Stu had phoned us on the Wednesday night to say that Death Pedals might be screwed for transport as he had found oil in the water filter. He said that he was going to take it to the garage in the morning to see if it was safe to drive. We would be on standby; If their van was fucked, we were going to have to leave early to pick three of them up and the other one would have to get the train. So me, Phil, and Gareth woke up early on the Thursday and waited for Stu to call.
Their van was fine.
21.2.13 Liverpool – The Caledonia
We left our house in Kingston Upon Thames at around 12:00 on the Thursday and headed north. Gareth had been recently given a load of cassette tapes from his friend, Christian - a high ranking lad in the union of mint mushes*. Out of all the great albums in the collection, we had somehow managed to convince ourselves that the Mansun record was going to be good. So, after Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge finished, we put on the Mansun record. In 1998 four blokes were stuck for ideas for their next album. So what they did was record the top twenty singles chart, chop it into segments, then play it back randomly and rip it off. We actually sat through the whole of it, waiting for Being a Girl, which happened to be the last song. We rated it afterwards and Gareth gave it 4 out of 10, Phil gave it 3, and I gave it .25. The .25 was to reflect Being a Girl, or at least, the good 1 minute 04 seconds of Being a Girl [The single edit]. Mansun sound like every crap band ever; At times they were The Mars Volta, then they'd be Lost Prophets, Faith No More, Charlotte Church, and The Scissor Sisters etc. It was so awful that I suggested that when we stopped we should put it under the wheels of the van and run it over. Gareth didn't look so keen, which is when he distracted me by bringing up the rating system. We continued our journey up the M40 and washed our ears out with a Minor Threat record, a The Doors song on Kerrang! radio as we passed through Birmingham, a Super Luxury single, and Hole's Live Through This.
Death Pedals were running late and we headed to pick up our good friend and tonight's promoter, Jon. We drank a cup of tea, then headed to collect a PA system, then to the venue via another rehearsal studio to pick up Jon's amplifier. Death Pedals arrived shortly after we had set up in the venue. Jon and Sam [Eyes] went off to watch the wrestling at Drop the Dumbbells but we opted to stay and eat some food and re-skin/re-string our instruments.
Eyes returned from the wrestling at 21:15, bringing the crowd with them. They took to the stage straight away and were absolutely mint. Death Pedals went on second, and after the first song were completely knackered. They were still incredibly good, and I might not have even noticed had Wayne not told the crowd that he thought he was having a heart attack. We hadn't done much band stuff since since recording our album over Christmas and were equally lacking match fitness. Again, it wasn't a problem and it didn't hinder our performance, it just meant that we had to breath harder between songs. It was a lot of fun, and when it was suggested that we play another song after we had finished, I jumped at the chance and insisted we do two.
We stuck about for a bit after the show speaking to people we'd met from previous times we had played in Liverpool. We consumed a fair few beers (I was on the Off Kilter Porter), arranged for our gear to be left in the venue over night, then headed to Jon's after stocking up on Ale and breakfast at the twenty four hour Asda. Jon went to bed when we got back, but the rest of us stayed up talking about perfect 10 out of 10 records.
Phil and I had been given the bedroom upstairs because we snore. Tactically, I went early to get the bed. I was tired and would have gone straight to sleep, but Luther, Jon's kitten, kept pouncing on my face and trying to attack my hands.
*mushes - Rhymes with bushes not hushes.
22.2.13 Bradford – The Polish Club
I spent most of the night with my face inches away from Luther. Even when I turned around he would follow my face. I think he liked the feeling of my warm breath. By about 07:00 Luther had fully woken up and resumed jumping on my face and wrestling with my hands. At one point he even chased them down my sleeping bag. I realised that Phil had shut the door on his way in, locking Luther in the room. I climbed off the bed, still in my sleeping bag, did a tricky manoeuvre over Phil, and opened the door.
After a few hours of uninterrupted sleep I woke to the smell of bacon. Gareth and Jon had started cooking the breakfast in the kitchen and Luther was in the sitting room trying to attack the hands of Death Pedals. We ate the breakfast, Wayne and I did the washing up, Alex tidied the sitting room, then we climbed into the van and headed to the Caledonia to collect our equipment. We had a brief walk around Liverpool first, which consisted of grabbing a coffee and visiting Primark. As we loaded our gear from the venue to the van we got asked by the bar lady where we were heading next. She gasped at the prospect of visiting Bradford and we humoured her. We have been to Bradford quite a few times and weren't in the slightest bit concerned. I wondered if she was aware of Liverpool's reputation amongst similar, misinformed individuals? I also wondered if she was just a massive racist wally.
