Thursday, 9 September 2010

Letter One: Leeds Carnival

Dear Debs

Drank too much lager at the Queens Show on Friday. Saturday, consequently didn’t happen. Sunday was spent by the side of the Bolton Road in Bradford playing for the bike riders, while James [aged 2 and 1 day] worked out how to crawl backwards under the bars at the edge of the road. Laminated a few setlists Sunday evening; forgot to give them all out the following day.

Also had to explain to Andy [from South Steel] that I couldn’t fit two sets of big bass into the Works van, and that playing tenor bass was not a demotion. In the end gave myself tenor bass, as a, I’m not proud, and b, you don’t have to spent whole songs with your back to the rest of the band in the keys of F, Bflat, C and G . This is the only known disadvantage of rearranging the big basses into whole tone scales. And if you stand the other side of the stage it’s just the same in the flats and sharps keys!

Well, we put the congas and the smaller bits of the drum kits under the basses, but it was a tight squeeze, and Bex’s place in the cab was taken by one of Natalie’s guitar pans. [Don’t think Bex minded getting a lift in the comfort of her own car].

When we first got mainstage and not a float, five years ago, we were disappointed, but after spending what seemed like a fortnight on the float at Manchester Carnival this year, the miked up spacious stage at Leeds seemed like a palace. We did get our usual warm welcome from this lady, who was suggesting that I must be visually-impaired to think that there was a parking space behind the stage. But there was such a space for us, and, for those of us whose task it was to set up 25 pans and sets of pans, all the stands and 2 drum-kits, it made it a relatively easy task.

Shock horror: I dropped Magician and Sweet Soca from the repertoire. Put in Wavin Flag and Buffalo Gals, Not everyone had had a chance to practise. Held my hands together in the shape of a U and mouthed “unison” at them, “What, said Morgan, mistaking my U for a cup, “ does she want a drink?” No unison happened.

The first time we were miked up, was it four years ago, I struggled to get the band to understand that we could play sweeter, and still be heard at the back of the arena. Debs, you once famously said to me, “Put it down to enthusiasm.” Well, nothing’s changed. Four years later, enthusiasm’s still reigning. And so we belted out our massive setlist of 18 tunes, and we were great, loud, but great. Clocks had its brief moment of melody only, and Natalie managed to established similar for one verse of Nah Goin' Home, so there were two moments of near subtlety. Then again, enthusiasm reigned.

One picture is the packing away bit. Let's face it: when it comes down to it, 25 people can't all pack away at the same time. This year Debs, I made sure that I turned left onto Harehills Avenue, then left again up Avenue Hill, this way avoiding anyone mistaking the van for their girlfriend.

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