Art (between) School

I haven’t made a single Priptona Art piece in 2022. And they weren’t exactly regular prior to that but I guess there must be SOME truth about ‘the muse’ – and mine for visual art, at least, is very obviously a young Jim Kerr. (Sorry, Jim. Just call me a superficial count! Lol)

I worked on this a while. I’m quite rusty and not sure it’s entirely what I want…but hey, it’s not off for display in the Kelvingrove so hey ho…

Aye Write The Night…

A quick reminder, esp. to those living locally…this will be taking place at the Mitchell Library tonight at 8pm. Looking forward to the talk and meeting up with Graeme in person and having my copy of the book signed. ❤️😊

Perhaps I’ll see you there? Tickets are still available as far as I know…(image is clickable – taking you to ticket info page)

Motivation?

Some new prints from Virginia arrived today (Middle and right – silver framed. There’s one other not pictured – it’s in landscape ratio and so in the frames on the other side of the room).

I’d be happy to gaze upon his beautiful smiling face for eternity. Past or present. Twenty-three or sixty-three.

That colour one of him looking to camera was one of the first photos I got from Virginia when I could only get a few tiny 6×4 inch photos. It was coming up to Glasgow with me with the rest of the small array of 6×4 photos I had. They were taken when the van was broken into on the move up here some two and a half years ago.

Replaced at last.

The one next to it (Arthur’s Seat/Edinburgh 1981) was another I had in 6×4 also, I think.

Anyway… on with study and trying to complete another assignment…

Paris Review – Part Two: ‘Song Please!’

Picking up where I left off from yesterday…

I didn’t really say too much about the actual soundcheck. And I can only remember two of the songs that were performed – Hypnotised (seemed pretty apt for me! Lol) and The Walls Came Down (which Jim said will be on the new album coming out). It all sounded great to me…as soundchecks go. Jim always feels the need to prefix it all with an apology of it sounding echoey and stuff. 

After that kind of engagement I always feel…a whole mix of emotions. I don’t even know anymore what the overriding feeling is? Relief? Joy? Overwhelmed? Emotionally shattered? I can feel both overwhelmed to be there and simultaneously feel as though I have no place…no right to be there. Happy…I think. Happy and grateful. Ever so grateful. 

I WAS PARCHED! 

It was 6pm and so we decided to try and grab something to eat and drink. We were able to do a little cheat (shh!) – I felt a little guilty for this, but hey – why not? The only thing that couldn’t be altered with the whole Paris show was the seats we had – which was fine. I had bought the best seats I could get as soon as Paris was on sale anyway, so it wasn’t like we were going to be stuck waaaaay at the back. The VIP treatment continues for the punters with actual VIP tickets and because we’d been in there for the experience, we were given little cards to be fast tracked through the queue when coming back to the venue for the gig itself. We really shouldn’t have got those as we were in standard seats – but I was sssooo thankful we got given them all the same. It meant we didn’t really have to get back to the venue TOO early and it would give us time to get a bit of a recharge.

We found an Italian place just back over the bridge, five minutes away from La Seine Musicale. It was teeming with people but there still seemed to be space and seats available. We were about to walk off just to check the few places a little further down the way when I could hear Don’t You (Forget About Me) being played through their sound system. Very canny ploy of theirs because it got Birdy and I to stop and rethink. Then a waiter stopped and looked at us like…are ya coming in or what? In we went! Birdy had a G&T and I had a non-alcoholic Bora Bora mixer, consisting mostly of pineapple and grenadine. We shared bruschetta. The Simple Minds music continued while we dined in Cafe Seguin – Alive And Kicking, Promised You A Miracle, New Gold Dream, all tunes I remember overhearing while there.

With a little time left we decided to take our VIP merch bags back to the hotel. The location of the hotel could not have been better. The only thing I didn’t like was crossing the couple of intersections we needed to cross when walking to/back from the hotel. French traffic is sssooo bad – and pedestrians don’t feel very high on your average French driver’s concerns. The crossings are marked on the road, and doubled up with red/green men – but even with a marked crossing and a green man you still have to check and double check that no one is wanting to bomb around the corner and knock you down. French roads, and Parisian roads in particular, scare the crap out of me!

