I’m a Very Important Scientist

Yes! Another post about We Are Scientists! You’ve missed them haven’t you?

My favourite band did make an appearance in Glasgow in July last year, but seeing as I had just had baby no. 2 a few weeks earlier I really wasn’t in a position to go. First time in 6 years that they’ve played Glasgow and I’ve not been there. However in October last year they released details of a full UK tour, complete with Glasgow date so I was determined to make this one. Then I saw that they were offering a VIP option. For a few extra pounds (ok, more than a few) you got gig ticket, t-shirt, entry into soundcheck and a meet & greet with the band. I considered this for about 3 seconds.  I remembered I had just the right amount of money sitting in my PayPal account after selling my maternity clothes on eBay. It was like fate.

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Suddenly, it is March and the date is looming. After chasing up the ticket broker and WAS Management, I finally got through the details of the VIP package, just 2 days before the big day. I started to get nervous. Why? Because I had been listening to the new album and had mixed feelings about it. Because I was worried I would be surrounded by squealing teenage fangirls. Because I was worried the guys might not be on form. Ok, by that I mean Keith. If he wasn’t into it the whole thing might be a bust. The international WAS fan network came to my rescue and assured me it would be fine.

We made the usual military-grade arrangements to take care of the kids which inevitably went slightly awry (older one needing the toilet at the last minute with no toilets to be found, younger one refusing to feed) so I was running late, and literally running up the length of Sauchiehall Street to get to the ABC in time. As I arrived panting at the door, the huge security guard took one look at me, “Ruth?” and ushered me inside. They had waited on me. Thanks Mr Burly Security Guard Sir! I was taken upstairs and handed a goodie pack. As well as the promised t-shirt, there was a 2nd t-shirt, the VIP access pass, a set of Brain Thrust Mastery badges and a 7″ vinyl Something About You/Let Me Win, luckily with download code enclosed cos I don’t have a record player.

Goodie pack
Goodie pack

Just as I was checking my haul we got ushered down to the floor to watch the soundcheck part. One of my fears was allayed as I realised that my fellow VIPs were all 20-/30-somethings with no squealers in sight. Unfortunately they had all come in pairs, so I was stood like a lemon on my own. One of the many times I wished my international WAS fanclubmates lived a wee bit closer.

Anyhoo, Keith, Chris and new Keith duly emerged. They said hi, we didn’t quite know what to do, so we mumbled and smiled and waited. There wasn’t so much a soundcheck as a brief performance.  I had imagined something technical happening.  I was kind of looking forward to that, the frustrated musician in me would really like to know how the set up for a gig works, but they launched straight into playing a song for us. Frankly, I have no idea which song. I was still out of breath and flustered from running up the road, the transition from mother-of-2 to gig-goer had taken all of 10 minutes and I was still catching up with myself. I think it was from BTM. The 2nd song was Central AC. I remember because I had almost composed myself by then and I wasn’t expecting that song. I was pleased, though because I like it, especially live. We still didn’t know what to do, so we gave a smattering of applause. Then Keith (damn, why did they have to pick a new drummer with the same name, this is going to get tedious – Keith Keith is Keith M, new Keith is Keith C) said, “shall we mingle?” and they came down. Soundcheck/mini performance over.

We were stood awkwardly in small groups/pairs, there was only about 8 of us, and like I said the others had all come in pairs. We were spread out so the 3 band members took a group/pair each and the others waited. It was like a weird speed-dating set-up. I was standing nearest to one pair, and Keith M came over to us first, then he moved on and we were joined by Keith C and Chris. Then later there was a more generalised mingle.

The girl from our wee group was a bit nervous, the boy didn’t say much, which left me. I tried not to dominate the conversation, but couldn’t really help it. So Keith M and I talked about Glasgow, food, allergies, Greggs, earplugs at concerts, seagulls & pigeons and chips.  At one point he said he was going to go off later in search of a hand juicer.  I briefly hoped he had re-evaluated his lifestyle and had embarked on a healthy juice diet, but no, it was for juicing limes for margaritas. We discussed the merits of John Lewis vs Argos. Later, I joined in a conversation he was having with another pair, about movies on the Sci-Fi Channel.  He was adamant that Debbie Gibson and Tiffany starred in a monster movie. I thought this sounded like something he dreamt up, but turns out it is in fact true.

Other things I learned from Keith M:

  • Chris Urbanowicz has a severe peanut allergy which has lead him to be hospitalised on tour when the rider hasn’t been properly prepared.
  • He prefers Glasgow to Toronto
  • He isn’t a fan of Greggs
  • He feels sorry for Glasgow pigeons but once a “cute but obese” dove sat on his window ledge in New York for 2 hours. He stressed how cute is was several times and described is as being the size of a grapefruit. I suspect he may have had a drink that day
  • He has never heard of John Lewis, is aware of Argos, but doesn’t have time for the catalogue business
  • He has awful taste in movies
  • He really likes Margaritas

Keith C fits in with the others like he has been there all along. He is just like them, it’s kind of uncanny. He was of course lovely, asking all about us and chatting about drink drive limits, maternity leave, drumming and sleeping (or not) on tour busses, the difference between the West End of Glasgow and Sauchiehall Street,

Things I learned from Keith C:

  • When he’s not touring with WAS he teaches drumming to adults and children, including a baby/toddler class
  • He can say the word “gig” with an authentic Glaswegian accent, claims Scottish blood

Chris was the last one we spoke to. He explained how it was their new management’s idea to do these meet & greets, but he thought it was a good idea cos going out to meet fans after shows was often becoming unmanageable.

