Grangemouth Tavern Night Out
So after living in Antalya for pretty much exactly 7 years, I returned to Scotland on the 19th October to move back in with my Mother and Step Father. Oh joy. Not exactly what I was hoping to do at 42 years of age but needs must.
Thankfully they are quite understanding of my situation and are prepared to put up with me for a while, while I try to sort my life out. I moved to Turkey mainly so that I could be close to my son and also to try to save my marriage and I gave my all to that situation but I always felt a bit like a fish out of water.
Outside of family and work issues, the most frustrating thing was the lack of cultural activities organised at the grass roots level. Sure there are plenty of festivals and things to do throughout the year there but on a week to week level there is not much of scene with regard to the arts.
There are some good bands playing in the bars but they mainly do cover versions to appease the popular crowd. I did see a really good band once who played their own stuff but the bar was practically empty, which I thought was a crying shame.
I had been back at my mothers house for a week and decided I needed to get out of the house as it was Friday night. I gave my mate a call to see if he would mind me plonking myself on his sofa for the night but he told me he was going out to see a couple of bands at a pub called The Tavern in Grangemouth. He said a couple of the members in the band had played with Johnny Thunders. (It turns out that only the drummer, Chris Musto could say that).
Well, that was good enough for me and despite my general lack of funds and even though The Tavern has a bit of a reputation for being a bit wild, I said I would meet them there and then go back to my mate’s sofa for a kip at the end of the night.
Over the years in Antalya I got more and more comfortable just being myself as the locals got to know me as ‘Crazy Scottish Billy’. I could get away with wearing exactly what I felt like and not many people batted an eyelid. I wondered if I could get away with my clothing style in Grangemouth without getting harrassed by at least one psycho.
I decided to play it cool and just wear a fancy shirt and a flowery waistcoat. I didn’t go the whole hog and put my flowery trousers or bandana on, but I took the bandana just in case the need for it arose. On entering the pub I saw my friend with two of his mates.
Apparently I had met one before at an Ian Brown concert. He remembered the concert fondly, I didn’t. Although that gig gave me hope that if he can get away with singing that bad then maybe there is hope for me after all. He mentioned that I was doing The Great White Shaft act at the time and asked what I was doing now performing wise. I said, that I occasionally get my Nob out but mainly when I do manage to get any stage time, I bang my head against comedy walls as myself.
He then pointed out that I was wearing inappropriate clothes for The Tavern and that I am not in Turkey anymore. No shit, Sherlock. So I decided it was time for my bandana to come out. In for a penny, in for a pound has always been my motto.
I started growing my hair about a year and a half ago and in the growing stage it has looked better than it does now as it is kind of in no mans land, not short but not long. The bandana helps to cover up that fact and turn the rats maze into some kind of Easy Rider ‘look’. I felt better with it on anyway. I enjoy messing with people’s expectations and it is interesting to see their reaction to something as simple as a bandana and a flowery waistcoat.
So we were having a chit chat when the first band came on. I didn’t know there was to be a second band, I thought these guys were the headliners. They are called The Media Whores and I enjoyed their first song but really loved the second one they played about being young and having fun. I thought, ‘Ok, time to get the camera out and get these guys on film’.
If I hear or see something that I think others would enjoy and that I believe deserves a wider audience then if I have my camera I have to capture at least one song of the performance. Even though not many people read my blog, at least I can pass the link onto the performers and they can share it with their followers if they wish.
There weren’t any available seats where I could see the stage fully so I sat down on some steps well out of the way from anyone coming in to the pub and going to the bar. I videod another couple of songs and was really getting into the band. I thought the guitar player especially was really great but obviously, as the Bass player (who writes the basic skeletons of the songs) later reiterated they all bring something to the table.
The only thing was that one of the clientele was standing in front of the band and dancing so I had to move the camera so as to avoid him. I loved the fact he was dancing and not giving a fuck and that the bouncer seemed very relaxed with him doing so, even when he was going right up to the guitar player and getting totally in his face. I realised that he is obviously part of the furniture there.
