Tonight I went to the Farnham Maltings and saw a band called Spikedrivers. I had intended to go and see some other guy, whose name has vanished from my mind, but, according to the promotions company that puts on the Thursday night shows, he’d moved to Sweden. Spikedrivers had played at the Maltings before and, again I had to take the word of the woman on the phone for it, were very popular.
As I generally do with these things, I listened to a few samples of their music and then, thinking they sounded pretty good, downloaded one of their earlier albums. They sounded like a bunch of hillbillies! That’s not a complaint. I happen to like hillbilly music – there’s nothing like a bit of that old Clampett spirit for fun and jollities, if you ask me. So I decided to go.
I’d asked Dawn if she fancied a bit of hillbilly music and, although unsure, she said she would. As it turned out she took to her bed with a cold and suffering from exhaustion. I guess that happens when you have twins and it’s their birthday week.
And so, I set off alone, stopping first at the Queen’s Head for a lovely pint. I noticed a band was setting up in the front area of the bar and was almost tempted to just stay and listen to them. While they had a poster in the window, it was quite difficult to read the name of the band, but, judging by the image and design, they had something to do with fairies and unicorns. Sated with a bit of lubricant, I then wandered down to the Maltings.
Apart from what sounded like a boxing lesson on the first floor, the place was deserted. The doors were open, the lights were on but there was no-one around. I looked at my watch. I was actually 20 minutes before the start time so I checked out where the venue was (the Cellar Bar) and settled down to read some more Hans Fallada.
It’s rather a good thing that the Maltings has comfortable lounge chairs because I was sitting there for quite a while. A few other people turned up and sort of milled around, near the door to the Cellar Bar. Well dressed (on the whole), my age and older – typical Farnham audience.
Everyone was confused as the start time had been and gone and I was wondering whether I should have stayed at the Queen’s Head. Finally a whole gang of people turned up carrying all manner of promotions type stuff (honestly, it felt like an army) and went and set up in the bar area. We were all told the venue was not open yet.
I looked at my watch and decided that if I didn’t get in by 8:30, I was going back to the Queen’s Head to listen to the fairy music. At 8:25, the doors opened and we started going in at last. This was incredibly annoying. If they want the show to start at 8:30, they should have it start at 8:30 and not advertise it as starting at 8pm. Call me picky but I am not really that keen on sitting around doing nothing when I could have easily stayed in the pub and had another beer. Anyway, I went in and took a seat near the front of the stage.
The room is a nice space. It seats about 100 and has round tables each with four chairs. There is also a bar selling beer (and all the other things you normally get in a bar). At first, this all seems very civilised and comfortable. Then, having sat down for about 15 minutes, you realise the chairs are ridiculously uncomfortable and start to wonder how you’re going to manage to sit through a band set. They are those silly wooden moulded things with slippy backs and seats – all design, little function, no concessions to comfort at all.
I sat with my beer and moved a lot, trying, unsuccessfully, to find a position I was happy with. In fact, I sat there till 9pm when the band decided to begin playing. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with gigs that start at 9pm but I would rather have known that before I left home ridiculously early. I could have left at 8:30 and still had plenty of time to get a drink and find a seat. However, that is the end of my moaning.
Spikedrivers were fantastic! They weren’t hillbillies at all. They play Delta Blues (like Lee J Hooker & Muddy Waters) and almost took my mind off my aching bum. I’m fairly certain that Mirinda wouldn’t like them (too loud, too much electric guitar) but then, she’d never stay after testing the chairs.
There’s three of them in the band – Ben Tyzack on guitars (he has five on stage and uses them all), harmonica, vocals & strange kazoo thing, Constance Redgrave on bass guitar, vocals, triangle & corrugated iron vest and Maurice McElroy on percussion, drums and vocals. They’ve been together for over 11 years and you can tell. Something else you can tell is how much they love playing.
As far as covers are concerned, highlights for me were their versions of That’s Alright (a song I only know from The Faces version of the 70s) and Little Red Rooster. But the best stuff was their own. The chicken song that drummer Maurice introduced so well (and wrote) was brilliant. Actually, chickens seemed to crop up a lot during the show.
So, all in all, a wonderful end to the night although I didn’t get home till 11:30 and had to stay up with the poodles for a bit before, finally, getting to sleep.
If you’d like to read more about them and listen to one of their tracks, their site is here.