We made it back to the hotel and then back to the venue in one piece. We were back at La Seine Musicale at 7.30pm and got fast tracked through to our seats. Birdy was convinced we were seated over to the side several rows back, whereas I thought we were going to be the same number of the rows back, but right bang in the front central block. I was right. Those front blocks of seats weren’t incrementally elevated though – they were all flat which meant not the clearest view of the stage but geez – I was more than happy enough where I was. 

We arrived when Roxy’s Love Is The Drug was playing. There is a song in the pre-show playlist that I HAVE to find out who it is by! I should have recorded a bit of it, but I didn’t think to do so. Damn! It’s bugging me! I like the song but have no idea who it’s by.


As the time gets towards 8pm, I find myself listening out for the opening piano chords to So May We Start? That’s when it all kicks in for me – SHOWTIME! That song instils such a buzz within me now. 

On Friday night it started…about 90 seconds later the band started walking out onto the stage. The crowd erupts. Full cacophonous joy by the time Jim appears and everyone is up off their seats – OMG! Act Of Love is SUCH a fantastic opening song! Those three songs just hit you like a freight train! Act Of Love, I Travel and Celebrate…just the most fantastic opening trio. I feel like a sicko for every time only recording Celebrate but I just want to get every conceivable different way Jim can deliver the “she rag doll / keeps him warm” line. He didn’t disappoint in Paris. “She’s just keeping him warm.” Is that all she’s doing? Really? That’s rather unfortunate for her if so….(She’s doing much more than that in my mind, that’s for sure! Lucky ‘doll’!)



There wasn’t much of a pit stop after that. A bit of banter from Jim, if memory serves me correct. Then on to Glittering Prize followed by, for me, the best version of Promised You A Miracle I’ve experienced in a while (Jim got the words right!!!! AMAZEBALLS! I’ve got over the one bugbear I had left of him saying ‘belief is the only thing’ rather than ‘belief is a beauty thing’ – but verses all in order and word perfect. AMEN!). I adored it!

I fall more and more in love with this particular arrangement of Book Of Brilliant Things with each performance of it. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t take to that whole ‘five to one/one to five’ line when I was first a SM diehard. But now….it’s just a perfect thing. It’s a rocking gospel. Sarah just SLAYS it every time. And her and Jim performing on it together is PERFECT! And I now love the ‘five to one/one to five’ line – because I think the thing that killed it for me was the words that followed; ‘dynamite and swings’…never liked that…but I loooooove the ‘with all the love she brings’ line. It’s just…sublime now. It’s incredible. I feel like I can take on the world after each performance of it. 

Hunter And The Hunted was, as ever, grand. Also loved how wonderfully soulful Mandela Day sounded on Friday night. Best performance of that song I’ve ever experienced also. Belfast Child also was exemplary.


I was thankful for the break in the set I tell ya, because I was knucking fackered! Lol. Equally I didn’t want it to stop. 

Soon after, the gang were back out on stage, minus Jim and Sarah, for a fab version of Theme For Great Cities. I took some footage of the lights hitting the crowd but the filming went a bit skewed. I’ll have to see if I can fix up the aspect ratio before posting. 

Dolphins I love…but I still don’t know where it should be in the set…wherever it is placed it just…I don’t know. Belfast Child is in a great place within the set, so is Speed Your Love To Me – but Dolphins? I am still finding it a little jarring. We get hyped up again from the start of the second set and the playing of Theme For Great Cities to then be brought down by Dolphins. We’re brought back up again with Waterfront so that’s grand. I guess Dolphins is now kind of in the best place it can be. It cannae OPEN the second set…so…

The rest of the set is faultless. I managed to make myself completely hoarse singing along – by the time we got to New Gold Dream my voice was all but gone. After all the ‘la la la la’s of DYFAM, I could barely conjure up the remaining la’s for New Gold Dream. Lol

Jim – bless you! I think you tried to sing the lines in Sanctify Yourself correctly. It seemed as though you made an attempt to, but ‘it wisnae happening’ so you went to your fallback position of … some lines out of order (and repeated) are better than no lines at all (girly!)

I’m not sure when it happened but towards the end…probably with a bit of time to pause during Let It All Come Down or Speed Your Love To Me, the realisation hit me that this would be my last arena gig on this tour and all I could think about was wishing I could do this forever and ever. 

