Sunday, 22 November 2009

Drunken Stalking of The Young Republic

It wasn't supposed to be like this, maybe one gig in Coventry and then one in Middlesbrough the following week........ just to see if they change the set.

The fairy gods in the sky had other plans though and conspired to present four opportunities to see the band, any of which would have been both rude and churlish to turn down.

Monday evening and for the second time in a few weeks I found myself mid motorway heading towards the soon to be legendary Brudenel Social club. The last gig I'd attended here was Slow Club and as per the recent review they were fantastic, so hopes were high. I guess I must have ranted on so much about The Young Republic (TYR) that Pam was quite keen to see them and I'd also managed to rope in 3 other pals. The Slow Club gig had been rammed so we turned up early to be sure of a decent spot, and we literally could have picked any seat in the house. I'm really not one for criticising up and coming bands or their management, especially as I probably have scant detail of what went on and little understanding of the difficulty of touring a band from the US....But Brudenel Social club is surrounded by student accommodation. No one except students and sad old ex students would feel comfortable in there, so why book a band to play the Monday night of half term.....

This is a slight aside, but through work I met the girlfriend of the tour manager a week after the shows............I so nearly put my foot in it, but unusually kept my gob shut at the right time.

Including girlfriends of the support band and a few other ageing folk like us the audience numbered about 20. As it was so empty I managed to get Rosie a signed T Shirt really early on and actually had a coherent conversation with Julian from the band. Pam had offered to drive after the gig so this level of coherence was soon abandoned especially at £1.80 ish a pint for cider.

Irrespective of the low attendance or perhaps because of the wide open spaces the band seemed to group together as a tight unit reminiscent of The Waterboys in the Fisherman's Blues phase. Interactions between members were frequent and it seemed to me they were creating the songs as they played. Sections of The Alchemist were played at a furious tempo and the violin solo really was special. Thankfully someone in the audience called for 'one more tune' and we were treated to a Beatles cover.

After the gig Julian and drummer Logan came over to say hi and thanks for making the effort, I'm pretty sure that I was tipsy and 'disgusted from Manchester' at the lack of attendance. I'm also pretty sure that I said I could do a better job, sometimes I should stay sober.

Part 2 of the adventure takes place on Thursday night in Dulcimer Folk Club on the outskirts on Manchester. It's 20 minutes from home and we had nothing else on, so myself and my 13 year old daughter headed over to the gig. On arrival it's most definitely 'a bar', with the gig in the upstairs room, I'm a little apprehensive at this point thinking Rosie may get turned away for being too young. I needn't have worried, she marched through the 3/4 full bar as if she owned the place and then made friends with the bloke on the till.

This was looking better though, it was packed enough that we couldn't see from the back and were ushered to the front just so child could see. Despite dubious billing of the support bands, local lads get billed higher than they really are, local band Petty Thief were on stage as we sat on the floor two yards from the front. They did a decent few tunes of folk indie to fairly rapturous applause from the audience, being totally sober and somewhat astute I quickly spotted the big local turnout. And true to form as the band finished the upstairs bar emptied and the locals went off to chat to their favourites. Why would they not stay to watch the other bands? Major good result though as a couple of chairs in row two previously occupied by grandparents became free.

I'm not going to write too much about 'Don't Move' who were on the whole tour with TYR except to say

Top musicians, particularly the bassist
Singing was good
Seemed like really nice people when we talked to a couple of them
Sounded a lot like The Monochrome Set - this is a good thing

The Young Republic appeared next about 4 yards in front of us, not much use if you are trying to play down your stalking credentials.

As in Leeds just one tune off the first album, a couple of new songs and unlike Leeds they played Tidal Wave (at the request of the support band). Another good result as it's Rosies favourite tune on the album and it works brilliantly live, so much so I could feel the cost of violin sessions appearing beside me. 'How come no-one told me you could get electric violins when I was eight'. My mouth said 'I'm sure we did' my head thought 'because I like my ears too much'. Anyway in the cramped space the playing was fantastic and regular accidental playing of the symbol by Chris with the base guitar was a bonus.

The following night

Friday had potential to be a big night and so it proved, the gig was in Middlesbrough at The Westgarth Social Club about 200 yards from where I grew up . I'm mentioned this to my gran a couple of weeks previously, to which she responded 'oh your grandad was a bookies runner in there and he's still banned'. He's been dead for about 35 years so whatever he did it must have been extraordinarily spectacular. Perhaps he lead a racehorse over the snooker table.

When you are catching up with old pals and a mate from work and again the alcohol prices are so low and your current favourite band are playing, then the consequences are somewhat inevitable. Some bands get to be 'Big in Japan' unfortunately TYR must have had their mapbook upside down in school lessons or maybe the town was hidden by the smog but 'Big in Middlesbrough' is not a phrase applied to many bands. I'm pretty sure the last one was a band called 'Bomber' in which my uncle Norman (Nosher- as he was known then) played drums circa 1971. If anyone reads this and knows him then take it from me , he prefers to be called 'Nosher' still.

