My First Tour
Hello…and welcome to part two of my first tour.
The shows so far
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
9th – Cockpit 3 in Leeds
10th – The Duchess in York
11th – The Welly Club In Hull
12th – Xscape in Castleford
13th – Photoshoot in Leeds
14th – Pure Groove Instore in London
16th – BBC 6 Music – George Lamb Session (morning); New Slang @ McClusky’s in Kingston
17th – The Regal in Oxford
18th – Moshi’s Tenth Birthday Party @ Matter in London
So the first gig. Cockpit 3. A massive club with 3 live rooms. I was obviously playing the smaller of the three, but that was by no means the quietest. I had a great soundcheck after bonding with the sound guy Dale over the new Presets album Apocalypso, which he played at all free opportunities over the modest PA.
Christiaan and I were shown such great hospitality as we had our own dressing room complete with fridge, kettle, milk and a pile of tea bags. Anything a struggling artist on the road needs. Plus…and this is the piece de resistance…wifi. It’s great to be able to check your emails on the road…did i say emails…i meant myspace/facebook. However, it’s all very good if you have something to check…once you’re up to date you feel like you’re wasting the opportunity to use the internet so you start looking up random things…for example 90s band Sleeper’s lead singer’s name, second hand shops in the leeds area and the nationality of M.I.A. All important things I think you’d agree. Answers were Louise Wenner, Trash and Treasure, no.3 stonegate road and Sri Lanken.
The gig was good fun, sold all but one of the cds we had taken up for our northern leg. You see. We only had about 10 to last us the four gigs. A bit short sighted on my part. I should have got some more from Moshi when I was back in London. So for the rest of the gigs I kept referring fans to HMV. (take note HMV…I was pointing people your way…stock the album!!!)
The next night was a short drive to York. A wonderfully old and historic town. Not what I expected at all. I was prepared to see a vast industrial estate with smoke billowing out of roadside factories. It was the complete opposite. More like a local southern town called Battle with old castle walls surrounding the city centre. The Duchess is a relatively new venue. The managers Tim and Michelle told me that they had once owned a pub called the Duchess, which was renowned for it’s fantastic nights and high profile artists. After a lengthy period of time (which i forget how much) the brewery decided to claim back the pub and sold it off to make way for a hugo boss shop. The couple then bought the current site and kept tradition alive by naming the place after their once famous venue.
I was playing the club night and was due to go on stage at 11.30pm. Playing earlier on that night was Lykki Li supported by Yoav. It was a pleasure to see both perform and I was overjoyed to see the vast crowd that had amassed for them. I was less than happy to see the vast crowd dissipate faster than a line of coke from an ad executive’s pocket mirror.
I needn’t worry mind you. As a different younger crowd soon started pouring through the door. When, eventually, i did get on stage and asked if anyone had ever heard of me. One person put their hand up. I had a feeling I was playing to people who just wanted to dance. An ironic juxtaposition to my nights in sheffield and cheltenham. I guess I need an audience on the brink of dancing. An attentive head bob, me thinks. Or to paraphrase the NME a little “crancing”. (crying / dancing).
The Welly Club was a great night. Met a wonderful band by the name of Ambassadors of Morocco. Really nice guys. I’d be lying if I said the gig went without a hitch though. They cranked the sound so loud that my guitar was feeding back and I basically couldn’t hear my vocals. However despite my feelings of angst, the crowd (in the smallest sense of the word) seemed to like it. I did however get one guy repeatedly asking me for tracks by other bands. Obviously thinking I was some glorified DJ who sang and played along to other peoples stuff.
The lasting memory I shall have of Hull is when we pulled up to unload the equipment into the venue (NB: the afternoon!). We were accosted by three drunks (one lady, who did the talking and two men).
Drunken Lady: “scuse me…wah time duz the musik stard?”
Christiaan: “um…about quarter to ten i think”
[Meanwhile one drunken man slowly falls to the ground and is dragged along by his pal. Whilst inside my head one thought repeats “keep and eye on my stuff, keep and eye on my stuff”]
And so to follow the joy of Hull was the giant man made mole hill of the north. Xscape. A building that takes up one third of Castleford, the town in which it resides. I can’t describe how massive this place was. We found the Loft, which was the bar i was playing in and was then led through a maze of unfurnished corridors within the underbelly of beast. Eventually reaching daylight after a good five minutes of walking. This was our load in point of access…Awesome! So not far to walk with all the stuff then…
The gig itself was fun. Good sound, which made up for the lack of sober listeners. I was particularly chuffed to learn that a man called Neil had seen me at the cockpit in leeds and had brought his girlfriend along to catch me a second time in Castleford. Thanks Neil. That’s very nice of you.
With the end of this night , comes the end of our yorkshire experience (for this week). All that was left was a photoshoot in leeds the following day and a long trip home to bed.
So back down in London and after a good nights sleep. The Pure Groove Instore was upon me. A lunchtime show, which I was a bit apprehensive about, but I needn’t be. The staff were really nice and it was good fun to play in their shop. A healthy crowd grew and then wilted as my set drew to it’s climactic finale. It was nice to be done by the afternoon for once. And I got to enjoy the evening and the next day before the second batch of gigs commenced.
First installment was McClusky’s in Kingston. A lovely night put on by the fellows at banquet records. I was supporting Esser whose set was absolutely fantastic. His drummer is one of the best I’ve seen. I guess as Ben (Esser) is a drummer himself you know he’s gonna choose a pretty tight drummer to play for him!
The next gig was The Regal in Oxford. One of the largest venues I’ve ever played. It was just me and some djs. A bit nerve racking but I was committed to having a good one. Something that was tested as a few songs in I was aware of an unhappy presence in the crowd. Some people shouting ‘You’re shit!’ and one guy asking me to put on an oasis cd. Well to those of you that didn’t enjoy my show at The Regal I have a few words for you….Go fuck yourself!
Load out was fun. There were about 1200 students between the stage and the exit. Luckily, We managed to persuade the security crew to sneak us out the back door as it would have been an absolute nightmare battling our way through the crowd…especially as there may have been some bad feelings towards me. The escape procedure was very exciting and I felt like an SAS dude. We worked in perfect synchronicity. As my entourage loaded up with equipment we were briefed on what to do. The closest exit was the fire escape through the back of the dressing room. It was alarmed and in order to de-set this the power had to be cut. This would almost certainly interfere with the DJ who was by this time in full swing. A vast crowd of 1200 dancing drunk ‘angry’ students…nice.
After checking everyone was ready. They cut the alarm and we (with ninja like precision) left the building in a veil of silence. A final insult to the people who slagged me off. (NB: not everyone I met hated me that night. the promoter was very nice and all the staff including the sound man Mark were absolute legends. And a big thanks to the lovely people I did meet in Oxford. It re-affirmed my confidence for the next gig…Matter…London)
This was pretty much the climax for the first two parts of the tour. I was to play alongside the other Moshi Moshi acts at Matter. Fabric’s new venue in the O2 arena. We arrived at 5 for soundcheck, with a provisional stage time of 1.30am. I was playing the smaller of the two rooms along with, Slow Club, The Wave Pictures, and Kate Nash. Whilst room one was home to Hot Chip, Tilly And The Wall, Florence and the Machine and The Mai Shi.
The night was a fantastic success. Everyone I saw was playing well. Wave Pictures and Hot Chip gave a particularly good performance that evening. It was an absolute pleasure to play and to finally meet some of the other acts on Moshi. Also a good opportunity to take in Fabric’s new venue.
So ends the second part. At this moment, Christiaan is furiously editing the next video installment. Did I say editing…I meant playing Need For Speed on the Xbox next door!