Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Square Project at UEA, June 14th 2011

So I boarded my train at Cambridge station and returned to Norwich, to the University of East Anglia, to play at an outdoor concert to celebrate summer and the end of exams. It was a hot day and as I waited to change trains at Ely there was a thick shimmer of heat-haze along the tracks both ways. I was worried that I might be late to start, as I'd missed the fast train, but I got to Norwich in time and I was greeted with a sizeable crowd:

The gig itself took place at the bottom of an amphitheatre-style arrangement of steps, known as the square. Hence the square project. The gig itself went pretty well. It's nice to play on a summer day to an audience who are happy to just sit and listen in the sunshine. Also, one guy got very excited about my cover of 'Girl Of The North Country', and when I saw him again later that day, after we'd both had a few beers, he spent about half an hour trying to play it to me, whilst wearing school uniform.

Here's a picture of Blance Ellis playing:

She was really good! Here's a demo recording of hers:

As well as music, there was a giant inflatable assault course, which I went on with Howlin' Wolffe, Tim Salmon and Matt -- needless to say, four grown men attempting a kids' inflatable assault course in competition with one another is a brutal spectacle, and everyone got horribly injured. So injured that they deflated the course after we'd run it, just because they couldn't bear to watch a second display of such violence:

After licking our wounds, and watching Blanche Ellis' last song, and building this engineering masterpiece:

We decided it was time to stock up on more Biere Specialé (that's 'Special Beer' au Francais) and some disposable barbecues to smoke some meat down in the UEA parkland, behind which the campus rises like some kind of science-fiction cityscape:

Sometime later, we went back up to the Square which was now full of people dressed in school uniform for the 'School Disco' themed evening. School disco nights have made a killing ever since wily promoters realised that you could sexualise nostalgia and combine two of the strongest human impulses to help you sell Vodka Kick. Anyway it seemed quite good. We sat outside drinking Biere Specialé until the bouncers left about 1am and we could get in for free. The lights were on, and the floor was so sticky that the maximum walking speed was 2.3 mph (I quickly worked this out on a napkin). But still, we had a wonderful time, and all went our separate ways to various beds.

The next day, all of the students and school-discoers woke up in their various beds in their various parts of Norwich with various degrees of hangover. At Howlin' Wolffe's house, we spent the afternoon in the sitting room watching David Attenborough documentaries. Then, of course, we had another barbecue.

I don't think I ate a single thing in Norwich that wasn't cooked on some kind of open coal fire. That can only ever be a good thing. Later on I bade my fond farewells to the boys and headed back to Cambridge. I have had some really good music-related times in Norwich, and it's a shame to think that I will probably never go back to play at UEA, because most people I know there are about to graduate. I got the train back to Cambridge. When I got back I went straight to a party, and almost fell asleep, but the hostess demanded I drank a pint of Pepsi to keep myself awake. She even went to the lengths of pouring away my glass of water. It worked, and I danced all night to various indie classics in a bedroom with a suspiciously wobbly floor, constantly in fear of my life being swiftly extinguished halfway through a Libertines song, as the entire room went crashing through the floorboards.

Also, at one point, this happened:


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