Stories We Could Tell
Secret Gig 2006
It is July 2006. Lunch Box PA have a hire booking in a marquee at a pub north of Henley. The landlord says it's the R*ll*ng St*n*s annual Beggars Banquet, where they feast, play live and listen to the blues all night. "But don't tell the papers!"
We install the 400W system and CD player and go home.
We realise the landlord would love it if the word were to get out, as it would be great publicity. We also realise it would be fascinating to sneak back and listen / hang around / try to get in. But we take him at his word.
At least our speakers are having a good time.
It is March 2005. Parisian Living are playing the Festival Rock Villers Outreaux near Cambrai.
Personnel; Mike, Alan, JP, Phil, Timski, Gillian, Francois, Karl, Martyn. We have driven through the snow in a rented Transit and crossed the Channel on DFDS to get there. It is freakin' cold.
We open the show, followed by Staphylorock (Francois is their drummer) and Phenix (who have since become hugely successful as Phoenix).
On the Sunday, we have lunch (raclette is served) with Staphylorock at Edwige's house.
You have no idea how great this weekend was.
It is June 1998. We are playing under a tarpaulin on a farm trailer at a village day in Grazeley near Reading. Personnel; Mike, JP, Alan, Timski, Manic Mike, Jane, Gillian. There is bunting. There is a beer tent. We play "Take Me To Your Leader" for the first time. The weather is horrendous.
When we return home, we hear there has been a tornado in South Reading. At the next rehearsal, we also discover that one of our PA speakers has been wired up backwards.
It is July 1997. Parisian Living have been booked, through the good offices of Manic Mike and the high quality of the "Viva" album, to play at the Alpaje concert of the Festival des Carrieres near Lyon in deepest France. Personnel Mike, Alan, JP, Timski, Phil, Gillian, Jane, Manic Mike, Steff. Carrieres means quarries, and the stage is indeed in a quarry at the base of a huge escarpment. Multitudinous lighting effects illuminate this cliff face behind the acts as they perform.
Manic Mike is booked twice, to play with Parisian Living and also Life Of Riley, turbo-folk band from Newbury. The Riley have brought world-famous engineer and producer Martin Rushent to mix their sound.
On Saturday nght, we ask Martin to mix Parisian Living too, which he does. The rain pours out of the skies, the power keeps cutting out until one brave member of the sound crew sits on the circuit breaker. We are brilliant.
Next night, the crew argue with Mr Rushent and throw him off the system before Life Of Riley's set.
We join the Human League and the Stranglers in having Martin Rushent on the mixing desk.
We dine out on this story until 2005.
It is June 1995. “Viva” has just been released to an uncaring world. MC Nap rings up and says “I’m doing a BBC Music Day thang, but it’s Glastonbury weekend, and me PA na turn up! Got a bloke come from High Wycombe at three, but can you do the first band?” “I’ll be there in 30, as long as I can bring the Parisians!” says Mike, flinging the 6-channel 400W all-valve PA into the Sherpa and making for South Reading Leisure Centre.
The setting is perfect. The outdoor stage has been erected beautifully, and the generator is funfair-sized. The first act arrive, and they’re a youthful Heavy Metal outfit, double bass-drums ‘n all.
It is amazing how much noise a 400W all-valve PA can make with the taps open, in the outdoors.
Personnel; Mike, Alan, JP, Tim, Gill, Jane, Bongo Billy, Manic Mike, plus Steffan and Ian, sax section from the Backbeat Band.
The promised 1.5 kW PA from Wycombe turns up in a VW Camper and Parisian Living are majestic as the sun beats down and the tiny crowd dance.
Next week our local paper prints a snap of the Backbeat Band’s horn players on the front page. Tcha!
It is Quatorze Juillet 1989. We have been welcomed at Kirton’s Farm Country Club (now the da-da-da Hotel) out on the gravel pits near Grazeley.
Mike has sold the gig as “Bastille Day +200”, and made some tricolor posters.
Joey & Mike arrive first to set up on the terrace overlooking the lake. It is blazing hot. A member says “Want to come for a spin in my boat?” “Sure”, we say.
Personnel; Alan (drums, vocals), Mike (bass, vocals), Timski (kbds), JP (gtr, vocals), Phil (piano), Joanna (vocals), Gillian (vocals), David (sax), Billy (percs).
There's a champagne promotion. There's an haute cuisine menu. It’s a fancy dress affair. There is a prize. Joey and Gill have come as the girls from "Ello, Ello?" and Phil has come as Toulouse Lautrec, and there are can-can dancers. Three musketeers say, “What happened to the fancy dress prize?” You have won it, says Joey. We are brilliant. We play “Beyond Part 1 & 2” for the first time.
We dine out on this story until 1997.
Three weeks later, Mike is invited to the European Jetski Championships at the same venue. The video is ready, if the client still wants it…