Blog: Jules & Co. From Sea to Shining Sea (Autumn 2010)

Big Giraffe, London Heathrow

18th September 2010 | Juliet

Larry is in the Big Giraffe café having a super breakfast muesli smoothie.

Dave is having huevos rancheros Mexican breakfast.

We are at Heathrow after an earlyish start.

There is a jet lag theory that eating food in synch with the time of the country you are heading towards helps greatly…  “Bollocks!” says Larry and has some toast and chills out…

Dave asks, “Have we sold any tickets?”

Larry is looking forward to the tour but has reservations about being on a touring crèche…

The flight is jam packed and for a long time we walk about, stand about, drink loads of water and time seems to get slower and slower yet we are leaping ahead in real time.

Later……much later….

American immigration seems to go on and on too, but then we are through, and in the land of oranges.  (Unfortunately by Thursday we still haven’t seen any oranges and scurvy will be imminent if we carry on much longer.)

Landed in the hotel, some of us head to Fish Tales.  Stacy is our waitress and is on hand for anything we need.  Mostly there is fish, and it’s good.  It’s a kind of diner-cum-music club.  A band is just starting up playing.  Right now it’s ‘Lay down Sally..’ …etc… it’s late all right, well, 5 hours later than it says on the clocks round here.  Exhaustion comes in waves.  Then Tim flies in from LA and is very awake.

Andy’s mail order folding bike has arrived wrapped in cardboard.  He assembles it and goes off exploring the local area… what a man!

We meet some of the America crew, there is Tig, and Tom.

Florida: the State of Oranges

19th September 2010 | Juliet

Today everyone is still a bit whirly from jet lag.  Tim is behind us all in time-of-day scales.  We are five hours ahead and flagging…  Tim is on West Coast time and flying…

There is a production rehearsal to be done at the venue…the new songs worked over a few times. …In this bar, in this bar, I am dying…  Waves of sound, waves of jetlag, waves of inspiration…….this happens… in this bar, in this…  Wilting band, wilting crew.  Tim says two more hours, Saul says enough of this, and then back to Fish Tales where a Blues Brothers tribute band are playing and doing a pretty good run at it  inside.  We are on the pavement out front… It’s all quite mellow…jet lag swirls…time for bed…

Culture rooms…?

20th September 2010 | Juliet

When we arrive at the Culture Room for soundcheck, the local garage has tied its Rottweiler up to greet us.  The chain is just long enough to prevent contact… just.

When Andy arrives on his bike and goes to lock it up, the guy from the garage comes over and tells him to get off his land.  “Don’t put that bike there,” he demands.  Andy explains he is doing a gig, to which the guy responds, “I thought you was one of those homeless.”

From its name I was imagining the Albert Hall, but instead it’s more like a version of Manchester’s very own Boardwalk.  What they both share is no toilet in the dressing room, and a general feeling of needing to wash everything that comes in contact with any surface.  Who knows, maybe the Boardwalk has been done up since its heyday in the late 80’s.  Somehow I doubt it.  The Boardwalk has a blue plaque these days.  This has walls covered in photos of the owner – the man with the very long black hair – taken with many of the bands who have played here.  Lily Allen and the Tom Tom Club are amongst the hall of fame.  It’s all a bit dark and cramped, so after James’ first ever VIP-guest-invited-soundcheck has happened, we go for Thai (‘next to the strip club’ are the directions) and to stroll in the mall.

Crossing just two roads on foot is a major hazard and I think I won’t be going too near American junctions for a few days…a U-turn at dusk followed by stepping back into an American right turn.  Yep that’s enough road crossing nightmares for a while…

I go to Whole Foods for a basics shop… A runner called Thomas wearing a t-shirt labelled ‘Security’ comes too and walks behind me and my piled-high trolley…I feel Secured [sic] and search for Tim’s wheat-free dairy-free specials, fresh figs, avocados, red berries, rice milk and nut-free muesli, and then get back to the job of stocking  the buses with basics and we zoom back to the venue.

The soundcheck begins with Bells…it’s kind of like a cross between a soundcheck and small gig… The VIP guests seem to love it anyhow.. they are now singing the chorus, ‘Here’s to a long life….’

The show is rockin’.  New crew except Nigel and Nick, who are each doing about three jobs,  and it seems to all go great.  Chicago Chris is back doing lights, and some new tricks come out to play.

Right down front the audience are dancing to Sound.  The place is heaving.  There’s some nifty minimal moves from the Cubanos stage left, and Liz from Brazil is here too…

Well there we go, first gig of the tour done and dusted.

Back to the bus to refuel.  Crisis… there’s no toaster or kettle….

Meanwhile the owner of the club is asking to have a quiet word with Tim in his office….to be continued….

Disney World and jungleland

21st September 2010 | Juliet

Woke up in Disney World outside the House of Blues, after a six hour drive from Fort Lauderdale, our first night on the bus.  It’s a hot night ‘cos we haven’t quite got the temperatures right and it’s hot and humid outside.  Our first breakfast on board consists of Muesli assortments and milk assortments (vanilla almond milk, yes really) and the usual weak percolated coffee.  If you have a banana, write your name on it.  Tim wants to get a cooker on board and start doing eggs…

There’s some swimming and sunning action at the hotel up the road which gives us the use of two day rooms to get clean and sorted.  The hotel has an African theme.  Zebra bedspreads and signs in the jungle garden grounds to  “Marrakesh, Zaire” and to the Congo rooms…  There are a lot of tropical flora and fauna; palm trees abound.  Andy, Larry and Vinny had a few goes on the python slide blasting out of the snake’s mouth.  Andy swims 6400 lengths…(approximately).  Tim heads off to a national park to get some space.

The crew are setting up the gear at The House of Blues, set in the grounds of Disney with Cirque de Soleil’s big top  across the way.  The House of Blues is done out like an old style blues club.  Lots of retro items, fantastic paintings by outsider artists all over the walls, and incredible metal sculptures in the grounds (see photos).  Every painting is a delightful surprise.  A huge painting of a woman holding the American flag, which looks like a giant toothbrush, looms over us in the dressing room.  I wander round the back corners of the building checking it out.  The dressing room is spacious comfy sofas and a central 3 foot brass figure of Ganesha the Hindu elephant/man god who helps overcome obstacles..  I wonder what he reckons to 33 days of non stop travel and 21 gigs…

There’s Lake Buena Vista out of the window and Disney World’s hot air balloon with Peter Pan and Wendy flying on it….a magical place all round.  A great gig followed.  Brilliant venue.  Fantastic crowd….

A very relaxed aftershow takes place in the House of Blues.  There’s some folk from Manchester there…

Larry goes out the side door into the main street to be greeted by a horde of fans awaiting signatures etc, an impromptu Q&A session ensues, CDs are signed, and a loud drunken Italian lady gives Larry her pizza.  An off duty ‘Pluto’ who looks like Pink talks about James music getting her through college.

