There is a rule in journalism which is that if you’re going to get drunk while doing an interview then you better remember to take a tape recorder with you. This occurred to me as I sank a pint in the third pub I had been to yesterday. I wanted to write a review of the gig so I had two choices: stop drinking or try and record some of the gig for posterity. I, perhaps unsurprisingly, chose the latter and then hardly remembered to record anything. The only problem with the “more beer” plan was that I had almost run out of beer and there was no way, no way at all, to get any more. I had arrived early to secure a table outside, and had actually managed to do this but with no back up I couldn’t leave my table to go to the bar. All around me other patrons were circling. One moment somebody would put their beer down on the table and then from the other angle somebody would ask me, “is anyone using that chair”, then another beer would get plonked down. It was like I was being stalked by a pack of hungry hyenas, but with less laughing. To escape the horror of the situation I cast my mind back to how I had got here in the first place.
Normally when you decide to go to a gig there is some decision making process involved. There is usually a moment of, “oooh I really want to see them” or “yeah why not” about the whole thing. But for this gig there hadn’t been. It had all started when a friend of mine, Joe, had been over having a few beers. He was telling us this nice little story, another of our friends Zoë had called him up and said, “do you want to go to this gig with me, I’ll buy your ticket but you have to agree before I tell you who it is”. Joe being the agreeable kind of guy that he is had agreed, and it had turned out to be not as bad as he thought because it was actually to see Rick Witter and the Dukes (who? Well Rick Witter used to be front man in Shed Seven. Who? Well I probably can’t help you other than to say, reasonably successful Indie band from the nineties).
But there was something odd about this, my friend Adrian knows Rick Witter. And just as I was explaining this to Joe, Adrian called on the telephone, making it nice and doubly odd. I mentioned the fact that there was a gig and he said, “I am so there”. Actually he said some words like the words that he uses, but you get the idea. So in a way from that moment I was forced into it. I was going because two of my friends were going. Adrian and Joe had met before but I was the common factor. There was no escaping my destiny.
So a few days later, destiny fully playing its course I get a phone call from Scott. He’s got a new band (Mother Black Cap, I last reviewed him in Bugfly) and they are playing a gig coming up. “Excellent”, I think I better go and see them. But horror of horror’s the gig is on the same night. Just as I’m gearing up to tell him the sad and tragic news he says, “yeah it’s going to be really good because we’re going to be supporting Rick Witter you know from Shed Seven”. So now I must go. I have to go it’s written in the stars, the world is conspiring to get me to the Islington Academy on the 25th May.
I turn to Adrian (who was sitting to my left when the call from Scott came in – I am not figuratively turning to Adrian, I am turning to him in actualité) to tell him about the whole Scott thing when he says, “I’ve just been looking up Rick’s band ‘The Dukes’ and it’s got one of my mates in it”.
I challenge him at this point, “I thought you were mates with Rick”?
“Well,” says Adrian, “I know Rick, but I’m mates with Rob. He used to be in the band with me”.
So as I looked at my two millimetres of beer I thought “that, in a rather enormous nutshell, is how I got myself in this mess”. A new problem had been added into the mix with the table. Because the beer was now at a record low level people kept coming to try and clear my glass! I had to hold on to it – it was my only hope.
Suddenly a call from Nick trying to confirm where this third pub is (I’d been moving around trying to find one with an outside table). He tries to tell me that he’s just going to find somewhere for a bite to eat and that he’ll head over afterwards, but I tell him he’s not allowed to. He must come and rescue me. And to his credit he does.
A few minutes later we are happily seated outside a couple of pints between us, and our conversation turns to how although an outdoor table seemed like a good idea earlier it might now be getting a bit cold. But after all the effort I went through I’m not moving. We agree that stoically not moving is the order of the day. Which turns out to have been the right decision because just as Nick is heading to the bar who should he almost bump right into but a friend of his that he hadn’t seen for a year and a half? She had lost their phone all that time ago and so had lost Nick’s number and their new phone had come with a new number. They’d last seen each other when they both lived in Nottingham.
So now this is really quite weird. But I had to ask the question was I a) destined to see this gig or b) destined to get Nick in the right place to meet his old friend or c) this destiny thing doesn’t exist – get over it? Rich arrived and we had some more beer so it became a moot point.
About 5 minutes later Adrian arrives and points out the name of the pub. It’s called The York, and is right opposite the venue. York is where Adrian used to live, and was where he met Rick and Rob from The Dukes. It’s certainly time to leave and go to the gig…
[Click here for the concluding part]