A short & sweet edition of Bass Notes this time around as this whole event was less about us or any other individual performance, band or artist but about a celebration of the Specialized project and the tireless work of it’s founder and brainchild Mr. Paul Williams, via these events, gigs and also the release of the Specialized charity album where artists recorded versions of classic Specials tracks (to which we also contributed)
there has been thousands of pounds raised in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.
This event, a culmination of the various specialized gigs, was held over 3 days, we journeyed down on the Sunday for our slot that evening. Due to some of the lads in the band having work commitments on Monday, we can’t afford ourselves the luxury of staying overnight, we have to turn the trip around in one day.
What should be a routine 3 to 4 hour drive to the South Coast and back starts well enough, we get there on schedule but of course this is the Modern world that you’ve heard about and in these dependent days of technology grown men appear to be lost (literally) without a Sat Nav at hand and on the return trip it’s not until I look up from my vantage point in the rear of the minibus that I realise we are driving through winding Country lanes which I don’t recognise from the fairly straightforward route that we travelled down upon.
“Everything alright Lads? – are we are on the right track?” I enquire “Sat Nav is down Sheas, Ian’s just checking Google Maps, should be fine in a min” Comes the response from the cockpit.
Of course I knew we were in trouble once I heard that Ian was navigating, he doesn’t even drive and his phone is about as reliable as the British weather, I’m sure I actually see him holding it upside down at one point, I expect to see France sometime soon. He may be able to find his way to the local Maplin’s but Christopher Columbus he ain’t....
Our bus twists and turns, dances and darts through every dark and dimly lit winding Country lane in Dorset as we make snail paced progress on a blue marker on Ian’s phone – “Nearly at the Motorway now Youth” I hear him assure us at least 6 times, at this rate we may aswell drop Spen, Jamie etc straight to work – Dorset’s Milk floats are gearing up for action, paper rounds due to start... It’s not until we actually see the bright lights of Bristol that we know we are home, well 2 and a quarter hours from home but at least I know where the fuck we are now, The Motorway and in particular Michael Wood services on the M5, illuminate in the distance like a mirage in the desert. Michael Wood (Who is he anyway?) services is the worst service station in the Country but it’s toilet facilities and pre packed pasties seem like we have found our place in heaven after the night Rally through the forests and woodland of Dorset.
The highlight of our performance tonight for me is being introduced onto stage by legendary Reggae musician & Producer Dennis Bovell, I am a great fan and admirer of his work especially those 4th Street Orchestra dub albums plus his work with among others Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Slits and Orange Juice. He must have done his homework on us as he bellows “ Now! A band whose sound is scrictly rooooted to the ground !!” .......
I should have seized the opportunity and asked him to produce “Don’t let the rain” for us.
We don’t have our finest hour, It’s a shared backline and as it’s a festival type of thing no soundcheck so it’s no surprise I suppose to find the sound on stage a complete and utter mess, I do my best to get at least the monitors rectified but it’s a constant battle to hear everything correctly and I find myself stuck to one spot by the bass amp just get the best balance I can and to hear what the rest of the band are playing.
Most people will say, and indeed do tonight, that it makes no difference out front, everyone is digging it, sounds fine out there etc...but actually it makes all the difference.
I remember watching an interview with Gilbert O’Sullivan of all people who said that if the sound is a mess when he starts a concert and it doesn’t get sorted within the first 2 or 3 songs then his heart sinks because he just knows that night will be a battle and a concentrated effort to just get through his set, the performance side and certainly the enjoyment is completely lost and that’s exactly what happened for me tonight. I knew it was a case of battling against the elements and just holding on to the rest of the band, making sure things stayed together.
I didn’t or couldn’t to be more precise, think about just letting the music take over and getting lost in the moment, I had to work every minute for every note. I think a few of the others faced the same battle too.
Should have bought our own gear down really but you also have to consider the expense of hiring the extra van and the fuel costs and for this things had to be kept to a minimum and on budget.
I’m sure it was fine and no-one noticed but that’s not the point, I noticed.
Afterwards we catch up with the Dee’s, Big Joey, Glynn, Tony and their crew who have travelled all the way down from Merseyside for the weekend, always great to catch up however briefly it may be, proper people.
We also get to natter to By The Rivers, our touring partners on the Specials Tour this time last year, a great bunch of lads and a fucking top band too, unfortunately we’re not here long enough to see them play tonight but I and the other lads hope to catch them real soon, I think we will organise a gig together in the new year.
Once again a big thanks to Paul and all involved in the Specialized project for Teenage Cancer Trust, for further info and links to the album and merchandise please visit - http://www.specializedcharityalbum.co.uk/
Until next time.....
Neil S – Bass Notes – 23rd Oct 2012 AD
Neil Sheasby - Wearing the G-C Grandad