Monday, September 26, 2016

The Last Post: high-flying reflections

Photo:Heather Bevan-Hunt
Tour highlights:
  • Hanging out with the guys, playing music and having a great time
  • Chaos at Mr Scurf's place!
  • An unexpectedly amazing gig at Luna in Leytonstone
  • Having a beer in Govan
  • A dozen t-shirts
  • The Italian feed at Cucina Rustica in Birmingham
  • Chatting with Chris Farlowe and Cliff Bennett after our gig at the Retro Festival
  • Glamping
  • Friday night at The Scotia
  • Meeting John from The Zips in Glasgow
  • Seeing Secret Affair up close
  • The fab folks from Radio Caroline
  • Take-away and beer in the sun, with the boys out the back in Cambridge
  • Appearing on BBC West Midlands
  • Seeing The Waterboys, Justin Currie and Lloyd Cole in concert
  • Making new friends at our first gig at The Cluny
  • Proper beer
  • All the lovely people we met on our travels
  • Playing at The Fiddler's Elbow, with various Dexys looking on
  • Feasting at The India Club
  • Watching Nick Parker and The False Alarms do their thing at Lakefest
  • Buying a £2.50 tambourine in a Leytonstone charity shop
  • Friendly policemen
  • Live to air on Sunny Govan
  • Meeting Steve Daggett at The Cluny
  • Getting to play at four proper festivals
  • Pat! Cam! Rob! Dave! Ade! Pete! Me! And... the Guv'nor
I'm sure there's much, much more to add. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All good things...

The last weekend of the PlanB UK Tour was spent at the delightful Retro Festival in Newbury. We spent the Saturday and Sunday there, arriving directly from our Friday adventures at Lakefest. The Retro Festival is an annual gathering of folks celebrating the golden era of mods and rockers, and just about any other element of pop culture from the middle of the last century. There were big old American cars, classic British motorcycles and vintage scooters all over the place.
The sun was out; it felt like summer, and I think we were ready to sign-off in style.

We had two gigs to play; one on Saturday night and one on Sunday at noon. A bittersweet notion, because with only two shows left it meant that the great music we were making would soon be over, however, all things must end and it would be refreshing to be in a different routine after almost a month of touring. We were scheduled to appear on the Ricky-Tick Mod stage, and we'd be a little bit different to the usual offering of northern soul and ska bands. Both of which I took in whenever I could over the weekend.
The festival was situated on an enormous plot, with plenty of space for music, vintage cars, merry-go-rounds, aeronautics and, erm, miniature steam engines. We were directed to our accommodation, which took the form of a couple of very nice looking tents. Welcome to the wonderful world of glamping! Three of the couples used one of the tents, while the rest of the gang took up residence in the other. There was also another tent for our domestic use,  featuring electric power, a fridge, water etc. All very nice.

I bought a few vinyl singles, including the original 'It Must Be Love' by Labi Siffre. Peter Guitar bought Arkeology, a great set of World Party rarity CDs; I think most of us did a little shopping.
After playing quite a bit over the previous three and a half weeks, we'd grown in terms of our musical togetherness so we were expecting to put on a good show wherever and whenever we played. Of the two, the Sunday lunchtime performance probably enjoyed bigger numbers, but both gigs went down pretty well.
Here's a story I posted elsewhere:
So, it's Saturday night at Retrofest and we've just finished our set. I'm out the back, completely spent, trying to catch my breath.
This geezer sits next to me.
Him: "Are you on tonight?"
Me: "Just been on mate; knackered. What about you? Playing tonight, or are you a DJ?"
Him: "I'm on later. I'm a singer, Chris Farlowe's the name."
Me: (surprised) "You don't look much like your pictures..."
Thankfully we got past that dopey comment and had a decent chat; mainly about the fun of being a constantly busy musician. We would have talked longer but we were out of time...
This is certainly a world full of surprises.