The Polish Club is a social club run by Polish people. I had imagined a Polish community and Polish culture, but the inside was decked out like any other social club with its uninspiring repeat patterns, decorative wooded wall panels, pool table, and function room. The only things Polish were two members of staff, a few beers, and some Polish Vodka. I'm certain that the Cardinal Wolsey public house in Hampton has more Polish things than that!
After loading in and setting up we headed out to a curry house. Andy [promoter, That Fucking Tank, Nope] was unwell and was unable to make us food. He apologised, but we fully understood. We were told to head to the Kashmir as it was the best and it was cheap. It wasn't cheap. The food was great though and we had a thoroughly good time. Phil got quizzed by a Free Mason about his hammer tattoo on his neck and had also thought that somebody was drinking a pint of custard, only to be told that it was probably mango.
On our return, The Polish Club had filled with Bradford's 17-19 year old population. We were about to witness what youth clubs would be like if they didn't have youth workers. When Death Pedals played only a few came up from the downstairs bar to watch them. When we played, a lot more came up, but soon left. We were told that the No Hands nights weren't usually like that. Shit happens and the only way to remedy it was to have a really good time. We were seven southern lads getting heavily inebriated in amongst the the chaos of young people refining their social skills and learning valuable life lessons. We saw love, sleaze, bitching and fighting. The Pedals kept on buying in the Sambuca and eventually the bar ran out. We had a really good time.
Andy had given us the back door key to his house, so when everyone was kicked out, we got our bags from the van and took two cabs back to Andy's house. Me, Wayne and Gareth got back first, getting the pick of the mattresses. Apparently, as soon as my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep.
23.2.13 Newcastle – The Central
We needed to be back at the Polish Club early to collect our gear as their function room was needed for a party. My head hurt; Phil's head hurt; Alex's head hurt; Tom's head hurt; Stu's head hurt; Wayne's head hurt; and Gareth's face and head hurt. Gareth had received a whack from Stu the night before. Stu's hand was being controlled by me. I had also kicked Stu because he had been playing with my hair. It was comic aggression, it's just a shame that it wasn't funny.
There are a lot of very strange people in Wetherspoons pubs. The Sir Titus Salt wasn't far from the Polish Club, so once we'd moved the van away from the eyes of the dodgy blokes watching us load in our equipment, we went and stocked up on calories and some of us released the brown build up from within. Gareth and Stu had the eggs Benedict, and the rest of us ate the large breakfast.
Wetherspoons toilets are always of a high standard. While I was admiring the dry floor, lock on the door and the toilet roll in the dispenser, I heard a man enter the cubicle next to mine. The guy was talking on his phone loudly about a friends horrific injury involving a heavy CD rack. He then continued the conversation whilst taking a dump. I could even hear him groaning between sentences. Pooing while on the phone isn't my main concern here; it's the wiping that worries me the most.
It had been snowing in Newcastle and the pavement and the tops of the cars were covered in a blanket of white fluff and the roads were wet and slushy. We found The Central and were allowed to unload despite being four hours early. Gareth and Stu racked up some traffic fines while trying to find a place to park. They searched for half an hour around the streets of Gateshead for somewhere, and eventually found some spots right near the venue. We had time to kill, and as the floor outside was covered in snow, we had to kill all that time at The Central. We grabbed some food, bought some beers, and watched two games of rugby football.
Chris [promoter] had brought along some baguettes, pasta and humus and by the time we'd finished eating, it was time for the music to start. Either the crowd all used moisturiser, ate healthily, and got an average of eight hours sleep every night, or they were a fair few years younger than us. It's great to see young communities of active music listeners and it gives me hope that we can still be doing this for many years to come. It was an excellent last night, Wade, End Reign and Death Pedals smashed it and the crowd were fantastic.
Chris gave us the key to his house as he needed to get home to bed and we wanted to hang about in The Central. We stayed until closing, Death Pedals arranged to leave their gear at the venue over night but we packed ours into our van to save the hassle in the morning. We went and got some food from the nearest fast food outlet which promised Pizza and Chinese food on the sign outside. On the inside the menu only had kebabs and pizza. We bought ourselves chips and a kebab and were slightly surprised to discover that the food didn't come inside the pita bread. It was a sort of DIY kebab.
Chris' house wasn't far from the venue. When we got back we pretty much drank one beer then headed for bed. Phil slept in the van.
24.2.13 Kingston Upon Thames - Home
We woke up early-ish to give ourselves plenty of time to get breakfast and make sure that we didn't return home at stupid o'clock. We're getting older now, so winding down after a weekend of rock is essential. We grabbed another Wetherspoons breakfast, this time Gareth bought himself two eggs Benedict all for himself. Then we drove Death Pedals to The Central to pick up their gear and van, and helped them load up (which meant loading our van the night before didn't save us any time). We said our goodbyes, then drove south back to our house in Kingston Upon Thames, where we arrived just in time to catch Country File.