It’s time for another solo tale of musical woe from our guitarist, Ritchie.
Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.
Date: The longest day of my life.
Venue: A massive field with a cowpat carpet.
Crowd: Hundreds of underage drunks. And a few more cows.
Status Quo once played four gigs in one day. Def Leppard played three gigs in three continents in the same day. It’s a rock’n’roll tradition and a badge of honour to be popular enough to have to lug all your gear from one place to another and set it up more than once in the space of 24 hours. I’m guessing Quo and Leppard didn’t have to lug all the gear themselves, and probably travelled in aeroplanes rather than Rover Metros, but on the day in question, this was our equivalent of the badge of honour.
The first show we played was ok. It was nothing amazingly special and playing at 2pm didn’t really bring out the best in either us or the crowd. The show was at my old college but it had been long enough since I’d left that there were neither lecturers nor students who I still knew. I couldn’t really show them what a rock god I’d become after they had said I’d amount to nothing. Which was quite good because my hangover was still gracing me with its presence and I forgot how to play an F sharp minor during an important part of one of our songs. I definitely did not feel like a rock god and I was pleased that no one I knew was there. There were a couple of guys who seemed to like us and bought two of our highly unpopular t-shirts which meant we didn’t have to chip in for petrol ourselves. They bought them on the condition they could have a photo taken with us which I still have to this day. A photo of the four of us and two random guys whose names have long gone from my memory.
To get to the second gig, we packed all of our gear and band members into the aforementioned Rover Metro and journeyed out into the countryside. We saw a lot of the countryside. Not because it was such a long way but because Graham is poor at navigating. To be fair to him, it wasn’t entirely his fault because the directions we’d been given were effectively “Go to this village. Look for signs to my festival.”
Our excitement at playing our first festival died down somewhat when we realised that it was just in a random field in the middle of Nowheresville. Some posh kid with rich parents who had decided to put on a festival for his birthday. It was a far cry from playing Download.
I’m sure 90% of the kids there didn’t know/like the kid organising the festival, but were there for either the free booze that he’d put on, the opportunity to meet humans of whichever sex or sexes they were attracted to and the general promiscuous nature of any teenage party.
We were due to be playing at 11pm which we had assumed would be the headline spot, however we discovered that there were actually 3 bands after us with the show due to finish at midnight. It was obvious that this kid had never put on a show before. A fact that was reinforced as he seemed to come tell us every 5 minutes that our stage time had been pushed back.
It’s not very punk to admit it, but 11pm is actually my bedtime. My adrenaline will usually kick in and allow me to play a set but if I’m at home, I’m usually half-way to dreamland long before Cinderella ever needs to think about leaving the ball.
The rest of the band spent the extra time we had to wait before our set wisely – consuming large quantities of the free alcohol and interacting with some of the humans of whichever sex or sexes they were attracted to. I, being the designated grown up and therefore the designated driver, was unable to consume any of the free alcohol and instead spent the extra time unwisely having a long forgotten argument with a long forgotten girlfriend.
The result of both of these is that by the time we finally got on stage at 3pm, I was full of tiredness and anger which I took out all out on my poor defenceless guitar.
Sometimes going on stage to bash out your anger can lead to a worst musical performance than the early stages of some crappy reality TV show. Sometimes it can be pure 24 carat musical gold. Fortunately, this time was one of the latter. Or at least it was as golden as three chords and the truth can ever be.
The rest of the band are buzzing as well and this set is one of the best we have played in a long time. The receptive crowd of the drunken horny teenagers also helps and Graham fulfils a lifelong ambition of getting the entire crowd to sit down and then jump up when the song kicks in fully.
The kid whose party it is tells us we’ve got one more song. My punk roots kick in. I’m up way past my bedtime and I’m having a blast. I want to keep playing forever. Whilst I know that’s not possible, I know I can elongate the experience slightly. I tell Graham to tell the crowd our time is running out and ask them if they want one more song or two more songs.
Obviously in their inebriated state they decide they want two more. We play two more. This is the most I’ve ever felt like a rock star.