Ginger and AntiProduct, unplugged · Diary by Darren Stockford
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A Ginger gig? In South Shields? Complete with an instore mini-set at the new, improved Changes One? Followed by another gig in London? Aw, s'gotta be done, right?!
It was. Well and truly.
Thursday 7th June
We came, we saw, we ate some Jaffa Cakes.
5.15 am: My watch alarm starts bleeping like it had been rudely awakened by some idiot who wanted to get up at an hour that doesn't usually exist. One hour 25 and a coupla pieces of toast later, we're ready to rock.
6.40 am: And so begins the two-hour battle to get fellow Listees†Jason and Trudi's VW Beetle (the cutest car ever made) out of London.
8.40-ish am: We're free! Fly pretty bird! Fly towards the north! Take us up to the paradise city, where the grass is smoked and the girls are witty (well, "our Trace" always makes us laff, anyway).
2 pm: Three service station loos later, we arrive in South Shields. Necks are craned in time-honoured "OK, where do we go now?" fashion. We've only been in town for a couple of minutes when we find ourselves driving down Fowler Street. And there it is: the legendary Changes One. We park up, grab our equipment (tight pants and the back seats of Beetles don't really mix), and stroll on in.
2.15 pm: Suddenly, a shopkeeper appears. We say hello to Ian "Tunny" Tunstall, purveyor of the finest rock 'n' roll records money can buy. We would browse the racks, but the shop's full of Ginger fans. Oh, look, it's Wayne from Amsterdam! Wayne's hiring a bus for the Wildhearts tour to ferry fans from gig to gig. Who said the age of heroes was dead?
3 pm: Ian steps up on stage and grabs one of the mics to introduce the Reverend Steve Cope, a Changes One regular who's come up from Hull today to bless the new shop. Ian gives him a great intro, quoting from the beginning of the Talking Heads' Once In A Lifetime ("And you may find yourself..."). When the Rev asks us to bow our heads to pray, Ian splutters loudly. But hands are duly pressed together and the blessing is completed with a round of amens.
3.05 pm: Ginger's still on his way up from London, so AntiProduct take to the stage for a totally awesome support set. Alex has opted for an acoustic guitar, and Simon is taking a couple of layers of skin off his hands by playing a pair of bongos, but Toshi, Milena and Clare are all plugged in. The sound is full and clear, and Alex is on fine form, sharing heaps of banter with both the crowd and his bandmates - most of which is too rude to print on a family web site like this (Alex keeps apologising to the Reverend). Some young kids appear at the window, pressing their noses to the glass. Simon teaches them 'devil horns' signs. They're fast learners.
4.20 pm: It's the end of the 'Product's set, and me and my buddies have fallen completely, and hopelessly, in love (no, not with each other, you filthy fuggers... sorry - Alex's sense of humour is kind of infectious). Cheesecore will take over the world. It can't fail. Listen to Goin' All The Way and you'll understand. Alex makes a passionate speech about rock 'n' roll and fans and vans that brings a wee lump to my throat. (Ya soft southern jessie - Ed.)
5.05 pm: Ginger arrives with Angie and Jake (as far as I know, this is the little guy's first public outing) and Jon Poole (it's definitely not his).
5.15 pm: The Tunster introduces Ginger. It's acoustic guitars all the way, with Jon and Alex providing (im)moral and musical support. Alex is obviously winging it (there was apparently a rehearsal, but it ended after three songs with copious amounts of vomit), but he picks things up real quick. When some joker shouts for Sky Babies, Jon looks at Ginger, Ginger looks at Jon, and, amazingly, they start to play it. We expect it to fall apart after a verse or two - surely they're just teasing us, right? - but it doesn't. It goes on... and on... and on. And it's fan-fuggin-tastic. How do you top that, eh? Well, a heartfelt (solo) version of Steve Earle's My Old Friend The Blues is a damned good start.
Here's the Changes One set in full (in the correct order, too, 'cos I had a pen handy):
She's So Taboo
Unlucky In Love (dedicated to Trace, but it falls apart before the finish because Ginger "just got bored")
Nita Nitro (just the intro - Jon starts playing the EastEnders theme after the drum bit)
Beautiful Me, Beautiful You
My Old Friend The Blues
Geordie In Wonderland
Prince Charming (the Adam Ant song - it's Jon's idea!)
6-ish pm: Must... find... food... so we head to our hotel, freshen up, and ask the Little Chef to prepare something nice. He does, but forgets the onion rings.
7.45 pm: Must... find... alcohol... so we phone for a cab and jump in. The driver has heard of neither The Office, The Vic, or Victoria Road. Instead of looking it up in the A-Z that's lying in his dash, though, he drives us around town on the off-chance that we might see it. Luckily, we do. That'll be £6.80 please. Could've been a lot worse, I s'pose.
8 pm: A tip: never ask for "two Newcastle Browns" in South Shields. You will look like a tourist. The correct request is: "two brown ales". Ah well, there's always next time.
8.30 pm: AntiProduct do it all over again. "Goin' all the way, we're goin' all the way tonight..." Damn their infectious choruses! They very nearly bring the house down... literally. The pub's function room, where the gig is held, is upstairs. When a couple of hundred boozed-up rock 'n' roll fans start bouncing up and down, so does the floor... and the stage... and, unless it's an optical illusion, the walls appear to be moving, too. I feel weightless at one point. Mummy, I'm scared.
