Photo: Rob Gilbert
The Brakes contingent were in good spirits the night of their visit. Unfailingly hospitable, Eamon invited me in to the dressing room and left me sat chatting to drummer Alex pre-gig. Compiling a CD for his girlfriend, he cherrypicked the best tunes from the likes of Tom Waits, Ben Folds, Jeffrey Lewis and Nina Simone, among others, as we remembered the strange stories we discussed on our last meeting. Alex proved the exception to the rule of the good mood, and while not unfriendly, he was somewhat distracted and frustrated. During the show, the monitor fell onto him, then the snare developed a wide gash. He left the stage and the gig ground to a halt. Not the ending we expected, but a cracking show nonetheless. While he smoked at the back of the building, the bands and crew retired to dressing rooms to enjoy the surprisingly lavish rider and a modest birthday celebration. Eamon and I talked classic American novels as I was handed a drink, inappropriate jokes were told, and both Brakes and the Xcerts drew portraits and caricatures of each other on the whiteboards- some of which were amazingly accurate. Eamon, who had slept through the earlier soundtrack, was penalised by the others, who laughed as he was forced to pack up. Leaving with hugs and farewells, the band had words of praise for the Union staff and crowd, and promised to return. They're welcome any time.