Eight Weddings and a Funeral, Summer 2012

by Emmett Stapleton

THIS TIME LAST YEAR we had "Four Weddings and Hopefully No Funerals"

2012's Summer Blockbuster Sequel is…… "Eight Weddings and One Funeral" Clever eh?

The summer months are popular for people getting hitched, so June, July and August saw The Fraudsters rocking up at various venues around Lancashire & Cheshire to play various mate's mates' milkman's weddings…..

To be honest with you, all these Do's are just merging into one now. They are always at some picturesque country club hotel venue ("What a weird place to have a wedding" © Critchy) and everyone seems to have bacon sandwiches for the buffet so you can't even tell which gig was which by recalling the food you ate.
What we can remember however is that the first of this medley of weddings was at Marple Golf Club. Amongst the guests was an actress, and the groom was especially good at performing too: We received a Facebook message after the gig: "You have a hundred new friends from Saturday. Amazing night. You are all over Facebook. Unfortunately with a semi naked groom. Top top band. Cheers. From Em and Paul"

Following that we rolled up at Cranage Hall near Holmes Chapel we think. It was after this wedding that a funeral took place. Dave's hefty bass amp "The Dalek" (so called because it's impossible to get up stairs) died THREE TIMES during the gig. It was brought back to life each time and the Cranage gig was successfully completed, but our bass player EXTERMINATED the machine at our next rehearsal by kicking it to death. And so after 18 years (72 in rock & roll years) and six bands, The Dalek was no more. The funeral was at sea.

And so what of the technically disrupted Cranage gig? Well, nothing fazes The Fraudsters and we basically played THREE SETS to seamlessly give the happy couple and their guests the party of their lives. Check out this email feedback, which is all that needs to be said:

"Hi guys! We would just like to say a huge thank you to you all for your absolutely out of this world performance at our wedding on Saturday. We cannot tell you how over the moon we were that we booked you for our special day you were just brilliant. So many people have contacted us to tell us you are the best band they have ever seen and heard and we definitely have to agree. Everything you played was perfect and you certainly went above and beyond the call of duty. We loved every second as did all of our guests I have never seen such a full dance floor! You certainly made our wedding! The whole day and night was just perfect and the evening reception was made so perfect because of you guys-so thank you so much! We have already had lots of people asking for your contact details and you will certainly be our first port of call for any future events! Words really can't describe how pleased we were that we chose to have you play at our wedding-just amazing! Thank you again. Take care, Lots of love from The Rushton's! xxx"

These gig blogs are just writing themselves (which is a good job cos Dave doesn't seem to be writing anymore)

And so with that endorsement ringing in our ears, it was straight to Mitton Hall near Clitheroe. This place looked familiar…… and when the Master of Ceremonies met us on the doorstep he remembered us from last summer!

We set up and as we ran through a few soundcheck numbers the party was already started. The weather was lovely and we spent most of our time between sets hob-nobbing with the guests on the patio, posing for pictures, sigining autographs and meeting people whom Burkey went to school with or Osbo played Rugby with. And the actress Samantha Siddall who was a guest and also scouting for houses where Shameless could do some filming…….

Rob and Zoe were the happy couple, and Rob who'd already been T'd up for a "surprise" appearance with us on "Parklife" basically got the lead singer bug, invaded the stage, elbowed Mr.X out of the way sang the entire lead vocal to "Disco 200". The crowd, who'd been insane dancefloor maniacs all night already, went even more bonkers for this one. Another TOP gig with a TOP audience.

It was then on to Shaw Hall near Chorley….I think. Another country club surrounded by golf course. We caused The End of the World (you would think) when we arrived and left the van in the Captain's and President's parking spaces while we went for a recce. Mr X. soon smoothed things over with his diplomacy skills and we found our rightful parking space near the bins where the wisdom of Critchy was spouted while we waited for our stage time. Critch is looking for a proper job. Being an Estate Agent was mentioned. He said "I could wear a T-shirt with "Honest Estate Agent" written on the front. I'd have to take the word "honest" off it after a couple of weeks though"

He then announced he'd applied for a job as a Sales Negotiator ….."but I don't know what they do"

We got onto talking about food and healthy eating. Critchy was criticized for eating too much crap: "But I do eat healthy – I've just had a banana". He then went on to describe how he grew up in the country and was able to eat nettles: "I've eaten loads of nettles" so X asked him: "Could you eat nettle soup then?" a perplexed Critchy replied "Why would I want to eat metal soup?"

Being a country boy has it's perks: "I'm brilliant at climbing trees. It's just getting down that's the problem"

Anyway, we digress. The groom, James, was into his music and was in a band himself. He was a drummer. His best man got up and did some acoustic numbers between our two sets and the pair of them joined us on stage to play drums AND sing the lead vocal on a totally unplanned, but well executed version of "Teenage Kicks". They stayed up for the backing vocals on "Parklife" and "Don't Look Back in Anger" whereupon it was time to go home and drop Critchy off at his new lodgings with his new mattress (one previous owner).

Walcot Hall in Shropshire came next. Chemic Al was playing bass for this one 'cos Dave was on holiday, and all seemed pleasant enough when we arrived and were able to spend time playing table tennis and giant-Connect-4. The gig got underway and we smashed it big style as usual, then went onto the DJ-ing…. which went on….. and on…… and on……. The Do didn't finish until 5am!! It was daylight when we packed the gear up, and 10am in the morning by the time we arrived home! At one point it got so late the bar staff had all left, so people were just serving themselves behind the bar…….

It was then straight back to Market Drayton (we have been here before haven't we – it looks familiar….) Dave was back from holiday but after a fortnight in Alcudia he wasn't in the best of health so the Chemical Brother carried on bass while Daves drove the van and the desk. Mr. X did his usual friendly introduction to the Manager of the venue on arrival, and we then set up in a room with a 300-year-old timber floor and proceeded to WIPE IT!

The journey home featured the now legendary "S-Club Party" in the back of the van (GET IT ON YOU TUBE KEV!) and our first ever pull from The Cops.

A week or two later it was yet another wedding, this time at Knowsley Hall. We drove through the safari park on the way in. Luckily the Fraudmobile did not lose any wipers or wing mirrors…. BECAUSE IT HASN'T GOT ANY, B'BUM!

The ever changing line up saw the full squad in use tonight as Dave was back for half the gig on bass; Jim from The Slow Show played the other half; Squire was back on rhythm guitars after a bit of a sabbatical for which Obi-Wan Nickobi had stood in for him…. Is that it? Any more changes? Oh yeah, Philly Smith joined us at this gig for backing vocals, and she proved to be a more than capable roadie and drinks-procurer as well!

And so the 8th and final gig of this Summer of Love came on a rainy wet day at Mottram Hall at the end of August. Oz was back for this one and it was damn lucky he was because the bride had a special CD of songs for the numerous first dances that were taking place, and Obi-Wan was the only one who had a laptop that took CD's. Phew. The Force is strong in that young padwan……

Unfortunately the Force was not strong enough for us to persuade yet another venue events manager that we should be on free beer…. another failed attempt AND we got a telling off for the empty cans of Fosters in our dressing room: "You're not having any of our beer, and you're not having any of your own either!" Eh?? How does that work?! I wouldn't mind, but Fosters isn't even strong enough to be worthy of a bollocking!

So that was the summer of love. We got through Eight Weddings and a funeral. We nearly had a second funeral when Prof. Metz's 20-year-old Mesa Boogie classic amp developed health problems, but he took it to a guy in Timperley who fixes microwaves and televisions. It now sounds mint AND it can defrost a pie AND pick up all the Freeview channels!

Fraudsters, signing OUT….. for now