earthtone9 / Rabies Caste Birmingham Irish Centre. October 16 2001

There's been a lot of talk and consternation, rightly or wrongly, in the last few weeks, about bands playing gigs (or not as the case is) in the UK, and pulling out of tours. The fans can't understand it. How can they, indeed how DARE they stay away.

Yet it's ok for the paying public to do exactly the same?

I read something that the Tattoo the Planet at the NIA/NEC the other day was abo ut 1/4 full, which I reckon is something like 2500 - 3000 fans. And here we are. Final date on this tour. We're in Birmingham. I like Birmingham. One of my best friends lives here. In trying to decide whether to continue living in Nottingham, one of the alternatives I have / still am considering moving to is Birmingham. Yet, for the second biggest city in the UK, an attendance of probably no more than 60 people is nothing short of shocking. An abomination. And it's by no means the first time this has happened. I've seen a number of gigs in this neck of the woods fair similarly. Far far farrrrrrrrr to many people bemoan everything, but don't take a look at themselves. I suppose I can't be too harsh, as I'm as apathetical as most, possibly more so, and feel myself becoming more and more that way. But before people cry booofuckinghooo about bands not touring, maybe they need to do something about turning up.

Anyway, after criticising others, I manage to arrive just as Thorn.11 are finishing. And this week I haven't even got the excuse of work. I'm just shite.

The venue, is well, an Irish Centre. It looks like a village hall. There are murels on the wall and the back of the stage. You kind of feel like you're waiting for the Womens Institute to bring out the tables and chairs and sit down and have a nice tea party. And it's so sparsely populated. It looks like it holds about 400 people. I also believe it's a replacement if you will for The Foundry, which may or may not be being turned into flats of some description. The Foundry seemed to close a few times for various reasons. You have to wonder on the evidence of tonight, how long this replacement will last.

Rabies Caste take to the stage. It's a forlorn site really. It matters little. Once more they rip through their abrasively short set. Martin the soundman is tha nked for the tour from the stage. There's no punters there really to thank. They make a fist of it. I've grown to almost recognise the music in the last few days. It deserves more than this. I wonder to myself what thoughts and memories they will take with them back to Israel when they return. I wonder how much the desire to play music will have grown.

As they set up their equipment during the changeover, both Oz and Joe grab chairs from the side. Joe readjusts the microphone stand to be at sitting down level. It looks for a few moments like they may actually play the gig sat on chairs. In the end they don't. Maybe they decide it's insulting the people that have turned up, after all, as pathetic as it is, those people are not to blame, as they're actually there. On the other hand, you could say it would have made it more unique than just going through the motions. Luckily, it appears they choose not to take the later option. It is the last night after all, and if nothing else, this tour appears to have shown a reinvigorated band performing on stage.

Though it has to be said that tonight is not the tightest gig they'll have ever played.

The set of course is the same as it has been all tour. There are a few moments during Amnesia where Karl seems to be going through the motions with the vocals, there's all sorts of 80's guitar squeaks and squeals thrown in and it's all more than a bit ropey. But it's still fun. The opening track, evil crawling i, is played with the band laughing at the signs being held up in front of them at the fr ont of the stage by Thorn. The ink has seeped through the paper, and from behind you can read the words "The World Of Gay Rock". It will obviously mean something to some people.

Star Damaged sees Karl doing Star Jumps, and when one person asks what song Runaway is, Karl explains. "It's not a song, it's an instruction. At the end of the set, runaway. Though I can probably make up a song." Alex starts a beat, and Karl creates a mid 80s poodle rock classic on the spot, accapella. "That's probably better than anything else I've written" he reckons. Which possibly shows he's a better vocalist / lyricist than critic. Withered and Tat Twam still predictably get the best response, though once more new tracks Amnesia and Revelation fair well, and that riff at the end of Revelation still brings a grin to the face every time.

Binary as ever closes things out. As it's the end of the tour, members of both Thorn.11 and Rabies Caste make appearances. Joe, Dave and Oz are tied up in toilet paper as they play, confetti like material is thrown, and as the jam kicks in, Alex gives up the drumstool to first the guy from Thorn, and then he in turn to the guy from Rabies to finish things off, barely missing a beat, and proving th at there's a few more drummers out there should they need them. Not even Spinal Tap managed to get through 3 drummers in one gig!

As far as the overall show goes, it was a bit of a pathetic end to the tour really. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe people aren't apathetic. Maybe it's just that earthtone9 are a shite band. Maybe they've bought all the critical praise that they've received from the press, and aren't actually worthy of it. And maybe people realise this, and have decided they're not going to witness such a joke. I mean, surely that is a more accurate assumption or description of the reality. It can't b e that still, this country is an apathetical waste of space and that people just can't be arsed. It can't be the punters fault after all.