(Self Indulgence Alert)
I have some dark moments from my past that play on my mind. Where I feel an apology is owed to those that I hurt.
Awful relationships? Cruel jibes? Insensitivity? Missed birthdays? Can I get an amen from all those who know me. But let's get specific and name where a sense of atonement is most needed.
I am truly sorry to those who suffered in the 90's listening to my various bands in the 90’s. Jesus! there were some bad gigs.
So - who gets the apology? Sadly few as my band didn't play Wembley that often. Well, not at all. We had a gig in Finchley once. Awful.
Tempting Alice, The Hare and Hounds, Brighton 1992
Tempting Alice was an indie, baggie type of band with decent musicians. I was the singer. At our penultimate gig, following my normal warm up of a few doubles, I decided to swing the mike around like Roger Daltery. Inevitably a fumble occurred resulting in some painful microphone to singer’s head action. End of Set 1 with singer on the floor. Set 2 opened with me now demanding I play guitar on one of my own songs. A sensitive folk ballad went down in flames in a hail of overwrought feedback as I pushed it all the way to 11. Overdoing Pete Townsend this time, my energetic wind-milling ending with the amp and myself falling off the stage. No one rushed to help.
The Pinter Boys, Amex Sports and Social Club, 1994
Two years later, I was leading a power trio. For this gig, I enlisted a Bez like tambourine player and my then girlfriend to sing harmonies. The Tambourine player had no rhythm and my girlfriend couldn’t sing. The bassist muttered darkly about Yoko Ono. Using a borrowed guitar that went out of tune on the first chord, I bludgeoned the audience by playing as loud as possible. The audience disappeared. The band played on. However, as I also edited the staff magazine, I gave the gig a glowing review.
Shambolic at the Norfolk, Brighton 1995
After some ‘musical’ disagreements, The Pinter Boys became Shambolic. Shambolic were my band and I was the lead singer and lead guitarist and Der Fuhrer. We deserved the – at first – disinterest of the sparse audience and then – after I broke not one, but two strings – their derision and boos. A real low in the history of live music. A truly shite gig. Captured on tape to my mortification.
Shambolic at Sussex University Free Festival, 1995
“Get off you wankers!” – an anonymous audience member.
How was this allowed to happen? How did those students so self-hate that they booked my band to play at their festival? Drinking my rider like a thirsty 70’s rock band, I took to the stage in what might be termed ‘high spirits’. At once abusing and pleading with the audience, I occasionally broke off my ranting to play a few songs. Mistake. Soloing on my knees at one point I managed to pull my guitar lead out to the biggest cheer of the set. The low light was an out of tune rock version of Kim Wilde’s Kids in America. The rape scene in Deliverance had more sensitivity.
Shambolic, New Cross, London 1995
Backing up a band of 17-year-old wannabes, this New Cross audience wasn’t really in the mood to listen to a band seemingly made up of Status Quo roadies. I managed six songs before breaking a string prompting the venue manager, with enthusiastic cheers from a partisan audience, to tell us to get off (he may have used another word). London's never been a great town for my band. Tough audience.
Shambolic at the Freebutt, Brighton 1995
Awful, shameful and embarrassing. Friends came, friends laughed, friends left. The highlight of the gig was someone from the audience standing behind me with a large sign saying ‘This Man Has No Penis’ as I soloed on oblivious. Briefly I thought I was bringing musical joy to the world. No, they’re just laughing at you Tim.
Shambolic at The Road House, Crawley, 1995
My, this was a lousy gig. In one sense, it was a success as we got out without being hit. I decided to play sober to up the musical quotient. And then I realised it wasn’t the drink that held me back; it was me. No one who was there – band, punters, staff – will ever look back on this night with pride. You should visit the Road House now to view the plaque put up after the gig which reads ‘Shambolic died here, on stage, 1995. Good’.
Shambolic at The Hare and Hounds, Brighton 1996
For the last ever Shambolic gig, I somehow got us booked to the scene of my downfall 4 years earlier. This time I made sure I was well and truly pissed before I plugged my Marshall in - provoking the inevitable ‘Can you turn it down mate’ from the barman. Off my tits, I missed out whole sections out of songs, fluffed every solo, sang out of tune, forgot the words and decided I was now more a ‘comic’ than a frontman. The gig ended with a ragged ‘Sweet Transvestite’ from the Rocky Horror Show before I sacked the other two members of the group live on stage. They didn’t look too upset.
My career in a rock band was now officially over. For those that saw these gigs, who suffered through that cacophony of dissonance and feedback I called music, I heartily apologise. They were shockers – drunken fiascos, self-indulgent and artistically redundant.
Sorry or not though, I miss those days.