What, these guys AGAIN? Yeah. Shut up.
I had no intention of going out at all last night. Child 2 had her first birthday on Thursday. Child 1 and husband had their birthdays today. We had a sledging party with 10 5 year olds planned for this afternoon. I needed my sleep.
But yesterday morning as I was checking Twitter, I saw a message from a friend:
With a link to PAWS Facebook page, containing the message,
“Oh, we forgot to mention, this free gig that we are playing tomorrow in Glasgow…you should really get there early because…some very, very special friends of ours from New York City that love to dabble in science are also going to be taking the stage in this tiny room. Don’t say we didn’t warn you….”
Ooh, who could that be?
WAS were due to be playing T In The Park in the afternoon, so ample time for them to get to Glasgow. I tried to persuade Susie to come out with me, after some initial lame excuses about being “busy” she agreed to come out for a drink prior to the show to keep me company.
After a day running round getting organised for birthdays – buying cake, balloon, candle, wrapping presents, bathing children etc etc, I headed out. Couldn’t quite believe I was going to a gig, never mind that I might get a glimpse of my favourite band.
Halfway down the road, realised I had forgotten earplugs. Oh well, it’s a small show in a bar, maybe it’ll be kinda acousticy and I’ll be fine.
Got to Bloc about 8pm ish. Met Susie and settled down at one of the tables with a drink. We were so rock n roll we had cokes. Out of the bottle with a straw. Everyone was jealous of how cool we looked. The bar wasn’t that busy. I spotted “Other Keith” (see previous post for Keith explanations), then Chris, then Original Keith. They were just milling about the bar area. Chris and Keith C came wandering over to our bit, I caught Keith C’s eye and waved, he smiled, then said, “Oh hi!” (I think he recognised me, from the last gig Meet & Greet?) He asked how I was doing, said that he was fine, and explained they weren’t looking for seats, they were just stretching their legs after being in a van for a while. The members of PAWS were around too. At this point we still didn’t know who was on first or how the whole thing was going to go. I still imagined a PAWS gig with occasional guest appearance by WAS.
Susie and I chatted for a while, then the staff came to clear the tables away. I’d never been to a gig at Bloc before, Susie told me that the “stage” was the bit just to my left. We shuffled onto the benches along the side of the room. It got busier and busier. And later and later. Susie finally admitted she wasn’t going to move. I don’t mind going to bigger shows on my own, but it feels weird in that kind of setting, so I was very pleased.
They started setting up, true enough, just to my left. It got busier and busier. And warmer and warmer. We shuffled a bit further left, not wanting to loose our vantage point.
Lots of people were moving towards the “stage” area (no stage whatsoever) including 2 really tall guys who moved right in front of us. It was getting on for 10pm now, we had been there 2 hours so I was a bit miffed. They seemed nice, so I asked them if they would mind swapping with us (Susie and I are both really short) they kindly obliged (thank you if you are reading, such gents!) This meant we not only kept our view, but were actually right in front of one of the mics.
It got later and later, and hotter and hotter. The place was absolutely crammed full. We saw a picture PAWS had posted of a queue round the block hoping to get in. There was no hope, there wasn’t room to breath inside.
It got later and later.
A girl moved her way though the crowd and asked to get past us. I thought she was wanting to get to the stage area, maybe an employee, or actually looking at her, with her Davy Crockett style hat (yes, seriously, in that heat) maybe a girlfriend of one of PAWS? She was tall, but sat down beside us on the bench, so I didn’t really care. Then later, her even taller friend arrived, looking like a blonde, pastel version of Miss Jones from Rising Damp with, I kid you not, an honest-to-goodness Carmen Miranda style hat on, complete with citrus fruit. Seriously, WTF? They stood up, Our entire view was blocked. I tried to say something but they weren’t having it. (If you are reading, I’m sure you are lovely people too, and sorry to mock your dress sense, but that was rather rude).
11pm came and went. We didn’t care who came on or what they did, we just wanted something to happen.
Finally, FINALLY, PAWS came on. All I saw was Miss Jones’ flowing robes and a strobe light bouncing off a lemon on her hat. We decided to kneel on the benches to afford a better view. Better.
PAWS were loud. Very loud. They seemed good, but it was that far too loud, too distorted way to really tell. Their drummer looked very good though (in a technically good drummer kind of way) which always endears me to a band. The crowd were extremely enthusiastic from the first song, belting out the words at the top of their voices.
One of PAWS mentioned that the air conditioning was broken. That would explain the sauna like experience, then.
