Thursday, 10 December 2009

UK Winter Tour - A Wing And A Prayer

Two days at home, actually more like a day and a half, and now I’m back on the road again.

The car problems have continued (read ‘Sunday August 30th’). My fears of the Toyota Previa needing at least a new cylinder head gasket where dispelled, at least temporarily, a few weeks ago - I was in the US or Aussie - when the garage phoned Carol to say they’d installed a radiator, and the car appeared to be fine.

When Carol went to pick the vehicle up, the man at the shop - so she told me - said, ‘it runs a bit sluggish, doesn’t it?’ And on the way home it was stalling.

I knew that it would probably at least have a flat battery after having sat in the drive for as long as it did.
Sure enough, on the day of my return, when I turned the ignition key there was barely enough power to turn the engine over. So I hooked it up to Carol’s car; this I was sure would start the car. No such luck.

I called the Automobile Association man. He was amazingly persistant; very helpful. He even had the driver’s seat unbolted and out of the car - the only way to actually get to the engine. This, alas, is why so many car repair people refuse to repair these cars, they are unbelievably difficult to work on.

Anyway, it looked as though this man’s determination would have only one outcome; I felt confident. It tried to start. In fact, it couldn’t of got nearer to starting without starting. But it didn’t.

Next, I was being towed to George’s, he’s my mechanic (though not the one who installed the radiator). I had previously, with a phone call from New Zealand, booked it in for Monday, my thinking being that perhaps it just needed a couple of new spark plugs or something and then all would be fine; and with ‘all being fine’ I’d have a car to drive to Oxford in Tuesday morning.
Now it was just a case of parking it outside George’s garage, putting the key through his letter box, and then figuring out an alternative means of transport to Oxford.

I’d completely forgotten, but then when the AA man reminded me - I remembered. I remembered that some two and a half months ago - when my car problems began - I had a call from a lady at the AA. These are logically, I suppose, the best times to sell new packages to AA members; I doubt that there are many of us that took out an AA membership in the first place until we felt we had no alternative. 
Well I went for it, I bought into this deal where they give you a hire car for up to three days if your own is off the road. I was saved. Perfect. It was a very shiny and very new model, and I picked it up on Monday afternoon.

Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th November. Rehearsals at The Warehouse, Kennington, Oxford. 

Accommodation: Longwall Travel Inn, Cowley.
A tough three days, that’s the only way I can describe it. A lot of new songs have been proposed for the tour. All but one are actually old Steeleye tracks, but they are completely new to me, I’d never heard them until today - Tuesday, when I listened repeatedly to the CD I’d burnt that morning as I drove south.
Complex arrangements.
It’ll take some time to absorb all of this.

We ran the complete set on Thursday, the final day, working exclusively on the new stuff up until then. 

The New songs:

1. All Things Are Quite Silent

2. Bachelor’s Hall

3. Sheep Crook

4. Peace On The Border

5. Little Sir Hugh

6. Around Cape Horn (from the new album)

Friday 13th November. The Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, Kent.

Accommodation: Express by Holiday Inn, University Way.

Shows 1/30

With a capacity of just 350 it’s not the largest of venues, but a perfect way to launch the tour.
The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, and on the night every seat was sold.

As with all first nights, and possibly more so today, I’d guarantee that every band member felt there was a ‘wing and a prayer’ feeling at many points during the set.

The set list:

Set 1
Little Sir Hugh

Creeping Jane

The Butcher

Bachelor’s Hall

Sheep Crook


I Love Not Where I Live

Fiddle Tunes

Around Cape Horn

Set 2

All Things Are Quite Silent


The Silky

Unconquered Sun

Van Dieman’s Land

Peace On The Border

Bonny Black Hare

Thomas The Rhymer

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