This was the fourth TYR gig in Middlesbrough and had drawn in about 250 people so the atmosphere was miles better. The band acknowledged the support by playing about four songs off the first album all of which went down a storm with the locals. The second half of the set comprised mostly of the new albums noisier songs and was absolutely blinding, despite having a grumpy mate beside me who wanted more of the old stuff. Now grumpy Craig had also laid himself a time bomb last time we saw TYR at the EOTR festival by complaining that they did too many covers and he hated bands doing covers. For the encore Julian announced 'we are going to play the full Beatles rooftop set and 'see how it goes'. Well it 'goes' fucking brilliantly and even half inebriated I could spot a note for note rendition. Craig was speechless. Possibly his favourite bit of his favourite band covered perfectly.

I'd just about laid low enough to get away with the stalking thing again but made a mistake of going for a piss, just as I was leaving Julian walked into the loo's and give me a very strange 'stop following me look' in my defence I was in the loo first!

When Saturday Comes

Then to the final gig in Newcastle, except my day started with a slight hangover and we were off for pre football match drinks at 12.30....oh good. Today's plan then was to drink, go to the Boro match, half time drink, meet in the pub for post match drinks, get a minibus to Newcastle for pre gig drinks then gig and more drinks. We were in trouble early doors. Pals from the northwest (away fans) had joined us for the day, drinks, music, football and mates and now a bus tour. Add to that meeting a long lost cousin at half time at the football who also ends up on the minibus for the full session and this was going to be messy.

It was Halloween too, and so an official party night.

I honestly have little recollection of the gig other than the dancing and singing woohoo that's great stuff. The snippets I do have are

We had sausage sandwiches somewhere close
Richard mate nearly died climbing some steps
The bands got dressed up as monsters
Nearly half the audience were from our bus
Carl cousin got as trashed as the rest of us
We asked the band if they always had 40 velvet chairs on the backstage'Rider'
The whole set was changed round
They only played one old song
Even Kristin looked scary

They finished with the most perfect version of Ghostbusters
We drunk more outside on the smoking balcony and I didn't smoke
I had a very drunken conversation with at least 2 band members

I have no recollection of the shite I was talking and if anyone ever meets them please apologise for me as I'm sure there must be a restraining order by now. In conclusion the new album is fantastic and I think it sounds even better live.......... and never go drunken stalking a band as it freaks them and your liver cries for a week.

I still reckon I could do a better job of booking gigs though, tequila or no tequila


  1. Hang on 'Anonymous' saying stalker just isn't right!

  2. See, isn't it better when they change the set each night?

    Paul = Stalker

  3. you're comment counters gone bust

  4. seems to be working again

  5. I did a full IT department style investigation.

    Switched it off, left it 60 seconds and switched it back on.

  6. If they read this I suspect you will be barred. A bit like that girl I worked with that had a head that looked like a skull. I know that doesnt sound unusual as most heads contain a skull, but hers seemed to have nothing between it and the outside world but an extremely thin layer of skin.

    Anyway, she wasnt barred for looking like Skeletor. Actually I've just realised that I have little idea what Mr Tor looks like, he was a bit after my time, although I am aware of him, a little like most of those people currently eating centipedes in the jungle.

    No, she was barred for following Marc Almond around the country, invariably watching from the front row. After about, I dont know, maybe four gigs in the space of a week (see above), Marc Almond got one of his bouncers to have a word and to request that she and her barely concealed cranium take themselves off to the back row where she could no longer, as the bouncer put it, 'freak him out'.

    A few years later he had quite a nasty motorbike crash and if it wasnt libellous I'd be suggesting that it was as a consequence of someone with very little fat above the neck sticking pins into an Action Man dressed slightly more camply than normal. Is 'camply' a word? If not I'll claim it as invented by me. It can go on the shelf with the spoon with a hole in it for those who dont like too much milk with their Frosties, the eco-bog where you wash your hands in an open cistern in the top and the 'Ryanair coat' where you replace the padding with your socks, undies and sandwiches to circumvent the luggage constraints.

    So, I suppose there's a lesson in this for you all, band and stalkers. Possibly, it's dont ride motorbikes.

  7. In some places in Japan they have toilets with taps above the cistern which has a shallow bowl with a hole. The idea being that after you flush the cistern slowly fills up from the mains, but you can suppplement it by using the tap to wash your hands.

    Clever eh?

    But my complements for the excellent stream of consciousness prose.

  8. Wouldn't you have to be 10ft tall to use taps above the cistern?

  9. No, the toilets in Japan are just very, very small. They are a small race, don't you know.

    The restaurant we go to to eat Blowfish and cheat death has one of these toilets...I'll take a picture next time I'm there.