An Evening Without My Children

The following is an account of the first time that I saw ‘Alive’, the Pearl Jam tribute band which was originally written in November 2014.

On Friday night I ventured out into the real world; I went to Estepona to see ‘Alive’ a Pearl Jam tribute band. It was originally meant to be a night out with my fellow Pearl Jam fanatic friend but she was unable to go and so, in the absence of finding anyone else who wanted to go but not wanting to miss it, I decided to go on my own. Which is how I found myself going out into the dark and the rain at 10.45pm with a vague knowledge of where the venue was.

Eventually I found the place and I got to the door at 11pm. It seemed quite quiet inside so as I paid to get in I asked the little chap on the door what time the band came on, midnight more or less he told me. Oh. I had an hour to pass. I went inside and it was indeed rather empty and the people that were there were men (apart from me, the barmaid and one other girl.) Oh well. In I went, got a glass of wine, scanned the room for the best place to sit and headed for a table.

The people who were already there looked like a pretty typical Pearl Jammy crowd, although there was a group of three very old men in coats and flat caps sat at the bar who didn’t quite fit. There was also a man of indiscernible age, although if I was pushed to describe his age I would class him in the ‘quite old’ category. I’m aware that I’m making it sound like I’m in a retirement home type crowd here, but it really wasn’t that bad. Anyway, this particular fellow had very long, curly hair and a strikingly skeletal face. He was wearing a black t-shirt and gaudily patterned trousers tucked into knee high black wellies. I noticed him primarily because he was stood on his own enthusiastically playing air guitar, stopping every now and then to suck on a slice of lemon which caused him to momentarily look even more skeletal. Nice.

As I managed to draw my attention away from that lovely view I became aware of the three people on the table next to mine where two men and the only other female concert-goer in the room sat. One of the men, who looked rather like a very rough, very low budget version of Damon Albarn had a very loud voice and so I eavesdropped on their conversation. He was using his hands to gesture different levels while proclaiming, “Rammstein are here (cue a gesture which suggested a high level) while Nada Surf are here (indicating a much lower level) in terms of mainstream success.” He then went on to ask “What about Axl Rose? May I ask what you think of him?” The other more quietly spoken male at the table answered, inaudibly to me, eliciting the following response from ‘Damon’, “Actually you’re wrong, the man is a cock and I’ll tell you why……” He then went on to describe how Axl leaves the stage during concerts if he gets bottles thrown at him. To me that seems quite a reasonable response but apparently no, it makes him a cock. At this point I decided to get out my phone and start making notes of ‘Damon’s’ wise words as I thought it would be an absolute travesty to be party to such terrific wisdom only to forget it by the next day. So here are a few of my favourite snippets, “but did it rock? Give me music with balls, my music just has to have balls…….The Scorpions were great…..The Scorpions were German? But they didn’t have German accents……….the hardest hitting music of the 80s was Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, I give Def Leppard big respect man………to cut a long story short there’s only one successful band from Germany I’m afraid and that’s Rammstein (what about The Scorpions, Damon? Have you forgotten how you said they were great?)……..I had a band called Psychosis, and we played this song (‘Eye Of The Tiger’ is playing), we rocked man………there was nothing good that came out of the 80s except Nirvana and Metallica (The Scorpions, Damon? What about The Scorpions?) ………my favourite car is the Triumph 1969, I’m all about the classics…….they played this song in Colombia, this song has balls.” At this point he got up to go to the bar while playing air drums and I noticed that Mr Lemon-Wellies had started doing the twist to a La Roux song which then turned into a bit of robotics and then he flailed about quite a bit in the style of somebody drowning before pecking like a chicken.

By this time it was about midnight and the dry ice machine had started pumping out atmospheric clouds which promised the imminent arrival of the band. As the band started to play ‘Damon’ was clearly very appreciative. As each song ended he shouted either “urghhhhhhhh” , “f*** yeeeeaaaaaah!” or “booooooooom!” As a new song began he would bounce to the front of the stage doing some strange ‘picking apples from a tree’ type gesture while dancing alternately like a gorilla or Dick Van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’ and flashing ‘devil horns’ with his hands. He would point at individual band members giving them a big thumbs up which I’m sure gave them no end of comfort. As a song finished he would return to his table (making one, or a combination of his appreciative noises) only to return to the dance floor (doing his apple picking/Dick Van Dyke moves) as the next song began to bounce around and point some more. This carried on throughout the show. Meanwhile Mr Lemon- Wellies had removed his t-shirt to reveal a minimal black vest top and he was dancing around in a style that made me think of Jennifer Beals in ‘Flashdance’.

I was having issues of my own. I was aware that as I was dancing I kept inadvertently touching/grabbing the knee of the chap sat at the bar behind me. I tried moving away a bit but I seemed to keep ending up in the same place again. Occasionally I even managed to momentarily perch on his knee as someone squeezed past me on their way to or from the bar. Luckily he didn’t seem to mind.

Anyway, the night was fantastic. The place was very friendly. One man told me I have lovely eyes and he kept smiling and patting my arm in a friendly way whenever he passed, Mr Lemon- Wellies smiled at me and said hello, ‘Damon’s’ female companion chatted to me a bit about how she was visiting Spain and had just met ‘Damon’ and his friend (I couldn’t help but suspect that this was really a cry for help. Her chatter may have suggested small talk, but her eyes told a different story. It’s as though she was imploring me to save her from the hell of ‘Damon’.) The music was excellent and I had a great time. I didn’t leave until 2.30am and didn’t go to bed until 4am! 4am! And my ears were ringing! It was like my pre-children days all over again.

Unfortunately I was woken up at 7am by the boys and while my night had been decidedly ‘pre-children’ my morning was unmistakably ‘post-children’. My evening without my children had come to an end and life with my children resumed once again……..

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