The midnight train to Georgia

22nd September 2010 | Juliet

We are back on the bus, leaving on the midnight train to Georgia.  Except it’s the 1am bus to Atlanta.  The bus feels like it’s flying above the tarmac, hurtling down the freeway in the early hours, and then we wake up at the back door of the Variety Playhouse Georgia.

Otis Redding, the King of Soul, was from round here, as is Gladys Knight.  Gladys now has a famous chicken and waffles restaurant round here.  This place is the land of soul and gospel and Southern blues….

“Art is food, you can’t eat it but it feeds you.” (On the mural on the side wall of the venue.  See photos for more Atlantan philosophy.)

We ate veg – some was even green –  lots of it, and corn grits with jalapeños and fried mahi-mahi, at the oddly named Yacht Club, a good old home-cooked Southern food bar.  Pints of cider.  No halves.

Tim ‘n Andy wandered round the local vintage shops, bought some gear for stage.

The audience had waited 14 years for James to come back to Atlanta.  One guy told Saul that he was mid 30s when he last saw them at some venue in Atlanta.  He had gone back to the same venue today but found the band not there.  So he rang his son and said “Hey where are these guys?”  Somehow he had strangely assumed the band would be where he had last left them…

Saul is finding this tour much easier than the one two years ago because his mental state is solid from day one…he is enjoying it all.

Tomorrow we are having a bit of a lie-in.  Well that’s one way of looking at it.  It’s 14 hours drive overnight to Philadelphia.

Heading North

23rd September 2010 | Juliet

Most toilets flush in E-flat. (This is fact of the day on the schedule.)

There are bagels for breakfast on the bus. Three varieties. But no Philadelphia cheese.

It’s 773 miles to Philly. It’s gonna take 14 hours. Mostly we wake up around 9am in North Carolina ….boiling hot at a truck stop an hour later.

“Only 5 more hours,” calculates Vinny….. Marks iPod is plugged in on a shuffle, and we race on down the freeway.

Andy is practising his trumpet in the back lounge with his iPhone attached to the trumpet with a fish slice… a technological breakthrough, the iSlice…

Larry is brewing coffee.

Velvety Victorian in Chinatown

24th September 2010 | Juliet

The venue is in Chinatown.  We lug our cases over fetid fishy puddles and enter the dark backstage.

A night in a hotel and we are all cleaned up and organised after three nights on board the love train.

We had sung Love Train by the O’Jays on the way, heading towards the home of the Philly sound…  Love Train was their second hit after Back Stabbers, and Thomas printed up some album covers as posters to cheer up the black interiored bus.  It was they who also sang “I love music, any kind of music….as long as it’s groovy”.  Exactly.  The Philadelphia sound is worth a revisit…

Earlier the band perform for Live at Noon, a radio show.  “It was brilliant,” said Jim.  Taken a little bit by surprise because it ended up being a proper gig in a theatre rather than squeezed into a little room at a radio station.  250 people came to see it.

Dust Motes, a slow Laid, Out To Get You, Rabbit Hole, I Wanna Go Home, and Say Something.  Lullaby as an encore…  Getting Away With It.  About nine songs all together.

Tim goes to the Art Gallery and sees Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

Regrouping we head down to soundcheck at the venue….

Chinatown in Philadelphia is very Chinese.  Me and Vinny and Jake went walkabout and checked out the local Chinese shops, Vin bought some Chinese masks.  Peter Pacifico was there again…  He is attending seven gigs on this tour…who is this man?

The gig was preceded by the VIP soundcheck…  There was a call for Fred Astaire.  There was crying in the audience, dancing, hugging and holding by the onlookers…and a big whoop.  There was also a touch of feedback due to it being pulled out the bag for the first time this tour…

The Trocadero is a lovely old theatre.  Velvety Victorian in its own way. Anyhow a great gig followed.  The audience sang a great chorus, best so far. Cramped but joyful aftershow.  Scott the golfer was there with his wife again, faces from the Stone Pony gig last time.  It was crowded.  Larry’s relatives were there and one of Tim’s rellys too.

Then it was an overnight journey again up to Boston….  439 miles, a nine hour drive.

Boston O’Jays Party

25th September 2010 | Juliet

We park up outside the venue.  Ah, it’s all coming back now.  The secondhand shop, the Qdoba and the coffee shop…here we start the day.

Three hours later we head off to the day room for swimming, yoga, weight training, sleeping, chilling and Shiatsu.  Then it’s back to the venue for the soundcheck.

The gig was chaotic due to technical problems, beer had been spilt on Larry’s gear and it all went pear shaped.  The P.A. had also blown up earlier in the day.  The gig went okay once they got over the hitch.  The encore was Out to Get You….

“Everything went wrong,” said Tim, cleaning his teeth at the kitchen sink…don’t spit on the crockery…please…  Tim brushes on, spits in the bathroom and continues…..

“My walkabout in Come Home took me to walking on the bar, the bar staff were grabbing the drinks before me and security were called to get me down……  The reason why the concert was really good was everything falling apart, stemming from a blackout in the daytime.  James were left with a 15 minute gap on stage which would have destroyed a lesser band, including James up till about two years ago, but instead no one was phased and we rose to the occasion by becoming an appalling stand up act which drew laughter and pity from the audience to the degree that it actually enhanced the gig.  Crisis as an opportunity.”

Jam J played for first time in 14 years.  A major revisit of Wah Wah going on just now.

We were given some homemade cookies and a tin of biscuits.  If there are any green grocers out there please could we have some fruit (e.g. pineapples, limes, etc.) (for the scurvy), and single malt, added Jim.

We had an O’Jays dance party in the kitchen corridor on the bus after the show, and finally set off at 3am for Washington DC.  Ed Harcourt wanted to stay and party, but he’s on the crew bus so we sent him home.

It’s raining.  It’s grey.  It’s too early.  My Greek yoghurt is frozen, “and so is the hummous,” adds Dave.

“Are we going backwards up the M6,” Saul asks, looking out on the grey sky and endless road.

The day sheet says we will arrive at 11am but it’s gone noon now.  It also says yoga pose of the day: gomukasana, cow face pose, good for sciatica and achey shoulders.  Try the arms if you can’t do the legs.  Vinny is doing the full pose and giggling.

Go Van Go

27th September 2010 | Juliet

It’s a muggy day in Washington but the hotel is fab and groovy, and even in the lift there is an instruction that here you can be fabulous.  Well the décor is orange and lime green in places which gives it an Austin Powers feel, hi-tech with retro touches.  Outside my window some Tibetan prayer flags are fluttering in the breeze of the building next door.

Rather than give in to exhaustion, a walk is in order, and we head off to the National Gallery of Art, stopping first in the sculpture park next door.  Admire Louise Bourgeois’ giant metal spider and huge silver tree, which looks like a tree that has always been there despite its full on silver shininess.  There are also two red giraffe type things with no heads.  Refreshed with some impossible coffee and odd over-sugared, over-packaged, so-called food, we head into the mega gallery, circling the fountains, and stopping at the huge rabbit-man type sculpture, amazed.

