Gaz E's Gig From Hell Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 00:01

Sister_Morphine_004

 

I read an interview with legendary horror writer Clive Barker recently where he said that to be fully realised as a human being was to be willing to inherit and accept and embrace the darkness. Someone equally wise once said that the things that make us ashamed are also the things that make us interesting....

 

What, exactly, does this have to do with rock 'n' roll? Well, apart from the fact that, two decades ago, the guitarist from my band borrowed Clive Barker's Books Of Blood from me and never returned them, those wise words have been the Dutch courage that I have needed to shoehorn the following terror tale from deep within my psyche.

 

I joined a band called Self Destruction Blues a day before my eighteenth birthday and, pretty soon after my arrival, the name of the band was changed to Sister Morphine. These two names should tell all readers which kind of musical avenues and alleyways of influence we were strutting up. My days in that band were some of the happiest of my life and I can barely think back to those times without laughing to myself like some kinda loon. Well, most times. In fact,Sister_Morphine one particular time sends shivers down my spine and makes my two veg seek residence back inside my quivering body....

 

We had played a gig in Cardiff Bogiez as support to a band called Roadhouse who were, bizarrely, namechecked by Jon Bon Jovi as being some kinda 'Next Big Thing' - their posters carried this JBJ quote but I never knew anyone who had ever read it anywhere else. There was another band on the bill called Dream Warrior whose singer - lovely bloke, great voice, wore a ridiculous blonde mullet wig - was in King Katwalk, a band that at one point would feature former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable. They went down well, so did we. We did have an honourable local following and yet again they didn't let us down. When Roadhouse..err...hit the stage, a lot of the paying punters seemed pretty disinterested, so their singer Jez - a wirey permed prima donna - stormed offstage. Titters aplenty. He stormed back on stage and smashed his micstand into the plywood. Hearty guffaws. So, when we were asked to support Roadhouse again at the somehow on-the-circuit Tonypandy Naval Club a month later we just knew that it would be an eventful night....

 

Saturday March 10th 1990. Tonypandy. Decent sized stage, lot of people there. We're rocking and rolling and doing our thing as usual. By 'We' I mean guitarists Lloyd James and Nick Jones, bassist Michael DeSouza, drummer Denley Slade, now of pop band Sal, and little ol' me. We used to write loads and loads of songs, came to us quite easily. Not exactly Tyla sized back catalogue but getting there. One of these songs was called 'Valentine' - not a classic, but a song decent enough to warm the cockles of a club named after a bellybutton. So we play it and, here's the deal maker, I pluck my trusty harmonica from the pocket of my waistcoat. A Sister_Morphine_003harmonica that I proceed to play in the key of fingernails-down-blackboard. Hmmm. "Get your mouth organ out again, butt" was a quality heckle that came my way on that spring evening. Now, I can't remember what I said in reply but it was obviously something that I thought was particularly clever, the kinda thing that my mother always told me would see me end up in a sticky situation.....

 

When we were soundchecking earlier in the day, there were a load of local blokes in the venue watching. When one of these guys stepped up to the front of the stage and motioned for me to pass him my horribly feedbacking microphone during the gig I thought that he must have been with the sound guys. When he took the mic and screamed "Waaarrrrggggghhhhhhhhh" into it I guessed that perhaps he wasn't. I gave a suitably sarcastic response and, at the end of the song, he said "You lot are shit, play something decent like Dokken or The Scorpions." I don't care where I am or what I'm doing but if someone says something like that then I am likely to piss my knickers. I can't remember my exact response but, during the next song, a gang of locals had gathered at the door to the right of the stage where the bands loaded their gear in and outsoundcheck2 and, if I wasn't mistaken, they were punching the palms of their other hands and drawing their thumbs across their throats! Was I really going to be murdered for attempting to play a harmonica and refusing to unchain the night?

 

We played our full set and disappeared into the shitty little corridor/dressing room that we had been allocated. I changed my shirt, chucked on my bike jacket, tied my hair up and walked straight through the crowd (in a kind of whatever-you-do-don't-look-back-aah-I-did-and-there-is-a-madman-banging-my-boyfriend's-head-on-the-car-roof urban myth stylee) to a small bar outside of the main hall. A quick check confirmed that all limbs were intact. Then this other mullet-cursed buffoon starts telling me that we were just ripping off The Dogs D'Amour and The Quireboys and that we were just jumping on that bandwagon blah-blah-blah. I give him a bit of a history lesson and then suddenly remember that Johnny H had once painted the original Quireboys logo (Survival Records!) onto the back of the very same bike jacket that I am wearing at that very moment. Hmmm. Still standing with my back to the bar, Jonesy tells me that this cheeky fucker is actually a member of Bon Jovi wannabes Roulette, keyboard-Sister_Morphine_008laden melodic rock bandwagon jumping local fuckwits. But before I can even think of performing a poodle-permed retaliatory attack, Roadhouse hit the stage (!) and I am so looking forward to seeing how they go down tonight.....

 

.....unbelievably, the mouth-breathing Albright-drinking gumby metal retards of Tonypandy Naval Club love this band. I was expecting at least another stage-denting micstand scenario. Don't get me wrong, Roadhouse were cool; drummer Ramon was a comic-book geek like myself and I remember him sending me a load of Punisher stickers after we supported them once again in Southend later that same year. Jez was a cool frontman and a good singer but, just to prove that this world is autopsy-turvy, in a place where a harmonica is a UFO piloted by Elvis Aaron Presley, I expected him to at least throw another comedy wobbly not go down like Jim fucking Morrison. The night couldn't end soon enough. We manage to get out alive and try to block this debacle from our fevered minds.....

 

.....which I easily managed to do until I was partaking in a generic journey on seminal South Wales bus, the X15, one day years later. Ask any rocker from around these parts about that bus and they'll tell you that it was as important a part of their R'N'R lives as 'Appetite For Destruction', 'Destroyer', 'Master Of Puppets' or 'Inside The Electric Circus'. Anyway, I looked out of the window of that bus one day and saw the Dokken/Scorpions wailing fucktard digging up the road! Somebody had actually employed this monkey and trusted him with sharp implements. No wonder the world has turned to shit.

 

Maybe Tonypandy Naval Club is the reason why Über Röck has a Hell's Gigs section. If you have ever been in a band, then you've got a tale to tell. It might be Eddie Kelly setting fire to the stage, Matt Blakout falling off it or Johnny H getting thrown off it by a member of Right Saidold_entrace Fred - either way, everyone has a Gig From Hell and this was mine.

 

I actually went to Tonypandy Naval Club once again after that fateful night. Our friends Silver Hearts (later to become Last Great Dreamers) were playing there and we went to show our support. I ended the night emitting fluid from both ends. What was it about that place? Imagine my pleasure when Dave Prince told me that the club had been torn down, brick by stinking brick. Look at the photograph - fucking lovely, I'm sure you'll agree. But my tale doesn't end there. By all accounts, at midnight on the tenth day of the third month of every year, as the wind whistles over the part-buried skittle alley, a haunting harmonica melody can be heard playing a ghostly paean...badly.