After that I wandered off and found a friendly felafel for my tea.
Some of us went to watch Chris Farlowe on the Saturday night and he still does a great job with 'Handbags and Gladrags' and 'Out of Time'.
The Sunday gig was a kind of celebration, being the last gig of the tour, and we all supped whisky from Peter's flask before we went on. Nice.
The afternoon was spent sitting in our deck chairs outside of the tents, eating and drinking to our collective heart's content. A few of us had gone on a £100 food and beverage run so we had plenty to get through.
Some of us were leaving the camp to stay in Reading that evening so it was with a somewhat heavy, but affectionate, heart that we all hugged, shook hands and said goodbye a little later that afternoon.
Pete the bassman dropped us in town and, that was it, no more tour. Peter Guitar, Rob Trumpet, Lynn and I shared a few drinks that night before parting company the following morning.

Within days of the tour ending the eight members of the band were scattered all over the world. From the north of England, to the USA, to Greece, to Australia, to a cruise chip in the Mediterranean, the PlanB diaspora was massive. Rock and roll!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Primal Affair...

After the long trip from Wales and a well-earned sleep in, we awoke to find ourselves in the weirdest, most interesting house. It certainly didn't sleep 12 people comfortably; there wasn't really enough dedicated rooms or beds. Still, most of us managed to sleep in relative comfort. The "Hemp Lime House" was full to bursting with the most amazing array of stuff - artifacts from exotic places, homespun artwork, books, strange furniture and junk. It would be a great place to spend some time, albeit in a smaller group.
It was a pleasant summer's day, and we spent the morning taking in the joys of the delightful Cotswolds town of Stroud. Markets, charity shops, sunshine, and brunch in Greggs.

Hopes were high for Lakefest; it has a decent reputation and some of the acts that have appeared in previous years made us feel a bit special. Billy Bragg, The Selecter, Ocean Colour Scene, Embrace, Ash, Buzzcocks, Levellers and The Beat have all played the festival. 2016 was offering Primal Scream, The Coral, Starsailor, Secret Affair and, erm, PlanB. Well, "Plan Beat" actually. We had to change our name in the advertising because the organisers were a little nervous about people getting confused with the English rapper Plan B. So it goes.
It was an easy trip out to the festival (no police, no speeding tickets) and the venue, Eastnor Castle Deer Park, looked beautiful. On the hillside across the river giant letters spelling the word "LOVE" filled me with happiness. There were people of all ages milling around, there was a cornucopia of food and beverage choices, and the sound of music filtered through the air.

We wandered around, soaking it all in, and checking out the various tents and stages. Spirits were pretty high, and we ate and drank merrily as we saw the sights. I bought a t-shirt, to add to my growing collection.
We were scheduled to appear late, after Primal Scream, so we were hoping people would spill out of the main stage, looking for some more music, and find their way to us. We were on in the Real Ale Tent, which also doubled as the "BBC Introducing" tent during the afternoon.

One of the great bands of my youth, Secret Affair, were playing early in the evening and I went along. I was surprised there wasn't a bigger crowd but no matter, it meant I got to stand right at the front without any of the usual crush. They were great; it was quite a moment to see and hear 'Time For Action', 'Let Your Heart Dance' and 'My World' live on stage. Ian Page's  voice is still pretty good and the band was tight. It took a couple of songs to get the mix right but once that was done the overall sound was great.
A little later I went along to see Primal Scream do their trippy, loopy thing in front of a huge crowd. It was a proper festival show and Bobby Gillespie was in decent form. They played old and new stuff and it all sounded pretty groovy, no matter which version of the band you prefer.
A little later in the evening I saw Nick Parker and The False Alarms over on another stage. I can't say I'd heard of him/them before but they were really good. Something else to research when I get home.
Man, I was looking forward to playing.
The ska band that played in our tent directly before us had done a decent job getting a few numbers, despite the competition from the main stage, and I was hoping they would stick around. Unfortunately, they did not. The organisers shut the bar in our tent, which didn't do much to attract punters, and by the time we started we were playing to about 20 people, while hundreds of others drifted by outside, on their way to their tent, car or oblivion. A bit of a downer after such a good day, but we shone like diamonds in any case. We played our set, and my night ended chatting with Jo and Ian (The Filthy Spectacula), nice folks both of them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Staying late at The Office...

