Well it’s been a hectic last few days with big shows, big crowds and big performances.
Bristol was a stunner and I admit to being in tears at the end of ‘Misplaced’. The sense of relief after the Dutch debacle when the wheels were close to coming off the tour only saved by Tony Turrell’s availability and his ability to step in at such short notice was palpable.Tony T did a brilliant job on his first night and we all applauded him on stage at the end of ‘the Company’. It was a night of high emotions and the crowd were absolutely terrific. I could not have asked for a more supportive and energised audience for out first UK show.We all left the stage with massive grins and there were lots of hugs all round.
The stress had taken it’s toll on my voice a little bit and I was weak on the top end,cracking a bit on the big throat holds.With 2 London shows up next I was taking no chances and was in my bunk early all potioned up.I woke up outside the gig in Islington and decided I needed something extra to take down the swelling on my chords. I jumped in a taxi and headed down to Euston to the University College Hospital A an E department where I would spend the next 4 hours until I was sent by a lovely doctor who I filled in on my situation. She gave me a short course of steroid pills and I made sure this time I got some back up amoxcyllin anti b’s which I recognised could have been the issue in Poland when I got hit by the virus. I’d had the injections in Holland and I now think that my immune system got whacked and opened the door for a hit as I didn’t have a back up.
I knocked back the first load of pills in the taxi back to a soundcheck and an interview with Team Rock that I was now missing. The doc had told me they’d take 4-5 hours to kick in and I was crossing my fingers they would be reacting before the show. They did.The warm up went well but I paid a bit for a lost soundcheck as my onstage sound was all over the place under the high reflective roof that acted like an upturned empty swimming pool.The show however was superb and although not as wild as Bristol was a brilliant London reaction.
The hospital visit gave me an off the cuff and wonderful curve into the introduction to ‘Family Business’ after ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Feast’ had rocked the room. It started with a joke about how you always find a drunk Scotsman in an A and E ward and how I was praying he didn’t recognise me as he was babbling away to himself. He was bordering on the aggressive but the arm in a sling indicated he wouldn’t be much use in a rumble. Everyone was avoiding eye contact and it was obvious he wasn’t a stranger to the premises.After a while a woman came in with a 4 year old boy sporting a mean black eye.The drunk guy started to engage him as the wee laddie sat on the floor in reception wrapping himself up in his hoodie to avoid interaction. The guy kept talking to him and then uttered what was quite a chilling statement. “Did your stepfather give you one then?” It was out the blue and the boy slid behind his mother and hid himself, I used that final utterance as the point break to introduce ‘Family Business’. It was perfect and threw a curve ball at the audience. The performance was inspired by it.
The last part of the story I left out but the seer Scotsman went out for a cigarette just as his name was called to see a triage doctor. He’s probably still sitting there waiting.
The ‘Perception’ intro also hit a chord and it was a pretty aggressive rendition that I think took some people by surprise.
Of course everyone was waiting for the main event and ‘Misplaced’ drew a huge roar of approval as it opened.What can I say? It was majestic and we careered and soared through the album to a conclusion that was met with a wall of applause.
‘Market Square’ and ‘Company’ led us home and I’d probably got the finest reaction in London for quite a while.
Backstage was beaming and we had the company of old friends to celebrate. We continued the party in the ‘New Rose’ pub down the road a few pints of Guinness salved the throat which had held up well. As I hadn’t checked in the hotel down the road and couldn’t be arsed wandering with a full quota of luggage down Islington High street at 2am I elected to stay on the bus which we shared with Lazuli who we’d given bunks to. They’d had a terrible day after breaking down in central London and having to get gear crossloaded to a van to make the show. They had no hotel so least we could do was offer our mobile residence for the night. I actually slept well and deep and woke up as fresh as you’d expect for the second night.
