Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hold Steady Welshboy

If you are going to have a rock album then start it like this

Me and my friends are like, the drums on Lust for Life'
Me and my friends are like treble whisky, coke no ice'

Ok so I’ve already written about a Hold Steady gig, but everything has changed now. They’ve written a quite outstanding new album and this could be one of the last opportunities to see them in a small venue for some time. Its one of the good things about being able to manage your own time at work, (well at least when customers aren’t doing it for you), you can have meetings in the right parts of the country.

The gig was at The Irish Centre in Leeds which held lots of promise for drinking and partying. Afternoon meeting at the Leeds depot then out for an early tea with Doc. The picture is from another work venture when we had to go to Barcelona to man an exhibition stand.

Even at the time we knew it shouldn't be like this, firstly;

We fell for the Ryan Air trick, where your Barca flight lands very close to France, then its good luck chaps find your own way to the city 60 miles away.

( WARNING – however tempted you are if you ever find yourself in this situation, do not get on the Barca Bus with the scousers who have been drinking since arrival at Liverpool Airport. They don't make mp3 players that loud or with batteries that long. Oh and does anyone really think John Lennon wanted an airport naming after him?)


It was snowing…'first time in 15 years’ they said…how much better I felt knowing that!

Still the mood improved as we watched our ‘local friend’ (Craig was living in Spain at the time) order his tapas in Spanish and get himself a huge plate of almonds to eat. The steak and chips were a real struggle mate.

Sales meeting finished we headed into Leeds, four pints before a gig is always going to lead to some small catastrophe or another. This one turned out to be the waitress performing her ‘the real hustle’ trick on me. I’m not sure they should show that programme so early on TV, Rosie is planning on being the new Raffles. Anyway through 1000’s of hours of practice and a million mph hand motion the waitress managed to relieve me of my credit card. Or maybe we were drinking, talking and both handed our cards over to pay…………. I wasnt worried at all the next day.

The Irish centre is excellent, it’s a working mens club for Irish people, which means lots of locals, 4 bars, and loud music and about 800 here to see the band.

Favourite T-Shirt seen ‘only users lose drugs’ although the ‘choose milf’ was a close second.

Now I know Doc likes a few beers but the whole music scene thing doesn’t really do it for him. Sinatra is about as far as he goes. I learned later that he had described the album as ‘oh it’s a bit bloody noisy like all the stuff Paul likes’. Well at least we know where the generation gap is!

So why stand 4 yards from the speaker?

The band were really fantastic, they know they’ve written a great set of banging new tunes and are really enjoying playing them live for the first time. I don't think I've seen a band having such a good time on stage for ages.I lost my pal after he went for a smoke and an escape to slow the blood pouring from his right ear. Eight rows back, centre stage is always a good slot and so it proved, great sound and just out of spittle range. One hour forty minutes later all the best songs played (thanks to Doc for bringing me a drink) a fantastic killer parties and we’re all the hold steady. Awesome

Bring on the festival gigs.

Great live video of 'Last Night' from the gig

Its only a hill Shad

The plan this weekend (family away) was to stay at Shad’s on Saturday night and then walk in the White Peak district. We also had a dawn duel to sort out for Sunday morning.

Its always an experience staying at Shads, in fact I'd go further than this, its always an experience doing anything with Shad. The most unpredictable person I’ve ever met and as a consequence its never dull.

We spent a dull evening in the pub and went to bed early!

ok not really.

Warning rant bit…..

What is it with the latest obsession of the press, to yet again regurgitate the 'breakdown in society and family' theory to explain knife carrying. It really is utter b***ox. There are so many things to belong to these days, you would really have to try very hard to be an outsider. Whether its an online community, a band community (Hold Steady Unified Scene), work, school,gang, the local pub or maybe a family!

or even The Jericho Community Manchester

there are bloomin loads of opportunities to get positive influences.

What reminded me of this was two of Shads local pubs which are both fantastic. The first is ran by the mighty Titanic Brewery and to quote, ‘local pubs for local people’. It was bouncing and so noisy, all generated by peoples voices, smiles and energy. I think the trick was, clean, friendly, reasonable prices, great choices of drinks…(I missed the strawberry wine…made locally damn) and set up so everyone is close enough to talk to anyone but all with seats…brilliant.