9.30 pm: Ginger wanders out to rapturous applause. He sits on a stool in the middle of the stage and starts playing Geordie In Wonderland. Wow. Here I am, in a South Shields pub, with a pint of Newca... I mean brown ale in my hand, watching Ginger. How much better does it get? At the song's close, Ginger's joined by Jon and Alex. Simon from AntiProduct stands at the side of the stage banging a tambourine. "Monday comes crashing in..." Ginger's stool almost topples forward into the crowd. He couldn't have picked a better line for it to happen on if he'd planned it.
The set list this time (not in exact order) runs:
Geordie In Wonderland
Anyway But Maybe
Nita Nitro (intro - the EastEnders joke again)
She's So Taboo
Bad Time To Be Having A Bad Time
Stand And Deliver (another Ants classic from Jon)
Purple Vein (the irony being that Prince would probably have loved it, the perv)
Purple Haze (a bit of it, anyway)
Since You've Been Gone / Down Under / and a bit of another song I can't remember that can be sung to those chords
There's Always Someone More Fucked Up Than You
One Before The Lights Go Out
I Wanna Go Where The People Go
My Baby Is A Headfuck
Towards the end, Toshi and Simon are invited on to have a crack at some Wildhearts songs. They're both massive 'Hearts fans and can apparently play pretty much anything. Someone shouts for I Wanna Go, Toshi nods, and we're off. Jon dives into the crowd and manages a magnificent surf. When he makes it back to the stage, he reaches up to see if he can clamber to the ceiling. Luckily, he decides that it's a tad too fragile to support his weight and gives up.
Alex, meanwhile, is helping Simon out on drums. At least, I think that's what he's doing back there. To be honest, I'm too busy looking around for somewhere safe to dive if the floor collapses to take much notice. Ginger says that they've been complaining downstairs. This makes everyone bounce even harder. A couple of roadies hang on to the PA to stop it toppling into the crowd. Hmm, if the floor goes, I think I'll grab on to the stage curtain. That's attached to the ceiling. It's a crazy plan, but it just might work.
11 pm: Hey, what the fug happened there? Everyone I speak to can't quite believe what they've just seen: an acoustic gig that very nearly destroyed the venue. Jeezus, what's the Wildhearts tour gonna be like?!
12 midnight: We finally get the cab we'd been promised ("I'll wait outside" obviously being a euphemism for "I'll nick someone else's cab 'cos I can't be arsed to wait for 30 minutes like you told me" - ya swines!). The driver is surprised to see us all putting on seatbelts. "Aw, I'm not that bad," he says, before racing over the next six roundabouts at 60 mph and screeching to a halt outside our hotel in a cloud of dust.
1 am: Must... drink... tea... and sleep. Yeah, sleep would be good.
Wednesday 6th June
3 pm: We're back in Changes One for the Dan Baird / Darrell Bath instore. I have no idea that Ginger is even here until a voice at the back shouts for Battleship Chains. Ian shoves Ginger up on stage, introducing him as being "from the Jon Poole Band". Ginger sings his own, rather rude, versions of the verses (I don't recall the original lyric including the line "to fuck nobody but you"). Dan and Darrell join in for the chorus, gathering round the same mic. Three of my all-time fave musicians doing that rock 'n' roll thang together? This trip is getting more surreal by the hour.
4.15 pm: Spend the best part of 50 quid on CDs. Ginger's very sensibly told Ian not to let him buy anything, no matter how hard he begs. He knows that once he starts, it'll be very difficult to stop. Still, he eyes up a Proclaimers album which is taunting him from the racks.
Thursday 7th June
9.30 am: We load up the car and set off for the long journey back to London.
5.30 pm: Home at last. There's just enough time to grab something to eat before we have to jump on a train to Victoria for Ginger's Borderline bash.
8.15 pm: Bloody hell, it's dark in 'ere, innit? What's happened to the lights in the venue? Have they not paid the bill or something? When my eyes become accustomed to the gloom, I spy Wayne and Trace and the London regulars. Those limited edition Listee T-shirts are everywhere.
8.45 pm: Our third dose of AntiProduct in as many days, and we're still not tired of 'em. I'm gonna miss these guys tomorrow. Alex spies Jason and recognises him from the Shields gigs. He gets the crowd to chant "give Alex back his fiver".
9.30 pm: Ginger, Jon and Alex head stageward. The crowd are fired up and in fine voice, a lot of folk even managing to follow Sky Babies' twists and turns word for word (and if you can do that, you're a better man than I). Ginger brings up Stidi to sing backing vocals and shake some tambourine on Don't Let Me Die Lonely, the first public airing of one of his new solo songs. My Old Friend The Blues is dedicated to Listee (and fellow Steve Earle fan) Sarah Aspden. Ginger and Alex sing a quick snatch of Cheap Trick's Voices. Toshi and Simon resume their rhythm section positions, and Alex is ousted by CJ for Love U Til I Don't and Greetings From Shitsville. Jon goes surfing again - wahey! Much bouncing abounds, but thankfully, this time round, the floor stays firmly on the ground. My only worry is that Alex is going to poke my eyes out with the uncut ends of his guitar strings.
11 pm: I wander into the loos for a final pee and see traveller Wayne standing at the urinal with his head leaning against the wall and his eyes shut. Is he asleep? No, he's just very, very drunk. He zips up, looks up, and flashes a†smile of pissed recognition at me. He says nothing, but he doesn't need to. His face says it all: "sh'abitbloodygoodereinnit?"
Next stop, SilverGinger 5.
[Note: Most times are approximate. I was there to rock 'n' roll, not to watch the bloody clock!]