30-09-2014 – Soldering Iron Blues


Another busy weekend bites the dust… Lou’s been on a week’s holiday in sunny Italy – so much so, that she was still there on Friday night, when we were booked to play the Langley Arms.

Luckily, I always carry a spare singer, and so Lily and I trundled over there to provide the evening’s entertainment for the music-starved masses of Emersons Green.

I say “masses”… well, there were five or six of our pals there, and a few more folks to boot, but I have to say they weren’t having to squeeze to get in the door… Not to worry, we all had a pleasant enough time; Lil was quite impressed by my chum the delightful Vague Anthony, who wanders through life in an enviable state of affable bemusement, and who showed her how to find the rabbits inside peanuts.

A minor technical issue – I’ve noticed as I’m setting up that the master volume in my amp seems a bit funny, and have resolved to tighten it up in the morning.

Alas, when morning comes, a closer inspection reveals it’s not loose so much as totally buggered; after a quick sulk, I remember that somewhere I have squirreled away a copy of the circuit diagram for the amp; miraculously I find it, and even more miraculously, Maplins have a part that will just about do the job. So, a dash out to get the part, then strip the amp into a thousand pieces to get the circuit board out, and realise the new component is a bit bigger and won’t fit. Ten minutes of drilling and filing at the amp chassis, and now it will. It’s only when I unsolder the offending item from the board that the rating printed on it becomes visible… and oh bugger, bollocks and double bollocks, it’s totally different resistance to the one I bought! Nasty circuit diagram lied to me. No time to go and hunt for a different part, and I only have an hour before I need to have all the kit loaded in the van… so I bodge a fixed resistor across the one I have, solder it in and frantically start reassembling…

Rather to my surprise, the amp actually works fine like this. There’s even time to burn a pizza just in time for Lou to turn up from Italy, and scoff it down before we set off. But Lou has another technical mishap, announced through a mouthful of scorched pizza; “I’ve got my mike; but I was in such a rush I forgot my guitar and keyboard…”

Well, guitars are no problem, I have a houseful (nearly – Dem, if you’re reading this, NEARLY a houseful – there’s still room for a couple more); and Lily has an ancient keyboard hiding in her room under a foot of dust; she digs it out, and miraculously it still works. Lou pronounces it “just acceptable” so we throw it into the van and hurtle off into the night, if we hurry we’ll only be 20 minutes late…

Five minutes later we are at a standstill on the M5/M4 junction thanks to some novelty high speed parking enthusiasts. Nobody seems hurt, but there are cars at all sorts of angles across the road. Lou’s phone rings; it’s Stuart, explaining he’ll be a bit late as he got stuck in work (as did Ben), and are we there yet and can we explain to the bikers that he’s been delayed?

Lou explains our dilemma, and we realise that actually this means we can claim that the entire band being late actually isn’t our fault after all; we can just extend our “motorway hold up” story to cover the other two as well.

In fact, they very quickly get the motorway moving again, and after a couple of tries we find the venue. It’s a nice big building and – oh dear, we’re playing upstairs. Lou and I hurriedly drag all the monstrously heavy stuff up into a large room full of patiently waiting bikers, and start frantically plugging things together “before Stuart arrives and throws drums all over the place”.

As it happens, Ben gets in before Stuart does, and so we are mostly ready when he arrives; a quick drum-assembly and off we go, no time for a sound check but we’re kinda used to that, and by the end of the first song everything seems to be loud enough. We finish the first number to enthusiastic applause, and despite the stressy start it turns into a jolly fine night. There’s an acceptable amount of dancing, and singing along, and at half-time a nice gentleman thrusts a handful of notes into Stuart’s hands “to get yourselves some drinks”. A quick count reveals that if we spend it all on drinks we won’t be playing the second set, let alone driving home, so we settle for a welcome pint and fire on through the second half.

By the end, poor Stuart is ready to drop; so although rock machine Lou is still up for some more (despite having been up since four am in Italy!), we have to call it a day after a couple of encores.

The kit hasn’t got any lighter as we haul it back down the stairs again; but then again, that’s often the case, I find.

Right then, next weekend coming up…

Saturday October 4th – Golden Fleece, Bath
Aha, excellent, another bikery audience. We like that. It’s a little bit cramped in here, but we always seem to manage to fit everything in; except that I guess we’d better give the power slides a miss this time…

And finally, I must pass this one on, from the inestimable Vague Anthony…

How did the piece of cheese paint his wife?
He double glossed her.

Square on!


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