Ivor on the unglamorous side of entertaining
Northern clubland star Ivor Hillman, who is involved in the band My Pierrot Dolls, as well as duo Cat’s Eyes and genre tribute show Echo Beach, writes on the unglamorous side of life on the road as a jobbing entertainer.
We started getting ready for our duo gig at 4.20pm and we were soon in the van and ready to hit the road. It’s raining, and the motorway is running at a snail’s pace.
7pm we arrived at the designated venue. We jump out of the van and try getting through the front doors. Alas they’ve got one of the dreaded ‘key entry’ devices. You start screaming through the monitor ‘hello can you let us in we’re the act for tonight”. Ten minutes later we are wet through and a bloke comes to the door, lets you in and asks “Are you a member” I reply,’We’re the turn mate’. He says “Go round the back and I’ll let you in”.
Round the back you head only to find there’s cars parked just where you want to load in. Undeterred I parked at a bizarre angle, smack bang in a big puddle because the rain is getting heavier by the minute.
As we carry the gear through the door there’s an old couple armed with ten bingo dabbers on their table and they whinge “Shut the door its freezing”! You ignore them and carry on regardless.
Once in the club you then do a full makeover of the stage and remove lots of tables and chairs, the bingo table and an old Christmas tree, probably circa 1972.
Then you enter the dressing room/cupboard whereupon you think you’ve stumbled onto the set of the TV programme ‘Storage Hoarders’. Inside are more broken tables, tins of paint, hoovers, broken bingo machines and a broken mirror on the floor. No coat hangers, so you throw your clothes over one of the broken chairs and start to set up.
No concert chairman is present, so we asked the bar staff where the plug points are. They point you in the direction of the back of the stage where there are six sockets, but only one is free. All the rest of the sockets are taken up with star cloths, bingo machine and various plugs which don’t seem to have anything attached to them. Once set up we get a drink and sit down. Slowly but surely you realise you’ve sat in someone’s seat. A family of four come and virtually sit on your knee, constantly muttering and giving us dirty looks.
Its 8.25pm and a bloke walks through the door, looks round the room and goes to the chairman’s box. Quickly we headed towards him and said “Hi we’re Cats Eyes what time do you want us on”? He replies ‘half past eight’.
Quickly we rushed into the cupboard but before I’d even opened my suit bag the chairman was banging on the door if we were ready. “Five minutes mate” we shout. Through the door he asks, ’Do we want introducing’ and ‘what’s your name again’? We tell him just to black out and we’ll introduce ourselves.
Two songs in and an old couple who are playing cards decide to move to the back and the family whose table we apparently seated ourselves at have barricaded themselves in with coats, chairs a mobility scooter and 2 walking sticks … nobody is having their table!
Bingo finishes and the bingo ticket draw is made. It now becomes like a scene from the Bible where Jesus parts the Red Sea. Virtually the whole room disappears for the last bus.
So there we are twelve people left in. Three men and a dog dancing to Human and the Chairman shouts ‘Two more please’, but at the same time he puts his coat on leaves.
Gig over and we hear the dreaded rattle of the steward’s keys. “How long you going to be I’ve got a taxi in 20 minutes’.
On the way home there was a detour off the motorway and through another town ,adding an hour to the journey.
2.30 am and I’m home…. thank god!
Cats Eyes/Echo Beach is available through most reputable agencies.