Wednesday 16th December. The Sage, Gateshead.
Accommodation: Thistle Hotel.
Second time here for the band; it’s a new and pretty spectacular concert hall. Going from the more antiquated venue to the very modern helps put into perspective some of the progress made over the years in acoustic design, and these developments are significant. The on-stage sound at The Sage is a dream; you can hear each person, vocal and instrument with a clarity I don’t think I’ve experienced anywhere else.
Pre-concert, and it feels good, poignant even, looking out from this stage at the vast array of seats that are yet to be filled, then what seems to be just moments later, each of those seats will be taken, and the show begins.
It’s a modern, well organised operation here; the staff - smart and efficient, good food backstage, all stated and scheduled times—onstage, off-stage, etc —adhered to.
Outside, the weather was becoming increasingly unpleasant - but what do you expect, this is the north-east - still though, a bit extreme for my liking.
Thursday 17th December. The Guildhall, Preston.
Probably less than forty five minutes out of Newcastle, and it began to snow. The further west we drove, the heavier the snow became.
If it had only been a case of motorway driving, the journey would’ve been quite a casual affair, but the Pennines—the range of hills and mountains that separate our intended destination, Lancashire (on the west) from Yorkshire and the North-East of England—has, at the best of times it’s very own weather front - colder, windier, and in this case snowier.
It wasn’t long before the cars and trucks were slowly crawling along these country routes, and then not much longer before all traffic gradually came to a standstill. From a passenger seat perspective, however, this wasn’t at all bad; the scenery was spectacular, and I soon had the camera out.
It was obvious there was not any real danger of getting stuck - we were getting too close to the M6, and once on that stretch of motorway it was a straightforward drive south to junction 30. What we were more concerned about was Gareth and David in the van somewhere behind us (hopefully) - the van that carried our sound system. The weather was worsening.
Our concern centred on the fact that when the band was about to leave Newcastle, Gareth was desperately trying to locate the whereabouts of young David. It seemed he, David, had gone out on the town after last night’s show and either hadn’t returned to his hotel room, or was, for what would be somewhat obvious reasons, completely unconscious.
Gareth’s problem here was that he didn’t know David’s room number, and because of data protection, the hotel wouldn’t give it to him.
David, as stated above, is young - maybe twenty one or thereabouts. He’s also extremely likeable and personable. Part of why he’s so likeable is that although he comes across as a confident soul, he also has an air of innocence about him, bordering on naivety maybe. But the more one finds out about him the more you can’t help but see him as an accident always about to happen. Today was just one example of this; whether it’s with women; dubious characters he befriends in dubious drinking establishments; losing or misplacing of money; you name it, trouble and David are never that far from each other.
Already he’s been in hospital for all kinds of tests as a result of the detrimental effects of some highly questionable (yet legal) substance he’d been inducing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.
On this particular day—the way things eventually transpired—there hadn’t been any real justification for anxiety; everyone eventually arrived safe and sound in my hometown of Preston.
I was so pleased to be going home again, the only downside being that it was for just the one night; tomorrow’s a travel day - we head south to Brighton.