When the last rose of summer pricks my fingers

I woke up quite early; it was a beautiful morning with a nice blue sky. Beth was till asleep so I left her a note and went off to find coffee. On the way I rang home to see if Rhianna wanted to come today as she hadn't been well enough to come yesterday. She said she still wasn’t feeling too good so she wouldn’t. Also on the way I found some of my Eurotrader friends Robin and Nick and had a chat.

By the time I got back to the tent Beth was up, she’d just had a phone call from Rhianna to say she’d changed her mind. So we got in the car and drove off the site and back up the A2 to the house. It felt really weird going home in the middle of a festival but we’d soon picked up Rhianna and were on our way back. At least we knew where we were going this time!!!

We made our way round to the gate we had entered through yesterday only to find it blocked by a security guard. He said we weren’t allowed in and had to park on the other side of the site. I explained that we were parked here yesterday and out tent was here but he wouldn’t budge. Suddenly the guy in the car in front went absolutely nuts with the guy and drove on down the track – we simply followed and without any further problems parked up near the tent.

Then I had to get a wristband organised for Rhianna so she could get onto the site. I was worried that they might say no as I was handing over a ticket but again the organisers surprised me by simply handing me one to put on her wrist.

News from Bilston last night was a bit of a bummer!! They’d played Dark Star and China > Rider as the encore bugger! Also my mate Chris had somehow managed to wangle himself a photographers pass and was able to watch the whole of the Ratdog set from the security area between barrier and stage.

The Cosmic Rough Riders were the first band I wanted to see but we got into the arena in time to catch the Yards. We met up with a load of Deadheads from eurotraders but the worst part of the morning was the sudden re-appearance of Loony Bloke! Luckily for us he contented himself with just saying hello – although he was confused by the fact I now had two children!! Beth asked me what I’d do if he had come and talked to me during Ratdog – I replied that I would simply have hit him.

The Cosmic Rough Riders were ok and as soon as they finished Beth said, “Come on Dad lets go – you don’t want to see the next band!” – Cheeky bugger. Anyway we moved a bit closer to the stage but decided against going too close as I didn’t want to catch too much bass on the recording. It was at this point that Beth revealed that she was wearing a tie-dye t-shirt under the t-shirt she had on. It took some doing but I eventually managed to get her to reveal it!!

I was wearing a “space your face” Dead tie-dye that day and it generated so much interest. I must have been stopped several times by people who wanted to know where I’d got it. I did however spot an identical one worn by someone else and went off to shout snap at him.

Anyway it got to the time when they were due on, I had my recording gear ready – mounted on my head again. I could see fellow taper Alasdair about 20 yards in front of me with his mics up on stands with a t-shirt over them (was it a disguise or a windbreak). there was a bit of uncertainty about whether the stewards would stop taping but even so you wouldn't want to be having an argument mid show.

The compare came out on stage and announced that this was the moment he’d been waiting for “Great to see so many tie-dyes in one place, great to see so many Deadheads in one place” and on they came. From where I was I could see that Robin came on and panicked when his bass wasn’t there and had to shoot off to find it!!

Jam > Jack Straw > Bird Song > Cassidy > Little Red Rooster > Two Djinn >
Mississippi Half-Step > The Other One > Lady With a Fan > Terrapin > At a Siding > Terrapin Flyer > Dear Prudence > Bird Song (reprise) > Cassidy (reprise)
E: Touch of Grey

Anyway Bob was wearing a white shirt (as opposed to a t-shirt) and the shorts and sandals. Kenny for some unknown reason was wearing a pink beany hat (it was a glorious day and he's wearing a hat!). Even Mark had broken out the shorts for this afternoon!

They kicked off with the usual jam, which then picked up a theme that suggested the first song would be Jack Straw, which it surely was. Bird song followed and then Cassidy. The music was just perfect for a beautiful summer afternoon as it floated across an English country garden mixing with the sounds of whizzing balloons! A slow laid back Rooster was next complete with howls from the crowd behind me.

At this point I needed to go to the loo, I hadn’t drank that much maybe it was sleeping on the cold ground last night!! Once again I utilised my back up microphone stand and Beth stood there with the mics on her head as I went to the loo. One great advantage of this was I could sing along and the sounds of Little Red Rooster must have been emanating from the blue portaloo!

