Weird Weekend's - Rock Idol

James Toseland: Racing hero, rock star. Luke Ponsford: Not bad with a guitar. For one night only, Visordown joins Toseland and his band Crash on stage. Let's rock!


It's a muggy Saturday night in Gloucester and I've got a problem. In the grand scheme of things it's not a big problem, but at this precise moment in time it's causing me serious concern. Here's the thing -

I can't remember if Highway to Hell starts on an A or a D chord. As I step up onto the stage of the GL1 Glevum Hall I clock the eager faces of the crowd, and I still can't remember. I strap on my Gibson Explorer and hear the drummer counting me in. James Toseland leans on his mic stand and shoots me an expectant sidelong glance.

Oh sod it, it's probably an A chord. Adopting the classic Pete Townshend windmilling stance I clout the Explorer and the opening salvo of Highway to Hell thunders out of the amps. If I screw this up, I'm going to look a right tool...

I don't have a lot in common with James Toseland. I have never been a World Superbike Champion, I don't have chiselled features or a torso seemingly hewn from aluminium. I can't recall ever having to beat libidinous females away with a stick. In fact, the only thing I'm aware of that unites us is that we both play - or have played - in rock bands. James in his covers outfit Crash, me in a variety of failed country-rock combos. What a flimsy excuse for a story, I thought, after the idea of me joining Crash to play a number was bandied around the Visordown office. James would surely never agree and, as far as the band were concerned, what if I had the musical ability of a tone-deaf gibbon? This surely wasn't going to happen.

Amazingly, James agreed. I was to play at the next Crash gig in 10 days. So I had 10 days to learn Highway to Hell, verse, chorus and the guitar solo in the middle, then perform it in front of real fans. Yikes.

As the time leading up to the gig counted down, I managed to devote a total of 14 minutes to learn and rehearse the AC/DC tune. By the time I arrived in Gloucester for the 4pm soundcheck, I was about as familiar with the song as I am with the details of the Maastricht Treaty. The band - guitarists Paul and Warren and drummer Gav - were stressed and busy and not interested in my concerns. When would I be able to rehearse with them? How would I keep my guitar in tune in this humidity? Where was the toilet?

I kept my head down, but that wasn't helping my growing unease. Firstly, I didn't know the song properly. Secondly, I didn't know the song properly. And thirdly, why had I opted to sport such ridiculous facial topiary? I looked like a cross between Lemmy from Motorhead and the proprietor of a Dickensian orphanage. Much nervous pacing ensued.

Continue the Crash gig

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