The Last Gig

Damn. I just realized how many “lasts” and “finals” I’ve been writing, and expect to write, recently. The last festival (Turbulent Tales and Tickell), the last walk (The Final Assignment), now the last gig, and in just a few days, the last day in Toon, and the last moments in Britain. I’m gonna cry now…

But hey, it’s a gig post. It’s supposed to be a happy one, so I’ll try to make it as upbeat as possible.

Before everything, though, I have one piece of trivia: this gig coincided with the annual Blaydon Races. It used to be a horse race in the 1800’s, then it closed down, then it reopened a few decades ago only to be turned into a running race (something about the race ground had become a factory, I think). So… When having to pick between attending a gig, or watching a running race, you know which one I could opt for!

I’d combined my last walk in the same trip as my last gig, simply because they were both west of the Pennines… Well my walk was mostly east of and on the Pennines but it did end west of it so that’s what counted. And having finished one day early gave me some time to rest, to read (found a brilliant book about the Anglo-Scottish Border), and to be thankful of the fact that we made it out before it rained again, as seen in the above picture. It was a dull day, but it wasn’t a waste. I just wish I had better internet access so that I could write my posts faster 😉

Then, on Friday, it started off as another glorious day. It was due to rain in Kirk Yetholm in a few hours; by then I’d already managed to get out of the area, so I simply watched the clouds, and my spirit lifted as I realized I was moving into the sun rather than the rain!

Somewhere along the train ride a bloke with HMHB t-shirt got on (15:00 Preston to Blackburn and then 15:51 Blackburn to Clitheroe). He recognized my And Some Fell On Stony Ground and sought my attention; I saw his shirt and waved back. If you see this post, mate, know that I gave you a kudos!

After dropping off my now very light pack (because I gave all my food to a biker who still had days ahead, completely oblivious of the fact that I was also giving away my breakfast and lunch – but that was another story) at my bed and breakfast, and after one hour of attempting to write the last post, I decided it was time to re-feed myself, and found the Bowland Brewery. They have the longest bar in Britain, they say. But I’m more interested in food…

So, a very large portion of fish on a bun, chips, coleslaw, and salad (thank goodness – haven’t had fresh veggies in days!), and writing later, I finished my coke, looked up just in time to meet John and the gang. We greeted, hugged, and I blundered with the kiss-on-the-cheek thing. Never really understood those etiquette things… Probably because I’ve been told different things by different people!

A tiny chat later, John dug out Ron – successfully deflated – and started blowing it up. It was all good fun, and seconds later, the Ron Seal was ready to go again!

While the gang talked, I examined Ron. The signatures were fading fast, but considering its status in the whole fan community, I don’t think it would matter that much. I was hoping to take a picture of him and Postman Tony, but Tony was really ill and couldn’t make it. Sigh, man… Get well soon, and… I’ll see you when I come back for more gigs… Then I’ll take a picture of you and Ron. Deal?

John brought his brother Chris for the first time, and he was already immersing himself with the HMHB vibe: i.e. witty, humorous, adults being rather childish but still adults nonsense. Who said anything about my friends all being middle-aged, bald males holding a beer in their hands?

Elizabeth didn’t come this time, so Celia and I were the only estrogen producers of the gang. But that didn’t really matter. The fun did (though I must say without Elizabeth and her waving the oven gloves, the gig was never complete). I’d also hoped to meet Glyn before the gig, but hard luck… His next one is Holmfirth, so there was no hope. We had a long discussion on Facebook re coming back and doing more gigs, so I think my goal for the next ten years would be exactly that. Of course, Canadian citizenship first.

We were almost late as the gang minus John and his bro went for chips after the pints, and the lads were already on stage after I dashed out from the washroom (sorry folks, deliberate return to Canadianism here as I’m readapting). A second after I found a vantage point, Bad Losers on Yahoo Chess began.

I’m pounding my own head now for not recording the whole thing. For some ridiculous reason, I thought I had a live version on my phone. I don’t. And I believe it’s my first time seeing it live. But my stupid brain decided that, since I recognized the tune within seconds, I must not need a live version. I swear I’m gonna have myself brainwashed some day; it might function better.

Nigel was wearing glasses today. Not sure why, will investigate later…

So, second song, Fred Titmus. I spared one second checking my phone storage, and panicked. If you saw a girl frantically deleting stuff from her phone throughout the gig, it was probably me… Apologies for not concentrate as everyone else!

And I have another confession… My HMHB time has been squeezed out by Kathryn Tickell and the Unthanks lately, so not so much progress was made between the one hundred thirty something days between now and Oxford. – What’s that John, 134 or 138 again?

Petty Session was the third. I now have an anecdote for it… While playing Quidditch (a silly online game in a Facebook group, just to give you an idea of how nerdy I am), I typed the lyrics in a desperate attempt to prevent being banned by Facebook. Unfortunately, I typed “I’d like an altercation with a member of staff” and “that was a ten pound note” in separate lines, and the referee of that game came to me afterwards asking if I had anything bad to say about the game/group staff. The problem is, I was a staff for that group as well!