The day of our Swansea gig arrived and I started things off with a visit to the Dylan Thomas Centre. It was pretty cool, and I learned a fair bit too. I followed that with a stroll around the marina and the beach. I took it pretty easy as I had one eye on the approaching performance, and my responsibility to my public. Ha ha.
Guitarist Peter would be arriving in the afternoon from Liverpool, where he'd been to see 'About the Young Idea' -The Jam exhibition - and the rest of the band would arrive closer to gig time in the rented cars.
After a few sociable afternoon beers with Rob, Peter called to say he'd arrived and to find out where we were. We told him. Half an hour later, he still hadn't shown up. Swansea isn't that big. Eventually, after many wrong turns and asking the wrong questions of locals, he and his guitar appeared outside the pub. He'd given himself quite a tour around town.
The other guys arrived after the long drive from Stroud and we slowly moved into performance mode. None of us seemed to be particularly enthusiastic about the show and I wasn't convinced that The Office, a heavy rock venue, would offer us anything in the way of a boost. The crowd and the support band, although really nice folks, also added to the sense that we were soulful fish out of water. I think the notion of a two hour early-morning motorway drive back to the share house was also weighing heavily on my mind. I thought we'd bomb; I had visions of the Blues Brothers' chicken wire concert!

Of course, all of this negativity proved baseless. The gig turned out to be fantastic. We put on a decent show, the venue was great and the locals loved it. People were coming in off the street, and there was plenty of dancing. Audience members were into our songs, and the inclusion of Dexys' 'Plan B' was an inspired choice. I was a bit frightened at one point; one of the local lasses appeared to have taken a shine to the beanpole lead singer and was applying the glad eye from very close proximity. I was trying to flash my wedding ring at every possible opportunity.
After the show, the mood among the band members had lifted somewhat, but there was still an air of tetchiness in some quarters. With a dozen people, no home comforts and so much travel, and every day requiring significant planning and execution as we continually ventured into the unknown, I guess it was never going to be sunshine and lollipops all the time.

We chatted to folks and enjoyed a few free beers. Not too many though, we had a long drive ahead.
On the way home to Stroud, Patrick drove with great care and skill. The motorways were virtually empty. We got pulled over by the police for driving in the middle lane (who knew?) but they were good blokes, especially when they realised we were just dumb tourists. We also got done for speeding about 100 yards from home but that's not important right now. It was just nice to get there, sometime between midnight and dawn.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Getting to Wales

After a very enjoyable stay in Scotland it was difficult to get back into travel mode. Our next gig was a couple of days away, in Swansea, and a few of us headed straight there while others took the time to visit different locations.
The Tuesday morning train was late getting into Glasgow which caused trumpet player Rob, Lynn and I to miss our planned Swansea connection at Crewe. It meant we would be late into town but we weren't too bothered. It was a travel day with not much planned at the other end. The most difficult aspect of the day would be the humping of our cases, which were gaining weight at an alarming rate.
On the Crewe-Swansea train, Rob and I had a few beers, and chatted with an older woman who made up the foursome in our little enclave. She was on her way to Hereford to be with family and, I think, quite enjoyed catching up with us, dipping her toe into the murky waters of the rock and roll lifestyle. I helped her with her bag when she got off, doing my bit for Anglo-Australian relations.
After travelling through three countries, I was happy to get to Swansea, and happier still that the hotel we'd booked was immediately outside the train station. Minimal luggage lugging!
Rob went off to find his accommodation before rejoining us for a quite enjoyable meal and a few beers in
the hotel bar. I was pretty tired by the end of the evening and made no secret of the fact that I was looking forward to a proper sleep in.

Of course, that didn't happen. A bloody fire alarm jolted me from the deepest sleep at 6.30am and there was no returning to the land of nod.
Lynn and I wandered around the town, starting off with a lovely breakfast of scrambled egg and baked beans. We visited the castle, and did some shopping. I went into a great little record shop where I managed to resist buying any vinyl, and I grabbed some stickers for the guitar case. Lynn bought cakes. We swapped messages with the other guys in the band, seeing what they were up to (and where), and we checked out the location of the gig venue.
That night it was burgers and beers in a Yates pub with Rob, before the place turned into a nightclub for what seemed like all of Swansea's twenty-somethings. On a Wednesday night! We popped over to The Office, PlanB's venue for the following night, for a quick look and a pint. It looked a lot like a heavy rock venue.
I slept poorly, the streets were full of (twenty-something) revellers letting me know what a great night/morning they were having.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Beer Hunter 2016: The Final Chapter

Doesn't include repeat beers in same pub (same session). All pints, all cask ales except where indicated by * or (bottle). Comments are minimal as the majority of the beers have been excellent.

