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Tales From The Conference League : The Council In Nottingham

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Some time ago I spent a little while in a band called The Council. We only ever played one gig outside of Leicester, and this is why we never did it again.

Some friends of ours had booked a gig in Nottingham with another Leicester band called... well, for the sake of anonymity (mine, not theirs) we'll call them Kaboom. When our pals dropped out we eagerly agreed to take their places, for two reasons: firstly, we still believed the long cherished myth of the time that the ratio of women to men in Nottingham was 4:1 and secondly we'd never met Kaboom.

Our drummer Tim couldn't make the gig, as he was busy touring the world with his proper band, so me, Neil and his friend Julie went round to Kaboom's house, as they'd promised to sort out the transport. When we arrived we were a bit stunned by quite how POSH they were. Their "manager", Rupert, spoke with a chocolaty-rich accent of pure privilege, their student-y digs with filled with antique furniture, and all of them lounged about smoking cigars whilst wearing (honestly) CRAVATS. I felt as if I should have come in through the tradesman's entrance.

The transport had been arranged through the local barter system - this was very popular at the time amongst middle-class revolutionaries, who saw it as a way of exchanging services without paying tax to the nuclear war mongers in government. The idea was that you exchanged tokens (in Leicester they were called "Leaves") between other members of the scheme in exchange for work done, which was a good idea except that there was always only one or two people who did something useful, like plumbing, with everybody else being teachers offering reiki classes or childminding. Kaboom had obviously done a lot of babysitting, as they'd managed to persuade the scheme's sole useful member to drive them to Nottingham and back in his vehicle.

The vehicle turned out to be a massive old fashioned horse truck and, from the smell of it, it had been used very recently. We piled our gear in and tried to find somewhere to sit that wasn't completely covered in horse shit. Off we juddered for a painful hour of stinking, bouncing, stilted conversation with people whose only previous contact with our sort was when the grounds needed tending.

Halfway along we stopped for petrol. Unused to the technicalities of vehicle maintenance Kaboom stood on the forecourt taking in the wonders of self-service, whilst merrily lighting cigars. We stood well back.

Once we arrived at the pub we found that while it technically WAS in Robin Hood Country it was a good half hour's bus journey from the city itself. Still, the landlady was very jolly, and merrily instructed us in the best way to set the room up to kerb any fighting and stop somebody getting stabbed again.

We got set up quickly then went out for chips, returning an hour later to find Kaboom still soundchecking. This seemed a little over the top as there were precisely NO people there, and there still weren't when it was time for us to go on. We played a hastily abbreviated set to Kaboom - Julie was too scared to sit with them, so sat behind us on the drum kit - with the actual audience only reaching single figures for about a minute when somebody from the other bar came in by mistake, looking for the toilets.

Kaboom then spent another half an hour re-soundchecking before launching into a full-on ROCK set, with histrionics, rehearsed patter, dance shapes and guitar malarkey, all for the benefit of the three of us, who sat as far back as politeness would allow feeling slightly uncomfortable. I know there's an argument for treating every gig like it's the biggest gig of your life, but I can't help feeling that pretending an empty pub in a grotty part of Nottingham is Wembley Arena is a bit daft, especially when you do two encores.

We packed up, got back in the van, and headed home. Happily the driver, who'd wisely been to another pub for the duration, let us sit up front with him, and we had the only pleasant interaction of the day as the four of us moaned about the band in the back. Once home we agreed that we'd wait until we got a guaranteed GOOD out-of-town gig before we ventured out again. Luckily, for other cities, we'd split up LONG before that could happen!
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