Tag Archives: gig

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!  

How many sleeps to… Image #74

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When I was growing up I don’t remember the phrase “How many sleeps until…” being used, but it seems to be everywhere now.  The obvious two countdowns are to Christmas and your next birthday, but it’s also increasingly appearing when adults are looking forward to a big event.

How do I know this? Well, I’m one of those adults using the phrase this year!  A long awaited and much anticipated gig is only 3 sleeps away, but I’m not going to say much about it here until after the event.  Suffice to say that I’m VERY excited about it and, judging by Facebook, I’m not the only one!  We’ve been counting down to this (with a chalkboard in the kitchen) for several months and it’s hard to believe that we’re down to the final couple of days!

So what other things do you get this excited about? Is it going on that dream holiday, or buying a new car, seeing long lost friends, or something else?

I think it’s a good and really healthy thing for “grown ups” to do: get excited about a forthcoming event that is.  It seems to me that we spend so much time and effort doing all the mundane things we have to do, the routine, the normal things, and that we need to have something exciting to look forward to.  And the best thing is – we should let ourselves get excited, lose sleep over it, just enjoy the anticipation and the moment. Who decided that when you grow up you can’t look forward to dreams coming true?

Right, time to get another pesky sleep out of the way, then it’ll only be two to go!

Vintage Sounds – Image #59

I’ve recently joined a new band who play mostly rock ‘n’ roll and pop from the 50s, 60s and a bit of the 70s.  I won’t claim that those are genres that I’m hugely familiar with, though obviously there are quite a lot of songs that I’ve heard and have even played a few with other bands.  Anyhow, when out and about today I happened to be in a music shop –  one that sells CDs and DVDs rather than instruments – and I saw these collections for sale.

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I bought them, as quite a few of the new numbers I have to learn are on them, and I thought that they might give inspiration for some other songs in the future.  Not that we’ll be looking at new numbers for a wee while, as I have quite a few new ones to learn already and our first gig is less than 2 months away!

What songs would you like to hear from those eras if you were out for an evening?  What would make you get up and dance?  Would any make you sing along?  I’m looking forward to playing a few and having a blast!

Hit me with your…earworm? Image #41

OK, so last week I wrote about having an earworm which was all about The Stranglers and JJ Burnel’s basslines in particular.  The only way I could stop it was by playing a lot of their songs and booking tickets to see them next month.  Tonight I’ve just started several earworms off at once.

I went to see The Blockheads at their first gig this year.  It’s fair to say it was an intimate venue, and I was by no means the oldest person in the audience!  Three words to explain the earworms which I know are coming: Norman Watt-Roy.  Much as I love SLF and Ali McMordie’s playing, and JJ Burnel’s basslines for The Stranglers, I’m left in total awe of Norman’s energy, fretwork, speed and accuracy.  As you can see from today’s image, I struggled to get a picture where his hands weren’t a blur!  I do wonder sometimes whether he regrets having written such complicated and beautiful riffs in his youth.

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If you’ve not heard much of The Blockheads (with or without Ian Dury), I can recommend starting off with Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (which has been on my Bucket List of basslines to play and I can’t even get close), Sex and Drugs and Rock and RollWhat a Waste and Reasons to be Cheerful.  Those and others are going to be rolling round in my head for quite a while I think!

As a band they obviously love what they do, and there’s a lot of interaction between the various members.  There were a couple of hiccups but they dealt with them really well, laughing and joking with each other while continuing to knock out brilliant (and very familiar) tunes.  As Dee said, it’s a bit surreal watching people you’d heard in your teens or even younger, some 30 or more years later, but they were brilliant!

Getting ready to rumble – Image #13

I’m very excited at the moment. I will have band news very shortly, as I’m off to meet some guys about that tomorrow, but in the meantime thought I’d share my two most recent purchases (one is a couple of weeks old, the other about three years ago) as Image #13 of 366 this year.

Top Ibanez Bottom Fender Squier
Top Ibanez
Bottom Fender Squier

The top one is an Ibanez Soundgear, in green with pearl finish along the edges.  It looks awesome, sounds great and it’s lovely to play. I bought it a while back on eBay and am very chuffed with it.  I’ve played quite a few gigs with it and I love the way it shakes the floor!

The bottom one is a Squier Fender Vintage Jazz NT 70 i.e. it looks like a bass from 1970.  I bought it recently from an online store (it took 3 days from order in Germany to delivery in the UK) and I’ve not played it “properly” yet i.e. I’ve not rehearsed or gigged with it yet, but I’m looking forward to doing both soon!

I think I must be part Boov

I have to admit that I’ve taken the phrase in the title image from the file “Home”, where an alien race called the Boov invade Earth.  One of the Boov is called Oh (that’s what everyone says when he appears) and he utters the phrase I’ve “borrowed”.

