Friday 23 March 2012: Can u dig it?
Tonight I headed down to London to see Pop Will Eat Itself for the first time since the early 1990s. They were one of the bands that I followed before, during and after uni. Me and a small group of friends - some of whom I knew before and some I met because of the band - travelled all around the UK to see them. I'm not sure exactly how many times I saw them back then, as we were often on the guest list and so I don't have tickets for every gig, but it's probably around the 50 mark.
We saw them in little venues, big venues, Radio 1 roadshows and university balls, where they shared the bill with a strange mix of bands, such as the newly formed Prodigy and Sister Sledge. I have so many memories of this band and those times and tonight brought many of them back. I vividly remember squeezing into our friend's old purple beetle, which we hoped would get us to the gig on time. We often had nowhere to stay planned and so had to persuade people at the gigs to let us crash on their floor. Perhaps the weirdest memory is something that I had begun to think I'd dreamt up until I confirmed it with a friend. And another friend spontaneously mentioned it tonight. This story's a bit long now I've typed it up, so feel free to skip the italic bit ;)
We went to see the Poppies in Ireland - Dublin and Belfast - as part of a tour. My bf of the time, who was actually there tonight, and I got a bus from Victoria Station in London to a port in Wales and then we got the night ferry to Dublin with some other followers. It was stormy and we were on the last ferry they let across. It was a horrific crossing. Even the crew were ill. When we disembarked in Dublin early in the morning we could barely stand up. I never wanted to see another ferry in my life.
After spending the day in Dublin, we went to the gig that night, which was, of course, anazing, and then stayed on the floor at a friend's house. The next day we got a bus up to Belfast for the second gig. This was during the troubles, and it was pretty scary to have guns on military vehicles following you as you walked down the street. We were chatting to the band before, or maybe after, the gig that night and exchanging horror stories of the journeys over. Their flight had been as bad as our ferry journey. As at least one of the band was terrified of flying, which led to the song Nightmare at 20,000 feet, and they didn't want to fly back any more than we wanted to do the ferry crossing, we agreed to swap tickets. You have to remember this was back before you needed to show ID to get on internal UK flights. And so four of us, after a night on the floor of a random couple at the gig's flat, flew back from Ireland on a 24ish seater plane, with complimentary champagne and canapés, and the band returned by ferry. I was Graham Crabb, the singer in the middle of the photo, and the only original member of the band in today's line up. We got off the plane at Birmingham and hitched to York for the next gig. Strange but true.
I had an amazing time this evening, the band were awesome, playing a well-balanced mix of old and new tracks, but, as always, it was the friends I spent the evening with who made it a perfect night out. Love you guys and gals...
If you've ever liked PWEI and haven't given the new album a listen, go and buy it tomorrow!
Can u dig it? Yes I bloody well can.