The other day, walking up to Hawkesbury Junction along the main road at Longford I spotted a huge poster for an Ash concert in the Ricoh Arena – only a mile or so from where I stood. Making a mental note I realised it was actually for Friday, and this was Wednesday – so I made a very spur of the moment call to see if tickets were still available.
Three minutes later I had placed my order, mesmerised by the totally automated Ticketmaster service which can actually understand what you say to it. ASH – COVENTRY – 1ST AUGUST. “Do you mean “Ash, Coventry Ricoh Arena, Friday 1st August?” YES!! “How many tickets….” etc and it was so I easy that I read out my card number while walking down the towpath and confirmed the transaction.
As usual I had forgotton that a couple of days travelling by boat can generate amazingly complex return travel plans, so of course the journey to the concert turned out to be from Claydon near Cropredy (almost an hour by road) rather than a 20 minute walk from the Greyhound at Hawkesbury.
Despite this I am so glad I made the effort as the concert was simply outstanding. Supported by Sheffield band “The Gentlemen” who immediately made a gaff by asking the crowd whether they considered Coventry to be in the North or the South. “MIDLANDS” … “Oh – OK – so this is the Midlands is it?” but their music was much better than their geography and this band is certainly on the brink of better things than warming up five hundred or so Ash fans.
I still couldn’t work out what this gig was all about. Why did Ash fly in tonight then back to Norway for a gig the next day, and back to Cardiff the day after? This seemed like a lot of hard work for so few fans in such a strange venue. The Ricoh arena had hundreds of staff, some employed specifically to stop people looking through the curtains to the football stadium below.
At 9pm Ash appeared and the tiny stage burst into life – how amazing sound and lighting can be these days with a very minimalist amount of equipment. The band were as good as they could have been – very loud but crystal clear and best of all we were able to stand only 20 feet back from the stage without being trampled or soaked.
It was as if they were playing to a stadium – but it felt like a personal gig in your own front room. Fantastic.
Outside the rain was tipping down at midnight as we drove round and round and round the Coventry ring road looking for the way home. The concert a distant and damp memory as we finally located the boat in the pitch dark. I bet nobody else there had to duck through damp undergrowth with a torch on their way home.