Well, where does one start? At the beginning I suppose!!
Joe Bonamassa U.K tour 2006.
Wed 20th Sept - The Borderline - London
We left sunny Glossop in the band van destined for the big smoke.
Opened the bar round about 30 minutes (M1 junction - Sheffield), purely for medicinal purposes.
On board the mystery machine were my good self, Carl, Michael, Bryan ( our tour manager and head of logistics ) and James ( head of marketing ).
We went straight to the venue which was situated off Charing Cross Road in the heart of theatreland.when we got there we were all completely blown away with what was going on and the old adrenalin kicked in good and proper - as it was the first time we had played in London.
We checked-in with the promoters and to our surprise (and Joe Bonamassa’s) no one had told Joe that he had a support for the whole tour!! At this point we were wondering if there was going to be some friction but as it turned out he was cool about it. We did the sound check and waited eagerly for the nights entertainment to commence.
One thing that I couldn’t believe was the adrenalin pumping good style - it was like an acid trip, that’s the only way I could describe the feeling of that night. We were so excited about the whole tour that by the time we went on stage any nerves that we might have had had been replaced by a feeling of bliss and thinking “this is what it’s all about baby!!” the 30 min set went by in a flash, then straight after we finished playing we had to race to get the gear off-stage because there was only about 15 mins for a changeover. We packed up and then went straight to the bar for some liquid refreshments! At about three quid for a bottle we discovered our first tour learning curve - a couple of crates of ale, a bucket and plenty of ice from a leading supermarket!!!
We set up our merchandise stall and chilled out for when Joe came on. We were really impressed with the band and the place was heaving. After the show people came up to us and told us how much they enjoyed our set and we sold quite a bit of merchandise and signed our c.d’s for them - this really was a massive confidence boost for us and spurred us on for the rest of the tour!
We met a guy who was a massive Joe fan. He was called Michael and told us that he enjoyed the night and that he was coming to nearly every show on the tour!! - now that’s dedication!
We had a few drinks and at the end of the night the ice was broken with Joe and his crew. He said that he was impressed with the fact that we approached the night with professionalism and if we continued with this pattern then the tour would run smoothly. After this conversation that is exactly what happened - a lot of support bands make the mistake behaving like arseholes and not treating the whole experience as work as well as pleasure.
We got chatting to Donnie, who was Joe’s sound guy and he was regaling stories when he was on the road with Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Stevie Ray Vaughan!!
We got a fantastic Kebab from across the road from the venue , inputted the directions for our Travel Lodge (no expense spared!) in the old Sat Nav and off we went……..well sort of. The Sat Nav said turn right but it was a one way street and we could only go left, never mind, lets see what happens. After an hour of admiring Buck House, Big Ben, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and Chelsea Bridge we finally found our bearings!! So we christened the Sat Nav “Gladys Knight” cos it’s shite!
( get it?! Bit of rhyming slang! ) We got to the hotel about one hour later than anticipated for some more ales, and ended up comparing who had the most stupid underwear!!! - carl won, his were identical in design to the bed sheets of the hotel!
Things you do when you’re in a strange town eh?!
Thurs 21st Sept - The Borderline - London (again!!)
We left the hotel and decided to go to Camden Town for the day.
We arrived there round about 1ish and enjoyed the vast amounts of market stalls frequented the area where there are plenty of grub stalls!! I bought a T-Shirt with Sid James on it - very groovy!!
The evening went much the same as previous except that we were provided with our own rider!!! A perk of being rock stars!!!
I met an old friend of mine,Richie who lives in Bethnal Green. He’s in a band down in London and I haven’t seen him for years so it was good to catch-up.
Now came the second learning curve - travelling back to Manchester after the gig.
We didn’t get back till around 6 in the morning - it was very strange after the excitement of the gig, getting pissed and then travelling home to see people going to work!!! That could be us!!! Not just yet but we were already starting to think about how we’d feel about going back to work when this was all over - what a comedown.
Fri 22nd Sept - The Academy 3 - Manchester.
Because we came back in the early hours of the morning, I slept till about 1ish and spent the day with my wife and four month old son.
We had to get down to the gig for around 5ish so there wasn’t much day-off time to be had, so I got a decent meal down me and went to the gig.
We started to realise that getting hold of a decent meal on the road was one of the drawbacks of touring so when we had an opportunity to eat, we savoured every mouthful!
Again the gig went well - great for me because it was the only opportunity for my wife to see us on the tour due to babysitting requirements.
Got to meet a guy called Andy from Joe’s crew who was from their management over in the States - nice chap too.
Got home about 1ish looking forward to Glasgow the next day.
Sat 23rd Sept - The Renfrew Ferry - Glasgow.
When we got the info about the tour dates this was always going to be interesting - playing on a ferry!! What’s all that about?!
Took us about five or so hours to get up to Glasgow and we had another Travel Lodge (joy!) booked for after the gig. The hotel was only about 10 mins from the venue so that was convenient.
Nothing to eat again but never mind! Got to the ferry and I was quite surprised to see it was properly moored to the river Clyde ( I had visions of playing the gig and going out to find we were somewhere else!).
Managed to get hold of a burger on the ferry which filled me up for about 10 minutes.
What was surprising was as we were setting up, the P.A and the lighting rig kept swaying about - should have had some sea-sickness tablets!
The Ferry was a very intimate place, and we had to ask people to move so we could get up onto the stage from the front.
A good gig was had by all, and we sold 25 or so c.d’s! we were over the moon!
One guy came up to us at the end with a folder containing photos of classic ( and I mean CLASSIC! ) rock bands from the seventies. Turns out that in his youth he was an amateur photographer and these were all his shots - everyone a front row photo - lucky bastard!!! To cap it all, he had an autograph book too!! With the likes of Free, Zep, Queen to name but a few! He asked us to sign his book for him!!! So we signed it ( you couldn’t make it up could you! ).
Got to hotel pissed and absolutely starving.
Now I didn’t know at the time but we had a microwave in the van and a Rustlers chicken burger - I would rather eat cardboard, but Michael consumed the tasty treat and actually enjoyed it!
We clocked a Harry Ramsdens next door to the hotel which stated that they serve breakfast from 10 o’clock everyday - I’ll wait till then methinks!
Got up the next day and went to Ramsdens for brekkers.
There was about three tables occupied and a waitress running about like a headless chicken. After about 45 mins wait we decided that we were pissed off with Mr Ramsdens table-waiting policy and went to the Burger King across the road and had the “breakfast in a bun” meal which one can only describe as tasting like an Ikea box which managed to get itself burnt - absolute shite of the first waters!
Off we went back to Michael’s parents house ( 6 hours away ) for some grub and then off to Sheffield for the gig in the evening…………it’s only rock and roll but we like it, yes we do.