October Tour of England, Ireland & Northern Ireland 2010

Please don’t be put off by my tone, it does start quite depressing but I can assure you that the whole time we were having fun…

23.10.10 St Austell – Staggs Inn

We didn't need to be at the venue until 8pm and even then there wasn't a rush to get the music started. We were told that it would get busy later on in the evening and we were impressed by this as this wasn't the case where we were from and it felt a bit like we were playing in Europe. The venue had made a bit of an effort for us and who needs food and beer anyway when they provide towels and water?

Machete were two things – really nice guys and a fucking good band. Mouth on the other hand were not to my taste but were pleasant people.

By this point not many people had arrived and the place had a handful of forty something locals and the odd clown punk*. When we went on there were even less people. The sound was great though and we just got on with it and had a mint time. One local felt like he should give us a bit of advice between songs and told us that we could make more money doing covers. Cheers dude! We hadn't thought of that. Another person, this time a haggered 50 something women told us we should listen to more ABBA and that we were shit.

I had it in my head before we got to St Austell that it was going to be great - I based that thought entirely on the fact that Tribute Ale is made there.

We still had a rad time, despite some locals inability to handle their alcohol. The sound lady was a good lass and offered us to go back to hers for a drink [she had a bar in her living room] but we declined as we had to make our way to Plymouth to hang out with Neil and Craig of Machete and drink some port. On the way we saw the aftermath of a horrific car crash, discovered a twenty four hour Tesco was closed and that Pirate FM, the local radio station, would have the audacity to cut out the rap in that famous Evanessance track that has the rap in it.

*You know the ones, coloured hair, silly clothes and scary looking at first but when you meet them they are just a bit silly and harmless.

24.10.10 Bristol Oxjam – Mothers Ruin

Machete had to pullout of this one but instead Consolation Prizefighter played – Craig and Neil of Machete's other equally as rad band.

Being that this was an Oxjam Festival my hopes weren't too high. The promoter wasn't there on arrival and never did make an appearance, apparently she had gone to see another band in a different bar. The loading in of the equipment proved a difficult challenge because of a mixture of a stupidly awkward layout and peoples reluctance to move out of the way. I'm not sure what the band before us were called [there wasn't much of a sense of community going on in there] but they had really nice leather jackets, stylishly greased hair and perfectly trimmed beards. It's fair to say that they weren't my cup of tea but the swarm of girls watching were getting something out of it.

Once the trimmed beards in leather had finished we removed the practice amps and set the stage up. There was still a bit of a crowd when we kicked into Loss and to my surprise, they waited until the third song to start their walkout. In fact it wasn't until the fifth song that the place had completely emptied out. A photographer, sound man, Consolation Prizefighter and their mate remained. Not only had we cleared the upstairs where the bands played but also the downstairs bar area had emptied leaving just the two bar staff and the Oxjam volunteer on the door.

The Oxjam volunteer tried to get hold of the promoter for us because that is where we were sleeping. Luckily our friend Nathan let us stay at his house in Birmingham, which considering it was a Sunday night, was a very nice thing to do. Birmingham was only an hour and a half drive away and it was the direction we‘d be heading the next day anyway. Nathan had work in the morning and needed to get some sleep but still managed to find the time to make us White Russians. And tell us a story about Noddy Holder shitting on a glass pane over a bathtub with some chap watching underneath so that Slade could earn enough money to catch a flight home.

25.10.10 Sheffield - The Red House

We headed into Birmingham city centre for breakfast with our good friend Tobias Hayes [ex Shield ‘em current Shoes and Socks Off and total lad]. Phil ordered the mixed grill for the second day running, Gareth got a jacket potato with a second salad and I went for the gourmet chicken burger. We don’t know what Toby had as it came fifty minutes late and we had to leave him in the Wetherspoon on his own because our parking permit was running out.

It was national Lets Drive Like a Prick Then Crash on the M1 Day. We got to see loads of crashes. Gareth wimped out and drove properly and we got to Sheffield without even a scratch. The Red House is a nice venue situated on a residential street with neighbours either side but the sound was very good and volume wasn’t an issue. Melt Banana were playing that night too [somewhere else, not with us] and it was a Monday so no one came to our show. Literally just us, Dog Canute, Nic’s partner and her sister. Actually, not even the whole of Dog Canute as the Bass player was genuinely unwell and was unable to attend so they played a remix set. We were feeling a bit down about it as it was the third badly unattended gig in three days but we soon got over it as we were in the company of top fellas Ziggy and Nic. We had a few beers with them back at Ziggy’s house after the show and in the morning discovered that adding sugarless peanut butter to Marmite was the best thing you could do to a piece of toast*.

*I later discovered that you can do the same to a jacket potato.

26.10.10 Liverpool - The Caledonia

The quickest route to Liverpool from Sheffield is through the Lake District which, if you‘ve never seen any of it, is a beautiful place yet it is bleak, wet and misty. Not too dissimilar to what was happening to us - Meeting rad people and having a great time yet feeling a bit down as no one was attending the shows. Yes, maybe that was a shit metaphor but I won’t apologise as it made sense at the time.