Then, I don’t know if he was the manager or head bouncer, but another guy approached me and told me that I couldn’t sit on the steps as I was causing an obstruction and that it was dangerous somehow. This totally bamboozled me as it was plainly obvious that it was neither. I tried talking to him and I believe he knew I was right but stuck to his bullshit ‘health and safety’ principles. So I instead just stood exactly where I had been sitting and somehow that was alright.
The bands set was winding up and I was getting in the mood for a dance by this time so I joined the ‘local nutter’ on the dancefloor. Before you know it we were both dancing with the guitar player and it was all good fun. If you check out Song 4 on the playlist below you will see the action for yourself.
The Media Whores – Live at The Tavern
I videod 7 songs from their set and rather than post them individually, I put them all in this playlist for your listening and viewing pleasure.
I really loved the band and couldn’t believe my good fortune at seeing them on the off-chance. As I had built up a bit of a rapport with the guitar player while he was onstage I asked him if I could do a short interview with him.
His name is Jim MacKellar (or Jimbo) who along with the Drummer, Joe, used to be in a Glasgow punk band called The Zips. He was up fora chat so here it is……
Jim MacKellar Interview
It was only then that I discovered that there was another band still to come on. I wish I had saved some battery power for them as I didn’t have much left but Jim had told me that both bands were playing in Bannermans on Sunday, so I said that I would go along and see them again there and take my camcorder with me to video both their full sets.
A proper seat had now presented itself directly in front of the stage, so I took my position there and sat back to enjoy The Bermondsey Joyriders. Although they are from London, the guitar and bass player were wearing Tartan trousers and of course someone had to shout ‘Look, it’s The Bay City Rollers’.
These guys play regularly in London to sold out crowds of over 300 and this was their first trip to Scotland. By this time I had become a bit more friendly with the ‘local nutter’ but he was becoming a bit too friendly with the guitar player by practically falling into him while he was trying to play.
The bouncer was again super cool with him, only gently pulling him back. You could see that the band were thinking, ‘What the fuck is going on here?’. However, the bouncer eventually lost patience with him and grabbed him roughly and ejected him from the premises after battering him off the door on the way out.
The other locals didn’t take too kindly to that and spent the next 5 minutes demanding that he be let back in. Gary Lammin (the guitar player) also asked for him to get back in, probably because the punters pleading was interrupting their set.
Jim told me on the Sunday night at Bannermans that the Joyriders said it was the roughest pub they had played in, to which Jim and I both laughed, as we had both seen a lot worse in our time and we wondered what kind of Wussy pubs they had down in London.
Gary then introduced a song dedicated to the late great Johnny Thunders. Towards the end they slowed the song down and asked the crowd to sing along to the refrain of ‘Part of his problem was that Johnny was a human being’. The crowd were enjoying the song but not joining in too much.
This is when I had another one of my ‘Oh shit I have to do this’ moments. These are times when an opportunity arises where I see I can have some fun but it means stepping outside the box to do so, like the time I got naked in front of 300 people at Spank during the Edinburgh Festival.
I thought that I could basically grab the mic and represent the full crowd or perhaps try to get them going so that their request for a singalong didn’t end in a damp squid. A part of me said ‘You can do it on Sunday Billy, this is not the time to do it’. Then the other part said ‘Don’t be a pussy Billy, there is no time like the present.’
I never thought to give someone my camera to video it which I do regret a bit but instead I just seized the moment and joined Gary on his mic to sing along. Well, that was it. I was in now.
After a couple of repititions Gary realised that I had it covered and stepped off the mic, allowing me to go into Rock Star mode. Now my clothes didn’t look so wild as I looked part of the band and I started screaming ‘Part of his problem was that Johnny was a human being!’ When the song finished the place erupted and I took my seat again, satisfied that I had done what was necessary.
Not so much the mate I had come to see, but his two mates were looking at me in amazement. My other mate knows that kind of thing can happen with me so he took it as par for the course. When I got back to them they gave me the usual Scottish patter of saying ‘Your aff yer head’ but also recognizing that I had done a good job.
I was especially pleased though to get a handshake from Brian Guthrie who had put the run of Scottish gigs together for the two bands. At least that meant I hadn’t overstepped the mark as I have been known to do on occasion. lol.
