Finally landed back at the house and spent the first part of the afternoon in full on work mode before being welcomely side tracked by visits from friends and catching up with Tara and Angus.
Early evening was in front of the TV watching 2 episodes of ” Boardwalk Empire” – gets better every series- fish and chips and white wine in between sifting through e mails.
Steve Vantsis had been up at a family gathering in the Highlands and was dropping in on the way home. A late arrival with more wine meant a stop over and I grimly held on till midnight until my body and mind gave up. I’d been up since 7 when I had to get to the station in Karlsruhe and between the traveling and the wine and the hour time difference I was lagging.
It wasn’t helped by “Man of Steel” which we’d decided to rent from Sky Box Office. The endless CGI wore me down and having never really been a fan of Superman in earlier incarnations I wasn’t exactly gripped. First half was quite good but as the action rolled incessantly on I was struggling and just wanted it to end. I won’t be buying the Blu Ray!
Today is facing up to home realities and getting ready for the 7 hour plus drive on Friday down to Great Yarmouth and a weekend at Butlins holiday camp.
It won’t be my first gig at a holiday camp as we played Caisters as the last gig on the “Songs From The Mirror” tour much against my wishes but added by my then manager Brian Lane who thinking more about his commission on the fee rather than the band finishing a long tour and wanting to get home.
It was mid November 1993 and harsh winds were blowing in off the North sea when we arrived on the tour bus from Holland. I was immediately struck by disbelief at the Fellini like surroundings. Like a scene from “Amarcord”. The camp had been booked out for a party weekend and we were the Saturday turn, Friday night being an 80’s cover band, that decade being the weekend theme.
It was a dreadful experience playing to the “Tenerife” crowd who only wanted to hear “Kayleigh” and only recognised the cover versions we were playing in the set. Standard crowd attire included “kiss me quick” hats, schoolgirl outfits or tiny white skirts tottering on high heels,Bermuda shirts and football tops with baggy shorts all in late Autumn! Truly horrific when out of their brains on “Snake Bites” and Jagermeister .
The venue was called the Neptune Palace with greasy dressing rooms, make up mirrors with half the bulbs blown and walls covered in promotion photos of long forgotten “turns” who’d been the raw meat at sometime or another on the sticky carpetted patch of a stage with it’s backdrop of hanging tattered tinsel.
We’d arrived the night before and were given our chalets with bunk beds and thin stained sheets, MFI wardrobes and ensuite avocado bathroom. They stank of piss and damp and the twin bar electric wall heater didn’t touch the cold. As expected we hit the pub and got regally wasted in the palace. I’d insisted Brian Lane be there to suffer with us and we promptly set about getting him absolutely off his head on tequilas. He was a mess and no match for an experienced drinking outfit just coming off tour.
We were staggering back to the chalets having turned down the offer to stay with a couple of rather overweight ladies in schoolgirl outfits, stockings, heels and straw boaters who were with a couple of drooling Herberts who were fantasising about a gang bang with a rock band. It was all very ugly! :-0
It all started to go wrong when I threw a glass in despair more than anger at a wall of bushes.
The said glass rather than disappearing into the foliage took a rather higher and faster trajectory from my hand and hurtled over the hedge to crash into the bookies window beyond setting off the alarms in the process! We ran like zombies into the darkness back to our wooden hutches.
Outside our cluster of chalets was a small go-cart track enclosed by a low fence. I have no idea who came up with the idea but we decided it would be a great idea to have wardrobe races! As if on a hidden signal wardrobes started to appear from chalets and there were about 6 of these flimsy laminated MDF structures being pushed and pulled to the track. A couple didn’t even make it over the fence before they fell apart and the others containing various crew and band members ( including Robin, Steve and Foss) were being pushed around the track by the rest of our drunken rabble some unable to move through laughing so much and just rolling around on the floor. It was hilarious as the wardrobes disintegrated one by one and were left strewn around the track!
The arrival of a couple of fast cars containing burly camp security guards sent us all running to our chalets. As they searched with torches for the culprits we hid behind the doors peeking out the windows at the surreal scene outside.I had 6 people in my tiny cramped chalet including the tour manager Tim and an extremely pissed Yatta. It was like the scene from “Life of Brian” where they all hid in the room from the Romans, everyone “shushing” everyone else amidst pissed giggling. Tim tried to sneak out the bathroom window, got stuck and caught in a mag light beam. He negotiated with the guards promising there would be no more episodes and that we would all go to bed immediately. A meeting with camp security was arranged for next morning.
An extremely hungover Brian Lane attended with Tim, equally wasted, and they were told we had to pay for 2 damaged wardrobes ( we’d fixed 4 back together) Apologies were duly given as they wanted to throw us off the camp. The bill was £400, more than the chalets were worth never mind the wardrobes!
I had to laugh when it was also added that I had to announce from stage that there were to be no “wardrobe races” after the show as the story had gone round the camp like wildfire and everyone thought it was a great idea!!
The night after the gig went without incident and I was so glad when the tour bus pulled away next morning.A dreadful experience and one of the worst gigs in living memory only saved by the extra curricular activities!
I’m sure the camp has changed dramatically in the last 20 years but all who were involved on that adventure still chuckle when “wardrobe races” are mentioned.
I know the venue this weekend will be nothing like our Caisters experience but you can bet your bottom dollar that the story box from our last experience at a holiday camp will come out!