Buried beneath myriad strata, warmed by the living fires that swirl inside the Earth’s core, two floors below Microsoft customer service and one above the realm of the Morlocks, a brown-coated minion scurried, clipboard in hand, along rows of dread machinery as it whirred and clicked incomprehensibly. Here, in a vast subterranean complex sunk at the centre of a triangle of ley lines and just off the Northampton bypass, lies the machinery that regulates the universe, washes and conditions the fabric of time and space and drives the cogs of fate itself. The minion paused, distracted for a second by a flashing light. He paused to read the dial beneath it, reset a counter to zero and wrote on his clipboard: “Layers drummer. Drama levels risen above threshold.”
Somewhere in the darkness, a valve closed with an ominous click…
At least that’s how we imagined things were panning out when we clapped eyes on Rupert setting up his drums with a skin pallor that suggested he’d not had time to get out of makeup after auditioning as an extra in ‘The Walking Dead.’
Earlier that very week a carrier pigeon had been faxed to Layers HQ bearing a coded microdot reminding us to occasionally check our e-mail. Fortuitously, a message had just arrived with the opportunity to fill in for a band that had pulled out at the last minute granting us the chance to play our first gig in Sweden. This was quite exciting until we realised that it said Swindon. Undeterred, we packed our trunks (we were on our way to the swimming pool) and made plans to wow the crowd of The Rolleston with our unique blend of rock and fluffed chords.
Unfortunately, Roo’s copy of “Middle Class Revolutionary’s Quarterly” had contained a scratch n’ catch guide to the most noxious pathogens of 2012 and his energy levels were on a par with a dazed sloth that had spent three weeks on the Karen Carpenter diet plan.
Fortunately, here at Layers HQ, we’re no strangers to a little bit of percussionist-based drama – in fact, this barely tipped the scales. So, ably supported by Ells Ponting and Shadowlight, we did our best to rock the world of a small but appreciative crowd.
There have been less error-strewn performances in the history of music, admittedly, but Roo rose to the occasion and gradually heads started to nod and some mobile phone footage was taken and a crowd was wowed. We finished with a couple of semi-acoustic numbers, including a version of Surf Trip that allowed Roo to lurch out from behind his newly-racked kit and cough along in harmony.
Many of the qualified epidemiologists in the audience that evening (you just never know with Swindon, do you?) were exchanging comments to the effect that it was unlikely that setting up, gigging and breaking down would do much for Rupert’s health. As it turned out, when Roo called on Friday to tell us that he wasn’t feeling that chipper using the ‘séance’ setting on his mobile, it looked like a grim prognosis for him and for Saturday’s much anticipated gig at the Vaults.
Not for one second did we doubt the awesome powers of our drummer. Well, we did, actually, but none of the other drummers that we knew were available so we got the wife to slip some Bob Martens in his soup and soon his little tail was wagging again.
To be serious for a second: massive props to Roo for powering through when he was feeling like death. Not only was he drumming for us but he was playing for the opposition too. No, no, not like that. I mean he was playing for Wilf, the awesome support act. He’s just a bit camp occasionally, honest.
Was it a brave performance considering his state of health? Hell no. It was much, much more. If this was drummer related drama it was epic not tragedy. Victory snatched from the slavering jaws of defeat.
Saturday night was one of those nights that we’ll be able to look back on in years to come and smile. With support and banter from a wonderful crowd, with fantastic guest appearances from Rob and Sarah on keyboards, Trevor and Kevin on backing vocals (not to mention most of the crowd), we had a cracking time. Several times during the gig I could hear the audience singing along so lustily that I could make them out over a backline that left my ears ringing on Sunday. There’s something about hearing virtual strangers singing lyrics that you’ve written that’s almost indescribably special.
Thanks once again must go to our favourite local venue, The Vaults. Even if we become globally famous (hmmm, ‘when’ we become…?) we’ll keep coming back, we promise. To Trev, who did a brilliant job of the sound despite being quite heavily monstered by the end. To Sarah, Rob, Kev and Trev (again) for joining the list of musicians who’ve been in the band for a little bit. If we all ever get together on stage, it’s going to look like the Mormon Tabernacle choir…
Thanks to the audience for cheerful and voiciferous support. You were as much a part of the gig as were we. And thanks, as ever, to Roo, Caleb and Paul. Just magnificent, chaps. A job well done.