Stone Sole River’s first tour started off in high spirits as we headed down to the Borderline in London. For me the novelty of travelling around the country in a massive white van wore off after about half an hour and the van’s occupants very quickly took to the bottle to relieve the boredom. That pretty much set the scene for the next two and a half weeks.
The two gigs at the Borderline saw us playing to a packed out house both nights. We played slightly different sets each night, trying to work out Joe Bonamassa’s crowd and keeping the songs in that seemed to work best. The weird thing for us was that after the shows people actually wanted to buy our stuff. Fantastic. We also obliged the punters by signing a few CDs.
The first night in London and the Sat-Nav wouldn’t work. The hotel was a half-hour away and Bryan (tour manager and driver) spent an hour and a half on a sight-seeing tour of London at one in the morning with a bunch of drunken fools in the back of the van.
Second night we drove straight back to Manchester, getting home around 6am. That was a long, long night. The novelty of travelling had well and truly worn off.
Manchester Academy was also a packed gig with a great response, home crowd for us and all.
Onto Glasgow where we played on a ferry moored on the Clyde. I was feeling decidedly sea-sick for a while before we did the gig. I could see the lighting rig moving ever so slightly, to and fro, to and fro. Anyway we played a blinder of a gig (If I do say so myself) and the crowd were something else. Glasgow went nuts! And they bought a sack full of albums. Glasgow was definitely one of highlights of the tour for me.
The next morning we went for breakfast at Harry Ramsden’s. We entered and a woman asked us to take a seat in the waiting area. We sat there for half-an-hour and watched this woman going back and forth from the kitchen to the tables and not a lot seemed to be happening. We watched other people who had been sitting at their tables over half an hour who had not eaten. Feeling we would probably be there ‘til tea time next week and needing to be making a move, we decided to bail from Ramsden’s shed of starvation and forage somewhere else.
We were powerful hungry, tired and hung-over, and being Sunday morning there was no eating establishments to be found anywhere nearby apart from one place… People of the UK, never, under any circumstances go to where we did for a breakfast muffin. Burger King. Oh my god, now there’s a breakfast muffin to make you feel real queasy. Michael looked pretty green on it.
The Sheffield and Nottingham gigs were pretty good. We started hanging out with Joe and his crew. We were teaching them English slang such as ‘bollocks’. Aaron the drum tech liked this word very much, and from then on it was spoken often and with much gusto.
Bilston was the start of the second leg where we would actually be, as we saw it, properly on tour. We were going to be away for the next five nights crashing in Travel Lodges, liberating beer, muffins and crisps from Joe’s rider, riding out nasty colds and generally ruining our bodies with booze.
Talking about booze, we had decided a couple of nights before that buying beer from the bar was costing us a small fortune so we had taken to buying cases of Grolsh or whatever was available to stick in the dressing room. Lee had picked up a bucket which we would get filled with ice by the bar to put our beers into. Genius!
So Bilston saw us playing in the Robin 2. The crowd were good. It was a nice venue, a big place. Normally I don’t use monitors because Mike and Lee are so damn loud I don’t need them but now we were playing bigger venues I was struggling to hear them. People may think, ‘why would a drummer need a monitor?’ but sound is a crazy thing and it’s weird how I can be ten feet from Michael’s 4x12 Orange cab and barely hear it. I can hear a lot of noise but there’s not much clarity. Joe’s drummer, Bogie, agreed with this. Places this size, it really helps to have a monitor.
Falmouth Princess Pavilion was a great venue and crowd were up for it too. After sound-check we shot into town to get some grub. We found a chippy and dined near the harbour as the sun set over Falmouth. A cool moment for me. I dig on stuff like that. Michael ate too many chips too close to stage time and nearly barfed them over the first couple of rows of people.
Exeter was also a rocking gig. Maybe too much though… After the show we had two hairy stoners come up to us and say, ‘You’ve got no right to rock that hard!’ That is verbatim.
We were quite taken aback, but also pleased that we rocked that hard, even though apparently, we had no right to. It ended up being the quote of the tour.
Onto Frome, (pronounced Froom, so we’re told) where we played at the Cheese & Grain, a lovely old shed of a barn. Aaron shouted a quick ‘Bollocks!’ at us before we went on stage and once again, the crowd were rocking. We acquired a couple of young fans. They were right in front of the stage watching us, well mainly Michael. We, apparently, are their favourite new band… after McFly. Well, let’s hope we start them down the road of listening to real bands. Not all that plastic pap.