Ain’t no one gonna rain on my parade…

…my Fiesta may not escape so lightly. Indeed, as England, or ‘New Atlantis’ as it seems likely to be called next year, seems determined to soak everyone’s wick this July – a month supposedly named for a Roman emperor but lately more evocative of King Cnut – certainly when some daft… promoter tries to organise an outdoor music event in what for want of a better term we’ll call the ‘British Summertime’.

Never let it be said, though, that The Layers are willing to have our spirits dampened; no indeed, we drink them neat, as nature intended. It’s perhaps that haze of drink that makes us able to get out there and expose our amplifiers and tender white skin to the elements at rainy outdoor gigs.

Yes, gentle readers; it was Tetbury Fiesta time again. You may have missed the extensive publicity if you have a habit of skipping the adverts on your Sky box or if your court mandated therapist has suspended TV privileges.

Of course, one fly in our ointment would have been lonely, so to keep the weather company, a certain tennis player had gone from being miserably Scottish to being as British as strawberries and cream by reaching a Wimbledon final*. The dial on our audience size estimation device was going down faster than the value of a Barclay’s pension fund as we trudged onto the recreation ground.

As usual, the Fiesta, with its unique blend of Rock n’ Roll and Splat t’ Rat, had attracted a varied group of artists. The programme started with some terrific acoustic acts and then, as the Layers assembled at full strength, moved on to the plugged-in noisemeisters. The first of these was the very embodiment of what middle-aged rockers such as ourselves fear becoming. As the old saying goes: if you can’t be a good example, at least be a terrible warning. Well, certainly a score there.

Fortunately, from there, the only way was up and the standard gradually improved as the afternoon wore on and, as if encouraged, the clouds parted and the sun came out. All we needed was for one of the tennis players to suffer a catastrophe and we were in with the chance of an audience. Lo and behold, the rain that we’d been expecting decided to fall mainly over Wimbledon and while the roof was erected (clearly modelled on a 1967 Triumph Herald, it takes half an hour) a few extra people shambled, blinking, out of the bar. We had an audience. Sort of.

It was only a half hour set and sometimes it can take a while to get warmed up but on this occasion, barring a few tuning issues with Caleb’s guitar, we were into it like Jude Law into an unattended au pair. Wasted and Fallen Kings, perennial favourites, a quick downshift to the gentler strains of Bratislava and My Father and then time to debut ‘Whiskey’. Sometimes a new number can be hesitant but this one felt like a natural part of the set from the first moment. The backing vocals worked a treat and we could see the audience, small but perfectly formed though it was, looking up, taking an interest and even nodding along in time. A rocked-out Shadowpictures and then for the first time in a long time, Surf Trip with the right, laid-back groove. The last a capella strains were still fading as some of the audience came up to the stage. There’s always at least one nutter on the bus type who’ll come up to a band after of a performance and tell you that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, nice to hear but not worth getting excited about, but on this occasion we were blessed with two really encouraging pieces of praise. The first was from the lead singer of the day’s headline act, Whole Lotta Led, who not only went out of his way to tell us how much he liked the tunes and the harmonies but even bought a CD. The second was from our sound engineer. He’d already given us a great sound on and off stage but he too took a CD and told us how much he liked the music. High praise indeed from a man who works with Peter Gabriel.

It’s turning into a good year for The Layers; we have some great new tunes ready to introduce, an album’s worth of songs ready for the studio and what could be a great gig at Westonbirt later this summer – either in the woods or underwater, depending on the weather. There will be a gig at The Vaults soon to blood some new songs – dates will be announced soon so that our many secure unit-based fans can effect a timely break and come along and wave arms. Anyone’s arms, we don’t care.

We’ve got permission to invite fans along to the exclusive Friday night performance at Westonbirt, featuring us and some other great bands, so if you’d like to come along, drop us a line.

Layers out.

*Don’t worry, he’s back to being as Scottish as Tennent’s Super and cold chips…

By neil

I like books and I try to read lots. I'd like to write them too but it takes ages so mostly I write rambling blog entries. When I'm not doing that I cram as much participation in sport and music as I can in the tiny gaps between long bouts of working my arse off.

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