When we got to Liverpool we met up with our friend Jon who was putting on the show. He informed us that due to a recent tragic death there had been a gig put on at the last minute in remembrance and that it’ll probably affect the turn out of our show. A bit of selfishness crept in and though we are not heartless bastards we still had unanswered questions like “why couldn’t they do it on the Wednesday instead?” and “why couldn’t they do it on the Thursday instead?” and “why couldn’t they do it on the Friday instead?”. It’s not the sort of thing you ask so we never did. They might have had a perfectly good reason and to be fair, when you are bereaving from a death, the attendance of a Silent Front show would not be your main concern.

After all the worrying it didn’t affect the show at all. When it was time for Specific Ocean to go on we went up stairs to discover a queue to get in and the venue packed full of people! There was a real nice atmosphere in there and the quieter parts of Specific Oceans set were not ruined by a hum of talking as everyone was digging them and giving them their full attention. Chrik played next and were also great, it was good to see them playing to a crowd as the first time we met them was on a previous tour in Derry (Northern Ireland) and there was no one at that show. When we went on the venue was still packed full of people whom sounded their appreciation and reignited our love of touring. We played the whole of Dead Lake and a new song called Nails. At one point Phil asked about how much time we had left and we were told that we were meant to of finished twenty minutes earlier, then told us to play two more!. Which we did, then played an encore. We met lots of lovely people and sold lots of merch and got to spend time with ultra legends Chez and Dave. They were the very first people to put us on in Liverpool many moons ago and we have been mates ever since. How lovely.

27.10.10 Belfast - Auntie Annie’s

We left Liverpool at 6:30am to catch our ship from Fleetwood to Larne. The crossing takes eight hours but they provide you with two hot meals and unlimited Tea and Coffee or Juice. As it is mainly a freight service only a handful of people were on the ship. We met a Roy Hodgson look a like and spent a good thirty minutes or so complaining about England with him. The Sea wasn’t too bad and we sailed past the Isle of Mann and the Isle of Whithorn without too much difficulty. If ever I find myself rich I’m going to buy a bit of rock on that stretch of water and name it the Isle of Thomas so that Gareth doesn’t feel left out whenever we make that crossing.

In February 2010 we did the Belfast to Larne drive in heavy snow and as we were doing the return Journey this time we had guesses as to which roundabout we nearly ploughed into the back of a stationary car (we pulled to the side at the last minute) and which roundabout it was that we did a 180º skid which left us facing the wrong way. Special thanks to our friend Rainey who had lent us his van for that tour.

This show was with Jackalfeud, Gacy’s Threads and Annapurna. The stage was ridiculously high off the ground and Phil and I were on the wrong side of it which was a shame but not a gig ruiner. The other bands were great and we met some lovely people in the crowd. We got beer’d, fed, paid and sold a load of Merch.

We went back to Ross’ house after the show (Annapurna, we stayed with him the last time we were in Belfast and he’s a top chap). He had moved house since then so there was no chance of seeing his neighbour who said she was 39 but was clearly in her late 40s that had taken a shine to me because she thought I looked like Axl Rose. Back at Ross’ we met one of the brothers or cousin or something of the drummer from Ash, I managed one beer and fell asleep upright on the sofa whilst everyone else partied around me.

28.10.10 Limerick - Baker Place

Belfast to Limerick takes about five hours so we headed off at midday to make it for 5:30pm. We busted our guts to make sure we were on time as we were told not to be late and managed to pull up to the venue at 5:25pm. We loaded in and the soundman told us he’d be back at 9pm for the sound check.

With three and a half hours to kill we headed into Limerick town centre for some food and see the sights. Limerick is fondly known as stab city but we managed to keep our skin intact for the whole time we were there. I suppose if Limerick was in England it wouldn’t be called such a name as we have other contenders for that title. We headed back to the venue and set up the merch and played a game of round the clock on the dart board. I destroyed Gareth in the early stages and even though he mounted a come back he was easily beaten. Winner stayed on so I played Phil. Phil is good at non physical games as a result of a misspent youth and the fact that he’d once worked as a caretaker in a youth club. Phil won but it was probably more down to me not being on the top of my game.

This show was The University of Limerick’s Music Society Halloween bash and they chose to celebrate it with six covers bands and us. We were given the hour slot but only played forty five minutes. We weren’t to everyone’s taste but a good number of people who came and spoke to us said they’d enjoyed it. We chatted with them, drank loads more beer and watched a few more bands taking pride in other peoples riffs. It got very late and I grew tired of the Rage Against the Machine covers band and the constant posing by the young crowd for their facebook profiles. So I headed for the van, opened a can of bitter and listened to the album “30 Something” through my headphones.

