Unreliable memoirs from a semi-retarded bass player
Leicester Charlotte, Brighton Barfly, Leeds Duchess, Wexford Whimsy….
Seems like all the great pocket venues in the UK have closed their doors since CUD last played. A coincidence? I think not.
The temptation was to label our next outing ‘the Closing Down tour’, to hail a fond farewell to these halls of legend, untainted by beer and mobile sponsors. (We poo-pooed this idea when we realised punters might expect major discounts on ticket prices.)
Where would we be today without classic pub venues such as Oxford Bags, the Halifax Colostomy and Rayleigh Trouserpress. Well, not Oxford, Halifax or Rayleigh, and more’s the shame…except in the case of Rayleigh. Each venue was unique, with its own cocktail of mucus seeping from the walls, decades of chiselled graffiti in the plaster, stale beer on the carpets and gaffer tape patching the gaps and hiding unearthed electrical cables. Rayleigh Trouserpress will always go down in mystery as the first place to book an up-and-coming Damon Albran in 1982, when he was but the accordion player for Dexy’s Midnight Rumours.
On entering older venues and absorbing their fetid stimulus takes me back to halcyon days before investment in repairs, while the damp spreads respiratory infection in our singer’s lungs.
One of our fondest tour memories was playing to a crowd of seven health inspectors at Prestwich Varuka Klub in 1989. The venue was on the second floor above a crackhouse. We had carry our amps up a rickety fire escape, then crowbar the steel plates from the windows to get our gear inside. There was just one plug socket for the entire venue. We had to pause our set whenever anyone order a cappuccino, so the bar staff could plug in the kettle. We all suffered from food poisoning that night, so the long breaks between songs were welcome. The Varuka Klub is yet another fondly remembered venue that has had to close due to a combination of overzealous Tory austerity policies and over-protective health-and-safety legislation. Now the committed indie fan has to take a park-and-ride bus to the new Bury Twitterdome if they want to glimpse Snow Petrol and pay £4.35 for a plastic pint of Jägermeister.
Still, saying that, the CUD fans of today seems quite happy to fork out £120 a ticket to see us in a more luxurious setting. Since their student/dole days, the Space CUDets have proved relatively upwardly mobile compared to fans of, say, Sultans of Ping, who were recently moved on from their occupation of landfill sites in Newport (source: Mori, Oct-Dec 2008). Tickets for our autumn jamboree at River Cottage sold out in minutes, even without the involvement of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or the permission of River Cottage.
Our impending summer matinée tour of Harvester Inns goes one step further, by accommodating the late 30-something dads and their five-year old sons who make up 98% of our audience. The support act this time will be a bouncy castle and Upsy Daisy from popular television show In the Night Soil. I understand she performs a heartrending cover of ‘Motortricycle Emptiness’.
Touring has changed so much since we set off from Leeds, with our cardboard guitars folded up in the back of a Reliant Scimitar, in the pre-industrial age. Some things have changed for the better, some for the worse and some for the same. But at least there’s one thing you can count on when you come to see CUD on tour in 2012 – er…
William Potter is currently relearning basslines, one string at a time, in anticipation of the CUD revival of 2012.
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