Ian Dury and the Blogheads

Disclaimer: this weeks entry has bugger all to do with Ian Dury and/or his Blockheads, but it is about live music, and I’ve been trying to use up this title for over a year (similarly, keep an eye out for ‘Blog Geldof’ and ‘Blog Marley’ making an appearance at some point), so let’s just accept it and move on, shall we?

As I briefly mentioned on Facebook earlier this week, last Saturday brought a milestone moment in my father-son relationship with Ollie: his first ever gig.

I have been desperate to take him to some ‘proper’ live music for a while (no disrespect to the local acts he has seen around Sandbach on various ‘fun days’, but it’s not the same), so when my favourite band, Terrorvision, announced they would be performing at the ‘Beautiful Day Out’ festival in Halifax, and the age restriction was 6+ (compared to most gigs in Manchester being 14+), it was a no-brainer.

Unless you grew up listening to rock and indie music in the 1990’s, as I did, you may not be too familiar with Terrorvision, and even then you may only recall their biggest hit, ‘Tequila’, but believe me when I say their live performances are the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

To give you an idea of how energetic and daft they are – particularly singer Tony Wright – ‘Tequila’ was written after he drank a lot of it while in America, then scaled the outside of a nearby Hard Rock Café, to try and make it sound ‘more Northern’ by removing the H from the sign. Only, he fell off and broke both his ankles.

Anyway, once I had purchased our tickets a few months ago (which I gave to Ollie for his birthday), I set about finding a hotel for us, as I didn’t fancy driving back late at night – and anticipated having a few beers. But, as usual, the local hoteliers had identified an opportunity to make some money, and the prices had been hiked-up faster than a tart’s dress. Even the Travelodge was suddenly over £100 a night for that weekend. Robbing bastards.

In the end, having trawled a well-known comparison site, I discovered a friendly-looking Guesthouse only a couple of miles from Halifax, and because it was cheaper than everywhere else, I didn’t mind paying for taxis to and from the venue. However, just before booking, I spotted a warning that the property was ‘unsuitable for children’, so I e-mailed the owner for more information. The following is a summary of our e-mail exchange:

“I was about to book a room for my son and I in June, but I’ve noticed your website says it’s not suitable for children?”

“How old is your son?”

“By then he’ll be nine. Why?”

“Ok, I’ll let you book [gee, thanks], but you’ll have to be responsible for your son [shame, I was hoping to dump him and piss off], and I’ll need I.D. for both of you, as well as proof you’re his father.”

My initial reaction was ‘fuck that, weirdo’, but then I didn’t want him thinking I had only lost interest because my paternity had been challenged, so I said I’d get back to him – then never did. I certainly didn’t want to stay in a place where grooming was clearly an issue.

Fortunately, I then found a different hotel nearer to the venue, and when I had satisfied myself that grooming, beastiality (well, this was Yorkshire), and sacrificial ceremonies would be frowned upon, I confirmed the booking.

The ‘Beautiful Day Out’ was part of a three-day music festival, taking place at the Piece Hall in Halifax (an 18th century cloth hall that now houses exhibits, shops and restaurants), and while another predominantly-’90s band, The Levellers, were headlining, Ollie and I were there for Terrorvision.

Since Saturday was expected to be the hottest day of the year so far, but because I wanted to travel light, our rucksack contained only sun cream and five water bottles (that’s responsible parenting right there, folks). Only, when we arrived and approached the gate, a security guard (who looked remarkably like Susan Boyle, and also turned out to be Scottish) asked to search my bag.

The conversation which followed – with apologies to my Scottish readers – went thus:

“Kin ah check yer bah?”

“Sure.”

[Uncomfortable pause while no one moves or says anything]

“Oh, sorry, did you want me to open it?”

“Aye. Ahm nae gonna, am ah?”

“Well, there’s only sun cream and water in there.”

“Ye cannae bring water in.”

“Why not? It’s nearly thirty degrees!”

“Nae liquid allowed. It’s the rools.”

“Actually, SuBo, it’s not the rules, because I read them two days ago, and they only say no alcohol or glass.”

“We changed them.”

“Since Thursday?”

“Aye.”

“That’s fucking ridiculous. I have my son with me and it’s the hottest day of the year.”

“Thir’s water inside.”

In the end, she wasn’t budging (literally, she blocked half the entrance), and since her customer service training had clearly taken place at the US Customs School of Banter, Ollie and I quickly drank a bottle each, managed to give one away, and then had to bin the other two (muttering something about ‘fucking up the planet’ in the process).

