Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Patrick Begley on The Dipsticks Xmas Bash: Dipping Our Sticks in The Constitution
It was around six thirty when we arrived at the Constitution. It perches on a perilous corner atop a slight hill above the Canal as it seeps out of Camden Town towards Kings Cross. I was more nervous than usual, perhaps because of an injudiciously acquired hangover.
The little Basement Bar of the Constipation seems to have some sort of part-time electrical gremlin. Last time we played there - no problem. But the time before that [and last Saturday] there were high pitched whines and rice krispies snapping their cracklepops through the PA for no apparent reason. It cranked up our stressometers as the audience slowly drifted in during our lengthy sound check.
We kicked off a bit later than usual, around nine o' clock. We started slowly and gently with 'Swamp Groove' and'Tearaway' before kicking up a gear into 'Wet Streets' and 'Alright John'. By then we realised we had a good crowd. The vibe was right and it was going to be a memorable night. The good thing about the Destitution is that you only need around 20 people for an atmosphere. We had maybe 30 and they were all up for it. It wasn't faultless. There were occasional mistakes, but when you play with a really hot, experienced rhythm section its just not that important if you trip up once in a while, the mighty beast travels on whilst you chase after and scramble back on board.
That's what gives our music its edge and vitality: the sense of danger, the leaps into the void, a hint of fear. Davy Graham, the late lamented local sixties guitar legend whose pictures adorn the walls of the Basement Bar, once told me, 'as long as you start and finish strongly, you can get away with a bit of mayhem in the middle.' A rocked up version of 'Don't Think Twice Its Alright' went down surprisingly well. As did two new songs, 'Wino Wisdom' and 'Valentine Always', which I'd only ever done as a solo acoustic number before.
We started the second set with 'Red House' and I hit one of those sublime rare zeniths in the solo where you actually make your own hairs stand up on the back of your neck. People were a-hooting and a hollering by the end. If I'd known how raucously and rapturously it would go down I wouldn't have followed it with the downbeat 'Fire Within', but by then it didn't matter, we were in the zone. I felt I'd started 'Let Me In' too slowly, but it didn't stop people dancing and the way we kick the poo poo out of 'Waiting For My Man' is always a highpoint of our gigs. This was no exception. Alan and Mark drive the thing like a V8 battering ram so I can take my strat to the ceiling and beyond. Our beautiful ex-drummer, Ange, was there in the audience yet again, and due to her exhortations, for an encore we reprised 'Edited Highlights', before our full on mental finale of 'Gone Dead Train.' We do it about ten times faster than the original version on the Performance soundtrack.
We rocked, we rolled, we kicked arse. We found the colour of our soul and we painted the world with it.
Patrick Dipstick Begley