Lemme see yer hauns

People ask me – those outside the fandom mostly – why do I go to so many shows on a tour? ‘Aren’t they all the same’? Not really. In some ways, yes…but it isn’t really down to the performance of the band as such, and what you get from observing them – it’s what you get from being there, the taking part. Being surrounded by like minds (no pun intended)…and the way the music makes you feel personally. It’s a life-affirming thing and I wish to god I could go to EVERY SINGLE GIG, EVERY NIGHT – because there is no other feeling like it. Nothing else compares. That’s what it is! That’s what has me going to gig after gig – that…injection! It’s incredibly uplifting. I never really appreciated that until this band – until Jim would talk about it in those terms – not as a performer but as a member of the crowd. As a music lover. As a concert-goer. I realise with the more gigs I go to, the more the live music experience is not just about seeing a musical performance. 

At the end of it, I felt like I had probably seen the BEST Simple Minds concert I have ever been to. Was it their actual best performance? Certainly particular songs, for me, were performed to their best on Friday night. Was it the best sound? It was great. I would say it was second best to Glasgow. I still can’t believe I’m saying the Hydro had the best sound – but it truly did! Olivier Gerard works magic! 

Sadly I missed out on the only other souvenir I’d have liked. Speaking of GG, as I just did, I was hoping for a setlist but I was beaten to it. Doesn’t matter. I have enough. And it is always lovely to catch up with GG. To extend words of thanks to him. He’s a lovely man.

I was PARCHED! I think Birdy wanted to wet her whistle also. We met up with Marc Lichtenstein and Christophe Remacle afterwards and headed round to Seguin Sound for some refreshments. And those two reprobates were there (see Part One). Thanks once again for the wonderful, kind things you both said to me. It was a pleasure to meet the both of you. I hope I’ll have the pleasure of bumping into either of you again at future gigs. It was also a pleasure to meet both Marc and Christophe.

Looking just like the hagged old fat bag of shit I feel like. But from a distance it (meaning me) looks okay.

Back at the hotel, I had my earplugs, yay! But I hardly slept a wink anyway. But it didn’t matter half as much this time. I was too overjoyed to care. I had minimal sleep. Could have done with knowing check out was at midday, rather than the 10am I thought it was! Oh, well.

The day was cooler on Saturday. We had time after check-out to go and have some lunch then get a taxi to the airport for the flight home. We decided on Cafe Seguin again. Birdy had a Sicilian salad, and I had a vegetarian risotto. It was absolutely beautiful! Cafe creme is my jam! I want to live in Paris just for cafe creme! The French do the best coffee I have EVER tasted – and it’s consistently good, no matter where you go. 

There’s not much else to say but…Thank you! To the best band in the entire universe! I’m coming up to 8 years as a ‘diehard’ Simple Minds fan (in the best fashion – stealing Jim’s birthday as my fan anniversary date) – and it’s been such a rollercoaster. But the ups happen way, way, WAY more than the downs. I will be counting down to Blenheim Palace – June 18th – I will be there, I will be there, I will be there!

Next gigs to come? Jimmy Webb in Edinburgh on June 3rd, followed by Crowded House at the Hydro on June 10th.

Paris Review – Part One: The Long Story? Or The REALLY Long Story?

I guess it’s best to start with the really long story and edit it from there… so may I start?

I slept soundly enough Wednesday night and into Thursday. Probably didn’t settle down quite as early as I should have, but at least sleep wasn’t elusive that night and I got a good few hours in. All things considered, considering how absolutely pent up, anxious and full of dread I was – on the actual day of our departure I was sailing with low level optimism. Low level, granted…but with optimism nonetheless. Albeit, on a scale from 1 to 10, it was maybe a 2 or a 3…it was there at least!

I packed a small carry-on bag, making sure I had ALL essentials (earplugs included!). I showered relatively early and was ready by 11am. Birdy was ready an hour later. I decided we should get the 75 to Renfrew Street and just walk down to Killermont Street to the bus station instead of the faff of getting to the bus station from Queen St. I was worried I made the timings a bit ambitious from the time of getting off the train at Queen St to getting to the bus station for the Edinburgh Air coach. So…the 75 seemed the better option. All good. Had a chat with neighbour Robert (who was taking his dug, wee Chico, for a walk around the park space by Hawthorn Quadrant) while waiting for the 75 to arrive. 

