Setup and Sound Check

On Tuesday 23rd April, I started moving all of my equipment from where it was normally stored into our living room, to save a bit of time the next day. I would be picking up the vehicle from Banbury, which was about 10 miles away and wasn’t sure how long the pick-up process would take.  The next morning Jackie took me into Banbury to collect the van. At this stage, I wasn’t sure what sort of van it would be; only that it was going to be a small one. When we got there, I was relieved to find out that it was a Volkswagen Caddy and not one of the Vauxhall Astra vans, which were not much bigger than our car.
I drove back home, feeling a bit unsure, as it was a long time since I had driven a commercial type vehicle and certainly the first time I had driven a Caddy. I was surprised how much like a car it was to drive. The only real difference was the view from the rear-view mirror. The Caddy had a bulkhead grille that obscured the view, however, the large wing mirrors helped out a lot.  When I arrived back at my house, it didn’t take too long to load up especially as I had brought all my equipment downstairs and piled it up in our living room. I was really glad to have hired the van, as it would have been very difficult to get everything into our car.  Having loaded the van, I set off for Andy’s house in Pontypool, around midday. I decided to go via the M40, M5 and M50 for a change of scenery and just over 2 hours later, I reached Andy’s house.
Phil James had emailed me, the previous day, to say he had completed the stage riser and installed it in the CWMC, so Andy and I arranged to pop over to the club to take a look, with Phil and Steve Leman. It was huge and must have taken Phil and his workers a long time to build, so well done to them. It was certainly impressive and looked ideal for our needs. A couple of us tested that it could take our weight and it was certainly solid enough.
Phil told me that when he installed the stage riser he had a chat to the steward who told him that the phone had not stopped ringing all day. He had well over 150 people after tickets. I was beginning to think that we should have done 2 shows on consecutive days; however, it was too late now.
That evening, over 20 of us met in the Greenhouse pub for a meal. It was a great opportunity for us to meet family and friends of the various band members, especially as we would be extremely busy over the next couple of days. Vic had brought his wife and a few family and friends and it was strange, but nice to hear London accents in a pub full of Welsh voices. They were all very friendly and extremely keen to see this band that Vic had played with all those years ago, perform on stage.
Throughout our meal, I could see a few people pointing to our tables and when I went up to the bar, I heard someone say ‘there’s one of them’, as I passed a group of people. I must admit it made me feel very happy, although I felt a little concern as to whether we would live up to expectations.
During the evening, a young man came up to me and asked if I was ‘Ducksy’. I wasn’t sure whether to say yes or no, as he was quite tall and built like a Welsh rugby player, however, I said I was. He then said that his dad had told him to tell me that Graham Davies was a better guitarist than I was. I told him to tell his dad, that I agreed with him. I think this surprised him somewhat, however, he told me his dad was one of my friends on Facebook and he was just trying to wind me up. I managed to have a chat with Peter, his dad at the gig.
The next morning Andy and I went to a cafe, just down from where he lives, to have breakfast. We decided that as we would be busy for most of the day, we would have a large meal of eggs, beans, bacon and black pudding. The breakfast was extremely greasy and perhaps not that healthy, however, it tasted great.
The club was allowing us to set up the equipment the day before and though they had a bingo session on the Thursday evening, as long as we could leave room on the front of the stage, it was fine to leave everything overnight, ready for the gig, the next day. We planned to leave most of the equipment and just take guitars; microphones and cymbals back home with us.
Steve Leman came round with his van around 11.30 to transport both his drums and Andy’s bass equipment. Unfortunately, Steve had hurt his back, so all the humping and dumping was down to Andy and me. I thought my amplifiers were fairly heavy; however, the weight of the bass amplifiers and cabinets really surprised me. Bruno was going to use the Phil Jones bass amp and cabinets that Andy owned. The amp only used 5-inch speakers; however, there were 18 of them in the 2 cabinets. Coupled with the amp and cabinets intended for Andy and Percy to use on bass, it took us a while to manhandle them into the van.
Once our vans were loaded, we made our way to the club, to meet the others and start setting up the equipment. It took us a couple of hours to get all the equipment installed up on the stage, the way I had planned. Even with the stage riser, it was going to be a tight squeeze, however, for a one-off gig, I was sure we would cope.
The 2 sets of drums and the keyboards just about fitted on the stage riser. We put the right-handed set, for Steve and Ted on the left, as you looked at the stage; the left-handed set, for Phil was in the middle and the keyboards, for Bob, were placed at an angle on the far right. It was a squeeze for Phil and Bob to access their instruments, so once we started a set, they would have to stay where they were.
It was awkward for Steve and Ted as well, as they were the ones that would be doing most of the changes. When one was playing the drums, the other had to stand near the entrance to the dressing room area. I tried to minimise the effect of the changes, as illustrated in the set list shown later, by having Phil play a song whilst they changed over, however, it was a challenge and, with hindsight, it might have been better for Steve and Ted to play a set each.
We placed all the guitar amplifiers in a line, in front of the stage riser, starting on the left with my amp, Andy’s bass amp, a guitar amp for Andy and Percy when they played rhythm guitar, Vic’s amp and Bruno’s bass amp. I had to move my amp onto the wing of the stage, so the others could fit.
The plan was that I would be on the left with Andy, Adrian, Percy, Vic, Bruno, Glyn, Coco and Rick going across the stage. However, due to the stairs on the right of the stage, we had to compromise a bit by having the brass section of Coco, Glyn and Rick slightly behind the rest of us.   
Ian Day couldn’t be there on the Thursday, with his PA system, so we had to manage with the one I had bought. We placed the PA mixer just next to the stairs on the right of the stage. Not knowing much about mixers, it proved to be quite difficult for me to get sound right for vocals. Luckily, when Bob Teague arrived, he just twiddled some knobs and it sounded great.
We ran through various songs as both a sound check and practice, as our previous rehearsal time for the gig had been quite limited. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate how much of a challenge it was going to be to direct what was going on, particularly from where I was on the extreme left of the stage. With hindsight, I should have moved into the middle, probably where Vic was standing.
As a sop to old age, I intended using electronic devices to display lyrics for both Adrian and Andy. I purchased an attachment that I could mount my iPad Mini onto a microphone stand and used a document application to display the lyrics. John Beardmore had another make of tablet that he managed to get a similar stand attachment and document application. I produced files, in set order, containing the lyrics of all the songs. It was relatively easy to scroll through the songs and have the lyrics there as a reminder, more than anything.
We took a break from rehearsing to try and reproduce a couple of the photographs of the early band. The photograph used on the tickets was for publicity we had done early in 1964, when Andy joined. Will Lowe could not make the reunion, however, the other 5 were all present.

