Live at Woodkirk Valley Country Club on Friday, 29th December 2000
A Friday night running up to the New Year and a last minute decision, and a very kind offer of a lift from Steve Kind, sees me travelling out to Woodkirk Country Club, former home to Strychnine Lounge gigs. In all my writing, this is the first time I have ever ventured to the venue, despite many promises to Nick Copland. Tonight is a Christmas Party set-up by local band Hatch, with their close friends Aeon providing support.
In the larger of the rooms, a move forced by a wedding reception the next day, it's interesting to watch through the setting up and the sound checks. Aeon's drummer Doink does the honours for Hatch, whose drummer is delayed, before temporary technical problems delay proceedings. Luckily though it only delays the setting up, a late start was always the plan for the gig itself.
An audience of perhaps forty are gathered by the time AEON take to the stage, aided by the recovery of Daz from illness and boosted by an impressive performance in Harrogate the week before. I must admit, all being said, that Aeon were much looser than I last saw them. Daz and John managed to free themselves up, with Daz especially enjoying the large venue and the freedom of the radio-mic: if he wasn't playing lead guitar on top of the venue's scattering of tables, he was doing table-by-table singing sessions for the girls.
A much better show, Scaramanga Six's "Coward" and my personal favourite "Magazine Man" doing well; except for the fact that during "Magazine Man" the guitar and vocals were too quiet. As with their recent Royal Park Cellars gig, the levels were sorted out half way through what I perceive to be their best song - it's annoying that I've not been able to hear it properly live yet.
And of course, "Dry" is a storming evil bugger of a song, the highlight of the set.
Next on are crowd favourites HATCH, playing to an audience intent on enjoying themselves. The dance floor in front of the stage, which Aeon had used to expand their stage onto, is taken up by upwards of fifteen girls and boys dancing. Real dancing too: a true dance floor rather than a moshpit.
I've seen Hatch two or three times now, a band that had claimed this venue as their own when they won the Survival of the Fittest competition this summer. If it can be said of Hatch upfront, they don't appear to have one weak song in their set, not one. It's very strong, very technical and demands an audience. That being said, up until tonight I hadn't seen them provide the killer song, the one that makes you think that this is a band you'll go and see again and again. There are many local bands around who've written better individual songs, but overall are a poorer band than Hatch.
But tonight, I got the feeling that the band had taken a step forward. Either they've been working on their current set, or they'd added one or two new songs, but I actually saw moments where I sat back thinking "this is really good", in that way that you do; perhaps without knowing what "good" actually means.
Good in this instance is songs like "16 Year Divide", a song I'd never though stood out before. Free CDs were handed out on entry and as soon as this song was played I immediately thought, "That's got to be on the CD". And it is: it's the title track.
A very good night in the snow. Cheers for the lift Steve!