With sun on our heads, brains and pineal glands, we feel almost normal.

Saul mentioned it would be nice to see some fruit one day.  An apple a day would be nice.

“We are looking for Van Gogh,” I said to the man on the front desk as he rummages through my bag.  “Ah yes, Van Go is right there.”  And lo we have Van Go.  Shuffled amongst the Renoirs, Modiglianis, Picassos blues and others, Van Gogh gleams.  Wow, it’s gobsmacking.  Having satiated ourselves almost, I ask the attendant if there is any more Van Gogh. “Yes,” she says, “you go up top, west wing, and there’s more Van Go”.  We go.

Exit via the gift shop, we stop and buy sketch books and arty things to do from the children’s section, and head off.  It’s like being in a science fiction film but it’s a journey on an escalator.  “This is like science fiction from the 80’s come true” says Saul as we sail under a fairy grotto of silverness on an escalator…dropping anchor by some outsize Rothkos.

We don’t find any more Van Go but we do pass a glance over Acrimboldo. Now he was quite a one.  Born in 1526, his thing was nature and fantasy via weird heads composed of plants, vegetables, animals and other objects.  Hmmn could we check out Munch quickly?

Munch has a tendency to get on one painting and repeat it.  A kind of re-release thing going on.  The Madonna, The Madonna and then The Madonna.  Then there’s The Scream which we didn’t find.  We also didn’t find any more Van Go… but we did see one of Warhol’s Marilyns and got told off for being too close generally.  There’s an arresting huge painting of three black guys in long red velvet coats circa the seventies.  “Is that the O’Jays,” asks Vinny.  He too had been watching them on YouTube last night.

Totally full up on art, we head off to the White House for a photo for Vinny’s photo blog for school.

At last we find the White House, which is white, as Saul kept pointing out on the way each time Vinny pointed to a cream building.  There were lots of people taking photos.

Then back to base camp Hotel Helix where a fabulous man was serving fabulous red wine or optional champagne on ice.  A few of the band and crew were there in the concrete courtyard.  The music was cool acid jazz…

Ate Greek yogurt and honey.  It tasted like zabaglione on top of the red wine.

 Fell asleep for twelve hours and woke up in the seventies… TBC…

For a Tuesday night in New York City

28th September 2010 | Juliet

Park up under the bridge in Queens.  A runner runs us to the venue.  Five dressing rooms, it says here.  Perfect.  A creche in one, a sleeping room, a chill-out room, a food room, sounds perfect.

In reality it’s one room the size of a spare bedroom with two sofas and a large central coffee table.  With three smallish children and fifteen smallish suitcases and an assortment of suits and shirts hanging from the pipes, the dressing room is like an overstuffed attic.

This is nothing compared to what the team of lifters are faced with.   Several flights of very steep stairs, and boxes of cargo as heavy as a small car.

We went to a bagel place, proper range everywhichway with bagels and filling… had a pumpernickel bagel with herb cream cheese…only in New York.

With three smallish children now in tow.  “And lets face it,” said Jim, “it feels like a lot more”.  The dressing room is quite busy.

No bus meant that we were squeezed in even had it just been the band.  The bus was still parked up under a bridge on the outskirts of town.

Went wandering up to Soho with Lovage who sells the merchandise.  She told me about her adventures at the zoo in Washington.  She and Thomas went to watch the octopus feeding yesterday.

Larry went swimming in the New York rain at the posh rooftop pool at the hotel, “I had the pool and two lifeguards all to myself, they laughingly applauded me for being their first swimmer of the day . . . it was 2pm!!”

Ana and Mia have now arrived.  Mia is asleep on the sofa in the very small dressing room…she sleeps and misses the gig.

The wonderful Charles from Pescatore restaurant, turned up with his sister and brother in law with trays of the freshest and most wonderful food on an Italian theme, including the World’s best cheesecake.  Dave overdosed.  It was exceptional.

Jim had three portions of Bolognese.

Angelo Badalamenti was there.  Lenny Kaye who produced James’s first album Stutter was there.

Greg the performance artist on ice was there in a fetching red pac-a-mac.

Jim said it was a strange set; Dust Motes, Top of the World, Seven, Jam J, Seven, She’s a Star.

People from Peru and Brazil at the aftershow… Liz A. from Brasil said for a Tuesday night in New York it was a perfect audience.  Everyone happy, clapping, shouting, singing, no empty room anywhere.  It was a perfect set list, energy on stage, everything connected…

The bus is now at full capacity.  My bag in the back lounge, the internet HQ, has a used nappy beside it and a scattering of toys including a cheery fluffy wolf.

With everyone back on board set off to Toronto at 2.30am, it’s a 500 mile drive, ten hour drive…..

Much sleeping much resting

30th September 2010 | Juliet

We finally got checked into the wonderful Four Seasons hotel late afternoon.  Very comfy beds.  Much sleeping much resting.

Some of the band went to visit Michael Kulas who used to be in James.  Some people went swimming and to the gym.

While the soundcheck went on, Ana and Maya took the three children up the CN tower to see the views.  Ana wanted to leave the tower.  Vincent led the way through an emergency exit and set the full alarm system off… causing panic throughout.

The show in Toronto was amazing.  The audience clapped forever, calling for endless encores.  Too bad there was a curfew…

Big thank-you for the incredible basket of fruit, whoever sent it.  We now have it on the bus.  Most of it is gone.  We are now free from imminent scurvy…

Kale Karma

1st October 2010 | Juliet

The overnight daysheet says “Be ready for leaving the bus at immigration.”

We doze off knowing we have to get up…

Suddenly there is loads of shouting and the bus sounds like it is being beaten by branches.  Are we under some kind of attack?  Nope, its a carwash.  But nobody is singing the disco song.  I can’t get back to sleep for ages and just as I do we are stopped at the border.

Next stop is immigration.  The children are allowed to stay on the bus.  Bleary-eyed and approximately pyjamaed…we get through.  Tim goes on the bus with the official to check the children are three in number.  Mia’s bunk is just a massive duvet bundle and the giant official can’t find her in it.  Tim helps locate her and finds a foot where the head should be.  She slept in a spin.

Royal Oak is a pretty chilled out suburb of Detroit.  It’s sunny on arrival and we go to the Fly Trap diner for blunch [sic].  Top place.

Then while the band soundcheck there’s a trip to Detroit Zoo.  Vinny notes the birds ‘breeding’.  There are tigers, tired lions (yawning), the big horned rhino, elegant giraffes, and the red panda in the tree.  Mia, Ana and me get separated from the group and take the mini train back.

Exiting through the gift shop purchasing a large giraffe on a lead for Mia’s plane trip back to UK.

In the dressing room is a huge bouquet of fruit by Natural Arrangements. Divine fruit kebabs on skewers.  Perfect for nibbling.  Each piece five star. Thank you to the fans who sent it.  It was just the ticket.