Once inside, we visited all the stalls to make dinner plans, and in doing so Ollie spotted the merchandise stand, where he begged me to buy him a Terrorvision t-shirt to commemorate the occasion. Unfortunately, the ‘ladies fit’ t-shirt (which might not have looked too big on him) was bright yellow and he didn’t like it, so he chose the unisex black t-shirt instead; which, even in the smallest size they did, looked more like a dress:

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Soon after, the music started, and I won’t bore you with the first two acts, but the third, Therapy?, were extremely sweary – which perhaps wasn’t a great idea when the crowd featured kids as young as six. I understand they are a rock band, and shouldn’t have to tone down their performance, but when the lead singer is screaming ‘fuck’ more than he wasn’t screaming ‘fuck’, even I found it a bit much.

After an hour of swearing (which inexplicably included a chant of ‘Fuck Boris Johnson’ between songs – not that anyone would want to), it was time for Terrovision’s crew to begin preparing the stage for our musical highlight.

By this point, we had already eaten dinner (partly to distract Ollie from the bad language – although I nearly swore myself when I was charged £17 for two burgers and a portion of chips), and he had also taken his inaugural festival shit (#makingmemories), but it seemed the rest of the crowd were either hungry or needed the toilet themselves, because they all suddenly vacated the area in front of the stage.

Spotting an opening, Ollie asked if we could stand near the front, and, before I had time to answer, he was weaving his way through the crowd. Had I done this alone, between people who had obviously arrived early to get a good spot, I might have faced resistance/abuse, but because it was a child nudging his way past them they allowed it, and I managed to follow while offering an apologetic ‘kids, eh?’ shrug of the shoulders.

Having identified a gap right by the barriers, Ollie squeezed in, and I stood directly behind him in case of any ‘mosh pits’ or crowd surfers (ask your parents, kids).  At this point, a bloke to my right asked if Ollie was excited, so I told him it was his first gig, and he praised Ollie for choosing such a great band. I thought about clarifying it was my idea, but didn’t want to ruin Ollie’s sudden kudos among the crowd, as more and more people were becoming aware of the young lad at the front.

Indeed, the people around us were so enamoured, as Terrorvision’s stage time got nearer and the crowd got busier, they formed a protective barrier around the two of us to keep him safe.

Soon after, it was time for the main event (as far as we were concerned), and Terrorvision did not disappoint, cramming sixteen songs into their one-hour slot, bouncing around the stage, and whipping their fans into a frenzy. Even the fact that SuBo had re-appeared directly in front of us didn’t dampen our spirits – although I did ‘enjoy’ the irony of her having confiscated our plastic bottles of water, only for a moron behind me to be swinging a glass bottle of wine around his head.

Tony Wright was on particularly good form, joking that the Piece Hall hadn’t seen a crowd that big ‘since they stopped floggin’ folk here’, and throughout the entire set Ollie bounced around and sang his heart out, much to the delight of our crowd-buddies. Afterwards, as the band departed and the cheering died down, he beamed “That. Was. Epic.” and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Desperately in need of a drink, we headed to the bar (where, rather conveniently, the ‘free tap water’ had broken, so I had to pay £2 for a bottle which was more-or-less identical to the six-pack I had paid less for earlier in the day), and we sat down to rest our weary legs.

At this point, Ollie sniffed, and asked me what the odd smell was. I instinctively answered it was weed, but then immediately anticipated a barrage of questions I didn’t have the energy for, so quickly explained that someone nearby “must have wee’d” (well, in fairness, this was a Levellers gig).

It was only then that I noticed the majority of those around us were wearing Levellers t-shirts, which went someway to explaining the weed smell (such is the Brighton-rockers fanbase), not to mention the alarming amount of tie-dye clothing, and the fact one of the burger vans was selling ‘pulled beetroot baps’. For £7. Fucking hippies.

When The Levellers took to the stage just after 9pm, I would love to tell you I was converted by their energy and music, but the truth is we got three songs in before Ollie loudly announced ‘they’re rubbish, can we go?’, and I decided – bearing in mind we were now being glared at by their fans – that, yes Ollie, it was probably best we made a swift exit.

It didn’t bother me that I was missing the headline act, because it was never about The Levellers, and the fact Ollie had not only seen my favourite band for his first ever gig, but had absolutely loved it, made every penny worthwhile.

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Well, perhaps not the £17 for those burgers and chips.

Thanks for reading x

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