I think this was our third gig. The Pinetrees was a hotel on the boulevard, a big road that runs through the top of Clydebank. It’s the main road up to the west highlands from the south, hence the hotels. I don’t know how much tourist business they get though. That night in 1984 though the hypothetical tourist would have been in for an eyeful.
The gig had been arranged by the Bands Promotion Group an organisation with the noble aim of promoting Clydebank’s musical talent which, as is the way of things, soon became a seething cesspool of self-interest, petty politicking and pointless internecine jealousies. The gig which we played was one of a series they put on in the Pinetrees. We were to play with a band called – jeez-oh I’ve forgotten their name! Anyhow this band, something like “Natural Rain” mebbe, were fronted by a particularly noisome specimen who was not at all happy about going on first. A certain atmosphere developed during the sound check as it became apparent that this wee shite had taken the hump. They were a pretty mince band playing sub-Simple Minds effects-laden garbage, but the singer really thought he was something else, which indeed he was. I suppose I can’t blame him, in those days I would have been bothered about going on first and stuff like that and I was convinced that we were God’s gift to music. But hey, I was right.
This gig was also our first encounter with Dickie Banana purveyor of the world’s worst hamburger suppers and p.a.owner. In my innocence I thought he knew how to get a sound out of the impressive amounts of equipment he charged us for bringing along. But no, he was a diddy, a convincing diddy to the novice but a diddy nonetheless. Liked a lot of echo did Dickie, the word “swamped” springs to mind.
To let your picture it in the theatre of your mind, the room we played in was a long narrow one. It was the downstairs bar of the hotel, more like a cellar than anything else. We were set up at the far end, handily in front of the gents toilets. As you surveyed the scene from the “stage”, you took in the bar to your right and the seats to your left, booths or tables was it? Who can say, tables I think. There was space for about three people to stand abreast between the tables and the bar and the whole room was mebbe fifty yards long.
So the long day wore on and folk began to arrive, a lot of folk – soon the place was absolutely mobbed. My brother used to bring a vast horde of young guys to the gigs in those days, all fervent Charlies’ fans. Well, when they had a few pints in them anyway. “Naturally Slimy” started to play and it quickly became apparent that this was not what the populace had come to hear. Cries of “Charlies!”, “Get aff!” and “Johnny B. Goode!” began to fill the air. The young fellow fronting the band didnae like it, he took offence not to put too fine a point on it. It was a prime example of one man’s meat being another man’s poison, for whilst he was feeling like a cheese in the rain, we were lapping it up with a warm feeling of self-congratulation. “Charlies! Charlies! Charlies!” went the crowd as Natural Whatever soldiered on increasingly sourly. Eventually the strain become too much for the poor sap and he uttered the immortal words “The Creeps are on next……..they are not with us!” That was the biggest cheer he got all night.
Well, they did a murderously bad version of “You make me Duzzay Miss Luzzay….when you rok an ro..al” sung by their mustachioed bass player, and then they had shot their bolt. It was CharliesTime.
>We took the stage to rapt applause. Davy pulled down a big bed sheet with the name of the other mob on it that they’d tacked up at the back of the stage. This struck the right note with the crowd although interestingly the moment was deleted from the video which we spent ages trying to get off of Natural Thing later on. Dickie Banana turned on the smoke machine, everything went dark, and we were off. What a riot! We played about eighteen songs, they all went down a storm. It really was a good night. I started off my ridiculous costume wearing that night with a hat with a crow feather in it, a kipper tie, and a pair of shorts. Lawrence made one of his rare concessions to showbiz that night by wearing a pyjama jacket. Stevie tripped up over his bass amp. Some really good looking young girl asked me to her party when I got off stage…..why did I not take her up on it!!! It was a triumph, we or rather my guitar, was hideously out of tune but it didn’t matter, it was rockin hell.
On the way home that night we climbed up on top of the billboard near the golf course at Duntocher and wrote our names on the back of it. I remember sitting up there talking to Davy, I was very happy. I sometimes wonder if I climbed up again would the names still be there. We walked across the golf course and I was talking to a girl who was a friend of Gerry Carruthers. She was calling me a muso for not liking The Monkees that much, I was going through one of those purist phases at the time. This girl had had letters from Morrissey, which was very impressive, The Smiths were at their peak at that time. Sad to tell, that poor lassie killed herself later that year.
Another memory I have of that night was of getting ready to go to the gig. I was very nervous and dead scared of being late. I was shaving in my parent’s kitchen and I had one of those terrible shaves you get now and then. Then I capped it all by slicing off a bit of my lip. Could I get that bastard to stop bleeding! I had a big giant scab on it when I eventually took all the bog paper off.
There you go – The Pinetrees now known as The West Highway Hotel, one of the finest moments for us live.
The Band that night were:
R.Ruthven guitar and vocals