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03 September 2003: Drunk In Public - Town Mill, Mansfield, England, UK
After a brief tour of Mansfield trying to find a car park by following a map that made no sense, I eventually arrived at the venue to find the band about to take to the stage. Thankfully the time they spent setting up and trying to get Mark propped up on his stool (one of Mark's first statements was "As you can probably tell, I've been drinking"), gave me time to get to the front so that I could see something.
The stage was very small and not very high so that, if you weren't near the front, it was very difficult to see any of the band at all, but they were seated left to right in the standard Drunk In Public formation of Simon, Jon, Rev and Mark, with the added bonus of a load of backing singers for Mark at the side of the stage, leaning over from the corridor that led to the toilets.
Largely due, I think, to not having been to a gig for about four months and therefore thoroughly enjoying the event, I find myself unable to remember anything they played (except I know one of the first tracks was "The Ballad of Robbie Jones" and there was also a speedy rendition of "Is This Art" and the old favourite "15 Years") until almost the end of "Caledonia Rain" or "Ole Welsh Soul" (it was one of those two numbers) when Rev suddenly stood up and said "stop"! As the tune wound down Rev went on to say something along the lines of "Right, I've had enough of this! 20 years I've been dragging myself round these sorts of places playing the same old stuff. We're now going to show how versatile we are". He then went on to ask one member of the audience for a random track and another for a style to play it in. The requested track was "Ring of Fire" to be performed in the style of the Sex Pistols.
Rev proceeded to perform a more than passable John Lydon vocal impersonation, with Mark accompanying him on guitar, and even threw in some relevant stage theatricals as well. Mark commented after, that he hoped there were no music perfectionists in the audience as some of the chords were probably wrong. We didn’t mind.
Other highlights of the first half were "Another Man's Cause", " The Fear" and "Beautiful Day" and Mark attempting to order another Gin and Tonic from long range by pointing in the general direction of the bar and saying "Can someone get me another Gin and Tonic from the bar please, and tell them to put it on Rev's tab?". I think someone eventually got him one.
After a couple more tracks the band left the stage for a brief interlude and I spent my time trying to rearrange my position to get a better view.
The band's reappearance on the stage was greeted by loud applause and even the bouncers looked pleased to be back in their position, stage front.
After taking their seats, Simon told us all about a protest that is being staged at Mansfield Woodhouse, where some protestors are living in a tree to try to stop a road being widened, a housing estate being built, and the 300 year old tree in the way being cut down to make room. Unfortunately, hardly anyone heard him, because his vocal was turned down too low and after encouragement from people (and the rest of the band) that had heard, he repeated himself and got the message across.
In the second half we were treated to such classics as Rev's "Burford Stomp" (introduced, by Mark, as an English Civil War song), "The Boatman", "The Riverflow", "Four Winds", "Down By The River 'O'" and "One Way" all of which always go down a storm, and which produced some frantic moshing, causing several pints to disappear faster than their owners expected. "Come on", despite being well requested, did not feature in the set. "Galahad" was in there somewhere too.
About half way through the second half, someone tried to pass Simon a pint of something that looked bitterish, but the message of who it was for didn't get through to the band and, despite much shouting of "it's for Simon", Mark drank that as well (who wouldn't)? By this stage, Mark was leaning well forward on his stool and was hunched right up over his guitar, apparently desperately trying to stay up right. I think this resulted in the version of "One Way" they played to be possibly the slowest I have ever heard them do, but as long as Mark (and the rest of the band) enjoyed themselves as much as I did (and after all, that is the whole point), then so what. Rev heroically performed the bass drum line by banging on the box of his acoustic guitar. Magic!
The highlights of the second half for me were "Elation" with Simon appearing to give it every remaining bit of emotion he had, and "Julie". I was quite surprised at being affected by "Julie" as it's a song that for a long time has managed to drift in and out of my consciousness from time to time, but never quite reached it's potential. Tonight it was magnificent, Mark's vocal straining slightly with the effort he was putting into it, a large proportion of the crowd forming a circle around the middle of the venue and pulling each other round and round and Simon, standing up to see what was happening, looking like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
As the night drew to a close they played us out with a cover of ABBA's "SOS" and then, informing us that "this is the last one", ended with "Ragtime Annie", which peaked at a breathtaking speed. Another great gig complete.
And then the venue's music system started to play as Drunk In Public left the stage, thanking us and saying goodnight and hopefully feeling, Drunk In Public.
Thanks guys! Hope the next time is soon.
All that was left was for me to wind my way home. Anyone got a decent Map?
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