Korfball, or Joy in Leeuwarden was the next one. I blame the Serbian, Hungarian and German in this song for still not being word-perfect! But by then, the festivity side of the gig was out, and aside from deleting stuff from my phone, I was engaged, excited, and feeling the rush!

Then, just I was expecting something like When the Evening Sun Goes Down, Deep House Victims Minibus Appeal came up. I had a somewhat confused relationship with that song: it wasn’t long till I learned most of the words, but I somehow fail to put the meanings together. I have a faint suspicion that it’s taking the piss of forced donation/awkward fundraising events and stuff, but I can’t claim I know the song. The lads never cease to amaze me.

And then there was Evening Sun. After being in the last three (or so I think) gigs and in my playlist, I’m okay with the words, so it was time for me to shout along. I’d shown this song to a friend while we visited Wirral a month ago (for those who don’t read this blog regularly, you need to find the post on Billy Elliot to know it’s merely a coincident, with its advantage taken), and we had loads of fun pointing at the sun with our fingers hooked, “Come on down!” Also… Given the sunset time in Tyneside these days… I wouldn’t call that gesture as belonging to a mad man, either.

Thought the next one was Gubba Look-Alikes for about 10 seconds before recognizing it as Look Dad No Tunes. This alone is probably my biggest improvement from the last gig. I can recognize the tune, follow the “we better let them in” lines, but I’m useless for everything else. Still, better than labelling this as something I haven’t heard before. I had to label the next one “unfamiliar”, though. It (A Lilac Harry Quinn) was on that album that I still cannot find. I found it at Probe Records while in Liverpool, but dissuaded myself from purchasing as I don’t have a record player. Now that I bought myself a DVD on Northumbrian “Trad Arr Tunes”, I’m regretting that choice.

“There was one in the gang, who had Scaletrix and because of that, he thought he was better than you…”DPAK was, in my opinion, getting old, but never tiring. Once I figured out what this song was about (took me months), I took an instant liking on its vivid imagery and the not-so-good ol’ times feel. I still pity the lad…

Then something as surprising as Deep House appeared: Bad Review. It was one of my earliest likings, precisely because “it’s a bad review, we’ve got a bad review” were one of the most distinguishable lines of all of their tracks. I still fail at everything else lyrics-wise, but at least I get the spirit in this one. PS. Are we gonna have gig guides, now?

Bob Wilson made a reappearance. It was some good shouting, and a very appropriate swear-word substitute for Nigel as he looked for his nonexistent camper van in soup-thick rain (now very relatable after my trans-Pennine walk). Bad Wools was the next. It was probably a must, as Clitheroe is quite close to Preston – unless it’s a different Preston, of course. Then it was Bane of C, followed by 27 Yards of Dental Floss. Note to self, I’d be too cruel of a female to replay “Yeah, but not with you” when being asked “Would you like to go to the zoo” by a male. A more proper answer would probably be, “I thought your cage was in a psychiatric research institute?” or “Mmmm… Do you want me to escort you home?”

I was preoccupied by clearing my storage, and for some reason, Nigel’s accent was again giving me a hard time, so I don’t have much information on the banter side of the gig… Chatty Nigel though. He kept taking the piss out of some random people. After Bad Wools, there was also a lot of shouting of “Play one the drummer knows” – all at the wrong time. The Clitheroe local crowd was a drunken, if not barmy, one, indeed.

Some nice bloke on the Lyrics Project provided one priceless piece of banter, and I’m putting it up here because it’s probably the best:

Ken: The first person in Wallasey to be an apprentice blacksmith.
” Have you ever shooed a horse?”
“No, but I’ve told a donkey to f*ck off.”

For one second, I thought I was going to hear 24HGP, but it didn’t happen. To all the people reading this post: Giz a shout if ye hear it live again, alreet?

Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride followed. And then, fortunately, Chatteris. For some reason, the venue didn’t feel as crazy as the previous times, and less people were shouting the words. The crowd even shushed each other over a period of low guitar time. Without the crowd, I suppose the lads got their intended effects, though it made me think just how many of the fan community were absent today.

Two seconds later, Vatican Broadside. I now declare it my banter track. I’ll play with it with every single politician, musician, artist, celebrity I see fit, and hold no regrets. For example… The head toss of the US went to Rome to see the Pope… The PM of Britain went to Rome to see the Pope… You name it.

Then I caught a full version of Tommy Walsh’s Eco House. This is one of the weird songs, weirder than Descent of the Stiperstones (eventually figured that out after four months of getting fed up by it). First of all, I don’t get the fuss with Tommy Walsh, and his Eco House… And then it was my inability to put lyrics together to make meaning. And what the heck has the life coach got to do with this? What about the naming of the political parties…? Urghhhhh how many times have I wished to have grew up here now?

Nigel tried with an unfamiliar tune – I suspect a tribute – before doing Shite Day. Keeping in mind that almost all train stations in a city centre can have the same shops around it, we spotted Boots (first) and Primark (second) outside Liverpool Lime Street. We didn’t pay attention to Millets, but one quick search told us that it was possible – just a bit of skirting around – to go Lime Street – Boots – Millets – Primark. No fat kids with sausage rolls or poor sods conducting polls though. Maybe we weren’t looking at the right place.

