Driving to Scotland always seems thrilling to me, it’s such a special place and it really feels like another country as much as France might be to a Spaniard. It’s another language, and I don’t mean Gaelic. I often have to tell people to repeat what they just said because I ‘dinnae’ understand. The trip up there takes us through some breathtaking countryside, driving north from Liverpool. Some of the north Pennines peaks still have snow even though it’s late March and spring has been spotted in the distance. You see the signs for Preston, Blackpool, Lancaster, Carlisle, Fleetwood, Workington, and the mysterious Gretna Green before a large sign appears on the left-hand side of the motorway welcoming you to Scotland.
We were going straight to soundcheck, the clocks had gone forwards, and traffic jams and one-way streets had us fighting time. When we did finally find our way to the venue, there was a car parked outside which was just exactly where we wanted to unload. I got out of the car to ask the man if he could move down a little, he opened his window and told me he was just waiting for his wife in the most gorgeous Scottish accent, we were really there.
The venue was a dark, cold, black labyrinth, Colin let us in, I guess he was the manager for the night. His accent was so thick that I didn’t understand most of what he said but he took us down the tunnels to the venue, we almost needed flaming torches, it was like a scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Inside Lexi was waiting for us, we had some help loading in (thanks, Peter) and as we were about to start sound checking, Wild Swan Paul Simpson and his partner Gemma arrived. We were staying at their house tonight. I have played guitar on the next Wild Swans album which Paul assures me he will be working on finishing (the vocals) after he has completed his memoir, coming in September.
The venue was even cold with the people inside, I encouraged them to move their tables and chairs closer to the stage to create a more intimate atmosphere, it was better but I couldn’t see anybody getting any warmer. This wasn’t the most luxurious venue we’ve ever played but we work on the theory that the music and the audience create a world beyond the four black walls. Still, they could have done with more than a radiator on stage and a small blow heater over the door. Scotland in March is going to be cold, I guess the Scots are made of hardier stuff.
The gig was like all the others with an enthusiastic audience that not only listened and clapped their way through the night but also finished off the remaining vinyl, sorry Edinburgh, it’s all sold out. We still have some MOAT – Poison Stream CDs and the Marty & Olivia shirt, next time we should start in Inverness and finish in Dover.
We drove to Paul and Gemma’s house where we loaded our guitars and cases into their hallway. Gemma had to go to bed for an early morning start but we stayed up with tea and talk before going to bed, who knew what was going to happen next?
Music today has been The Wild Swans – Bringing Home The Ashes (1988). Paul didn’t even know that it was being re-released on vinyl.
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