A beautiful package of Living Zen Green Tea, handpicked from the mountains of Korea, is on the bus when we return, and some Raw Kale Chips, made in Michigan by monks of the Detroit Zen Center.  I tuck in to some raw kale salad that’s also there cos there’s no ones name on it.. it’s green and very tasty.

“Basically the whole lighting rig died ten minutes before Ed Harcourt went on stage.  I had to redo everything that I did in the house rig in 20 minutes. There’s a bit of math involved,” said Chris the lighting designer.

The theatre’s lights all go wrong half an hour before going on stage.  But Chris lighting designer, described as awesome by many, somehow saves the day and the show goes on.

Tim walks about a lot on precarious tables and balcony rims in amongst the audience, who steady him clutching his ankles.

While I am doing ardha matsyendrasana to the right in the dressing room Ana comes rushing in all excited like Carmen Miranda. “Come now there’s a Buddhist lady monk on the stage with Tim.  It’s wild.”  OK but I’ve got to do the other side.  Too late, I miss it.

The woman from the Zen centre brings a touch of floatiness to Fred Astaire and later in Sometimes she leads a complete chaos riot dance when the mosh pit take over the stage.  When the band come out the venue finally there’s 50 fans waiting….

After the show the Zen nun and her monk friend come in to have a quiet chat with Tim.  I rummage around clumsily clearing the dressing room around the three sitting softly cross-legged on the floor speaking quietly.  They nibble on the remains of the fruit arrangement to reveal a core of kale.  (Yes really.)  They are gazing with wonder at the kale.

“Take that away if you want” I say.  “I will,” says the Zen nun.  “We will make Kale chips with it and give them away.”  Kale karma!

Meanwhile Larry escapes to the adjacent bar to drink dirty martinis and swap dirty stories with Ed Harcourt and the crew.

Royal Oak we love you…… and now we are off through the night to Chicago. 300 miles.  A six hour drive….which actually takes us nine hours after the stop…or has there been a time shift?  If so have we all got minor jet lag…feels like it anyway.

The Heckler and The Empty Hours

2nd October 2010 | Jim

I wake up in Chicago.  It’s raining heavily and it’s cold.  I don a hat, a rare occurrence as I have a genetically defective, incredibly small head and most hats make me look a twat.  I find a Walgreen’s to replace my reading glasses, having thought I lost my last pair but then finding them in the back lounge of the bus minutes after buying the new ones.  I buy gum, phone credit and a tube of special cream having run out due to excess chafing.  [Editor’s note: Jim’s being silly, please do not send ‘special creams’ to the venues.   I reckon a fine malt whisky wouldn’t go amiss however, after all it’s nearly his birthday…]

I call in at the second hand book store and get two 1960’s Ed McBains with cool covers; ‘The Heckler’ and ‘The Empty Hours’.  The runner has taken somebody to the museum so Dave and I head off in a taxi to our hotel day room, to use the gym.  After a little check-in confusion we get to the gym and go through the workout Dave and I have devised which is basically a cross between jogging and simultaneous weight lifting.  It’s really dangerous, not much fun and we keep getting injured.  We shower and head back to the gig for soundcheck. 

We argue for 30 minutes then let the VIP-ers in.  They’ve been outside in the cold and rain for an hour but seem in good spirits, maybe just glad to be in the warmth.  We finish.  I eat and go to sleep. 

I awake 40 minutes before stage time.  I faff about, straightening crumpled clothes and preparing stuff.  It’s a sell out show at the Vic Theatre.

Third song in we do ‘Fred Astaire’.   We are supposed to be recreating a new approach we stumbled upon in soundcheck.  I have a different bass line and Tim tries to jog my memory by playing the recorded jam off his iPhone but it sounds like white noise mixed with someone humming, so I give him the thumbs up and wing it.  We do some newbies, oldies, goldies, something borrowed, something blue. 

The crowd are patient and listen when we ask, giving and supportive when we most need it and party like the best when we open the door.  Chicago has always been a special city for James.  They understood before most what we have to give and appreciated our diamond in the rough approach and abilities.  Maybe that says more about them than it does about us.  I look forward to next time.

Larry adds: “Faced with a 20 hour drive to Denver the crew plan a party on their bus, seems sensible to me, stay up late and get drunk so that we sleep most of the day which is the most tedious bit.  So I abscond to crewland who along with Mr Harcourt’s tribe are in fine form.  In between the laughing, chatting, chilling, and listening to music we amuse ourselves with fatface and some of the other fun apps on Ed’s new iPhone.  Lighting man Chris making cool videos on his by filming the people crashed out up close and moving the camera in time to the music.  A surreal and silly evening ends about 6am, the buses pull over somewhere in the middle of the mid western plains, we jump back on board the band/baby bus where all is quiet.  Time to sleep?”

To the Rockies with Scooby-Doo

3rd October 2010 | Juliet

The very long way to Boulder was 1000 miles.  This meant setting off after the Chicago show in the small hours and staying on the bus too long.  The crew bus had trouble with its turbo pressure boost sensor in the early hours of the next day, so we had to stop our bus so Jeff, our driver, could help out, climbing in the other bus to sort it out.  It was 7am.  “I never knew a two-inch probe could cause so much trouble” said Jeff.  A replacement cost six dollars.  All sorted.

We went to a mad truck stop in Nebraska which sold everything a trucker could ever need.  We looked at extra extra large checked Wrangler shirts.  None were small enough for us.  I tried on some trucker cowboy boots in dusty brown.

Back on board Tim made some scrambled eggs in the microwave.  Yellow rubber in a cereal bowl.  Where’s the ketchup?

Later there was football, and some random channel hopping led to Scooby-Doo.  Dave liked it when Daphne appeared in her purple bikini but then the baddies locked her in a cage.  “Things are starting to get interesting now…” said Dave (this is the kind of effect that such long drives can have).  Of course it all ended up OK with Scooby and the gang rescuing her, and the pectorally endowed big blond bloke gave Daphne some reassuring looks.  There must be a Masters for someone in Scooby-Doo…the sexual politics of cartoons and the use of dog intelligence etc.

Some of the Scooby-Doo baddies look like the Gorillaz.

Eventually after crossing the great plains west, we got near the Rocky Mountains, and the scenery became spectacular with a mountain sunset to boot, Larry clicking away madly.  We got to Boulder feeling very stir crazy and went out for a walk and some Italian food on Pearl Street.  The driver points out the early Naropa Centre where Chogyam Trungpa started his Tibetan Buddhist wave in America with his branch of crazy wisdom.

Boulder is to Denver what Hebden Bridge is to Manchester.  It has an alternative feel with quite a few well dressed hippies hanging out, looking well fed and peaceful.  It was voted the number one city to live in the United States.

It’s a calm and orderly university town with new thinking new ideas beyond New Age.  Everyone looks very well on life in Boulder.  There’s enough organic carrot cake cafés for the whole town to be taking tea together.  They probably would too.

“If we dont go anywhere, where would we be?”

