Four Weddings and hopefully NO funerals

by Emmett Stapleton

Dave’s gig Blog – Four Weddings and hopefully NO funerals – August 2011 After six weeks of holiday related non-activity, the two weekends at the end of August were busy ones for our Fraudsting heroes as they had two weddings each weekend (that’s four weddings in total, maths fans) The Hippy Van was duly booked for the entire stretch, and Squire volunteered to drive for the first weekend (as long as a bed was provided on the bus).

Wedding #1 – Combermere Abbey

We renedevouzed at Fraud HQ at 4pm, loaded up and hit the road. It soon became clear that Burkey was NOT a fan of the Terminator films, so that DVD went out of the window (literally, metaphorically) and we made use of Rich’s “Family Guy” disc as the in-flight entertainment. Our destination was Combermere Abbey, for the wedding of Claire & Steve. It was way way down the M6, past Crewe, through Nantwich (where The Charlatans are not from) and out into the dark green leafy and mysterious Cheshire countryside, where there are signposts leading you to secret bunkers…….

Soon we were travelling through the zillionaire stockbroker belt. At one point we were held up at a railway level crossing. In the queue were a Roller, a Bentley, two Jags and an Aston Martin. At least we kept up appearances in our Mercedes….. Sprinter van.

The One-&-half hour journey was also spent following “Big Sam” on Twitter, and Dave texting his football team organizing their game for the next morning – Good job he did it on the journey south because when we arrived at Combermere there was no mobile signals it was that remote.

The setting was in the beautiful grounds of the Abbey, all manor house and manicured gardens within 12 foot high brick walls in English garden bond. There was a maze and a massive big lake. And the smell of the country. Or our farts. The wedding venue itself was a semi-permanent marquee, and we were well looked after by the Master of Ceremonies.

Emmett, Rich and Burkey went off for a walk leaving Squire and Dave “minding the van”. Being the foodies that they are, our rhythm & bass guitarists started to get hungry and discovered and unopened packet of spicy Thai crisps that were probably someone else’s…. probably Richie’s…. however, in the best traditions of “It’d be rude not to” they started helping themselves…. until there were none left.

On his return, Mr.X was NOT happy and availed Squire & Dave with a barrage of four-letter-words sung in a power ballad style and with a chorus that went “The only food I had / They’ve come and taken away…”

Power ballads were again aired by our 80-s loving lead singer during the soundcheck. Rich began to croon “It’s been seven hours and fifteen days, since you took your love away….” This resulted in half the guests (still lounging around après dejeuner) joining in and singing along, then clapping & cheering when he finished the first chorus…. And you wonder why he’s always complaining that his voice is “tired”…..

He then started singing to Dave and Squire: “It’s been half an hour and fifteen mins, since you took my food away….”

There’s always a bit of banter with the catering and bar staff while we hang around at these sort of Do’s. A couple of kitchen staff were given a right royal rollicking from their Boss when they were chatting to us and having a quick cig….. next to a massive gas bottle!

The gig…. Well I needn’t describe it to you in great detail. We smashed the back door of our usual set of indie-crossover-dancey-party tunes and we thrashed the front door of the new tunes added by special request of the happy couple (Apply Some Pressure, Chasing Rainbows….. more to come tomorrow) and we bashed the trap door of the DJ-ing, “Reach for the Stars” being a dancefloor filling highlight as always……

When the time came to leave, we packed the van, Squire took to the wheel and he promptly steered us into several dark dead ends on the massive Combermere estate. There was a storm outside, and the gap between crack and thunder was closing in. The cracks of lightning lit up the sky like a sign, like a neon sign. We thought our bus would be tossed like a toy and the paint stripped to chrome. But it wasn’t, thank god. Eventually we found a way out by which time the one-&-half hour journey home had become two hours, but we amused ourselves by having a competition to guess which chord Squire played in Disco 2000 that wasn’t the right one. Burkey protested this was unfair as he is a drummer so he’s not a musician. Dave protested the same – he’s a bass player, so he’s not a musician, ho-HOH!! It was our lead singer (also not a musician??!!) who answered correctly that Squire played A flat when he should have played B flat. The prize was getting dropped off first, by which time it was nearly 3am.… oh the glamour of rock & roll on the road.

Wedding #2 – Room, central Manchester

HAVING the Sprinter van for the whole weekend gave Mr X the opportunity to get some furniture removals done. Having a group of four guys in the van gave him the manpower to get the furniture hauled into his flat, and so we got roped into roady-ing furniture around with our lead singer, who is notorious for being the world’s worst roadie. When it comes to lifting and shifting the gear for gigs Xan is nowhere to be seen, but when it’s his own furniture to be moved he gets stuck right in, doesn’t he!

Anyway, the venue for Wedding#2 was “Room” a swanky restaurant in Manchester’s up-market King Street district, and for 100’s of years the Manchester branch of the Reform Club. The Groom was a mate of Burkey’s and he and his wife were heavily into their indie music so The Fraudsters were right up their street. When we kicked off the gig, everyone was up dancing even the older guests. All the bar staff were singing along, and the waitresses shook their bootys to the music as they danced from table to table.

The groom had broken his arm playing football the week before the wedding and could’ve been in A&E again when he was hoisted into the air by his mates during Mr Brightside. Meanwhile, said mates had looked after us Fraudsters very well indeed by providing us with two large bags of Budweiser cans from the nearby Tesco Metro.