In many respects I feel that I “fit out”, in terms of what family, friends and  society may expect of me.  Admittedly I also “fit in” or conform to a lot of the norms, such as holding down a job, having a house and mortgage, paying my taxes and bills etc.  But am I “normal”?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  What is “normal”, and who decides what it is?  I don’t have the wife and 2,4 children that Western society expects – though since divorcing my ex I have a new partner and am stepdad to 2 children, so I guess that’s pretty close to conforming?

In the last year I’ve embraced spirituality, and have particularly found peace and purpose in Buddhism.  I’ve started mindful meditation and am trying to practice that every day, along with mindfulness in general. I burn incense every day at home, and can’t seem to pass a shop selling the stuff without buying some.  I guess that the upshot of all that is that I’m trying to slow down, to get off the rollercoaster of life and to enjoy every moment. It strikes me that this is not a “normal” thing to do and that it’s perhaps one way in which I fit out.

I’m also looking to spend some of my spare time volunteering or helping others in some way.  I’ve read somewhere that there are over 20 million volunteers in the UK – that’s about 1 in 7 of the population, so maybe that’s more like fitting in, but in the circles I’ve moved in in the past it’s definitely fitting out.  It’s all a bit daunting, but I’m looking forward to it too.

Again, in the circles I used to move in, with the friends I had with my ex, alcohol played quite a significant part.  Not only have a I cut down drastically on my intake over the last year, I’ve signed up to give up alcohol completely for all of January.  This is definitely not “normal” in my experience, and the last time I had two alcohol free weeks was when climbing Kilimanjaro several years ago.  (It’s going well though, thanks for asking.)

At the ripe old age of nearly 50 I’ve joined a band playing music from the 50s-70s, rock and roll as it should be.  This is a bit of a departure from playing in an originals heavy rock band (which was probably more fitting out than the new band) but it’s still a bit of an odd thing to do for someone my age I think.  Too old to be trendy but too young to be vintage!

Then there’s the type of music I listen to.  I’m still going to see my favourite punk bands from when I was a teenager (I’m so glad they’re still going / still alive) and there’s a real feeling of togetherness at those gigs.  The rest of the crowd are like me, of a similar age (generally) and I’m guessing all enjoying the gig for the same reasons as me.  But when I was in my teens, that style of music was not mainstream, and we were definitely on the outside looking in.

Do you know what though? I like my new life, I like being me, and I like fitting out.  And I’m not the only one.  Check this out on my partner Dee’s site, Helping You Sparkle.  This is what inspired me to write this post.

 

You ARE worthy

From yesterday’s entry about other blogs, I thought it worthwhile expanding on one of them a little.  I’ve chosen this one because I’ve been undergoing a lot of changes and spent a lot of time in reflection and introspection recently. The post I read talks about things that don’t define your self worth, and I suggested that the number of friends or contacts you have on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn shouldn’t be used as a measure of self worth either.

If you care what other people think you will always be their prisoner

– Lao Tzu

It can be quite exhilarating to get friend requests on various social media sites.  Who doesn’t want to be wanted, to be liked, to be needed?  But if you stop and think about it, how many of these people do you actually know?  How many have you spent time with, talking to, establishing any kind of friendship?

I’ve been in the same boat – probably still am – but every so often I take some time to go through the sites and look at who is there and think about what I really know about them.  LinkedIn is a classic – the number of times I look at it and go “who is that?”, because I added them way back in time when I worked on a specific project for two weeks, and have never seen or heard from them since.  I then go through the process of removing them as friends / contacts.

Facebook can be similar, and here I’m going to be a bit hypocritical: I have people on my friends list that I’ve rarely, if ever, met but I keep them there for one main reason.  I play bass, I want people to come to gigs, so I have some friends on Facebook who organise gigs, some who play in other bands (and therefore might want my band to play with them) and some friends who go to a lot of gigs and I want them to come to mine!

No-one can make you feel inferior without your permission

– Eleanor Roosevelt

When I started this course, I stated that I wanted to find out how to build a following, to encourage people to read what I wrote.  That sounds a bit contradictory to what I’ve just said though, doesn’t it?  I’ve found that as I look at reducing my contacts in some sites, I’m now actively trying to expand my contacts elsewhere, through blogging. At first I was writing purely for me, in order to get the thoughts in my head into some semblance of order: now I find that I eagerly seek out new followers and comments from people like you, dear reader, who I may never meet.  What’s that all about?  Is it a case of still wanting to be loved and needed, or is it an inner extrovert pushing their way through?  I guess those are questions only I can answer.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are

– Marilyn Monroe

So, just because you’ve whittled down your friends list to only those you actually know to speak to, who are indeed friends, does that make you a bad person?  Not at all!  You are who you are, be all you can be. You are unique, you are awesome, make the most of all that you are.