Five go mad in Manchester – Diary by Kieth Stodart
January 27, 2003
It’s gonna be difficult to describe the events of Manchester on Saturday but I’m here goes anyway.
Was picked up at my house around 1.00 pm by Paul Barr’s brother Jim who along with another of the Scottish contingent living in Darlington, Pat, was signed up for this road trip. We were meeting Paul and his girlfriend Carol at the Holiday Inn Express in Salford Quays.
Jim treated us to a few good tunes on the journey down (I can recommend the Pete Yorn CD) and before you knew it we were in Manchester, 90 minutes later.
Paul had already checked in at the hotel by the time we arrived so we headed up to his room for a chat. Jim and Pat were sharing a twin room with me so one of had to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. At this point, the honour of this was falling to Pat, as he had been a late addition to the squad. (More about this later)
Jim and Pat were dispatched to a local supermarket to buy some booze and snacks and duly returned sometime later. I actually thought they had gone to the Boddington’s brewery to get the stuff they took so long.
Now the reason that we had bought booze for the room was that Jim had videoed the Sheffield gig and we wanted to watch it prior to us all hitting the town. The quality of this video is amazing and we all sat astounded as it played. We drank and munched away on some crisps, occasionally stopping the video to check on the football scores. Paul and I had put a coupon on but it was apparent early on that no money was being won today. I had ordered a taxi for 5.00 pm which duly arrived and took us up near the Manchester Academy venue.
Having been to see the Beta Band there last year I know of a couple of pubs local to the venue so we went about our business or drinking in preparation for the main event.
We initially went to a pub called Jabez Clegg but Pat got a ropey pint and it was pretty cold inside so we headed onwards. The next port of call was BIG HANDS, which didn’t look much from the outside, but it played good tunes and the beer was good.
We were getting a bit hungry by now and I had noticed that someone had brought in a kebab from the shop next door and was eating it in the pub so I promptly asked the bar staff (who appeared to be Spanish) if we could do the same, No problem was the answer.
So there we were looking forward to the gig, eating our kebabs, drinking our beer when No Fun by the Stooges comes on over the sound system ….had we died and gone to heaven ??!!
We stayed there until around 8.00 pm then headed up to the gig, which was only a couple of hundred yards away.
We entered the venue and went straight to the bar, naturally, (it takes a lot out of you that 200-yard walk and you really must keep your fluid intake up). We headed down the front to watch DRAW who appear to be going from strength to strength. I had watched them at Sheffield and thought Coldplay but this time it was more Jeff Buckley, we all agreed that their performance was more than acceptable. I actually spoke to their bass player and mentioned this to her and she said that Brent would be over the moon by that comment. I also mentioned it to Brent later on as the beer kicked in.
The atmosphere was really building and the place was really filling up. There was some really interesting people about especially the old bloke walking around with a large wooden stick, I thought he must have been some sort of a druid but whatever, he was there and enjoying himself.
As the band came on the crowd erupted and someone passed up a bouquet of flowers to Arthur that he accepted with his wonderful smile. He actually looked overwhelmed at the time.
As the music kicked in so did the beer and as if by magic Natasha and her friend Kristi appeared right beside me, how they knew where we were standing god knows. In fact, I think it was just chance.
The set had been changed from Sheffield and this time they opened with my Little Red Book what a reception they got from the crowd when they finished it. By this time everyone was getting carried away and as they started the Forever Changes album I turned round and saw this young boy on his father’s shoulders, clad in a Love T-shirt and singing Alone Again Or word for word. To see that was absolutely priceless.
Due to the beer running out I fought my way back to the bar to get some top ups for the crew. Now it’s a bit of a fight getting back through the crowd so I thought I better get a double round which is a great idea until you realize that you have to carry it back. Let’s get bottles!! That should be easy, now have you ever tried to carry back ten bottles in one go it’s just not possible. Anyway the barmaid is really helpful and she helps me carry the drinks back to my a position at the front (thank you whoever you were!!) There is a table here so I put the drinks on the table and call the troops over to pick them up.
