Lost now on the country miles

So early the next morning we took down the tent and headed home from Canterbury. I took Beth to Casualty to have her ankle checked out and luckily we were in and out and there was no real damage done. So after lunch I set off to drive up the M1 to Wavendon, which is just outside of Milton Keynes. It was a pretty easy journey and about 5 I found myself pulling into the car park of the Stables

The Stables at first sight was a strange place, it was set in it’s own grounds for a start and they even had a guy directing the cars and showing them where to park. Strangely enough as I pulled up I realised that Medway’s other Deadhead Jim Bullen was in the car next to me. We were soon in the pub where we also met up with Peter Cais, Bob Cooke, Nick Swift and the rest of the Northern contingent.

Back at the venue I found CJ talking to Jeff Chimenti so I went over to say hello. (Ok I went over to meet Jeff but saying hi to CJ was a useful excuse to get him to introduce me!!) I told Jeff how much I’d enjoyed his playing and asked him why he’d swapped sides. He replied that it was easier for him to see the rest of the band. Afterwards I went and joined with some of the others and we decided to give the support acts a miss and sit in the grounds – “all it needs is some concrete cows and you could believe you were out in the country”

We sat around in a circle and chatted, people came, people went - I was sat next to an old trading contact, Clive Rex for ages and didn't know it was him until I saw the caption for the photo afterwards!! The general feeling was that the set would be quite jazzy, the venue was owned/built by Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Lane and had a jazz on a summers day feel about it!

One by one the band wandered past from the coach to the stage door. Eventually Bob walked by with the road manager. Our group went really quiet before someone managed to get the words “Hi Bob” out – He smiled and walked on. Shortly before the picture was taken I had wandered off to go into the venue. I wanted to go and find my seat and sort out my taping gear. I was really confused because I walked straight into the auditorium and almost to my seat before anyone even checked my ticket (If I hadn’t got it out to find my seat number I don’t think they would have). I was in the second row. There was a large gap between the front row and the (quite low) stage but we were still pretty close.

When they came on Bobby was wearing a pale blue t-shirt with the shorts tonight. They kicked off the jam and everyone in the front row stood up. Unfortunately for me no one else did meaning that my view was obscured for most of the first set. Directly in front of me was someone I later found to be called Ruth or Tinydancer who was one of those extravagant hippy dancers who dance with veils etc. I would later get into trouble for describing her as strange!

Set I: Jam > Feel Like a Stranger > She Belongs to Me > October Queen > The Deep End > Even So, Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, Tennessee Jed

Anyway the first set didn't really do it for me, it started well with Feel like a Stranger emerging from the jam - "you know it's gonna get stranger so let's get on with the show" - this then went into She belongs to me - so far so good. Then they wandered off into (for me) a void. There were four songs in a row that I either didn't really know or didn't like before they picked it back up with Tennessee Jed just before going off for the break.

It was the only time I'd seen ratdog sitting down!! All the other venues were standing and although some people stood up (notably those in front of me) most people didn't. Being English I guess I was too polite to stand up and block the view of those behind!! However those of us in the second row vowed during the interval to stand up come what may during the second set.

Everyone wandered outside into the fading light – smoking was banned in the auditorium! I met up with a friend from Chesham who asked me if I’d recorded Canterbury. When I said I had he asked me to send him a copy as his MD had packed up just before the show. I said I would but he insisted I go to his van and have a look through some discs to see if there was anything I wanted in exchange!!

Back in the auditorium I set up my taping equipment and waited – the occupants of the second row had said we were going to stand up for the second set but just as the band came on I decided to move forward so I had more space. I dodged round the chairs pressing the MD buttons as I went.

Set II: Friend of the Devil > Corrina > Eyes of the World > He's Gone > Jam >
Knockin’ on Heaven's Door > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower
E: Liberty


The second set kicked off with the usual acoustic numbers and first up was friend of the Devil - a popular choice. Bob fiddled with his sampler for a bit trying to set up a rhythm but gave up and played the song without it. Corrina followed and then the band shifted into the familiar riff from Eyes of the world. The change in the music and the fact I was now standing up helped with my enjoyment no end!

There was the usual drunken pissheads next to me, why do I always attract them. One guy was pulled up 3 times by the stewards for trying to light a cigarette. On the third attempt he was going to be thrown out but managed to get out of it by handing over his packet of fags! The two of them shouted during the quiet bits and crashed into me more times than I'd care to remember almost knocking me over the row of seats behind me on several occasions. I was amazed that non of this came out on the recording.

He’s gone followed Eyes – it was a fantastic version and at the end of it Bob took his guitar off and walked quickly from the stage. His exit was so swift that it seemed to take Mark by surprise and he looked over towards “The Boss”. Maybe Jerry had been on Bobby’s mind and he was upset! The band continued with a jam and when Bob returned they moved into Knockin’ on Heavens Door. The second set finished up with Help > Slipknot > Franklins - not split like on the last tour but straight through to the end. Liberty was the surprising but very welcome encore. We all filed out of the venue, unbelievably it was only just about 10 pm!

<- That's me with the blue and red lighting stripe on the back of my t-shirt

The "Lot scene" continued for ages afterwards but I eventually hit the road just after 11 as I had to go back to work the following day and I had a long old drive in front of me. Never mind in just over 24 hours I'd be on the road to Manchester….

I don't know what it was about this venue but there were lots of problems on the recordings - so much so that mine ended up being the one circulated and thus giving me my first Dead related listing on e-tree.

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The two pictures in the first set plus bow © Kevin Shewan
Bob acoustic plus crowd shot © Leslie Green
All other pictures © Chris Jones