Well, the first leg of the tour is over, and a lot of fun it was too!
The four dates were Cambridge, Southampton, London and Brighton, at each of them I was joined by Rob Jackson in support and also for some duet stuff.
Cambridge kicked it off – the venue was a place called CB2 – a tiny and very groovy cellar venue, with a low stage and nice simple lighting. Rob and I also had Peter Chilvers along on this one, and his set kicked off the show – a set of solo looping keyboard/sampled string stuff which was beautiful. Actually, he didn’t kick it off, I did with an ambient loopy thing, just cos we’d forgotten to bring a CD player for background music… :o)
After Pete came Rob’s first set of the tour – I’ve got Rob’s CD, ‘Wire Wood And Magnets’ and have heard him playing guitar for Boo Hewerdine before, but this was the first time I’d seen him play a whole solo set, and he was fabulous. Really really beautiful music. Very funny between songs, and a gorgeous tone. We mic’d up his little Cornell amp and ran it through my AccuGroove/QSC/Mackie rig, which sounded fanastic. Catherine street-team did an amazing street-teamers job of flyering and postering before-hand, bringing friends, doing the door and CDs!!! Good lord, the woman’s a god-send.
Then came my solo set – the first time I’ve played the tunes off the new CD live. I did the title tune, Shizzle, The Kindness Of Strangers, Despite My Worst Intentions and a few older numbers. Shizzle was a little bit shambolic but I largely pulled it off, although on ‘Despite My Worst Intentions’ I clicked ‘next loop’ to start recording the B section and it was already there!!! Possibly the weirdest two seconds I’ve ever had on stage, suddenly stepping sideways into some futuristic world where Echoplexes know what you’re about to play! what had happened was I’d played the tune in the soundcheck, but hadn’t wiped that loop, just the A loop, so everything else was in Loop 1, and Loop 2 was merrily waiting to be retriggered. Very odd indeed.
Stayed at Robs, brunch at The Orchard in Grantchester (the first of quite a few nice posh lunches on this tour), then back to mine to change, and get ready to head down to Southampton. I brought the box of CDs in doors to replenish from the previous night’s sales, and completely forgot to put them back in the car!!
Drove to Southampton, stopping for a bite to each in a pub in Buriton, Hampshire with Iain Martin from Stiff Promotions and his brother Ali.
The gig was at The Hobbit – a HUGE pub in Southampton, on about 5 different levels, outdoor bits, etc. absolutely massive. the music was in a little room in the middle, with a stage and a built in PA. The venue hire bands in to play, but don’t charge on the door. We set up, I realised I only had two CDs there to sell (doh!), and lots of friendly faces turned up. But the music wasn’t set to start til 10pm, and by then, a lot of very hammered people had also turned up and set themselves up by the stage, who proceeded to talk/shout/laugh/make dickheads of themselves loudly for the next three hours. The venue did nothing. No concern for either Rob or I, or the majority of the people there who wanted to listen to the music. So much for treating the musicians well. Given that the place was huge, it wouldn’t have been hard for the venue to ask them to move to another part of the venue, or for them to even have charged a couple of quid to get into the room we were playing in, thus filtering out the losers.
Anyway, the nice people outnumbered the morons, and we had a great night inspite of the shouting. Always nice to see friendly faces in the audience, especially Grant, Aidan and my Southampton mini-me, Vicky.
long drive home in the middle of the night, back to London.
Saturday night was Launch gig at Darbucka – possibly the grooviest venue in London, sumptuously decorated, great food, lovely arabic vibe. A marvellous place. Very nice to see so many friendly faces there (though I’m not sure how good it is that about a third of the audience already had the new CD via the advanced ordering thingie on the site!).
At both the Southampton gig and the London gig I had a bit of a Nightmare getting ‘The Kindness Of Strangers’ to work – it’s a really tricky tune to get the for rhythmic loops at the beginning in time with. you’ve got an initial loop, that gets kicked up an octave, as you start recording the next tune layer, then another little melodic line, and then the dubby bassline that takes it from a one bar phrase to 16 bar phrase. it was at about the time of my third restart on the tune that I realised how much harder the new stuff (and my new live setup) is to play! Blimey, these tunes are much more complex, and as more of them were improvised on the spot than on ‘Not Dancing’, it’s taking me longer to learn them.
At both the Southampton gig and the London gig, Rob played marvellously again, and it became very apparent that it’s a really good touring combination, me and Mr Jackson.
Theo also came and played with us on the London gig, played a beautiful solo tune, did a couple of duets with me, and a really nice trio tune to end a marvellous night. Thanks very much to everyone who came down.
And finally Sunday night in Brighton. Or not – it was actually in Southwick, just outside Brighton, which on Pride weekend, is not the greatest place to be (my fault for choosing to tour in August, a notoriously bad month for touring). Add to that the venue changing hands a week before and the new owners putting up NO posters for the gig, and you’re not on for a big crowd.
thankfully promoter Rich did a great job, got his mates down, the room was fantastic with a view over the harbour, and the gig was great fun. A really nice listening audience in a gorgeous venue. Can’t say fairer than that!
So all in, a great four days. There’s some work to be done on the new tunes to get them up to the standard of the album, but they’re already sounding lovely in the set.
I’m now really looking forward to leg II – Glasgow, Berwick and Edinburgh. See you there!
soundtrack – right now, Michael Manring and David Cullen, ‘ Equilibre’. Before that, The Low Country, ‘Welcome to The Low Country’.by