...so here's the next instalment - no dates, can't remember em, don't matter anyway!....
MJ TOUR GIG 6 – Bournemouth
After the gig we cab it to the hotel which turns out to be a typical English seaside affair; carbon copy of Fawlty Towers, complete with Portuguese ‘Manuel’ who stayed on at the hotel bar well into the morning. The band were there first, watched everyone come in, and when everyone peeled off to sleep at an un-civil hour we were the last in classic muso form….
MJ TOUR GIG 7 – Plymouth
It’s a four hour drive and in what’s becoming a regular habit, the bus pulls up at the roadside services about half an hour from the venue and takes a forty-five minute break….huh!? We’re pulling in to town and the bus driver says, “There’s the hotel,” as we pass it on the way to the venue….and then when we get out of the bus at the venue we’re expected to go find it ourselves, a foreign suitcase-dragging tribe wandering an unknown town like we’ve just been dropped off some passing spaceship. On finding the hotel at 2pm we’re told there’s no check in until 3. The nearest food, a Chinese restaurant, serves lunch until 2….
On checking in there somehow isn’t a room for your correspondent, as we’re known simply by the name ‘Musician’ followed by a letter which we only realised later on represented the instrument we played (I was somehow Musician K for Keyboard).
Post-show nightlife was a chav-tastic nightmare – a port town I suppose, what does one expect, but then – we pulled up in some horrible bar and all the human flotsam and jetsam on the street was enough to drive me back to the hotel room after not too long… Strong bouts of déjà vu are constant, nearly every day, and this morning I woke up and forgot where I was for a good couple of minutes. There were bagpipes off in the distance and I wondered whether I’d woken up in Glasgow already?…
MJ TOUR 11 – Southend
You know, I’ve completely forgotten the gig, but more importantly, our digs that night was a hacienda looking place at the foot of a runway of some local airport. I got back to my room and Matt rings me and says you know there’s a nightclub rand ere with half price drinks and a truckload of American air hostesses who today have all just pass their exams! Woohoo says the other single guy in the band, but of course the fantasy didn’t quite materialise.
I guess I was expecting the full stereotype; busty uniform, blue shirts, cascading blond locks – we found two Irish lasses fresh out of high school who couldn’t even remember the safety demonstration (‘Two exits at the front’ etc)…..remind me not to fly on your airline…
MJ TOUR 12 – Gateshead
I’d been looking forward to this one for a while, simply for the venue. Don’t know if anyone’s seen photos of The Sage but I have for a while – a silvery slug-shaped building by the river designed apparently on the visual of sound waves and divided into three, the middle section of which was the concert hall. The bus pulled up and it was gorgeous – venue to the right, Newcastle’s iconic through-truss arch bridge to the left and across the river, the city in between. Hmm, curved bridge over water and world-class music venue looking similar and very close to each other – sound familiar anyone?
Tonight’s Travelodge was out in the sticks but everyone was so keen to get into it that we all dropped our bags and cabbed back in. Matt and Mike had done Newcastle before and so recommended us the ‘Jazz Café’, your typical run-down room with local band, late night hang, wouldn’t normally go there unless you were already well plastered but it was that or doof doof nightclub, which we ended up at afterwards anyway.
After much prodding which I shouldn’t need I got to talking with the gorgeous blonde dancer (as opposed to the gorgeous Asian looking one, or the gorgeous Irish one)….and it was all right, I was way too drunk to be nervous but also way too drunk to think of anything interesting to say, and then she’s gone….
We all found the casino but after the usual entry interrogation but no bar, so it’s back to the hotel as the morning glow awoke behind us to the east at around 3.30 – bloody hell, how far north are we? And what day is it again?
MJ TOUR GIG 13 – Liverpool
We’re pulling into town and our eternally grumpy bus-driver is at the wheel ON THE PHONE taking directions, and then as we lug into the venue he pulls away with the boot still open.
But aside from the daily transport palava, there was something quite special about standing there on Hope Street. I wondered how many places in the world one could stand facing a world-class music venue and be equidistant from two cathedrals, one built in the last century, one before. After soundcheck Ollie took us a nice pasta bar round the corner, a little closer to the older cathedral. Less than a block down the road was the arts school John Lennon attended and the building over that was the music school that Paul McCartney attended (or maybe it was the other way around?). The street we ate on was immaculate, sometimes used for TV shows – for an industry town looking grim on the way in, it was a gorgeous area to spend a few hours in.
The venue was beautiful, bit of a Frank Lloyd Wright slash castle influence out front, great hall and the audience were wild, on their feet half way through the first set no less. Damo had secured us some wheat beers after the show which was a bit of a first, to hook into something straight after we come off stage as opposed to waiting around for the bus and then propping up some nondescript hotel bar somewhere, which is what ended up happening anyway….
MJ TOUR GIG 14 – Glasgow
The drives are getting longer, the drinking’s getting heavier and the sleep is getting shorter, but today’s foray was into the welcome unknown. Once we crossed the border, it became quickly obvious how sparse the population must be up in the far north. One’s gaze stretches with the rolling green of the bare stony hills…
You only have to pull up at a venue and see it from the outside to know it’s gonna be a good one, and the Royal Concert Hall didn’t fail to impress. The soundchecks are becoming noticeably shorter and so we managed to foray into the town a little – the architecture is markedly different here. Our tireless MD, after dealing with the multitude through the afternoon, still found the energy to get down to the Clyde river and see a little more than us spaced out bandies did.
It would be an 8AM start for an eight hour drive to Leicester in the morn but that didn’t stop anyone in the post-show expedition – after a couple of bottles of red in Mike’s room, he took us to a nice piano bar to meet a friend of his, and then it was on into the night where we ran into four real young girls on their way to the late night feed where you had to pay before being served. We were all gone – Mike had suddenly acquired a Scottish accent and I was desperately failing to copy him – all of a sudden they disappeared and we stumbled back…
MJ TOUR 15 – Leicester
Two hours sleep later and it’s the longest bus trip of the tour, from the middle of Scotland to the East Midlands (Melbourne to Canberra I guess), and the bus is starting to look quite lived in. Our first stopover must have been the most picturesque I’ve ever seen, the intense green of the hills and the brown glass lake below us.
Leicester didn’t seem much – on what has been the quickest soundcheck the whole tour, we had two hours to kill in one of the least interesting places yet. This East Midlands city however has a large Indian population, and once again Matt knew someone local who knew the best curry house on the high road. And so an idea rumoured amongst the band for a time finally came to fruition and we all got to have a nice sit down meal as a band, all tired and spaced out as hell but thoroughly enjoying the experience.
And so another semi-conscious motorway trip, down the M1 past midnight traffic and road closures and big lights on arcs in one’s peripheral vision and off back home to who knows where, for a day in the sun and washing clothes and tidying rooms before back into it for another week….