Wednesday, 14 April 2010

520 THE GRAVEL PIT, The Green Room, Providence, RI USA, Friday 29 June 2001

The final gig of our 2001 Boston trip is once again to see the band we were here for in the first place, but at an out-of-town show! We missed the chance to see Kay Hanley in Newport earlier this week, but were determined to see the Pit in Rhode Island! So, we take a commuter train over, book in at the Holiday Inn, then take a walk. However Providence is dead! And a dump! We look for eateries but they're all shut, apart from a grotty looking pizza place which actually turns out not to be too bad. Ed said the Pit would hit town at 8, so knowing his propensity for lateness we arrive at the venue at 9 - only to find it still deserted!

The Pit van (the borrowed Verdone-mobile again!) pulls up shortly thereafter, and we help unload the gear from the lift into the venue, a first floor ballroom hall attached to a snooker club, with cool 50's B-movie posters adorning the walls. "I get to be a Gravel Pit roadie - does life get any better than this!?" I remark to an understandably taken aback Jed. Rachel and I then take up residence on a comfy sofa at the back, next to an older couple whom we later find out are Jed's parents, and stay there to ensure we don't pay, only to subsequently discover there's no cover anyway!

Time clicks by and the place stays empty, with no sign of the "special guest" support, and only "US Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" on the bar TV for distraction. Ed joins us and mentions Providence is always a bit "hit and miss"; it's well and truly "miss" tonight! We also puzzle over the "Providence Phoenix" ad for the gig - it clearly shows The Gentlemen (!) and Ed has no idea as to how they got the pic!

More time clicks by, and the Pit, sans suits tonight, finally get mobilised to play, about midnight. No support, minimal turnout; what a comedown from the 2 triumphant sell-out CD release shows last weekend! Nevertheless, they get stuck into their task with "Baby Gap", which at least gets us Brits bouncing. The whole tenor and atmosphere of the show is relaxed; there's no-one here, no-one gives a shit, so let's just chill and have fun. So they work without a set-list, and just play what the hell they like, and it rocks! The floor is totally ours as well, so Rach and I bop very wildly and ostentatiously, bouncing off opposite walls to the punkish thrash of "The Ballad Of The Gravel Pit", twirling around each other to "Favorite Scar" (which also see me sinking to my knees for the finale) and generally clowning it up. We're not the only clowns on show, though, as Caldes insists on drumming the intro to the moody, squalling "Mosquito" during every break between songs, and Jed is on fine fooling form, cracking us all up (including the usually laid-back, laconic Ed) with quips and references to "the Caldes beat!"

The rock ain't bad either, with the "American Fable" double-header of "Ezra Messenger" and the titanic "Abimelech DuMont" easily my set highlight. The fine dirty blues rant of "Up And Down" caps the set, after which the Pit play an unnecessary couple of requests for the sparse Providence faithful, and finally call a halt about 25 to 2, some one hour and 40 minutes after taking the stage! Afterwards, they all confirm they really enjoyed playing tonight, despite (or even perhaps because of) the poor turnout. Sincere thanks and goodbyes later, we head off to our hotel, convinced that this holiday has demonstrated that The Gravel Pit, with this new CD, have their appetite for rock back, and are subsequently in better form than ever!

The next day is about returning to Boston, including a wonderful breakfast on Newbury Street, then final shopping trips, an unexpected evening out with Kevin Camara and friends, a thunderstorm soaking on the way back to our digs, then an early night in anticipation of an early flight back to Blighty the next day. And back home together this time!

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