Woke up Friday with the edible bleach poisoning that is increasingly a problem in this country to drinkers of draught beer of any kind... the overfrothiness of the beer the night before in the Beehive Swindon, my favourite place in that town (even better than the magic roundabout, which, sadly, is only amazing in theory) was a sure sign... hmm. Worth it to catch Anton Barbeau with a full-on band made up of Swindon's finest.
As great as it was, this Antgig in Swindon, it did prevent me from getting my practice on that night and the next. Woke Saturday and realised with some horror that I'd done no practice for this gig at all. Still, I knew we'd play very early and there were more pressing things to worry about - the ever changing face of the Port PA; getting a decent-sized audience out in this dry, angrifying icy rawness; making sure our musical guests were happy...
I got down to the Port early, hoping that I'd find the PA intact and preferably already set up from the night before... no such luck - it's in bits, scattered everywhere. Brian and I fight with it for some time before realising that something fundamental was missing. Pat and Russ turn up from Northampton and I'm still fiddling ineffectually with the bloody thing. James Serjeant turns up and confirms our fears in re. the missing bits - thankfully a last minute supply of the correct lead direct from the kind heart of Osprey saves me a savage beating from monitor-hungry blokes with guitars.
Having ridden the emotional roller-coaster of a soundcheck without dropping dead of an aneurysm, it was time to take the stage. Nice to see a few people in the audience despite the early hour. Everything goes pretty well - start with a good rendition of Dreamer, Green goes nicely, as does Dark Matter. It's only when I realise I've forgotten to cut my nails and we get to Everything In The Picture that things take a nasty turn. They even seem to grow during the set, Look At The Captain becomes almost impossible to play with werewolf claws and I'm mightily relieved to be in the home straight of Telephones. Pretty well received - Terry's Camera seemed to get the best reception.
Time was flying by this time, so Anton and Su were soon setting up. Slight moment of horror as Anton flew into one of his energy drink-fuelled introductory meanderings - I worried that the intros would be long and the songs few... I shouldn't have done - Anton and Su deliver a beautifully tight set. I can't get enough of his latest batch of songs and tonight they really do shine. Chrissy mentions how beautiful Su's voice is and I really have to agree, it's lovely, sweet and deep... er... I don't mean deep like she sings bass, I mean with depth... easy to overlook this things with the songs themselves demanding so much of one's attention. They finish with Banana - sadly I miss the majority of the song and Su's improvised harmonica solo, Anton creaking the dodgy plank on the edge of the stage for all he's worth, as I'm trying to round up our headliners. Anton and Su leave the stage to some very warm applause and hopefully a good few sigs on the clipboard.
It's our headliners' night though - I knew Pat had a long and special set lined up and he did not disappoint - Sadly without the setlist in front of me I can't go song-by-song, but he mixed acoustic with electric, live Russell drummer (who has a seemingly magical grip on percussion) and scuff karaoke machine. The acoustic version of Quality People kicks the set off marvellously, another couple of acoustic numbers before we hear the gentle pitter-patter of dat machines on the window. The arrangements on the DAT machine are brilliant - we've got the whole pa cranked up as loud as it'll go, Jim Davies keeps prodding me and suggesting more vocal (he's right, as usual) and soon the vocal slider is up as far as it'll go.
Mr Odd - finally I get to hear my first-ever favourite track from Cult of the Basement! And Southern Mark Smith seems to have a krautrockish, Jaki Liebezeitesque drum pattern that contrasts beautifully with the very human song. Highlight of the set though is Buffalo Sniper - headspinningly great and enough to strip the paint off the very walls. I hope every day for news of the Wilson album, and you should too! All too soon, it's over, the NN1 posse disappear into the night, I leave the PA intact for the next person to have an easier time of it I hope, and soon Chrissy, Jim, Brian and I are waving to Anton as he makes his way up the hill to home.
It's been a wonderful night and, Port PA notwithstanding, I'm wondering how soon we can do this again!