Our set is becoming more and more of a show with audience participation. The last few times we’ve played “Parklife” it’s involved persuading a suitably up-for-it member of the audience to climb up on stage with us and sing the chorus line to Dave’s Phil Daniels cockney rap. Tonight we had “Dan” doing the honours very well indeed. Later, “I am the Resurrection” became a Pretty Woman / Resurrection medley (“aarrgh!!!” Squire) when one of the older dudes on the guestlist started singing the Roy Orbison classic over the drum & bass & guitar hook intro. He knew what he was doing aswell, changing the pitch slightly to suit the notes of the Stone Roses classic. Genius!

After the gig we broke down the gear and loaded the van which was parked outside Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green shop – recently trashed in the riots, door still boarded up so we couldn’t get in. I noticed no one had looted any of the Big Ego pictures of the owner that adorned the walls inside the shop…..
We piled the gear, then ourselves, into the van and sat down and strapped in ready for lift off. Nothing happened though…… then we remembered our driver/rhythm guitarist Squire was asleep on the shelf at the back of the van – as he had been since half way through the set (ho-HOH!!) so we had to raise him from his slumber and get him to drive us home. 3am again, good morning Milkman xx

Wedding #3 – Peover Golf Club

Oh the golf buggys looked so inviting….. but no, we resisted the temptation to go for a spin and got on with the professional job in hand, which was playing Caroline and Dave’s wedding (Caroline being Richie’s sister’s best mate). Now, this wedding involved no less than FOUR PREGNANT WOMEN in the audience, one of whom would be singing a couple of songs with us – Richie’s sister of course! And so Charlotte repeated the vocal exploits of her 30th birthday earlier in the year by belting out “Heart of Glass” and “Valerie” with us. She was 8 months, 3 weeks 6 days and 23 hours pregnant, and with all the other ladies-with-child in the room we could easily have had the world’s first birth at a Fraudsters gig! (one for the Sitcom). Luckily Burkey, who does everything in this band, wasn’t called upon to add midwifery to his list of responsibilities, and the gig passed without major incident other than the dancefloor getting worn out as usual and Squire having four portions of Hog roast.

On the way home, the quiz for getting dropped off first was won by the driver (!) Emmett when he correctly guessed that the key Richie was singing “Disco 2000” in was H minor……

Wedding #4 – Soulton Hall, Shropshire

This one was the furthest journey yet – we went PAST Combermere Abbey where we’d been last weekend. We went PAST the secret bunker too. There were millions of people there. Mostly Terrorists and Chinese spies. Sorry, the Chinese weren’t spies, they ran the pub/Chinese restaurant in Nantwitch where we stopped for food and drink and to watch the United v. Arsenal game before continuing to the venue.

The football was great of course, and provided the inspiration for soundchecking the mics later by saying “Testing, testing, 8–2, 8–2”

We tested “Disco 2000” out because Rich admitted to having “lost his mind” the previous evening when he sang it in H minor. Everything sounded good and we were ready to rock!

BUT first we had to hang around for a bit because the speeches were dragging on, as they always do (we never quite get round to running a sweepstake do we?) The hanging around resulted in us meeting Catherine, one of the bride’s mates who at first thought we were gardeners! Then, when she found out we were the band she immediately said “You ARE going to get changed aren’t you?!” but redeemed herself by getting a very respectable 4 out of 5 in the “guess which instruments we play” game.

The Gardeners, sorry, The Fraudsters, kicked off the party this week by playing the happy couple’s wedding dance “One Day Like This” then firing through our trusty setlist (in the correct order this time, thanks Rich!) to a dancefloor full of happy guests. We had a guest vocalist in this one aswell – the new Mrs Prince herself who sang “Nobody Does it Better” with us – a song she had requested and we were more than happy to oblige, even having a secret rehearsal with Kate a few days before the Event (in the secret bunker, of course!)

Needless to say, this song went down a STORM to a room packed full of friends and family, and Kate’s new hubby David was gobsmacked, as they probably don’t say in Chester.

At half time we had a chat with David: “Ear’y’are mate, you’re not gonna let yer wife upstage you like that are you pal?” and without any further persuasion, Dave was signed up to sing “Parklife” with us in the 2nd half.

After our encores, we got jiggy on the dancefloor to some of Emmett’s playlist disco classics (especially Reach for the Stars….) then waved all the guests off as they boarded the funbus to take them to various hotels in the vicinity. All that was left was for us to chill out with Bride and Groom and reflect on a quite magnificent evening! Kate let it be known that she saw The Fraudsters 3 years ago at a works Do and thought we were that good, she just HAD to have us play if she ever got married. I must say, finding a fella, falling in love and marrying him in 3 years flat is one hell of a way to get y’self a Fraudsters gig!!!
When it was time to go, Mr Grumpy Burkey the driver was being a right miserable git as he always is when he’s driving (well, we presume he is – we’re not sure cos we’ve never seen it before cos he somehow usually manages to wriggle out of driving). His miserable git-ness led to him driving recklessly and squashing a rabbit on the road away from Soulton Hall. So, at the end of Four Weddings, we did have a funeral after all.

The drive home was a good hour-&-half, so we sung songs about Emmett’s Roadie Gloves and stray dogs that disappear, then discussed the nutritious value of eating Farley’s rusks:

Emmett: “Do you put them in a bowl and pour milk on them?” 
Rich: “No” 
Emmett: “You’ve fooked up there man!”

At 4am we were unloading at the new (temporary) Fraudsters HQ (a secret bunker somewhere in Timperley) and shouting at Pat Mustard as he went about his milk round.

Next week it’s an even LONGER journey – to a gig in NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE!!! Watch this space…………..

Davebass