Ginger, Jon Poole and Hot Steve - Acoustic Tour - November 2004 · Words by Hot Steve · Photos © Nigel Palmer
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Newcastle - 26th November 2004
Sometimes you know I hate being right. London to Newcastle on a Friday up the M1!. Nightmare!. Set off early? I stressed all week!. I'm not gonna say a thing!
However, it's always good to be reunited with the boys after a bit of a break.
These acoustic shows are almost getting like an SAS raid on the venue. Plough in just before the doors open, to have a soundcheck to steady my nerves and confirm my fears regarding the P.A system. Try to get a sound from whatever guitar the main man has got from eBay that week. It also means we sit there while a lot of people watch us trying to guess what song to do for a start. This particular time sat there on the lonely stool we were greeted by an excited Geordie gentleman forcing a cup of tea into our faces. Blimey Charlie it's a Danny! Being shell-shocked by the journey and trying to find the venue all in a matter of seconds it seemed we were then greeted by Mr. McCormack who I hadn't seen for ages.
Supposed it was inevitable really that out on our travels we would bump into ex-members here and there but meeting Danny was a strange one. Memories of him when he was in the band came flooding back, some good, some bad, but most of them totally unforgettable. After leaving the venue to find the hotel out in the sticks, it was a weird feeling in the car, as we all must have been thinking basically the same things.
We return to the venue to the sounds of the mighty Plan A drawing the line. It seems like we have no time at all to compose ourselves, which is a very important thing for me, and then bang, we're on!
I honestly have no recollection of the first half of the set at all. And it's not until Danny is up on stage that I can start imagining what we must look like from the front.
After a can't-hear-the-guitar-in-the-monitors incident - message to soundmen, don't play with our monitors during the set. We might as well not bother doing soundchecks if it's gonna change so radically when we get up there to do the gig. Rant over. So there I am giving my stool up to Jef while I look over and Danny's playing bass and Mr Poole on the drums. Woah! Hang on! This is a crazy lineup. It then dawned on me. The previous week I had been asked to sit in the rehearsals for the Ginger birthday gig. Which features Jon Poole, Ritch Battersby and Willie Dowling and of course Ginger. Next Wednesday we are in rehearsals with Jon Poole, CJ, Stidi and Ginger. So there I am on stage with Jon Poole, Danny McCormack and Jef Streatfield and Ginger. All three major lineups within a week! Trainspotter Wildhearts fans out there work that one out. Step up Mr. Bam I believe for the full set!
The evening is very hazy after that and I can only really remember bits and pieces like Jon and Danny's bonding session which started with the ubiquitous piss drinking, hopefully soon to be phased out of the shows altogether, and the lasting image I have in my scrambled head is of Jon being led out of the venue by a very excited Danny for a 'bonding session' in the clubs of Newcastle on a Friday nite. The rest of my evening was finished off by an all out drinking assault with the Plan A mob before leaving to hopefully find Jon and Danny at some club or another. Jon probably died later.
York - 27th November 2004
I think I can remember Jon coming back to the hotel; at least he is there in the morning when we get turfed out at the last possible moment by over-excited TravelLodge staff. It isn't until we get into the car to visit family in the area that we notice something's missing! Quite a large portion of Jon had possibly not made it back from Poole and McCormack's big nite out as he resembled a large white chocolate malteser with all the colour drained out of him. It's at times like these when you have to decide if you should be concerned for the welfare of your mate or just relentlessly take the piss and tell him how bad he looks. We return to the venue to collect our gear and head to the magic Primark to stock up on socks and pants for the forthcoming tour. Hey! rock stars go shopping too you know and there's no-one on earth who can argue with 5 pairs of socks for 2 quid! We buy a rather natty pair of converse boot style slippers each and go back to see if Jon has pulled through from his own private hell!
We then jump in the jeep and start setting the rock n roll world to rights like we tend to do on these jaunts; we actually do it rather well, even if I do say so myself. The only trouble with this was the high possibility of us actually running out of petrol, which is the basic requirement for the internal combustion engine to propel us to the next gig. We really were holding our breath as we pulled into the most welcome sight of a BP garage on pure fumes. Never have I been so pleased to see the glowing Ginsters display and the smell of sweet unleaded petrol! Mmmm! petrol.
We get to York to find that our accommodation for the night, (which is a delightful drunken stagger across the road and just past the kebab shop) has been double booked due to the UK Snooker Championship in town that week. Bastards.. Literally in all of York and the surrounding area there was no room in the inn. Even the Virgin Mary couldn't get a room. The chilling consequence of this was that someone has to drive after the gig. Someone has to stay sober! Ginger heroically steps into the breach by agreeing to drive to Selby after the show to the closest digs.
The set started with 'One Love, One Life, One Girl' and from that moment the evening takes on a melancholy feel; there's a special bond that I have with that song as it was my absolute favorite when we were demoing songs at 2khz studios all that time ago. It means more to me now as I actually have one love... and the one girl... aww
The night before I could remember really enjoying the show even though things went wrong and we didn't really play that well. This time I didn't really enjoy much of the night due to our dour mood but we played like demons. Now I'm into doing some sort of trade-up to the 'really enjoyed it and played really well' meal deal. The amount of joy I got from playing at the Leopard in Doncaster this time round being how I would like to feel a lot more often but not at the expense of having a soul crushing nightmare gig the time before. We played a solid and thoughtful set and while I would have liked to have a blast on stage I was quietly happy with our performance. Prior to our slot we were treated to the wonderful one-man-band Robochrist. A man whose sideboards graced our screens in the Dingles party in Emmerdale the other week. And then another who I wont go on too much about but who seemed to have a different concept of an acoustic gig from everyone else.
