Saturday, 8 August 2009

Rocket From the Crib

No sleep till Hammersmith? Brooklyn perhaps? Sod that! I need my shut-eye as much as the next man. But it's not always easy to find a place to lay one's hat. Your body may be crying out for a bed, but you can't always get what you want. So you have to improvise - make your bed, lie in it, get down deeper on down and try not to roll over Beethoven. You see, when you're all bound for morningtown - and it's still many miles away - whatever gets you through the night is alright. It's alright...

In no particular order, then, here follow ten of the most ridiculously rock'n'roll nights I have enjoyed to date. I hope there will be many more ludicrous crashing-out adventures to follow. In the meantime, in the words of Robert Smith and his chums, let's go to bed. Do do do do...

1) In a two-man tent with David Devant AND his Spirit Wife on the misty, rain-lashed slopes of the Sussex Downs. The Vessel's glamrock-battered eardrums were protected by plugs, but I still managed to ruin any chance he might have had of a refreshing sleep with the might of my awesome snoring. Very proud.

2) In the entrance lobby of an apartment complex in Dublin. A paperboy was buzzed in through the outer door and we followed... about six of us. We huddled together in thin strips across the full width of the entrance hall, meaning anybody who wanted to come in or out had to tiptoe through the slumbering torsos.

3) Inside half of a former film-prop giant grizzly bear suit at the Isle of Wight Festival. Earlier that day, I had appeared onstage with British Sea Power enacting a mock battle betwixt band and beast. Except it didn't seem all that 'mock' at the time. At one point, Noble (the band's guitarist) stabbed Ursine Ultra (the bear) in the face with a plastic heron purchased from a garden centre. This violent moment, preserved on the official festival DVD, is of course my finest hour. The lower regions of the bear are very warm and cosy btw.

4) In a hospital in Sheffield. I befriended a fanzine-writing doctor at a Rocket From The Crypt gig in the Leadmill, and he said I could crash at his workplace. Sounded good to me. Of course, if I'd thought this through I would have realised that his place of employment is Sheffield Hallam Hospital - and crashing over 'at his' means sleeping in a bona fide hospital bed. I woke up on a ward feeling rather disconcerted.

5) At a Bruce Springsteen gig in Hyde Park. I was completely hammered from a Glastonbury run followed by a night shift... followed by Neil Young in London followed by a night shift... followed by this. I fell fast asleep lying down on the grass in the heat of the summer sun. When I heard Bruce come onstage to massacre 'London Calling' I could think of no logical reason to unzip my eyes. So I had another forty winks. And so it continued until I heard 'Born To Run', about an hour and a half into the set. By that time, I'd determined not to even look at The Boss, so I walked out of the park backwards. I think I could be the first person ever to have gone to a Springsteen gig and not once glanced at the stage.

6) In a telephone box on Haldon Hill in Devon, in the middle of a winter cold snap - having missed the last train home after a John Martyn gig. My friend Ju and I set fire to telephone directories to keep warm. Eventually, when the cold got too much to bear, we rang his dad and got him to pick us up. Shouldn't think he was best pleased.

7) On a night bus in a garage somewhere on the outskirts of London. 'Gay' Keith and I had nowhere to stay after a gig in the Electric Ballroom. Then we hit on the bright idea of using our travelcards to get night buses to random distant places and back - thus racking up a good 30 minutes or so of sleep at a time. It worked spiffingly until one early-hours run out to High Barnet ended with the bus diverting back to a depot, going through the bus wash and parking up for what was left of the night - with us two sleeping beauties oblivious to it all on the top deck. We made our ginger escape around 5am, then headed for the 'Hotel Circle Line' where a continuously-running tube provided a much cosier environment to catch some zzzzs.

8) At five different Spiritualized gigs. I like the band, but I can't stay awake when they're playing. Something to do with the hypnotic effect of the music coupled with the strobe lights, I reckon.

9) Standing up in a crowd at Crystal Palace Bowl during a Ride set, 1990. Pixies were headlining. It had been a long day - Cud were difficult to sleep through but Ride were not. I had been practising trying to sleep while standing for some weeks before this, thinking it would make a great party trick. I never managed it free-standing, but helped by a sardine-esque crowd, I got 20 winks or so while Ride hammered through 'Leave Them All Behind'.

10) In a 24-hour kebab joint inhabited by mentalists and a man with blood dripping from each of his fingers.

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