76. Big Lamp Brewers Prince Bishop Ale (4.8) - The Milecastle Inn, Cawfields
77. Newcastle Brown Ale (4.7) (bottle) - The Milecastle Inn, Cawfields
78. Allendale Brewery Pennine Pale (4.0) - Lanercost B&B, Lanercost
79. Guinness* (4.2) - Club Britannia, Carlisle
80. Jennings Cocker Hoop Golden Ale (4.6) - The Kings Arms, Bowness-on-Solway
81. Thwaites Wainwright Golden Ale (4.1) - The Kings Arms, Bowness-on-Solway
82. Hardy & Hanson Kimberley Bitter (3.9) - The White Hart, Bargate
83. Froth Blowers Piffle Snonker (3.8) - The White Hart, Bargate
84. Burton Bridge Brewery Burton Ale (4.8) - The Lion, Belper (so good I had three)
85. Thwaites Lancaster Bomber (4.4) - The Wheatsheaf, Bakewell
86. Ringwood Brewery Boon Doggle (4.2) - The Lion, Belper
87. Oakham Ales Citra (4.2) - The White Hart, Bargate
88. Guinness* (4.2) - The Hurt Arms, Ambergate
89. Titanic Cherry Dark (4.4) - The Angels, Belper
90. Titanic Plum Porter (4.9) - The Angels, Belper
91. Purity Brewing Co Pure Ubu (4.5) - The Green House, Belper
92. Einstöck Ölgerd (5.4) (bottle 110ml) - The Green House, Belper
93. Marston's Pedigree (4.5) - The Green House, Belper
94. Stapleford Nottingham Full Mash Red Dog (3.8) - Arkwright's Real Ale Bar, Belper
95. Greene King Abbot Ale (5.0) - The Green House, Belper
96. Oakham Ales Sweeney's Revenge (half) (4.0) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
97. Thornbridge Brewery Kipling (half) (5.2) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
98. Dark Star American Pal Ale (half) (4.7) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
99. Dark Star Original (half) (5.0) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
100. Thornbridge Brewery Lucaria (half) (6.0) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
101. Thornbridge Brewery Seaforth (half) (5.9)- Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
102. Oakham Ales Green Devil (half) (6.0) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
103. Dark Star Revelation (half) (5.7) - Holly Bush Inn, Makeney
104. Cross Bay Brewery Nightfall Bitter (3.8) - The King William, Milford
105. Brakspear Oxford Gold (4.0) - The Lion, Belper
106. Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin (5.2) - The Lion, Belper
107. Titanic Plum Porter (4.9) - The Angels, Belper
108. Guinness* (4.2) - Marston's Stadium, Belper
109. Marston's Pedigree (4.5) - The Lion, Belper
110. Brakspear Oxford Gold (4.0) - The Lion, Belper
111. Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin (5.2) - The Lion, Belper
112. Oakham's Ale Inferno (4.0) - The White Hart, Bargate
113. Clouded Minds Luppol (4.2) - The White Hart, Bargate
114. Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose (4.6) - The White Hart, Bargate
115. Guinness* (4.2) - Little M Bar, Manchester

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"It's nae bother..."