Things I learned from Chris:

  • Adam Aaronson (ex-drummer no. 2) now lives in Utah where he has trained as a therapist for “troubled youths”
  • He talks about Stravaigin like a local, complete with proper pronunciation

Once we had chatted for a while, the support bands were coming on to do their soundcheck, so we took some photos.

Chris suggested an action pose
Chris suggested an action pose

Just at the last minute I remembered to hand over the book I had wanted to give them, it had been to London and Brighton with me 3 years ago but I never got the chance then, so I took it now.  I explained to Keith M that last time I saw them in Glasgow I had given Chris a creative writing anthology featuring my friend.  This time I gave Keith a novel I had read a few years ago and had really liked. Something to while away the hours on the tour bus. He thanked me and asked a bit about the book.  Keith C was pleased, said it would draw him away from the Parker (I think these?) books, to which Keith M tried to explain about a series of novels he is currently addicted to.  We were all being ushered out, so we all shook hands and said goodbye for the time being.

I had just over an hour to kill before doors opened, so I stashed my goodie pack in my car, grabbed a bite to eat then headed back to the venue. I thought about staying back on the raised bit by the bar, but in the end the barrier was the only place to be. Took up a position “Chris side”.

Stage all set
Stage all set

The support bands were The Heartbreaks and Superfood, neither of whom I had heard of, but both were surprisingly good. I will add them to my list of bands to check out further.

Although the Meet & Greet had gone well I still have some apprehension about the gig.  I am not uncritical of WAS.  I admit, the new album hasn’t grabbed me. I only really liked a few songs, and even then they weren’t ranking high for me.  I could see the potential of them as live songs, but overall I was ambivalent about the album. Also, there’s always a chance that Keith (M) is being moody and that doesn’t make for a good show. Once they came on stage, however, I could see that it was going to be fine.  Keith spoke to the crowd first – always a good sign, and from the outset he was laughing, joking, bouncing around and soaking in the atmosphere.  I relaxed. I could feel this was going to be a good one.

It was better than a good one. It was one of the best ones I have seen them do.  Up there with the last Glasgow ABC gig, which was one of my best gigs ever, of any band.  I’ll try not to gush too much, but they were on top form. They work very well as a trio, I REALLY hope they keep Keith C on board, cos he is an excellent drummer, I like the sound he brings to the songs – old and new – and he just gels so well. He’s the….*counts carefully*…4th drummer I’ve seen with them and must proclaim him to be the best.  Adam was fine but always acted like a hired hand (which he was, to be fair), Danny was lovely but didn’t make his own mark, Andy was also lovely but too fecking busy to concentrate and I can’t forgive him for getting too drunk to play and ruining a gig I had travelled the length of the country to see. Keith C has his own take on the songs and when you have only 3 of them up there, that is really important to the overall sound and direction of the band.  Chris was, well, just Chris. Steady, funny, silly dances, groovy moves and bizarre stories involving Bon Jovi’s pronunciation of “Glasgow”.  And Keith.  As I said, Keith makes or breaks WAS performances.  Last night Keith reminded me why I love this band so much.  He made the songs of TV en Francais come alive in the way that I hoped he would.  He played his beautiful, beautiful Telecaster like an absolute boss. What I DO like about TVeF is the heavier guitar sound, and to see Keith play those riffs and hooks was an absolute pleasure and a joy. He rocked out harder that I have seen before and was having a ball doing so. His voice sounds better live than it does on the record. How is that even possible? The vocals on Courage make me cringe when I hear it recorded but for some inexplicable reason on stage he manages to belt out each song with a strength and clarity that just doesn’t come across on the album.  You always know a good gig when Keith is bouncing about so much he has to sprint back to the mic to sing his next line. He missed a few words last night but nobody gave a damn because we were all singing with him.

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They played a good mix of old and new, reworking some old ones with new, heavier sound to keep the feel of the new ones, which I really liked. They played Textbook, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard all the way through properly without Keith disappearing into the crowd. They played songs I haven’t listened to for ages and had forgotten how much I loved, like Can’t Lose.

One poor sod in the audience got caught up in an exchange between Keith M and Chris and ended up on the stage with Chris’ bass around his neck.  In general there was much love and appreciation of the Glasgow crowd from the guys.  From what they were saying beforehand, this is a genuine love of Glasgow.  According to Keith M, his mum texted him that morning “cos I know how much you love Glasgow”. The love was mutual.

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After a 90 minute set, including a 3 song encore ending on The Great Escape, it was all over.  A sizable crowd had gathered outside hoping to meet the guys, but satisfied with my VIP experience I headed home, the warm glow of a great gig keeping me going through the foggy night.

3 thoughts on “I’m a Very Important Scientist

  1. Frey 25/03/2014 / 9:45 pm

    Love your blog! so jealous of your WAS escapades! just recently saw them in Birmingham and they were amazing even more so than the other times I’ve seen them, now having a serious come down 😦 x

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