Got to the bus station in plenty of time. Got to Edinburgh Airport in good time as well. We arrived around 2.45pm for a 6.30pm flight out. Had the usual stuff go on at security. I didn’t take all the liquids that I was required to out of my bag and I was wearing stuff that triggered the security alarms. I had to be body searched and portably scanned with a handheld scanner. Birdy went through similar stuff but it’s always to be expected at any UK airport. We had time on our side. It was all grand. 

Next hurdle – boarding – not a hitch! The plane departed slightly later than scheduled but we landed in Paris on time. It was a very smooth journey on the plane. Last hurdle. French border security! All good! 

Actually, that was the penultimate hurdle. The last hurdle was ‘le taxi’! Birdy had booked a taxi via Booking.com and…short story, the driver didn’t greet us at arrivals but was waiting for us at departures! I know, right?! Anyway…it was sorted. We found our driver and off we went. French traffic is APPALLING! It was 10.10pm on a Thursday evening and the roads were just HEAVING…everywhere. From the moment we left the airport right until we got into the Boulogne-Billancourt area of Paris where the hotel was…nearly the whole taxi journey was a slow crawl through heaving traffic. A lot of stationary moments. 

I finally could breathe a sigh of relief once we arrived at the hotel just on 11pm. I should have had Birdy pinch me! Lol. I couldn’t believe that it all actually went pretty damn smoothly and there were no big hazardous snags to have to deal with. WE WERE IN PARIS! And I was going to see the most amazing band in the whole universe the following day. 

Not sure what time it was that we bedded down, possibly just after midnight? Not too late anyway. We were both knackered. I quickly realised after laying down that I forgot to get the earplugs out of the bag. I got up, tried to have a quick feel around to see if I could find them. Couldn’t remember exactly WHERE I had packed them and didn’t want to take the bag apart looking, so I just thought “Meh, I’m so tired anyway…I’ll get to sleep.” Well…upon reflection I wish I had pulled my bag apart trying to find the earplugs because … FUCK ME – the snoring! Jesus Christ! Birdy had NO TROUBLE AT ALL falling asleep. She was out like a light in minutes and then snoring like nobody’s business for the vast majority of the night. TWICE in a week I had been kept awake by birds serenading me – GIVE ME THE BLACKBIRD ANY DAY – the Yvonne Bird I wanted to chuck into the Seine! 

The worst ‘sleep’. The worst! I maybe got about two hours during the short lived silent pockets in which ‘el Birdo’ woke up for a while and wisnae snoring. Truly those pockets were short lived. 

We had breakfast at 9am. I have never been so thankful for coffee EVER. The hotel was great. Fab room. Great bathroom. Very affordable. A two-star place. Great reception staff, everything. Its only fault or let down was that there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. I was fucking GASPING by the time we got down to the dining area for breakfast. OMG! French coffee is MAGNIFIQUE!!! There was orange juice and yoghurt and a selection of bread and pastries – a small crusty bread roll, a small croissant and a pain au chocolat (which I took back to the room for later). I had two coffees. 


Back to the room after breakfast to shower and get ready for a little look about, maybe get some lunch or just find another place for yet ANOTHER coffee. We were a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the venue. We needed to cross the Seine via this footbridge (it took traffic too – but was being used primarily as a footbridge) which went over in quite the arch. It had a little area…like a decked area either side of it where you could just sit on and enjoy the spot. Couldn’t really take in much of a view if you sat down there. But it at least allowed you to take the view in without getting in the way of people wanting to cross the bridge.


The weather was GLORIOUS! Mostly sunny and around 23 degrees Celsius. I felt wonderfully warm. We had coffee and a sweet treat from a place by La Seine Musicale called ‘Seguin Sound’ – more cafe creme for me! I had a chocolate mousse thing with it which was divine! Then I realised with having to repack stuff for the trip I had to pack two very small bags to carry with me for all my ‘essentials’ – cash, cards, phone, reading glasses, distance glasses (I cannae do bifocals), lip balm…I forgot to pack the Sharpie I had in my carry bag into the ‘essentials’ bags. SHIT!!!

Views from the footbridge.

