We're staying at the delightful "Hog's Back" Hotel outside of Guildford.
It's a very nice hotel set in the middle of some extremely beautiful
countryside. THIS is what all the travel brochures look like! Because the
hotel is so far from town, the coach takes us into town for a short
shopping excursion, then brings us back around 4pm. We all try to catch a
short nap before boarding the coach again at 7pm, which will take us to the
Civic Hall in Guildford.
|Coach Outside Hog's Back
|Boarding The Coach
|Off To See The Wizard!
|Caffeine = Blurry Photos
As we alight from the bus (oh, look, I'm using British words now), we notice Gary, Gemma, and several members of the band in a 3rd floor window near the back of the Civic Hall. Gemma waves, we wave, then Gary & Co. wave. A good time was had by all.
The venue is rather smaller than the Guild Hall in Southampton, but we try hard to cram our way up near the front. Big mistake. Obviously we forgot that last night's support band, Cubanate, was on again tonight. Even the liberal use of cotton wadding in our ears (great idea, Matthew!) wasn't sufficient to drown out the alleged music emanating from the stage - worse, because we're closer, we're now in spitting range of the lead singer, whose saliva supply seems never-ending. Tonight the distortion isn't quite so bad - I can now make out some of the tripe he's screaming at us, including such winning phrases as "you people better get your fucking shit together cos I certainly ain't enjoying meself up here!" (our response to the band had been lacklustre in the extreme) and "I'm queer! I'm the future! I'm a fucking genius!"
And, inevitably, they give up, and 20 minutes later Gary will come onstage. The sound system so far seems better and things are shaping up like tonight's show will be better than last night's. But... the floor begins to get packed. And then more packed. Soon there is literally nowhere to move - you're stuck in a non-moving ocean of humanity. About 5 minutes into Gary's performance, I bailed out and headed to the back of the hall (which was still quite close) so that I could begin processing oxygen again.
The performance itself was, again, brilliant, although later Gary
was heard to admit that he felt it was not quite as tight as the
night before. He found himself in the minority on this one -
everyone I spoke to saw virtually no difference (with the mistakes
on "A Question Of Faith" from the night before being rectified).
I initially agreed
with Gary but later changed my opinion to "I don't know" - reason
being, I spent this concert hovering around the fringes. I
darted left and right, up on the balconies, this way and that,
using up most of 2 rolls of film (36 exposures) and fighting for
good sight lines and angles. As a result, I WATCHED the concert
rather than experienced it, and there *IS* a huge difference -
ask any hard-core Numanoid what the difference is between going
to a show and watching one on video. I missed out a bit, but I
got some EXCELLENT photos. The only flaw on the night, other
than the oppressive crowd, was a slight technical problem with
Gary's microphone sometime around halfway through. For about 3
songs, his vocal levels were lower and occasionally buried by the
music, but they soon got this sorted out and he came back
stronger than ever.
Because I was able to move about quite a bit, I began noticing something that slightly surprised me - and made me feel quite good. Yes, Gary's fans tend to be around age 30 or so and are long-term fans, but I also noticed quite a few people younger that (including children) and several quite a bit older, including at least 6 or 7 that I noticed that must have been close to 60. Gary's music appeals to people of all ages (and sizes, shapes, colours, and hair-styles, and of course nationalities).
After the show, we hop back on the coach and return to the hotel. Matthew and I discuss the idea of not bothering to head down to the bar, as we got very little sleep the night before. Finally, however, we decide that we'll go down for an hour or two and see if anything interesting happens. Well, we were there for about 4 hours, which should lead you to the conclusion that things did indeed get interesting.
Shortly before Gary and the band arrived, an unexpected visitor appeared at the bar - some fella named Bill Sharpe. I of course didn't pass up the opportunity to get his autograph, and we chatted at length. He told me that he's never been over to Canada but would like a visit. He couldn't tell me whether there had been any decision on rereleasing the Sharpe+Numan material at this time.
Shortly after this, Gemma arrives... with another unexpected
guest. Nogbad The Bad, aka Gary's kitty-cat. I've never met a
more docile, and well behaved, cat - my cats are continually
plotting behind my back (once they figure out how to use the
can-opener, they won't need me anymore and will begin working out the
details of my demise), but Nogbad was just happy to snuggle up to
Gemma and let people stroke him. Then again, given the same
situation, wouldn't you? :-)
And then, of course, Gary and the band arrive... with yet ANOTHER unexpected visitor - John Webb. He told me that he's "gracefully retired" from doing live gigs. And of course, I got his autograph as well. I also managed to get both Bill Sharpe and Gary to autograph my CD-cover of Strange Charm. Bill signed his name first, but lacking a smooth surface nearby he placed it on his knee... the result was a rather wobbly autograph (but not to worry, he also autographed my tour Programme and that one's just great!). Gary signed it about five minutes later, but before doing so, examined Bill's autograph minutely. After carefully studying the jiggly lettering rightside-up, sideways, and even upside-down, he turned to Bill and asked, "Was you ever a doctor?"
Because I'm quite busy running around getting autographs from everyone (I'm still missing David Brooks and Richard Beasley, while Nogbad declined), I don't even try to chat with Gary. But after a couple of hours, Gary pops over to our table, sits down, and we chat for about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this was cut rather short by the arrival of an "over-exuberant fan" (others feel I should use stronger language, but I'm in a good mood) who immediately monopolizes the conversation.
Then, when Gary says he and the band are going to bed early and begins to leave, the fan (known to all as "Mr. Boring") dives across Gary, preventing him from making his getaway, and demands another autograph (after already having obtained several). Gary does his Monty Python impression and yells, "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!", to which Mr. Boring just smiles quietly to himself. Resigning himself to being held hostage until the autograph was given, poor Gary relents, and in fact sticks around for another 10 minutes or so (during which Matthew and I wind up talking with each other, as we can't seem to get a word in edgewise). Gemma finally comes over, smashes Mr. Boring over the head with an empty beer bottle, throws Gary over her shoulder, bellows "Me Jane! You Tarzan!" and runs out the door.
Well, OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating events somewhat. Certainly it musta felt like that to Gary. :-) Gemma to the rescue! :-)