The evening started the same as it always did. It began with loading guitars into the back of the van, a task I would probably never help with. I tried once, almost dropped one of the acoustics, and have never been allowed to touch one since. You make one clumsy mistake and suddenly you’re banned from being a roadie.
After the van was jammed full of equipment by the guitarist, Darren and lead singer, Martin, it was time to drive to Southampton.
After arriving, the band – including drummer, Ed and bass player, Nick – had the next hour to set up on a little platform at the back of The Swan. I silently sent a prayer up to the heavens, thanking them for the stage the band had to play on. There always tended to be at least one drunken audience member that got way too close to knocking over the speakers.
A few drinks later, I saw the band was finally ready to start. They opened with the classic ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks to warm up the crowd. To be fair, the pub wasn’t too busy and the only ones who were listening were a couple kissing in the corner, a family of five, and the bored-looking bar staff.
The lack of audience didn’t seem to faze the band, however, and they shook the walls with the strumming of electric guitars, the smash of cymbals and the heavy rhythm. When Martin proceeded to sing the first lines of ‘Purple Rain’ a few more punters sauntered into the pub and sang along to the music, beating their fists against the counter, which earned them a glare from the land-lady playing pool.
After ‘Elevation’ by U2 and ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ by Guns & Roses, the couple from the back of the room picked themselves up and started swaying to the music, filling the empty dancefloor with life. During the last few songs of the set, drummer Ed, gained himself an admirer: a woman, who had been dancing quite provocatively to the last few numbers, declared she wanted him to remove his shirt. Ed looked horrified. I laughed in the audience, positive I would not forget that expression for a long while.
In the end, he obliged, which earned him a string of whoops from nearly every female in the pub. I smirked, as I knew he was enjoying the drunken attention. The last few songs rippled through the air, consisting of ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mack, ‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams, and ‘Dead or Alive’ by Bon Jovi. The patrons, who had been gathering by the numbers to hear the band play, threw their hands up in an effort to get the band to play one more song. This happened about four times, and finally, four songs later, the band had to stop playing as it was past midnight. Even though the band had gradually packed away, and I had drunk the last of my diet coke, the woman in the audience was still dancing provocatively on the dance floor, clutching at her wine bottle. I guessed some people could hear the music long after the band had stopped playing.