It’s round about this time you realize that no matter where you go there’s always some f***ing arsehole of a bouncer who would probably be in the Hitler youth if they were still going. He obviously sees the drinks lying there and decides that maybe the table would look better if it was moved round 5 degrees so he proceeds to move the table knocking over some of the bottles. Luckily the spillage is minimal but I would just like to say Mr. Bouncer you’re a f***ing arsehole. I think in my younger days I might have said something about it but I’ve mellowed now and he wasn’t worth getting thrown out for.
It’s had to put into words all the emotions that went through me as the band played FC and when they left the stage it seemed that the time had just flown by.
Of course, they came back on playing a few more songs but departed without playing Seven and Seven Is, I couldn’t believe it .As I stood in a state of shock the crowd starting erupting again and the band came back on and straight into the song in question. It’s right about this time that the guy in front throws his hands in the air, not realizing, he has a full pint in it and the full contents land over my head. Christ what a waste of beer!! There’s no apology offered or sought incidentally and I dance merrily away to the song.
After the band leave I hand around for a bit and speak to Mike R. and some of the orchestra, I even took an amazing picture of Caroline the violinist with some mad steward with purple dreadlocks. Also meet Lizzy B.with hubby Barney and her friend Tina.
I was trying to say to cheerio to the rest of the guys when Herman Goering the bouncer says that I haven’t got a pass and I need to leave casually pushing me on my way. I would just like to say for the last time you are a f***ing arsehole. Anyway, I knew they would be going back to BIG HANDS and I would see them later.
There was a queue outside BIG HANDS and it was £4.00 to get in but after a wait of about 10 minutes, the Scottish contingent was in. We were closely followed by the rest of the crew then finally the band and orchestra. The pub was heaving and most folk were totally pissed but especially Paul followed closely by Natasha who kept apologizing.
Jim came back and mentioned that Bez, ex Happy Mondays’, was in so I thought I ‘d better shake his hand. I was amazed that he was so small and I think I made that comment to him in my drunken state but he was brand new about it. Good lad is Bez.
The music was getting cranked up and the atmosphere was electric, it was also time for Paul to go back to the hotel as the whole day had caught up with him. Paul, Jim, Carol and Pat went back with him while I stayed for a while (the taxi only takes four just in case you thought I was needing more drink)
The DJ was playing a good selection of sounds then out of the blue on came Alone Again Or, the pub went wild and it was whooped into a state of fervor when Karl the trumpeter got up and played the solo in the song. I was almost reduced to tears. I’m sure they played it again a little later but I couldn’t swear to that as it was after 2.00am by then.
Poor Mike was getting hassled by some guy who just wouldn’t leave him alone. He appeared to be going on about dirty women all the time and Mike was simply trying to have a beer and a chat.
Caroleen and Purple haired dread warrior As the pub shut there was casualties everywhere, Lizzy’s mate Tina and thrown up over herself, Natasha had stumbled and fallen a couple of times and I had drunk enough Vodka Cranberry juice to last a life time. Why was I drinking Vodka and Cranberry juice you may ask well who knows it just seemed a good idea at the time and contrary to Lizzy’s hubby’s comments it wasn’t because I had a urinary infection. He’s a pharmacist you know.
Well Mike and crew sloped off for a kebab, Natasha bundled herself into a taxi and I shared a cab back with Bjorn the trombone player, dropping him off at the Picadilly hotel before heading back to my hotel.
What a night!! Probably one of the best ever and not a Carlsberg in sight.
I think the penultimate word must go to my turbaned taxi driver who asked if I was up for the game. West Ham v Manchester Utd.
Now for those of you who are from the UK I think you will confirm that the Glasgow accent is not even remotely like a London East End accent but then again he may have thought I was a Manchester Utd. fan as no one who supports them comes from Manchester….right!?! Oh apart from Natasha.
The final word however must go to Paul Barr however who apparently in his drunken state proposed his long – standing girlfriend Carol. The only thing is he can’t remember what the answer was!!
Again as the RFH diary any omissions are pure to protect the innocent, this includes the photos Paul.
All Pix By Kieth Stodart