Ratdog continued with Two Djinn (the Ratdog songs were now starting to feel like old friends after hearing especially this one and Ashes and Glass so much) and then kicked into Mississippi half step. Bobby must have put some thought into the setlist for today as everything seemed to fit the ambiance of the venue so well.

Then out of the jam at the end of Mississippi came the familiar theme of the Other One, he’d teased it at the Astoria but this time it took off. As the end of the song approached I decided to change the mini disc, as the song faded I pressed the stop button but forgot that I had the lock on so nothing happened. Well actually something did happen Ratdog set off into Terrapin Station.

Last year he’d played it at Newcastle and although I wasn’t at the gig I hated it when I heard the recording – the phrasing of the lyrics was all over the place but not so today. Another singing in the toilet episode happened )don't know what was up with my bladder tday!) before dashing back to Beth as I knew my minidisk was running out. Amazingly with seconds to spare the end of the Terrapin Station bit came. I pressed stop only to find to my horror that the song continued into the At a Siding/Terrapin Flyer bit. I changed the disc in about 25 seconds _ I know this because I had to patch it later and I was amazed how little of the song was missing - I know it felt longer at the time!

The end of the Terrapin Suite picked up a nice reggae riff before Bob picked up the acoustic for the only time that day and lead the band into a cracking version of Dear Prudence. It was obvious that the end was nigh as reprises of first Birdsong and then Cassidy came along. I was so relieved when the band left the stage without the customary bow, which meant there was going to be an encore.

Returning a few minutes later the band looked around, I think they didn’t have enough time to do what they’d planned and so they looked a Bobby. I was a little disappointed when they kicked into Touch of Grey for the second time in two gigs. It started off a little rough but soon settled down. It was odd as it was the only time on the entire tour that they repeated a song.

My kids started doing impressions of me dancing and punching the air – little sods. Then the band took a bow and they were gone. The announcer was obviously a Deadhead as he was doing the old “we’re not worthy” behind them as they left. There were a lot of very happy people on that lawn that afternoon.

We wandered down to talk to people down by the rail; Once again I met up with a load of people from eurotraders and had a good old chat much to the disgust of the kids! The overwhelming response was what a great show and how perfect it had been for a late summer afternoon.

Next up were the Buzzcocks but we went off to the tent to get warmer clothes for the evening - I'd told them to bring their sweatshirts but no! they knew better! On our return we wandered around the shops and listened to the end of their set – luckily they’d saved all of their hits for the end so I got to hear Ever fallen in love, Orgasm addict and What do I care.

Love were headlining and I knew others were taping it so I decided not to bother. I know a lot of my Deadhead friends rave about Arthur Lee but it’s something that just passes me by. I watched the first few songs but after they’d played Alone again or… I gave into the kids’ request to go and get something to eat. We wandered the shops but to be honest there wasn’t a great choice of food and Rhianna’s constant request for pizza didn’t help much!!

We then watched the end of Love before heading off back to the tent. Unfortunately just as we got to where the ticket barrier had been Beth slipped and her ankle twisted under her. While I was consoling her, a steward came up and asked if we were ok. Before I knew what was happening she’d radioed for paramedics and we were in the middle of this big scene. If they’d called in the air ambulance it wouldn’t have surprised me!!

At one point they suggested she needed to go to hospital, I knew it wasn’t that bad but now they were scaring me! They asked me if I’d been drinking – I simply swayed and looked at my pint of cider. Eventually they flagged down a passing vehicle and got them to give Beth a lift back to the campsite. Off he set and Rhianna and I nearly broke our ankles trying to run to keep up with them. When he said he’d give Beth a lift back to the tent he wasn’t joking, he drove through the cars, round the tents and pulled up outside ours.

Beth slept in the car that night while Rhianna and I went to sleep in the tent. I got them up early the next morning, as I wanted to hit the road early to get to Milton Keynes.

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All pictures not credited below © Kevin Shewan
Love pictures © Chris Jones
Ratdog photo above setlist © Nick Pound
Other ratdog Photo's © Irenie
First market picture and Cosmic Rough Riders pictures © Virtual Festivals