October 7, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 4: Norwich: worsening sound systems, improving sound; Maisy the dog!

The local promoter/sound guy/general welcoming committee is a fine chap named Dempsey, who ushers us into The Marquee's performance space... as close to a cavern as one could realistically expect to find above ground. Actually, it's pretty darned cool: kinda looks the generic movie set for the underground-rock-club-where-the-bad-kids/vampires/drug-lords-hang out-after-hours... Black walls of stone and brick, black ceiling somewhere above, cement floor, a ramp and balcony where the entrance is with the requisite rails made of pipe (black as well, of course). Bad ass.

And strangely enough, the aging-looking PA and the somewhat bizarrely-placed monitors (off to the side, looking as crumbling as the rest) provide the best sound we've had yet on stage. Go figure.

Along with a local punk band, we're treated once more to a set of Beverly Kills -- alas, probably the last we will witness for a while -- and the Mags throw down with their customary fury. We pull out a couple of ones we haven't played yet for the set. All in all, I feel measurable improvement each time we play: by the time the tour is over, as is customary, we'll be $#@ing tight enough to go out on tour! :-)

At evening's end, Dempsey kindly invites us to stay at his place -- just a "few minutes away" -- so, loaded with our knapsacks and rolling suitcases, out we trudge into the misting Norwich night. What seems like endless hours and a maze of nightime British streets later, we descend into a garden-level apartment of remarkable coziness to meet Maisey, the dog of the house. We get many wags of approval, and as we settle in the living room she makes the rounds of laps, patiently indulging us as we coo and squawk and make those dumb noises people make at dogs. Josh declares her to be "a perpetual motion dog" -- as a senior lady she does have a touch of palsy -- but most of the wiggling seems to be sheer enthusiasm.

There seems to be some sort of on-demand music video catalog service on the TV, so the shout-outs begin -- NWA, Elvis Costello, The Jam, and many other faves are screened... but long before that party is over, L & I have repaired to the vacant room next door to deploy our newly-bought sleeping bags.

(Only, what -- FIVE shows to go? This is gonna be over before we know it. D'OH!) -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: the road to Leamington Spa; owls gone wild; no stage, but one heck of a lift.

[originally posted here]

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