after deciding that the Boston Arms itself was a bit raucous for me at 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon). When I walked in, I suddenly realised that this was the very establishment in which Tom & Tom had asked me to join the band, some fifteen months previously. Another sign from Dog! 

One pint of the black stuff later, the 'phone rang. The Toms had arrived and the load-in was beginning. As I picked up the first bit of gear I saw Paul "a pair of yellow EYEEEEEES!" Nazarkardeh walking towards us with his Phyrexia band-mate-cum-promoter Elliot in tow. I believe the organisation and promotion of this gig had been a joint production between Elliot and the very lovely Jesel, who had put us on at the Hatfield Forum in March. Paul and Athers would be playing in two consecutive bands on this occasion, which has the added benefit of making changeovers between the two a bit quicker. Paul was a bit worried about whether he'd have enough energy to cope with playing two sets, but as a fellow who frequently plays near 2-hour shows with Hi-On Maiden, I respectfully told him to man up (although I suspect he works a lot harder than I do on stage!).

"7 out of 10, could try harder" - Sully rates the facilities...

As we were the only band to bother to turn up for a soundcheck, we got things rolling with the illustrious sound-man Tony. Everything felt a little bit keyboard-heavy onstage, which is a strange feeling as at rehearsal I'm usually struggling to hear myself somewhat. As a guitarist, I have a bit of control over my onstage volume. Unfortunately, when it comes to keyboards, I have no control, at least for now. Any advice fellow ivory-ticklers reading this blog can provide would be gratefully appreciated. I don't really have the where-withal to lug around my own dedicated monitor!

With the sound well and truly checked we loaded gear off and waited for proceedings to start.. Premature Birth (who, ironically enough, arrived late) got things off to a blinding start, with some brilliantly humorous growled introductions. TrenchHead brought hardcore to the masses, and while they aren't really my thing, they were tremendously good. Both bands had created a wonderful atmosphere, and during the latter's last number I headed to the downstairs store-room to get ready to drag my gear back on-stage. It was time to get it on.

Set list:

Wherever The Silence Dwells intro
Truth Of The Moment
Solitary Red
Tearful, Part II
Finding It Hard To Contain

From the very first note, I knew I was going to have a good gig. The low piano notes with which I enter "Truth..." rumbled the floor (and, in turn, rumbled my 'special place'), and once I was into the main riff organ parts, there was no stopping me. I even added my own little death metal growl to the start of the vocals (wait 'til you see the video...!). The whole number was a great deal of fun, and the rest of the show followed suit. We'd drawn the biggest crowd of the night so far, and we were determined to give them a show. Once again, Paul failed to get over to me for our guitar-keyboard harmony lines at the end of 'Finding It Hard...", this time due to a general lack of space. I am simply going to have to get a key-tar...

...or maybe not...!

That big fat last chord faded away to rapturous applause, we said our farewells and we started to pack down. The very lovely guitarist from TrenchHead came over to express his thorough enjoyment and amusement at the amount I seemed to be throwing myself into the gig - "You looked as if you were living every single note!", said he. I was! 

Once packed down, I found myself a pint and settled in to watch Phyrexia. If I had looked like I was having a good time onstage, I had nothing on those guys. Paul and Elliot were windmilling with admirable aplomb, and the rest of the guys were just as much fun to watch (and indeed listen to). I'm fairly sure all their songs were about dragons. 

Unfortunately I couldn't stick around to check out the headliners Necroriser - this gig was simply on the wrong side of London to stay the course. For the second night in a row, I found myself on the Pisshead Express out of London Bridge. Praises be it was a Friday night with no work the next day!

Look out for videos from the gig to be posted soon on that there Interweb. 

Until next time, lots of love.

Christopher "the concentrated evil of Captain Kangaroo" Harrison

Sunday 10 June 2012

HI-ON SWINDON - 17 May 2012

I've got so many blogs to write, I wasn't quite sure where to start. It's like walking into the bathroom in the morning; do you void your bowels first, or do you break with tradition and clean your gnashers before doing anything else? Or maybe just go straight in the shower, but when you're in there, what gets scrubbed first?

Hash tag: First world problems.

