To start from the beginning we set off from Glossop early, on route to London and the first date of the tour, 20th September at The Borderline in Soho. Arriving at the venue we were all hyper to say the least, major anticipation. A lot of our hero’s and favourite bands have played the Borderline. Walking through the entrance it’s quite the hall of fame, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, REM to name only a few have all played here on their first tours of the UK, and it definitely had a vibe about the place. Meeting the club manager first off he was “well Joe’s not gonna share equipment, move anything for you, you’re gonna have to work around it, and they won’t want to share the dressing room.” Well this was something we’re used to, “only the support” real low on the pecking order, we didn’t care we were just buzzing to play! As it turned out the manager said we could use this room next to the dressing room to keep our stuff which was great, meant we didn’t have to use the toilets haha, we were going up in the world already! We briefly met Joe after his sound check and he actually turned out to be a really nice guy and very accommodating, “we’ll get this gear shifted off the front of the stage, if you need anything just ask.” This wasn’t how the manager had portrayed the guy which was a relief.
The Borderline itself is a basement bar with a 300 capacity, the gig had sold out instantly so a second night was booked to accommodate demand, and again this was sold out. After sound check, we hung around backstage having a few beers introduced ourselves to Joe’s band and crew. On Drums Bogie Bowles, bass was Mark Epstein, Joe’s crew were Dave, guitar/bass tech, Aaron was Bogie’s drum tech, Donnie was their soundman and Andreas was their driver/merchandise guy. A few others were there for the first few dates, Roy was part of Premiere Artists in Florida who managed Joe, and Andrew was his tour agent in the states. Over the next few weeks we got to know these guys really well and I’m glad to say made some great friends.
It was stage time, 8pm on the dot. We walked out to a steam bath, 300 people crammed in this basement; the atmosphere was great, major expectations from both us and the audience. We tore through a blistering set and seemed to win the crowd over within the first few numbers. Before it began it was over and we were tearing the gear off and shifting it backstage. Sat on my speaker cabinet in the corridor, drenched in sweat and sipping a beer it was a lot to take in, a blur, but the feeling was great! Joe and the guys went through to a great response from the audience and delivered a 2 hour set of great blues rock. The first night we only got to see bits of Joe’s playing, there was no room to get a good vantage point, so we hung around backstage had a few drinks and just chilled out. Word came back that we’d sold several albums during our set already, something was working!
As Joe was winding his set up with an amazing medley of Yes’s Heart of The Sunrise/Starship Trooper and sections of Led Zeps Dazed and Confused, we headed out to our merchandise stall which Bryan and James our road guys had been looking after. A huge amount of people came up to us to say they’d really enjoyed the evening, bought albums and T-shirts and generally chatted for a good half hour or so to finish the evening off, great! We disappeared backstage and the crowds dispersed, time to start shifting gear back to the van. We caught Joe to say we’d had a great evening and he seemed really happy with how everything had gone. Contrary to what the club manager had said Joe was very accommodating indeed. Asking us was everything Ok he said if we needed anything or there are any problems just let him know. He offered to sort a rider out for us for the next evening (a rider’s what a band has in their dressing room, beer, drinks, food etc.) Also if we were stuck for a dressing room he was quite happy for us to share his. His basic attitude was he’d been where we were as an opening act and its hard work, you’re paying your dues and he appreciated where we were coming from. We loaded up and shipped off to the hotel, everyone buzzing from the adrenaline and by now a fair few beers.
We took a very scenic tour back to the hotel... we got lost! A moonlight drive around London at 2am was fun for us but our driver Bryan was getting a little frayed around the edges, 4 drunk geezers who don’t know London all giving him directions. We drove passed Downing St, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square, our very own private tour! Back at the hotel we crashed out after a few beers and reflecting on the nights events, already getting psyched up for tomorrow night!
I’ll give you an overview of what it’s like to be on the road for 3 weeks, this was day in day out and we bloody loved every minute of it!
You wake up slightly hung over in a hotel, you're not sure what day it is, or where you are exactly (all Travel Lodge rooms are identical no matter where in the country you are) you just know you played a blinding gig last night, and you're gonna do it all again tonight! You get up, pack your stuff, meet everyone who's as blurry eyed and hung over as you, grab some breakfast, get in the van and drive 2/3 hours to the next venue, which is a great time to catch up on some sleep. Anyway so after getting to the venue you'd say hi to the crew, soundguys and promoter, unload and set the gear up. Watch Joe sound check, sort passes, dressing rooms out and have a beer while waiting. Then we'd sound check, always had a good half hour, which was down to Joe wanting everyone to be comfortable, they'd even set their gear up as far back as possible to give us more room! After sound check we'd have an hour till our set. Drink a few beers chat with the guys, start the adrenaline flowing... then show time!