Friday, 11 December 2009

Swings And Roundabouts

Saturday 14th November. Day Off.
Accommodation: Worcester Whitehouse.

Not sure why, but I noticed that there are a good number of Saturdays when the band enjoys a night to itself. I very much doubt if there is anything, deliberately speaking, behind the fact that this, today’s leisure / travel day falls immediately after night one, however, I’m starting to believe it’s an effective strategy. What it does is give you time to reflect, discuss and appraise what happened on that adrenaline charged first night.

It felt as though the drive to Worcester took forever.
I usually sit in the back of the bus, over the back axle, a position where every bump, every twist and every turn is experienced with a greater degree of connection. I won’t go into too much detail, but if I were to say that I didn’t like the experience of travelling in a tour bus day after day, I would be expressing my most favourable feeling about that experience. 

One of the greatest things for me has always been the point in the tour when I eventually climb back into my own car; I always equated this moment with getting my own life back - to be again in the drivers seat; to take whichever route I choose; to stop whenever it pleases me.
In the meantime, however, as the bus swings around each corner and roundabout and I get thrown from left to right, and back again, I shall endeavour to travel with all the graciousness I can manage to muster.

I compare getting my car back with the first time I went ice skating. It was a profound experience. My skates were so painful; it was the pressure on the arches of the feet that caused the discomfort; not a sharp, but a chronic pain - a type of pain you even get used to. When I removed the skates at the end of the session, I would describe the relief as nothing less than glorious.

The evening was good. I noticed there was a spa at the hotel, so I went into town to buy some shorts or swimming trunks. I’d never even considered this before, and I suppose it’s pretty obvious, but in the world of retail clothing ‘they’ - swimming trunks - are very much season related, consequently there wasn’t a short in site. Yes, I did say ‘short’ - I only wanted one.

Luckily I found a lady at Debenhams who recalled seeing one or two pairs in the stock room. She vanished for five minutes, then she came back with three pairs of Bermuda shorts. They were all hideous; I chose the least hideous pair.

After a half hour split between the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi I went back to my room - collecting a pint of Grolsch lager en route - then settled down to watch the Brasil v England friendly.
Then the night got even better; I found an Indian restaurant, and ordered a take away: a tandoori mix grill; on the way back to the hotel I picked up a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

Sunday 15th November. The Swan Theatre, Worcester.

Accommodation: same as last night.


Another relatively small venue. A nice, and (I think) recently renovated theatre. Always when I played Worcester in the past it’s been at the Huntington Hall venue, but I get the impression that The Swan’s new opening has made way for a venue more suited to electric bands.
The difference in the band’s performance and confidence level was striking tonight, it seems that the day off worked well for us.

Monday 16th November. Reading Concert Hall, Reading.

Accommodation: Travelodge, Oxford Road, Reading. 

Show 3/30

I love the venue even though it was never designed for any kind of music other than orchestral - a typical town hall really in that respect, but in aesthetic terms it appeals to my eye.
The acoustics in these buildings I’ve written about a number of times before, most recently in my account of our Adelaide show: Friday 9th October.
I know some of those in the audience would have struggled to hear things clearly - especially the lyrics, but nevertheless it was an enjoyable night.
One change was made to the set - we dropped The Butcher (second song in), and replaced it with Seagull.

Tuesday 17th November. The Playhouse Theatre, Weston-Super-Mare.

Accommodation: The Commodore Hotel, Sand Bay, Kewstoke. 


Hardly recognised the place from the last time I visited one of my childhood-favourite places. My last visit though, I should make it clear, was not in my childhood, it was in fact Friday 6th February (Second Thoughts First posting) when this entire area of Britain was covered with snow and ice. Thankfully, today the weather was surprisingly pleasant - certainly surprising given the time of year.

The hotel’s in a neat location - right next to the beach in what the name of the area describes perfectly - a bay with lots of sand.
Didn’t feel as though the band clicked at all tonight. I think we all felt like that to some extent or another, and it’s somewhat unusual for that kind of consensus. Yet as I’ve stated so many times, seldom it seems that the two worlds, the two realities - the one on stage, and the other in the auditorium, are wholly synchronised with one-another. 

When Jackie, our tour manager, tells of great business at the merchandise table, and Maddy, who usually goes out after the show and mingles with the public, returns with tales of joyful ebullience, you begin to realise that it’s best not to dwell on these matters.

Wednesday 18th November. The Corn Exchange, Exeter.

Accommodation: Jury’s Inn, Exeter. 


The hall, according to my official schedule, that presently sits in front of me has the capacity to seat 500 people; this, the same hall that more than comfortably - much more - seated a grand total of, I think, twenty five when I played here with Phil Cool back in March earlier this year (Sunday May 31st. Over-Egging The Collective).
I did had a fairly strong inkling that we’d exceed that figure today, and my intuition proved correct, with the attendance figure increasing by around four hundred and seventy five.

Went through a bit of a time warp in the second set when Pete and Maddy did their duo spot - Silky. I was sat in the dressing room with a sense of having all the time in the world, and wasn’t at all poised-and-ready to go back onstage by the time the audience applause had died.
The next song was one of mine - Unconquered Sun. ‘Conspicuous’ could accurately describe my feeling as I eventually walked onto the waiting stage in a very quiet hall.

The hotel, Jury’s - I’m not impressed. I stayed years ago at the Dublin Jury’s, and loved it. So I was pretty happy when I saw this one here in Exeter on our schedule - especially after the Reading Travelodge experience. Alas, my room is poky; the staff at breakfast are unhelpful; the cleaning crew are noisy first thing in the morning, and the room doors, when left to close unhindered, slam shut with ferocity. Not recommended.

Thursday 19th November. The City Hall, Salisbury. 

Accommodation: The Mercure White Hart Hotel, St John Street, Salisbury.


Friday 20th November. The Assembly Rooms, Tunbridge Wells. 

Accommodation: The Royal Wells Inn, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells. 

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