22nd September 2007 – London Cargo
Or “It’s the bread that makes you feel shit”
I awoke in the middle of the afternoon in my own bed. It felt weird. I couldn’t hang around, though: we were playing our very own headline show in London tonight and I had to soundcheck. I had a bath just because I could, threw on some clothes and jumped on the DLR to get to The George.
As the DLR pulled out of Limehouse – one stop away from my destination – my mobile started ringing. It was Deborah. I checked the time. I wasn’t late, so what did she want?
“Where are you?”, she asked. She sounded excited. “Duran Duran are playing a gig in the back room of The George!”
I love Duran Duran deeply. They are one of my favourite bands ever. When 586 were recording our demos and singles and the vocals weren’t going right, Deb would always say the same thing to me: “Imagine you’re Simon Le Bon.” And with those magic words I’d pull the most ridiculous poses behind the microphone, throw my arms out wide and would finally get my vocals right. The DLR couldn’t go fast enough. I got off the train and rushed to The George and there they were, surrounded by the tallest, skinniest women I’d ever seen, all dancing awkwardly while the band knocked out a 15-minute-long version of Notorious and a photographer did his thing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Various George regulars, landlady Pauline, her now adult children and Deborah and I watched while they played a couple of hits, jammed Jeff Buckley’s Lover, You Should Have Come Over and had their pictures taken. While we watched from the sidelines, Deborah told me that Simon Le Bon, when introducing himself to all the female employees and regulars, looked them up and down first before pausing for dramatic effect. “Hi.” he would say slowly and deliberately, pausing for a heartbeat before continuing: “I’m Simon Le Bon.” Brilliant. Things got even better when they stopped playing for a bit and John Taylor played some solo bass idly. Simon Le Bon started singing over the top, before stopping to say “Can you play that bit again? That was great and I don’t want to forget it.” I realised I was watching them write a song. Outside I looked calm but inside I was screaming with excitement.
Our viewing was cut short by the need to go to Cargo in Shoreditch to soundcheck. I was gutted. When we arrived it felt weird being able to just go in and get on with it, having grown accustomed to waiting for however many hours SohoDolls would be taking this time. The soundman was fantastic, as was Cargo’s soundsystem, so not only could we hear every note clearly onstage but the offstage sound was superb as well. We were always quite keen on emphasising the dancier elements of our sound, so were pleased that it all sounded loud and bassy. There were no other bands playing, so we had as much time as we wanted. We took advantage with a long, luxurious bash through most of our songs to make sure we had all our sounds right. It was nice to be back in London and it felt good to be playing a gig that was OURS. When the venue doors opened we were surrounded by OUR friends and OUR fans and we got what WE wanted on the rider. The night felt more about US, which probably sounds egotistical, but after a week and a half of feeling that you have to fight to get the audience on side, this night felt good – it was effortless. It was only during this show that I noticed that the previous shows had been a lot more hard work on our part than normal. And, being a headline show and on our home territory, we were on our usual guaranteed fee of a couple of hundred pounds, rather than fifty bloody quid we’d have to fight for.
I decided to change into stage clothes ‘influenced by’ (um, ‘copying’) what I’d seen Simon Le Bon wearing a couple of hours earlier, and when show time came, it was great. We played a short, poppy set, focusing on the dancier numbers, then got out quick before anyone had the chance to get bored.
We hung backstage with all our friends, eventually deciding to go home at a sensible time. At some point Weston texted; there was cake, but no us. It did not compute. We laughed our arses off and played dumb again. Everyone else had the next day off, but Deborah and I had to be fresh-faced and glamorous as we needed to shoot some extra footage for the Rags & Tags video with Disco Stu. Malcolm had seen the review copy and felt that it wasn’t clear enough who the band members were, so the video needed more footage of Deb and I singing into the camera. Getting out of the venue was a bit of a nightmare, though. The club was rammed, so getting people to move without smacking them in the back of the legs with an amplifier was tricky. Most of them ‘hilariously’ wanted to play our congas, and one of the WAGS was harassed by a rapey random punter, so we got quite stressed as we tried to load the cab.
When we got back to The George to unload the equipment, we discovered that Duran Duran had left their instruments set up. It was too much to resist. I got straight onto Nick Rhodes’ synth and Grant behind the drum kit and we played some improvised nonsense before feeling silly – the synth wasn’t even plugged in – and going home.
A short clip from He’s Got My Measure at Cargo: