The three of us huddle in the cold. The doorstaff of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire don’t seem to be overly impressed by our claim to be VIP guests and they have instructed us to stand outside until they are ready to receive us. From the short-shrift they gave us, we don’t imagine this is because they are preparing the red carpet. It starts to rain, but we find it difficult to become particularly indignant at the doorstaffs’ preferential treatment of the - let us not forget - paying customers who are seemingly being ushered in ahead of us freeloaders. The Otter pleads into his phone with someone on the inside, but no-one on the inside seems eager to venture outside to fetch us. We huddle some more.
Eventually, the doorstaff relent and we enter. That said, the Rent-A-Thugs clearly think we are still a peg or two too high, and they submit us to the typical Rent-A-Thug humiliating ritual, to which you have no choice but to comply lest you wish to be ejected on your arse. We are variously and rapidly instructed to "Stand behind this rope; wait here; keep moving; do not climb the stairs; show your passes; stand against this wall!" but they stop short of manhandling us so long as we brandish our precious passes.
"You madam," The now exasperated Otter intones to one, "are spoiling my vibe."
Finally we are at the bar. The more exclusive bar at that.
"We know the band! We know the band!" shrills The Otter’s wife to anyone who might be listening. Television’s Ferne Cotton stands to our left, and The Otter claims to see one of Goldie Lookin Chain amble past us.
"You know, the one who wears the hats and looks a bit gormless," he explains helpfully.
We check our watches frequently, eager for the band to come on. However, it is as much a case of us being eager to get their performance out of the way than a case of us being die-hard fans, for our passes bear those three - or two and a half - infamous words: After-Show Party. I’ve never been to an after-show party before, and am somewhat curious as to what to expect.
Earlier in the day, I’d mentioned my later-planned excursion to Scouse Phil through the CD and vinyl towers which are rammed into the small Tufnell Park Records at the gateway of the Tufnell Park Towers estate.
"Ah, after-show parties," he’d cooed wistfully, seemingly looking into the distance. "When I was a teenager, I went to one of Iggy Pop’s after-show parties."
"Yes, yes," I said impatiently, not wishing to be taken on a Stooge-fuelled trip down psychedelic avenue, "I’ve never been to an after-show party before, and am somewhat curious as to what to expect."
"Iggy Iggy Pop, dear dear me," a dazed looking Scouse Phil muttered, shaking his head with a smile, "mid-seventies it was. Dear me."
"So," I repeat, "We were talking about me, and this after-show party I am going to Scouse Phil. Scouse Phil?"
"Sorry, I was thinking about Iggy Pop," a now shell-shocked looking Scouse Phil says after a pause.
I leave, none the wiser, as Scouse Phil puts on Sister Midnight.
And so, as the final song comes to an end, we find ourselves shuffling proudly to the location of the after-show party. We have a few drinks, and spend a while expectantly looking around. After half an hour of this, I come to a conclusion: an after-show party is essentially the bar, only open later. Once I have realised this, I soon replace any disappointment or anticipation with an urge to make use of the opportunity to drink, only later.
Some hours later, it is – unsurprisingly - late and we decide to leave - or are asked to leave; I don’t remember which – and once more I find myself standing in the rain, this time trying to navigate a route home. Shepherd’s Bush is a long way from Tufnell Park when you’ve only got Nightbuses. My normally fairly switched on Bus Brain is slightly addled with alcohol, and I optimistically scan the boards of approaching buses for a non-existent Tufnell Park or Holloway bound route, foolishly ignoring the opportunity to clamber aboard one of the last buses for some time destined for the comparatively lucrative bus-crossroads of late night Westminster. I realise my error as my last opportunity of refuge roars away, and I prance behind it waving at The Otter and his wife – who had the smarts to get on board – who cheerfully wave back, mistaking my desperation for sentimentality.
At 3.30 I clamber into bed, cold and wet, with my former fairly pleasant intoxication long replaced by the start of a hangover. I conclude that an after-show party is an opportunity to stay out much longer than you really should, drink much more than you really should, and get to bed much later than you really should.
4 weeks ago