4th October 2010 | Juliet

Boulder is 6000 feet above sea level.  Altitude wooziness takes over as we try to adapt.  I wake bright and early do laundry, swim many many lengths while the washing’s spinning, and then head out at 11am with Ed Harcourt and a few of James for a mountain adventure.  We go to the Chautauqua Trail to the Flat Irons.  Breathing gets more tricky as we ascend even higher above sea level but we trudge on in our unsuitable hiking gear, passing lithe healthy mountain people in shorts and proper footwear.  Ed wears his red snakeskin cowboy boots and says they are ideal for hiking… I give up over the big flat rock zone (partly due to an unsuitable dress).  The others continue, using Spiderman tactics to cross the rocky, near vertical sheet of rock, and onward and upward they go.  Meanwhile I sit quietly listening to the distant birdsong.  Peace and tranquillity strikes..and a drop of sweet rain falls…

“There are no bears ’cause bears come out in the springtime after hibernating,” explains Lovage, who comes too.

Everyone else in the party makes it up to the pinnacle for spectacular views and all round exhilaration …

I zip to Boulder for some pumpkin bread (it’s Halloween time) and spicy Chai tea, and then we all meet up again and zoom back to the hotel to meet the runner Dan who whizzes us to Denver for the soundcheck.

Some of the crew are feeling a bit woozy due to lack of oxygen.  We get an oxygen tank so people can have a gasp.  We are now 5280 feet above sea level but it’s still a stress on the body.  Like a cross between sea legs and slight drunkeness… but nobody is drinking.

People eat at the Mexican over the road and return later during load out for a game of pool, ” hustler Davies relieving defeated Diagram of $40,” according to Larry.

The band did PS and Basic Brian, “which hasn’t been played since before we ever started playing together” said Larry.  Also Whiteboy was back, and Lullaby…

The audience were very friendly and lovely.

Woozy from altitude we set off though the night to Salt Lake City.  It’s a nine hour drive still heading west…through the Rocky Mountains.

If we don’t go anywhere, where would we be? …..  (Saul made this random comment whilst looking at the schedule earlier.)

“Queers park on left, Bitches’ parking to the right”

5th October 2010 | Larry

About 200 yards from the venue is a strange little building all on its own at a deserted crossroad with a small neon sign saying ‘open’.  As I venture in the battered door of ‘The Trapp’ I get strange looks from the locals and asked for ID, I don’t have any, “I’m from England” I explain, “and we don’t need ID.”  After some discussion they let me in, the bar owner comes over to say that he likes to know who is drinking in his bar and that he didn’t want me to be ‘shocked’?  A strange thing for him to say I thought.  I then noticed the 6ft guy at the bar resplendent in his dress and high heels and a sign above the bar saying ‘queers park on left’ and its companion sign ‘bitches parking to the right’.  This is a local bar for local people of the most colourful kind, an oasis for the local LGB community in America’s most religious city and what a lovely friendly place it was. 

After the show about twelve of us descend on the place to have a few beers before the long drive west.  The locals flirted with the boys and the lovely bartender delivered a round of tequila shots ‘on the house’.  This place is one of only a few reasons I would come back to Salt Lake.

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

5th October 2010 | Tim

It’s strange you can walk into one of these smaller American gigs, 500 or so, and it feels like the people have been waiting for you for years.  Old friends.  No matter how we might be feeling at this point in the tour, pretty shattered if truth be told and bus stir crazy, we are immediately lifted by the warmth of the crowd.  I use the word ‘warmth’ for our English viewers, the truth is it feels a lot more like love than I dare to admit.  The venue is appalling, a faceless black box.  In fact two faceless black boxes.  The larger one is hosting a metal Christian rock band.  Our dressing room is attached to their hall and becomes a bass bin whenever they soundcheck or play.  The racket is incredible.  Jesus would not approve.  Jules keeps suggesting they are playing ‘Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam’ but I beg to differ.  She hums ‘Keep On the Sunny Side‘ as a protective mantra.  We brush up on God Only Knows as a response to their righteous certainty.

When we play this song in the gig a fight breaks out which initially we assume to have theological origins. The song stops. I look at one of the robust participants who says in a brummie accent, “I said I’m sorry,  I said I’m sorry.”

I looked at the other guy; “He punched me in the face.”  Back to the Brummie, “I said I was sorry”.  I said, “Is there any security round here?” Silence.  “Okay it looks like we have to police ourselves.”  I lean forward and look deep into the eyes of our exuberant Brummie friend.  He has quite an open, warm face, is clearly passionate about James, and looks guilty as hell. Time stops.  The crowd is silent.  Waiting for me to act.  What am I going to say?  I lean further in and applying my best Supernanny voice say “You. Go to the back of the room.”  I say this with the irony of one who feels he has no power over the situation whatsoever.  The man holds up his hands – guilty as charged – and backs away saying “Okay, fair enough”.  And he does so.  Goes to the back of the room and diffuses the inevitable retaliation.

Later I go singing walkabout in the audience, and check on the guy with the punched nose.  He is cool and sweet.  “I’ve waited fifteen years to see you and I’m not gonna let that bastard ruin it for me.”

The spike of adrenalin from the incident lifted the gig.

Afterwards, signing autographs etc the guilty party serenades me I turn to him, “You are a very naughty boy.”

“I know.  But I did go to the back of the room.”

“You did.  And that makes you less of a bad boy.”

Go figure.

Echoey and monstrous

5th October 2010 | Juliet

Usually we don’t play in Salt Lake , we pass through and sleep…

Now there is a new venue. It’s like a huge sports complex.  Echoey and monstrous.  Horrendous soundcheck with just blasting noise that sounds like it could swallow you up.  For some reason the Christian heavy metal band are checking the room sound with Graceland at the highest volume ever known to mankind…. I am scared to open the dressing room door in case I shatter to bits from the impact.  There are no towels.  There is no food.  Did they forget we were coming….?  The crew do the load in with not even a breakfast bagel between them.  We hang out on the bus or on the concrete outside the building.  It comes to something when lying on concrete is better than being inside a new designer building…

Vancity soup and style

7th October 2010 | Juliet

I remember a cup of coffee in Vancouver in a fancy place near the art gallery.  They took American dollars.  We sat out and watched the people go by.  The theatre was nice, welcoming us with homemade spicy black bean soup.  Yes, real soup like on the Xmas tours back home.

We buy some local Antiphlogistine Rub-A535 camphor cream for aching shoulders.  This is the kind of thing granny used to use.  Seems to do the job.

Saul was very excited to see a cheese board.  A blue and a cheddar, with figs on the side.  He was bored by what passed for cheese in America.  Some states do great cheese however – it’s all about pasteurisation laws.

Saul knows Vancouver and its fine cheeses quite well.

Vancouver has oft been voted the ideal place to live.  Based on quality of life and access to beautiful places around.  Indeed everyone looks very well dressed and bright eyed.

There were some people from Mexico on the front row, with flag and all.

