Monthly Archives: August 2008

reading, rage, leeds, seth

The FT band was fantastic at Reading except me: I accidentally took the wrong notebook onstage. Although I know most of the songs by now, I need at least three/four chords&structures in the notebook, especially because we’ve added parts as we’ve gone along.

But when I opened it up onstage, it was full of Rifa’s spiritual and reiki stuff, instead of music. I survived the first three, then, as Back In The Day kicked off, legged it offstage back to the van and rummaged around in my bag for the right book. It was nowhere. Cursing, I dragged my laptop back onstage, plonked it on the keyboard, hoping it would have decent written notes. But sadly they’re long out-of-date, so I had to rely on memory and pull back what I played.

In the end it was OK and I didn’t spoil Frank’s stormer but I’m gutted I couldn’t put my ace honky-tonk bit into Photosynthesis. As soon as we came off, I instantly found the notebook in my coat pocket in the dressing room. For fuck’s sake!

I’m always losing that notebook – only a couple of weeks ago Pure Groove had to post it back to me (how nice is that!?) after I left it in their office. Actually I should publicly apologise to Pure Groove for leaving a Rubik’s Cube in their fridge. And to whoever owned that Cube at XFM, from where I absent-mindedly pinched it two hours earlier. Yeah, that was me. It’s your fault for fucking with the coloured stickers though, otherwise I’d’ve had it done in a couple of minutes and left it in your studio for Alex Zane to mull over. Record shop refrigeration was merely an act of deranged defeat.

But I digress. The rest of Reading was fun, especially the phenomenal artist catering. Acronyms-wise, RATM were too quiet but brilliant, MDMA not noticeable (didn’t snarf enough) but the crush very noticeable indeed. QOTSA were devoid of commitment, MGMT (if it was them) were carnival-y fun and I enjoyed The Enemy a lot despite their acronym-avoiding full spelling of their name. (Sorry snobs who don’t like them cos they’re a bit too NME/northern dadrock).

Then E gave me a lovely birthday gift but I’m writing a Morning Star column about that so I won’t talk about it here. 

To make up for my notebook shaming, at Leeds I was fucking down on it and note perfect, had probably the best FT show I’ve done. Then I had a bit of a runaround to get Trik and Jools in, after someone faxed/emailed a guestlist to the wrong person. Frank had a similar fight to get his sister in, after being advised to give her passes to an onsite courier, who promptly quadbiked them to entirely the wrong place. But you know, it’s a massive complicated job and all-in-all my first experience of the Reading/Leeds juggernaut as a performer was very positive. Leeds catering was even better and their carrot cake defied belief, moist as an obscene metaphor with yer actual homemade marzipan carrots.

I didn’t get to spend time at Leeds. After the guestlist problem, I was about to sit down and eat when we hit a deadline for Nigel to get a snare drum stand to a wedding in Banbury, so we immediately piled south again. Missed hanging with Jon, who was Hadoukening but, to make up for it, they put my carrot cake in a box for me.

I do think a tiny bit of my heart broke, playing Reading Festival for someone else before I get to play ‘as me’ – but I’m surprised how much I enjoyed it anyway. And looking at the way audiences work, I’m increasingly confident that even now there’d be a big afternoon crowd for a Reading/Leeds set. Getting home and hitting the iPlayer, seeing stageschool scenesters like One Night Only get a portion of BBC coverage at the expense of US touring bands we rarely get to see, doesn’t even frustrate me now, it almost reassures me that they don’t know what’s about to happen. It’s only a matter of months before they all realise the haircut hype is fatally wounded and some part of the real underground is about to break through again. It’s in the air. It’s almost like the rise’n’fall of these chancers can be measured as a waveform! The highest billed UK act on Friday was The Fratellis…

Note to self: always check your booking agency’s website before you slag off a band, in case you share a live agency with them. *prudently deletes diatribe*.

The next day, Frank and me played a duo set supporting Seth Lakeman at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It’s a gorgeous venue, replete – engorged even – with lottery cash (see, the Olympics didn’t get it all… yet!) and the male loos have a kind of open air grotto behind the urinals which makes them the least smelly, pleasantest public toilets I’ve hung out in for a long time.

The set was good, well nuanced to bring the material ‘down’ to theatre level but some folkies on Seth’s forum have mentioned you couldn’t hear the piano, which would be shite if true because I played some ace twinklies.

