As promised, this blog is dedicated to our driver de jour, Steven Halcrow – without whom, it would have been a very long walk. And a pointless walk at that, since he also arranged for us to be on the bill. Thanks, buddy.
This was my first proper gig outwith Scotland, a new act night featuring eight comedians doing ten minutes apiece. I’d decided to do my seven minute Fringe set (Random and Gladiators), unsure what material should make up the remaining three minutes. After considering the Mortiis set, or the possibility of resurrecting some of my older material, a post-pub walk home on Friday night provided the answer – in the shape of an almost fully-formed bit about 9/11. Coupled with some Liverpool-specific gags based on their stereotypical reputation, I was sorted.
Still marginally drunk from my birthday celebrations the previous night, I met Steven and Ross Main at 4pm for the drive down. Steven offered to film my set, and I agreed – the footage will be online when it’s online, I know he’s working most of this week – after it was mentioned that it might be an idea to film a video somewhere further afield than within a one-mile radius of Glasgow city centre.
The gig itself was in a sizeable club, roughly the same size as the QMU (if you’re bothered, you can google for the gig I did there, playing to about 12 people). It was busy too, the room divided in half by a rail/shelf that ran round three sides of a slightly raised dancefloor. At a rough guess, there must have been about 80 or so punters, plus other acts (four from London, three of us from Glasgow, and one from Preston), the promoter and the bar staff. It was a good set-up, and Jamie Dalgleish had told me earlier in the week that this was the nicest gig he’s done south of the border. It’s certainly a good gig to play, and well worth the trip down.
By luck of the draw, I was on second, and paid little attention to the compere or the opening act, instead standing at the back of the hall and running through my new material in my head and adding in a couple of extra lines as they occurred to me. As it transpired, 9/11 wasn’t as popular a topic as I’d expected, the evening being about three-quarters character acts – Halcrow as John Shostakovic (something like that), Main as Dogshit Johnson, plus a cricketer, a traffic warden, and a man in a bowler hat with shit superpowers. After a couple of standard opening lines, and some hit-and-miss references to Liverpool and Glasgow, I did my written-in-my-head-at-4am-on-Friday-morning-walking-up-Great-Western-Road set – which, since it’s unique to this date, I’ll transcribe below. You can see the video when it goes up too, I’ll link it here. This is far more personal than anything I usually talk about, and is at least partly true. Some of it.
“So are we all celebrating the anniversary of 9/11? It’s ten years to the day since those buildings fell down.
I’m sure we all remember where we were when we heard the news. I was in Missing Records on Wellington Street in Glasgow, waiting to meet my then-girlfriend in town. As I’m flicking through CDs, I get a text from her that says: Oh my God, this is an Act of War.
Now, I’m in a record shop, killing time waiting for her, and have no idea what she’s talking about. Oh my God, this is an Act of War.
All I know is, she’s on a bus that goes through a particularly dodgy part of Glasgow.
So I texted back, are you okay? And she replied: I am, but the people of New York… [hand gesture to suggest so-so/kind of/not so much.]
Anyway, we went for lunch, and in the pub it was on every single TV and screen, and it really put a dampener on our lunch date.
Al-Quaeda won that day too, because two months later she chucked me.
And do you know what? A few years ago they pulled down Missing Records in Wellington Street in Glasgow. The place came down, was reduced to rubble, and they cleared the site. And nobody commemorates it. What a travesty.”
I’m fully aware that that’s pretty flippant (the audience didn’t really go for it either), but if you can’t laugh, what can you do – use it as an excuse to launch a couple of wars while simultaneously clamping down on the personal freedom of your citizens? Good old America, where they can now publicly fingerfuck you in the name of freedom and then sue you for half a million if you mention it.
My “Random” set wasn’t great, it’s gone a lot better and I don’t know if it was the audience, the accent, or the reverb on the mic relaying over a club PA system. Whatever the reason, that bit felt pretty hardgoing tonight, although the “Gladiators” stuff then largely won them back en masse. No applause breaks (one woman clapped by herself, but nobody took her up on it) and a fair few jokes fell flat. For a first gig outside my comfort zone (read: Glasgow) it went fine though, as the promoter said “nobody was checking their watch waiting for it to end.” I ended by tripping over my own tongue as I tried to throw in that today marked the last day of my twenties and that it had been a pleasure to play for them, fumbling as I attempted to put the mic back into the stand, and telling them I’d leave on three things as I accidentally held up four fingers… Fuck it, I ad-libbed my way right out of that, to laughter, then left on my new occasional closer – which Ross liked. Video in due course.
There was a break, followed by three acts, a break, and the final three acts. Ross closed the second half playing his character Dogshit Johnson and keeping up an American accent throughout. I’ve seen his Dave Reaper act (it’s very good) but this one was new to me. Very funny, and he closed by encouraging the audience to join him in a comedy song. He got, to my mind, the first applause break of the evening (five acts in) – and for a joke that he says never gets much reaction in Glasgow. Different crowds like different things.
Steven went on second last, also in character as an angry observational comedian, and got a great response. He opened with some gig-specific references to the evening as a whole, before segueing into his new material and finally ending with a great story I’ve heard once or twice before about a family Christmas. Both guys also videoed their sets tonight, and with their permission I’ll add them into this blog once they’re online.
With the evening over, we piled back into Steven’s car and got back to Glasgow at 3am. It was a good day, as with any roadtrip the company on the journey is half the fun, and then we all had good gigs playing to a decent crowd in a nice venue. I think it’s on every Sunday night, so if you happen to be in Liverpool of a weekend go and check it out.
For now, though, it is 5am and technically – being the early hours of the 12th – my thirtieth birthday. On Friday night I was at the Covenant gig in the Classic Grand, and they blew me away. I’d heard rumours that their singer is often so drunk at gigs that his lyrics are barely intelligible, but this was absolutely not the case. His vocals were clear cut, and the sound is the best I’ve yet heard in that venue. Their Kraftwerk/techno-inspired synthpop was played beautifully, and they were onstage for an hour and three-quarters with encore – most bands in this scene play an hour and fifteen. If you get the chance to see them live, go. It was almost on a par with the last Underworld gig I saw, which should be taken as high praise.
The only video I could find, with Daniel Meyer on lead vocals for one song only.
Saturday, I took delivery of the new Alice Cooper album, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare.” I am in love with it, it has been on repeat since. An absolute masterpiece, it blends modern Alice rock with the orchestration, pianos, choirs and brass that permeate his earlier work. It’s not officially released until later this week, so I was delighted that the preorder came through early. As part of the deal, they included a poster that named every single person who preordered in this format, as a background to the album art, and my name is listed 22nd of about 2000, up in the top left corner. I’m happy with that. Cannot wait to see him for the second Halloween in as many years, in Glasgow this time, and in the third row. If he ditches the theatrics and just plays the album start to finish, it will be worth the ticket money. There will be theatrics 😀 I love that man.
The rest of Saturday is hazy due to the over-indulgence in alcohol, except I remember it was great fun and – with Friday’s and Sunday’s gigs – a fucking great way to spend the last weekend of my twenties.
“You should write a blog.”
– Ross Main
“Happy Birthday. Looking forward to the blog about it!”
– Asim Ali
“Cant wait for the blog!”
– Darren Connell
“The blog is to me what the van is to Malky… We’ll both forever be associated with them.”
“People have lost their lives in the van, you just write a blog.”
– Darren Connell
“Darren get in the van”
Cheers boys, this one’s for you. Onwards and upwards. 🙂