Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Enjoying The Walk

Some of these notes below were made during the final week of the Winter tour, some I’m adding now as I look back at events and locations, recalling and reviewing the mental imprints and pictures I carry from them; the backstage corridors, stage doors, the town centres I walked through before sound-checks; the faces of friends and those who came backstage to say hi after a show.

Of course, to write ‘as-you-go’ makes life easier than writing retrospectively - in theory it is, anyway; but this, of course, does involve a degree of consistent self-discipline.
Even then it’s not only a consistency factor that holds the key. 
As discipline and resolve don’t come in standard sizes, I find they sometimes can’t quite keep up with the movements of circumstance and mood swings that constitute ‘life on the road’. It’s not as though ‘resolve’ itself weakens, it just gets out-punched on occasion; but then, given time, hopefully, it can re-assess, then re-group, before rising to the next level of resilience.

Another thing I’ve encountered - and each time it’s as though it’s the first time - is the obstacle that often stands between a piece of work in progress, and the completion of that work. There’s a significant part of me that lives only for the finishing line, yet another part that would actually prefer to leave things hanging. Maybe I do have an issue with commitment after all?

Metaphorically speaking, it does seem important to ‘enjoy the walk’. That is to mean, if the goal becomes the only focus, then little or nothing can be gained from the process of getting there. 
I was once likened to the captain of a ship, who fixed his eye only on the horizon, consequently neglecting the upkeep and well-being of his craft and crew - the very people who where assisting him on the journey. 

However, in the same breath, if the only preoccupation is with one’s immediate circumstances, then the absence of direction and intent will arguably limit one’s achievements.

Monday 14th December. St George’s Hall, Bradford.
 Accommodation: Home


I have a huge fondness for both Bradford and for the St George’s Hall.
Ever since I played here with Al Stewart in the 1970s, this has seemed like a special place. Then, some thirty two years later came the poignancy of that final concert on my maiden 2002 Steeleye Span tour; a beautiful night, and one I wrote about in the diary I was keeping at the time; these were my words …

'Friday 20th Dec 2002
St Georges Hall, Bradford.
Theatre capacity: 1500 Sold out.

Final show. 
Checked in at the Hilton at 3pm; I'm feeling close to home now. Carol arrived about an hour later from Preston. Originally the plan had been that we would go straight home to Preston after the show, but now I'm thinking that it's only right and appropriate to spend the rest of the evening with the band and crew. 
Emotionally, I arrive at this last tour date with both - considerable sadness, and relief. This has been one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences of my career. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will not be the end of my working relationship with these guys. 
It's possible to state that tonight's show was the very best of the tour, we were relaxed and 'up for it' as was the audience. The on-stage sound seemed faultless. There were quite a few familiar faces and friends in the audience, some of them joining us back-stage after the show for wine and food. Later, back at the hotel, the band and those closely associated with it, gathered together for one last time. We found a cosy, but appropriately sized function room, where we discussed the events of the past four weeks, and ate Indian food - after all, we were in Bradford. Tomorrow morning Carol and I will head back to Preston - and wait for Christmas.

Tuesday 15th December. Parr Hall, Warrington.
 Accommodation: The Viaggio. 


A small, old fashioned looking venue; maybe could do with a face-lift, perhaps, but I’m not completely sure; it does have plenty of charm.
The crowd was great tonight; the hotel was dubious. 

One thing that absolutely amazes me, especially at this time of the year, is how as a paying customer at many hotels, you’re expected to put up with parties and discos that can go on as late as 1 p.m.
Tonight we were comparatively lucky; the music stopped at around 12:30. My room sat more or less directly over the disco, and it literally shook with the volume of the music - just what you want after twenty five concerts, eh?

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