Never forget that life is a crazy rollercoaster ride and be ready for the weird and wacky all the way. I had never been to Derby or even Beeston until October 2014. But things fell into place on my return to England. I had lined up a few days in Birmingham and Nottingham on route to Bournemouth. Birmingham, my friend Lock in Lee Adams (of Nicky Barmby lunatic story fame) lives there and it coincided nicely with my team AFC Bournemouth playing Birmingham City FC away. That was a crazy weekend, with the Cherries winning 8-0 on the day. Yes, really. An 8-0 away win. My previous 4 away matches had been 2 draws and 2 defeats so I’d earned that!
On the Sunday night I stayed at the plush Clumber Park Hotel and Spa, and on the Monday night I was ready for yet another 20 year reunion and a gig. I was back in touch with Stuart Hutchinson. Stuart and I played on the streets of Kilmaine together back in the 1980s and we were in the same Primary School class for a few years, before being in the same after school computer class at Bangor Grammar School as well. Stuart and his family moved away from Bangor in the early 1990s and I hadn’t seen him since. It always seemed, when I was growing up that my friends were always being taken away from me. My best friend for a while Paddy Campbell, eventually got expelled in the ridiculous Great Exam Heist Episode. That’s still one of mine and Paddy’s glory moments, that. And while the Paddy Campbell Jonny Blair reunion had to wait until December 2014, two months earlier, Stuart and I met for the first time since the 1990s.
There were a series of coincidences though. I was staying with Lee in Birmingham. Lee is a Nottingham Forest fan, Stuart Hutchinson now lives in Nottingham. The Subways gig was in Derby, rival team of Lee. Derby – a city where I had never been yet my best mate when I first moved to Australia, Daniel Evans who was in Ladonia, Denmark and Sweden with me, is from Derby. Plus the Subways had been one of the last UK gigs I had been to while a student in Bournemouth. I wasn’t big into their music or much a fan incidentally, but it was just a perfect idea for the reunion with Stuart.
I met Stuart in Beeston outside Belle and Jerome bar/cafe. I got a bus from Nottingham City Centre while staying at the Igloo Hostel. We recognised each other straight away, we got in Stuart’s car and picked up two of his friends Ben and Sunil and off we went to Derby. Stuart has a Northern Ireland football sticker on his car.
The gig was in the Venue in Derby and tickets could be bought online, where you printed your ticket which was then scanned on entrance. The tickets were £11.
I actually wasn’t feeling good for a few days (a short term illness which I will cover properly in my upcoming delayed book) but that didn’t matter when I met Stuart. We were catching up. We grabbed a quick drink before the gig, watched the support band and took up a decent position for the Subways.
The Venue in Derby is dark, lively and noisy. It’s a proper British style rock venue, the sort I’d been to a few times down the years. But the sort of gig venue I’d forgotten about as I backpacked my way through places like El Salvador, Iraq and Azerbaijan.
We get inside, I grab a Cranberry Juice, the other lads get their drinks and we head to the pit in front of the stage. I stayed at the front for part of the set just by the moshpit, had to disappear for a bit with my stomach problems then back to the middle for the end of the gig.
The Subways come from Welwyn Garden City. The singer Billy Lunn is a charismatic frontman, interacting with the audience throughout while bass player Charlotte Cooper jumps sexily around on stage. With a slim figure and looks to kill, she probably helps bring in the crowds. I recognise a few of the songs – the other lads know a lot more of the band than me.
Here’s the setlist in full:
My Heart Is Pumping to a Brand New Beat
I Want to Hear What You Have Got to Say
I Won’t Let You Down
I’m in Love and It’s Burning in My Soul
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Rock & Roll Queen
We Don’t Need Money to Have a Good Time
At 1 AM
Taking All the Blame
Girls & Boys
It’s a Party
** ‘Dirty Muddy Paws’ was on the stage setlist but wasn’t played. ‘Good Times’ was listed as an option instead of ‘Turnaround’ but both ended up being played.
The gig lasted a few hours in total, with the support act and the wait for the Subways. It was a great gig even though I didn’t know all the tunes. Towards the end of the set, Billy jumps into the crowd and is caught and hoisted aloft.
Stuart grabs the official copy of the setlist as a souvenir and we disperse and head back to Nottingham.
The reunion and the gig was over in a flash and I hope Stuart and I can meet up again soon. There was also a stand to buy CDs and Subways Merchandise. Thanks to Stuart, Ben and Sunil for letting me head to the gig with them!
I took some videos at the gig and here they are: