I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Perhaps the unhealthy amount of food over the last couple of days is starting to take it's toll. The groundhog day feeling hasn’t started to set in yet but I don’t think it's going to be long. What the average audience member doesn’t see is what goes in to a 1.5 hour show on the technical and logistical fronts. Living the dream basically consists of waking up, sitting in a car for hours, walking into another dark venue setting up, rushing down your dinner, doing the show, packing down, driving to a hotel that looks exactly like the last one, drink, sleep and repeat. It can become monotonous very quickly but so far I’m not feeling it.
Croydon is our destination today which is a 2.5 hour drive from our current location. The Oval pub we are playing in tonight is owned by Esther Sutton, a friend of the band. There have been discussions about doing a gig there for a while and we are looking forward to it finally happening. The stakes have just been upped on the average fuel consumption game. Paul has posted a record 49.6 mpg. Unfortunately, that still lags behind Saul’s cars 52.8 mpg while not driving particularly economically. Oh the fun we have! We arrive at the pub and pop in to have a look around. It’s a gorgeous old building, low ceilings with timber beams, a well stocked bar with Iron Maidens ale on a pump. The stage is an L shape in one corner and the P.A. is 2 Renkus Heinz cubes with a Peavey sub. With the low ceiling and hard floor this place should sound pretty bad but it doesn’t. It sounds as warm and inviting as the pub feels and straight away I have a good feeling about tonights gig.
Gavin the house tech is very helpful and already has the relevant cables ready for me to patch in to the house system easily. We put our wedges out and grab some more cables to mic everything up and get cracking. I listen to the P.A. and it sounds good. Because of the way the room is shaped and how the speakers are placed I decide that tonight is going to be best mixed in mono and it turns out to be the right choice. I have the right P.A. in the right room for the right band and everything comes together instantly. The whole sound is tight and punchy in here and I can tell I’m not going to have to make any compromises in quality tonight its just going to sound killer.
We have dinner in the pub and the food is excellent. If you ever find yourself in “The Cronx” get yourself down to The Oval. It’s everything a real English pub should be, none of that fake plastic chain pub vibe you get everywhere else. The show has sold out in advance and we know there isn’t going to be much room left as the audience start filtering in. A few were already in while we were sound checking and stay rooted for the whole night. I prop myself at the bar for the show and proceed to drink a little more than I should considering I’m working. Normally I don’t drink before a show. After a couple of pints your hearing and decision making is definitely impaired but tonight is going to be easy to mix and I’m in the mood to relax bit and have fun.
The show is another great one. Although we have never played here before it feels like we are on home turf with an audience that is up for a good night out. The show is over in a flash even with the audience demanding a 3rd encore which catches us all by surprise. Faustus finish with a balls out version of Broken Down Gentleman the title track from their second album. All too soon we are packed up and back on the road. A planned 1.5 hour drive into Hampshire starts and I make a schoolboy error. We are going through my homeland and I forget to warn everyone not to take the M3 and go down the A3 instead. For the second night in a row the nocturnal Trafficus Coneius are out en masse. They have closed the M3 at the Bracknell/Woking junction and we are diverted through Camberley on a long winded route avoiding 2 junctions. Luckily I grew up and still live around this area and know all the back roads and cut throughs to avoid the centre of town and get us back on the motorway as quick as possible. Funnily enough on the whole journey we spot just 1 guy who may actually be doing something work related to the roads and I can’t help but wondering about the backhanders of public money that are being paid out and who it is going to.