As you might have guessed, it's taken me some days to get over one of the biggest nights of my life; an emotional fuelled experience that I'll never forget, one that drained me mentally and physically. Sitting here in Sea Palling listening to the North Sea giving the coast another bashing Shepherds Bush seems almost unreal - was it really only a few days ago that we were there together giving it some for one last time? Still can't get me head round it. The Last Supper tour done. The final show done. Bloody hell.
The morning of the 18th November Jona and me went down to London. As the train pulled out of Norwich I thought: the next time I see this station it'll be over. I'd been feeling weird since the last rehearsal as had the rest of the band - this was it, this was real, the culmination of a long hard eighteen months and the last time some of us would ever perform together. And thinking all this, it was suddenly really hard to keep that one bit of toast I'd managed to force into me down. The journey is just a blur, I remember getting to Liverpool Street but that's about it. We stayed at a place in Shepherds Bush and as we came out of the tube I deliberately didn't look across the green - that would come tomorrow. We had sort of planned to meet up with Allison and Damon for a drink but all of us agreed we didn't really feel like going out. So the night before the final show I was lying on a bed watching telly, about eight we went downstairs and I had a few beers, ten o'clock we was back in our room, by eleven in bed. What a glamorous end to it all.
The morning after there was no chance of anything solid entering my stomach apart from a paracetamol and immodium. My tobacco took a pounding and I was pissing like a carthorse due to all the water I was drinking. Couldn't keep still and when it was time to leave for the venue I was relieved although my guts were going nuts. We'd hoped to get in the venue at twelve-fifteen but no one was there, so I said sod it and we went in O neils next door. Walked in and two blokes were in there, they were coming to the show and we all sat down together and had a quiet drink. Allison and Damon arrived so we had another little drink. A group of blokes further down the bar called me over, we had a chat, and that was it, I was a bit more relaxed and loosened up a bit. And the lovely thing was, that for about an hour, I didn't stop meeting people and saying hello. I'd nip outside for a gasper and someone would walk past - alright Steve? See you in there.
Got into the venue and there was Gizz, Pete and Carol standing on the stage looking into the auditorium. Hugs all round, Shend from the Cravats gave me a bear hug, hello to Andy T and his lads, and then the long wait for the sound check. Eve and Penny arrived, more hugging and then Harvey our sound man started getting us together for the soundcheck. I've always hated soundchecks - that endless "snare and high-hat together" stuff does my head in so I sloped off upstairs till I was needed. Spike and Gizz's families were in the dressing room along with Alice and her parents, Nicky and Gordon. Said hello to everyone and slipped next door for a quiet few minutes. No chance, the Lifeboat crew arrived with all the gear and it was back downstairs to find somewhere for them to change later. As luck would have it, the band were running through West One so I was able to show the crew when I wanted them to come on stage. Their faces when they saw the size of the place was priceless! I think they'd rather face twelve-foot waves than that! Anyway, sorted that, ran through a couple, ran through Owe Us with Pen, ran the young 'uns through Big A little a and Eve and Tony ran through Darling with Pen and that was it, soundcheck done. Now the wait for stage time.
Just into my second can of europiss and Lauren comes in- Steve, are you okay to do those interviews? Did a lovely one with the boys from Vice and another with the people from Altsounds, and then I was free to kick my heels. So I went to the pub next door. Packed out, everyone talking and smiling, saying hello, I was actually looking for my sister and my nephew but instead found the boys from Stalag 17. Petesy instantly wrapped me in his massive arms and bought me a drink and we sat there nattering. I couldn't really concentrate on what people were saying for obvious reasons, plus I was having photos done with people and signing bits and bobs including a girls' stomach. As usual I lost track of time and Jona came to get me as it was getting close to the showdown. Just as we were leaving in comes my sister. Just had time for a quick hello and then it was into the venue.
