Fairfield Halls, Croydon
31st March 2013
It's Easter Sunday and whilst not wet, as is traditional for an Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the weather is unseasonal...... it's bloody cold as I take the train down to deepest, darkest Surrey.
It's a strange venue is the Fairfield Halls (once famed for the toilet cleaning abilities of Messers Sensible and Scabies before they discovered other ways of skiving in The Damned). Prince Charles would perhaps describe the building as a carbuncle. Nevertheless, for all its architectural shortcomings, it is the chosen venue for the closing date of the 'Feel It Live' tour (sorry Manchester!).
Tonight my gigging companions are Owen Carne, Jacquie Maidman, some time Stranglers diarist, Phil Coxon and his wife Jane. Also in tow are Owen and Jacquie's kids, one of whom at least has sights more firmly set on the upcoming One Direction show at the O2 Arena than on tonight's headliners!
After being fed and watered admirably at chez Carne, he ferried us to the venue via a local pub. As the price of a pint in this first inn were high enough even to draw a sharp intake of breath from this southerner, we decamped to a nearby Weatherspoons pub, where it seemed that the main contingent for this evening's gig had congregated.
Once again, beer and conversation proved to be more of a draw than the support band (in truth The Godfathers never really floated my boat from when I first saw them in Dusseldorf in '88 when fulfilling the same function as on this evening).
Once in the venue, ticket unchecked, my fears of being confined to my allocated seat proved to be unfounded as I simply wandered to the front from where I had a wonderful HD view of the band throughout.
On this occasion, the lights were gone (presumably returned after completion of the original tour schedule) and the more familiar backdrop was back (it does me just fine). The set itself, now familiar, was very polished and quite a contrast if I am honest to the hesitant and somewhat disjointed performance I saw on the opening night in Glasgow. JJ's playing was very self-assured and Jet's playing, throughout the tour, held up to a remarkable degree. Dave too seems to be playing than on the previous couple of tours. The touch of Dave's keys as an advertising hording made me smile, 'Mine's a Stella', 'Dave Says Drink Responsibly etc. Tonight's offering read 'Next Stop Detroit'..... not strictly true as Lessines seems to be overlooked, but the point is well taken.
31st March 2013 (Photo: MancInBlack)
Over and above it all, the band enjoyed tonight's gig (as they evidently did on the other 4 dates that I have seem on this tour). And so it was, with the last thundering drum beat of 'Tank' 'Feel It Live' reached it's conclusion.
30 minutes after the gig and with the flash of a laminate we were back in the venue, dressing room bound. But alas, as we took our time getting there, only the bass player remained in the building. He cordially greeted Phil, and kissed the hand of Mrs Coxon (smooth operator that he is!). A hi to Owen and a brief handshake with me and he was heading back down the corridor and out into the night. In the dressing room, only a handful of Finchley boys (Denis Marks and the Hilliers included) and half a bottle of wine remained. The wine was plucked from under my gleaming eye even as I separated a trio of plastic pint glasses in readiness..... I was never a great ligger! Must do better next time!).
And so that was indeed our lot for another tour. Thanks to all those that had a hand in making this yet another huge success, friends, the band and crew. It was a blast!
Next stop New York (as Dave would say).