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Here we are again another gig, another "sell out". We rehearsed for the show up at the trusty Rhona’s Rehearsals in Kings Langley. First decision to be made was how many and which songs from Metropolis should we play at the gig? Tough one really… it would be nice to give the new songs - songs we are very proud of - a good airing but I just know from past live shows I've been to myself when seeing a favourite band, a couple of newies are fine but I want all my faves first and foremost.
So it was decided that as we were having a playback of the new material, we'd only add a couple of newies to the set. We didn't include Wildside in that bracket so I guess you could say it was three if we're going to split hairs. We decided we'd do "Over You" and "Flamingo Road" from the new album. "Over You" was one of the first songs written for the album and was almost discarded but Steve and I were going through songs to send to our "X Factor panel" to help choose the final four songs and came across the track and thought "Wow this is good, lets send it out" and it came out top, above all the other tracks. What do we know, we're only the band! Also when reading this, if you've heard the song you'll notice it is not short of absolutely tons of backing vocals. Singing all the different harmonies in tune is one thing, and hard enough, but even tougher was remembering the bloody words, each chorus is slightly different lyrically, we had to up our intake of Omega 3 and Sanatogen to help our flagging overworked brains. So apart from the brain-ache, rehearsals went ever so smoothly and we had our final one the day before the gig, closing the rehearsal room door at around 10.00pm. We were ready and well up for it! Steve, Jim and myself went back to Ealing for a couple of thoroughly well-earned pints and headed off to our respective lodgings.
Sunday morning I woke about 8.30am, had a shower and went out for breakfast with the family. We were due to meet at The Roadhouse at 1.00pm and as parking in that neck of the woods is an absolute nightmare I thought I'd be "green" and reduce my rather large carbon footprint by travelling into town by tube. The tube is great when it all works, wouldn't fancy travelling in the rush hour five days a week though, but today it was obviously having a bad day. I waited at Ealing Broadway for 25 minutes for a train, we finally left the station and a few hundred yards out we stopped and didn't move again for over 10 minutes. Thankfully the rest of my journey to Leicester Square was a lot smoother and I arrived at The Roadhouse about 1.45pm. Covent Garden is, in my opinion, a fantastic part of our capital. It's very cosmopolitan, bustling with people, weird and wonderful street entertainers, shops, cafés and restaurants - I love it. Let's have a big up to London, my home town. It's got its faults, but it's got some places that just cannot be beaten. When I arrived all the gear had been loaded in (handy!). The crew were setting about the task of fitting our equipment onto the Roadhouse stage. As you are no doubt aware Jem's motto of "Why use one keyboard when you can use ten" was fully in evidence, so much so we couldn't fit him and his "toys" on the stage. We got around it by plonking him to the left-hand side of the stage nearly in with the audience.
It was very nice having a long, relaxed soundcheck for a change, gigs like the Firefest are just mayhem but that's the way it goes at festivals. Soundcheck over, it was time for our "Meet & Greet". Dave T - who incidentally, along with his much better half Tiff had done the most amazing job of decorating the venue with huge posters of the band / album sleeves etc. (I must remember to buy shares in copier toner companies before our next gig) - got everyone together and we were off, silver markers at the ready. I think I've mentioned it before but I love these meet & greets. I love meeting everyone, finding out how far they've travelled and just generally having a good old natter, and the fact that so many people want to meet us is really cool. We will definitely do these at every gig wherever it's possible. We all lined up for a "group" photo to mark the occasion and it was time to open the doors. Have I mentioned this yet - the gig is another "sell out"? That makes it four out of four since our reunion (thanks FMers everywhere). I stick around in the venue and it's great seeing so many familiar faces turning up. After so many years it's fantastic being amongst so many old, okay not so much of the old, friends.
I realised I'd not eaten since breakfast so when Adrian, our rather splendid manager,
asked me to join him for a bite to eat I was there in a flash and with Metropolis
belting out through the sound system I promptly devoured one of the Roadhouse's finest
burgers. Eating over, it was time for young star in the making James Ralphs to take
the stage and show off his considerable musical talent with a fantastic acoustic
set of his very fine songs. Nice one James.
It was fast approaching the witching hour of 9.00pm so it was backstage to get ready. Pretty much bang on 9.00pm - to a, did I mention, sell out crowd - the intro tape, or should that be intro mini disc, kicks in. I'm surprisingly relaxed sat behind the kit. It's probably to do with, as I said earlier, being amongst friends. Then with a bang and a flash of pyros we're into Wildside, we're up for it, so are the crowd, it's going to be a good night, let's go! Into Face To Face and the FM choir are in full voice. I had a couple of friends who were seeing us for the first time and they couldn't get over how our fans know every word, every ad lib to every song. Needless to say they were blown away by it all as were two of my nephews Niki and Costa, Niki sending me a text later "Don't stop, don't stop I'm loving every minute of it" bless! The gig flew by, everyone was playing great, Jim has taken the lead guitarist's job and made it his own in no time at all.
Over You and Flamingo Road were very well received, I think we did pretty well remembering the words in Over You too. So with another flash of pyros which apparently nearly gave my mate Philip a heart attack, on the last chord of Bad Luck the gig was at an end…
Or was it? Not quite for we had a really special guest in none other than Bad Company / Mott the Hoople guitar legend Mick Ralphs joining us on stage for a version of the Bad Co. classic Feel Like Makin' Love. Now I was just such a huge fan of both bands. I saw Bad Co. in their really early days at The Rainbow Theatre in North London also Olympia, and now I was up there playing with one of my heroes. I tell you now that to me was the icing on an already awesome cake, you can add some cream and strawberries too.
Roadhouse you rocked, thanks yet again to everyone in attendance.
I grabbed a quick beer and as promised hit the DJ booth to play some of my favourite rock songs. Unfortunately my "set" - that's DJ speak folks - was cut short by the start of The Super Bowl. I was quite getting into it so if you're all up for it I'm sure I could be persuaded to do it again at future shows. I mingled with the crowd and found my missus who was definitely way ahead of me in the partying stakes so I thought I'd better take it easy on the beer front as I knew for a fact I'd be doing the school run the following morning (back to reality). I bid my farewells around 2.00am to Messrs Overland and Kirkpatrick who were showing no signs of leaving, we jumped in a cab with friends Adrian and Trish and headed back to Ealing. Another great night and here's to many more... by the way did I mention the aforementioned gig was a sell out :-)
God bless you all once again.
Photo courtesy of Jae Rocka