It was 2.30pm. I had time to get back to the hotel, grab it and come back before we started queuing for the ‘VIP’ experience. I wanted to make sure we were there right on 3.30pm because I knew I’d be having to explain to someone the whole circumstances of why I was there and didn’t actually have VIP tickets…ya da ya da. Made it back to Birdy waiting for me at Seguin Sound at around 3.15pm. Phew! I was feeling a little flustered, though I tried to pace myself getting back to the hotel to get the Sharpie and get back in time. 

As I thought…once at the front of the VIP queue I had the fun of trying to explain why I didn’t have VIP tickets but that I should be on a list and allowed in. The young woman at the door was very helpful and thankfully the organiser lady (who I now wish I had asked her name) for SJM Concerts knew who I was and knew the whole score and PHEW!!! Birdy and I were let in, given our merch bags and all was good. We took a seat over the way and I thought I spotted a familiar face – which I had…more of that (even if very briefly) later.


A few minutes tick by and I see the organiser lady walking towards us. “Guess what, Larelle? You have a question to ask.” Whaaaa?! Again? Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. I just put questions in, hoping against hope. Never really expecting it. When it happened in Glasgow I just couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t that lucky with Newcastle though. I’d have loved it if Jim had answered that question for me. I left asking the question for the Paris gig until the last minute.  Wasn’t even sure what I was going to ask but then thought, well, I am an Aussie after all – I’ll ask JIm and Charlie what their fondest memory is of their early days touring Oz. Hoping against hope that I might get some hilarious anecdote from Jim. I remembered him years back  – early days of me being in the fandom –  posting on FB about the fun him and Charlie got up to at Kings Cross on their first tour. For those not so familiar with Sydney – Kings Cross had quite the notorious reputation – when I lived in Sydney, at least – full of nightclubs – also where the red light district is – the seedy side of the city – akin to Soho in London – underworld crime too. All of that. I just remember at the time of that FB post thinking “Yeah, I can well imagine you and Charlie getting up to all kinds of shifty stuff there!” I always reckon that’s why he’s wearing sunglasses and Charlie looks so wasted on that Countdown performance of Love Song. Clatty pair of stop-outs! Manky pups! Lol

So, no one was more surprised than me to be asking another question. And I was thinking “Oh, fuck! He is going to be ssoooooooooo tired of me!” GOING to be…? IS already! Has been for ages. The anxiety ramps up. 

Those of us asking questions are led together as a small group. I see one reprobate I know through the fanbase online that I had yet met face to face (you know who you are – if you’re reading this!) – we said hi. He introduced me to his mate – double trouble, really. Thank you – to both of you. You both said such lovely, wonderful things to me that I wasn’t expecting at all. Please know that those words meant so very much to me. I know that one of you said that you read my stuff – so if you’re reading this – thank you! (I’m smiling – even if it is through tears.)

The soundcheck was probably the most special one. I think Jim waved at me. I think. I never know for sure. Always questioning afterwards. Probably for someone behind me, beside me, above me…around me…anywhere else! For anyone else but me. When it came to asking my question, I couldn’t even look at him. Thank god for that sheet of paper – because I could just look down and pretend I was looking at that. Bless him – he got bogged down in talking about when they can tour Oz again. It has little significance for me personally. I gave up on the dream – of my own ‘holy grail’ of seeing them down there. I have accepted that, for me, it’s not meant to be and that’s fine. I’m glad for the Oz fans out there though that he addressed it and that Birdy filmed some of it and … yeah. “What was the question again?” Lol

Do you think I’m the biggest pest in the world? Do you dread seeing my face at every damn gig? Do you just pray that I’ll go away? …

And a million other questions if those three would be lucky enough to be answered with “no!”


Charlie was on the ball. God bless you, Charlie, you lovely, lovely man. 

The questions ended on a beautiful note. I feel blessed to have experienced what happened at this soundcheck. It was lovely. 

During the meet and greet that followed, myself and a fellow fan got chatting to Derek Paterson – Cherisse’s drum tech. Del’s a lovely man – nuts – but wonderful. The crew are so hard working! Such amazing people. 

Then I am there in front of modern music’s own Glaswegian version of Laurel and Hardy. Lol. Or perhaps it’s just Jack and Victor? Still not sure who’s who in that comparison. 

