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27.6.09

Smoke Fairies: The Big Gig

I received a most intriguing text on Monday asking if I was free to play a Smoke Fairies gig on Wednesday, the text read: ‘Urgento, could you play BIG gig Weds? Biggest Yet?’ to which I replied ‘yes!’ and carried on with my office job, wondering what this big gig was, assuming that it couldn’t possibly be that big, maybe a support slot for some dead end popular indie act at the Barfly or something.


The second text later that day was quite possibly the best text I’ve ever received, it read: ‘Confirmed – Wed – The Forum – Dead Weather support’. The Forum! Dead Weather! Jack White and Allison Mosshart’s new super band! Damn exciting. I then slip back into assumption mode and figure we’ll be first support, on at 7.30pm whilst most people are queuing up outside to get in the place. Even that though would have been marvellous ‘cos it’s The Forum! the cavernous venue with a capacity of over 2000! It’s also the venue I frequented for my first ever proper pop concert: Manic Street Preachers in 1996. I still remember that gig vividly, everything just seemed larger than life, the inescapable loudness, the sea of happy people that enveloped you and the feelings of intense excitement and anticipation. Now I get the chance to play there!


Once again my assumptions prove wildly inaccurate. It turns out we’re the only support band playing that evening and we’re not due to go on stage until 1 hr 45 mins after the door opening time, which is great news as it means playing to a full house and a pretty gigantic house at that.


I get to the venue to find Dead Weather in full swing performing their new single Hang You From The Heavens to an audience of camera men/women shooting footage for some kind of video. That particular song with its infectious riff has been firmly lodged in my head ever since. The band were LOUD. Jack White’s drum kit was a bit different too, he was surrounded by large flat drums, it looked like a kit The Monks would have used.


Following our sound check (which in itself would have been a the best sound check ever had it not been for techies trying to fix Dead Weather guitarists’ monstrous stack of pedals during it) a few hours of nervous anticipation ensues, which include beers and a little food in the most incompetent Italian Restaurant I have ever been to, “oh, you want drinks?” they nonchalantly ask, ten minutes after saying they’ll be straight over to take our order. Rubbish.


We’re back in the dressing room sipping Jim Beam, waiting for our call to the stage, when Jack White wanders in to wish us good luck, which was tremendously nice of him. I’m sure most other uber-famous musicians in his position wouldn’t even know who the support act were let alone make the effort to wish them luck. The most wonderfully lovely thing though was that he walked on stage with us and introduced us to the crowd! It was such an amazing feeling playing on that stage, especially after such a great introduction, looking out, seeing scores and scores of people stretching out and up into the gods of the balcony. Simply marvellous.


This being Allison Mosshart from the Kills’ gig meant the possibility of gossip magazine royalty Jamie Hince and Kate Moss being in attendance. This hadn’t really crossed my mind until I was having a post-gig cigarette out the side door and noticed a horde of sweaty hyena-like men hurtling towards the door, wielding cameras that were towering, mechanical antennae, brightly, incessantly flashing at Jamie Hince as he was walking towards the door, then Kate Moss appeared and these hyena-like men swarmed like locusts. Such a bizarre sight.

I go back in and drink far too much whiskey and some how end up back home in the small hours with a jar of cockles in my possession.


RIP Steven Wells & Sky Saxon




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