If, for a time, it seemed that Murphy’s Law had stepped in to engineer the Leicester leg of the Special-ized Charity Album Launch gig, the night itself proved that we needn’t have feared. Here’s a photo to show that we were there (I’m loving the faux-fur fuchsia cushion dampening the bass drum):
And here’s a list, because I like lists, of the things that could have gone completely wrong but didn’t:
1. This was an album launch gig, but the album was actually not ready to be launched. An unforeseen delay meant that we could only announce pre-orders – which are starting on Monday, March 3rd, through the Special-ized website, www.specializedcharityalbum.co.uk – rather than sell any hard copies. [Order yours as soon as you can – £14.99 plus P&P. Also coming are a limited edition vinyl LP at the end of March, and a 7″ USA import EP, whatever that means – and the download option, of course. All proceeds to Teenage Cancer Trust.]
2. Sadly, other unforeseen circumstances meant that Laura was not with us. Though we missed her dearly, we were lucky enough to find a ringer in the form of Will Lindsay, bass player for the Moderators. He got the call on Sunday and rehearsed with us on Tuesday; that was six days he had to learn the set and decide whether or not he could work with a drummer who has a self-confessed goat obsession. He rose to the challenge admirably and made one – count it, one – mistake in the gig. And no one else will have known what it was. His only other fault was wearing grey trousers with brown shoes, but we’re a forgiving lot.
3. Nile, guitarist and vocalist from By the Rivers, contracted the norovirus, and on Friday By the Rivers had to to pull out of the gig. They were headlining, remember? Panic ensued, but Leicester-based ska stalwarts Kingsize came through in the clutch. Our heartfelt thanks to the regular gang – Su Robinson, Mark Pearson, Paul “Robbo” Robinson (no relation to Su, unless you count “band family”), and Jon-Ming-Russ (it helped that we were already there) – plus the extras (see Nos. 4 and 6).
4. John Harris (guitarist) was not available for Kingsize (see No. 3). Our man Mark Price stepped in. How good is he?
5. People might have mistaken Mark Price for Stan Samuel of Desmond Dekker’s and Prince Buster’s bands, as originally advertised on Facebook, but they didn’t.
6. Drew Stansall, also advertised on Facebook, was there and did dep for Kingsize in typically low-key and laconic style. He lets his woodwind do the talking. Surrounded by saxes, Russ was in heaven. In fact, that was him shouting, “More sax in the monitors, please!” between brass riffs.
7. Punks Not Dad could have gotten lost on the way over from Cardiff and Brighton. They did not, and were delightful. I hope the “UK’s premier, 40-something, middle-aged rockers” (middle-aged and 40-something? come on guys, won’t you give yourselves a break?) don’t feel “delightful” is too condescending a description. They were though – I had a big smile on my face watching them, and watching lackeys from the audience* assemble the IKEA bedside table that the Dads had brought all the way from Cardiff in their stinky Volkswagon Beetle as a prop for their song, I Can’t Get It Up. It reminded me of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, only more bloke-y. Have a look at their website, www.punksnotdad.moonfruit.com; it’s very funny. And note the lyric crib-sheet that Sid Life Crisis is clutching in our Gallery photo as the Dads cover I Can’t Stand It, “the most depressing song the Specials ever wrote”. Genius.
8. DJ Blink Cyclone could have forgotten his mixing desk…? I’m clutching at straws here; it’s the pessimistic side of my nature – no, Blink couldn’t put a foot wrong even if he did have to go back home for the desk. He is the nicest DJ I know and has the best music collection, hands down. Did I imagine it, or did he play Junior Murvin’s Police and Thieves twice, just for fun? And he closed the night with our Specials cover.
9. Fans who were coming to see By the Rivers might have stayed at home. Jon assured me that they wouldn’t, and he was right. And if they did, it doesn’t matter, because the crowd that was there was the loveliest imaginable – out for a good cause and up for a good night. As were we all. Thanks to the Donkey management and staff, to Peri Birtles for the sound, to our friends for their support, and yet again to Paul Willo for having the Special-ized vision in the first place.
*identified as MARK KEEN and GRAHAM BROOKS, if you need a hand with any DIY furniture