I discovered that 30 years to the day Marillion were in Japan so it was quite Fellini that I met up with Mark Kelly and our lawyer friend Guy for a Japanese meal before the show. We had a great natter about our experiences in previous incarnations in Japanese restaurants and the shenanigans that went on. It seems my memories are rather more clear and he did squirm a bit at the recollections. Wild days indeed smile emoticon
The voice was recovering and I went on stage confident and buzzing. The warm sake had done a trick and a decent soundcheck rectified all the faults from the previous night and I was in a good place.We hit the stage with a positive and fired up attitude.
It all went according to plan plus. ‘Family Business’ intro was retained as a lot of people had commented on how well it had worked. Dark curves and humour and a drop launch before people had come to terms with it all.
‘Perception’ took a slightly different twist as I’d been told 120 ticket holders hadn’t shown up the night before. It had seemed a little bit spacious the previous night whereas the Saturday show as a lot more obviously attended. The promoter’s rep wasn’t sure if it was unsold tickets from online sellers that hadn’t been bought or whether it was the concern after Paris. She said it had changed since the Bataclan massacre and people were concerned about going out to public gatherings. I added the fact to the introduction and it was well received as it has been since I developed it. ‘Punter’ was even more powerful for it as we all understood the connections and ramifications.
‘Misplaced’ opened to a roar of approval and expectation and we didn’t disappoint. It was high emotions from the off , ‘Lothian’ exploding in raised hands and a highly vocal crowd.The second half attacked but when we reached ‘Mylo’ I choked and cracked a bit as I remembered that it was Mark Kelly and I in Toronto when the news broke that John had died that morning. With his picture on the screen I wondered what Mark was thinking out there in the crowd.
The lift was tremendous and we reached the outro on an amazing high. ‘Perimeter Walk’ dark, broody and pulsing, ‘War Widow’ detonated and ‘Childhood’s End’ and ‘White Feather’ was performed to an ocean of raised hands. It was incredible to watch this reaction.from stage.
‘Market Square’ tore it up and ‘Company’ had a raft of ballet dancers on the venue floor. I thought it was better than the previous night by a notch.
The only annoying downer was that I was told just before the encores that there was some drunken prick who’d been nausing people off and had deliberately thrown 3 pints of beer over a woman and her daughters who’d been having a great time but were in his way as he came back from the bar. They were distraught and soaking wet. It wasn’t the right time to ‘out’ him as it would have destroyed the beautiful and positive atmosphere in the crowd at that point. Security couldn’t get to him and I hadn’t seen the incident. Tara was fuming as she had been putting up with a lot of sexist shit on the merch stall from drunks trying to grab kisses. The guy in particular that had thrown the beer was one of them. She shouted him down as he left the gig and refused to sell him merch. I was quite proud of her as she dealt with the problem, drawing security to the situation and then gave the 3 girls free t shirts as they were totally drenched. If the guy in question is reading this you should be totally ashamed of your actions and should apologise in public to these ladies whose night you ruined.
Backstage we were unaware of the entire story and I was showered and welcoming guests after a truly magical 2 nights in Islington, one of my favourite venues in London with the most friendly and helpful staff you could wish for.
With the bus wired up outside and a leave for the day off in Cambridge around 6am for a hotel check in at 2 we had time on our hands.
We elected to head for the ‘Hope and Anchor’ pub up the road, the home of Stiff Records back in the 70’s and famous venue that had hosted the early London ventures of U2 and so many brilliant bands over the years. I took Tara downstairs to the gig space and even I was surprised at just how small and cramped it was. I couldn’t believe that a band I knew from the 80’s ‘Nakd Lunch’ were playing and only to a tiny audience of about 20 people. They were brilliant, ‘Joy Division’ before ‘Joy Division’. I was sad that we only caught the last 10 mins o their set but when we were offered to sty downstairs for the lock in with out own company we had a great time having a natter and I even bought a t shirt from their merch guy who I’d met through mutual friends and had correspondence with here on FB . To make it even more Fellini orientated the sound engineer and gig promoter I knew from Charisma days back in the 80’s. It was a fine wee reunion and I exited the club with a slight wobble after quite a few dark rums.
