Now when most bands go on tour, you’d expect them to be driven round in a big tour bus (preferably one with onboard entertainment systems). To have roadie’s lug huge flight cases around. To even have their own sound man. Not I. For I am stupid (and perhaps a little spendthrift). Either way, I’m on tour with a friend called christiaan, my clothes are crammed into a lego club bag I’ve had since I was 5, my midi footpedal is in a plastic bag and a freshly installed kenwood stereo is all within our tour bus…or should I say Peugeot 106. Nicknamed ‘Madame Ananas’ for comedic value…with a value rating of approximately 2 cpi (chortles per square inch).
Christiaan is my scape goat/videographer. He’s busy filming random events and then editing them together into our blog-tastic video diary. He is also responsible for some other jobs. For example: sharing the driving, manning the merchandise stall and being generally annoying as he sees fit. I could have draughted in an actual tour manager, but it wasn’t economically viable. I would have been making a loss before the first performance. I guess they do deserve their money as it’s not a great existence. Constantly moving around. Having to keep some rowdy band in check. Being the victim to endless pranks. Like putting cling film over the toilet bowl then putting the seat down…always a classic, hey christiaan!
So let’s start at the beginning. A perfect place.
We set off from HQ early afternoon. Destination: Start The Bus, Bristol. As well as it being the first night of the tour, I also had the pleasure of playing alongside Rod Thomas, songwriter extrodinaire.
Despite Bristol’s crazy one way system (like most cities nowadays) we arrived in good time – due to me anally leaving more early than we needed. Soundcheck was delayed massively, but it was not a problem as I was able to sit and chat with my fellow performer. The gig itself was great. Had some friends down and sold some cds, which is always nice.
Now for this first leg of the tour. I had decided that it would be cheaper to head back to london after every gig, the incentive being able to sleep in my own bed and get a lie in! So for all the following dates bar our sheffield gig, we drove back to HQ and ultimately…bed.
the dates were as follows
1st – start the bus in bristol
2nd – The grapes in sheffield
3rd – old blue last in london
4th – the assembly in leamington spa
5th – the playhouse in cheltenham
6th – resident instore (afternoon) and (evening) digital in brighton
The Grapes up in Sheffield was a lovely intimate venue, to be found at the top of an old pub. I was supported by my friend Benjamin David and the Goliaths and my favorite folk band Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam. A lovely evening was had by all, but i couldn’t help feeling like my beats were a bit too much for some of the audience. I felt a bit stupid nodding my head in rhythm to the thudding bass as people sat around or stood motionless before me. I’d like to think they appreciated the effort.
After a wonderful night’s kip in a premier travel inn…with the emphasis resting firmly on the “premier” we indulged our stomachs in a slightly sub par breakfast from the adjoining little chef. Sufficiently satiated we left sheffield heading south to the big smoke….ah…alliteration.
We were heading to a festival I was booked to play, staged in the trendy reaches of shoreditch. Concrete and Glass the festival. The Old Blue Last the venue. They made me feel extremely welcome there with a fridge full of beers in a lovely dressing room…doesn’t take much does it…Don’t forget I am traveling in a cocking peugeot 106, what do you expect!
I was playing with a number of really cool acts, who by all respects should have been on last, but the good Jon Kennedy of xfm fame saw it best when curating the night to shove me on at the end. A great response from a great crowd. Not as packed as the night before, though. I heard they had to turn Jack Penate away! Maybe he was trying to get in under his real name…Jack Fabian.
The next show on the saturday was the one I was looking forward to most. a) because I had convinced my girlfriend to come along and join me on the road for that night and b) i was playing with one of my favourite new bands…one of the freshest sounding acts around. Post War Years. Truly original and always perfect live. It was The Assembly in Leamington Spa and I (for my sins) was on last. Not sure why as PWY’s are much better than me…plus they set the bar insanely high with an outstanding performance, which consisted primarily of new songs…all of which where instant classics.
The venue itself was massive. It used to be a bingo hall we were told whilst being shown round the immense back stage area. We all had our own individual rooms which jutted off from a main communal lounge, with it’s own bar, sofas, out of service dodgem cars and a trailer once owned by Tammy Wynette. Yes…a trailer indoors! The walls themselves had been built around this behemoth. The most garish pink with chrome trimming on the outside and crazy glass, mirrors and plastic covered cushions on the inside.
I felt like I performed well, at least that’s what the lads from PWY’s said…so I thanked, bid adieu and left them to their shenanigans in the pink and chrome trailer!
Now sunday was an interesting one. This gig was the Playhouse in Cheltenham. Promoted by the most wonderful Stefan and his lady Becca. It was a lovely gig with an attentive crowd, but I did feel like I was the oldest one there. The other bands were a lot younger than me. I felt like an uncool uncle when trying to chat to them. I guess I just have to get used to that. It was also another gig like the Grapes in Sheffield, where most people had taken to sitting down in a very chilled out manner. A bit weird when I was trying to get some people up and dancing with my electro musings.
I didn’t have to worry too much as this was one of the most successful gigs for selling merchandise. i guess they liked it after all.
Interesting story about the drive back. We nearly got fully up close and personal with a frickin stag. I’ll set the scene…paint the picture with my wonderfully poetic words.
Okay…so we’re driving along the A40. Christiaan at the wheel. Madame Ananas doing at least 60 (possibly 70….I know…lock her up! she broke the law!)
The conversation meandering into whether we’ve ever hit a badger whilst driving. I admit that I’ve at least seen the damage a fully sized badger can cause to a car….they can get quite fat down south!
Anyway about ten minutes later we see (on our side of the road, facing into the hedge) a fuck off massive stag…antlers and everything! Christiaan slammed on the breaks, but as he did the mammal turned and ran…full pelt…into our path. As we were still traveling pretty fast christiaan cleverly decided to accelerate around the approaching stag. We ended up swerving fully onto the other side of the road and missing the sprinting beats by 2 inches at the most. If we’d collided it certainly would have written off the car and possibly come through the passengers side…i.e.: my face!
This event was followed by a steady stream of expletives and blasphemy.
The last and final day of this leg was Brighton. Playing a little instore during the afternoon and then the sea front club Digital. It was a really good night actually. When we first arrived there were no lights on and I had to set up my stuff in almost pitch black. The gig itself was in the smaller room of the venue which still looked pretty sizable. I was worried that i would be playing to an empty room, but luckily some friends came down and added girth to the trickle of fans I managed to pull from brighton’s surrounding area. The sound guy Ally was really good as he’d been on tour with New Young Pony Club and The Go! Team so he managed to get a great sound out of the PA.
The instore was equally as great. Not as successful on the cd selling front, but everyone who came along was really attentive and listened quietly as i strummed my way through my acoustic set. Perched on the counter next to the cash machine. They even let me choose and keep a couple of cds for free (which I thank them for again). If any of you are interested. I chose Plaid, Autechre and Clark. I had earlier bought a copy of Rex The Dog’s debut album too).
So there you have it. We have come to the end of part one of my tour. I’m currently up in yorkshire on the second leg. The video diary ‘Part One’ is still to be edited (christiaan?!) and uploaded. so let this be an appetiser.