Saturday 21st October, 1989 – Ambergris Caye

Don’t you just love drunken Scotsmen? No, not really, when they stumble in at five in the morning, having fallen in the Estuary, and claiming that everyone in their blurred sight has stolen their bunk! We all muddled in to make breakfast for ourselves and the crew and then moved to the other RPL which would be taking us to San Pedro, the largest town on the Belizean Cayes. Johnny and Ian’s quest for cheap beer almost resulted in them missing the boat but they joined the rest of the bands, the crew and Andy, our driver’s regimental mates from 24 RCT on board just before we set sail.

Set sail is a bit of a misnomer, as the twin-engined landing craft chugged its way slowly across the Caribbean Sea. I really don’t know what the hell people were trying to do, fishing in the wake; suffice to say nothing was caught, except the sun. On arrival we set up the kit in an open air basketball court on the seashore and the show began at 19:30, with only Cat ‘n Fiddle and ourselves performing. An improvement on previous ian_alan_boatmishaps, I mixed the sound for Cat ‘n Fiddle and Joe (woodwind, guitar, vocals) did likewise for us.

After the gear was packed up, Cat ‘n Fiddle played an acoustic set in a local bar and everyone got riotously drunk. I stumbled home to our luxury, freebie hotel with them but had neglected to find out which room I was supposed to be in, hence I curled up at the foot of Joe’s bed until Eric came to drag me to my proper station. He only got me as far as the outside corridor, where I curled up, refusing to budge, “cuddling” a pot plant. When the caretaker threw a bucket of water over me, I retreated once more to Cat ‘n Fiddle’s room.

Setlist:

Yesterdays
Johnny B Goode
Still Life
Black Magic Woman
Saviours
Pack Of Lies
Hot Dog
Paranoid
Talking For Free

Friday 20th October, 1989 – Orange Walk

Unfortunately the bunk (see previous entry) was in a hut full of squaddies who were woken up for P.T. at 05:40. You should have seen the look on their Sergeant’s face when he saw me. He invited me to come with them, but I politely declined. As it was, their to-ings and fro-ings became so regular that I actually got up for breakfast, in the Sergeants Mess. Then we stumbled around and grabbed some lunch before catching our return Puma at midday.

A gentle reminder :)
A gentle reminder 🙂

At the stupidly late time of 15:30, we left to go to this evening’s gig at Orange Walk, taking a 50-minute detour into Belize City to check on a short spot we were to play with The Messengers, later on. Orange Walk – which we’d been told was the “rock capital of Belize” – was reached barely early enough in time for a very early show, at 17:20. Due to Muniandy’s ridiculously late arrival – he took over three hours to drive the dancers from Belize City – we only got to play for 45 minutes but, to our amazement, we went down an absolute storm; we even had a couple of dozen teenage girls, at the back of the converted cinema, screaming at us throughout the set, as though we were the Beatles!

A poster from back in the day - ah, La Cav :)
A poster from back in the day – ah, La Cav 🙂

After the show, I pointed out a couple of deficiencies in the sound engineering and then we all trundled off to a nearby refuge to scoff some local nosh which had been prepared in our honour. Unfortunately “scoff” had to be the operative word, as we were expected back in Belize City to play in “The Pub”. Even more unfortunately, the management of “The Pub” didn’t know we were coming and wouldn’t let us in, so Ian, Alan and I wandered off the the “Upstairs Cafe” for a drink, Eric stayed in “The Pub”, jamming with David Davinox, and Johnny went to the boat, an RPL, to crash out. An hour or so later, the three of us rejoined him, having bumped into our dancing girls, Maria and Michelle, on the way home, and apologised for Andy sacking them.

Setlist:

Johnny B Goode
Still Life
Black Magic Woman
Saviours
Pack Of Lies
Yesterdays
Talking For Free
You Really Got Me

Thursday 19th October, 1989 – Punta Gorda and Rideau Camp

 

Absolutely nothing happened today, other than lunch, until 14:30 when we wandered down through the camp to the heliport to await our chopper to Rideau Camp in the jungle on Belize’s southern border. The Puma was awsome ad the Flight Sergeant awkward as he insisted that everyone had a long-sleeved shirt and proper trousers on before we were allowed to board; in the end this entailed a squaddie, flying with us, lending half the troupe various items of clothing.

