Saturday night and we’re booked to play at the Barley Mow in Wellington, Somerset. Nice to play not only outside of Plymouth but outside of Devon. Geoff Barker had announced the gig on his rock n roll radio show on the BBC, and was even kind enough to play a track of our CD.
I arrive about 6.30pm, and a poster on the window is advertising the gig. It’s always nice to find a poster for the gig you’re playing, it kind of makes you feel welcome. When there’s no poster, you wonder if they’ve forgotten you’re coming. Mark and Lorrine run the pub, and it seemed a nice friendly place. While Mark rarranges the tables and the pool table I lug my stuff in and wait for the others.
As I stack my stuff in the corner, a guy sitting at a table asks for a CD. We have about 5 left, so he buys one. We haven’t even played yet, but he heard us on Geoff’s radio program and travelled over from Okehampton. I am impressed. Humbled, in fact. I’ve also never sold a CD BEFORE we’ve played, so I’m also hoping he doesn’t ask for his money back afterwards.
Adam and Tony turn up about half an hour later. Adam looks fantastic all in black with a smart looking jacket. They discover the skittles alley out the back so we all marvel at that for a bit. Eventually we drag ourselves from the 18th century entertainment to set up and check everything works. It does sound good, I must say. Tony’s playing with Hot Rods as the room is pretty small with a low ceiling and we’re keeping the volume down. We chill out and wait for birthday boy Gareth to arrive.
We go on at 9pm. The place is reasonably busy and we ease them in with Penetration, so to speak. It’s always odd playing a new venue when you’re an instrumental band, but everyone got into it and we got a very warm reception. I’m liking this place. In the first set I put a choice halfway through – Wet Zoot or Hawaii 5-0. We’d only worked out an arrangement for Hawaii 5-0 about a week before and never tried it live, so we chickened out and played Wet Zoot instead.
The first set was over surprsingly quickly, so I wished Birthday Boy Gareth a happy birthday, and he wandered on to the dance floor next to me. I suddenly realise he’s expecting us to play happy birthday…. “We’re not going to sing Happy Birthday, I’m afraid”, so we launch into Wipeout. Gareth starts to dance and the whole place starts cheering. He’s fantastic. A couple of his mates join in, and Reese bounces onto the dance floor as well. If someone is dancing, we keep going. And going, it turns out. I look at Gareth and then look at Tony – which will give out first, Gareth’s legs or Tony’s arms? We wind the song up to finish the set – what a great start! The bloke from Okehampton buys another CD ‘for my brother’, and another guy is insisting we should play WellyFest.
It’s turning out to be a great night and we mingle with everyone, people have come from Chard and Weston Super Mare after hearing Geoff’s radio show, so big thanks to him, and to those guys that made the effort to come and see us. One guy popped in on his way to buying a takeaway and stayed for most of the show, disappearing eventually in the second set to feed his starving family.
Time to start Set 2. This one is a bit more… noisier, but it seems to fit with the crowd who are rather more lubricated. Birthday Boy Gareth wanders up and asks for some requests, but sadly they are all Shadows numbers and we don’t know any at all. I give him a few lei’s that Tony luckily bought and he wanders back to his mates with Journey to the Stars echoing around the room. We wind the show up with Misirlou (after a false start) which was very popular and there are calls for more when we finish. More? We don’t have any more, only… only… Hawaii 5-0. We go for it anyway. We play it pretty competently, considering, just lacking a bit of confidence as we feel our way through it. But it goes well, goes down well, and we’re finished. Book ’em Dano!
When we play a good gig, it usually leaves behind a fantastic atmosphere, crackling with energy and full of smiling people. This is definitley the case here, a happy drunken Birthday Boy Gareth and his friendly mates. We pack up and head out into the rain for the drive back to Plymouth. Thanks to Lorraine, Mark and everyone at The Barley Mow, what a great night we had!
Thanks to our great audience at The Barley Mow for some epic dancing – a great atmosphere for our first gig at this lovely pub!
Posted by The Waterboarders on Monday, February 19, 2018
The schoolboy band were called White Noise, a four piece band and their first gig. Good name for a band. The crowd was sparse this early in the evening, but a couple of proud mums with moist eyes were present. White Noise play a few punky standards, such as Teenage Kicks – the singer relying on his phone for the lyrics implied they may not have rehearsed these particular songs much. Then they play one of their own songs and that was much improved – a lot more confidence, a bit more swagger and the song wasn’t bad either. Dave and I were pretty impressed by the drummer.
So then we were next on. A quick set up, a quick tune up and we’re ready to start bang on time. It’s a half hour set so we play all the favourites and have a bold stab at Tainted Love, which looks like it’s heading towards being named Tainted Body Glove (other multi national surf brands are available). It was better than the first time we played it, just. We wrap up on a nice noisey one, and even play a quick Wipeout after yells for more (Thanks to Muddy’s daughter who supplied most of the yells, I think).
So then it was SeeYellow who sound so much better when you can hear Lamby Pie’s guitar. They played a good set, and the songs seem to be settling down to become nice little nuggets that together form a nice little pot of aural pleasure.
Then it was Eastfield. By now the pub was very busy with a crowd that were definitely ready for this awesome loco obsessed band. Jessi and gang never fail to have a good time, and neither do we, bouncing around to the same three chords somwhow assembled into catchy classic punk rock. Faredodging at the beginning and Henry Jackson at the end is my kind of set.