We travelled back from Canada through the night.  Passed customs control bleary-eyed early in the day, for a long drive to Portland.

Back the way we came

8th October 2010 | Juliet

We are parked outside the venue which by day looks like a large school assembly hall…  Unfortunately there are no showers, and so we take the minibus in turns to shower at the hotel which is a 15 minute drive away.

The days have started to take on their own routine, with those that swim swimming and those that go to gym gymming… Today has a bit of an extra feature though cos there is a daytime performance and recording to do.  It was a TV/radio thing.  All this before soundcheck.

In the evening some people eat at the tapas next door, some go Ethiopian up the road.  I go for a quiet salad downstairs.  Get chatting to some fans including a naturopathic doctor, and D, an acupuncturist who offers to check my pulses and give my chi a little turbo boost.

This heaven sent event happens on the bus. Many thanks.

She also does a bit of acupuncture on Mark’s shoulder which along with the A535 helps…

After the show there is a big trip out to a club somewhere. Notable performance from the Suicide Girls apparently. Ed Harcourt and his band went too.

I had an early night at 2am.

We are heading north through the night to Seattle. It’s not too far on the scale of things but for some reason it’s back the way we came.

Sleepless in Seattle

9th October 2010 | Juliet

Dave and Jim are first up, in the front lounge making coffee.  Outside is grey and rainy.  There is a motorway view.  It looks like the Mancunian way.

Where are we?  What’s going on.  Was it all a dream?  Are we still in Manchester for G-Mex or something?

The hotel is over there.  Across a bridge.  Ah yes.  I lug my stuff and self over there, shower and spring back into action ‘cos we are heading to a radio station downtown.

“There’s the space needle,” says Mark.  And there it is, this building with a pointy needle on top.  He seems to know this town.  We also see lots of Halloween effigies.  Strange people-sized rag dolls here and there.  It’s all quite festive.  Halloween is big around here.

An acoustic radio session at very friendly local Seattle Radio.  It had a name with all x’s and k’s in it…but no one can remember…….. [KEXP – Ed.]  It goes well.  There’s interviews and some songs played, including Sit Down, Laid, Dust Motes and something else.  Lookaway…

Now it’s afternoon and time to head back towards the venue for soundcheck.

Across the road from the venue there is a market.  “There is cheese,” says Saul.  Real cheese.

Dave is always after freshly pressed vegetable juice.  He finds a juice bar and gets wheatgrass added.  He got up to 6oz of wheatgrass in Denver.  Drummer fuel.

Some point in the evening the crew bus, which is parked up outside, loses its right-hand wing mirror.  It’s sheared off, probably by some equally huge vehicle.  This is a major obstacle to the continuation of this trip.  A bus that size can’t travel legally with no wing mirror.

There is a last minute hitch when we get lost trying to find the stage door of the venue.  We follow a Chinese man into a chasm of corridors and doors.  Where does this go?  We shout.  There’s a moment when we realise he is gone and headphoned cant hear us anyway.  The door booms shut behind us and we are in a concrete maze.  Where is Scooby-Doo’s basement rescue team?  Oh no, the band are on in ten.  Not a mobile between us.  Then we pass through a door and come out backstage in a Chinese restaurant.  Ah yes lights and people.  We go through the venue front entrance (much easier), run through the crowd and get to the dressing room the easy way  ….But where is Saul?

The show opens with a walkabout Sit Down.

Tim’s mum took a turn for the worse yesterday which is affecting him pretty strongly.  He’s twittered it.

Our bus has lost its inside door handle, but this is nothing compared to a lost wing mirror.  Tomorrow is Sunday and we are heading down south via the Redwoods for some rest and recuperation.  If the crew bus can’t move what then?

Mike, the crew bus driver is doing meccano on the kitchen table of his bus, fixing up some kind of Wallace and Grommit wing mirror.  It works and will do for a bit.  We are able to leave in the later early hours finally.

The cider for Andy has to be poured into a red plastic cup before it is taken on stage.  This is the law in Washington State.  Possibly more potent Red Bull, for Dave and Jim, is allowed to go on in the can.

Peter Pacifico, a hard core fan who somehow made it  to many of the shows across America from Florida to Seattle.  He was last seen helping load the gear out of the venue.  A diamond  geezer for sure.

Back on board we count the number of gigs left to go and realise that suddenly it’s nearly all done.  We get excited about the idea of sleeping in a stationery bed if we finally get to California.  Imagine a bath…imagine not being in what is effectively a dorm of 12 plus people…but really this is no hardship.  Think of the miners in Chile…

It’s Jim’s birthday as of midnight and we raise a can of Strongbow at 3am….the bus is still stationary and Larry is still not on board.

If you go down to the woods today…..

10th October 2010 | Juliet

We have to go the woods and it’s a bit of a detour.  The idea is to be in nature to recharge our batteries…  It’s 538 miles to the Redwoods.  It is meant to take 10-12 hours.

Wake up outside B&Q.  It’s raining.  (It’s Home Depot.)

Jeff explains there is a problem getting parts for the mirror from Big Trucks ‘R’ Us or whatever ‘cos it’s Sunday and they are shut.  The two buses have to travel in tandem now, with us behind the crew bus with its bandaged wing mirror.  Behind schedule due to sheeting rain and wind.

It’s 10:30am Sunday and it’s kind of fitting that there may be a visit to B&Q for some DIY.

After a while we are off again.  Only 2-3 hours to go and we will be in the Redwood Forest.  Outside is grey and overcast.  The trees are Xmassy.

“Very big things are in fact very small things close up”…..  Thought for the day on this Sunday morning from Saul.

Somewhere not far from Hunter Creek we park up at some holiday cabins.  Ours is very log-style but all mod cons inside.  Front looks like suburbia, behind is nature.  I feel like I am on the Waltons as I sit on the porch.

So there we are in our log cabin for the afternoon… Six of us working out what to do.  Cabin fever has set in on the bus and now on our Waltons’ style back porch we sit and wait…wait to leave and get going, listening to the washer washing and drying.  And then along come some walloping huge heard of elk.  It’s lovely.  The sun is going down.  Larry turns into David Attenborough and starts snapping.

We drink wine, eat bar-b-q.  Outside there is a hot tub, some of the crew are deep in there but this house don’t go there, there is also a fire and the toasting of marshmallows…

We rest  and stretch and watch Running With Scissors on DVD, it has a few great lines…

Meanwhile Tim and Ed’s band are off in the heart of the redwoods.  The crew are watching sundown on a beach.

Back on the bus at 1-ish, drive down to San Francisco…a bit crumpled for wear, no flowers in our hair…

Wild and wonderful

11th October 2010 | Juliet

We pull into the back alley of the Regency earlyish.  There is a dispersal of people to the gym, back to bed, to the hotel.  One of James’s greatest fans, Scott the golfer/astronaut, is there showering the band with gifts and booze to restock the bus.

