Warming up and ready to go…

by Jo

It was a bloody cold night, never mind dusty… home from school, where I’d taught Art all day… ever painted with a feather? Interesting. Try it. Shower, change into a real person again, welcome Jet in, all that..

We arrived early, so we could sit in the bar for a bit. It seemed like such a much better idea than standing out there queuing. Freezing… and anyway we were in 3 mins after the doors opened. Wandered about, got a drink, spoke to all the people we’d hoped to see and hugged them all. Met Mandy and Duane from Team Darkness, who had set off with half an hour’s notice.. aww it was soooo nice to see them again… no news on that quarter for next season, but we’ll let you know as and when.

Rabbited on during Roadstar myself, (so many people I’d not seen for so long and not expected to see) but Jet assures me they were rocking hard. I’m sure she’ll add a bit..

Kept an eye out for our strawberry blonde friend.. apparently he was upstairs ‘doing things’, whatever they might be. But no.. Roadstar off, nattering done, we slipped off to the front to stand between Jus and Dan, great view.. it took us about 3 mins to get there, too. Lovely. All going our way. As is traditional, Jet asks me what the time is far too often and nearly gets a slap. Ooooo lights down.. and the sweet familiar strains of ABBA’s Arrival flooded our aural organs and started the bouncing. Breath held… all that we’ve been waiting for, for so very long, was about to unfold before our eyes. HURRY UP!!!!!

Oh thanks be to the gods of rock, they’re here.. tall Richie, in Hustler T and leather trousers. Ed.. mostly hidden, but in a black T and looking cute. Dan, looking like he hasn’t stepped off the stage in all that time, except for he’s put his jacket on over his Thin Lizzy T. Silly boy.. far too hot for that. Take it off… there. And… Justin. Dark hair. Fatter. Smiley and bouncy, back where he belongs – in the spotlight of the fans’ adoration, soaking it up and using it to fuel his wit and antics. We’re symbiotic, you know.. synergetic as well.. at times like these, the bond is superstrong. White shimmery wraparound shirt, white and gold stripy trousers with odd hairy bits! You can see them on the photos. Flames!

KNOCKERS!!!!!! What a start! Fuck, it sounds good. Jus sounds good. Vocal coach money well spent… sounds smooth and natural and effortless. Ooo look a bra! This is later revealed on forum by the owner as ‘the “Bra” was a Charnos 42 DD Bioform , colour caramel ‘ which is some going.. I hope the lady wasn’t toooo uncomfy without her means of support.. Jus put it on backwards like a prat. If he hasn’t worked out how to use one yet, it’s a sorry tale. Mind you.. his familiarity with everyday objects does seem suss…

We rock our way sinously through a mix of old and new, although by now the new is as familiar as the old, to the faithful, and singing along is just so damn easy. The crowd is eager and hyper, desperate for darkness to descend in any form or sound. And it does, song after song… glorious waves of sound. Justin acts the fool, he rocks, he solos and struts with nothing lost. Dan does his own quieter strutting, but he knows how to pose too. He’s a fantastic sight of flying hair and long limbs all by himself. Richie wanders across to the middle from time to time to let us see him. He seems so at ease for his first gig with TD.. smiling, showing his bum.. well I’m not sure he meant to, but there it was. A fine sight, Mr Edwards. Jus did introduce him to the crowd, and he got a rapturous reception. I just hope some prats don’t start heckling for Frankie, later in the tour. Richie looks right, sounds right, and FITS. The band still have balance in every way, and it’s clear that they enjoy each others’ company. Richie even got a sympathy vote when something went wrong with his bass (no idea what, you need a bass geek) during Growing on Me.. spooky, first one of the old songs! And how odd to hear black shuck in the middle of the set… dunno how that will appeal to everyone.. some fans are a bit set in their ways.. Likewise with Love on the Rocks.

Jus was on bloody good form tonight. He took the heckles, did some of his own, looked for his own and Richie’s mum to sing ‘Motherfucker’ to him during GYHOMY.. not to mention the bra incident. He was damn pleased to be there, and it showed. There was a long interlude during which we ‘discussed’ his weight gain. HE STARTED IT!!! (if you don’t want to show your beer belly, stripping after complaining about nipple chafing is not the way forward) Awww. He looks good. And he’s not as fat as they’d have you believe. Chubby, and much healthier looking. Suits his face.. he’s practised his beer belly wobbling! Who on earth taught him that, and why? (there is no truth in the rumour that he’s modelling himself on Rob Shaw.) Gleeful chants of ‘you fat bastard’ ensued, at which he tried miserably to pout in a hurt manner, and failed. One of these days, Dan is gonna get his own back for having his bum pinched, and that will be the funniest thing.. come on Dan. Do something to wind Jus up on stage. I gave Jus my camera to take photos with, but he couldn’t work out how it worked.. sigh… honestly he’s supposed to be a tech geek!

Plenty of opportunity for us to sing to them, and vote whether ‘Blind Man’ should stay in for the tour.. obviously we said yes.. It sounded just fine without any harmonies and production, emphasising its simplicity and emotion more, I thought. SLAGI really needs everything to stop and focus on the brothers’ performance to get the best out of that ballad.. spotlights, stillness and honest sentiment.

ECG and Bald give us a rocking encore, and we’re left wanting so much more but satisfied with seeing what we have. Value for money.. you bet.

A long chat with Rob and a few other people, rescue our stuff, and we seem to be leaving the building long after anyone else.. mind that flight case.. AAAGGGHHH it got colder! We waited for so long. Rich and Dan came out, signed a bit.. Rich scooted quickly. I asked Dan for a few words for his fanzine readers. Despite not being able to pronounce ‘fanzine’ he managed to say ‘Ummm.. hello…’ Words of great wisdom and depth, there. He’s off into a taxi and away.. Other people emerge. Sue, carrying a familiar bag of sweets. Rob, carrying unfinished beer and a bottle of vodka, very much the worse for wear, staggering and slurring.. hee so cute.. so drunk that he let Six kiss him, lmao. We saluted him of course, and arrant wasp toss was mentioned.

Finally. Justin. Pissed as a fart and genial, happy to sign stuff. He even managed to take a picture with my camera this time. I attached it. Perhaps that might give you an idea of his general state… His minder was having none of it and hustled him into the bus, despite what Jus might have thought about it. So cold.. we left, as we couldn’t stand it any longer, even if we did want to see Ed.. sorry Ed, but things were bad enough next morning as it was. Teaching Philosophy to 7 year olds? After that? Eeek.

The Dark Force is back with us! Prepare to be bowled over and rocked and shocked and squiggled.. Back. Bigger and better and just as sexy. Growwwwllll. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, definitely. And, while I think of it, we couldn’t figure out where your figure had gone.. we thought we could try and live without you, but we were so very wrong.

All setlists, jokes, trousers and bras subject to change.

This is what we politely jigged to:

One Way Ticket
Is It Just Me
Growing on Me
Dinner Lady Arms
Givin’ Up
Black Shuk (setlist typo, not me!)
Love on the Rocks
Love Is Only A Feeling
Seemed Like A Good Idea
Blind Man
Hazel Eyes
Get Your Hands Off
Friday Night
I Believe In A Thing Called Love
English Country Garden