Back in the Antipode where I did sound for Ruby Throat a couple of years ago and we seem to have arrived in the middle of a cigarette smoking convention. Also, rather worryingly, the catering lady puked into a waste paper bin while preparing our sandwiches. Things have been a little subdued of late - the dressing room in Caen was rifled and laptops, wallets and phones were taken. Still, last show today and everyone seems pretty chipper, if a little hung over.
Day fifteen and we find ourselves at what must surely be a serious contender for best venue in Europe, namely Le Bikini in Toulouse. It's a fairly recent build, its original incarnation having been obliterated in an explosion at a nearby chemicals plant in 2001, a blast which also sadly left twenty nine dead. A lot of thought has been put into the design of the new venue, and I can honestly say I've never heard a PA sound so good. In fact I reckon you could mix an album on it. As is usual in France, and as I've mentioned here before, the food they serve us while on tour is generally excellent, though the staff in the kitchen at Le Bikini have somehow managed to raise the bar even further. Octopus for breakfast anyone?
Last night's gig in Clermont Ferrand is one I hope to wipe from memory before too long. After replacing Vincent's guitar, amplifier and cables mid-song(s) in an effort to make it all work again the problem finally turned out to lie within the venue's equipment. You don't half feel like an idiot though, frantically redesigning the stage while hundreds of punters look on.
Day thirteen of the tour and I'm starting to feel the first twinges of bus-trophobia, there being no nice little front lounge on this one in which to hide away. Another down side is that, while we can see perfectly well where we've been and where we currently are (on a moment by moment basis), we can't actually see where we're going. I miss that.
In a recent attempt to alleviate boredom I watched the sci-fi movie "Skyline" which I shall review as follows:
People you don't care about dying unheroically for no good reason.
Sat in the Blackbird ale and pie house in Earls Court, immensely satisfied after scoffing one of their delicious speciality pies. The sold out show at the Scala last night marked the end of a hugely successful UK tour which saw audiences swelling (in the nicest possible way) and new territories conquered. Highlights included the backstage facilities at the Assembly in Leamington - Tammy Wynette's ornate sixties touring caravan and an even older fairground dodgem among the artefacts thoughtfully provided for our amusement. A couple of days earlier in Nottingham I missed out on a late night seance in caves under an old pub due to tour fatigue - the landlady of said establishment reportedly able to summon ghosts at will (yeah, right - why's it not the focal point of some serious scientific research then?) by getting gullible punters to hold hands in a circle in the dark. What she hadn't banked on was Anathema turning the pointless spectacle into an impromptu round of hokey-cokey. I'm sure the dead (had they turned up) would have found it most amusing. Another highlight for me was being able to watch North Atlantic Oscillation play their set every night. Shame they're not staying with us.
We set off tonight for Lille and the first of nine shows in France.
Merch spiv Brian Moss in the Noddy car in Leamington. Below is Tammy Wynette's caravan.
And for the record, I don't believe for one minute that Danny got his shiner by walking into a tree in Sheffield. I reckon he most likely bumped heads with Ken Clark.
On our way to Leamington and the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen-designed Assembly venue. I really don't know what to expect but it should be noted that roadies don't do fancy. I somehow managed to cram in two incredibly disappointing meals in Nottingham where we stayed for our day off. The first was a pitiful excuse for a roast chicken dinner served at the Yates's pub by the main square, not redeemed in any way by the "free" splat of crumble and custard masquerading as dessert. After Lee and John witnessed their beloved Everton getting thrashed by Bolton on a screen thirty feet wide a few of us ventured out to a curry house around the corner which (judging by the messages on their wall) comes highly recommended by much of the UK's celebrity elite, all of whom must have appeared at one time or another at the theatre across the road. Since the aforementioned meal I find myself urged to pen strongly-worded letters to, among others: Bob Carolgees, Little and Large, Christopher Biggins, David Essex, Lenny Henry, Dawn French, the bloke out of the "Confessions of..." films, and Whitesnake. I intend to ask why exactly they would recommend such bland, lukewarm and overpriced fare. Ah, thinking about it, I might have answered my own question there.
The morning after the gig at the Rescue Rooms and we have a day off. Unsurprisingly the weather is purest gloom, though I doubt we'll be spending much time outside as there were murmurings last night regarding Sunday roast dinners and the match involving Lee and John's favourite football team being shown on the television.
In other news, a member of our entourage found himself much the worse off in an early morning disagreement with a Sheffield street tree and now sports an impressive lump on the forehead, one which will surely become more colourful as the days progress.
Currently on our way to Sheffield for gig number three and things are going pretty well. Despite being a man or two down crew-wise load-ins and outs have been relatively stress free and have in fact proved a useful source of exercise, this being good as you'll never find me giving any of my hard-earned cash to a poxy gym. North Atlantic Oscillation (so nice to have a support act I like) have been chipping in, and the local crew at the Cathouse in Glasgow were supremely keen and helpful, making the hell of their steep sticky stairs that little bit more bearable. On the subject of the Cathouse, this was the gig I was least looking forward to on this jaunt. Last time we were there (on the day Obama won the 2008 presidential race) the band played to around eighty punters in a filthy room (or was it eighty filthy punters in a room?). The dressing room was a dimly lit pigsty (the shower would more aptly have been employed as a second toilet should the other be occupied and the need great), and the catering seemed the product of some nightmare that involved wandering aimlessly around Netto with a dole cheque. Not so on this occasion. It's amazing what a lick of paint and a bit of TLC can do to a place. Three hundred or so punters this time as well.
In other news, Vincent is playing a shiny new Paul Reed Smith for part of the set, leaving me with the formidable task of figuring out a way to purloin it without anyone noticing. It is a very nice guitar. Les currently has a form of beard growing on his face, causing some to liken him to the late Dennis Hopper. Personally, I see more of a resemblance to Albert Steptoe.
09-02-2011 Live Lounge, Durham
10-02-2011 Cathouse, Glasgow
11-02-2011 Academy 2, Sheffield
12-02-2011 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
14-02-2011 The Assembly, Leamington
15-02-2011 Academy 3, Manchester
16-02-2011 Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
17-02-2011 Scala, London
19-02-2011 Le Splendid, Lille
20-02-2011 La Laiterie, Strasbourg
21-02-2011 Ninkasy, Lyon
22-02-2011 Cooperative de Mai, Clermont Ferrand
23-02-2011 Bikini, Toulouse
24-02-2011 Theatre Barbey, Bordeaux
25-02-2011 Le Cargo, Caen
26-02-2011 LE 106, Rouen
27-02-2011 L'Antipode, Rennes