The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds is a gem of a venue. Perfect size, great stage, proper backstage, great city, lovely Yorkshire people: all was set fair.
We were a bit worried about playing on the first Friday after New Year. Would everybody be on dry January or skint or just recovering from the excesses of the previous week? And in truth advance sales hadn’t been great. We’d even resorted to some promotion which was demanding as there was no way Facebook was tolerating the advertising of a show including a band called The Fuckwits who, along with the witty, quirky and just generally wonderful Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies, were our support for the night.
But commeth the hour and the good folk of Yorkshire didn’t desert us. A great turnout was present as we took to the stage.
Now there’s one thing my voice seems not to be able to survive: stage smoke. Just one puff seems to be enough to remove all the moisture from my throat and leave me with a croak where my once mellifluous, seductive, uplifting, honey-dewed tones of a siren used to be. The effect is quite horrible to hear.
And as we stood ready to crash into the opening chord of Can’t Stop, first song of the show, I spied the tell tale trail of deadly, white, puffs of doom escaping from a blower above the stage, drifting toward me like The Fog in that film by John Carpenter.
And so, quite reasonably, I let out a little girly squeek of panic and leapt into the air, waving my arms about in order to grab the attention of the sound and lighting guy, the man responsible for spreading the end of the world (-well my voice anyway) across the stage.
Unfortunately, after decades of practice with a heavy Rickenbacker bass (now resplendantly purple, by the way) slung round my neck, I am rather good at jumping. And so my head went straight into the sharp corner of a pa speaker cabinet hung above the stage.
For the first time ever, after many decades of experience, I heard and saw an entire audience, in perfect unison, to a man and women, with shocked looks on their faces, say: “Ouch!”.
Karen, Nick and Sophie had similar looks (actually Nick was laughing, the heartless bastard!). “You’re bleeding”, said Karen, a vegetarian so not used to such things. I rushed into the dressing room thinking: “Shall I put a plaster on” but realised there’s very little you can make stick to your hair. The wonderful Chris Jones, promoter for the night, had left some lovely soft, white towels for us. They didn’t stay white for long.
I thought I’d stopped the bloodflow and so ran back on stage to launch into the show. Completely oblivious, I had no idea I still looked like an extra from a spaghetti western until the next day I saw this photo on Facebook, a testament to the unfaltering bravery, and never say die willingness to suffer for his art, character of your humble bass playing Big (Red) Head!