Like a phoenix from the flames …
Did Anne Heap of Frogs really break up, as I said last time? Or did they merely sack me? You’d think I’d be able to tell the difference between these two scenarios, but ten months after the second AHOF gig, this happened:
Andy, Eddie and Richard had rather sneakily reformed a few months after the break-up, under the name “Crossfire”. I was replaced by a pair of guitarists (which was good because at least it meant I could tell myself it took two people to replace me). As I recall, the lead guitarist was Colin (very efficient, lots of technique, not much character, no improvisation whatsoever) and the rhythm guitarist was Jason. I didn’t know either of them. All I knew was that three quarters of my band, without me, was getting gigs in various pubs and festivals.
One such festival was Stortfest, in September of ’88. This was an “open-air” festival, perhaps unsurprisingly held in the car-park of the same URC church hall that had been host to both Anne Heap gigs. The reason I remember this one is because Andy was working overtime to provide three acts on the short bill, and I was in the other two of them with him. (Evidently we were still friends.)
Happily, I scribbled the details all over my copy of the programme, so I don’t have to rely on my unreliable memory:
The opening band was billed as More of the Unusual, but we also liked the names More Like a Teacake and More Tea, Vicar? We compromised on More Like A Teacake, Vicar. I can’t explain this. I can’t even defend it.
Looking at the roll-call, I see that Chris Hedley, who we last met voting on band names for Anne Heap of Frogs, played bass, Andy joined me on guitar, and the other two members were people I didn’t know at all (one of them designated, mysteriously, only as “My Mate Bill”).
How did this band happen? I can’t remember at all. I see that the short setlist included a reprise of I Am A Predator, which we’d done with AHOF, along with two songs that I didn’t know at all and still don’t. So quite how I played them I’m at a loss to explain. I can only hope that the mysterious James Clarke, whoever we was, didn’t find my performance too awful.
And we also somehow slipped an unbilled act in between More Like a Teacake, Vicar and Nosferatu. That act was called Mike and Andy, and unsurprisingly consisted of Mike (that’s me) on guitar and Andy on keyboard. It looks like we did three Pink Floyd covers and a blues which I remember writing the words for, about not being in a band. Quite how we expected to fit a set containing a version of Echoes into a fifteen-minute gap between acts I’m not sure, but I do remember doing this so I guess it happened.
Here’s the whole of the Stortfest programme (an A4 sheet folded in half):
What happened after this? Richard went on to sing with a band called Metal Jester, which was good enough to have played a support slot at the Marquee. I have the ticket somewhere, but can’t find it right now, so no scan. My notes say they played on 30th June (presumably 1989) and got about 40 minutes at 7:45. I think that’s a pretty impressive gig to have got, and my hat is off to Richard.
But after that, the four of us didn’t really meet up at all for over 20 years. Richard moved to Hong Kong and, as far as I can tell, seems to have given up music pretty much completely. Eddie went on to drum for a sequence of metal bands, racking up hundreds of gigs along the way. Andy’s been in several gigging bands, getting some good pub gigs, weddings and bar mitzvahs. I’ve mostly done solo acoustic music in the last few years — it’s just so much easier to organise than being in a band.
The four of us finally met up again two days before Christmas 2011, when Richard was briefly back in the country, but only beer and pies were on the agenda, not music.