PAWS played maybe 3 or 4 songs. I was quickly becoming deaf and severely regretting the absence of ear plugs. They then introduced WAS. They said they would play some songs together, then swap in and out. That seemed to be quickly forgotten as it turned into a full-on WAS gig. The crowd were riotous, surging forward, crowd-surfing and getting very, very sweaty. WAS said they would just take requests, mostly from the PAWS guys, but some from the audience too. We got a good mix of early stuff and latest-album stuff, which I was pleased to hear get a 2nd live airing, cementing my view that it is an album meant to be played live.
Susie and I were still behind Crockett and Carmen, and I decided half a view of WAS, obscured by pulsating glowing lemons wasn’t going to cut it, so we stood up on the benches. Unfortunately a huge speaker was suspended from the ceiling. Joining in with the general anarchic feeling in the room, we ducked under it and edged EVEN CLOSER to the performance area.
Now as luck would have it (I realise this depends on your personal viewpoint) this brought us directly beside, not even in front of, BESIDE, Keith Murray. He was literally 2 feet away, closer depending on crowd surges and crazy dancing.
No zoom used!
The energy in the room had been frantic before WAS came on, it was downright off the chart when WAS started. Keith was dancing, twirling, writhing around despite having about half a square foot to move in. The crowd responded by jumping, singing, chanting and sweating some more. 3 songs in and I was breathing in pure sweat water vapour.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – WAS performances hinge on Keith M’s mood, and thankfully once again he was in a good mood. A really good mood. He reacted to the crowd, both en masse and individuals who shouted out requests etc, he played around on his guitar (sadly not the beloved telecaster) riffing and improvising all over the place. I was amazed he could keep on any kind of guitar form while being squished from all directions, but while his vocals weren’t clear from where I was standing, his guitar line came through strongly and he never missed a note, in fact inserting flourishes here and there. Chris was just Chris, so solid and steady and half the time not knowing what song was coming next but just getting on with it. Other Keith was a star on the drums once again. Please keep him guys, he’s awesome!
Being within a hair flop’s distance, I caught his eye a few times, mostly while I was belting out the lyrics with the rest of them, a huge grin on my face, he grinned back a couple of times. Later in the set Chris jumped up on something at the other side, and I caught his eye too, not sure if he saw me at that distance, but I would have been giving him the same happy-place grin.
Later, a photo was posted online of the gig, spot the shorties standing ducking under the speaker!
So WAS played for probably an hour or so, I thought I might pass out on several occasions, or at least fall off my bench, but the thought of falling into the maelstrom below was enough to keep me clinging to the side. At one point I enthusiastically flung out an arm, only to catch a cable from the speaker, almost bringing it out. Tried to contain myself thereafter.
PAWS came back on for The Great Escape, one PAW playing Keith’s guitar part while Keith forayed into the crowd.
They ended on a cover with everyone from both bands pitching in (Ramones? I didn’t quite catch it and I’m afraid I wasn’t familiar with the song) The whole building was shaking, there was a fog of sweat hanging over us, everyone was dripping but deliriously happy.
We exited as quickly as possible to get some air. Sweet, glorious, Glasgow-city-centre-but-still-fresh-ish-air! My clothes were clinging to me as if I had been in bath. I have never been so wet fully clothed. Going up the stairs to street level Susie spotted Keith M at another door. She tapped him on the shoulder, he turned and did the same thing Other Keith did, which I *think* was a recognition thing, “Hi, oh hi!”. *grins* We thanked him for the show, told him how awesome it was, I told him I had my kid’s birthday party the next day and would have to face it deafened, hoarse and on very little sleep. He tried to make out he had it worse by having to fly to New York the next day, I explained about the ten 5-year olds sledging party, he admitted that sounded worse. Shook hands, thanked him again, went on our way.
I know, WAS are less popular than they were, I know people don’t think much of the last album (or 3) but I actually seriously defy ANYONE to find a better live band. Or a band who can equally command a festival stage and rock a small bar to it’s very core. I was so utterly delighted to have experienced this. It had the feel of the early days, but with all the maturity and depth of a band who have been doing this professionally for years. Despite the chaos and the excitement, the proximity we had meant that I could see Keith’s eyes maintain that focus and concentration during all the songs. I don’t know how many people were squeezed into Bloc last night, but every single one of them will rate that as one of the best nights of their life. THAT’s why I love WAS and why I will go out at ridiculous hours of the night the night before my daughter’s birthday. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world.