Joy Division Oven Gloves came on, and I suddenly realized we were approaching the climax of this gig. I was still thinking about Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo, even while I was shouting about selling that goddamned grandfather clock…

Outbreak of Vitas. How many times do I need to tell myself to find the damn album?!

Then it was Trumpton. Played just the night after GE2017. Celebrated as Theresa May’s Coalition of Chaos was being suspected and debated about. There was surely no better post-election party in Britain? I’m I’m gonna recite:

“Unemployment’s rising in the Chigley end of town, and it’s spreading like pneumonia doesn’t look like going down. There’s trouble at the fire station someone’s had a sack, and now lad’s are gonna launch a scheme to rid of Captain Flack.” Sounds familiar?

When the lads started Trad Arr Tune, I was starting to get worried… Surely they weren’t accidentally playing their encores, eh? Then a semi-wordless performance of The Best Things In Life, which didn’t make the lads look as organized as the Double Gig, worsened my worries. Continuing on, Paintball’s Coming Home again engaged the entire hall – in both singing and giggling. Then, as Light at the End of the Tunnel came on, I was convinced that there would be no encore – they’d done their best songs!

Nae bother, lassie, nae bother at all. The lads came back. They played a tune that I recognized instantly, but fail to put a name to, broke a note, made some ridiculous faces (booing from the audience), before resorting to the set list – 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd. The verse about Mary and the little lamb and all those astounded gynecologists was the first one to have me spit out tea, though the rest of the song again wouldn’t make much sense to me… And I’ve done a study with the words of this song?!

Still – fitting song, as the son of Jimmy Clitheroe was featured.

Then, following the tradition set by the last two gigs, there was a true tribute. Still not sure what song it was, but I’ll take it.

And the final act was AOR. Perfect. That song that I still cannot find. Exactly what I need to finish all my HMHB gigs with. So, while everyone was singing along, I was standing there trying to distinguish even a single word to try and follow, to no avail. Thanks, NB10/57/329948572834!

But the chat up with Jay afterwards sort of made up for it. Let me know if you ever make it to Usway Burn, mate!

The lyric slip-ups were abundant today, another reason to have me suspect the lads were not as organized as they themselves liked. I know Nigel tries hard to memorize everything, and I do respect and love his efforts. However, as John put it, “it’s always fun to spot slip-ups”. I don’t remember much, so I can only try… There was one in Bad Review, though I can’t really tell what was being said. Nigel facepalmed once during some song – again can’t remember which. Verses were being left out, and for the non-improv version of The Best Things in Life, only the Slippers part was sung – wonder if that was deliberate? The first verse of Bob Todd was also left out, and the lads did the third verse first… Evening of Swing was also set for the encore, but it didn’t make an appearance, for whatever reason…

Well, now that the main gig’s over, I’m going to propose one thing: to have a gig in Northumberland. I mean, now there’s been a gig in Clitheroe, why not go north of Newcastle (and still stay south of the Border)? I for one recommend Morpeth, with a second choice of Hexham. Both are quaint little towns like Clitheroe (apologies for the cliche), and both have good venues. If neither works, Berwick and Alnwick work, too – though Alnwick is no longer reachable by train. These two are bigger, and more “modern”, with Alnwick being more touristy – now that I think about it, Alnmouth would be an interesting choice of location… It’ll be a lot like Worthing, I suppose. Ideally for me, a gig in Coquedale is something to die for, I don’t think Rothbury is big enough to have the entire secret society flood in: we’d probably outnumber the townsfolk!

Well, that was it. No more gigs, not until I manage to come back to this island. The post-HMHB depression hasn’t cottoned on yet, so I’m going to relish every single moment of this fantastic feeling of finding a supportive community in which I belong. It doesn’t matter that most of the people here were balding, over-50 males. From the four gigs, I see with my bare eyes that deep inside, we are all that post-punk, indie youth inspired – even comforted – by Nigel’s wit and anger. I’ve never been a goth (been told I’d be good Goth material though), but I think this community is as close to goth as I could ever find, without delving into the Gothic culture: it’s about exchanging trivia and taking the piss, about music and pop culture gossip, about friendship built on a common philosophy, about opening our arms to all newcomers, about having each others’ backs despite we being scattered all over the world, and about coming to one venue at a time, every few weeks or months, to catch up, to drink, to dance, to sing, and to celebrate our own common secret. HMHB’s lyrics got me into the first gig, but the people in front of the stage made sure I stay for as many as possible. And to that, I owe everyone a thank you – thank you for accepting this weird minority-in-all-sense individual into the community, thank you for welcoming me regardless of my differences, and thank you for breaking all the stereotypes of British people – booze excluded – I’ve had all my life.

And Tony, the offer still stands. I’ll try my best to come back for more gigs, whether that be three years, five years, a decade, or more. Let me take a pic of you with Ron then, all right?

One thought on “The Last Gig

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