Fame, Part 5

Fame: Part 5

Time passed ever more slowly…partly due to the ephedrine coursing through our systems, but eventually we were summoned downstairs and waited in the wings as Music For Pleasure concluded their set to mild, polite applause.

A further ten, ever tenser minutes passed before a voice boomed out over the PA system, “And now, all the way from Scotland…a big welcome for…The Flowers!” **** me…now this was rock’n’roll!
We trooped on to a far louder and more positive reception than I think any of us were expecting.

I plugged my guitar in and looked out…sure enough I could only see the front couple of rows…the rest was darkness. A dark haired, rather attractive lassie at the front gave me a smile as Hilary said hello and Simon hit the opening roll to usher in our first offering La Bamba.
I suppose what happened next was kind of inevitable. My lead had died…not a single flicker of life let alone those famous chords…..my job was to play the well known rhythm riff whilst Andy the other guitarist did his famous wibbly/scratchy stuff. I found another lead in a state of barely suppressed hysteria and in inserting it must have hit the volume and distortion buttons on the amp. A noise I can only liken to a crashing Boeing 747 filled the auditorium and I saw fingers being hurriedly placed in ears. Good start. I managed to get the amp to a more acceptable setting, only to find that what the guy who was mixing thought was ok, was actually inaudible to myself.
La Bamba was met with puzzlement rather than outright hostility and we hurtled into the second song…one of the band’s two singles…at least that’s what the set list in front of me said…for all I knew I could be playing The Stars & Stripes Forever (and BOY it felt like forever!) We got through it more or less unscathed and got a pretty good reception…things were looking up. This of course could only presage one thing… 30 seconds into the 3rd song my G string breaks. (Now we’re all old enough NOT to make any smutty jokes about underwear aren’t we?!) The G string is the most prone to breakage and I’d fitted a brand new one the night before…..and of course I didn’t have another.

I played the rest of the gig without said string, unable to hear myself and wishing I were somewhere far, far away. The nightmare ended with our most ‘well known’ track and I prepared to slink off-stage…only to be surprised that we were getting a pretty good reception…we were even going to play an encore but got a nasty look from one of the roadies who pointed at his watch indicating it was time to **** off and let the pro’s play.

We made our way upstairs in a state of shock, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. What we saw next decided the matter, and is one of my most cherished memories of the night.

Martian Dance were making their way down aforementioned dark and winding stairs. The problem the singer and guitarist had was that since they were wearing impenetrably dark sunglasses that were glued into place by their perfectly coiffed and equally impenetrable hairstyles, they were rendered completely blind. We watched, breathless with mirth as the two were gently led like geriatrics with cataracts downstairs by roadies, their arms outstretched and utterly helpless…we were helpless too, with laughter.

We returned to the dressing room and I was expecting all kinds of recriminations from Bob and the band….oddly none were forthcoming…the glitch at the start they’d noticed sure but they hadn’t spotted the broken string and said they could hear me fine. There was general agreement that it had been a good gig. To me it was still a ****** disaster but I wasn’t going to argue.

After a few beers, wines and more Do-Do’s we went down to watch Simple Minds, who were impressive and were afterwards introduced to Jello Biafra from The Dead Kennedys.

The DK’s single California Uber Alles had been released in the UK on Bob Last’s Fast label, so Jello put on the charm…he was a surprise. Not the ranting Henry Rollins type I imagined at all…turtle neck sweater, tweed sports jacket…a bit of a nerd actually…but very polite.

We didn’t have the funds to stay in a hotel or bed & breakfast, so we decided to drive back to Edinburgh that night. And this was when I saw just how petty Edinburgh bands could be to one another. It was at a motorway café in the middle of God knows where in the hours of the morning when only the living dead and vampire bats are up and about….them and lorry drivers. We walked in from the darkness outside and blinked in the fluorescent lighting of the café area.
Over-tired drivers sat at tables contemplating their over-cooked, over-priced breakfasts, sat in one corner was a group of eight or so younger, more vibrant sorts. Most of them looked as if they’d been lifted from a Hannah-Barbera space cartoon series…..”Hey ****!” I exclaimed…”it’s the Rezillos!”

My excitement was mirrored almost exactly by the very obvious display of indifference emanating from my band mates. One of the Rezillos waved at Hilary, she gave one of her famed forced smiles and muttered to me; “Just ****** ignore them.” I asked why and was informed that “I wouldn’t understand.” We sat as a group as far as humanly possible from our compatriots as Hilary shot poisonous looks at the other group, who to be fair were returning said venom with interest.

We left first and very pointedly ignored the Rezillos as we went…and I never did find out or understand the enmity. The band awaited the following week’s music press with some trepidation…I with something approaching terror. It had been the main gig in London that Sunday, so all the papers were sure to carry reviews…would they mention us, and if so just how badly would we get slagged off?

As it happened, the Melody Maker & Sounds only reviewed Simple Minds but the NME carried a fuller review of the gig and, to my amazement spoke approvingly of The Flowers’ and gave special mention to the band’s “new guitarist who has added to their sound”…something like that…******! That was ME they were talking about……..fantastic and yet… all I could think of were the ****** bits.

So when I say I played The Lyceum supporting Simple Minds, some people go “Wow, that must have been amazing.”

To which I answer…well yeah, but no, not really.”.

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