So I thought I'd start with the weekend of 17, 18 & 19 May 2012. This particular foray was one I'd been looking forward to for some time, as it meant visiting two venues which are always highlights for us; not only did we get to visit our fine friends Andy and Tiggy at Riffs Bar, but then it was off to Nijmegen - our home away from home.

Comfort cushions - for those aching bott-botts on the road...

First, the minor problem of getting us all together in one place. Since Steve "we can have a beer now?" Harristopolis joined the ranks, this has been considerably easier. No longer do myself and Nicko "Swindon, I am in you" McBrain Jnr have to trek from railway station to railway station; we merely have to meet the bass player in NW6 and hop in the car. Bostin'. This is even better now he's finally hacked the radio in his second-hand Vauxhall. Rush. Rush, all the way.

Before I'd even left home, however, came the telephone call I always expect, nearly always receive and often dread. Adrian "it won't start" Swift got on the blower to inform me that, no sooner had he picked up the van and stopped for motion lotion, he'd broken down. As starts to the weekend go, it wasn't quite as bad as "Er, we can't get to Guernsey", though it was less than desirable. Thankfully, a short while later I had another call to let me know he was on the road - "We'll be astronomically late, but we'll be there" was the word. With a sigh, I set off to meet the skin-beater.

As I emerged from the exit at Queens Park, some sort of altercation had taken place; there was a blur of tracksuits running off into the distance, accompanied by some colourful language from a young lady left behind. Rather than become embroiled in any criminal investigation, I suggested to Nicko that we move a safe distance away. Thankfully, 'Arry arrived within minutes and we were on our way. An update from Swifty told us that he wasn't even in Leeds yet. Time for an extended junk food break, then.


We arrived at Riffs Bar in plenty of time, and settled ourselves in. I took up residence on the piano with a cup of coffee, and was quickly appointed 'The Doctor' by Andy & Tiggy's little'un, whose beloved doll was suffering from a number of minor injuries requiring my undivided attention. Bless. From then on, it was a long wait for Swift. Punters started to arrive, including my good friend Boba Fett who I have not seen for a number of years. Mr & Mrs Eddie arrived, and the word came that the van would roll up at 8:30pm. "All hands to the pump", said the text message. And it was!

A very beleaguered-looking Adrian Swift wheeled some gear in, with Bruce "Sh*t! Sh*t! Sh*t, and more sh*t! Knackers!" Dugginson in tow. The next fifteen minutes or so were a blur of equipment and noise as we rushed to get the show on. Then it was upstairs to get changed before "Doctor, Doctor" rolled and we were on.

Setlist: (it went something like this...!)

2 Minutes to Midnight
The Trooper
Still Life
Infinite Dreams
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wasted Years
Back In The Village
Run to the Hills
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
22 Acacia Avenue
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Iron Maiden
Fear of the Dark
Bring Your Daughter... ...To The Slaughter
Running Free

The view from the chod.

It was LOUD. And it was good! We had a blast on stage; the relief at finally making it, after what had to have been a frustrating day for Duggers and Swift, was palpable, and the rest of us were just pleased to be back doing what we love doing. Steve The Greek was, once again, an absolute pleasure to share the stage with, and the crowd at Riffs didn't disappoint. Even on a Thursday night, the people of Greatfield know how to rock.

The load out was typically dull apart from one rather memorable moment whereupon I decided I'd be able to manoeuvre the bass cab out the narrow corridor and up the steps by myself. I took a little bit of a waspie, and "Manic's Massive Tumble", as it came to be known, quickly passed into legend.

The original plan for this Thursday had been to get to Swindon, get on, get off, and get back to mine for some kip. It didn't quite happen that way - we arrived at my gaff at 4am, and had to be up in around 2 hours. It was a sad sight; watching these poor, beaten troopers stumble, zombie-like, into my flat. Nicko wasted no time making sure he laid claim to the one available bed, with the rest relegated to the floors of Manic Towers.

On to Nijmegen!!!!zzzzzzzzzzz

In Part Two, beer is drunk!

Dave "didn't say anything good enough for a diary nickname, but fell over once or twice" Hurry