So here’s a blast from the past and a gig with a difference. Back in the late 80’s I was living in Plymouth and my local Pub was the Minerva on Looe Street. The Minerva was a great little pub and the oldest pub in Plymouth (It dates from 1540 AD apparently!) It’s situated on a cobbled Street near the Barbican. Tim was the landlord back then and he was into his music as well as his beer. The pub had a great juke box and us regulars had our own 7″ singles on it. Mine was The Mighty Lemon Drops “The Other Side of You / Uptight” and even though we had to pay to play our own records, it was great to have them on the juke box. It was full of many delights from punk/post punk/indie … you name it, it was there! Anyway, what has all this got to do with the Family Cat on a boat you might ask?
Well, I moved to Cambridge in 1990 and joined British Rail, most of my gigs were witnessed in Cambridge or London but I would occasionally have a weekend trip to Plymouth to catch up with old friends. Tim was still the landlord at the Minerva and used to book the occasional gig at the Cooperage, the Popguns was a favourite of his and he booked them to play a couple of times buts that’s another story.
I’d first seen the Family Cat supporting the Mighty Lemon Drops at Leicester Uni and then the Dominion Theatre in London during October 1989. I was quite taken by them (being a indie guitar pop enthusiast!) and so was my housemate Mike, who became somewhat fanatical about them. So when news from my old mates at the Minerva reached me, that Tim had booked the Family Cat to play on a boat as it sailed up the Tamar River from Plymouth, we decided this was a good excuse to visit the South West for the weekend.
So on the day in question, which was a Friday. The 3 musketeers Mike Woodhouse, Chris Lemon and myself headed West on the 10.35 from Paddington. We stopped off for a liquid lunch at Exeter, in the Red Cow (which was just outside the station) and after several pints of Eldridge Pope Royal Oak, we continued onto Plymouth to meet up with my mates in the Minerva. This was quite an occasion and the pub was fairly packed out. A few beers were consumed and a bit of catch up before heading off to the Barbican for 7pm sharp when the boat was booked to sail.
Mike Woodhouse takes up the story from here :-
From the City to the Sea !!!
The City is Cambridge and the sea is just off Plymouth and we’re going to see what should be gig of the year (or perhaps best gig ever?) The Family Cat … on a boat! Hell Yeah! There is however one problem (well two actually), why has the temperature dropped by 20 degrees? Why did I only bring a pair of shorts and a T shirt? (My final mistake?) Anyway, after a few swift pints in the Minerva, the boat finally sets sail late, but who cares? The Cat are back with new songs, new guitars and a new van (probably), only the sideburns look the same. The stage is tiny and the only way to stop yourself falling into the band is to clasp the ceiling. Even so, I still manage to get John’s bass on my head, ouch! The new songs are bloody good and many aired before we passed under the Tamar Bridge for the 5th time and reach the Swan Inn at Devonport for a few sherries. As we exit the boat we are greeted by a Ford Capri doing handbrake turns in the car park, which nearly takes out a few FC fans. Welcome to Devonport! (Imagine Cambourne but much worse!) The Hicks HSD goes down a treat and a discussion with Fred about what songs we’d like them to play takes place in the bar, before the return trip and the Family Cat’s “Request Slot”. All the old favourites are thrashed out, especially the Lemmy inspired “Gabriel’s Wings” and they even play “Slept in Clothes” and “From the City to the Sea”. We gain a head start on the band by heading back to the Minerva a full half hour before the band, so we can set up the excellent video of the trip recorded by Sally (which is on Youtube, or was!) A few more beers are sank before we exit at 3am … it’s been a long day but a good one!
Set list (2 sets)
- Nowhere to Go
- Springing the Atom
- Colour me Grey
- Airplane Gardens
- Atmospheric Road
- Steam Roller
- Remember what it is that you love.
- Unwieldy World
- Final Mistake
- Place with a Name
- Slept in Clothes
- Gabriel’s Wings
- From the City to the Sea
- Tom Verlaine
The aftershow …
So following the gig, we headed back to the Minerva for a few more beers before Chris and myself said good night and headed back to Plymouth Station. We had another appointment the following day in Finsbury Park with Kirsty MacColl, The Pogues, Stiff Little Fingers, The Men they Could n’t Hang and Bob Dylan … So a trip on the up midnight sleeper train to Paddington and then another day of excitement! (47818 was the haulage on the Up!)