The Pub

The second was even more traditional i.e. hadn’t changed since 1958 and the atmosphere again was ace. And they had a turn ‘ Silken’, how do you review a duo that play songs from 1957 to 1962 and then do requests. Lets be honest they won’t make it to the entrance hall on X Factor but for a bit of a foot tapping excellent value.

Chrome Hill

Or 'big bottom lip I’m knackered and really don’t want to be doing this hill’ as Shad called it.

We headed off, both on sat nav to Longnor which is approximately 8 miles Southeast of Buxton ie the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t believe it when my gismo said 55minutes…..its only 33 minutes to Warrington. But it turns out these machines are actually quite good.

Unlike the road from Stoke to Leek!!… kidding 30 or 40mph speed limits all the way and a minimum of 23 speed cameras. I may have missed one as I fell asleep through boredom and wrapped the car round the nearest infants school playground. Just to freak you out even more they had the Death Bikers Beware signposts every 500 yards, I drive a grey Volvo, imagine the signs for that! Grey Volvo’s BEWARE grrrrr.

Eventually we arrived ready for the walk and the duel.

The Kite Duel

Shad’s bought one of these 6 story high posh kid kites…Lord Snooty, he’s even invested in 25 metre long sharpened steel lines to cut down the poor kids kites. I wasn’t having this, so I dug out my old Peter Powell stunt kite, once upon a time I could land this on a running dogs head…so he was going to be in real trouble. (Its no wonder that blonde woman dumped Peter Powell if all he did was fly kites).

Oh yeah the duel, we got to Longnor all excited, sun shining and promptly forgot we had the kites in the boot and set off without them. Still there’s always next weekend after the party.

I also managed to forget to pick up my bottle of water, but luckily Shad was carrying a spare 2 ltr bottle…result. Longnor is a gorgeous old worldy type village and off the beaten track, although it does have four pubs so perhaps this is where the alcoholics get put out to pasture. I only wanted to do this walk because the main hill we were going to climb, Parkhouse Hill looks exactly like the back of a Stegasaurus in the pictures.

It was a lively enough walk, Shads normal obsession with animals, dogs, sheep and pulling the ears off a donkey. The hill turned out to be a bit tough for the young Welshman….maybe it was the extra water he was carrying although I’ve put it down to my superior fitness. He eventually made it to the top 10 minutes late and flopped down next to the stone I was sat on. I didn’t point out the 300ft cliff edge next to him until he yelped……what do my pals expect at the top of mountains? maybe a slide?

A couple of excellent things happened on the way back, firstly Shad said ‘we used to eat nettles when I was a kid’ , I’m sorry but there only is one response to this ‘FOUD’, I actually couldn’t stop laughing for about 10 minutes at the various images of baby Shad in my head munching on stinging nettles. Anyway in the next 10 minutes we must have walked passed a good 3 course meal. Perhaps that donkeys ear was going to make up the Julienne of raw nettle and donkey ear salad.

Next we found a pub, yay. called ‘The Quiet Lady’ and brilliantly the barwoman hardly said a word and the ones she did were whispered. Hopefully we'll come across 'The Free Beer and Party Girls pub' next time. 'Pint of orange and a pork pie each please'.

I know……its not ‘Big Picture’ but it was 1pm lunchtime and it was the only thing they had. We then went on to do what you do when you come across discovered food. This is brilliant we said, it must be local farm stuff………no its from Crewe said the friendly local drunk. Not a word.

The other top thing about the pub is they still had ashtrays on all the tables, this place is so the middle of nowhere that they just ignore the law……pirate villages rule.

Just for a bit of clarification on ‘Big Picture’ one of my pals reckons that cider being apple, counts as one of your five a day. Now this is a great theory as offset pints can now be other drinks…..bloody mary with celery = 2 of your five a day…. this is genius and deserves building on soon.

And finally the whole ‘Beware Death Biker’ thing came back to haunt us as out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere about 30 bikes nearly mowed us down. Luckily I’d parked the grey Volvo in the village or it could have got messy.

And the rest of the pictures

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