Pinsent Mason's Christmas Party, Midland Hotel

by Emmett Stapleton

The Christmas season is in full swing. On what is surely the first “Mad Friday” of many this December, The Fraudsters were appearing in The Derby Suite at Manchester’s Midland Hotel for Pinsent Masons staff Xmas party.

But first, we had an “unforeseen circumstance” to circumnavigate. The son of our guitarist Squire was admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis. Eeek! We gave the lad as much time as we could, but with just two hours to showtime, we had to draft in Ozzy Osborne to take Squire’s place behind Dave. “Obi-Wan Nickobi” has played with us a few times before, and a quick recap of the setlist in the dressing room meant he was ready and able to do the gig at short notice – professionalism at its best, and the show must go on! (He still forgot the ending to “Dakota” however……)

Yes, you read it above – we had a DRESSING ROOM in the hotel. A sign saying “The Fraudsters” was pinned to the door, but we didn’t want anyone knowing where we were so down came that sign to be replaced by our own that said “One Direction”. On reflection this was perhaps not a good idea, because thereafter every five minutes or so some giggling women would burst in looking for Harry Styles. Although our lead singer Richard’s hair is very like the sex-symbol Master Styles’s mop, apparently he is NOT an adequate alternative option for most women….. in fact, all women.….

We had a bit of an entourage with us tonight – Milton, Critch and another guy who we shall call “Mr Silent Mk.2” and they quickly whacked in a big room service order…… which on reflection was perhaps not a good idea because a pint of lager was £4.75! So they headed for the nearest Tesco Metro and returned with some Carlsberg which was the more reasonable price of £4.75 for 4………..

Life on the road often takes the form of long periods sat in a dressing room with nothing to do, so we kept ourselves active by doing an art project on the room’s flipchart board. On reflection, it was perhaps a mistake to use a black marker pen that was not “wipeboard friendly”…….

Just before we went on stage we were chatting to one of the hotel managers. He asked us what sort of stuff we were playing and how loud we’d be (he didn’t want any complaints from guests trying to sleep). On reflection, saying “Your guests are going to be listening to some amazing Indie-Britpop-Dancefloor-singalong classics…… whether they like it or not” was perhaps not the best answer to give.

As you would expect with an office Christmas party, the punters were well up for letting their hair down and we delivered our set like it was the best hair undoing service in Manchester. The dancefloor was rammed for every song (except “There She Goes” for some strange reason) so much so that by the end of the night the interconnecting wooden slabs that made up the dancefloor had actually BROKEN UP!

During the set, we had our biggest ever smattering of guest vocalists – We usually get someone up to do the “All the people, so many people…..” chorus of Parklife, which this time involved TWO guys doing it; We also had guest singers for Sex on Fire, Sit Down and Don’t Look Back in Anger……. Not sure that Burkey was completely happy with all this karaoke however – probably because it means Mr X doing even LESS work than he does already.

There were a few hurdles for us to surmount during the set, most notably a couple of microphone cable related malfunctions but nothing fazes The Fraudsters and we played our second longest ever gig to lots of raucous applause from all people in the function room (and lots of banging on the floor from the people in the bedrooms above) The new festive numbers went down like snow on Christmas Day! (Get y’selves down to The Brook in Sale on December 23rd for a free public airing of these shopping mall classics!!!!!)

While we were clearing up afterwards, we found a pair of Jimmy Choo’s which we handed in. When the owner of these shoes came looking for them a little later, it was on reflection perhaps not a good idea to tell her that our drummer was a shoe fetishist…….. and furthermore it was perhaps a tad unfortunate that we told her this piece of mis-information while she was stood with a stiletto-wearing friend next to a big speaker at the precise moment that Burkey was on all fours unplugging a cable. A pure comedy gold moment came as Burkey yanked the cable out of the speaker, accidentally brushing the young lady’s foot with his arm, and they looked down to see an alleged shoe-fetishist kneeling in close proximity to their feet! Ha ha ha ha!

By 1.30am we’d decided that we should stop making these on-reflection errors and get the hell out of the Midland. Professor Emmetz was driving and we headed down the A56 before any other mistakes could be made….. apart from the one where we drove past the burger joint, delivered all the gear back to the Fraudcave, then returned to the burger shop to find it shut! Aaaaaargh!

PS – Squire’s little boy is OK and fully recovered. Amen to that.

Davebass