Week 13 – TBT 2017 – She Sells Sanctuary

A long time ago, in a country far far away – well, Scotland – my girlfriend at the time persuaded me to go with her to see Big Country. In those days it was pretty much the law that if you were Scottish you had to love Big Country: I didn’t (but do now). I couldn’t see the big deal with them, but went along to keep her happy, and of course I was glad to be going to see live music. Two bus loads of fans went up from our area, and the pre-gig anticipation was huge. 

The gig came and went, and a good time was had by all. I even enjoyed Big Country. However, I upset a fair few people on the bus on the way home by insisting that the support act had been much better than Big Country. They’d had me up dancing for most of their set, which didn’t really happen in those days. It was almost seen as uncool to like the support band at all. 

A few weeks later, the support act were on music shows and the radio across the UK with their debut single, and this week’s TBT is it. She Sells Sanctuary was released not long after the band changed lineups and name from The Death Cult – and prior to that they’d been The Southern Death Cult. They’d been kind of goth / indie but became much more mainstream, eventually morphing into a great rock band. They’re one of my go to bands if I just want some good honest rock and roll. 

Two minor interesting facts about this song:

  1. It’s the first one I learned to play on bass by ear – the notes came to me while listening to it in my car
  2. The drummer in the video is none other than Mark Brzezicki of a Big Country! 

I would have played the Long Version, but there’s no video for it. Chill and enjoy! 

She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult

How long does it take to recover?

In my TBT post last week I said I was going to see SLF in Glasgow.  Normally that would be the end of it, but I felt that I had to write today, just over a week later, to describe the night.  I’ve been to countless gigs, and have lost count also of the number of times I’ve seen SLF, though it’ll be in the teens or early twenties I think.  This gig was different though. Read on to find out why. 


I’m going to gloss over the travelling I’d done to get there, and will even skip the pre-gig auction run by fans which raised over £3000 for charity.  

I met my friend S at the auction, and when we were ready we headed along the road towards the legendary Barrowlands Ballrooms, affectionately known as “The Barras”. Stopping en route for haggis and chips washed down with Irn Bru (I’m in Glasgow, remember, and nothing could be more Scottish than deep fried haggis with a sugary drink), we met up with S’s friend M, then carried on the remaining 5 minutes or so to The Barras.  It had been raining, the streets were wet, and all around were quite merry Glaswegians celebrating St Patrick’s Day.  (The only reason I can think of why St Patrick’s is supported more enthusiastically than the other patron saints is his recent association with Guinness and drinking in general.)

We joined the queue to get in, which seemed to move quite quickly, and before we knew it we were upstairs, coats checked in and souvenirs bought from the merchandise stall.  So, upstairs again and into the ballroom itself.  With its low ceiling and sprung floor, and quite a few fans in already it seemed like the place was buzzing.  So far so normal really, but the first change for me was having a beer while waiting for the support act to come on. 

Theatre of Hate were the support this year, SLF’s 40 Anniversary year, and I think probably the second or third time I’d seen them.  I’m not a massive fan, but it’s always good to see and hear musicians at their craft.  We stood maybe 15 yards from the stage, just right of centre, and had a good view of the proceedings. 

After Theatre of Hate had done their thing, it was time for the stage to get cleared of their stuff and SLF’s to be made ready.  It was the first time I’d seen them since their legendary roadie / guitar tech Andy Scott had gone off to get a “real” job, and felt a little odd.  As the time for SLF to come on drew nearer, we gravitated more to the front.  My friend S managed to get a place right on the barrier, M and I were just behind. 

The lights dimmed, the band’s instrumental Go For It blared out, and the 2000+ people in the event behind me suddenly seemed to want to be in front of me as the band took the stage.  For the next 90 minutes or so, there was a mix of total concentration on the music and performance in front of me, while jostling for position and pushing back against the hordes – including those in the mosh pit which was effectively immediately behind me.  

There had been a spate of thefts of phones etc last year, so I took the precaution of having my wallet and phone in one front pocket, and I held on to them with one hand for the duration of the gig. My other hand was on the shoulder of the person in front – whoever that was.  At the start of the gig M and I were about 4 rows from the front, by the end he had moved to one side and I’d got right behind S and so was only 2 rows from the front.  It’s the first time I’ve been so close at such a big gig. 

I’m a big bloke – over 6ft – and I did feel a bit for those who were behind me and couldn’t see. Particularly one lady who appeared to be well under 5ft – her head didn’t reach my shoulder blades – who towards the end of the gig had to be pulled out of the crowd by security guards as she struggled to breathe in the crush.  I also had a fair few people ask if they could get past to take photos, and I’m afraid I developed a sort of “if you wanted photos that much, you should have got here early to be at the front” attitude. That’s not particularly charitable I know, but if I’d let one past, before I knew it I’d be standing at the back.  Unusually for me, I had the beginnings of cramp in both calves at different times during the gig.

After two blistering encores, the gig finished and, after collecting our coats we emerged into the chilly, damp, Glasgow night. Tshirts and jeans wringing wet due to sweat, we felt the cold air and drops of rain keenly as we headed back into town, the others for their trains and me to the hotel.  

