5 Days, 3 shows, 2 countries – a veritable world tour by my standards. I haven’t travelled to a venue by ferry and motorway since my TFLS days, so my whistlestop tour of Sheffield, London and Cork was a mixture of Proustian flashbacks and the shock of the new.
Listening to Radio 1 (first time in 15 years) – ashamed to say, quite enjoyed it.
How long it takes miles to go by (as opposed to km)
Roadworks throughout Wales
Entering London via Highgate, driving under suicide bridge down to Archway
The startling stamina and enthusiasm of travelling fans
Unhealthy eating in a variety of service stations
Trying to find ways of storing gear safely in built up areas without having to unload vehicle (leaving in venue overnight and hoping the cleaners will turn up on time next morning; reversing hatchback right up against multi-storey car park wall).
Shock of New:
Free wi-fi in every service station
Practically no popular music press left
Speed cameras / congestion charges
Growth of facial hair (fatally, Movember coincides with tour dates)
The making of amazing music with strangers after one hurried soundcheck
Spending 2 hours photocopying sheet music to enable same
The cost of parking in Central London
Travelling by self (including driving, and unloading, own vehicle single-handed).
Have to say, I’ve had a blast so far.
For Sheffield, the promoter Alex managed to lay hands on a 9-piece string section AND a fine duet-singer, which made for a chaotic soundcheck but a truly celestial live show.
For London, I was joined onstage by the pocket orchestra that is Alastair Artingstall (former TFLS live accomplice), and somehow the planets aligned themselves so that fans and friends passing through from Dublin, Boston and Australia happened to be in town for the show. Great to play and chat to so many I hadn’t seen for so long.
And for Cork, the spectacular no-show of the PA dude may actually have contributed positively to a truly gorgeous and completely acoustic show. (His brilliant “apology” text – “I won’t bullshit you: I did the dog last night and slept in” – alone almost making trip worth while.)
Tuesday 23rd Nov: The Mint, Coatbridge (Glasgow)
Thursday 25th Nov: The Academy, Manchester