He says to me “Hello, Larelle. How are you?” – How long have you got? That’s NOT what I said, because my brain doesn’t work when I am in front of him and I can barely put two words together. So for want of any kind of great, catchy repartee with him, I say “Ooookaaay…I think.” Can’t remember exactly how he asked it but he asked how I was enjoying Paris, or had I been looking about, or some such….I think I said that we didn’t arrive until late the night before. At one point, I think it was after he said hello and asked how I was and I replied with my “oookaaay, I think”, he said to me (I think he said this…) “you’re quiet”. I wish I could have said “Oh, really…you think? Jim! Why would THAT be…I wonder?!” Lol. But obviously….I HAD NO FUCKING REPLY TO THAT! I wish I could say “Uh, derrrr!” I think that is probably the most rhetorical statement he could have EVER made! “Yeah, Jim Kerr…and bears shit in the fucking woods! And the Pope’s a Catholic!” I’m quiet.

I wish more than you will ever, ever know that I was this exuberant, bubbly, chatterbox…mouth going ten to the dozen…and YOU, James Kerr, wouldn’t get a word in edgeways…but that ain’t me – certainly never seems like it ever will be now when I am around you. That’s just how it’s now destined to be, it seems. Whatever minor bits of confidence I exuded some years back that was there within me sailed off long ago. And it was you that gave that to me! That confidence. But it’s disappeared now completely – whatever vestiges of it existed in the first place. 

A few snaps and…it’s all over. 

I did manage to make use of that all-important Sharpie and get the question sheet I had signed by Jim and Charlie (and Birdy got her lanyard signed). 

Nearly 2,500 words and we’re not even at the actual gig itself yet! This is the place where I am ‘chatty’, Mr Kerr. 

I have ssoooo much more to write…but I am KNACKERED. I am going to have to do this in two parts. Part two might not happen until tomorrow. But for now I need a break and I will post this as part one. 

Stay tuned! (If you haven’t tuned out already.)

Five Years Of Priptona Art Facebook Page

But over seven years of producing the art though. Writing and study have taken over in recent months. I’m not sure when I last made anything. It has always been my own “Act Of Love”.

The “art” always expressed the things that I wanted to say when words failed me. Mostly “I love you, Jim” is pretty much what every single piece said. Well, perhaps they more accurately said “I love this song, and I love the words this man has written for it.” That’s what I really hope they all said.

The page will continue to exist. And now and then there still might be the odd giveaway. Perhaps there still may just be a new piece of artwork from time to time – never say never – but I feel my creativity is moving in another direction. Perhaps in the direction it was always meant to go? Who knows?

Thanks to everyone who ever took an interest in what I was making and producing. Those who followed the FB page and gave me feedback. Those who took time to enter competitions and giveaways.

Biggest thanks of all to Jim, for being an inspiration, a muse and for…creating a monster by giving me such a wonderful gift of that Hunter And The Hunted post. Lol. I’m sorry I subsequently made a complete tit of myself for the proceeding seven years.

It was an Act Of Love.

Review: Warm Digits – The Cluny, Newcastle – 16/12/2021

What can one say about the year 2021? Not a lot. It started out quite abysmally and it took quite a few months before things slowly started to feel like they were getting better. We deluded ourselves we were getting on top of Covid. The vaccine roll out happened and the FM (First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon) seemed pretty driven to get the Scottish population fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. Even now, statistically, compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland has the highest rate of vaccinated residents in the UK (I believe). As good as those stats are – a new variant has come along and now there is a new “evil” word joining Covid – Omicron! Covid cases are on the rise once more and there is a drive for booster vaccines to be given to as much of the population as possible in the quickest time.

This year I have been to as many gigs as I got to go to in 2020 before the Covid shit hit the fan – ie: not many at all. A couple of gigs I had chosen not to go to due to my own concerns still. Two gigs at Barrowland Ballroom I didn’t attend were John Grant and Manic Street Preachers. My list of gigs I went to is: Scritti Politti, Field Music (they were also one of my 2020 gigs), and Warm Digits (also on my 2020 list). I should have been going to one final gig this evening – to see Memes at McChuills. I had already decided I wasn’t going to attend it. I had taken enough risk seeing Thursday night’s Warm Digits gig. The good news is that in light of the Omicron variant and new restrictions coming into place, Memes have rescheduled their gig to April 1st next year.

The Warm Digits gig I have been concerned about for weeks. After the previous gig of going to the Stag and Dagger in Edinburgh to see them, and the disappointment of them having to cancel their Glasgow gig – and not being able to go to their gig in Manchester, it was all hinging on Newcastle. It had been a long while since I saw them play a full set and I really, really NEEDED to see a full set!