Our transport to Rideau Camp
Our transport to Rideau Camp

The flight was interesting, especially the bit where visibility became so poor in a rainstorm that the crew turned the craft 90 degrees and headed a mile or so out to sea. It was another two-gig day, so we headed into Punta Gorda town at about 18:00 to set up for the civvy gig. The show opened with an excruciatingly painful rendition of the national anthem (Belizean, that is) by a tone deaf, twenty stone matron and continued with various local ‘talent’ until we closed the show (after Eric had mended his keyboard rig, whilst the rest of us played Republican Banana).

Then it was off to Rideau, smuggling half a dozen black ‘dudes’ in with us, where we went down well, closely followed by a charity head shaving competitioAllnight Chemists-04n. For some strange reason Ian disappeared at this point! At a quarter to one when the fun finally ended – one P.S.A. guy from Llantrisant having got out of the head shaving by playing Silver Machine with us – the squaddies opened their bar for us for an hour or so. Then I spent a quarter of an hour with the head-shaving compere looking for a place to crash. I thought I was going to have to sleep in the bar but eventually I found a bunk.

Note: all of these diary entries were tailored to fit a page of handwritten A4 in the book I was using. This particular entry is missing a couple of details: firstly, Wolfgang Amadeus Bastard kicking me in the back, causing me to dive off the front of the stage during sound-check; entirely my own fault for choosing to test the mic with “Jungle, welcome to the jungle, it’s gonna bring you to your…”; secondly, when I say I eventually found a bunk, I’m missing out the hour sleeping with the huge spiders on the floor of the bar!

Setlist – Punta Gorda:

Johnny B Goode
Republican Banana
Still Life
Pack Of Lies
Saviours
Black Magic Woman

Setlist – Rideau:

Johnny B Goode
Paranoid
Pack Of Lies
Inhibitions
Hot Dog
The Right Stuff
Silver Machine
Yesterdays
You Really Got Me

Wednesday 18th October, 1989 – Belize APC

Alan in rehearsal at Antenna Studios, Redland, 1988
Alan in rehearsal at Antenna Studios, Redland, 1988

It’s a good job I don’t get proper hangovers as I spent most of the day wandering around still drunk from last night.  Cat ‘n Fiddle all buggered off to the seaside for the day and Eric went on a boat trip.  Meanwhile I had a good kip!  Well, I did write some postcards too.  Then, after tea, we trundled round to the Junior Ranks Club to set up the gear for tonight’s show, a sort of heavily extended encore left over from Sunday.

 

Soundchecking was fun, as Wayne still doesn’t really have a clue what he’s doing, but we just about got there in the end.  Anyway, everything was made a lot easier by the fact that it was our own show and Moriarty, Public Enemy #1, wasn’t in a position to screw anything up.

At 20:30 we got down to the business of playing and it was a great relief to be able to include all of our favourites, rather than being the pale imitations of ourselves that we’ve been forced to be recently. We did a couple of spontaneous/requested covers too and Paranoid, in particular, was so spot on it was amazing.

 

Ian in rehearsal at Antenna Studios, Redland, 1988
Ian in rehearsal at Antenna Studios, Redland, 1988

For some reason, Eric’s synth started ridiculously overloading during Pack Of Lies and deafened everyone so we asked him to turn it down and he flounced off stage for five minutes, amidst fits of giggles from the rest of us.  I think we sound pretty good as a four-piece anyway!  After our encore several of the squaddies helped us pack and load the gear into the four-tonner and then we all went off to some RMP’s room, which had one wall plastered with the obligatory cut-outs from girlie mags.  A few gallons of beer later we all slunk off to bed, at least that was the logical deduction I made, as I can’t actually remember that bit!

Setlist:

Yesterdays
Black Magic Woman
Dreaming
Stranger In A Strange Land
Green Onions
Bridge To Burn
Saviours
Peace Through Superior Firepower
You Really Got Me

Inhibitions
Hot Dog
Paranoid
Born To Be Wild
Whole Lotta Rosie
Republican Banana
Pack Of Lies
The Right Stuff
Talking For Free
Johnny B Goode

12 Bar – mostly Roll Over Beethoven

Tuesday 17th October, 1989 – Belize APC

I don’t know where this morning went to but the first thing that seemed to happen today was lunch.  After this we all piled round to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ mess to set up the gear for this evening’s show.  As Eric wasn’t there, I was in charge, and fortunately everything went smoothly.  At around five o’clock I sat down and composed a two-side report to Venue Magazine, which will be sent off as soon as everyone has read it.  Then we all sat around waiting for our spot which was to be at the end of the show.  Alan, Ian and I trundled off for a while to the Junior Ranks Club, where we will be playing again tomorrow, and I met a guy from Cheddar and another from Gloucester (no doubt facilitated by my Bristol BeastSoc t-shirt).

