We arrived for the festival early on Good Friday and as we drove in there were already far more people and tents than in the previous years. We put together Spines camp in our usual northeast corner then went down to the stage to set up and sound check – we were first on.
I’d been working on a new guitar sound using delay like in the old days coupled with the newer feedback tones and it was key to all the newer songs in the set – so the eight, size “c” batteries decided to run out. After a straight but weird sounding sound check, Mike Gibson sorted me out an adaptor and a great vocal sound onstage so I was pretty happy and raring to go.
We had missed out on the last Tora and I felt I had something to prove. We were opening the thing in broad daylight with all the kids and couldn’t really do the big night monster thing and so we’d sorted out the set list accordingly – it worked really well.
The vocal sound on stage was so clear that I could get across those more lyrical numbers like Lily and I, Your Body Stays, You Seem To Be Happy and I got both of my guitars sounding hot. Les and Malky played well and we turned in a really good set – our work here is done… with three days left to go…
Far be it from me to review every band or act that followed but the quality and running order was impeccable.
I should mention I had a toothache through this whole festival and was ill prepared in terms of pain relief. Luckily in our camp area I had a lot of old friends like Zoe and Crunch and Michael Appleby and The Garage Project crew. I soldiered on and talked guitars and lyrics with all these younger generation musos and was blown away by some of the playing.
John Grenell played a wonderful set that day.
I must have nodded off with my head out of the tent watching for the red moon – I remember it all starting then waking up to a crescent on the other side.
It just seemed to build and build and I’d paced myself quite well.
Caroline Easther arrived to play and sing with Barry Saunders – she had been the original Spines drummer back in 1981 and we didn’t get to catch up that often so it was pretty special to see her.
Then, on that last night, two of my favourite drummers – Riki Gooch and Chris O’Conner. I was right up the front for the last couple of bands and an older woman came up and tried to molest me – I retreated back stage.
I was invited up at the very end onstage to close out the festival with some big guitar and a couple of raucous songs with Riki and it was like a full circle from when the whole thing started all those years ago – that big full moon there still after the eclipse.
It all got a bit hazy after that but I remember trading songs with Conrad with what remained of my voice and getting hugged by some beautiful women.
Neil and the Bramley family and the crew did an excellent job once again.
Tora Tora Tora just seems to go from strength to strength.
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary