Well I popped (145 miles) to Cardiff on Saturday (and back again the same night) to see Roy and Nick. In some perverse way it's probably good I did, as it was to be that last time that Roy ever plays in Cardiff (and I wouldn't be surprised if Nick never plays there again either!).
The venue was the Coal Exchange, and when I first walked into it I thought it had the potential of being one of the best music venues I've been to (certainly one of the best that I've seen Roy and/or Nick play). A large room, very high ceilings, loads of seats and space... a venue where you could sit or stand (up to you), drink and smoke (even dodgy substances!), so it had a lot going for it... and about 400 people there. So you can imagine why I thought it was going to be a cracker, especially as it was a Saturday night and the last gig of the tour. How horribly wrong I was!
Nick came on stage at just after 7:30pm, which was weird as the box office said he was due on at 8:00pm so obviously some people missed his set. He did his usual set, but unfortunately in record time - very little talking in between songs. In fact he actually introduced Karmageddon while he was playing the intro, so you couldn't really grasp what he was saying.
It was quite obvious during this song that things during the night were going very "pear shaped", as one of the security guards was having a right go with a couple of lads on the front row. Even without a mic and a PA system, you could hear the security guard over Nick's playing and singing! Basically, the situation was that the first row of the audience was full of loud mouth obnoxious pi**ed up tw*ts, whose only aim for the night seemed to put off Nick and Roy and basically spoil the gig for everyone. Even if they weren't shouting, the fact that they were a large group at the front meant that there was always at least one of them walking in front of the stage to go to the loo or in the other direction to go to the bar.
Nick struggled on and tried his best to ignore those guys. He played The Vampire Song, as I'd asked him just before he started, again without any introduction. Even when he was playing Lily's song (which is as most of you know a very quiet song), the rabble still shouted out during the song (!), so that obviously just annoyed Nick and the crowd even more. He finished off with, under those circumstances, a brilliant version of Love Is Music/Headless, including the "usual" breaking string/fixing a new one while playing act. He then started to walk about the massive room playing the instrumental part. He even went to the rabble and played a few bars just for them, which they obviously liked. He stood on a chair and jumped from chair to chair until he got back to the stage, then jumped on a raised platform on the back of the stage and kicked his guitar case off the platform, nearly taking out both of Roy's guitars! You got the impression that he was trying to get rid of some of his anger from the rabble. As I said it was a great rendition under those difficult circumstances. He left the stage without much recognition to the crowd.
After the break, Roy came on stage to a massive cheer and sat down already looking a bit peeved - he was obviously aware that it was going to be a difficult night. Then something happened that I haven't seen in years - Nick walked on stage with a spliff and handed it over to a surprised Roy, who very gladly accepted and shouted back to Nick for his "clockwork god" (he may not have said that but it was something similar). Nick then walked back on stage with a little wind-up God figure. Roy picked up the toy, wound it up again and placed it on his monitor. Perhaps it was some sort of weird lucky charm? If it was, it didn't bring him much!
Even before Roy had the chance to start Commune, he was interrupted by the rabble. He actually said, "Everytime I play South Wales, there are always 4 or 5 individuals who turn up just to spoil it for everyone else... and it looks like they're in tonight as well!" He followed that with a kind request for the rabble to shut up, but not surprisingly they didn't.
Roy then played his usual set, starting each song with another request for the rabble to shut up. During his pre-Hangman ramble I saw a side of Roy that I have never seen before (if you were in High Wycombe, when we saw him get pretty angry before Hangman, that was nothing compared to this night) - Roy actually shouted at the rabble to shut up and threatened to get off the stage and actually throw the idiots out himself! He obviously didn't, but the security guards should have.
Roy apologised at various points from then on, but I think the majority of the audience understood and agreed with what he had said. He completed the set as best he could. Finally, during The Green Man, the security guards started carrying out the rabble - which was good, but should have happened two hours earlier. When Roy had finished and he was saying his good-byes, he said, "You may be glad to hear that you [looking at the remaining rabble] have helped to make this gig the worst one on the tour. I just shouldn't have to put up with things like this, so for that reason I will NEVER play in Cardiff again!" This is a big shame ... as the venue and the other 390 odd folk were brilliant.
I spoke to Roy and Nick after the gig to thank them for an excellent month - 10 gigs in 30 days is a lot for even me nowadays! I could tell that Roy was incredibly pi**ed off with what had just happened, especially when it was the last gig on the tour. He said that he thought the best gig of the tour was in Exeter.
I would just like to finish off and congratulate Johnny Fitzgerald for a brilliant job on the mixing desk during the whole tour AND for lending Nick his electric guitar, the latter being something that was a highlight for me. Anyway, got to start saving the pennies now for Nick's tour, and I hope to see a lot of you in November and December... see you in Reading?!?