Nick at Rotherham Rockingham Arms,
Friday 29 November 2002 - by Catherine Wightwick

I really didn't expect to be able to get in to this sold-out gig, which was a crying shame as I'd already made arrangements to visit my parents that weekend (they live just 10 miles away from Wentworth) AND dump the offspring on them for the evening while my husband and I went to the gig. But, all was not lost - through a stroke of good luck getting tickets, Cinderella did go to the ball!

The Rockingham Arms in Wentworth is a pub with a stone-built barn stuck on to the back of it, where the gigs happen. It's a long barn, with a stage at one end and a bar at the other. There are about 90 seats at tables arranged in 3 long parallel rows which run the length of the room from the stage to the bar. I last saw Nick play there in 1999 on April 16th (and did the same "visit parents/dump offspring" trick) which was a very different evening. Then, the crowd were rather noisy, albeit enthusiastically so, and the cries of "Cool!" and "Did your old man teach you to do that?" during the intros to many of the songs made it hard for Nick to get started on them. This time, though, it was so much quieter that I wondered if the rather forbidding compere had had a stern word with the unrulier elements beforehand - perhaps along the lines of "Yes, you CAN book tickets - but only if you watch the gig in reverent silence". The bar was astonishingly cheap (for one used to southern prices) and I was a little taken aback to be called "Duckie" by the barman - but hey, this is Yorkshire!

The support act was The Emas - or were they called Emas Miller? A two-piece - one chap singing, one playing guitar. Their songs were lyrically and chordally quite interesting - the singer had a good voice, and they were politely received.

Nick came on at 9 and played an absolutely blinding couple of sets, with a short break in the middle. The sound was not great to start off with, and there was no-one on the mixing desk to take notice of his frantic semaphoring to get the guitar volume a bit higher during the first couple of songs. After Kilty Stone, there was a surreal moment when someone who was talking to his brother Lawrence on his mobile phone was spotted by Nick, who grabbed the phone, had a word with Lawrence and held the phone up to the mic so we could hear him reply!

During the break, our very own Steve Pursglove was spotted collecting broken strings... we wonder what he's going to do with them! In total there were 3 string-breaks - one in Shadowlands (G), one in ...Temple (D) and one in the last bit of Love Is Music (G) in the second set. [this is impressive, fashion reports are one thing, but noting which string broke - Catherine, you're a guitar star ;) - P.]

Set 1: A Hundred Things / Shadowlands / Glittering Eye/Kilty Stone / Before They Put Me In The Ground / Guitar Man / Radio Silence / Building Our Own Temple

After the break it was: She Rules My World / Karmageddon (with Parklife intro!) / The Magnificent G7 / Pendle's Choice / Smithereens / Aeroplane / In Our Time / Galaxy Song / Love Is Music/Headless/Jeff Buckley cover/Love Is Music // She Makes Music

The second set was great - we had a quick snatch of "Gordon Brown" before G7! And I was so pleased to hear Pendle's Choice, which I had never heard live before. I had also never realised that it was named after Nick's friend Pendle's Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger herbal tea, while being written in the kitchen. Just goes to show that a true artist can get inspiration from anywhere...

Before Smithereens, Nick suddenly noticed the various agricultural implements festooning the walls of the barn - in particular, the vicious-looking scythe-y thing behind him. He commented, "Aargh! It's The Reaper! Is this Royston (Vasey)?", to which someone shouted out "Are you local?" to much laughter. (It *was* very much a "local gig for local people"...)

When I requested Aeroplane, I got the impression that he'd just been about to play it anyway... OK, I'll shut up next time! [it's been suggested that he's just waiting for someone to shout it! - P.] In Our Time was quite astonishing - hard to describe - sort of rambly, but in a very tight way. Quite lovely.

I'm so glad I was able to go to this gig - it was one of the best Nick gigs I have been to. The vibe in the room was so lovely and supportive and respectful and it was just a magical evening.

Created 8 December 2002
© CW/PLC 2002