I spent my Sunday morning in Glasgow with Patrick, shooting more footage for the 'I Know a Girl' film clip. We visited some great locations, including Glasgow Green and the stunning Necropolis. Three hours well spent. Combined with the Birmingham shoot, I think the clip should look great.
Some of us had tickets for a couple of concerts while we were up in Scotland. Justin Currie and Lloyd Cole were playing on Sunday evening, followed by The Waterboys on Monday. Both were scheduled to appear at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, but the Currie/Cole show had to be shifted due to wild weather being forecast.
On Sunday, we headed out to the revised and much smaller venue, determined to get in. Guitarist Peter and I left the others relaxing at the bar while we went to watch the Community Shield in a pub, if we could find one. On the way out, we blagged our way into a conversation with one of the soundcheck guys, who said he'd add our names to the entry list, seeing as we'd come 12,000 miles to see the show. Bonus. We continued our search for football in the pissing rain. After about six or so strikeouts, we heard football crowd noises coming from a pub. "That's it!" we thought. We opened the door and stared straight into a bar heaving with hundreds of Celtic fans looking up at screens as their match reached its climax. I'm glad neither of us was wearing blue. I'm also glad that Celtic won. After the match finished, the publican kindly switched the channel to the Wembley match, and Peter and I watched in relative comfort as the place thinned out ever so slightly.
Despite our names being on the door for the gig, we still stood in line, getting wet. I'm not a queue jumper, I don't like leaving things to chance and we really, really wanted to see the show. Peter went on a food run and brought me back a veggie burger, bless him. Pete and Suoyi were ahead of us in the line, I was about 20 metres back from them, and Peter and Lynn were the same distance behind me. Co-ordinated mobile communications were the key to success. We all got in. I expect everyone else did too.
The gig was fabulous. If I wasn't a Justin Currie fan beforehand, he certainly won me over. Lloyd Cole was as good as I'd expected and hoped, but I can't get Jimmy Carr out of my mind whenever I see him nowadays.

After a slower start to the working week involving another visit to the Necropolis, making train reservations and buying guitar case stickers, Monday afternoon saw Pete, Peter, Patrick and I head out for a radio interview and live to air with Jim McMillan on Sunny Govan Community Radio. We performed 'Cloudy With a Chance of Rain' and the session went well. I wanted to have a beer in Govan so the interview was followed by a visit to the Old Harmony Bar across the road, a proper local pub."The band's here", someone said as we walked in (not sure how they knew, maybe my tambourine was jangling in the bag). "'Scuse me, Fleetwood Mac" said another, as he reached for his pint. The locals were lovely people, chatting away to us about how we'd come to be at their pub. They seemed genuinely interested in our story, except for the quartet of women playing dominoes, swearing like troopers while they strove for victory, oblivious to our presence.
That evening the gang of five swelled to six, as drummer Dave joined us for The Waterboys gig. Another trip across town in a taxi. We lined up outside the ticket collection box, enjoying a beautiful mild summer's evening. How things can change over the course of 24 hours.

The Kelvingrove Bandstand is a medium-sized outdoor amphitheatre, and it was a just about perfect setting. We sat, then stood, and Mike Scott and his crew put on a brilliant show. It was the first time I've seen The Waterboys live; I sincerely hope it's not the last.
After the show, we managed to beat the rush for a taxi by booking one to arrive a little way away, near a quiet suburban pub. Even that one was almost hi-jacked by another group. Not on Suoyi's watch!
We arrived back safe and sound at the Tartan Lodge; I slept well on my last night in town.
All up, my trip to Glasgow was great. I wasn't sure what to expect from this colourful, multi-faceted city, but just about every interaction I had was positive, every dumb question I asked was answered helpfully, everyone involved with the gig was great, and everybody else I met was friendly. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for anyone. Thanks to all concerned.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tartan lodgings

We left the beautiful environs of Cambridge, somewhat reluctantly, in the relative calm of the sunny early morning. I think we managed to get the entire touring party, and our gear, into a convoy of four taxis. Friday's mission was Glasgow or bust!
We arrived at the train station hoping for a no-fuss travel day. The first leg up to Peterborough was fairly easily managed, for most of us. The notable exception was Patrick. He'd bought/used the wrong ticket, and was slung off the train the first stop out of Cambridge!
What we hadn't reckoned on was the increased number of train passengers headed north, due to the opening of the Edinburgh Fringe. Subsequently, the train to Glasgow from Peterborough was heaving with people. Because the train was jam-packed and there were no available seats, most of us were left standing. It wasn't so bad; I just watched the English countryside glide by, alone in my thoughts.
Somehow, Patrick had turned up and made it onto the correct connecting train at Peterborough. Nobody is quite sure how. I'm guessing he used his super powers.
I eventually got a seat at York. So did most of the others.

