Clearly Tony and I are fussy eaters. On the Saturday morning it felt like we spent hours walking round Glasgow, searching for somewhere serving a decent breakfast, only to settle on a place about 100 yards from where we had started out. Fully refreshed, we then had another long walk as we couldn't remember the location of the car park we had found the day before. Seasoned travellers, don't you know. You always find things in the last place where you look. Tony's car was still there where we had left it. So it was foot down to Stockton. Back south on the M6, over to Scotch Corner and the remaining few miles from there. Highlight of the journey was seeing Darlington football ground, or arena as it prefers to be known. A white elephant's white elephant. Later on at the gig, we were told that the band had called at Housesteads. Nigel had stopped in the van again. And it was £2 for a Solero. No wonder he stayed where he was.
On arrival in Stockton, we had a wander round town, venue reconnaissance and all that. Does Stockton hold some kind of record for per capita fast food outlets? It has that distinct aura of a post-industrial northern landscape, with which I am familiar. We noted the contrast of the art centre with the rest of the town, before heading for apple pie and ice cream at the cafe across the road. This gave Tony the opportunity to ponder over Margaret Thatcher's (disputed) role as a chemistry graduate in the development of the methodology of producing whipped ice cream. Needs Googling, I reckon.
The room for the gig was slightly smaller than you might be used to, with a low stage. Nothing wrong with that. A bit of intimacy, far better than the "moat" at the Glasgow venue. I don't know if they operate a membership scheme or something, but there were a few folk there who perhaps didn't appreciate what they were in for. I suspected that they might not be joining in with the Slipknot chorus. Then again, I hope they loved it all.
Roja were supporting again. In a sort of "try before you buy" transaction, Tony asked if he could play Rachel's violin before they started. All well and good. Having bought their CD the night before, I was able to pick out The Evil Stands High and Heart Attack from their set. Another time and I'll have a go at a full list. I also noticed the on stage anti-asthma inhaler. Rock and roll! And what spendid people they are. I look forward to them appearing around Leeds / Wakefield in their own right.
No sooner had HMHB walked on stage, than there was a request for Blitzkrieg Bop. Unlikely, but worth a shout. Nigel gave a nod to "the widest high street in Britain". True, according to Tony's subsequent research. I would guess it had a tram running down it at some time in the past. After that I'm afraid my notes become a bit sporadic. I was only standing about five feet from Nigel, but could hardly tell a word he was saying. I'm sure there is a bootleg somewhere that you can pick up if you need any details. Failing that, apologies if any of the following is wrong. It was good to hear that the rinsing of shorts had been sorted out by Nigel after the Glasgow gig. These little household chores need to be done. Much discussion afterwards about the ending of Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes. It may have been "That's when I was saying, Harvester has run its course." For some reason, Nigel pointed out to Ken that there were some Smoky Bacon crisps backstage. Of late, there has been a lack of celebrity spotting by Nigel. But tonight he picked out Stuart Boam somewhere in the seated area. Fairly regularly at these shows, there are shouts for Old Tige. Tonight Nigel gave us a verse. He also talked about having a ticket to see The Seekers but that had been cancelled due to Judith Durham's illness. The Carnival Is Over, as Tony helpfully pointed out. It seems that Ken's mate Sid was the first man in Wallasey to fall victim to ID Theft. I lost the thread of the discussion over Descent Of The Stiperstones. But it seems like they will play the song subject to volunteers coming forward to play keyboards. The keyboards themselves might also be useful. There was a story from a while back about the band having a pre-gig meal. Neil was having squid, and offered Nigel some. Nigel ate it, at which point Neil asked "You're not allergic to it, are you?" Yeah, it would have been nice to have been asked that beforehand. Apparently, For What Is Chatteris was "nearly" written about Yarm. We Built This Village was written by Rufus Wainwright. Time Flies By was introduced to the locals as "a song to celebrate your town." Bob Wilson Anchorman is "a song about a wrong decision". Before Apache, Nigel said we could join in with the words if we knew them.
The set went as follows:The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
And the encore:Bob Wilson Anchorman
Straight afterwards, Howie tapped me on the shoulder and said "How much better was that than last night?" He followed up with a text on the Sunday morning, as follows. "Last night's gig was simply THE best or at the very least, one of the best. The venue was top, the sound was great, the audience were straight into it from the very first chord - you could see the anticipation on their faces as if they'd been waiting a lifetime for a Biscuits gig and weren't going to waste their opportunity to enjoy it - such a difference to Glasgow!"
A lot of people would agree with that. I maintain my theory that the town gigs are better than the city ones. The Stowmarket / Cambridge double-header will put that to the test.
Standing ovation to Tony for driving duties. Brum to Glasgow via Yorkshire, and back again is no light task. He also provided a late addendum. Will Hay was born in Stockton. Surprised Nigel missed that one.