Tim has sore throat and we go to visit an acupuncturist and herbalist.  The acupuncturist does a bit of cupping to pull out the pathogens, leaving the globular glass cups in place on Tim’s upper back for ten minutes.  This leaves the big purple circles which will fade in time.  Then come the needles, then come the herbs.  All is well.

We check out Tim’s favorite vintage shop and he buys some great 40’s gear.  We meet the keyboard player with the Specials outside as we wait for the runner.  I go to a mega Whole Foods to restock necessaries.

Meanwhile back at the venue it’s nearly time for soundcheck.  Everyone is having B vitamin shots in the upper bum from Dr D. Some of the band had it and are now on stage doing soundcheck.  Thomas has it, then Lovage, then me.  Painless.  And why not?  “Stick to wheatgrass,” says Dave.  He had 5 ounces at the gym today and feels tip top.

The gig is wonderful.  The runners and staff are wonderful, especially Jeanette and Jamie, and all goes well.  There is a wild and wonderful aftershow by the downstairs bar and everyone seems very happy.

Some Brazilian people have brought Andy a San Andre football shirt which he put on for the encore.

There are towels, there is food, there is sunshine…

12th October 2010 | Juliet

We woke up in Disneyland…  Saul is already wearing his pass and it’s only 9am.  “I slept in it,” he said.  An oblong medallion of dates.  “Without it I don’t exist,” he says as he mops and wipes all the surfaces and handles with disinfectant spray.

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.  Only two more dates on the American leg.

Me and Larry head off and get a carrot juice with a wheatgrass shot on the side to start the day.  Better than an espresso…at this moment anyway…

Wandered around Disneyland.  A plastic place for sure.  It looks like a film set town.  Everything neat and ordered.  The Bee Gees are blasting out a Saturday Night Fever…Staying Alive….

Larry went and did some rides ‘cos there were a few hours spare.  Space Mountain and Indiana Jones and the Runaway Train.  He had never been so fast in pitch black in his life. “I just didn’t know where I was,” he said. “No idea.”

Later he says to the others, of Disneyland itself, “Everything gets smaller in there. It had a strange effect, a bit surreal because of the scale.”

The gig is at the House of Blues. The staff are wonderful, there are towels, there is food, there is sunshine…

The art in the gallery is quilts and portraits by outsider artists.  The dressing room is dark and makes us feel sleepy…

The gig was a good one.  A proper venue like this contains the band well.  There were a few technical problems but nothing too hindering.  Tim’s headphone pack stopped working during the show but it was alright on the night.  Great show. Great crowd….

Andy appeared mid-balcony during Sound.  There was a lovely aftershow.  There were people who had travelled a long way.  Some fans from Brazil were there.  It was a great evening.

Back on the bus.  Tim went home and it was the last night on the bus for the rest of us.  We had a bit of a blast of the sound system, talking lots well into the night….

Silverlake Chorus & Sunset Boulevard

13th October 2010 | Juliet

We left Anaheim and drove for an hour or so, checked into a hotel on Sunset Boulevard at 3am-ish.  My room smelt of smoke.  It smelt like there had been a party in there.  I couldn’t sleep.

The crew had to get up early and go and set up the gear.  The band had a more leisurely lie in.  Huge comfy beds.  There was lots of sleep to catch up on.

In the afternoon the runner ran the band to the gig.  It was warm.  There was a lot of traffic.  There was an extended soundcheck because there was the Silverlake Chorus doing some singing on some of the set.  After that there was another soundcheck with the VIP guests there.  I ate some sushi across the road with Mark and Andy.  The miso soup was the business.

Tim said the gig was so ecstatic it’s taken him two days to recover.

Goodbye bus

14th October 2010 | Juliet

We say goodbye to the bus in LA….

All that remained were a few Triscuits, more than a biscuit?  And scraps of muesli and crushed taco chips.  In the fridge some Vitamin Waters and a glut of Coca Colas, diet and non; beside them lay Mia’s chocomilk unopened and some dodgy low fat cheese bought by mistake.  A sad pineapple sat alone in a basket beneath the TV.  The O’Jays posters were still up.  Twelve crumpled bunks and a bit of loose change….

La Cienega Smiled was on my iPod…

Tomorrow we take a plane to Mexico…Un Feliz Vuelo….

And now we’ll have a few words from Nigel.  Nigel is Larry and Saul’s guitar tech….he and the rest of the crew worked incredibly long days to make this tour happen.  He and Nick, who sorted all things drums and percussion, as well as looking after keyboards, were the two key on-stage crew who came from the UK.   …..We wont mention the maraca incident…will we, Nigel…

“In a way that’s characteristically unnatural of America it seems as if we’ve been chasing the seasons, rather than letting them come around naturally.  At the end of the tour we’ll have experienced the fantastic summer of Florida, the spring-like warm-coolness of the North-East, the Autumnal changeabilty of Seattle and the North-West, and we’re heading home to a surprisingly welcome English Winter. 

“Touring America always makes me feel uneasy.  America is where the music I love comes from, the people are so friendly, I wouldn’t say that everything’s possible but nothing seems to be impossible.  What concerns me is the enormous carbon footprint that we have left behind.  The amount of fuel that we’ve used getting to shows, the amount of power we’ve consumed putting them on, the amount of landfill space we’ve taken up with the the non-recyclable cups and spoons, but in reality, it’s just a drop in the ocean of what goes on in the United States every day.

“This has been a tough one.  The few days off we’ve had were just that.  Days spent in hotel rooms catching up on the sleep we’d lost and otherwise just resting our aching bones.  I swear I have new muscles in places I’d never used before.  Arm wrestle for money, anyone?  I’ll always remember Saul and Larry bringing us coffee and making sure we’d eaten properly when they could see it was getting tough for us, knowing we couldn’t really get out and about very easily.

“Thank god for Skype.  If you can’t be with your loved ones, at least you can see them while you talk to them.  It’s a lot better than the ‘olden days’ when you’d buy a calling card and phone home every couple of days.  It certainly makes touring abroad easier.

“And the shows?  There wasn’t a bad one, and there were some absolutely amazing ones, although Orlando seems like a lifetime away.  Yes, things went wrong, but everybody knows that everyone tried the best they could, and the both band and crew dealt with the hiccoughs like true soldiers, Tommy’s little soldiers! 

Now it’s just about time to go home, sleep for a week, and bring on the December tour!”

There he played his trumpet to roaring crowd below

16th October 2010 | Juliet

The flight is only three and a half hours but seems too long.  By the time we arrive the sun is going down.

We flew in from LA and went straight to the venue to set up gear and soundcheck.

On my iPod I find Frida.  The soundtrack works well.  I lend Andy an earpiece for the trumpet virtuosos Mexican style.  We drive slowly through traffic jams in Mexico City.

Finally we reach the site.  The sun had gone down and it was freezing…numb fingers and toes…yes, in Mexico in October.

We get to check into the hotel in the early hours.  Cold through to the bones and can’t seem to get warm.  Too cold to get out of bed and  find a blanket…feels like ten below.

