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I had an UNREASONABLY PLEASANT journey to Birmingham on Saturday. For a start, the tube seemed to be WORKING. This may not sound UNREASONABLY PLEASANT to the vast majority of people who are not in London at weekends, but anyone who IS will know that usually the DRONE TO WORKSTATION FACILITATION DEVICE (as its SHADOWY MASTERS doubtless think of it) is being "improved" on weekends i.e. CLOSED.

I thus arrived at Marylebone Station in a FINE mood, fully prepared to enjoy its LOVELINESS. I know it sounds a strange way to describe a train station, but Marylebone really is FAB, it's like getting a train in a black and white film. A NICE black and white film. Chiltern trains are always fairly reliable, usually not too full, and cost LESS than 20 quid for a return to Brum - on National "Express" trains it costs about that much for a CUPPA.

It was a lovely sunny day as we rattled along, and I got to Snow Hill Station (the GRATEST joy of going on the Chilterns Train is that you DON'T go to New Street) full of the joys of public transport. My JOY was tempered slightly by OLD MAN RAGE as I strode out, walking through an area where feckless youths kept falling off their skateboards because THEIR TROUSERS WERE HITCHED JUST ABOVE THEIR IDIOTIC KNEES, and tempered further by the ominous sound of THUDDING BASS BINS as I got closer to Aston University campus, where I was staying.

Turns out it was Aston Students Union's annual big BASH to celebrate the end of term. Any Grumbly Old Man's Displeasure i was feeling was INSTANTLY dispelled when the (as usual, rather over-zealous) security guard told me the NAME of the event.

The Astonbury Festival. The Astonbury Festival.

THOROUGHLY re-delighted I made my way to Aston Business School, the Pretend "Executive Hotel" that the University's built, and was told I couldn't have any ROOM SERVICE as the BBC were filming the second series of "SURVIVORS" in part of the building. I didn't want room service, but DID want to have a look at them. Sadly I couldn't see them, so headed off to ROCK instead.

I got slightly lost on the way to the gig and found myself in Birmingham New Street Station - never pleasant even when you've spent months mentally preparing yourself, but a SHOCK when it comes out of the blue. I realised that Mr F A Machine was due to Detrain at any moment, and sure enough there he was, so we set off TOGETHER to find The Sunflower Lounge.

We arrived to find Tim's drum gear all laid out on the stage, with a flock of young people PICKING at it. It was very strange, it looked like some great animal being taken apart by GULLS. It was nice of them to help though, we agreed. "It's more than we usually do."

"It's more than you usually do", said Tim when we told him about it, as he and Emma returned from car parking. Soon The Tiger had arrived, we'd had a SWIFT sound check, and assuring Dunc The Promoter that we'd be back set off in search of CURRY with Emma's sister and brother-in-law.

The waiter in the curry house was a little ODD. You know how people in curry houses tend to be FRIENDLY, sometimes even MOCKING in a CHUMMY way? He was a little bit TOO close. He kept telling us how somebody had complained about his card machine breaking their card, then told us about a recent childbirth, and kept trying to recommend us CURRIES. Then there was THE BIRYANI INCIDENT - Tom's Biryani was cold, so he asked for it to be heated, but they LEFT it on the table "so you can see we're definitely getting you a new one", he said. About five times. Clearly there had been complaints.

We had a lovely time tho - we slipped EASILY and QUICKLY back into Tour Mode, where the jokes are plentiful and SLIGHTLY RUDE, but always DELIGHTFUL. My curry was DELICIOUS, and also just the right amount - you know when you feel like your eyeballs are going to BOGGLE out of your HEAD in an attempt to make room for all the FOOD you've just eaten? It wasn't like that, it was JUST right.

Back at The Sunflower Lounge we watched the first band, Moofish Catfish, who were on tour from Swedenn, and enjoyed them a Great Deal. They were sort of RIOT GRRL-ish, although that may just be the whole Me Being Old thing again. Also, dead good drumming! We missed the middle band due to ARGUING OVER SETLIST and so forth - although it was more the "so forth" aspect this time around, as Tim's setlist proposal was passed UNANIMOUSLY first time round. This has NEVER happened before!

Here's what it was:
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Best Behaviour
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Do More Eat Less
  • The Fight For History
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid

  • We had a WHOLE LOT OF FUN. The Sunflower Lounge is a really nice little room, and if not HEAVING it did feel PLEASANTLY FULL, not just with the SEVERAL delightful pals who'd come (not least Dr A Farmer, seen Doing The Indie Kid at the back with some gusto) but also plenty of people i DIDN'T know - one such chap had a b3ta t-shirt so we did Hey Hey 16K ESPECIALLY. It made for a GRATE atmosphere.

    We also played Quite Well too, i think - I certainly made LESS errors than EVER in Living Memory at a Vlads gig (one verse Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid backwards), and the sound felt BRILL. I also had took GRATE DELIGHT in speaking at some length on matters of the day, including The Foolish Fashions Of The Young, Birmingham City Centre ("it's a testament to how nice people in Birmingham are that they more than make up for their shit city centre", i said - it's also a testament to how nice they are that nobody thumped me!) and how important it will become that we DO a Fight For History come the day she dies.

    There was also THE TIGER'S ROAR. I LOVE that bit!

    Afterwards there was time for some CHAT and some BEER before The Vlads had to fly off variously into the night. I stuck around for a little bit but most people had cleared off pretty quickly, so made my way back across town to Aston Business School, where the Festival appeared to have finished.

    It was a lovely night - can we do some more gigs like that please?

    posted 15/6/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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