Blog: Jim’s Tour Diary (Spring 2008)

Bradford, St. George’s Hall

8th April 2008 | Jim

The start of the tour, eek! So-called warm up show at the very lovely St. George’s Hall, Bradford. Due to promotional duties, we miss our pre-production, so spend the whole day running through songs for ourselves, lighting director, and out front sound man. Also playing with a few new fancy production ideas that I wont go into as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the rest of the tour (unless Larry shows stuff on his photo blog), but I’ll just say that fire is involved! Time is short and tempers a little frayed; eventually we stop to let My Federation soundcheck.

Set includes lots of the songs off Hey Ma, and some oldies including an outing of P.S., but it’s the new songs that really challenge us and require an extra level of effort and concentration to really take people’s heads off, competing with songs they’ve known and loved for many years. We’ve a few hiccups but no major problems, and the verdict is success!

Sweaty and buzzing, we talk through the gig backstage over a beer. I don’t stay long and head back to the hotel; some don’t, and appear the next day in reception, bleary-eyed, worse for wear, and glad it’s a day off.

Day off – Derby

9th April 2008 | Jim

Day off. Drive to Derby, do a little shopping in Westfield shopping centre. Buy a copy of Hey Ma as I’ve given all mine away. Go to gym with Saul. Have a lazy evening in hotel room snacking and watching TV.

Derby, Assembly Rooms

10th April 2008 | Jim

Derby Assembly Rooms. Spend day doing business and trying to sort out guestlist numbers for the rest of the tour. Leave at 3pm, just me and Andy on the bus. Andy’s bought a new frock from a charity shop. Soundcheck okay, catering excellent. I go for sea bass with asparagus, chicory, new potatoes, and pesto.

Gig goes well. I feel a little detached from things for the first few songs but get pulled in as gig progresses. Play Johnny Yen for the first time in ages.

Afterwards another quiet night. Feel knackered so leave early and walk back to hotel.

Lincoln, Engine Shed

11th April 2008 | Jim

Drove on bus Derby to Lincoln. Lay in bunk reading. Drop bag at hotel then I’m first to gig to do a couple of interviews. A quick bite to eat and then soundcheck. Soundcheck goes well, always a worry. Hang around in venue to watch My Federation. Very impressed. Buy their cd; too shy to ask them to sign it. We shuffle setlist around and put in Honest Joe.

Early on in gig I make some silly mistakes that really annoy me but the enthusiasm of the crowd is overwhelming and I get swept along and we all come off stage beaming. Thank you Lincoln.

Can’t get to sleep and sit in bed watching crap telly ’til the wee hours.

Liverpool, University

12th April 2008 | Jim

Liverpool. Playing the University. Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a dump. Dressing room has been well hammered and the toilet smells. Fortunately our assistant tour manager Zeb has much needed scented candles and incense. Soundcheck okay. Catering for steak and Guinness Pie.

Just before we go on stage, band bud and keen fan Peter Kay turns up, as loud, cheery, and silly as ever. We ask him will he introduce us, which he does with some style, and stays up there for ten minutes and adds Lullaby to Tim’s setlist.

Gig is pretty damn amazing. Crowd listen to new stuff, go crazy during oldies. Show ends with a raucous sing-a-long.

Have a biggish night out and get pretty drunk but day off tomorrow so it’s okay.

Day off – Newcastle

13th April 2008 | Jim

Day off, Newcastle.

I’ve got a hangover.

Spend day feeling sorry for myself and living on Advil and Volvic.

Newcastle, Academy

14th April 2008 | Jim

Newcastle gig. Feel better today. Manage to get to gym. Other than that, a quiet day ’til soundcheck at 3pm. Somehow venue is colder than outside apart from our tiny dressing room which is like a sauna. Soundcheck fairly uneventful. Work on Fred Astaire for a possible outing somewhere on tour. Ravioli for dinner and a little apple crumble and custard.

Geordie audience, as usual, is up for a good time and very lively. We have a few things go wrong but take it all in good spirits. The best gig yet. All go home sweaty and happy.

Sheffield, Academy

15th April 2008 | Jim

Sheffield. I have a phone interview with Radio Norfolk and a bit of a business meeting with Tim and Larry. Get to gig. Phone interview with Greek newspaper re: Ejekt Festival we are headlining in June. Soundcheck is hard. There are loads of boomy bass frequencies on stage messing the sound up. We have to hope it sorts itself out when the crowd is in. Catering – grilled trout and tiramisu. Have a lie down on the bus but don’t sleep.

Gig is a bit of a struggle; sound is difficult. We keep our heads down and work hard. Crowd wonderful again and our problems pale into insignificance as we get swept away by their joy and enthusiasm.

After show go and say hello to my guests. We leave on bus at midnight; have fairly heavy duty business meeting with band manager Peter Rudge ’til 2:30am. Get to London hotel 4am. I’m knackered but can’t get to sleep ’til 5:50. Ho hum!

Day off – London

16th April 2008 | Jim

Day off in London. I expected there would be loads of promo to do but there isn’t, so a proper day off. I wander round the shops, get some snacks from M&S and socks from Gap. Spend rest of day on phone, writing letters, and just plain taking it easy.

