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Then she arrived and all was well - PHEW! Then THE POLICE arrived and we were AFEARED: had our ROCK ANTICS brought us into trouble? No, it hadn't, they just wanted to say hello to the landlady. Again, PHEW! We packed our gear up and HIT THE ROAD.
After an hour or so of looking at MOUNTAINS we arrived in a village (whose name i can't remember) to get us some BREAKFAST. It was BRILLIANT, also MASSIVE, and to the STUNNED AMAZEMENT of Tom and I it turned out to be SUCH a massive breakfast that Tim had to leave some on his plate!! HORROR! Well fed, we got going again, and arrived ON TIME in Leeds to pick up Emma from her Mum's. The Daughters Of Pattison were also there, and so I played Leave My Brother Alone for Edie, as it is her favourite song of ours. Aaah! I'm hoping to get up to 50 gigs this year, so if I don't make it I may be claiming that as an extra gig!
Off we set again, this time for SHEFFIELD, where we got stuck in HORRENDOUS traffic, arriving at the venue half an hour late. The Mighty Penny came out to meet us, there were hugs and introductions, and we started to unload our gear... at which point BURLY MEN came out and started moving STUFF for us! It was a bit scary - we are really not USED to that sort of thing, and soon we'd been WHISKED inside with all our stuff.
Mr Francis Albert Machine had been delayed by Engineering Works and then by TRAFFIC as he got a bus to the venue, so I started to get a bit PANICKY. He got there about half an hour before we were due to start though, so that was OK, although it did give me One More Reason to get INCREDIBLY SCARED, for LO! I had got THE NERVES! Annoyingly, everybody else seemed to be fine, but i was BRICKING it. Also, the ODDNESS continued as MORE burly men carried stuff on stage for us, and helped us set things up - at one stage Tim had THREE people helping him set his drum kit up! I know this is how it's usually done with Proper Bands, but it just made me feel MORE NERVOUS - if we were being TREATED like a Proper Band, does that mean we'd be expected to BE one? URK!
Maybe that is why, at the point, we all started Acting Like A Band i.e. every time somebody would say "Stay there, something important is about to happen" one or more of us would just WANDER OFF. I realised this was happening when Frankie WANDERED OFF somewhere, then i WANDERED OFF to look for him, and on the way out me Emma WANDERING BACk. KRAZY!
Eventually we were all in one place so went onstage for a VERY quick linecheck, and then we were ON! This is what we played:
Hey Hey 16K
Better Things To Do
The Fight For History
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Gay Train
Leave My Brother Alone
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Things started off quite BADLY - the BASS turned out to be terribly out of tune, so Hey Hey 16K sounded a bit WEIRD, and then we had to STOP before the next song to manually RE-TUNE. THE FEAR gripped me, i was worried about how we looked, but more importanly about how we FELT. Was this going to FRIT US UP? We were going to BLOW our debut on The Big Stage?!? My BRANE ran riot with worry and i COMPLETELY messed up the words to Better Things To Do - so much so that I ended up making up an ENTIRELY new verse! FEAR!
I was also a little preoccupied with what songs we'd drop - we'd planned for a forty minute set, but just before we'd gone on had been told we had to be off by five o'clock, so would have to DROP some - handily, as it turned out, it was the two songs that had been put in LAST (Quality Of Life Enhancement Device and You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor) that we cut out, HENCE the fact it was a bit of an UBERSET.
After that things got BETTER. In fact, in the direct aftermath of the gig MOST of us were a bit down about it, but looking back now I feel EXCITED and PROUD about the fact that, I think, we managed to carry it off. The more i got into it the more i enjoyed doing a LITTLE bit of between song-chat. There were BIG video projection screens, on which we could see our DELIGHTFUL FACES and, best of all, when I introduced The Lesson Of The Smiths people ACTUALLY CHEERED! Whoo!
I also formulated for myself my first ever Personal Rule Of Big Gigs, and it is THIS: Don't concentrate on watching the EXITS! I started doing things and began to convince myself that everyone HATED us, so tried to look at the whole rest of the (excitingly Rather Large) crowd who seemed to be enjoying us. That was BETTER!
