Halloween weekend. West London. Autumn nights closing in but its still mild for the time of year.
After taking the bus to Hammersmith I stroll up Shepherds Bush Road to the Green, passing the Empire and turning left onto the Uxbridge Road, all bargain shops, middle-eastern supermarkets, take-aways and restaurants.
Terl is already unloaded, drums stacked stage right ready for set-up. Andy ‘Wal’ Coughlan pulls round the corner in his bus, clips the kerb and splits his front tyre. Not a good start to the evening but the RAC ride to the rescue. This is the ‘wild west’ after all!
At the heart of the ‘Dirty Strangers’ stamping ground, Bush Hall, at 310 Uxbridge Road, was built by publisher W.C. Humdall in 1904, used as a dance hall through the roaring twenties, a soup kitchen during World War II, and a bingo hall and rehearsal space, for the likes of The Who and Cliff Richard, during the late fifties and sixties.
Revived as a snooker and social club during the eighties and nineties, it was restored as a music hall in 2001. With its ornate chandeliers and intricate plasterwork it’s one of the prettiest venues in London.
Matt Hay is behind the desk as we set up and soundcheck. Backstage we chill out and stretch vocal cords. When the lights go down, the boys hit the stage for the intro to ‘One Thing Leads To Another’ and we’re off…. rattling through the set, Terl and Wal holding down the groove, Nick weaving his magic on keyboards, Simon and I on guitars, ukulele and banjo, while the girls strut their stuff centre stage.
Before we know it, it’s time for pack down and load out. Plans are made for tomorrow and we tumble out into the damp autumn night, alive with party goers, buzzing with neon and the never ending stream of traffic on the Uxbridge Road.