The Original Graveyard Photograph

Left to Right: Adrian Williams, Phil Edwards (RIP), John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon and Robert ‘Percy’ Price being carried. 
This would have been taken sometime between August 1965 and February 1966. From the clothes we are wearing, I guess it’s more likely to be sometime in August or September 1965. I think the location was St Woolos cemetery. As mentioned earlier, this was the same version of the Pieces that supported The Who.


We tried to reproduce the graveyard shot we had done in late 1965, which showed Adrian, Phil and I carrying Percy. Unfortunately this didn’t quite have the same impact as Percy had put on a little weight and we no longer had the strength we had in the 60s. Still it was fun trying.

The Graveyard Photograph Attempt
  Left to Right: Adrian Williams, Phil Edwards (RIP), John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon and Robert ‘Percy’ Price being carried. 
This was taken at the set-up and sound check on the 25th April 2013. As you can see we struggled a bit to carry Percy and that’s not because he has put a stone or two in weight, it’s more to do with the fact we are all old-age pensioners; still, it was not a bad attempt.

 The Pieces of Mind in 1964 L to R front row:  Will Lowe, Percy and Adrian Williams. Back Row:  John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon, Steve Strong and Andy Gibbon. 
I can’t remember the name of the studio, but the photograph was in Newport, for publicity. This photograph was also used for publicity and tickets for the 50th Anniversary Reunion in 2013.

The Pieces of Mind in 2013 

 Left to Right, front row: Percy and Adrian Williams. Back Row:  John Beardmore, John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon, Steve Strong and Andy Gibbon. 
This was taken the day before the reunion gig in April 2013, with John Beardmore standing in for Will Lowe. We have all aged a little bit.

Steve Cleaves had made a superb Pieces of Mind Sign for Ted’s bass drum and when both sets of drums were set up, side by side, it didn’t quite look right, with the drums Phil would be using having no sign. Coco arranged for someone to make a couple of copies of Steve’s sign; one for the drums Phil would be using and the other for the wall at the back of the stage.
As we were about to run through a last couple of songs my Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue amp that Andy and Percy were using, when playing rhythm, stopped working. The power switches were at the back of the amp and I think Percy must have flicked them off too quick, ignoring the standby switch. It wasn’t too much of a calamity as I had a spare amp head that could drive the speaker in the Fender.
When we finished, I took the amp back to Andy’s house, with the intention of seeing if we could fix it or even take it to a local music shop the next day. Andy got his tools out and soon determined that it was just a fuse that had blown. He had a supply of the correct fuses, so swiftly changed it and all was working fine.

On the day of the gig, we turned up at the club around noon for a sound check. When Ian Day arrived, he set up his PA system, alongside mine. Initially we had planned to put microphones on all the instruments; however we decided that it wasn’t necessary for the guitar amps so just used them on the bass drums.      

To try and make it easier for the film crew, we used Ian’s mixer for all the vocal microphones and those for the brass section. The only instrument that went through mine was the keyboard output. With hindsight, this was probably a mistake. I think we should have definitely split the load between the mixers and not put so much a strain on Ian’s.
We spent a couple of hours doing a sound check and then ran through a few songs for the last time before the gig. Whilst we were doing this, Glyn Williams and his wife, Wendy turned up. It was great that he could make the gig and wonderful to see him after such a long time.
Sam Gummer arrived with a few colleagues to set up his equipment for filming the gig. He wanted to set up some tracking rails in front of the stage, to enable his cameras be operated remotely. However, when I saw how wide they were and how much they encroached into the dance floor space, I sadly had to tell him to remove them. Bearing in mind the age of the audience, they would have been a bit too dangerous when people were dancing.

Whilst we were doing the sound check, John Beardmore and Steve Leman were getting the tables organised and ready for both the Charity ladies who would be taking tickets and the people from Sticky Ink Studios who would be selling t-shirts.      

Steve had produced numerous posters of the band that he placed on tables and the walls around the club. They also checked that we had sufficient chairs in the room for the 250 people we were expecting to attend. I asked them to go over the 250 just in case.
With little else to do, we all left the club around 4 p.m. to go back to the various places we were staying and get ready for the evening. I asked everyone if they could be back at the club by 6:30, ready for when the doors would open at 7.                                
We were now less than 4 hours from achieving my dream of playing with the Pieces of Mind again.   

Ready for the 50th Anniversary Reunion Gig

We had all set up and sound checked. It was time to go back to hotels and homes to get ready to play a gig again for the first time in well over 4 decades. There was little time to get nervous, in fact we were all as excited as school children on a day trip to Barry Island.