Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dodgy in Guildford, St. Helens - A Tale Of Two Towns

Last weekend we had two gigs on the Dodgy tour, where we are focusing on playing the new album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place' in it's entirety. The purpose of the tour is to give you people out there a preview of the new album, see if you like the songs as much as we do and hopefully encourage some pre-orders on the night, so that the album gets a good lift off when it is released next year.
We are honestly loving all of these gigs to bits and hopefully giving the new songs a boost everytime we play them but it's certainly a learning experience. A couple of people have tweeted and texted about the Guildford gig for instance, at the Boileroom, saying that they were annoyed that some people talked through the songs. Honestly, don't worry, it's a gig; we expect people to come along, meet up with their mates and enjoy it however they might seem fit, and we know it's a big ask, playing a whole bunch of new songs in one go, however much faith we have in those songs. Luckily there's also been loads of positive feedback and we learnt some lessons in Guildford that we were able to put into action the next night.

The weekend certainly was a tale of two cities, well more like towns actually; A Tale Of Two Towns is alliteratively (hope any past English teachers aren't reading this) a lot better, so you were missing a trick there Mr. Dickens old son - and a tale of two very contrasting towns at that .
There's Guildford, with its art galleries, top of the range cars, its busy Karen Millen and Kath Kidson shops and its recession proof glittering jacket - though I was put right by a recently made redundant Dodgy fan that hard times (you see, got another Dickens book in there) are indeed hitting Surrey as well.
Then on Saturday it was up north to St. Helens and before anyone says anything OK, I've googled it and of course St. Helens does have galleries but gives the impression of being like a different country, a different decade even. It was 8pm on Saturday night and the streets were deserted, no-one around - pubs and restaurants boarded up and the few pubs that were open had posters in the cracked window advertising "£3 entry / 50p a pint" and scared looking bouncers outside giving me a look that said "please don't come in here, you look relatively normal, flee while you still have the chance".
Dodgy have got quite friendly over the years with Johnny Vegas, actor and comedian, he comes from St. Helens and told us how it was a 'new town', developed with fine intentions after WW11 to get people out of what were becoming slums in the bigger towns but unlike Crawley, St. Helens hadn't quite worked, especially when there's only one major employer left in the town, Pilkington's glass. But as you find with a lot of these towns and cities - the bleakest looking place conversely contains the warmest and most generous inhabitants.
We were impressed by the fine looking audiences in both towns but a big shout out to some of you in Guildford; we are very much digging the 'vietnam vet' chic that several of you rocked up sporting on Friday - the tye dye, beard, sunglasses and cap look is seriously rocking our world  -  and that's just the ladies.

In St. Helens, the ritual of the pre-gig drink took us to one of the only bars we could find open in the town centre on Saturday (apart from the fighting arena mentioned earlier) and it was empty apart from a group of about 8 people of both sexes and varying ages acting out what can only be described as the old English definition of BEDLAM - madness, chaos and confusion. We'd get shouting, football songs, arguments, crying, kissing and laughing but all simultaneously and as LOUD as they possibly could. It was quite amazing to watch. They were obviously quite excited about the new Harvey Nichols opening up in town...
the gig turned out to be one of the best yet on the tour. We felt we were better and more inviting and as a result the audience were incredible - singing along to the the new ones, dancing, smiling and just thoroughly enjoying themselves, us and each others company. We loved it and made it all worthwhile. So thank you, any doubts we had have been well and truly swept away...

This coming weekend takes on a distinctly culinary feel. We commence with the fromage at the Cheese And Grain in Frome on Friday (21st Oct), enjoy fine cuisine at the special Dodgy night at the River Cottage on Saturday night (22nd) and then pop down to Whitstable for oysters at East Quay on Sunday (Oct 23rd)....yum yum

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