But with everything that hit with Omicron, I had my doubts about if I should go? Everything else I had put in place, determined to get there. I had purchased return train tickets straight after the Edinburgh Stag and Dagger and booked a room at a hotel nearest the venue. 

Other things were also playing on my mind. I actually thought the Covid things would be the thing of lesser concern. Vaccines were happening. Precautions were in place. I was worried weather would be a factor and had there been snowfall then that could stuff up the running of train services, etc, etc. Then about a week or so before the gig, this Omicron variant was spreading like nobody’s business around the world and I started to freak out. Esp. once Boris started talking about potentially going into lockdown again! I started to have my doubts that I would even be allowed to travel. And what happens if I end up going to England – will they let me back into Scotland on Friday? 

On Thursday morning I received a letter from SAAS about my application of my part-time fee grant. I was awarded the grant! Yay! But because this was my first time applying for the grant, I wasn’t sure how to interpret the letter other than I had been granted partial funding because the award was only for so much of the fee. So that left me believing I would somehow have to stump up the rest. I wanted clarity on this though and contacted the OU. They said I needed to specifically speak to the Scotland region of the OU, as they directly handle the fees and grant awards for Scottish OU students. During busy times though when you call the OU in Scotland number and the lines are busy, the calls are filtered through to the main OU phone lines in England. My call got filtered through to England twice. The second time, the adviser on the line said he’d put in a callback request for me so someone from OU in Scotland would call me back. Great. That was all good. But equally I am leaving for Newcastle with this worry that I am going to have to find 40% of the fee for the course! It was casting serious doubt on whether I could go ahead with my study. 

I packed a bag. Had a shower and got ready to head off to Newcastle. 

All the travel was running smoothly. Train into the city from Ashfield was on time. Arrived at Queen Street in good time for the connecting Edinburgh express train. Arrived at Edinburgh just after 2pm and the connecting train that was heading to London was already there on the platform. Found my carriage and seat and got comfy. About 40 minutes later we stop at Berwick-upon-Tweed, which looks like an absolutely STUNNING place, and is somewhere I’d definitely like to go and check out in the future.

Just after we pull out of Berwick, I get my callback from Ou in Scotland. I explained that I received the award letter in the post earlier that morning and had said I had been awarded so much – a partial award and wanted to check what I needed to do to pay the rest of the fee. The person on the phone asked me to clarify the award amount I was given, which I told them. “That is the maximum award they have given you. The university pays the rest. You have nothing to pay.” I don’t think I have ever been so relieved or felt so thankful for a phone call in a long while. I was like “Oh, my God! That’s incredible! I am so, so relieved. This is fantastic! Thank you so, so much!” I was on a cloud! So buoyed by that news. And just…so relieved and able to relax. 

It was pretty dark by the time I arrived in Newcastle. The sun had set and there was minimal twilight left. I decided to get a taxi to the Premier Inn I was staying at. Taxis were straight outside the exit from the station so I grabbed one and arrived at the Premier Inn several minutes later. 

Had a quick drink and a snack and after about an hour, I decided to head to The Cluny. I could see on Google Maps it was a really short walk to there from the Premier Inn. Less than half a mile. But it isn’t a busy part of the city and I was a little worried about the walk. But I knew that it would hardly be a taxi driver’s worth to come and collect me from the Premier Inn to drive me, quite literally, down the road and around the corner. So I walked it. But OMG, I was freaking out doing it! But I made it there safely (obviously!) but there was NO WAY I was going to take that walk back to the hotel after the gig. One, I knew by then my legs will have given out on me, and two, by 11.15pm, those streets will be even MORE terrifying. 

When I get to The Cluny, I familiarise myself with the place again and go to the back of the pub and upstairs to the quiet “lounging” area. I take a seat on the sofa and have been there all of a few minutes when I hear music start up and realise it’s Andy and Steve going through their soundcheck. Not only that, I can hear that they are rehearsing their Christmas song – Good Enough For You This Christmas. From the time of Edinburgh I had been saying “The Cluny is a Christmas gig. You HAVE to do the Christmas song! You just have to!” 

