A life in the weekend of The Rise
Before we set out on our musical journey let me introduce you to the band: Steve, (Bass); James, (Guitar); Phil, (Drums) and finally me (who goes by the name of AJ): frontman on the Vocals and Rhythm Guitar.
As a general rule, all our gear travels in my trusty landrover. However, this particular weekend it -the landy- decided to not be so trusty and was holed up at the local garage. Alas, my only other option was to take my silver Rover Metro Cabrio (I know what your all thinking, and I have heard it all before). All the gear was to be taken by the rest of the band ..what luck. Travelling up the M5 was lovely, sun was shining, roof was down, guitars on the back seat, my amp was riding shotgun on the front seat, Miles Davis blaring out of the stero. At this point I should bring your attention to the fact that we all live in Cornwall. The word soon gets out on the jungle-vine that someone is going “up north” and when you are driving past Bristol, the world and his wife queues up to give you their shopping lists for Ikea…. admittedly I needed a few items myself…mostly a plate of meatballs! Three hours later theres me, driving through Bristol City center with half a chair, two lamps, some sort of toy snake, a wardrobe door, two guitars and an amp flying in the breeze in the back of a Metro Cabriolet.
The band turned up with plenty of time to set up and sound check. Luckily, Bristol has an in-house engineer who is fantastic and a PA system that we can plug straight into. We always try and set up and sound check as early as possible, as to minimize disruption and still create the professional atmosphere. Every member of the band knows what job they have to do and they get on with it. Then, we relax, have a drink, have a warm up in the greenroom/backroom/fire escape/toilets/outside; generally get into the frame of mood that should blow people away and have them screaming for more!
The Bristol crowd are a fantastic audience. A pleasure to play for and wonderful fun to interact with. Every song turns into a sing-a-long: Parklife was THE memorable song of the evening. I don’t think I sang once during it. Sadly, as all gigs do, it came to an end but not until after three encores!
For those of you that are not familiar with Bristol, the Walkabout is located on Corn Street. This appears to be party central. The road was cordoned off so consequently, the only place we could park to load up was 900m up the road, on a kerb, one car at a time!! Our gear is very heavy…. Suffice to say the good people of Bristol could watch a human chain humping bass amps, guitar amps, lights, mic- stands, guitars and drums past three burger vans, four night clubs, five mounted police, a couple of homeless people and numerous revellers, one of whom thought it would be fun to sit on the bass cabinet mid-carry. However, the burger van did give us a free portion of chips for the entertainment (we never stop entertaining even when off stage!).
Next day, still alive and recovering in Exeter by the quay side, we tanked up on the beautiful weather and location. A place for lovers and poets, and for superb functions bands out for a spot of lunch. As everything is work AND play, this pit stop was also to pick up a pair of monitors for that evening’s gig at Exmouth. It was to be a Haven holiday park, called Devon Cliffs.
To say it was big place is an understatement. You needed a GPS to find your way once inside the gates! We were eventually received by the entertainment manager, shown where we were playing, shown our Green Room, given our timings for the evening and left to it. The stage was lovely and large, so we could spread out as a band and I could REALLY strut-up and down the stage..always a laugh to practice beforehand.
For Performances this large, we take our own wonderfull sound engineer, Matt, along to control our mixing desk, sort out our onstage monitor mix and generally run around fixing any problems (hair, make-up etc…he’s gonna kill me now). One such problem was James’s wireless guitar pack breaking in the middle of the song. However, within 30 seconds Matt had it replaced with a cable in time for his solo.
We were unsure of what to expect from the audience at Haven; would they dance or would they just observe? We kept it nice and light for the first half, some Dire Straights, Bryan Adams, Amy Winehouse, a spot of Elvis..just to aid the drinking. At 10pm a comedian took to the stage for an hour and we were on again for 11. By then, they had cleared the dance floor of tables and given the night a prupose. From the strike of our first chord to the final note of sustain in the last song, people were dancing, singing and shouting the words back like never before!
Each member of our band is (perhaps to the chargrin or our partners) married to the job, and its on weekends like this one you remember why….
For two hours we entertained and made people dance, laugh and sing: there are fewer glorious things to be able to do.
Apart from doing it all again next weekend…….