It’s raining now as it was twelve hours ago when I walked the one and a half miles from my home to Cullercoats Crescent Club. I’ve made the journey many times before. It’s a pleasant walk on a summer’s night but not yesterday when the rain ignored my umbrella and mac.
I was drenched when I arrived so I hung my coat to dry on the radiator in the downstairs bar and chatted to members of Bay Uke who recently ran a successful, sold out ukulele festival in Whitley Bay.
I’d marched through wind and rain last night to see The Good, The Bad and the Queen. You’ve probably heard about the tickets for three gigs here on the North East coast selling out in minutes. You might also have read the Crescent Club had to cancel a line dancing session to accommodate Damon, Paul and gang. Read it here in the one, the only Chronicle.
Have you ever bought a ticket for a gig then revved yourself for weeks, days and hours ahead of the sacred event? Course you have. We’ve all felt like that but perhaps those gigs were decades ago? I was thrilled when I found out I had a ticket for The Good, The Bad & The Queen and enjoyed the build up to the gig. I listened to the band’s two albums and pondered what to wear on the night. Decisions, decisions.
The gig was held in the Crescent Club’s upstairs function room, where the ukulele festival held sold out events earlier this month. After queuing and clearing security, I was relieved to see the tables and chairs in the function room had been set aside. This was going to be a standing room only gig. It was going to be a Proper Gig with flight cases stamped “Gorillaz” stacked around the edges of the room and a crash barrier at the front of the stage.
The die hard fans were already at the front. They’d travelled from Germany, Italy and America. The fans work together saving places for their friends at the front when they need to nip to the loo. One fan had been delayed at Heathrow then had to navigate the Tyne and Wear Metro system. I was worried she’d miss the gig but she made it in time.
I stood there from 7.30pm until the band came on at 9pm chatting to the die hard fans about Brexit and enjoying the pre-gig soundtrack of Dylan, dub and Nancy Sinatra. I chatted to locals too. This was a gig for us as well as fans from further afield. I didn’t take my phone and that’s why I haven’t got lots of out of focus shots of Damon or Paul S. I thought I’d leave that job for the folk to my right who seemed to enjoy watching the live gig taking place right in front of them via a small screen. Weird behaviour. I’ll never understand it.
I didn’t need to take photos of the gig because I was at the front, two sweaty fans away from the stage. At one point the guy in front of me placed his hand on Damon’s bowed head, like he was blessing him. The room was full of fans who knew the songs by heart. Oh yes and a heckler. There had to be a heckler. When he shouted “stop patronising us, Damon,” our hero looked as bemused as we felt. The heckler was heckled back by the audience and then left with one audience member yelling “Nobody likes a heckler.” I’m not sure if he chose to leave or was asked to do so.
The band were, are amazing. You don’t need me to tell you that about The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Last night they performed latest album Merrie England in order, had a break and then came back to perform several songs from the first album. No encores but then no self-respecting punk legend like Paul S would allow an encore, would he?
My pre-gig chat with a European fan focused on the confusion many people feel about Brexit. Damon wasn’t patronising us last night with his songs. He was trying to connect with us and ask why so many folk in this part of Britain voted Leave two years ago. I’m as confused as the Euro fan about Brexit but I know a good gig when I experience one. More gigs like this at the coast, please!