It was a fine feeling diddly bopping down the road to the bus in the wee small hours after playing 3 brilliant shows in a row with no casualties.
The day off here in Cambridge was exceptionally quiet apart and I was glad to just calm down and rest after all the recent dramas.
Backstage now, 30 mins to showtime and feeling good about everything.
30 years on the album is still resonating with people and it’s great to celebrate the moment. I was reminded of just how long ago it was when I met with Robert Mead, the model for the original album cover after the show at the Assembly rooms.He joined us in the pub after show and we had a good natter. Strange to think that 30 years ago he was chalk marking hearts on a Berlin wall.
How the world weaves and curves on us all
Day off in Birmingham after another great gig in Cambridge last night. I managed a laundry at the venue yesterday but got worried as it was over 4 hours in the washer dryer which had a broken door and was a bit worse for wear. It looks like some of my stage T shits could fit Action Man and I’m concerned the jeans may be a couple of sizes smaller too. At least I have clean underwear again but they may be a bit tight around the crotch! smile emoticon
The venue was packed last night and w had the added bonus of a great house lighting engineer who gave us the use of 4 CO2 cannon at the front of stage that had been left over from a corporate event at the weekend. Simon also hung a couple of mirror balls from the overhead truss to give us a bit of sparkle in ‘Lavender’. He put in a great shift for us and made the show a bit more special with added visual dynamics to play with.
‘Pipelin’ literll fired off with the CO2 eruptions and we locked into the set quickly with ‘Feast’ energised before the ‘Family Business’ intro and a bluesy performance that it the mark.’Perception’ and it’s intro went down well and again hit a chord with the crowd, Simon adding red, white and blue lights across the stage to back the tricolour on the projection screen.
TonyT is really getting to grips with the set now and he is putting in some great playing as the band settles into the new line up. He deserves huge chocolate medals as he drove down from a day off in Liverpool where he’s teaching at the university and then was driven back after the show for another stint today thanks to his lady, the lovely Diane. It’s well beyond the call of duty. He obviously missed soundcheck so we had Romaine from Lazuli up on stage checking TT’s gear out and playing along on ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Lavender’ at soundcheck which was filmed by his band mates on their ever present go pro’s on selfie sticks. It was a fun moment smile emoticon
‘Misplaced’ was as always special and was greeted with high emotions all round. I am amazed just how much this album touches people and as well as the old hands there were a lot of youngsters in the audience singing along with me.The reaction at the finale was immense and it carried into the encores with mass ballet dancing particularly enthusiastic last night during ‘The Company’.
Robin set off home into the night with Tony close behind him. Steve and Vince are back home today leaving us with a depleted circus. The Lazuli boys joined us on the bus last night for some wine and pizza as we had to hold off on our journey as per usual as hotel check in was at 2pm leaving us with hours to spare on these short UK hops.
I wasn’t up late and left the wine rats in the downstairs bus lounge. It meant I woke up earlier than I wanted and found myself parked up by the canal. I opted for the walk along the tow path as it was a nice morning and the hotel was somewhere in the distance. After about 15 mins laden down with luggage I was regretting the adventure but it was a beautiful walk and I needed the cardio especially if I’m going to fit in my new shrunken jeans.
4 shows to go and the next run of 3 will be a toughie that I’ll have to take care with to reach Glasgow in good shape. The voice is holding up and I feel pretty fit these days. A lot more fit than I was a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to getting dropped of at the farm on Saturday morning as the tour bus passes by the studio on the way to Glasgow. Simone and her kids are all across for the weekend and arrive Friday night in Scotland. It’s going to be fantastic having them all over for the last show and it’s the first time Simone’s 2 daughters have been at the studio for quite a while and they are all excited to be coming to Scotland again.
But today is chill out and rest and take the deep breath before the spurt to the finish line in Glasgow on Sunday. I can sense the end of the tour now and will be glad to step off the bus for the last time on Sunday night with all my detritus picked up over the last weeks.I might just even manage to hold back a couple of bottles from the wine rats for Christmas.Doubtful though.