Thanks to Yot, Dan, and all the bands who played for making this a fun night.
We were on at 10pm, third on the bill.
The junction is a decent sized venue by Plymouth standards, and in the past I’ve used the massive showman amp which is my favourite amp, but louder than anything. I thought I’d play it this time, except when I tested it the morning before it was making an unpleasant and worrying pulsing hum. Then I remembered it was doing this last time I used it, and while I was weighing up the probability of Showman failure I noticed the ON light was flickering. That’s definitely not good, so I put the cover back on and eyed the tiny Music Man in the corner. Would that be enough? Yeah, I’m sure there’s a spare cab to plug it into.
I eventually got to the venue at 9pm, ready and looking forward to it. We’d played really well at our last two gigs and I like playing at this place. The band before were ending their set, and then we’re on. Well, Tony and Adam are on, I’m standing and watching the last guitarist packing away his stuff. Again. Slowly coiling his leads and packing away his pedals, his guitar still on it’s stand, and amp still plugged in. Eventually he gets off, and I have less than 5 minutes to set up, tune up and sound check.
The spare cab turned out to be 16 ohm and incompatible with my amp which needs 8 ohm. Ho hum, so I’ll play with the Music Man through it’s small and allegedly powerful 10 inch speaker. I turn it up a bit more just to be sure.
We’re set up and ready, and off we go. Snakes alive my amp is loud! It sounds amazing. We start off and get the first couple of songs out of the way. Then we play Moon Over Milford, a slowish paced song and the sparkle seems to go out of the show.
If there’s one way to put me off, it’s to get the biggest guy in the place to dress up in a tie die matching two piece and stand him right in front of me with his arms folded. I try to focus on the dancing girls behind, but he’s quite a dominating presence. My concentration can’t cope with being in two places at once. We start a new song we learned two days before – a version of Tainted Love, and that was definitley wonky. Listening to the recording afterwards, it’s even worse than I remember. I can’t remember the beginning so Adam starts. I join in with Adam but out of time ( I can’t hear him well), then Tony who can’t hear anything joins in in the wrong placce as well. S P E C T A C U L A R. By the time we get to the end first verse it’s sorted itself out and we’ve all landed at the right point. It sort of sounded OK by the end, but the ropiest start ever. Tony reminds me that playing it two days before is not the same as practicing it…
The last third of the set picks up again, but I notice there is no action on my bottom E string above the 8th fret. This is going to make playing Tailspin and Misirlow interesting. I also remember that I’ve completely forgotton how to play the Ever Fallen In? medley bit in the middle of Miserlou and figure I’ll just wing it when the time comes. The bottom E string just goes clank clank clank as expected while I try to wring some kind of musical note out of it, and the Ever Fallen In section relies on musical muscle memory.
We finish to applause and some cheers and I announce the raffle as requested. Even we can’t be upstaged by a raffle…
We’re on first, so we set up and are ready to go in minutes. It’s back to one of our typical sets this time and open with Link Wray’s Raw Hide. Adam picks up Pipeline and we’re off. We showcase a new number – a random cover of Sliced Tomatoes by the Random Brothers. Not sure how that goes down but we rock on regardless. Justin honours us with some dance moves and someone’s mother tells us how good we are. The room stays packed and it seems everyone is having a good time. We play one of the best gigs we’ve played in years. Even the PA stays on, which is nice.
We wrap up the show and make way for the evening’s surprise guest, Muddy’s daughter. She serenades us with some frantic guitar playing and extravagant cursing before Breakout take to the stage. Short on time they put in a solid show leaving people smiling. Happy Birthday Muddy. See you next year.
If there’s one thing we’re good at, it setting up quick. Unless, off course the band before take an age to pack up. One member wanders around questioning if anyone has seen his phone, another doesn’t seem to be doing anything but manages to knock my guitar over in the process. We’re pretty much ready to go and there’s still an amplifier in the middle of us, and an effects board the size of an ironing board where I’m hoping to stand. The amp gets pushed out of the way, the effects board disappears, I care not where and we’re ready to go. Then matey turns up trying to retrieve his extension lead, which appears to run under the mat that Tony’s kit is sitting on. Tony informs him that it may be somewhat inconvenient to get it right now, since we’re about to actually start playing, and matey mooches off.
It’s Adam’s birthday so he chose the set list. This explains why we start with a Johnny Cash medley. It’s not one of the ‘wake em up with a bang’ starts we usually do – Tony starts playing a country/rockabilly/surf beat, Adam joins in, then I pick a moment and dive in. It was like a steam train pulling out of the station. All aboard the surf beat express. The train picks up speed, piles on the power and people are tapping and clapping, and by the end of the set there is some unrestrained dancing in the middle ranks.
The beauty of being in a surf band is that if you can hear the drums guitar and bass, then we’ve got a show. we don’t need much of a PA. So someone turned it off. We do need a PA to announce songs, banter with the audience, and say hi. Then someone kindly turned it on, which was nice, but then it was turned off again, so I resorted to yelling the songs out. Sorry to anyone at the back that had no idea what was going on.
We squeeze as much of our set into our reduced time slot as we can, and, it must be said, we played pretty damn well. In fact this is one of the best we’ve played for some time. It’s a good show to watch as well – Adam’s up front and showing off, and I hardly made any mistakes. What a great gig!