Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ferry Across The Mersey

I've seen a few bad tribute bands play on ferries, thanks to a series of nightmare Stena Sealink family holiday trips across the Irish Sea in my youth. But as of last night I can finally say I've seen a genuinely good band on a boat. I went to witness the excellent British Sea Power play aboard the Merchant Vessel Royal Daffodil as it sailed up and down Liverpool's River Mersey.


Boarding the MV Royal Daffodil

This novel offering was billed by the organisers as "three hours of maritime mayhem". So as someone who doesn't care much for water and generally supports law and order over wanton chaos, it sounded right up my, er, river naturally. Thankfully the event passed off without any form of aquatic anarchy rearing its ugly head and I managed to avoid falling overboard and having to thrash about in the water like some kind of demented psycho-merman, or anything else bad that could've happened. Luckily the gig didn't start until 10pm, which meant I could still fulfill my Boro season ticket duties (because I enjoy the pain) in the afternoon. It meant a frenzied dash back across t'Pennines for me and Tall Foz in the Padmobile so as to get to Manchester in time for a suitable train to Liverpool. Which we managed, just about.

Although playing on a boat is a nice idea and everything, in practice her (apparently it's a she) extremely low ceilings and arced floor made for less than ideal gig circumstances. I think about 97% of the crowd couldn't see the band. I could though, so that's alright.





BSP were dead good an' that, obviously. My ribcage got crushed, which is often a good sign. They played lots of favourites, but perhaps the most perfect moment was during 'Blackout', undoubtedly one of my favourite BSP nuggets. All the way through the song the boat was performing one of her slow turns and the banks of the Mersey and the city's skyline slid across view through the windows behind the band. It was one of those moments where you feel like you're in a film - which doesn't happen to me that often. The last time I was in one was when I got caught in driving rain on the A1(M) at Wetherby in 2003 with 'Motorcycle Emptiness' playing from the tape deck.

That film got panned by the critics ('A cinematic abomination' - Barry Norman. 'A goat with a handheld camcorder could do better' - MOJO), but this one was great and I think my thespian career may be about to take flight. In fact the only way I could imagine it being any better was if the Mersey's banks - which mean little to me, if anything atall aside from saying "oh look, that building was on the Brookside credits" - had been replaced by those of the Tees. To watch British Sea Power play 'Blackout' against the stirring industrial skyline, with the floodlit, iconic Transporter Bridge gliding into view, and a feint whiff of sulphuric acid... that's the dream.

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