Saturday, June 03, 2006

Daft things

Well, you didn't honestly think I wouldn't go to the concert, did you?

I know it's daft to drive for five hours (as it turned out) and two hundred and fifty miles, all the way to Carlisle, just for two hours entertainment. But it was worth it.

I've been a fan of The Arrogant Worms for a good many years now, ever since the Horse Doctor's old PhD colleague, Mary, went out to Lethbridge to do some post-doc work and sent us back a copy of the album 'Dirt'. This features, among other gems, the song 'I am Cow', featuring such memorable lines as:

I am cow
Hear me moo
I weigh twice as much as you
And I look good on the barbecue

But the albums are less than half the story; the best bit about The Arrogant Worms is their live performance. Or so every Canadian I know tells me. I really had to find out for myself, but it's pretty expensive flying out to Toronto just to see a gig.

So what of Carlisle? Well, the worms were playing as guest of the Carlisle Folk and Blues Club, which meets regularly in the Sunset Suite at Carlisle Football Club's Warwick Road stadium. My former boss, who has since left the company, is a bit of a folky, and was forever trying to persuade me to don woolly jumper and sandals and go to one of the Aberystwyth Folk Club evenings. I'm naturally suspicious of people who say 'hey nonny' on a regular basis, and so treat such establishments with caution.

The Carlilse Folk and Blues Club weren't too bad, as it turned out (neither, I suspect, are the Aberystwyth lot, but you've got to have some prejudices and this is a fairly harmless one). I did have to sit through a half dozen songs by one of the local bands, brought on as a warm-up act. And, whilst they weren't bad, I do wish flautists would learn to stand on both legs when flauting.

They finished off with a half-decent cover of a Runrig tune, then scarpered for the bar, leaving the stage ready for the main act.

I've heard a couple of Arrogant Worms live albums, so I had an idea of what to expect. In real life, they seem much smaller, except for Mike McCormick, who is very tall. As this was a low key tour, they had no backing musicians, just acoustic and bass guitars and three voices. They didn't really need any more. Starting with a rousing rendition of 'Pressure Washer' from the new album 'Beige', they treated an audience of at least fifty people to two hours of great songs and side-splitting comedy.

OK, so this is starting to sound like a review. I know I don't get out much, but I haven't laughed out loud like that for a long time. And any band that can get the whole audience, more than half of whom have never heard of them before, miming rocks, trees or water and alligators snapping jaws, have to be doing something right. I wasn't even drinking at that point. As Mike put it: 'If everybody does it, then no-one looks stupid.'

There was a short interval, during which the folk club held a raffle. Spying Trevor Strong up at the bar, about to pay for his own drink, I managed to persuade him to let me buy it instead. This meant that I had to get one for myself as well, or look rather sad and fan-boy geeky. I wasn't going to drink, since it doesn't mix well with driving, but it was only John Smiths bitter, so I figured a pint would be all right. It seems the worms had an excellent time touring the UK, even if Leeds only managed to round up an audience of twenty (Vincent, where were you?) This tour was a bit of a fact-finding mission, trying to work out if anyone in the UK would pay to be entertained by a bunch of strange Canadians. Hopefully they'll be back in the next couple of years to tour properly.

As is always the way when you're enjoying yourself, the concert ended far too soon. I felt a bit miffed that they didn't do 'The Last Saskatchewan Pirate', but would have driven all the way there just to hear 'Carrot Juice Is Murder', let alone all the rest.

Then, in true rockstar fashion, they came back for an encore and did 'The Last Saskatchewan Pirate.' Hooray!

If I had a complaint, it was that there were no tour t-shirts. They were selling cds, but since I'm a sad fan-boy geek, I have them all already. Even the latest one. The band mingled with the assorted folky and blues types for a while afterwards, signing cds and body parts. I nicked a tour poster off the wall and got them to sign that. How sad am I? I will treasure it for the rest of my life.

It was the back of eleven when I pulled out of the football stadium carpark and headed up Warwick Road to the M6, head full of 'New Car Smell' and 'Go To Sleep Little Leach'. By the time I hit Wales, the annoying traffic that had slowed me going north had all gone to bed. If I'm really lucky, I won't have set off any speed cameras, but I am of course lying when I say it only took me three and a half hours to get home. That would be breaking the law, officer.

Trevor (see, we're on first name terms now) tells me they've got a gig in Banff in February next year. I need a firm date, then I've got the perfect excuse for another skiing holiday in the Rockies. Now I just need to win the lottery...


Blogger Vincent said...

If I'd known, I'd sure I would have made it twenty-one. As it was, I was dealing with arrogant worms of my own, the details of which I won't go into, suffice to say they didn't sing anything in an amusing manner.

Note: The above paragraph may not be true.

June 03, 2006 9:28 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I feel somewhat ashamed that, as a Canadian, I've only ever heard of these guys from you.

Lyrics like that, I should be buying all the albums.

June 04, 2006 2:26 am  
Blogger JamesO said...

Publicity for the tour was minimal, Vincent. I only found out about it on Thursday evening, and Friday was their last gig - hence the mad dash up to Carlisle.

Sandra, they seem to spend most of their time on the road, and gig regularly in Calgary, so you'll have to look out for them. Check out the album 'Live Bait' - probably the best introduction to the band.

June 04, 2006 2:11 pm  
Blogger Eddie said...

Hi there, I was surfing the internet and I found your blog. I enjoy the style of how this all works.

I'll be coming back again.


binoculars, birdwatching

June 10, 2006 5:47 am  

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