Arriving in Glasgow, after some more of the fun that a 12-person decision-making model provides, we made our way on foot to the Tartan Lodge, our home for the next few days. It was next to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, around a half-hour walk from the station. Our room was nice enough; some of the folks who had opted for dorms were less pleased. The rooms were fairly ordinary, by all accounts. The biggest issue appeared to be that the wi-fi was crap. Probably still better than being robbed (or worse) in your sleep, or catching something nasty from the mattress. First world problems, I guess...
Five of us enjoyed a large, cheap and cheerful Thai dinner delivered to the accommodation, on the recommendation of the friendly chap behind the reception desk. I got some curry sauce on my Radio Caroline t-shirt which made me a little grumpy. Another first world problem.
Our one and only Scottish gig, on the Friday night, was at The Scotia, reputed to be the oldest public house in Glasgow (although there was another place around the corner boasting the same thing). The pub was just down the road from the Clutha Vaults, a music venue that was the scene of the tragic police helicopter crash in 2013. It has only recently reopened.

At The Scotia, we were shoehorned into a corner but at least the required gear was there, courtesy of JonZip (new friend and top bloke). I had no idea how we were going to make it work, such was the confinement, but we found a way. The horn players stepped forward when it was their moment, Adrian sat his keys on one of the tables, I took the odd trip down the inside of the bar so I could sing to the people at the front and, in summary, I think we went off!
People were digging the music, and loads of folks came up for a chat between sets and after the show. Someone put my tambourine to good use (again) throughout the second set, although I had to ask for it back before we played any of the slower songs.
I was starting to get the feeling that you could put this band in almost any venue, and in any situation, and we'd somehow make it work. That's got to be a good thing.
And I got another t-shirt, thanks very much...
On Saturday morning some of us took a stroll around the markets before I left to find my way to the Glasgow Rangers match. After four seasons in the relative wilderness of the Scottish lower divisions, they were back in the big time and fans were eager for the new season to get underway. I fancied going, and I'd been told that it would be easy. I found the subway that would take me to the ground, only to find it was closed for four weeks! I asked and got directions to Jamaica Street, where I would find a bus to take me to Ibrox Stadium. I met a nice fellow on the bus and told him my story, and asked where the ticket office was. He told that the match was a sellout! Oh well, at least I could walk around the perimeter and soak up a bit of pre-match action. As it turned out, after a few attempts I found someone selling a spare ticket outside the ground and managed to see the match in all of its fervent atmosphere. I walked home in the afternoon drizzle with a few thousand of my new best friends.
Rob the trumpet, Dave the drum, Peter the guitar and Lynn & I spent the evening in one of the local pubs, talking bollocks. A perfect end to a good day.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Beer Hunter 2016: Part Three

Doesn't include repeat beers in same pub (same session). All pints, all cask ales except where indicated by * or (bottle). Comments are minimal as the majority of the beers have been excellent.

51. Titanic Steerage (3.8) - Hogarths, Swansea
52. Timothy Taylor's Landlord (4.3) - Olde Cross Keys, Swansea
53. Sharp's Brewery Doom Bar (4.0) - Olde Cross Keys, Swansea
54. Sharp's Brewery Atlantic (4.9) - The Office Pub, Swansea
54. Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin (5.2) - The Office Pub, Swansea
55. Donnington Brewery Lakefest Real Ale (4) - Lakefest, Ledbury
55. Donnington Brewery BB (3.6) - Lakefest, Ledbury
56. St Austell Tribute (4.2) - Lakefest, Ledbury 
57. Marston's EPA (3.6) - Retrofest, Newbury
58. Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin (5.2) - Retrofest, Newbury
59. John Smiths Extra Smooth* (3.8) - The Dickens, Reading
60. Black Sheep Best Bitter (3.8) - The Turks Head, Tynemouth
61. Hadrian Border Brewery Farne Island Ale (4.0) - The Turks Head, Tynemouth
62. Wylam Red Kite (4.5) - The Turks Head, Tynemouth
63. Rudgate Jorvik Blonde (3.8) - The Turks Head, Tynemouth
64. Boathouse Ale* (3.5) - The Boathouse, Newburn
65. Big Lamp Brewers Prince Bishop Ale (4.8) - The Keelman, Newburn
66. Big Lamp Brewers Premium Bitter (5.2) - The Keelman, Newburn
67. Big Lamp Brewers Prince Bishop Ale (4.8) (bottle) - The Keelman, Newburn
68. Hadrian Border Brewery Coast To Coast (4.4) - Robin Hood Inn, East Wallhouses
69. Allendale Brewery Golden Plover (4.0) - The Dyvels Inn, Corbridge
70. Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin Gold (4.2) - The Dyvels Inn, Corbridge
71. Brewdog Punk IPA (5.6) (bottle) - The Dyvels Inn, Corbridge
72. Coxhoe Co Durham Sonnet 43 Brewhouse American Pale Ale (5.4) - The Crown Inn, Humshaugh
73. Coxhoe Co Durham Sonnet 43 Brewhouse Blonde Beer (4.1) - The Crown Inn, Humshaugh
74. SA Brain and Co Opening Ceremony (4.0) - The Crown Inn, Humshaugh
75. Thwaites Wainwright Golden Ale (4.1) - The Milecastle Inn, Cawfields

