We drove through the night across the moors, encountering hellhounds, werewolves, the ghost of Robert Bruce, snow and gale force winds. It was the winds that stopped us for a couple of hours. These double-deckers are a little susceptible to high winds. When it felt like we were being pushed over on to two wheels we knew it was time to give it a rest, as they say. We woke up outside of the venue, the Gorton Monastery, located somewhere on the outskirts of Manchester, which in turn is located somewhere on the outskirts of somewhere else that you’d rather be….if you know what I mean? A thick, impenetrable, dirty grey sky allowed only a rumour of sunlight, the rain and the wind blew across the housing estates that surrounded us and on through the bus. A freakin’ miserable day. The music of hometown heroes, Joy Division, seemed positively cheery when put up against this environment.
The Monastery was built in the late 19th century by the Franciscans and was at one time a hub for the surrounding community. But over the course of a hundred years the community evolved (or devolved) and the Franciscan Brothers disappeared and the building fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned, pillaged and vandalised. Over the past decade there has been a concerted effort to bring it back. Apparently we are a part of that effort in that we are the first rock band to perform in the building (it even says so on their Wikipedia entry). It seems like a good idea on paper, but buildings like this weren’t designed for bass guitar and a kick drum. A 60 foot high vaulted ceiling with stone pillars and stone floors are not a soundman’s friend. On top of all this the room had been double booked (there was a Coroner’s Inquest going on all day) so we weren’t able to get access to the venue until 5:30 which gave us 90 minutes to set up and tame the sound demons. Despite all this, we had a decent night. It was difficult on stage but as the night progressed we adapted and settled in. I’m not sure what it sounded like out front but Jared said that he had quite a few people come up to him and compliment him on the sound and one fellow who came up to him and said that it sounded “simply appalling” (Jared, being a native of Boston, wasn’t sure whether that was better or worse than somebody coming up and saying that it “sucked”). In any case playing Me and the Devil and then Good Friday (“two thousand years ago/Jesus was left there hanging”) with Margo standing directly underneath an enormous flown crucifix was worth all the effort.