Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Month of gigs: part 4 - road trip edition

OK, so I've given this some more thought and I really want you to be reading the words MONTH OF GIGS like how they said PIGS IN SPACE on The Muppet Show. Got that? Right - let's crack on with the final part of MONTH OF GIGS!

(you did it, right?)

So last time we spoke I mentioned that MONTH OF GIGS was supposed to end with Monday's Cold War Kids show at the Shepherds Bush Empire, and then I mentioned the immortal words 'road trip.' What happened, basically, was that I'd just happened upon Panic! At the Disco's website one evening and noticed that after a few dates in Europe they were popping back to the UK for a few shows they'd rescheduled from April. And one of those shows - Norwich, to be precise - still had some tickets available.

Now, I never do things like spontaneously drive 140-odd miles across the country to do anything, but I found myself sitting here thinking 'that's doable,' and 'it's not actually that far,' and 'I have plenty of holiday to use,' and 'I *really* enjoyed their Shepherds Bush Empire show and who knows how long it will be before they come back again?' Then I was googling directions and finding out about nearby accommodation for the night.

And then before I knew it, I'd bought a ticket and booked a room at a Travelodge, all for less than 70 quid. I'll happily admit I surprised myself with such spontaneity.

Spontaneity personified.

So, the day after seeing Cold War Kids, I faffed about at home in the morning, bunged some stuff in a bag, and just after one in the afternoon, under the firm yet plumby guiding voice of satnav lady, set out on my little adventure.

The journey took just under three hours, and by around four o'clock I was ensconced in a comfortable Travelodge room, sipping the worst cup of tea I've ever made.

Yes, it was comfortable enough, but the TV remote didn't work, nor did three of the lights. The bed was well squishy in a 'it'll-be-exciting-for-one-night-but-I-wouldn't-want-to-live-with-it-permanently' kinda way.

With nothing better to do I spent just over two hours spread-eagled on the bed reading my book. I was half tempted to do something rock 'n roll like throw the telly out the window, but it was quite a bulky TV and the windows didn't open all the way. Plus, I was on the ground floor, so it would actually have looked more like someone had just put a telly outside, which wouldn't really be what I was going for.

Anyway, at about half six I decided to head for the venue, which was the UEA LCR - basically the student union at the University of East Anglia. Never having gone to uni, this was definitely VERY EXCITING. I was soon queuing with lots of student-type people and bizarrely not feeling at all out of place despite being an entire teenaged person older than most of them.

The queue was long but shuffled forward quite quickly so before I knew it I was handing over my ticket and I was in.


An aside:

I don't know about you, but I like to hang on to my gig tickets as a souvenir of the event; I've got a drawer full of them that I some day intend to assemble into some sort of immense ticket collage or something. Annoyingly, though, the dudes on the door of the venue took the complete tickets off everyone rather than just tear the stub off. This is actually doubly annoying, because writing this post I discovered that the LCR has a capacity of 1550 people, and my ticket was number 1550 (seriously - go back and look at the photo). Yes, it looks like I actually got THE LAST TICKET.

I soon found myself a decent spot just behind the mixing desk, and began tweeting, texting, and facebooking furiously on my iPhone so as not to look too much like Billy No-Mates.

After a short time, the support act came on. They were actually the exact same support that Panic! had at the Shepherds Bush gig just 13 days earlier, and I found it kind of weird that I'd been standing beside the guitarist outside the stage door while queuing in the alleyway alongside the Empire. Not only that, but I actually quite enjoyed their set this time round, having found it a bit ho-hum previously.

After that it was another half hour wait before the lights dimmed once more (at a surprisingly early 8:30), and Panic! At the Disco bounded onto the stage.

Bearing in mind this was the third time I've seen Panic! play this year, my enthusiasm at seeing them perform again was undiminished. And, it seems, their enthusiasm for playing to a crowd was every bit as potent as when I saw them on those two previous occasions. This was the last gig of the UK tour, and here was a band who were clearly enjoying themselves and having a great time playing - which was in turn reflected by the audience's reactions. They bantered with the crowd and with each other, and they played some unexpected and obviously spontaneous cover versions - from an uncannily accurate John Mayer track to a hilarious version of James Blunt's 'You're Beautiful' (don't ask me how Panic! knew that track, but suffice to say I preferred their version to the original). As the show went on we were also treated to versions of the Friends and Super Mario Bro. theme tunes, 'Panic' (ha, fitting) by The Smiths, and a version of the Kansas song 'Carry on Wayward Son' because they'd been playing it on Guitar Hero.

I like this picture. I know the quality is crappy, but I like the colours and the raised camera held up in front of me.

And then, just a little before 10 o'clock, they took their bows and bid us good night. Shortly after I joined the heaving throng of sweaty students as we shuffled out into the cool night air (and on the way managed to snaffle a ticket from the pile collected on the way in; it's not my original number 1550, but it's a souvenir of the evening nonetheless). To be honest, if I'd known the gig was going to end at this time I would've seriously thought about driving home instead of staying over; I mean, seriously, can't these students party late?!

