Challenge no.13 on my list was completed last night as I was invited “backstage” at a small gig at the Central in Gateshead. The trip to the north east was part of a tour being headlined by The Slow Death, who hail from Minneapolis (which is in Minnesota) and Epic Problem from New Mills (which isn’t).
For me, it was also a chance to meet Neil “Mackie” Mclellan, Epic Problem’s guitarist, but in a former life the bass player with early 80s punk band Blitz. I’ve mentioned before the impact their 1981 “All Out Attack” EP had on one particular York teenager, and it was great to be able to chat with one of the quartet responsible. The musical conversation drifted from Blitz to Take That... from Epic Problem to One Direction (via GBH)... and was far more entertaining than the poor sporting spectacle being shown on a couple of television screens in the small bar.
Despite having been involved with a band that had been a regular fixture at the top of the indie charts, Blitz never undertook a tour as such, and so this was a belated trek round the country that Mackie and the band were clearly enjoying. The visit to Gateshead offered Mackie a rare opportunity to be photographed alongside that tall, wonderfully sculptured northern icon...namely me... apparently he had also stopped off to see the Angel of the North en route...
The “backstage” area looked very much like a pool room – due to the fact that there was a pool table in the room... oh, and it said pool room on the door. The huge bowl of by then cold curry, accompanied by clumps of claggy rice were the only obvious trappings of life “on the road” – trappings that sadly will prevent a planned appearance by Mariah Carey...
Apparently Ms Carey’s rider included twelve fluffy white kittens; no problem normally, but there were a few issues with the curry and sometimes you just have to improvise...
Anyway, here is the photo of yours truly, with Mackie and three of the guys from The Slow Death...
In an admittedly poor attempt to convince Elaine to come along, I’d told her it was a 60s tribute band night. It soon became blatantly obvious that it wasn’t, although I am grateful to Epic Problem’s front man Jake for removing his shoes at the start of the set, and allowing me to draw an unlikely comparison with Sandie Shaw. A nice touch, but I am still very much in debt to my darling wife.
Epic Problem’s final song of the night, Lines, was actually dedicated to Elaine and I. I’ve never had a song dedicated to me before, and it’s a bit of a shame that I was in the toilet when this one was...
But no matter, it was great to meet Mackie and the rest of the band, and watch them in action. For those who made the schoolboy error of watching the football, here’s the video for Lines. Turn up the volume and enjoy!
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