Next day sun is shining and all is well…  Have a hefty breakfast ‘cos you never can tell on busy days when there will be time to eat.  The strawberry and balsamic vinegar marmalade was good.  Mexican scrambled egg was laced with chilies.  Then Dave appeared and we sat in the sun listening to the two harpists who were playing on the terrace.  It was all very grand….

A bit too full to do yoga, I headed back to my dance studio-sized suite to do some tai chi whilst looking out the window at an attractive Mexican man having fags out his window across the courtyard.  Where was my focus?  Slipping obviously.

Am listening to Habla Con Ella soundtrack.  Outside there is another harp recital.  A weird mix that almost worked.

Then Tim called  huskily to say he had a very bad throat and needed some things from the farmacia…urgently.

Maybe there is too much chili in the air but this afternoon things get a bit fiery…  There are a couple of near-miss electrocutions in the dressing room involving a kettle and dodgy plug board.  The fridge full of beer strangely had no power.  Warm Coke anyone?

There is proper Mexican bar-b-q going on  for the artistes and crews but I’m too busy avoiding electrocution whilst making Chinese herbal concoctions. Grab some pretzels and carry on.

‘She’s a Star’ involved some wild, vivid gesturing from all crew on stage to tweak the balance.  Out in the field 50,000+ Mexicans joined in the chorus. 

By ‘Sound’ things were getting even hotter.  Andy made a trip up a long ladder with his trumpet.  He said he felt like Jack in the Beanstalk (it went on for miles).  There he played his trumpet to roaring crowd below; he felt on top of the world…  ‘Sometimes’, then ‘Laid’ happened….with a huge joyful stage invasion of near 100 dancers from the crowd….

Afterwards Tim and a few of the band went to see The Pixies playing…

The next day the Mexican newspaper, under the heading JAMES CONQUISTÓ AL PÚBLICO, wrote enthusiastically:

El clan Británico James se ganó a pulso una mención honorífico.  Uno de los momentos que sorprendieron a la multitud fue cuando el cantante se brincó la valla de seguridad para saludar a los más proximós al escenario y provocó  un coro general con el tema She’s A Star.  Con el paso de los minutos, el colectivo viajó a su pasado, pero también presentó cortés de sus discos más recientes, The Night Before y The Morning After.  Para la parte final reservaron su hit Say Something  y concluyeron con más de una decena de asistentes arriba del escenario bailando a todo tren.”

Thank you and goodnight

18th October 2010 | Larry

The final gig on this amazing tour nearly didn’t happen, and without the amazing skill and hard work of all of our crew I’m certain it wouldn’t have.  A massive thanks to them all: Tig (monitors), Bob (FOH), Thom (tour manager), Chris (lights), and our UK crew abroad Nick and Banksy (Nigel).

The gig was a massive relief, after the clusterfuck of the day we were certain that something was going to go wrong, but it didn’t.  The sound was great and we rocked the house in Guadalajara.

We met some lovely people in the aftershow who sweetly applauded each band member as they entered, we felt special.  Some we had met two years before including the coolest brother and sister act I have ever seen.

It’s a sleepy Monday night in Guadalajara and there isn’t much action downtown so we retire to the hotel to drink some of the fabulous tequila that we have been given.  The manager lets us into the closed and empty bar and leaves us to it, what a nice chap.

After much laughter and fond farewells to the folks leaving in just a few hours, we sleep.  We are going to need it for what turns out to be a three flight, 30 hour journey home including an eleven hour stopover in Dallas Airport.

It has rained in Manchester (no surprise there then :-), but now the sun is shining gloriously and it all looks beautiful to me.

It’s been an incredible tour but I’m glad to be home.

Thank you all for following the blogs.

See you in December.

Larry x (and Jules of course)

Los(t) Consoles in Guadalajara

18th October 2010 | Juliet

It’s scorchio beside the plunge pool.

Word has it there’s going to be a delay in soundchecking. Perfect opportunity for chilling in the hotel grounds.

The crew meanwhile have an early start at 10am, setting up the gear…

It’s 6.40pm and the stage is ready to go….only one thing, there is no mixing desk for the stage or the venue…lost consoles.

This news generates lots of wit from the band including the support band Los Consoles and the outfront sound engineer being inconsolable. Ho ho…ho.

Time ticks on….

The rest of the gear was picked up in a truck in Mexico City but somehow the consoles/mixing desks never got aboard that truck. There was somebody’s granny in the front of the truck however…

Doors open soon. There has been no soundcheck…

But dinner is at 7. We wait. And wait. Outside there is a police siren. The sun is still out….

It’s now 6.50pm….still no consoles.

At 7pm there is a cheer downstairs…we have some bits but not all…it was a substitute console but not up to the spec needed…

We eat Tenga chipotle chicken, smokey paprika flavour, or veggie ravioli Mexican style.

Rumour has it there is a police escort for the consoles…

At 8.15 there is a red flashing light blasting up the stairs and into the windowless dressing room as the police pick-up truck announces arrival……the gear arrives backstage in a massive lorry. Lots of action from the men in black unpacking stuff.

The band were due on stage at 8.30. It’s 8.25pm….

Andy opens a bottle of cider that is made of apples and grapes…

Mark pours a glass of red…

The crew are sorting everything. Nick appears in the the door and says, “It’s all there.”

Then there’s setlist ‘poptions’ to be considered.

Downstairs there is cheering…

Dave says it’s gonna be a great gig.

Nick and Nigel come in for a coffee and a sit down…

Larry appears and describes the scene of wires and connections and somehow making many bits work together. The description involves someone holding Tig’s computer screen as there is a missing bracket /fixings…

It’s all a bit Heath Robinson (“Rube Goldberg for our US friends,” adds Larry.)

Then Tim comes in with a setlist…lots of the New York set doctored….but it could change.

Tim makes a carrot juice. Andy gargles with Jim’s Listerine.

Downstairs there is a lot of talking through the mic to the crowd. Maybe they are explaining the problemas…and delay.

Its now 9pm. The setlist is on the mirror, just…but could change according to events.

Saul says at the moment they are EQ-ing all the monitors. There are four cleaning ladies in. No crowd yet. Hopefully there will be a soundcheck. No messing.

Bob says we can soundcheck.

Its 9.05pm and Thom comes in to say “We are ready, just got to change the thing on Dave’s monitor.”

Saul feels uncomfortable after Bob has EQ-ed with Dark Side of the Moon. Wrong somehow.

José comes in with two canisters of oxygen..but no instructions as to how to access it…

Soundcheck ‘Tell Her I Said So’…then ‘Bells’…things’s 9.20…crowd still outside.

At 9.40 the band come back stage.

At 9.45 pm there is moxibustion going on in the smoking room. Would be ironic if the moxa set off the fire alarm and they had to clear the building…

Andy cracks open a bottle of Tequila José Cuervo Reserva de La Familia…a gift from Carlos…

I fetch limes and salt downstairs.

At 10.08 the show finally starts….

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