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Jury Service: the second case

We’ve been piling around the country (well, driving down the M4 and back, over and over again) playing fun shows and muddy festivals, trying to get back in the swing of being a music-maker after the distraction of jury service. Tougher than I expected though.

The second case was two men charged with intent to supply heroin. They were caught in a car on Morley Street, just up from the Ocean Rooms, with some hefty bags of smack and both pleaded (pled?) not guilty, running what’s called a ‘cutthroat defence’, where their lawyers each tried to blame the other.

Ginger said he’d just been trying to buy pot for personal use from a guy he’d met in the pub – and the 55g bag of heroin in his (borrowed) car must have been put there by mistake by Baldy, from whom he’d wanted to buy 1oz of skunk. Baldy, a self-confessed long-standing heroin addict, gave a silent police interview but in court said he’d bought the heroin in his bag from Ginger for personal use, after winning a load of money at the bookies.

Before we started, the prosecution certainly felt Baldy – who faced five charges – was the heavyweight. They’d incorporated an earlier house raid involving Baldy, which took place at a flat up near Seven Dials, so he seemed in deep. Ginger only faced a single charge, although it was the biggie of intent to supply a Class A.

From the start, Baldy’s defence team pulled some superb tricks. The best of these was when a police intelligence officer on the witness stand was made to open up one of Ginger’s two mobile phones – supposedly already examined by everyone – where he found, live in court, a dealer’s tick list on a bit of paper underneath the battery. Everyone was shocked and the officer was stung with embarrassment. It drastically undermined Ginger’s defence.

The CPS investigation was littered with weaknesses and Baldy’s barrister (by the name of Sharkey) ate it up. For example, coppers mis-weighed the grass found on Baldy, called it 1oz and used that as the basis of a charge for intent to supply Class C. It turned out to be much, much less grass – they’d included all the plastic wrapping in the weigh! At this point the judge threw out two of five charges against Baldy, reducing ‘possession with intent to supply Class C’ to a simple possession (to which Baldy pleaded guilty). This left the prosecution to redirect their case with the deal going in the other direction. The most serious charge (Class A with intent) remained against both guys.

Baldy spent almost two days on the stand and held up startlingly well under aggressive cross-examination from Ginger’s barrister Walker, as well as the alcoholically-nosed CPS dude. Over and over again Baldy’d state something, be accused of lying, then evidence would show he’d been telling the truth all along.

His involvement in the earlier bust was trashed because he was attending rehab and clean at the time (though he relapsed badly later), plus he was legally obliged to live in the dodgy flat in question (home to another heavy addict and probable dealer) thanks to an earlier court order.  

Baldy produced handwritten winning betting slips to account for his wealth that day. The prosecution showed that he’d just written on blank slips and accused him of lying about the money. But his defence got Ladbrokes in and proved the exact bets on the slips had been made – and then even managed to get a police officer to admit that Baldy had mentioned to him which betting shops he’d been to – showing that they should have investigated earlier.

Then Ginger decided not to take the stand. His police interview had been trollied – for a start he’d known Baldy a lot longer than he admitted – and the tick list in his phone and the nature of a lot of his calls and texts was damning stuff.

We couldn’t reach a unanimous decision though. I’m not allowed to write anything about what happened in the jury room but after some hours, the judge asked for a majority decision of at least 10-2 on each count. Then we quickly found Baldy not guilty of intent on a Class A. There simply wasn’t enough evidence to disprove his claim of personal use and the amount was borderline. We found him guilty (unanimously) on simple possession of Class A. We found him not guilty of possession from the earlier bust. And we found Ginger guilty on his one count of possession of Class A with intent.

When the verdict was read out, Ginger attacked Baldy in the dock, smacking him down and kicking him in the face until the police officer guarding them dived into the fray. Ginger’s girl collapsed in hysterics, shrieking that he was innocent, while people on both sides in the public gallery screamed at each-other. Security guards ran in and leapt into the action, as the judge cleared the court. As the public gallery was led out, someone said to someone: “That’s what you get for being a grass.”

If that sounds quite normal for court because of TV, one usher said he’d been there for 15 years and never witnessed a beating in court before. We got taken out, held for a few minutes til the coast was clear and then let out of the court building the back way.

sorry

I should’ve posted an account of the second jury service case by now (which over-ran right through a third week) but I’ve been struggling to put it into words and I’m also having to potter around playing catch-up with real life. Be ready for the story when it comes though, because it was a fucking doozy.