September 14th 2013
And we’re off to Harrogate with two hangovers in the van. Long Island Iced Teas are to blame. Once the Del Amitri day-off drink of choice in the US, now to be avoided at all costs. Five kinds of white spirits in one glass. I used to serve them in my nightclub barman days. If they came back for a second they were not seen again. Not in this world.
It’s sunny but with a sky busy with tortured clouds reaching down from every altitude. I have spent the morning listening to AM by Arctic Monkeys. Hm.
Harrogate is hoaching with slowcoaches. Swarms of daytrippers trudge about looking disconsolate. I have noodles in a place packed with families. I grimace at their moaning kids with no sympathy, no patience and no clue. Poor bastards. I can’t say I’m a fan of these sorts of places. Affluent, popular and nominally pretty, the record shop has no records, the book shop no books. I look in vain for something interesting. There is an enormous queue of middle-class gawpers snaking from somewhere called Betty’s Tea Rooms. They look like they’d tan a car if they didn’t get their scone fix. A juggernaut of a cloud eases itself overhead like the mother ship in Close Encounters and begins spitting tiny raindrops on all the trudging shoppers. I spot a very odd busker: a sixty-year-old man with a Bob Dylan cap and an Epiphone 12-string, sitting on a bucket playing weird covers through an amp soaked in more reverb than the first Glasvegas album. It’s genuinely original. He’s an acid casualty care-in-the-community freakoid and he’s the best thing here. His legs are so skinny he makes John Cooper Clarke look like Geoff Capes.
The venue is a glorious “kursaal” theatre, beautifully restored and ideal for a spot of magic and ventriloquism. The soundcheck is mercifully quick and we all take to the freezing dressing room to languish on its white leather sofas. I smell the odour of lottery grant. Someone brings us a radiator type object which proves to be an air-con unit that only cools. We can’t chill until we’re heated. Eventually the heating comes on as soon as doors open in spite of having a whole team of staff freezing for hours upstairs.
It’s quite a high stage with a rake so I spend the concert looking down my nose at the audience. It feels a mite surreal, playing such earnest codswallop in a place so obviously built for raising a titter or delivering melodic sedation for those taking the waters. “Waters, Rick? But we’re in the desert”
“I was misinformed”.
We lodge in a Days Inn out at a motorway service zone and when I open my curtains in the AM I appear to be in Kansas, Yorkshire. A tropical wind is chopping about, seasonal motion is in train. I watch the end of the Great North Run on TV. It’s so damp that all the camera lenses are steamed-up but the crowd faithfully waits in their waterproofs for the mass of runners to finish. British pluck, Nigel, bulldog spirit. Hopelessness and extreme boredom, I’d say.
Before departing I mistakenly enter the Moto where a bewilderingly enormous scramble of travellers are circulating. The line for coffee is gargantuan. It’s Sunday. Can’t these morons stay at home for one fucking day? What happened to all the things we set aside for a rainy day? Gluing cuttings into a scrapbook, getting wired in to that 10,000 piece jigsaw of the Rialto in Venice, slaughtering your entire extended family with a cricket bat. So many traditions spoilt. I need Manchester’s carping wit. I desire it. I need civilisation in the shape of a city.
13 Responses to “September 14th 2013”
Glad you are getting good reviews of this tour – almost done! I am living vicariously through the comments of others since I don’t live in Canada, not the UK. We are planning a visit next year so hopefully you will be touring at the time and I WILL drag my family along to a concert.
Whoops! I DO live in Canada, NOT the UK. Too much vodka apparently. : )
“I spot a very odd busker: a sixty-year-old man with a Bob Dylan cap and an Epiphone 12-string, sitting on a bucket playing weird covers through an amp soaked in more reverb than the first Glasvegas album. It’s genuinely original. He’s an acid casualty care-in-the-community freakoid and he’s the best thing here. His legs are so skinny he makes John Cooper Clarke look like Geoff Capes.”
He plays every week and well worth the listen – it would appear though that you missed the real character in the town centre, the much loved Rudi – who can often be found a bit further along the street from the busker, laid on his back as bemused shoppers pass by and shouting at the gods who look down upon us, demanding the sun shows itself – on the odd occurrence the stars line up and the sun reveals itself, he claims divine powers. He also takes the opportunity to gate crash any unsuspecting buskers in the vicinity – Am assured he does a good cover of No Surrender!
Thanks again for Saturday, neck strain apart, it was a really good gig from the 2nd row and Del Barber earned a new fan in my son who is showing everyone his signed CD – Cheers J
Just been to Salford for the great gig, there was a song with a whistled verse that reminded me of when Harmonica finished Frank off in Once Upon A Time In The West. Loved it.
Thats it! It was Priscilla:-) Thanks Youtube and JC
Long Island Iced Teas in a Radisson Blu but it’s the poor sods queuing for a Betty’s Fat Rascal that get labelled as middle class. If it wasn’t for the high esteem in which I hold you I may have concluded that the irony of your post had been unintentional.
I’m wallowing in the afterglow of another charismatic performance with an Aperol Prosecco aperitif and a bag of chips with scraps and curry sauce. Nobody can accuse me of having no couth.
Know what you about Harrogate but sitting in the front row looking up I was captivated, you are a genius in my eyes, just happy to witness you crooning just needed a few more smiles and a longer set
Only the one Long Island Iced Tea Justin? You lightweight – try drinking 5 and then tell me how you feel.
Well, there was a record shop that had a few copies of an album called ‘Lower Reaches’ by some Justin Currie bloke on display on a shelf. Didn’t sound half bad…
Enjoyed Harrogate gig a lot, thanks. Think there’s been a lot of alcohol related stuff going on. When Terry Wogan asked JC about the pub, the reply was ‘that’s the last place I want to go to’. ‘Drunk in a band’ and JC’s on-stage remark some years ago about ‘We’ve been in the pub’, plus the article on the website re. Glasgow boozers, is further proof that JC is a man who’s had some booze-related incidents which became, over time, problematic. When you said in Harrogate you’ve spent the last 12 years falling apart, I was sad. I hope everything’s okay. The songs are great. Stay happy. You’re writing is great. Write a book. I’d buy it. Miles x
To understand irony, first you must let it pass you by.
Bit of a grumpy vision of Harrogate. OK, it’s not Paris, nor Venice, nor Rome- just home…with tourists and conferences!
Good show though, thanks. In terms of the stage, from the er…opposite view – got a crick in me neck from the fifth row!
Excellent version of Hard On by the way, I really love Dan Willson’s original but yours has something else…please record and release if you get a minute.
Thanks for coming – see you in Jan!
AArghh…I’ve just discovered the Charles Latham version of Hard On which is the ACTUAL original…Have you any idea how excruciating it is when an anal retentive like meself gets it wrong!!!! Fortunately ‘er indoors is always around to remove the daggers- after a bit of a twist, obviously! I feel chastened – no more smartarse messages from me.