Malcolm was holding the latest copy of RockPress open for them all to see. Page 8. The title was ‘Drive! Got Their Motor Running!’
Sammy looked chuffed as fuck. He was probably wondering where his scissors were. The article would soon be taking pride of place stuck to an egg tray over the fireplace. He could look at it while he was drumming.
‘‘...to wow the audience...’,’ read Malcolm. ‘‘...a bravura performance to rank with all the greats. The band’s original material went down a storm...’.’
Original material? thought Terry. Maybe it was referring to his rant about his father. There certainly hadn’t been anything else. He had rolled off the stage before they’d had a chance to do Dug’s song. The article was total exaggeration. No, it was more than that. It was complete fiction.
Malcolm folded the paper in half and ran his fingers over the words.
‘Which famous rock journalist wrote the article?’ asked Terry.
‘Get tae fuck!’ said Malcolm, and handed the paper to Sammy. ‘Ah wrote it masell – but it’ll dae the trick, you mark ma words.’
The review was printed on the letters page.
‘Now,’ he said. ‘The next step.’
He wanted them to come along to the Hoochie Coochie Club to see an Australian band called The Middlemen. ‘The support band are local,’ he said. ‘Well, Grangemouth. Go by the name of Blowfly.’
‘I don’t know anything about The Middlemen,’ said Mich, ‘but I’ve heard of Blowfly. Their bass player used to be in the Cocteau Twins.’
‘No way!’ said Baz. ‘If ah want tae listen tae taped music, ah’ll stick oan a cassette. An’ it willnae be the fuckin’ Cocteau Twins.’
‘That’s what I’m saying,’ said Mich. ‘Blowfly are a 4-piece...’
‘Anyway,’ said Malcolm. ‘That’s no important. It’s this other crowd ah want yez tae watch, the Aussies.’
. . .
Baz stood in a corner of a dive in Bread Street and watched a fat woman doing squat thrusts until he was sure the support band were finished. When he got to the club, the song The Middlemen had just started ground to a halt. Someone had swiped their oboe off the edge of the stage. They got it back after a five-minute shouting match. Oboes, he thought. A fucking backing track would have been better.
Sammy was right down the front, getting into it. The drummer looked about twelve, but he was handy. Malcolm had said their drummer was a lassie – maybe she was ill or something. Maybe Malcolm was wrong – there was a lassie all right, but she’d been playing the violin earlier on. She was a cracker. And here she was again. She’d just got her oboe back. There was no doubt that this lot were good, but their sound was too...what was the word? Big? No, that was Simple Minds. Over the top? No, that was the Blues Domination Society. Arty? Arthouse! That was it, they were too Arthouse, there were too many orchestral instruments on the stage. Violins and Oboes. And the guitarists took turns singing!
Mich loved the lyrics.
Lullaby folly illegal palls
Silly dolly falling balloons
She couldn’t imagine Terry singing those particular lines, which was unfortunate. You never knew, though.
Terry couldn’t take his eyes off the girl. She had the oboe between her lips. Christ she was good looking. And that smile she had, like she was doing exactly what she wanted with her life, and was loving it, loving just being there.
. . .
Malcolm got them into a huddle after the gig, when the sweeping up was going on. His suit was fastened right up to his neck, but the top button wouldn’t stay in – it was too greasy. He wasn’t carrying his walking stick, but for some reason he had a big shoebox tucked under his arm. From the way he was leaning to one side, it must have weighed a ton. Maybe it was a counterbalance to correct the limp.
‘Ladies and gents,’ he puffed. ‘Yez huv jist heard the next generation ae Edinburgh rock.’
‘I thought that was Goodbye Mr Mackenzie,’ said Terry. He wanted to get this over with and get backstage.
‘They’re a blown entity,’ gasped Malcolm. He was having trouble keeping the shoebox off the floor. It seemed to be getting heavier.
‘Whit’s an Australian band playin’ classical music got tae dae wi’ us?’ asked Baz.
The shoebox bleeped, massively. Malcolm stepped back and pulled out an aerial. He hoisted the box onto his shoulder.
‘Lex, ma man...LEX, MA MAN...aye...awsome, aye...eh?...SAY AGAIN...nah...EH?...aye, right next tae me...aye, they’re intae it...Lex, ye’re bray...YE’RE BREAKIN’ UP...ah’ll catch ye later...aye...the landl...THE LANDLINE...RIGHT...’
‘Over and out,’ said Baz.
Malcolm pushed the aerial back in. He got Sammy to give him a hand to lay the telephone on the floor. He was sweating. ‘Whit ah’m sayin’ is this,’ he said. ‘If youse can be like The Middlemen, yez’ve got it made.’
Sammy looked wired. ‘Got ye,’ he said. ‘Change ae direction. That mate ae yours, Terry, the skinny guy wi’ the ears? Chase um up. We’ll need mair songs.’
Terry knew it was a non-starter. The singer, the tall one, looked like the boy out of the B52s, complete with the candyfloss hairdo. Maybe Malcolm wanted him to wear a wig. ‘Why don’t we just poach the violinist?’ he said.
‘Come roond the office oan Monday,’ said Malcolm. ‘We’ll get the contract sorted oot.’
Sammy looked like he’d just won the pools. ‘Ye no hangin’ aroond fur a drink?’ he said.
‘Whit?’ said Malcolm. ‘Fuck that fur a laugh.’ He looked down at his phone, and shook his head. ‘It’s a two mile hike back tae ma mother’s,’ he said.
* * *