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 But sadly they’re long out-of-date, so I had to rely on memory and pull back what I played.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.