People have said that I seemed very calm before I went on but believe me, it's never easy for me. I found myself a hidey - hole behind some curtains and listened to you all singing along to Ziggy Stardust and shouting out the word Crass when it came. I could hardly breathe as I watched Allison making ready with the visuals and saw Pete strapping his Bass on. Fucking hell I thought - this is it, this really is it; and the enormity of it all, the thirty-five years of it, hit me and I turned and wept into the curtain. But there was no time to self indulge - the stage went dark and we were on. A sea of faces in front of me, smiling, tearful, I was fine myself until the intro tape started and then I nearly lost it. I don't know if any of you realised but the intro tape, the flute, was the music from the film Kes, hence the picture of the Kestrel, and the picture of the bloke was Barry Hines who wrote the book, followed by the picture of David Bradley as Billy Casper sticking his fingers up. I was honoured to be able to use the picture of Barry thanks to his wife, Eleanor, who was there with their son Tom. Anyway I turned round and looked at the screen and there was Barry, had to hold back the tears and then: Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! We were off into Do they owe us a living for the last time.
You all probably have a better impression than me of the performance; for me it was one last scream for us all, and get it right Igs for fucks' sake - but there was no need for me to worry because you, you beautiful bastards, screamed along with me and I thought my heart was going to burst. I tried to look into every single face but could'nt, but honest, I really tried. And I kept it together until I saw the glistening sadness in Carols' eyes as she finished Systematic Death for the last time. Deep breath, keep going, oh no here comes another tear jerker - the young 'uns are on for Big A little a. So What, that song that's got so many people nicked and then Roxy. See I knew what was coming next, so I let you lot have the first part of Roxy as a final celebration. And then Penny came on and you gave him such a greeting, that got my bottom lip going and then the bugger comes and hugs me before we start. I held him so tight and he smelled of Dial House, Petulie and herbs and the memories flooded in and we did it, Do they owe us a living as we'd first done it all those years ago. As it started, so it finished.
Then Eve came on to a massive roar and her, Tony and Pen did Darling in their own way (how Crass was that!) and then Eve comes and grabs me and sets me off again. What a night. Bloody hell fire.
I'd thought about what I was going to say to you but the words went and all I could say was thankyou. And then for me came a very imortant thing I had to do. I had always said that if I'd got it wrong about Colin Jerwood I would be the first to make a public apology and remove the chapter from my book. I won't talk about it now but me and Colin are back. Not that I ever stopped loving the slippery sod, I can"t.
I'd also been bricking it over doing a cover song seeing as this was the last time I'd be performing Crass songs live, so really I should only do Crass songs, but West One has always meant something special to me and the words seem to fit with the Lifeboat, so that's why I did it, and when the crew came on, you all gave them such a roar, it made Pete cry. Stuck a dirty great lump in my throat too. Punk is Dead, and then that awesome rendition of Shaved Women. I didn't know Eve was coming back on but when she did and to see her and Carol performing it together sent shivers down me. As she left the stage she was grinning from ear to ear so I took my chance and gave her bum a squeeze, just a last bit of cheeky Ignorant having a laugh with his mate Eve.
And so to Bloody Revolutions. I knew it would happen. It was seeing all your shiny eyes that set mine watering, so when Carol grabbed my hand.... and that was it.
I can't remember much about the upstairs bar bit, I remember saying hello to loads of people, Paranoid Visions - what a great bunch - Gaye Advert, Zillah and Sid from Rubella, so many faces,but that's about it, the next thing I know it's morning and I'm saying goodbye to Spike and Gizz, and then taking the train to Kings Cross with Pete and Carol and Eleanor. A very emotional farewell that one, especially Eleanor, we just held on to each other for dear life. Goodbye, goodbye, a last look over the shoulder and back to Norfolk. All done. All gone. I was in the pub by seven wondering what the fuck had just gone on. Something special, something truly beautiful, thanks to you, my dear dear brothers and sisters. THANKYOU WITH ALL MY HEART.