Hmmm, this one was a pretty eventful day really. It kinda went a bit like this.
Things start off badly, watching England beat Scotland in a pub with a slightly partisan audience. Well look, if you've not figured it already, I'm Welsh. I like to watch the English loose. Oh smile, it's good natured fun.
Following this, things take a slight upturn as I buy the new Meathook Seed album, which sounds pretty damn good on first couple of listens. However, the walk home from town is sheer hell, with fans celebrating that victory. Ennn-ggggggeeeeerrrrrrr-lunnnnnnnd cries reverberate around the streets of Nottingham. Not heard such celebrations since the last time they won a meaningless game, against Columbia I think it was in the World Cup. The celebrations weren't so loud after the Argentina game though!
Ireland are holding Turkey to a 0-0 draw at this point, and wondering if I feel lucky I do the lottery for a change. I don't win. Things then take a dip once more as I walk back into town, and there's still chants of En-gerrrrrr-lunnnnnd ringing out. Tragic.
Next is something which I'm not sure if I've been looking forward to or not. Fakir Bone. For weeks now people have been explaining this guy, with various degrees of "well he cuts and " sort of thing. Last night even the flier for it made me feel a little squirmish. You see, Fakir Bone is apparently a protege from the Jim Rose circus, having learned a number of the tricks, and is now doing it on his own.
Everything starts to a techno barrage, the walls draped with luminous backdrops and everything being relayed on video above the stage, and downstairs to those who can't get entry up here. After a long drawn out intro, the man finally emerges and starts his performance. Warning not to try this at home, but at a friends place instead. It starts easily, with some nasal flossing, before some punter parts with probably a five pound note, which Fakir promptly staples to his forehead, some nails are then hammered into the face.
For the next hour and a half, there are various feets performed. We're introduced to his assistant, Grisawaldo, who for his sins has some melons chopped on top of him with what looks like a samurai sword. The bed of nails is placed on Fakir's chest, and a volunteer from the crowd stands on it. Then he gets some paving slabs. "Normally I do 3, but because it's Nottingham I'm going to double it, and because it's The Old Angel, I'm going to add 1 more to that, which I've never done before". 7 slabs are added to his chest, and Griswaldo brings the hammer down.
A boxful of glass bottles are smashed and poured onto a slab on the floor. A volunteer is pulled from the crowd, a slightly large figure, and stands on Fakir, who is lying face down in the glass. When asked who he is, it's mentioned that the man is in a band, and they may be playing later.
Throughout it all the beat goes on, and the most squeamish thing isn't the actual sights on stage, but the guy next to me, who has to stand on a chair for the entire set and rather than watch, dances to the music. Annoyed. Me? Course I 'kin am. The whole thing ends with the insertion of some nine inch nails into the arms, through the throat and through the cheekbones, and with promises of a new tricks next time, it ends with the blood trickling and a nail through the chest.
If the truth be told, it wasn't as squeamish as I thought it would be, but maybe my thoughts are running ahead a little bit. Cos there's a little grin on my face.
You see, there's more. Oh just a little bit. Just a smidgen. There's been rumours abounding for most of the afternoon and evening, that something might happen.
And at midnight, the first signs emerge.
As Fakir Bone departs the stage, various people from the Angel and from Blackrock start shifting amplifiers. A drumkit is carried through. Soon guitar cases emerge. One has the name Kyuss emblazoned upon it. Within 45 minutes, the stage has been cleared and reset, and a bare minimum soundcheck has occurred. At 12.45am, Unida take the stage. The bassist, Scott Reeder takes the microphone, "we're doing this for the beer", before John Garcier clarifies things just a little further. "We've never done this before" he grins, "but I was asleep in the bus, and these two, Arthur and Mike ask if I want to jam this evening. So here we are." And here we go for an hour long Unida set, performed free, for nothing more than some beer. Culled mostly from their debut album, Dealing With The Urban Coyote, for someone such as myself, who it has to be said has never been the biggest fan of Kyuss or Unida, it adds a new dimension to things. Maybe it's just that they're relaxed, playing with grins on the faces nearly as big as the grins on the 70 or so people who've hung around. But the music seems more alive, the riffs tumble out, and the voice is mixed just that little higher and that little bit clearer than on the album, and it suddenly makes a lot more sense. The likes of Thorn swagger around on those AC/DC like riffs, but it's just a little more special. Maybe it's the power of live music, which every now and again I find has the ability to just nudge you and knock your senses. You check the giant video screen behind the band, as the whole thing is videoed on to it, and just catch yourself. It's not even like the band are going through the motions, it's as real as it gets. It's a small stage, and there's not much room to move, but Garcia just stands there, pulls the pose, hits the notes, and he owns the place. Reeder is creating a rumble with the bass that has to be heard to be believed, even if Mr Marksound claims after that the man has played better. Arthur Seay just peels out the riffs, throwing his head from side to side, while Mike C pounds out the beat, occassionally looking upwards towards the video screen above his head and unleashing a huge grin.
As they reach the final song, Garcia speaks once more, "I want to tell you a little story." he starts. "There were 4 American guys and 3 British guys, who'd never met before, but just spoken on the phone ... We've been on tour together in Europe now for 4 weeks. These guys saved this band, and without them, we wouldn't be here, that's Mark, Shaun and Dean, and also our driver Bill. And we were here tonight, because we're about to start our UK tour, playing three gigs, well, four with tonights, and one in Scotland who you guys fucking beat the shit out of today. And it's thanks to those guys, this tour has been our longest, but most enjoyable one ever, because of them and Bill our driver. Thank you so much for the warmth of your hospitality." It ends after about 50 minutes. There are cries for more. Kieran is telling them that "you know you want to", and the bribes of beer are issued once more "we can do some for more beer, I want more beer" shouts Scott. And so they relent and pull off another 2 songs. At 1.45am, it's all over. Everywhere you look there are grins plastered everywhere. It even looks like the walls are grinning. And that's nothing to do with the beer you understand.
It's like one of those legendary moments. Like I guess Metallica playing the Marquee as special guests to Metal Church. So off the cuff, so spontaneous, but so real. Of course most people are blissfully unaware, dancing away to the same tracks at Rock City that they danced to last week, and probably at home before they went out this evening. Because it happens elsewhere right? Well, that depends. If you've got the venue, and the people, then who knows what can happen. They can only survive with your help, but in return, maybe, just maybe you get something special back. Something like this.
And you know, it took a mere 45 minutes to go from a bare stage, to the band being ready to play. No fuss, no egos, no need for 2 hour sound checks. The drums are tried, the bass rumbles, the guitars tuned, monitors plugged in and they stand and they go. There's one moment in the set where John signals to Marksound to have the vocals a touch higher, tries again, and then just laughs. It feels to me that there's a lesson to be learnt there by so many of the bands that fart around reaching perfection, moaning about the monitors and all that crap. Did Unida sound bad? Did they fuck. Afterwards they've got their beer, they've got some food cooked for them, they thank everyone involved again for their hospitality, they carry their equipment out to to the bus and load up, and then go to watch the Lennox Lewis V Evander Hollyfield fight.
Who knows, maybe there was some old angel looking down tonight. Oh come on, you know me well enough by now to know that I will stoop so low and dish out the godawful stuff. Shame about the footy result though! Right, I'm going to immerse myself in some Kyuss and Unida for a while.