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cambridge blues.

The leaving of Birmingham. The day began with a bus station visit from Neil Warburton, author of a Dexys book and a fan of PlanB, who asked us to sign a few bits and pieces. We all posed for photos. Neil waved us goodbye from the station, ensuring we got underway safely.
It was a sunny afternoon in the beautiful town of Cambridge when the National Express coach pulled to a halt and we spilled out onto the street. The Cambridge Rock Festival was calling and we were all on something of a high. A biggish festival gig, beautiful weather, and it looked very much like Adrian would be rejoining the band for the show. We hardly noticed the forced march to the accommodation, which took around three-quarters of an hour.
We had the Wednesday night off so, once we were settled, a few of us sat out the back of the B&B, drinking beer and eating tea. I had chips and mushy peas from the inventively-monikered fish and chip shop, 'The Codfather'.
The festival venue was hosting a special concert to precede the weekend's event, a fund-raiser for a local hospital; one that had treated Wilko Johnson while he was ill. There was some discussion about attending, and eventually four of us decided to go and have a look. Peter, Pete, David and Dave piled into a taxi.
The concert had advertised "special guests" and some of us were hopeful that Wilko might do a turn...
However, there was no Wilko appearance, and the bands were mainly classic rock tribute acts (think Creem, Deep Purple), but it was a good night in any case. We met the folks from the legendary Radio Caroline, now an internet radio station, and teed up an interview for the following night. And bought a few ex-Radio Caroline singles. We surveyed the festival site, had a few real ales, enjoyed some tunes, bought our festival t-shirts (with the band's name printed on the back!) and went home happy.
On Thursday morning most of us, either collectively or separately, wandered around the town, taking in the history and beauty of the place. The walk along the River Cam followed by brunch was a personal high point.

In the afternoon we headed to the festival. It was more of the same; mainly tribute acts and a few reformed bands from back in the day. I got to see Atomic Rooster, a band I remembered from my nascent teenage years. Carl Palmer, Ginger Baker and (I have recently learned) Chris Farlowe are all Atomic Rooster alumni. This line-up was OK without being overly world-shattering.
Pete and I were interviewed by Radio Caroline and we left them with copies of the album, and their promise that they would be spinning tracks across the weekend.
I know it's getting boring, but this was another gig where last-minute efforts saw successful arrival of sufficient gear. So at least we could get on, but it is a situation that always leads to stress and wasted energy. We were the last band on the acoustic/alternative stage, competing for punters with a Pink Floyd tribute show over on Stage One. We did OK for numbers; it was a decent crowd.

From where I was standing, it was another good show; Patrick, Robbie and Cam once again proved an aural and visual highlight during their feature moments, and it was great to have Adrian back in the mix, both musically and personally. The only downer was that, due to a local noise curfew, we had to finish one song early, so the crowd didn't get to sing along with us during 'Wake Up Call'.
After the show, organisers were very complimentary about the performance and apologetic about the abrupt finish. There was loads of talk about playing again next year!
Never say never.