Still, I'd paid for a room for the night, so I headed back there. By 22:20 I was plonked on my squishy bed, texting and tweeting mercilessly while reflecting on the gig. Oh, and posing sexily to remember my post-Panic!/end of MONTH OF GIGS face:

That's a look of slight bewilderment/over-excitement there, people.

I woke up this morning surprisingly early, so sat in the room and read my book for an hour or so while listening to two of the maids loudly discussing their sex lives while cleaning the room opposite. Then I packed my stuff, grabbed my bag, stole three sachets of coffee in an attempt to make up for not chucking the telly out the window, and checked out. Before heading home, though, I decided to grab some breakfast at the Little Chef attached to the Travelodge. For just over seven quid I got a surprisingly tasty pancake breakfast, a pot of Earl Grey (I cannot function in the morning without it), and an orange juice.

The only downside was that the pot of sauce was 'maple-flavoured syrup' rather than actual maple syrup. Not that I could tell the difference, though.

And then following the stern instructions of satnav lady, I headed home.

Sitting here now, I actually sort of can't believe I did this little road trip just to see a band play. I've never done that before - something that was highlighted when the singer of the support act shouted "good evening Norwich!"; I've only ever heard "good evening London!" before. But d'ya know what? I had an awesome time, and I got to see one of my favourite bands play somewhere totally unexpected just by acting on a whim.

And that, I think you'll agree, was a fitting end to MONTH OF GIGS.


Some videos! I think I was standing next to a speaker or someone who gave off strange magnetic vibes because the sound in these videos is pretty atrocious. So, like, apologies for that. On the plus side, it should give you an idea of what the gig was like.

I got a snippet of their cover of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' - despite appalling sound quality you can just about hear the guiter part. At one point the guitarist was playing his guitar behind his head. AWESOME.

And finally, here's 'New Perspective,' which begins with the tail end of the cover of the Super Mario Bro. theme, complete with the 'getting coins' sound effect - all done on guitar! It was good to hear 'New Perspective' played as they didn't do it at the Shepherds Bush show - possibly the only omission from that earlier gig.


Jason said...

When I did the MONTH OF GIGS thing in my head, there was quite a lot of feedback, Do you think maybe my Subwoofer needs adjusting?
So the epic journey comes to an end. Perhaps Little Chef can sponsor your next glut of gigs?

Tara said...

Congrats on being all spontaneous! Plus, your reward was an excellent show and a squishy bed (and three sachets of coffee).

I used to save movie ticket stubs, but then they kind of just took up space in my drawers.

Those pancakes look so good, I can almost smell them from here.

Tim said...

Jason - Possibly. I understand if you put them on concrete slabs that can help. Or something.

I would totally be up for some Little Chef corporate sponsorship!

Tara - They WERE good. And surprisingly reasonably too. I almost asked for seconds.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

* livid *

L I V I D !

You come all the way to Norwich and don't even pop in to say hello? You could have saved yourself £50 or so by spending the night at luxurious Castle DeVice! I'm sure you would have got *some* sleep...

* flounces off in spurned huff *

Inexplicable DeVice said...

* flounces back to say *

They sound like a bunch of Daleks.

* flounces off again stil huffing *

* H U F F *

Tim said...

Ah, the kraken awakes.

Inexplicable Device - Ha ha ha, yes, well. It was all done on very short notice or else I would've given you advance warning of my state visit and tried to arrange at least a brief catch-up/coffee.

Even if it wasn't, I would've felt well cheeky rocking up for a few minutes, pissing off to a gig, then stumbling back much later, effectively treating Castle DeVice as a B&B, then buggering off early the next day though!

I was going to send you a picture message of me in situ in Norwich, but I wasn't sure you had a phone advanced enough to receive them.

Tim said...


I blame the odd acoustics of your fake city!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Hmmm... I see where you're coming from, but who says you would have left early the next day?


* hastily clears away chains & manacles *

Nothing to see here!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Oh, and my phone *can* receive pictures. It can even take them!

My *real* city is not to blame for the Dalekness of Panic! so it must have been *your* phone!

CyberPete said...

I TOLD you that he'd be peeved that you didn't try to see him. Hah!

Those curtains are giving me hives. You should have done everyone a favour and set fire to them outside before the Panic! gig. Would have been a real crowd pleaser I'm sure.

PS I was totally Billy no mates in New York and that was quite interesting.

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Me.

Wow, I'm impressed by your phone. How long does it take the picture to come out? Do you have to wave it around while it develops.

I'm putting the weird sound quality down to the low ceiling in the part of the venue where I was standing. I think it caused some sort of reverb. There are other videos on youtube with similar problems.

Cyberpete - I don't mind going to gigs on my own. Or the cinema. Actually I quite like my own company.

And generally hate people.

Tara said...

You made me less self-conscious of going to a concert on my own. I will try it next time!

As for the movies, I love to go alone! If I want to see a movie and nobody else is interested, they will not hold be back. I've seen almost all of the "Underworld" movies on my own, and several others.

CyberPete said...

I like my own company a lot and do generally hate people.

I just feel like Billy no mates when I'm out alone in a big group of people. Like at concerts, restaurants or the cinema. Although the Cinema wasn't that bad to be honest.