Darling, I bought a starling in Stirling...
After an unfeasibly early start and a seven and a half hour journey, I rolled up in Stirling to be met by Martin at the station.
Stirling on a Saturday afternoon resembles Delhi, or at least the Delhi you see on the telhi (ha ha!); cars point in different directions, trying fruitlessly to manouevre themselves into impossible places, and people spill across the streets in front of, behind and between them, anywhere they can get run over, really.
But in Stirling it is spring already. The sun was warm and the sky was blue, which was probably why so many people were hanging out in the street enjoying being outside.
The Tollbooth is up a steep hill; we puffed up it, joined by Fin McCardle the legendary percussionist.
It used to be the magistrate's court, which is funny after doing a broadcast from an ex-police station on Thursday.
The promoter, Ian, is a proper promoter: in the dressing room was a large quantity of piping hot mushroom stroganoff and rice, bread, salad, choccy bickies, fruit, crisps, various liquids. So I felt like a proper musician. Fie on you London venues with your no-pay attitudes!
The sound checks were proper too. It is an arts centre with proper lights, proper acoustics and a wooden floor- a bit like the Stratford Circus room, actually. You could hear pins drop, hearts beating, farts forming and clothes rustling, so it was going to be either a very good gig or a very bad one.
The two Dunn brothers arrived, cheerful and cheeky and I abandoned my planned 'I feel sorry for myself because I'm tired' routine and just joined in. I feel like one of the family with The Daintees. They are so welcoming and so funny.
Just before going-on time, the Djay Buddha appeared, and I took this to be a good omen.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing, even after an unfortunate double-entendre about plugging my lead in the right hole and a couple of mistakes in a slightly rusty Temptation. The crowd started laughing at the idea of the Daisies song before I even sang it, which was a good sign, and Martin came on for Heaven Avenue and Loverman to add a bit of polish and sparkle. It's amazing to be given so much help by the quality of the acoustics and a good sound engineer.
The Daintees were brilliant. I said to Gary afterwards that it was a bit like watching a different band doing cover versions of Daintees songs because the sound was so crystal-clear. There was none of that rock-venue mush that obscures little interactions and sound detail, and no crowd chatting, so the songs sounded as clear as a bell and for me as a musician it was really interesting to hear how the parts all interlocked together.
Martin was on form, demonstrating a foot-pedal dance that he claimed came from watching Simple Minds' guitarist who had a massive array of foot pedals that covered half the stage and tripped forward every so often to switch one on or off with a pointy toe. He had the audience in stitches.
Roberto Cassani came on halfway through at Martin's invitation to play a saucy song about putting yer best knickers on and going into town, and one of Martin's pals played harmonica on one song too.
We did Sweet Saviour, and as usual I forgot the first verse and Martin forgot the second one after making a fuss because I forgot the first one. Every time we do this, we say 'we must learn the song properly' and then don't!
He told the story of the Daintees driving down from Newcastle, stopping to pick some magic mushrooms and turning up at Camden's Dingwalls to support The Smiths. Finding the dressing room inexplicably full of daffodils and no Smiths around, they decided to float all the daffodils down the Regent's Canal, much to Morrissey's fury when he came back. I think he had to have tulips from the local florist's in his back pocket that night.
It was a night for Daintees fans and the guys did all the songs justice. Highlights were Boat to Bolivia and that one about Thatcher that I can't remember the name of but it's got a really good bass riff at the beginning. Martin also played Solomon solo and I really like that one.
The audience absolutely loved them and it was a lovely gig to play. In turn, they were a fab audience, all ears and smiles, and I do hope Ian puts the gig on again next year. He used to like Helen and the Horns so perhaps if I dig out a vinyl album to send him, that will be a suitable bribe!
Round the corner, a large group of people in purple tartan were doing a busking Scottish dancing display with squealing bagpipes, and large men with red necks (quite liderally) and ginger crew-cuts were wandering around in nylon football-supporters shirts and kilts, toting cans o' lager.
At Queen Street, the RMT had a loud hailer and a loud banner (sorry for the shaky photo), and were picketing the passengers; and when I went to the Ladies, it was had been taken over by a hen party with bunny ears who were tottering down the stairs on their precariously high heels.