Regular readers of the Layers blog may have noticed the sounds of street parties drifting through the bars on the window recently, although the staff probably keep bunting away from you - cheery and patriotic aren’t prized qualities in escape ropes and garottes. In case you’ve been wondering what the sounds of celebration and the union jack sketched into your gruel were all about, last weekend was the diamond jubilee of Elizabeth von Windsor - not the one from the ‘Carry On’ films. The other one.
Sarky comments aside, we’re neither royalist nor republican, really but the chance for a gig is the chance for a gig, so when The Abstracts’ Mark Harris invited us to join the line up for Cirencester’s Jubilee celebrations we were swift to mumble non-committally, scuttle home, check Google diaries and set off a flurry of confusing e-mails. Eventually it emerged that three-quarters of us were devoid of more pressing appointments while Paul was busy performing a ‘Mission Impossible’ style assignment, cracking into the top-secret headquarters of an evil corporation bent on world domination. The downside was that we’d be unable to rock out fully. On the plus side, not only were we handed an excuse to dust off the ‘unplugged’ set but, thanks to Paul, we’re now also in possession of Col. Sanders secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices. Would it be giving too much away to reveal that ten of them are salt? No? Well, the other is MSG. Imagine our surprise.
It wouldn’t really be an outdoor Layers gig without the threat of the sort of rain that normally comes with an eccentric Jew rounding up pairs of animals and the preceding few days promised to deliver. As it happened though, the Monday of the gig was grey, cool but mercifully dry. It wasn’t the sort of weather to send hordes reaching for the picnic blankets and out to the park so we were pleasantly surprised to get to the Abbey Grounds and see a crowd that was probably reaching into four figures milling around the various attractions.
Hats off to Mark and his team; the stage was up and well-equipped and the sound was cracking. As the first few bands went on, the weather gradually brightened and as three-quarters of The Layers got ready to take the stage, the Sun finally broke through and there was a real hint of summer festival in the air. It can be difficult to relax into a twenty minute set but we were fortunate to be following some great acts and the atmosphere was laid-back and positive. Without feeling nervous, we were able to give a decent account of “Is that Wrong?”, a blast from the past; three from the forthcoming album, “Bratislava”, “Magic Lantern Show” and “My Father” before we were joined on stage by John and Kev for perennial favourite, “Surf Trip”. It’s always a lovely way to close a set and always special to have some of our regular guests singing with us.
It was all over far too quickly but music went on throughout the evening, the crowd gradually swelling until The Abstracts produced a fitting finale and socks were most definitely rocked off.
It’s not all been kow-towing to the over privileged classes, though. The extra day’s bank holiday and the return of our bass player from special ops gave us the chance to stage a bonus-length rehearsal and really get our teeth into some new material. The happy news for fans desperately awaiting the slipping of a new Layers CD beneath their cell door is that two new songs have gone from being inklings to, if not perfectly fried calamari, at least a mass of writhing tentacles (I’m really going to have to have words with our tortuous metaphor contractor…). This means that we’re almost up to an album’s worth of songs. One or two more to coax from deranged idea to reanimated flesh lurching towards the nearest village and we’ll be ready to throw ourselves into another session in the studios.
In other exciting news, there’s a new addition to the family - yes, Caleb’s just texted us all to say that he’s the proud recipient of a healthy, 45lb amplifier and cab. We’re mentioning this partly in celebration and partly as a warning that this is probably a good time to put sticky-back plastic across the window panes, start jamming cotton wool into the kids’ ears and sedate your pets. It’s going to be loud on a scale where decibels give up, go home and call in the Richter Scale.
Thanks to everyone that turned out to show their support at The Jubilee and to the organisers for a great day’s entertainment. Come and see The Layers play a longer, louder (probably much louder) set at the Tetbury Fiesta on the 8th July and then at Westonbirt in August.