I got up off the sofa and snuck in through the doors of the auditorium in front of me. I stood towards the back, enjoying my little exclusive preview. Andy looked up at one point and I waved like a loon at him, grinning away that they were rehearsing the song. 

Steve was to the side of the stage and couldn’t quite see me from where I was standing, so when the song ended I shouted “YaaaaaaY!!!!” and that was Steve alerted to my presence and, bless him, he smiled and said “you made it! Excellent!”

Not only are Warm Digits bloody amazing musically – but Steve and Andy are just such lovely, lovely guys. They always make me feel welcome and they never make me feel a pest for wanting to hang out with them. They are just so, so fab. Speaking of FAB! We had a bite to eat together before the gig. Andy and I are very much “team Get Back”, the both of us waxing lyrical about what we thought of it and how great it was and how we’re both well up for completely ODing on the notion that Peter Jackson says he will eventually release all 60 HOURS of the footage! 

To the crux of the matter – the gig itself. There were two support acts. But with first support had to pull out of the gig unfortunately. That left Dextro as the sole support act. I really enjoyed his set. There’s quite a kind of “trance” vibe going on with his music. I find it hard to get into music with a lot of space like that and not much of a “groove” as such – more loops and repetition at a standing venue. I feel like it is more a style of music that needs to be enjoyed sitting down. As much as I was enjoying his set, after a while it started to play havoc with me and I feared I was about to have a vasovagal attack so I left the auditorium and went and sat on one of the sofas back out through the far doors. Just to give myself 5-10 minutes to compose myself and get my breathing under control. I was doing deep breathing inside to try and ward off the feeling but I was starting to feel like I better go and sit down for a few minutes while I was able to.

I went back and was able to enjoy the final 10 minutes of his set without the fear of keeling over.

Again, I will say that I enjoyed his set, but I would need to be at a seated venue to enjoy his set fully. I would see him again. I had checked out his music on Spotify before the gig and I liked what I was hearing and was interested in seeing him.

Hear more from Dextro by checking out his bandcamp page – https://dextro.bandcamp.com

As for Warm Digits? FANTASTIC! They sounded great from the off. The Cluny’s acoustics are fabulous and they get great sound guys in, I think. The levels were perfect. Nothing was too loud or distorted – so very different to how Edinburgh was. Crowd wise, despite Steve and Andy’s concerns there might only be a very small crowd, there was about (conservatively) 50 people in, which obviously doesn’t sound much – but given all other factors, it was pretty darn good. And everyone there was really into it and having a great time. It was great to see people enjoying themselves. And it was great for Andy and Steve too because of course they get to bounce off the reaction and appreciation from the crowd and it circles round. It was a lovefest in that room!

And it was just so great to hear a full set! To have things like Frames And Cages, Fools Tomorrow and False Positive (which now seems a wonderfully prescient title for that track!) on the setlist, as well as Flight Of Ideas stalwarts Feel The Panic and The View From Nowhere playing. Replication had been played a few times as well over the past 18 months but Thursday night allowed a great showcase of tracks from Flight Of Ideas. But there was a great mix of older tracks in the set too, End Times was sounding the best I’d ever heard it and Rumble And The Tremor was bloody fab too. Then quite the oldie, playing Connected Coast from their Interchange album. 

After the world’s shortest “end” of the gig was the encore with the much enjoyed (by me especially) Good Enough For You This Christmas and then a finish with the fabulous title track from Wireless World. 

The best. Just the best! Everything I was anticipating this gig to be. Nothing disappointed. The guys played great, the sound was fab. Everything was on the mark. And I was buzzing. And I wasn’t the only one. 

It’s still not been the easiest of years this 2021, but at least live…musically, for me it has ended on a real high. 

Thanks once again to Andy and to Steve for not only being my favourite band in the entire universe (along with Simple Minds) but for also being such wonderful men and being ever so great to your number one fan – in Glasgow, at least. I really hope to see you guys out there on the road again next year.

T-Shirt Day 2021

Today is the debut of this fine bit of merch! Wasn’t expecting this on Sunday night. Very lovely of Steve to offer me one of these fab shirts. Had their gig been going ahead, I’d be seeing them tonight in Glasgow. I’d have loved nothing better! Alas, it was not to be.

Roll on December 16th and my trip to Newcastle and a Warm Digits Christmas.

Happy T-Shirt Day, everyone!