London, Shepherds Bush Empire

17th April 2008 | Jim

London. Go to gym, do lots of bike and treadmill, end up sweaty and knackered. Larry and I do an interview with Piotr from a Polish radio station. He is a huge fan and pleads with us to come to Poland and play. Soundcheck fine, no problems. Catering: mackerel with horseradish sauce. London can be a little tense as we feel under the media spotlight but we are playing so well everyone in good spirits and confident.

Gig starts well; solid and strong. The new songs stand up well. We begin to loosen up and do a blinding I Wanna Go Home and the set builds to a very un-London sing-a-long.

Have a couple of drinks afterwards but get tried very quickly and slink off back to hotel for a relatively early night.

Norwich, UEA

18th April 2008 | Jim

Norwich. Fairly long bus journey, get a chance to lie in bunk listening to new music purchases, Clinic and Courteeners, and read. Do a phone interview with BBC Radio Oxford. Phone keeps cutting out so a bit of a nuisance. Get to gig. Soundcheck okay. Saul a bit grumpy, I think he’s tired. Catering – beef goulash and dumplings.

Start gig with Top of the World. Play a truly great gig. We are all so relaxed everything seems effortless and we can’t put a foot wrong. Stay at gig for a while afterwards, chatting with guests and drinking cider.

Oxford, New Theatre

19th April 2008 | Jim

Oxford. Venue is a nice old theatre and all seated. It’s not very rock n roll and I’m not sure what gig will be like. Dressing room very small and we don’t really fit. I go up to Circle and watch My Federation. They are well received but the audience seem a little reserved.

We start gig with Top of the World. All audience stand and stay so for duration. It’s a good solid performance from us with truly inspired versions. A little more controlled than some of the more raucous shows but no bad thing. After gig back on bus and drive to London. Get there early hours, can’t bloody sleep.

Day off – London

20th April 2008 | Jim

Day off London. Lazy day. Off to M&S to get nice food for the room and a Sunday paper. Watch Man City beat Portsmouth on telly. Come on City! Go to gym in evening and get carried away doing cardio. Do mad session on treadmill; I’ll sleep well tonight.

Bristol, Colston Hall

21st April 2008 | Jim

Bristol. On the bus have row with Larry over the lighting on stage. Not too bad though. Check into Hilton, it’s all a bit Alan Partridge.

Nice venue, sound check okay.  Have roast chicken dinner in catering.  Go and have a read in bunk before show.

Gig is a game of two halves.  On my side of stage the sound is good, on the other side the sound is bad.  I Wanna Go Home is the best version yet.  That song is killer.  So unusual yet so natural and unforced, a real journey of a song.  After gig have a few ciders in dressing room then back to hotel.  Don’t sleep well, I keep waking up.

Blackpool, Empress Ballroom

22nd April 2008 | Jim

Drive Bristol to Blackpool, manage to get my head down for a bit. Soundcheck short, not much to do, really. Catering – Moroccan braised lamb with vegetable cous cous. Great venue, biggest of the tour, very grand but all standing downstairs so should be fun.

Start with Upside. As expected there is a large Manchester contingent here and well up for it. Sound on stage a little difficult but not enough to spoil our fun. Andy has a special trumpet that is supposed to have flames shooting out the end but it looks more like sparklers and it’s hard not to crack up laughing. Leave stage sweaty and tired. Lots of guests to see. My son Jake is here ’til end of the tour. Stay up late drinking and talking in Larry’s room, until John Cleese look-a-like hotel manager calls time on our evening and sends us all back to our rooms.

Day off

23rd April 2008 | Jim

Day off. Spend most if it travelling to Edinburgh. Watch the end of Oceans 13 then The Illusionist. Problems with bus and computerised heating system means it’s like a bloody sauna. Out for some food then watch Barca v Man U.

Edinburgh, Corn Exchange

24th April 2008 | Jim

Manage to make it to hotel gym, don’t really get into it, just ponce about a bit. Do some Portugese phone interviews ’til we leave hotel. Catering excellent, venison stew. Go to bus for lie down.

Start gig with two bag pipers and a drummer playing Come Home at back of hall. As usual Scottish crowd go mad. By far longest sing-a-long of tour, eight and a half minutes, and only ends when we crash into Laid. Many guests equals many drinks and we all end up in Dave’s room ’til the sun comes up.

Aberdeen, AECC

25th April 2008 | Jim

Aberdeen. The last gig of the tour. Venue a big shed. It all seems very empty during soundcheck. Last night of catering too, after this I must fend for myself. Have tofu pad thai. Watch My Federation, they get a warm reception.

After a little faffing we start the gig. Almost instantly a glass of beer (well I hope it’s beer) just misses Saul. I can see he is disturbed by this but fortunately no more come our way. It’s a Friday night and after a work week and a few ales the crowd are pretty boisterous. We do our best to stay focused and bang out the new songs. We give them a bunch of stuff they know at the end and the place ends with a party.

Dressing room is full of champagne and malt whisky and few guests to share it with. Overnight on bus back to Manchester. Arrive tired and a little worse for wear but not too bad.

Well it’s been a good old tour, and a bit scary playing all the songs off Hey Ma and trying to raise them to the level of all your tried and tested faves. We have had some fun with stage antics too, the highlight obviously Andy’s flaming? trumpet at Blackpool.

I’d like to thank everyone for coming to the shows, without you it would just be a bunch of old blokes standing around looking confused, so a big thank you and hope to see you all on the December tour for more fun and games.

Best wishes,

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