I had the usual side effects on the Saturday and Sunday, which gradually left me completely by Monday, namely ringing in my ears and partial deafness.  I was quite surprised that I didn’t have any bruises or knocks.  What I hadn’t bargained on was the effect of pushing back against that mass of people for so long.  On the Saturday my calves were particularly tight, which meant that whenever I stood up I had to pause, straighten my legs, and hobble slowly along. Dee was walking way quicker than me – and that doesn’t normally happen! (She hadn’t come to the gig, but was waiting at the hotel for me.)

Sunday was the real day of reckoning!  My calves had tightened to the extent that I pretty much could not straighten my legs other than very slowly.  I was reduced to walking on tiptoes – I’d probably have been more comfortable wearing high heels.  I was dreading the flight back home, but was actually able to get up and out of my seat and down the stairs reasonably well.  

As the week has gone by, I’ve learned that a) running with tight calves doesn’t help you get better and b) taking stairs two at a time with tight calves is also a really bad thing! Here I am, 8 days after the gig, and it’s the first day my legs have felt normal.  I have never felt so injured for so long after a gig. 

The question remains though – would I do it again?  Absolutely! Being in the heart of that melee made the gig even better than it probably was for those at the back!  

Week 12 – TBT 2017 – Pump It Up

Ok, I have to confess that I love the baseline on this. I’ve tried playing it a number of times and just one bit causes me to struggle. I’m not aware of having heard it before SLF played it as an encore, but I must have done. It’s perhaps not as well known as some of Elvis Costello’s other work, but I think it’s a great tune. Doesn’t the video look pretty dated though? 

Pump It Up – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Week 11 – TBT 2017 – Johnny Was

Tomorrow night, St Patrick’s Day, I’ll be in Glasgow watching Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) play their 26th consecutive year at the same venue on the same night. I was there last year for their 25th, and am making the journey again this year as it’s part of their 40th Anniversary tour. It stands to reason that this week’s choice should be the first of their songs I ever heard, from the first album of theirs I ever heard: the band was 3 years old by then, and have been my favourite ever since. 

Johnny Was is actually a Bob Marley track, and this version comes from the live album Hanx! To my mind, this is probably still the best live album, by any band, ever. At the time I listened to it, I wanted to be a drummer. This track was the first on Side 2 of the cassette (remember them?), which I’d borrowed from a classmate as I was going to see this band at only my second ever gig. Turn the volume up, dim the lights, and see if you can figure out why a wannabe drummer would love this, and why a fully fledged bass player would still rank this as one of his favourite tracks ever. 

Johnny Was – Stiff Little Fingers

Is it a good time to call?

Back in the days before mobiles, texts and such like, nearly as far back as 2 channels and black and white TV, I was raised to believe that phoning someone after say 9pm or before about 8am was intrusive and rude. Worse, it typically signified bad news: the death of or critical injury to someone close.

I know that if I get a call out of those “normal” hours, I get quite anxious, fearing the worst.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it feels quite stressful until I answer the call.  


When staying in hotels, I’m always surprised when I hear phones going off in other rooms at all hours of the night. Does it mean that the participants are on different sides of the world? Or insomniacs? Or just need very little sleep?  The fact that I hear the phone ringing is enough to wake me and disturb my sleep, which is rude enough.

Whenever I’m away from home Dee and I talk regularly, but are very cognisant of the time difference. We speak and message just after we’re both awake, and just before we go to sleep, as well as at other times when we know we’re both awake. We have two clocks in the house, one showing UK time and one for the time zone wherever I am.  That way we can maintain as normal a conversation and dialogue as possible, without disrupting sleep.  It’s one way that we stay connected, that we maintain our close relationship, that we stay together.  Services like Skype and FaceTime also help with staying close, which has to be a good thing, right?  

Just because the world is an increasingly connected place, does that mean people should call whenever they feel like it, irrespective of time? Isn’t some down time, away from technology, a good thing, a desirable thing? If there was some way of setting your phone to not receive or make calls between certain hours, would that be a useful feature? 

I’m guilty of spending too much time with technology too sometimes, sitting with a really good book in one hand but distracted by the glowing screen of my phone in the other. I need to physically say to myself “put the phone down and read your book” but the temptations and distractions are huge. 

Maybe I’m getting older, and losing touch with how these barriers have shifted. If that’s the case, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to convince me that removing the social norm around phone calls is a good thing.  

Week 10 – TBT 2017 – Burn It To The Ground

This will be the first TBT post that I’ve published this year where Dee and I are apart on the day, so I thought I’d let her know I’m thinking of her by posting one of the songs we listened to a lot when we first got together. Rather strangely, neither of us are massive Nickelback fans, but this track just seemed to click with us.  

So, Dee, listen to this and know that I’m thinking of you and missing you. I love you x

Burn It To The Ground – Nickelback

Week 9 – TBT 2017 – Mahna Mahna

Do you ever have a moment when you just want to sit back and listen something silly? When I do, this is one of the songs I reach for. I’m always amazed when people come up with classics like this. I mean, where do ideas like this come from? I may have a slightly odd sense of humour sometimes but this is just brilliant. Stadtler and Waldorf just finish it off nicely at the end…

Mahna Mahna – The Muppets