Friday the 13th; or The Awful Spectre of Catastrophe and Ruin


Unusual gig the other night. Even by our own admittedly outrageous standards. We were asked to play for the opening night of a new venue in Edinburgh, The Ark at Waterloo Place. But before I go any further I would remind you that it was Friday the 13th.

When we arrived for the sound check they were practically still painting the place, laying the dance floor and wiring the lights. There had been problems getting the place ready in time. It’s the old Trafalgar suite above the Waterloo Bar and has a clear view down Princes Street through the columns at the east end. Our buddy Ralph who was engineering proceeded to tell us about the various teething problems with the place such as lack of acoustic treatment in a room with lots of windows, lights not installed yet, air conditioning not installed yet, etc. Lots of technical stuff. However we didn’t mind about that because we knew that Ralph knows his stuff so we let him get on with it. We had DJ Tall Paul Robinson and Root System to open the show who were both great.

When we started playing the whole place started bouncing. Literally. It felt like we were on the back of that truck at the Linkylea Festival again. After a few songs the temperature in the room was unbelievable thanks in part to the air conditioning not being installed. Then Dave Lawson, the manager, got through the crowd and up to the stage to tell Andy that the bouncing was causing the ceiling of the bar downstairs to cave in! People were fleeing the bar. Andy told the crowd we were causing the building to collapse, and the place erupted with cheering! I kid you not! He asked the crowd to take a few steps back, which is a first in the history of Bombskare gigs, and which lasted about ten seconds before everyone surged forward again. Its official now, by the way. Our music causes mass insanity. People don’t care about there personal safety when they are dancing to us. If the stage wasn’t at the opposite end of the room from the stairs, I have to admit, I would probably have bolted.

We didn’t play well that night, in my opinion; plenty of fuck ups, which we can chalk off to the intolerable conditions on the stage, that it was Friday the 13th, and by being distracted that we were about to destroy one of Edinburgh‘s finest examples of Georgian architecture, with Ska. I was drenched in sweat two songs in. My guitar was literally dripping. It reminded me of one time in Bannerman’s a few years ago, when there were similar conditions and I nearly fainted on stage. The whole room slowed down into bullet time, but I was watching everything in real time thinking, hang on, I’m about to pass out. Similar thing happened on Friday. Half way through the set, I noticed Colin frantically trying to open one of the big windows looking onto Waterloo Place, to let some oxygen in, but they were all nailed shut. I was sorely tempted to smash one in by the end.

The coup de grace was of course near the end when after I’m so Happy, I think, the lights fused plunging the whole place into hot sweaty darkness, which is of course, my favourite kind of darkness. We pressed on with World Turned Upside Down, in the dark, and wouldn’t you know it, we played it perfectly. The one song of the set. After that we called it a night. We had a few more songs on our set list but any more songs and we would have been pressing our luck. The building would probably exploded next. Or been sucked into a vortex like at the end of Poltergeist. Fuck that!

It was a difficult set but in spite of all the problems, it was actually a pretty good night. It was Friday the 13th, after all. You can tell that the place has the potential to be a great wee venue; great location with plenty of natural light and a great view, not too big, not too small. Good PA system. Admittedly it was a pretty full on first night for the place and most other bands won’t be threatening the foundations of the building, but still, it’s going to take some work to get it right. Thanks to our buddy Machine Gun Ralph Viterbo for doing an incredible job under far from perfect conditions, to Tall Paul for the tunes, to Root System once again, to Rick and Mandy for all the hard work during the chaos, and to Dave, and of course thanks to everyone for coming down and literally breaking in this new venue. In our next episode. Three gigs in one evening! Can Vini do it? Tune in next week to find out!

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