|By Invitation Only||
Well, we did it! I survived nearly five hours on-stage without a piss break & with only a minor handful of technical problems & cock-ups.
We got into the Boardwalk at the regulation 2pm, Me, Warren (Jacques - Von Daniken & Haze sound engineer), Bobby (Strongheart), Greb (up for the event from Swindon), Steve Phoenix (Boardwalk sound engineer) and Mark Metham (video recording), fairly swiftly joined by the Paul's (McMahon & Chisnell) & Sharon & Nick (lighting).
I'd planned out a stage set and channel listing of instruments which would hopefully allow everyone to play at once and still be within the capabilities of the Boardwalk's sound system. For the anal retentives, it went something like this:-
A more major problem was the lighting. Due to a blown dimmer rack there were just two options.... on or off. Fortunately some of our lights were already in the van, and Sharon managed to persuade Mark to run her home to pick up the rest.
It wasn't long before Wilbur & the Satsumas & Treebeards arrived & we were ready for a soundcheck/rehearsal.
My rather hopeful schedule for the afternoon ended up remarkably on time:-
The food for the event has all been bought by Mum & Dad & Nicola, and prepared by Mum during the afternoon, and comprised assorted samosa's, pasties & pizza, cheese, salad & humous sandwiches, and various crisps, peanuts & snacks. Sufice to say I was too buzzing at 6.30 to eat, and there was none left by the time I got off stage at 11.50!
Over 170 invitations had been requested and sent out, but I asked the doormen to let anyone in who had genuinely come to see the bands & didn't look like a troublemaker! By the end the crowd looked to be well over 250, our best turn out in a long time.
In my extensive notes to the musicians, comprising set lists, timings, chords to songs they didn't know but were going to play on anyway, I included a note not to hang out in the dressing room except for getting changed & tuning up. The only thing I don't like about the Boardwalk is the tendency for the dressing room to fill up with uninvited and unwanted liggers; I'd hoped if the musicians weren't there, there would be no 'reflected glory' for the unwelcome ones to bask in. I would also like to have provided a crate of beer for the musicians, but then I'd have needed to provide dressing room security as well, so I made do with taking a case of wine to the curry house on Monday instead!
All the bands were running to very tight schedules, and kept to them pretty well. The sets were:-
7.00pm Von Daniken
We opened with a Peter Hammill song (about how the music biz sucks!), played a medley of songs from 'New Worlds' with Van Der Graaf Generator's 'Theme #1' thrown in, then it was an mp3 outtake from 'Transient', a short instrumental from 'Transient' and our master work, a seven minute extract from Jeff Waynes 'War Of The World', complete with Warren's best Richard Burton impression.
A meandering intro of 'Whale music' started up the moment Von Daniken had finished, and lead to:-
Keeping it moving fast, I picked up the rhythm to 'Hurricane' as the rest of Treebeard hit the stage, though it took a while to find the violin in the PA:-
8.30pm World Turtle
Paul played 'Devil' on electric guitar to facilitate a quick change to the World Turtle set. However, I was starting to wilt and lost the arrangement during 'Vertigo', resulting in some interesting jazz polytonality! By the end of the set we had all of Satsuma! and Treebeard onstage with us.
9.00pm The Toastplant Project
Nick - guitar & vocals
Carl - bass & vocals
Fred - drums
A late addition to the bill, I had wanted to fit them in, but wasn't sure if we'd have time. When the bar extension was finally confirmed a couple of days before the gig, we decided to go for it.
Toastplant started out as a solo project of World Turtle & Strongheart roadie Nick Duckenfield. Last year he recruited fellow Kingfisher Blue and ex-Wicked bass player Carl and ex- Staford Galley drummer Fred to play his original music. Tonight they only had time for one song, one that I usually join them onstage for:-
To the highlight for the other half of the audience. I had worried about the running order, because of the number of local fans Strongheart attract, but in the end enough people travelled to the show to justify the Haze possition on the bill. The set was structured to give me plenty of excuses for keyboards solos....
11.00pm Stronghaze Von Satsbeard
This is where it realy got silly, Paul played bass, guitar, mandolin & 12 string electric mandolin, I played bass, keyboards & bouzouki, Warren played guitar and bass in a chicken costume, Gordon played violin & keyboards, Nick, Wilbur & Chris Jellis played guitar, Bobby & Paul Chis alternated between congas & drums & Sats sang & played harmonica!
At the end Mum & Dad brought two cakes onto the stage (a carrot cake & chocolate cake from the Blue Moon restaurant) with candles in the shape of a "4" and an "0" on. I had just enough puff to blow them all out & it was all over. I managed to do a quick tour of the audience before everyone left & for weeks after was pulling cards & presents out of the various flight cases into which they had been thrown on the night.
The Jaflong, Monday 9th April
I spent most of my birthday driving round & unloading the van. At 11am Me, Warren & Greb met Nick & Bobby at the Boardwalk to load out the gear. We dropped Bobby's drums at his practice room, headed back to Fir St to unload our gear & grab a cup of tea, then on to Chesterfield to unload Paul Chisnells kit (and another cup of tea), before heading back to Sheffield, picking up a case of wine from Beanies on the way.
By then it was getting on for curry time, just time for a quick game of footie with the dog before people were starting to arrive at our house.
The Jaflong is conveniently just round the corner & serves what we reckon is the best Indian food in Sheffield. We'd booked the entire restaurant and filled it. Most of the musicians from the night before were there, along with a few other friends. Afterwards the party continued at our house, with our front room holding double figures for the first time ever!
It took me a week to recover, but we're already planning what the next major event will be.