When we came off stage most of us were a little GRUMPY - all except for Emma that is, who'd REALLY enjoyed it, and put us all to shame! I think it was maybe because it had all been such a MAD RUSH, also a new experience, and also that we had a hard time hearing what we'd been doing. At the time I thought "No, the big stage, it is not for me" but as the day went by and the PANIC wore off I got more and more happy about it... it was BLOODY GRATE!
There was more DASHING ABOUT to do though, as me and The Pattisons needed to check into our hotel before we were too TIDDLY to do so, so off we went for that. This also gave rise to a bit of WORRY, in me at least, as while we were out there I was thinking "I want to be at the GIG! Exciting things must be happening!"
Soon we were back though, and there was MORE proper band stuff, for me at least, as I had a PHOTO CALL! SANDMAN had sent a photographer down to take my picture to use with my COLUMN, and so i stood backstage POSING for ten minutes while that was done. I THINK it came out OK in the end, but we shall have to see. After that I went and RELIEVED The Tiger, who had BRAVELY gone and set up on the Merchandising Stall while we were off hotelling. He and I worked it TOGETHER for half an hour or so, also ChATTING to the MANY lovely people who we knew who'd come along, until Bats For Lashes finished on the other stage, at which point LOADS of people came up to us, ALL demanding merchandise for THEM! They'd announced they'd be selling stuff straight after their gig, but couldn't find their MERCHANDISE, so we had to ask people to come back later! I felt a bit like a BRIDE at someone else's wedding, stood there looking left out while people bought other people's stuff, so decided to CLOSE UP the shop, and just get on with having a nice time.
This was a REALLY good idea, and at last we were able to RELAX and start to enjoy ourselves, and we REALLY did. I had a perambulation of the venue so that I could go and say hello to some more people, which I did, and experienced ANOTHER part of Being (like) A Proper Band that I hadn't experienced before: people TALKING about us!
The first time this happened I passed a lad saying to his girlfriend "MJ Hibbett & The Validators..." and I turned back to go and say hello, assuming that it must be that he knew us, at which point he said "they were crap!" Suddenly i was stood next to him, so said "Oi! That was ME!" The poor lad didn't know what to do, so turned round and FLED! He walked off like an OLYMPIC WALKER - i followed him to say it was OK, but he was NOT stopping! His girlfriend looked back LIKE LOT's WIFE but was being DRAGGED along - it was HILARIOUS! Shortly after that I heard another couple of lads discussing bands - one of them said "MJ Hibbett..." so I went and stood next to them and said hello, and the SPEAKER nearly LEAPT out of his skin! It was WEIRD, it was only ME but he seemed to think he'd make a TERRIBLE MISTAKE: i gather his friend had liked us, but he'd not been too keen, and he APOLOGISED MASSIVELY. "It's not my genre!" he kept saying, and I ended up having to give him a BIG HUG to reassure him that all was well. BLESS!
I met several other people who seemed to have enjoyed it though, some of whom i didn't know, many of whom i DID, and it all served to cheer me up NO END. After a while we went for a very quick band meeting, which mostly consisted of us sitting around out the back accusing Emma of being DRUNKENED, and then it was time for Francis Albert to go home. He actually went off to get his bass guitar, got lost, and leapt on the nearest bus, so we didn't have a chance to say goodbye which is probably just as well as a) i hadn't seen him for AGES and b) i was getting quite EMOTIONAL. A luck escape for Mr Machine!
There was then some MORE chat, watching of bands, and LARFS, but i soon realised i was UTTERLY KNACKERED, so said cheerio to everyone, then made off. Me and Tom loaded his car up and then off i trundled with my Merchandise Bag. I got a bit LOST (as i'd previously DRIVEN to the hotel with the Pattisons), but soon found myself tucked up in bed at the UNROCKLY HOUR of 10.30pm! I was DONE IN.
Next morning i took advantage of the changing of the clocks and set off bright and early for home, from where i type to you now. I'm still DONE IN with weariness, but also IMMENSELY chuffed how this mini-tour has gone. It's been three (or maybe four!) VERY different gigs - especially between the size of venues on Friday and Saturday! - but ALL have been a whole lot of fun, and I'm especially PROUD of us for actually carrying it off on Saturday - thinking about it, it was a bit of a RISK for Ms Penny Blackham to book us for the big stage, but OH BOY am i glad she did. Thanks Penny!
posted 29/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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