London Free-cycle gig with The RoadRunners/Soul Station (soul band). The London Free Cycle event is an annual event where they close a big chunk of central London to traffic so that cyclists can take over the streets and pedal around safely having fun. The cyclists do take over, in their thousands. Tiny tots on baby bikes with stabilisers, strangely dressed men wearing stilts and pedalling bikes that look like they came from the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” film, mono-cyclists, penny-farthings and every other imaginable type of pedal driven vehicle.
Some of the band arrived very early (before the bikes hit the streets) and went to the designated set-up area (in the middle of the road at the junction of Threadneedle St and Cornhill). As they were setting up the kit, a loud bang echoed through the empty City streets, the bang was followed by the screeching of tyres as a car driving at very high speed sped past the drum kit, the back window of the car was smashed, in hot pursuit was a police car (we were later told that the Free-cycle event may be off “due to an incident”).
All the band arrived and all the kit (back-line amps, PA and instruments were set up). We still had no power because the manager who was supposed to unlock a lamppost and give us a connection was helping with “the incident”. Eventually the bikes started passing (the event had not been cancelled, but we still had no power). It was then that I realised that although we were in the middle of a roundabout (made by the band and barriers) we were facing away form the oncoming bikes. I suggested that we turn everything around so the we faced the cyclists. The band in good heart complied and within 30 minutes we had changed direction.
10:10am Eventually the manager with the key to the power arrived he apologised for the delay, then said he would show me where to plug in our extension leads, I went with him, but he did not lead me to the lamp-post in the middle of the road but across Threadneedle St, past the statute of Wellington and down to the Royal Exchange (about 200 yards from the band) he opened a lamppost revealing 2 13amp sockets and with a smile said “there you are, do you have your extension leads?” I explained that we were a couple of hundred yards from the band and we didn’t have extension leads of that length, he looked disappointed as if I had come unprepared, I then mentioned that even if we did have a 200 yard extension lead there was a road between the socket and the band with hundreds of cyclists passing, he told me that was not a problem could stop the cyclists and, if we had the correct tape, we could tape our lead down to the road. After a little discussion it was agreed we would relocate the band closer to the power (so for the second time in less than an hour I was to ask the band to move all the kit). Unbelievably there were no complaints (or at least not within my earshot) and the band started moving all the kit across the road, dodging hundreds of cyclists on the way.
The kit was set up and the gig (an hour late) commenced. It was a delight, everybody got into the groove, there were tourists who stopped and took pictures (some stayed for a couple of hours), pedestrian Londoners who were going to make the most of some free music by buying alcohol from the local Tesco Metro and dancing in the street, security, stewards, marshals, first aiders, and lastly but not least many of the cyclist stopped, and stayed to enjoy the music. A splendid first half to the day, I walked away on a high.
Evening gig at a SE London Boozer, this time no soul band to keep me company it was a solo gig (vocals, guitar and backing tracks). I had performed in this venue before and the customer mix had been 70% female to 30% male, on the previous occasion the women were dancing within 10 minutes of me starting. Tonight the mix was 95% SE London “geezers” and 5% local women, it was gonna be a hard gig. Within 10 minutes I did not have anyone dancing but noticed one of the local geezers had visited the toilets 3 times and on each occasion he was followed very closely by different geezers, within seconds he returned with his companion geezer wiping his upper lip and walking much faster than he had on the way to the toilets. This procedure went on through-out the evening until many of the geezers had followed their leader into the toilets, it then started again with chaps who had already had one visit going back for “seconds”.
1st set passed with nothing particular of interest, the telly was on showing a boxing match and the procession to the gents continued (I was amazed that the followers were aged between 20 and 60).
A lone female came into the pub slightly built and quite attractive she bought her drink, placed it on the table next to me and then 2 feet in front of me started to dance, because of her close proximity, it was difficult to look anywhere other than at her. Also, without looking at the floor or the ceiling it was impossible to avoid eye contact as while dancing she stared directly at me. Her gaze was only occasionally broken when she fended off some of the local geezers who seemed to know her and tried to pull her into a close dance so that that could touch her bum. Some of the guys whispered into her ear, although I could not hear what they said, her reply was audible “NO, I am with him” (him being me). The guys, seemed to know her so knew that she was not with me but laughed as they told me “you’re in there mate”. My dancer got closer (within a foot) and continually made requests for songs, I became more and more nervous as although I don’t have a pet rabbit I was sure that within days I would find my new found admirer in my kitchen looking for a saucepan. My gig was scheduled to end at 11:30.
At 11:20 all the females who had been in the pub on my previous visit staggered into the pub wearing those bouncy ball things on their heads, some dressed as schoolgirls, some with sashes, one was wearing “L” plates carrying a 5 foot long helium inflated penis. The women took turns in undoing the stopper (in the head of the penis) and sucking the helium so that they spoke in very high pitch tones.
Thankfully I only had 10 minutes to go before my “concert” finished, despite the protests and encore requests I ended my set at 11:31 precisely, my admirer told me she would be back in a minute and went to the toilet. My guitar was quickly in placed in it’s case, I got paid (in record time) and escaped out the door before my admirer returned. A day of 2 parts was over.