Another Riga Party

Just about getting over a brilliant weekend.

Friday: down to Southend. What a glorious afternoon! Strolling along the sea front. Kids playing on the sand. 'Adventure Land' was packed, and there was a beutiful sunset across the water, which, through the haze, was just like looking across the Nile. Anyway, in the hotel bar early in the evening, and wearing my new 'Big Ot Ed - child of WE-EVIL' shirt,I made the acquaintance of Russ, a regular contributor to the Otnews forum, and we sank a few, before being joined by his wife, Christine, who was treating him to and Otway Weekend for his birthday. One for the road, and into the cold night air to make our way to the Cricketers.

The pub had suffered a 'refurb' since the previous year, and had been 'themed' in pastel colours, but, to our relief, they still sold pints. Dinner was good, too. At about this time, Seymour rushed in through the door and went up to the bar, and almost immediately rushed out again through another door. (Seymour later explained that he was late and thought he'd missed the sound check.) Then, after a while, a few more familiar faces started to arrive: Duncan, Bev, Ros, and several more faces I recognised but couldn't put names to. Then, the bar emptied like a fire alarm had gone off as we all piled in to the Riga next door. Another sell-out. The place was packed, and I gave up any hope of trying to get to the bar. We met Billy & Catherine, Helen and her daughter, and, of course, Hamster Dave inside.

The Sweeney kicked off, and we were treated to a good set of Murray's vocals, accompanied by Adam, and the ever enigmatic Sid. My favourite song? I think it has t be 'Belinda'. A good start to the evening.

Naturally, John's set kicked off with a (not the) hit & b-side, and, barring a few minor variations, 'The Set Remains The Same. Highlights, again, were 'Best Dream' with it's emotionally charged guitar solo at the end, leading straght into a rousing 'Cheryl'.

Overall, it has to be said that John wasn't his usual self, but the final encore of the tratitional 'Born To Be Wild' when the band was joined by the Hotrods' Dipster on Seymour's bass, with Hotrod Simon & Adam on drums at times looking like a multi-limbed Bhudda, whilst Seymour strummed on Murray's spare guitar (which we later found out wasn't actually plugged in), was an absolute belter. Then it was back to the hotel for a swift nightcap before turning in.

Saturday: back home for a brief respite, and putting a book-mark in the map for the uncharted depths of Sutton in South-London. Then, I was off again around the other half of the M25. This has to have been one of the most difficult gig to find. I lost count of the number of dead-ends I drove into before finally finding the darkened alleyway leading to the Sutton United FC ground and social club renamed Boom Boom for the evening. There was quite strange atmosphere inside - Bar at one end, stage at the other, and a dance floor surrounded by tables in between. Not, at first, seeing any familiar faces, it was a bit like turning up at a distant relative's wedding reception. Then I spotted Jan Padgett with the new 'Tw'it Otway' t-shirts, and was introduced to Jon's brother. Later, Russ & Christine arrived with their family for the second leg of Russ's birthday weekend, and later on Julian Porter arrived.

The 'support' was a 'singer-songwriter', whose set was pleasant, but not particularly inspiring - nothing wrong with it, but just not my style. Then, on came John and the band, all of whom were in particularly sparkling form. You should have seen the look of glee on John's face when he saw the two ceiling fans above the stage, and the low ceiling tiles. Funniest moments included Murray catching his fingers in the ceiling fan (fortunately, no serious injury), John & Jon collapsing in a tangled heap of microphone cable during 'Cheryl', and a ceiling spotlight's insistence on turning towards Richard despite franic efforts by Jon and some gaffer-tape. The set was a couple of notches above that of the previous evening, as was the repartee between everyone on stage.

All too soon, it was all over, and the bar closed promptly, too.

On the way home, I entertained myself with a newly-purchased copy of the Sweeney's 'Pop Gun' CD.

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