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Blog: Nuts In May
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Staying in Cockermouth was EXCELLENT, mostly because saying "Cockermouth" is INHERENTLY HILARIOUS. We checked into our rooms, finding them to be SUPER SPACIOUS. It looked like there was meant to be a LOT more furniture in them which hadn't arrived yet, but otherwise all was well, so we ordered ourselves a TAXI and headed off to the festival site.
Nuts In May is, I guess, a BOUTIQUE festival, with about 1,000 paying customers, on a compact and bijou site where the two main stages are only about a 2 minute walk away from each other. There were happy people, kids, teenagers, foodstuffs and a lot of folk music, and happily not much MUD. The only mud ANYWHERE, in fact, was at the Cup Of Wonder Stage i.e. the huge MARQUEE where we'd be playing next day. I think the whole SITE would have been muddy earlier in the week when it was put up, but everywhere else had dried out by the time we arrived.
We were soon joined by the entire CLAN PATTISON and LO! there was BEER and YAKKING and EATING and discussion of the Festival Programme, which featured a little write-up of us, accompanied by a photograph... of Frankie Machine! We later saw Mr D Proud, who'd booked us to play, and he was mystified by how it had happend! Before long it was KERSHAW O'CLOCK! The great man Mr N Kershaw HIMSELF was playing, and we'd all been excitedly wondering what he'd play - well, I say "wondering", certain members of Team Percussion had got SO excited that they'd been online googling setlists.
He was EXCELLENT - ALL the hits were played, including "The One And Only" which, of course, he wrote, and even the NEW stuff sounded good. It was a GRATE set, made even more delightful by the sight of so many hard core anarchists in "Destroy Capitalism" t-shirts getting GIDDY when he played "The Riddle".
More beer was taken and then we decided to call it a night, as it was COLD, and we ended up back at the Travelodge for 11pm. SENSIBLE!
Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we headed into Cockermouth ITSELF, where we looked at the RIVER (mercifully NOT flooded) and then had a wander round the Wordsworth House. It was Quite Good - personally I prefer these sort of places to have more of the actually WRITING by the author, like they do at the Samuel Johnson Houses, or indeed the Dickens Museum, but this was National Trust so I guess they're more interested in the house. It was GOOD tho, and we then strolled down the street for a PUB LUNCH with The Pattisons.
WHAT AM I SAYING?!? That isn't what happened AT ALL, ignore ALL THE ABOVE. What actually happened, ON TOUR, is that we stayed up all night then rode on motorbikes into Carlisle to visit a CRACK DEN. That's definitely it.
Reports were coming in from The Frankie Machine Camper Van Machine that their battery had run out, but by the time we got back on site all was well and we were QUORATE. Beer, chat, ALL THAT, and soon it was time to soundcheck.
Ooh, it is nice to play on a big proper stage - there was plenty of ROOM, everything sounded GRATE (Tim ESEPCIALLY was BORN to play STADIUM GIGS!) and we even got to have our own monitor mixes, it sounded FAB. The other stage was running late, so they asked us to hold back a while, so it was just after 6pm when we went on stage and did THIS:
Billy Jones Is Dead
Hey Hey 16K
Theme From Dinosaur Planet
Don't, Darren, Don't
A Little Bit
Please Don't Eat Us
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Playing on a big stage is GRATE... but it doesn't half make your audience look small! We had about 30 people in, which would have been FINE in normal circumstances, but did leave rather HUGE spaces in the rest of the tent!! A few people wandered in during the course of the set, and a few more wandered out - we didn't really fit with the more folky sound of the festival, I guess, and the sun WAS out and the main stage WAS, i think, restarting quite soon, so there were all kinds of reasons not to be packed out (i personally think the photograph of Frankie Machine was to blame!), and anyway, we had a LOVELY time. The sound was AMAZING and, much to our own surprise, we seem to have become a TIGHT ROCKING BAND in our old age!
It was HUGE fun to be all together and sounding so good, and I was rather proud of our MATURITY in the face of tiny crowds. Not so long ago it would have got us down, but the people who WERE there were ACE, and we gave them a RIGHT PROPER SHOW. I did, I must admit, miss out the usual "Introducing The Band" and "THE TIGER'S ROAR" bits, and didn't do as MUCH chat between songs (our 9 song set was thus about 15 minutes shorter than our 9 song set at Firebug last month!!) but other than that we WENT for it with full GUSTO. It was GRATE!
And then afterwards I was amazed to find a QUEUE had formed of people wanting to buy CDs! Best of all, at the front of the queue, was a young lad who wanted us ALL to sign his copy for him - it was wonderful! I also met a man later in the day who VERY STERNLY wished to tell me that he REALLY enjoyed it and thought it was EXCELLENT. I got the distinct impression he'd been talking to some people who disagreed!
With our job done we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the day - I had a chat to Mr Sean McGhee of R2 magazine who, hilariously, had lost track of time and kept saying "I'm really looking forward to seeing you", and we watched an EXCELLENT covers band doing "Enjoy Yourself" and some proper Irish folk songs. We even smiled benignly when the band AFTER us PACKED OUT the tent doing a cover version of "Motorcyle Emptiness!"
It was a beautiful day out, and it ended with the whole lot of us sitting around outside the Pattisons' tent eating biscuits, drinking beer, and talking a load of old nonsense. We ALWAYS say it but, really, the actual GIG part of these expeditions is such a tiny tiny part of the whole thing, it almost gets in the way of the sitting around talking to each other.
Next time, however, I hope we manage to do it somewhere a bit warmer, as it was BLOODY FREEZING. Hugs were had and soon we were back in the warmth of the Travelodge at the SUPREMELY SENSIBLE time of 10.30pm. It was good to get some kip - the next day I ended up travelling for nearly EIGHT HOURS to get home.
It had been a fantastic weekend though, with two very different but equally lovely gigs, and it's always brilliant to see The Validators. I wish we got to do MORE festivals really, they're ACE!
posted 9/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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QUORATE! God bless you, MJ Hibbett.
posted 9/5/2012 by Pete Green
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