The show went down reasonably well and our acceptance level surpassed expectations, even though the 12-bar blues finale apc_shortcutwith Cat ‘n Fiddle and the dancers was the biggest shambles I’ve seen for a long time.  Now it was time for the fun to start.  Cat ‘n Fiddle did an acoustic set in the Sergeants’ Bar and raised a fair amount of dosh; then, various band members and half of APC got up on stage and had the most horrendously tuneless and directionless jam you are ever likely to hear.  All the time, everyone was getting ridiculously drunk – I was on the rum ‘n cokes – and it was 2AM before people started crawling off to bed.  For some strange reason I managed to cover my own bed in tobacco and then went to sleep on Alan’s, but why is something we will, as like as not, never know.

Setlist:

Johnny B Goode
Black Magic Woman
Pack Of Lies
Still Life
Hot Dog
Yesterdays

Very Messy Blues, Brother

Monday 16th October, 1989 – Belmopan

I awoke this morning almost voiceless and still ‘affected’ by the night before.  A shambolic stumblingness of musicians were roused by Eric the Impresario at a quarter to nine to pack up all the gear that we’d left lying around the previous evening.  Having done this, anyone who had any sense went back to bed and a handful of people went into

JB's bar, Belize
JB’s bar, Belize

Belize City to retrieve passports with visas for the trip to Mexico.  After lunch, a series of tedious conversations with Andy Pandy ensued about a special request gig we’re to do for last night’s squaddies on Wednesday, and then we left for a civilian gig at Belmopan, on the way to Holdfast Camp, at 3:15 PM.

Having stopped at JB’s Bar, we arrived at 5:15 at a cinema with a smallish stage and tiered seating.  After we had soundchecked, Hubert, the Barbadian caretaker, took Alan, Johnny and myself back to his place so that we could freshen up.  I just managed to be the only one not to shout out when the freezing cold water hit me.  The show went really well until Brad, who had beenjbs_truck compere at the Belize City gig, decided to attempt to steal the show and ended up just looking like a prize plonker and making a mess where order had been.  Cat ‘n Fiddle went down OK and so did we – with the half of the audience who hadn’t left!  We were supposed to do a finale with Davinox and Cat ‘n Fiddle but Brad had wittered on for so long that all the timing was screwed up.  The funniest part of the evening was Davinox and his “black Tom Jones” vocalist doing an impassioned song called “Don’t Take Drugs”, as the audience all merrily quaffed their ‘loopy juice’, otherwise known as Belikin, the local beer.  Well, a good time was had by all in the truck on the way home!

Setlist:

Still Life
Black Magic Woman
Saviours
Hot Dog
Pack Of Lies

Sunday 15th October, 1989 – Belize APC

Sunday morning and I actually get to lie in ’til dinner (c. 12:30).  Robbie brought Alan, Ian and Eric back at about three o’clock and then we trundled round to the Other Ranks Club to set up for today’s gig: the lads at APC were about to find out the answer to questions such as “What the fucking hell was that?!” – a three star general on passing Johnny, Alan and myself on the way to the mess!  We didn’t do a full soundcheck as we were only using Cat ‘n Fiddle’s PA, and the show almost started on time but David Davinox, the local keyboard “star”, managed to turn up late – I think Eric the Impresario made it fairly clear that if he wanted to be treated like a professional then he ought to bloody well act like one.

Letter concerning the organisation of the tour - as you can see, the original intention was to fly us out on a VC10, but in the end only the equipment was transported for us.
Letter concerning the organisation of the tour – as you can see, the original intention was to fly us out on a VC10, but in the end only the equipment was transported for us.