The band played another couple of songs and just before they started their encore they said thanks for letting them wear their tartan trousers as they were not sure they could get away with it in Scotland. If the band were shit maybe they wouldn’t have, but as they were great no-one could argue with them.
Again, I posted the playlist but this time only caught two full songs and another short clip as the battery was going.
I managed to grab the bass player Martin Stacey for a quick photo.
I then spoke to Dougie who is the Bass Player in The Media Whores and told him I would come and see them on Sunday. He asked if I would be wearing as outrageous clothes then because he would be. I asked if that was a challenge, and he said yes. Well, little did he know about the rest of my wardrobe obviously.
He did win the tongues out comp though. I had withdrawn mine as the camera sometimes flashes twice and confuses me but I could never beat this effort.
A young guycalled Stefan came up to me and called me Jimi Hendrix. I said, ‘I’m white pal and I don’t have an Anaconda for a dick’ I could have added ‘although I do have a bandana and curly hair, there the similarity ends, cause my guitar playing is shit as well’. He insisted in calling me Jimi for the rest of our chat anyway and it has to be said, I have been called worse.
I then asked to get my photo taken with the guy with the Mohican and it turned out he plays guitar and writes his own songs. His name is Johnny Rebz.
He is releasing an EP in January and I will interview him about that then. In the meantime here is one of his tracks on Soundcloud which he recorded with Electro-Light.
I had ordered another Guinness but my mates were just finishing theirs so they went outside for a smoke while I chatted to Johnny. When I went outside I stood beside them as we watch a couple of other guys shout at each other and it looked like a fight was about to break out.
My mate had a small laugh to himself at the spectacle and some arsehole asked him ‘What are you laughing at?’ My mate didn’t take to kindly to being asked that and let rip with a 5 minute tirade about ‘What the fuck has it got to do with you what I am laughing at?…etc’ He did have a point but let’s just say he didn’t do himself any favours by going on about it so much.
However, the arsehole realised that he was indeed being an arsehole and backed off at which point another much bigger arsehole came up to my mate and punched him in the face sending his glasses flying. ‘Oh, oh,’ I thought, ‘here we fucking go.’ My mate retaliated and one of the guys I was with jumped in to give a hand. My mate got pushed over and the first little arsehole kicked him in the back of the head while he was down.
At this point the whole thing was about to get way out of order so I stepped in by shouting ‘Everyone calm down, there is no need for this. Etc’ I was quite surprised that it actually worked but then another dickhead appeared that wanted to have a go at me and I just didn’t see the need to start throwing punches and getting involved in some bullshit fight just for the sake of it. So I backed off and went back inside the pub, hoping that the bouncers would now be watching the situation but Tom was busy staying nice and warm inside.
I had also heard the Police had been called and wasn’t wanting to get involved with those huge arseholes.
I came back out about 5 minutes later to see my mate cuddling the guy who had punched him originally and being invited back to his house for a beer. ‘Only in Scotland’ I thought. They were both saying ‘Aye, it was a guid scrap. Nae need to get the Police involved. Just a bit of Friday night fun.’
It turns out though that my mate didn’t realise that the guy he was cuddling was the guy that started the fight. When I told him that back at his house he said if he knew that he would have started fighting again. Not that it would have done him much good as from where I was standing, he didn’t come out of the first one too well.
My mate had lost one of his lenses from his Glasses so after searching for that we eventually got a taxi back to his house. When we got back there he dropped the lense under the drivers seat and they had to spend another 5 minutes trying to locate it.
After getting some more beers from the fridge he then played his favourite song of the moment, This Must be the Place, about 5 times in a row, which annoyed his mate something crazy. Fortnuately I also love the song so didn’t mind hearing various versions of it.
I of course then had to get my photo with the broken specs although from the pic it is hard to see which lense is missing but I think it was the left one.
I was not too disappointed when my mates mate said that ‘You were almost the highlight of the night Billy, until the Boxing started.’ I said ‘Well, I have never been top of the bill yet, so why change the habits of a lifetime.’
All in all a great night and a good welcome back to the madness of Scotland.