For a start there was a drummer who for these gigs isn't really required. The idea is a sit down stripped down look at the songs at their bare bones level and definitely doesn't warrant carrying a Marshall cab onto the stage and a bass rig. Lads. If I was a bit harsh I'm sorry but you gotta understand that this is a completely different vibe. It's about dumbing down and cutting out all the fat of the songs and watching them stand or fall. And you wouldn't have taken ages to get the van out of the car park!. Hilarious. Get the drummer to stay at home or get him to carry your stuff, strip it down and rock with acoustic guitar blisters the next day.
It came to me that we should get a backdrop made up for next year. A big one with a massive lighting rig, a wall of marshals and a drummer! We could just sit there with our banjos in front of a silent backing band. Then we fold it up and put it in the back of the car! Genius and we don't have to pay, feed or smell him.
We arrive in Selby and get together to reflect about the evening while watching Miss World which features an American jock introducing a selection of the world's most underwhelming women. Fixed grins at the ready and loads of talking about saving the planet while getting their hair and nails done. Not my cup of Bovril. A less than average display of eye candy. Never mind Miss World, I just want my girlfriend. She rocks my world!
It came to me later that the ultimate gig is very hard to actually play. What you need is to have all the right ingredients for the perfect show; but this game being fraught with perils, they never actually come together. The best crowd was obviously Newcastle; when Danny got up and the Endless Nameless lineup played a few tunes I couldn't hear anything, the audience were really loud. Trouble is we played a bit ropey that night. So I would pick the performance from York, with the crowd from Newcastle, and the food from Newport. I guess you could piece together the ultimate gig like this so that's probably how live bands do albums. By collecting different parts of different gigs you could have the classic live performance. As we all know the greatest live album is very 'fixed', an absolute crushing blow for me was when I found out Live and Dangerous isn't the same gig as it ends as it starts. Ah well it will all strike back in the end!
Newport - 28th November 2004
Sunday! wrote Mr. Kipling!
Today will actually turn out to be one of the weirdest days of my acoustic career. First we have to detour to the home of rock guitar tech legend Hot Steve to pick up some recently refurbished kit for the tour. My housemate gets the fright of his life to see Jon and Ginger in his living room in the morning after a particularly heavy night with the Donny massive.
We jump in the car and head for the Wales! Stopping at service stations is still a bit confusing for us types. After miles of driving really wanting to stop and walk around and buy exactly what we think we want, we just wander around aimlessly in the queue for Burger King, before deciding on a sarnie and a packet of crisps, before stopping at the newspapers not knowing what the hell we want after all! I buy the paper with the nicest pictures and the football results, to see how the mighty 'Rovers got on. Ginger on the other hand buys this bloody great white cuddly monkey!? Any decent record company / management would hopefully come up with an idea like this to plug the record. Great white monkey geddit! [Great White Monkey is the name of the acoustic album on sale at the gigs - Ed] Knowing our luck we'd get a bloody great albino gorilla at a show that eats all the cd's and fling his own shit at you when cornered!.
TJ's ah! In my somewhat checkered career I have graced the venue a few times and in recent times have had really bad guts which is a shame as the venue has very basic toilet facilities at best and it's always been an idea to 'hold on' until the first services or gwasthenau or whatever motorway services is translated into welsh! Answers on an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you please.
Tonight's promoters are the lovely Gwen and Stiky who have been supporting us for ages and were the purveyors of my fine birthday cake in Winchester. They welcome us with a fond kindness and an absolutely stunning chilli! Top notch!.
We retire to the hotel to collect ourselves and for me to start panicking big time about the recording that we are due to make that night. It's not looking good when we return after a brief encounter with one of the most unhinged hotel receptionists in the country, and support band Plan A are having a tough time getting the usually mental Newport crowd going.
I blame Jon usually for a lot of things.
He's got into everyone's head with some quote about talcum powder, which fucks with people's heads like every in-band joke usually does. And this one is no exception. Blank welsh faces all around.
Before I know it we are on and up there on the stools of rock to what appears to be the second soundcheck of the night, but this time in front of hundreds of people!
A few run throughs don't really get any better results so we just leave it to fate and that's when I start to relax... at long last!
The rest of the night was fine. A chance to forget how to play 'Unlucky in Love' with Givvy on the mic. The aftershow lunacy that prevails is normal to say the least. Watching people get progressively more smashed on the rider. Drink all ours and then sneak some more in when we have to chip in and buy some more. This is why I love being opening act scum.
Plenty of time to drink everything before the headliners (who walk around all day not getting pissed as they have a job to do at the end of the night) are able to sit down to enjoy the last two cans of warm lager as all the ice has melted and no one bothered to refill the cooler!
It's goodbye to the Plan A boys and then off to the digs
Now it's back to carrying heavy stuff and not washing for days. Ah ! touring