29.10.10 Cork - The Quad

We knew this show was going to be mint the moment we saw that Tad Doyle was doing the sound. His real name is Keith and he had a no nonsense approach which meant we were able to set up and sound check in under fifteen minutes. He liked to talk a lot so luckily he was the sort of person I enjoy listening to. Good lad.

Before the show started [Doors 10pm] we headed to Seb and Peter’s house and met up with the rest of Slugbait and drank some beer. Slugbait enjoy the same childish humour [and the sort of humour you wouldn’t want your child to hear] as us so we got on well. We also had a conversation about Coronation Street which Ian from Slugbait is a big fan of. When I say conversation it was more just Ian telling us how good it is and that we should watch it.

The venue filled up and Slugbait went on. They were definitely not At The Drive In meets Glassjaw like advertised and they didn’t think so either. I’m not good at band descriptions myself so Rad meets Excellent will do. The crowd were brilliant and we had an amazing time. We played the whole of Dead Lake except Moving Hands but we did do Nails. Our Merch box got lighter and we were overwhelmed by the nice comments and general friendliness of the people there. Though, one was maybe a little too friendly… As I was manning the merch table I was looking around the room and made eye contact with one chap and as you do, gave a smile. This was taken the wrong way because he stood up and came over and sat close next to me on the sofa behind the merch table. It wasn’t the usual “well played” stuff either as he had come into the bar after we’d finished playing and was asking questions about how long I was staying in Cork and what I was doing there etc. I made my excuses and left him by the merch table. I felt like a div because maybe he was just making friends but later on in the night I was again listening to Keith and the same chap came over to me and said in a cocky tone “have you found any women yet?” and walked away smiling, like I’d missed out.

I haven’t yet mentioned Darragh, he oversaw the show so a massive thanks to him for doing so. Also a big thanks to Alan as he organised it but was unable to attend. They put on most of the good shows in Cork, or so it seems, as we had a look at the posters around the venue and they were responsible for all the awesome shit.

We went back to Slugbait’s and partied some more, Gareth nearly pulled, I spent most of the evening talking about Football with Pete and telling him about the future of English football (Jay Emmanuelle Thomas, Chuks Aneke, Benik Afobe and Emmanuel Frimpong) and Phil was indulging with the others in the sort of humour you wouldn’t want your child to hear.

30.10.10 Dublin - The Lower Deck

This was another Halloween show and the people of Dublin take it very seriously. Fireworks are a big part of Halloween in Ireland which probably has something to do with the fact that they don’t have a Guy Fawkes night. Upon arrival at the venue, we found a man in his 50s standing outside having a cigarette and lighting fireworks and throwing them in our direction like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. In England, this is frowned upon and even playing with sparklers is seen as a big risk.
The show was rammed full of people with another thirty or so spilling out on to the streets. Children Under Hoof were good again (we played with them last time) and so were Elk (we’d actually met them the night before in Cork which is where they are from). Even Total Winners were good and they were a covers band! Pretty much everyone was in fancy dress and we made a bit of an effort ourselves with some face paints that Phil put on us - we looked crap but at least we’d made the effort. Dublin is one of our favourite places to play and it was nice to see some of the people we’d met the last time we were there.

After the show we went to a party. We were supposed to be sleeping there but it became clear quite quickly that it was never going to happen due to the sheer number of people both inside and outside the house. Getting into the house took an age and once you were in you had to squeeze past people and there was no point at which you were not pressed up against someone so we spent the night outside in the rain with some people we’d been chatting to on the way to the party. One of the girls I was speaking to kept mentioning the potato famine which got a little boring, I took the blame as I couldn’t be arsed to tell her that it wasn’t my fault and that my ancestors have never been in control of England and have never been the ones making the decisions in Westminster. I spoke to another chap about Shield Your Eyes and Nitkowski and he claimed that his three favourite UK bands were us and them, though I suspect he added us to that list as he was chatting to me.

Phil got friendly with a lass called Robyn from the band Children Under Hoof and we were invited to stay back at her house. Phil and Robyn went ahead as Gareth was a little drunk and was insisting that he was going to stay at the party. The party had thinned out and we were able to get inside so we stood there for a bit until I convinced Gareth that it was a good idea to leave and get a cab back to Robyn’s. Gareth and I slept on a sofa bed that dipped in the middle so that we were touching. Gareth wasn’t comfortable with that nor my snoring so he headed downstairs and slept on the sofa.

31.10.10 Kingston - Home

In the morning we got a cab back to the venue and loaded our gear back into the van. We looked for something healthy to eat but had to settle for a subway sub and then headed for the ferry. The ferry was busy and Phil spent most of the journey on the interweb, Gareth slept in the interweb room on the floor and I stood watching football in the bar. Going home after having so much fun is always depressing. We disembarked in Wales and our first stop was a McDonalds that looked just like every other Drive Thru McDonalds and bought a ton of crap as we had a long drive ahead of us. When we hit Birmingham Gareth said that we were nearly home, which we weren’t, but in a weird way and considering the massive journey we’d been on, we were.

Good times.

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