I mention Ferocious Dog occasionally, I know. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of theirs though, indeed, it generally has been – but with a refreshed line-up and a recent announcement of a headline slot in the main room at Rock City in November it’s properly a case of the year of the dog, what with a new album coming in the next few months too (and the tour starting in 10 days!) it does feel like the dawn of a very special chapter for them, and I feel privileged to be able to tag along for the ride.
It was back in late 2010 I first saw them play, I’m sure I’ve told the story before here, because they’d arranged for Mark Chadwick to play up in their home venue in Warsop and were the support act. I’ve been smitten ever since, and started going regularly to see them – skulking at the back normally taking videos. Eventually I lured friends to come with me – and being the shy bogger I can be eventually starting to get to know the initially daunting pack of ‘hell hounds’ that follow them passionately. I’d count myself as one of those now.
Sooner or later the lure of the mosh pit – observed so many times but avoided – became too much one night at the Bodega in Nottingham, an outwardly brutal but surprisingly considerate arena of pseudo-battle that is pretty much perfect for a work out for any latent aggression and enhancing the amazing music the band produce.
I already have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to my family and friends, but I’ve significantly enhanced that with the scores of people I’ve got to know and bonded with through regularly attending gigs. It didn’t matter that the friends I’d previously lured were less keen to go to quite as many gigs as me, as I knew I could go to any gig pretty much anywhere and know people there – or get to know others. Of course, Andy has taken to it like a duck to water too and doesn’t take much persuading to come along too.
After a few bouts of being bashed around the moshpit and due to the absence of the regular role-filler I found myself being hoisted horizontal at shoulder height at Bearded Theory to act as a surfboard for Dean when the band played ‘Freeborn John’ – a signal honour and something that’s happened many times since – and it’s always felt like a genuine privilege, even on the one occasion I got unceremoniously dropped on my head at Dogfest last year! It’s a great exhibition of the camaraderie and teamwork that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye in the chaos of the pit.
Subsequently I’ve even had my first tattoo – a Ferocious Dog logo – on my calf inked by none other than its designer, and founding-member and frontman of the band, the incomparable Ken Bonsall last year in August. Another landmark was reached on Sunday – a light version of the band, comprising of Ken on guitar and vocals and Dan on fiddle, played at Sam’s acoustic evening in the Brown Cow at Mansfield (a night you should most definitely check out – I’ve been to a fair few now and it’s a great way to round off a weekend, and Sam is a fantastic performer too).
Ferocious Dog draw quite the crowd these days so whilst perhaps the time of arrival a few of us chose might’ve been overly cautious (ha!) – it made for a lovely afternoon of chatting nonsense with people I’d never have known if it weren’t for the band, followed by a standing room only gig at which Dean was adamant we were going to do a role reversal – so I was to graduate from surfboard to surfer. It was a daunting prospect in a packed pub with furniture and glassware not to mention people, but it was pretty clear that refusing wasn’t an option – plus, let’s face it, what an awesome thing to get a chance to do!
So once the song kicked in there was a bit of confusion when folk realised they were picking Dean up instead of me – a quick leg up and an undignified clamber and there I was, hunched under the deceptively low ceiling and trying to find my balance. I loved it, and it felt like a real coming of age moment – and particularly nice as it’s my favourite FD song being a bit of a John Lilburne nerd. I’m looking forward to the possibility of a reprise at a full band gig – and there’s plenty of those coming up at the Bodega in Nottingham, Nuneaton, Barnsley, Derby, Deerstock and I’m sure others over coming weeks and months as the dates on the tour become more difficult to resist!
I’m not one to take people for granted, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your daily doings and not take a pause and reflect on how blessed you can be thanks to random circumstance. Being comfortable enough to go and see a band I love at pretty much any event they play and feel like I’ve walked into a family party is a very nice safety net to have no matter what else might be going off in your life – so to all of you good folk who create that, and there’s too many of you to list, I thank you very much indeed.
Oh, and the music is bloody amazing too from the nicest bunch of grounded lads you could ever wish to meet. If you’ve not heeded me before and jumped aboard the burgeoning Ferocious Dog bandwagon then you bloody well should and get yourself a ticket for their gig at Rock City on 28th November when they go on sale on Friday. Oh, and the support is Gaz Brookfield (whose lyric I mercilessly stole for the title) and Mad Dog Mcrae. It will be immense.