From Threshold To Liquorice Allstars

In an earlier posting I wrote about my old band ‘Threshold’, from 30 years ago, reuniting for a rehearsal and talking about playing together again. Well, that was in January 2012 so it’s only taken us another year to do the same thing – but this time for a purpose other than nostalgia. No, on this occasion we had a real, live legitimate gig under the collective name, ‘Liquorice Allstars’.

Photo of Nick's unusual leads case

Setting up for the ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ rehearsal; doesn’t everyone carry their e-drum leads in a Tweenies case?

Gathering back in the attic of Gary Smith, we managed to knock out about 20+ songs over the course of a Saturday evening, staggered between a couple of bottles of wine and a Ruby Murray, all more than adequately documented on Gary’s BLOG site.

The impending 30 year gig debut (08/02/2013) was to be at the Hilbre Court pub in West Kirby for a birthday of a friend of Gary’s. Armed with only my vintage Ludwigs and the unusual prospect of playing unmiked, I turned up at the venue not knowing what to expect, not having set foot in that particular establishment for nearly three decades.

Luckily, there was a big wooden floor for the band to set up on so my fears of being unheard started to diminish. In my regular band, I am surrounded by four (loud) backlines so mic’s and a rig become necessary; but I soon realised that any potential volume problems may actually come from me as I watched the rest of the diminutively sized gear arrive! Three tiny backlines and a small (but powerful) vocal PA were looking to be my only non-competition – would I be on the Hot Rods?

The nostalgia factor went up a notch as some old faces from the past turned up for the spectacle, including my very first partner in crime in  rhythm section, Mr Will Stephenson, driving in from Colne for the reunion. I probably hadn’t seen my old band-mate since the early 80’s and it was good to hear he still owned his original Squire Precision Bass, now worth a hell of a lot more than he originally purchased it for!

'Liquorice Allsorts', Hilbre Court, West Kirby, 08/02/13

‘Liquorice Allsorts’, live and nervous on stage at the Hilbre Court, West Kirby, 08/02/13. Photo courtesy of Paul Donnelly.

As for the gig, no doubt we were all pretty nervous, being typically under-rehearsed and not really sure about those all-important endings. It was a bit of a shock for me to be playing with such a quiet backline as the missing wall of sound gave me the impression that I was the loudest thing on stage (never usually the case these days), creating an uneasy feeling of being a bit naked and exposed. However, after some volume pot twiddling the front-of-house sound started to gel and we managed to muddle our way through a set of songs by some real all-stars, including Neil Young, R.E.M., Bowie, The Smiths, Crowded House, Dylan and the ubiquitous AC/DC.

So how about the post-gig band consensus?

  1. People seemed to like us.
  2. We had fun.
  3. We wouldn’t mind at all doing it again.

In conclusion, it was pretty successful evening judging by the comments I could hear from people drifting out into the night at closing time.

An eerily quiet post-midnight ambience cosseted that particular part of West Kirby, as I loaded my cases into the back of the car, reflecting on the reality that the last time we played together in full anger to a public audience would have been 1983. The strange thing about it all, was that it seemed like those missing 30 years had never happened. We just picked up from where we left off, a little older and life-weathered, but still retaining some of that youthful on-the-edge energy that should have been lost in the mists of time. Some say reigniting old flames can be a gateway to disappointment; in this case though, it looks pretty safe to throw some more fresh logs on the hearth.