Grey Hairs have just announced a new live album! “Halloween” is a recording of a Grey Hairs live gig on October 31st 2019 at JT Soar in Nottingham. We are releasing it on purple vinyl. It is limited to 300 copies and that’s it: no re-press, no deluxe edition.
In the name of balance and trust, before we tell you to buy this live record, Chris from Grey Hairs is going to first tell you about the 3 worst Grey Hairs gigs to date, in no particular order. Starting with:
Branch Out Festival, Nottingham, October 2012.
Branch Out was an all-dayer across a few venues with the idea of pushing Nottingham’s music “scene” to the “industry”. They love a bit of that in Nottingham.
The night beforehand, our singer James went off to Northampton to see friends. He assured us he’d be back in plenty of time.
The rest of us arrived at the festival the next day with no word from him and his phone going straight to answer machine. Time ticked along. Nerves were heightened. Sleaford Mods played and Jason told us he was off the booze (smart man, will go far) which we took as an invitation to drink his rider as a way of offsetting the increasing worry.
Eventually – with minutes to spare – James arrived at the venue and as he walked up the path towards us, we could clearly see 2 things:
1.He looked like he’d slept in a skip.
2.He had 2 black eyes.
I remember thinking, as we set our equipment up in front of a packed room, “I’m not sure this is going to go well”.
Dave was wearing a hoodie that he’d decided to zip up completely over his face for some reason (possibly foresight). He also decided – in tribute to Andrew Loomis from Dead Moon – to pour beer all over the skins of the borrowed drum kit so that, as he came in, a cloud of beer spray shot up off the drums. It did look pretty good to be fair. But he then realised he couldn’t see where any of the drums were and he was 5 seconds into a 6 minute song with no way of unzipping himself to find out.
In an effort to rouse the group, I held my guitar above my head mid-song and shook it as a call to action – “RARGHHHH! COME ON!!!”. Every important component on the guitar immediately detached itself from its moorings and exploded all over the stage in a shower of crucial screws, springs and bits of metal immediately lost forever. I frantically tried to signal to Dave to stop but he was fighting a private battle behind his hood, bathed in beer and flailing in the vague direction of the drums.
I vividly remember seeing my friend Anna illuminated in the crowd looking not just disappointed but genuinely horrified. In fairness to our then-bassist Bod, she was holding down her end of things pretty well considering she was in fits of laughter. I genuinely don’t recall how the gig ended but the industry did not come knocking on our door afterwards.
Waterfront Festival, Nottingham, August 2015
Possibly the lowest point of the band and that is saying something.
Every year in Nottingham we have Waterfront Festival in a multi-stage venue on the canal. It’s a good, messy day out if you’re a punter. I’m conscious of not coming off as glorifying excess but we’re weekend warriors and often our gigs are the only socialising we do in amongst work and families etc. It is hard to maintain the balance between wanting to have fun and having a job to do, plus no one ever said we were professional.
Anyway, for some reason in 2015 – possibly the recruitment of new bassist Amy and a fresh sense of confidence – we accepted the invitation to play. “Don’t put us on too late though” we asked. Obviously, they put us on last, at just before midnight.
And so, the day happened. It was fun.
From the moment we arrived around lunchtime, through the other bands, through the pints of strong continental beer, it was fun.
However, by the time 11pm came round everyone was fairly “tired” and setting up to play was proving an impossible task. I remember trying to plug my amp in around 35 times without success before someone kindly helped me.
Our friend Coop from The X Rays introduced us to the stage with his shirt off, yelling into the mic. It seemed to take about 45 minutes and then we started.
James falling face-first into the drums in the first song should have been a moment to take stock and reflect. The songs were elastic in time, none of us could grab hold of them but we soldiered on, through 30 mins of the worst shit we have ever inflicted on anyone. Worse than Branch Out Fest. A true horror show with no redeeming features and everyone to blame. At one point, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Coop vomit onto the dancefloor next to me and then go home. Tempers heightened as each of us faced the realisation that we were there to do one thing and that thing was no longer even slightly within our grasp. It was torturous.
To cap it all off Amy had to separate James and I at the end, onstage, as we opted to provide the slender remaining audience with a performance art encore consisting of 2 grown men squaring up to each other while a 3rd grown man quietly rested, head in hands, behind a drumkit.
But: you have to go “there” to know where “there” is. I'm pleased it happened. I'm also pleased that Amy stepped in and stopped a fist fight between me and my dear friend James which would have been a terrible thing.
For James, because I'd have panned him.
Beat The Streets Festival, Nottingham, January 2018
Can you see a pattern developing yet? We don’t do well at all-day festivals. This one was different though. As usual, the stage times came through and as usual, we were on far too late. In this case, we were on last in the larger venue. However, Beat The Streets is a festival to raise funds for a local homeless outreach charity. We made a firm decision that this was important and we were not going to fuck it up.
We spent the whole day there. We did not drink booze. We were a model of professionalism from the moment we arrived. We had one job: play well.
Our time to play came. We set up at speed with clear heads. I felt refreshed and ready to go and like we were on top of things. The first song started and there was a big crowd and it sounded fantastic. We settled in immediately and the relief washed over us as we realised this was going to be a good one. Playing live for me has always been somewhat mysterious – the variables that make something good or not are hard to pin down, so if you feel the gig is going well it’s such a rarity that you really notice it.
All of a sudden, halfway through the first song, I heard James stop singing and from the corner of my eye, I caught him fly from the front of the stage to the back where he was now hunched over in a ball.
Amy looked stunned, the audience looked confused, *I* was confused. My first thought was that James had been electrocuted such was the force of him being thrown across the stage. He gingerly finished the song clutching his torso before running off into the backstage area.
What the fuck? We downed tools and ran off to find him. He was clearly in a state of shock. He’d somehow dislocated his arm at the shoulder, presumably when vigorously punching the air in celebration of what was about to be a decent gig for once. St John’s Ambulance were found and Amy and I explained to the crowd what was happening while they tried to pop James back in before admitting defeat. James was packed off to A&E while we packed everything away in silence.
It’s worth pointing out we still got a good review on the local music website that mentioned none of the above and was written by a person who was clearly at home in bed by the time we played. And that’s how the industry and PR works folks…