From start at 7:45 PM, the show ran really smoothly, with Leomar Dance alternating with Cat ‘n Fiddle and then the latter doing a thirty minute set.  Eric had hit on a good idea for the rest of the show: we would alternate with Davinox, doing one song each for as long as the show continued.  This had the predictable, yet still excellent, effect of making him look like a prize plonker and us like the best thing since sliced bread.  We had a great laugh and did two encores, the second of which had Eric and I going at each other over a small matter of style, but we sorted it out, thence proceeding backstage with a couple of young ladies who’d been dancing with us on stage, to consume copious quantities of alcoholic beverages and listen to squaddies telling us we were wonderful – well, we knew that already 😉  When the free beers ran out, which took a bloody long time, we all retreated to Jerry and Simon’s room, ’til one by one everyone collapsed and/or slunk off to bed.

Setlist:

Johnny B Goode
Yesterdays
Young, Free & Simple
Hot Dog
Talking For Free
Blues, Brother

You Really Got Me

Johnny B Goode

Saturday 14th October, 1989 – APC/Holdfast Camp

jbs_cat_n_fiddle
Cat ‘n Fiddle at JB’s Bar on the way to Holdfast Camp

Awoke at 10:30 to be ushered into a “crisis” meeting with Andy Pandy, who’s so pissed off he wants to cancel the whole thing.  Amidst tears and unintelligible recriminations, we told him where to go and Eric and Robbie now have stage and transport responsibilities.  After lunch, it was back in the four-tonner for the three hour drive to Holdfast Camp in Cayo, stopping for a beer on the way.  Here we divided the PA into smaller units, set one up and drove into the local town, St Ignatio, where we were to play the first of our two gigs for the day.

cat_n_fiddle
Cat ‘n Fiddle on stage in St Ignatio

The large, semi-open cinema was quite full when the show finally started, 25 minutes late at 19:25 (bravo, Eric the stage manager).  We closed the show with a 30-minute set which went down quite well with the local audience.  As the band played “Green Onions”, I dismantled the PA (this is the only reason we played Green Onions, I can assure you 😉 ) and shouted “Goodnight and thank you!” at the end.  Then it was off at sixty-odd miles an hour to Holdfast, where Cat ‘n Fiddle were just starting their set.  We did a short set and then bowed to the main attraction of the evening – a Gurkha in drag!  Fortunately the audience saw sense and dragged us back on to close the show.

For added entertainment, three of the Leonar Dance Group came and strutted their stuff on stage with us and various Gurkhas paid to dance with them.  I think one went a little too far, as the girls all suddenly fled from the stage,  We then broke down all the gear and discussed whether we were going down to some seedy dive in the town to jam with the best in Belizean music, a band call The Messengers.  Johnny and I decided that sleeping in the guard room would be going a little too far, so we jumped in the four-tonner and came back to APC.

Setlist – St Ignatio:

Johnny B Goode
Still Life
Saviours
Black Magic Woman
Yesterdays
Pack Of Lies
Green Onions

Setlist – Holdfast I:

Johnny B Goode
Inhibitions
Hot Dog
Talking For Free

Setlist – Holdfast II:

Pack Of Lies
Still Life
Yesterdays

Note: you’ll notice how these setlists change over the tour. We’d only learned the covers included to give the punters something to “latch onto”. As the tour progressed, we gradually dropped most of them and just did our own thing.

Setlist From 1989

Allnight Chemists-06I’m guessing this is from a gig earlier in 1989, judging from the tracks listed. The only cover in there is The Right Stuff – no Damnation Alley or Hot Dog, so it’s almost certainly not from late ’88, but equally no Talking For Free, so I don’t think it’s from any of the promo gigs we did immediately before the Belize/Mexico tour. I wonder if it’s from Mad Eli’s Bath Goes Bananas mini-festival thingummijig? Or maybe that should be thingummigig 🙂 …

First Gig for 26 Years!

poster_exchange_160327We’re back – and delighted to announce our first gig in over 26 years, supporting the rather wonderful Antimatter, at The Exchange, Old Market, Bristol on Sunday, March 27th (that’s Easter Sunday, btw).

You can expect to hear all of the Young, Free & Simple EP from back in the day – although we think we may possibly have learnt a few things over the intervening period and, consequently, improved things a tad – along with tracks like Stranger and Peace, that last saw the light of day in heavy rock form, with Twisted.

I suspect you may well get to hear a Bob Calvert cover too – does anybody want to buy a Starfighter?…