Ok, so I know it’s only me and Mick who actually have any idea who, or what The Hightown Pirates are, but you know, some things are best when only shared between friends eh?
Wanna join us?
THP came into existence for a few hours over the summer when he and I, were out and about on one of our strolls happily engaged in another long and convoluted conversation beneath a hazy summer sun along the shore of Crosby beach.
Here’s the brief. We’d already ‘done’ the fantasy rocknroll band game, Micks onstage ensemble of Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee, Keith Moon alongside Himself ‘our John’ and Pete Wilkinson, was, I suggested to him, quite possibly one of the greatest fantasy bands I’d ever heard of, whether they’d ever manage to get onstage in one piece is a moot point, but they’d definitely throw the best after show party you could ever wish to attempt to survive.
My own offering was basically an unholy alliance of late 60’s Who and Shack to which he replied
“Can’t have two fucking bass players mate, Entwistle will have to go La.”
I’m sure Pete Wilkinson will be delighted to hear that.
We leave the ironmen of Crosby Beach behind us and jump on a train, alighting a few miles up the coast at Hightown, there is a pub adjacent to the station, it’d be rude not to right?
Apparently this tiny suburb once had its own local newspaper called ‘The Hightown Bugle’ as proclaimed on the wooden shed, we pass which once upon a time served as its office/distribution point. The blue paint is as faded as an Evertonians memories of winning any silverware, or indeed, *grits teeth* the reds last league title. Maybe that’s why we both suddenly seem briefly lost to a few seconds of vague nostalgia? Maybe we’re just a pair of sentimental loons, either way, it’s all cool.
Lunch is ordered there is a ‘solid’ element to accompany the liquid refreshment too. I can tell you without hesitation, having recently had the absolute privilege of lunch at PJ’s nans, if you want pie and chips, go round to hers one day, swerve the tasteless shite masquerading as ‘pie’ they serve here.
“How’s ‘yer pie mate?”
“About as tasty as a ships biscuit after an hour in the washing machine mate.”
I’ll leave the culinary criticisms to that chubby bald fella on the telly eh?
The ‘pie’ does however trigger a conversation about the kind of food, once served up to sailor’s way back in the ‘day’. This in turn leads us both ponder whether our current surroundings might have ever been targeted by press-gangs in search of unconscious/unwilling new recruits for HMS “Oh fucking hell nooooo.”
We readily agree, neither of us would have been best pleased to have found ourselves prizing our eyelids apart one hung-over morning in the 1700’s to find ourselves bound for The West Indies or a confrontation with the Spanish Armada.
“Fuck that mate, I’d have been a pirate.”
“Who would you have in your crew then Mick?”
“Kate Bush, Scarlet Johansen, my Alice, Arthur Lee, Anthony Burden and my old mate Carl.”
“Keith Richards, Shane MacGowan, Gordon Ramsey, Courtney Love, my Tabitha and Pete Townshend in the crow’s nest ‘cos he could see for miles and miles.”
“Fuck off with Gordon Ramsey though, he’s a cunt mate.”
“Maybe, but he’s a good cook and I reckon he could handle himself if it kicked off with the navy, or that lot on board your ship.”
“Nah, I’m not having that mate, Ramsey can fuck off La.”
The game is afoot, The Hightown Pirates are born and my shit tasting pie wasn’t a waste of money after all.
So we are en-route to Hebden Bridge for a gig, Me, Mick, Skinny and Marty singing along to Another Girl, Another Planet on the stereo, (OK Marty isn’t singing along he’s a ‘proper’ musician and doesn’t have a fucking clue who The Only Ones are).
It appears summer is determined to hang about a while longer yet and as we wind our way towards tonight’s show in a town. apparently over populated by the kind of people Alexi Sayle once described as ‘yoghurt weavers’, spirits are high.
Sound-check done, ‘missing’ drummer from tonight’s support act Tenements located set-list written (sort of) and in the surrounding pubs, the various ‘local’ dialects are joined by the inevitable travelling Scouse contingent. It’s a heady mix, you might even say it has something of a buccaneer feel to it, as there is much laughter and the suggestion of some magic/skulduggery in the air. All that’s missing is the captain and the rest of his crew, otherwise known as Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band.
Tenements are grooving along nicely, Mick has decided to watch them while sitting with a few utterly smashed but equally delighted fans right in front of the stage. No surprise really, he’s a man of the people who feels most at home amongst them. If you’re going to spend a lifetime writing stories about other people, you aren’t going to get much inspiration if you’re cossetted from the outside world all the time are you? Besides, if you tried to construct an ivory tower in ‘Kenny, someone would quite rightly come along and tear it too pieces anyway. They’d try and sell it back to you the next day too though, for a ‘discounted’ price of course, standard La.
Skinny gives us the nod, the stage is ready, Autumn Almanac is still mystifying me as it floats out of the backstage stereo, we’re singing and laughing before having something resembling a ‘team huddle’ then its show time.
What occurs over the next 90 minutes or so, feels akin to a homecoming celebration, even though we are in Yorkshire and therein lies the secret of this particular magic. You may be a ticket buying member of the public, or the person writing this article, you’re just as crucial to the spell. Michael Head needs an audience, his audience need him, that’s how it works, the irony being, that although it feels like a personal affair you really want the rest of the world to know about, you’re left with the feeling that those of us ‘meant to be’ here tonight, are.
Tonight’s musicians will be joined by the remaining members of the Red Elastic Band on 3rd October at St Georges Hall in Liverpool, if you don’t have a ticket, do what any self-respecting pirate would do to get one.
“Up the fucking REBS la…..”
See ya there.
Ps. I still have no idea what a ‘Yoghurt Weaver’ looks like though.