I’ve played in a lot of bands. I’m serious…a LOT of bands. Most of these were pretty groovy – nice chaps, good tunes, some enjoyable roadtrips and a hatful of good memories. Obviously, no riches or enormous fame or I’d have one of my uniformed minions type this for me whilst I snacked on a Swans Neck Kebab, but some good times. With the good, with depressing inevitability, must come the bad. Hot on the heels of my last ‘Rushbo’s Guide’ post, here’s part two…just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, along comes…The Bikers Wake.
It’s very rare that any of my Pop Combos are in the right place at the right time, but it did happen once. It’s the early 90s and everyone is tearing holes in their jeans, buying Fuzzboxes and generally ‘Rocking Out’. And so was I. This time around I was the Bassist in the delightfully named ‘Diabolo Go’. Our speciality…Pearl Jam meets the Manic Street Preachers, topped with some pseudo Jim Morrison-esque lyrics. We ticked all the right boxes and the only thing that held us back was the fact that we hailed from Birmingham – then about as hip as Pat Boone. But we rehearsed our butts off and we were a decent little Rockin’ band.
Ah rehearsals…we shared a local rehearsal space with a local (and very successful) Prog Rock band called Ark. Very big in Italy they were, apparently. The facility was run by an affable chap called Fin, notable for being the Bassist in a Metal band called The Handsome Beasts. Never has a band been LESS aptly named. Now this is where the story starts…
|'It just needs cleaning, that's all...'|
The gig turned out to be at The Breedon bar. A great venue – I’d seen a ton of bands there and some of my heroes (American Music Club! Green On Red!) had graced the stage. So far so good. We pulled into the car park which was FULL of expensive and opulently chromed motorbikes. Proper motorbikes. ‘Easy Rider’ motorbikes. Oh jeez…it’s a bikers gig. Now for some reason, I’ve never really got on with the biking fraternity…I am sure they’re all lovely people who spend freely at the bar and do tons of charity work, but I just feel incredibly uncomfortable in their presence. And there were about 200 of ‘em in pretty small space, right here. We unloaded the van and my apprehension was shared by the rest of the guys in the band. No one seemed to be having a lot of fun – in fact there was a really sombre air in the place. Wait a minute…why are all these guys wearing black armbands? Yep. It was a wake. Fin had tricked us into playing a wake. No wonder the other band had pulled out.
|'The good news is there's a big crowd out there. |
The bad news is they're all carrying machetes and
baying for your blood...'
The first song had a great ‘car crash’ ending where we all played the final chord over and over, finishing off with a highly choreographed KA-BLAMM! accompanied by a heroic, Iggy-esque leap into the air. One person clapped. It was Fin on the sound desk. We raced through an hours worth of material in 50 minutes. It was at this gig we realised that almost all of our songs had the words ‘Death’, ‘Ghost’ or ‘Murder’ in the lyrics, which were hastily changed on the fly by our quick thinking and terrified lead vocalist. After a few songs, even Fin stopped clapping and the only noises we heard between songs were the gritting of teeth, glasses breaking and the odd scuffle…and the occasional muted sob from our drummer.
At 11.45, we finished. As the last chord rang around the room, we started yanking out jack leads and tossing equipment into the back of the van. ‘No time to put it into cases boys, just get it outta here!’ As we were frenziedly throwing stuff off the stage, a large biker collared Chrissie, our drummer. He gesticulated sharply to the aged Piano to the right of the stage. ‘Ay mate, d’yow play Pianner?’ Relieved that it wasn’t a death threat, Chrissie smiled and shook his head. ‘Y’ow can’t play the fuckin’ Drums either’ came the less than friendly retort. I have to admit that even under the shadow of doom, that made me laugh…under my breath, of course.
By 11.58, we were all in the van, bloodied but unbowed. Fin put his foot to the floor and we raced out of the car park. It was a while before anyone could speak, so the usual post gig autopsy would have to wait until another, less stressful night. About two miles down the road, we passed a fleet of Police cars racing in the opposite direction, blue lights flashing. I checked my watch. The time was 12.04