Whiskey a no-no, where did the floor go? – Kasabian, an Empire night out

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I have no motivation today. I'm slumped in, as described by a high street shop, my 'lounge-wear' and despite being North of 5 cups of coffee I still languish somewhere near Southampton.
It could be I'm on edge and unable to concentrate or focus, due to the couple of cracked ribs that periodically stab me at the most inappropriate moments. It may be the lack of sleep the said ribs are affording me, or maybe the painkillers are to blame for my impotent state. I can't even be roused into response, after a week of hearing, 'it's your own fault, no sympathy, it's about time you grew up' repeated and regurgitated. What, you may ask, crime have I committed to be harassed both verbally and physically? My crime your honour is one of such stupidity that only the young, the musically devout or those who, like I, have been fuelled to superhero strength through catering sized amounts of alcohol can fully comprehend.

The alcohol intake began on the train from Preston to Nottingham that Fri afternoon. A short stop at Manchester Oxford Rd station and lager that claims to 'probably be the best in the world' was purchased, along with two, Cheese & Ham sandwiches and a large value packet of those crisps endorsed by the ex-footballer with the big lugs. This was the bedrock for the evening ahead, a solid base you'll no doubt agree? The trans-Pennine express, lumbered across the rapidly darkening skies and before you could proclaim 'Alright me-duck?' we were merry in the county of Robin. The following days meagre requirements, clean underwear, change of top and toothbrush & toothpaste were swiftly deposited at that bastion of travelling luxury, the Travelodge, and a local hostelry, noted in the brief taxi ride from the train station was frequented.

The bar, for it was a bar and not a pub, was packed with post Friday work professionals yet to be bequeathed the patter of tiny feet. Resplendent in horizontal White butcher tiles and fireplaces stuffed to the hilt with logs that would never be burnt, The Ned Ludd offered slow-cooked burgers, double cooked chips and ales to compliment. I sampled a couple of craft IPA's, no doubt brewed by an earnest, bearded chap in a flannel shirt.

As is the course of the drinking classes, the need to move soon arrives, and turning right out of the Nedd Ludd we head down Friar St and into the fair city centre of Nottingham. As is obligatory at this time of year, Nottingham, like most other major city centre's is festooned with Christmas lights, tress and some generic X-Factor runner up soundtracking the large artificial ice rink. The Joseph Else slung out its long tentacles and gathered us into in bosom offering pints of Staropramen at extremely attractive prices, which in light of the current clientele, was at least something attractive.

Thanks to the Czech lager for its weatherproofing qualities the slow decent to the Capital Arena was, despite wrong turns and constant accosting of locals for directions, pleasant. Our purpose at the Capital Arena was to watch Kasabian, again, but first, to the bar. Feeling the warm glow of Staropramen beginning to fade, my cohort who following a nightmare trek from Derby was both lagging behind in the drinks consumed stakes, and still coiled, suggested a whiskey to chase the standard wife beater juice, ‘just to take the edge off’.

'Two Pints of Stella and two whiskies please, bar tender, and as I'm an environmentally friendly sort of chap, willing to do my bit for the future generation, forego those plastic glasses for the whiskey, and just pop it in the Stella please, would you? I grandly announce.

Cheers, 2 into 1 will go.

Our seats, yes seats, I did want the floor, the mosh pit and the plastic glasses full of pee, however, the entourage (wives) pulled rank. We were located in the gods, in fact if we'd been any higher up Zeus would have been on my right. It is at this point were in my opinion, the wheels began to come loose. When watching Kasabian the previous month in Rome, there had been a pleasant young chap who periodically appeared offering beer for sale. Beer, just beer, just nice regular beer, that, whilst it can get you drunk, does so at a more sedate pace. Needless to say the Capital Arena failed to provide this service, the result meant that I had to frequently visit the bar, and in those visits, having laid down our marker during my first one, continued on the self-destructive whiskey laced path.

Illuminated by a fluorescent pink backdrop a clock counts backward from 48:13 the pre-gig expectancy levels rise and before you can say ‘what time is it Mr Fox’, Serge sporting a foxes tail, a slight dig at the Forest fans no doubt and the band, have ripped through half a dozen songs leaving us deliriously pulverised.

Now, there is a part of my brain that works alone, like a rouge agent on a covert operation, or one of those terrorists who, in sleeper cells lie dormant, patiently waiting for the call. In my brains case, the trigger or tipping point is not a phone call or a secret message that will explode in five seconds, but alcohol. Surveying the swelling mass of gig goers below me, all sharing their sense of occasion and the emotion only available to those actually ‘havin it!’, the point tipped.

'Are we going down there?'

Nodding towards the throbbing mass of sweat stained bodies below me I asked. The female members of our party gave me a look that suggested they’d prefer to shave their hair off with a blunt razor! Undeterred, I turned to my fellow male companion for support; his shrug an obvious statement of intent. Result! Whilst there appeared to be some minor obstacles to negotiate, a couple of Day-Glo stewards and a small perimeter wall encircling the arena floor, it wasn't storming an embassy. Anyhow, pulsating, mesmeric Kasabian beats and the superhero properties of alcohol, reasoned it do-able.

Midway between our current heavenly location and the promised land of sweat and flying pee, the steps, marshalled by two luminous, tabard clad imperial guards plateaued, this presented our missions first potential failure. Steaming down at full speed from up high would certainly alert them. A casual saunter it was then. Reaching the plateau, we were confronted by one of the stewards, who sensing our intentions blocked the second set of steps right in front of us, the element of surprise had been lost.

‘Where you off lads?’

A swift sidestep, and two more pints of whiskey-stella were ordered.

Refreshed and emboldened, cat-like we re-entered the arena, and despite the cries of

‘Oi you can’t go down there!’

Bolted down the final set of steps to the throbbing throng. Just the small matter of a perimeter wall to negotiate now, which from my calculations was only drop of a foot or so down to the arena floor, easy. Hands on the wall, legs over and…. Bloody hell! The drop was more 4 to 5 foot. My left leg buckled. On landing and hitting the floor with the grace of a brick, I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my left rib cage. Nevertheless, attempting to recover a modicum of pride I executed a drunken commando roll, jumped up and thinking the hi-vis police were on my tail, escaped into the belly of the vibrating crowd in front of me determined to hit the front.

The mass in front of me was an unyielding, solid, bouncing black beast. There comes a part in every mission when the baseline plan needs to be re-assessed, re-evaluated or re-calculated, that part was now. The missions objective, reach the front and hav’it, was desperately floundering. I’d made little headway since the leap for freedom from the tabard tyrants, my compardre was MIA, and despite the alcohol anaesthetic subduing the pain, the ribs were nipping a fair bit. Two options continue trying to plough forward alone hoping to protect the ribs or regroup back at the base camp in the clouds.

‘You’ve only been gone 20 minutes, was it worth it?’ said the more sensible female members of the group

‘Aye’ I replied subdued, gingerly rubbing my ribs.

‘Whiskey-stella?’ announced my returning compardre.

From here the remainder of the night descended at speed into a raging fire of processed bleeps and riffing beats, from Cameo’s Word Up to a Fat Boy Slim tinged LSF, from fluorescent pink strobes, to pubs with no names and forgotten curries,

Read 2891 times Last modified on Monday, 22 August 2016 11:38
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