On average we'd play to 500+ people a night, the smallest was The Borderline in London which held 300, (hence the two nights to fit everybody in) up to Bilston and Frome which were nearly 800. We'd cram a 2 hour shows worth of energy into 40 minutes, worked our arses off! To play to that many people every night was amazing, and to say we were relatively unheard of the crowds’ response was stunning every night. The best I've ever played and the best the band has ever sounded!
We'd finish the set, Dave, Aaron and Donnie would help us clear the stage real quick, then back to the dressing room high as kites! Then we'd all drink beer, smoke cigs, go out and watch Joe from the side of the stage. Then when Joe was done we'd shoot over to the merch stall to meet and greet people, sign CD's, posters and bask in the glory haha. After that we'd go back to the dressing room, sit and have a beer with everyone, talk shit and take pics and footage, there's some really funny stuff we recorded, a great document that footage, so glad we had the video camera. Then we'd load up and onto the next hotel, check in 2am, stay up an hour or 2 have a few more beers and then off to bed. Then wake up and do the whole thing again, 16 nights in a row, never got bored, never got tired of it... that’s what it’s all about!
Back to London. After spending a day trawling round Camden Market with our guide, a friend of ours Bowden who had moved down to London a few months back, we headed back over to the venue. 4:30pm and Joe had set up and sound checked already after spending the day recording at the BBC. We had a lengthy sound check and retired to the dressing rooms for a few warm up beers and a tinker on the acoustic guitars we had brought down with us. Now we were use to the environment the 2nd nights set was a lot more relaxed. We dropped Black on White from the set in favour of a Robin Trower cover, swapping the formers more punky/grunge vibe for the latter's more bluesy rock feel, a good move we thought considering our audience. Again another fiercely hot night both in temperature and our performance, we were starting to get a stride and enjoying playing rather than the previous night’s adrenaline fuelled blur.
We surpassed the previous nights CD sales and spent the end of the gig chatting with a lot of people who’d come to see Joe and had really liked our stuff, everyone had had a great evening and the tour was well underway and off to a great start! We sat in the bar for a few drinks while Joe’s crew loaded the gear waiting to get ours shifted. Donnie, Joe’s soundman, joined us and we chatted for a while and found out some very interesting things about his past employers. He’d worked for Joe Walsh as guitar tech in the late 70’s (a major hero of mine!) also as monitor engineer for Fleetwood Mac during the Rumours era as well as assistant to Andy Gibb from the BeeGees in the early 80’s to name but a few. Quite a resume and some great stories which can’t really be repeated here! After we packed the gear up we had a long... long drive back to Manchester, we got home near 6am and crashed out. The next gig was our home town and the Manchester Academy.
A lot of friends and family had come to see us that night and everybody was in an up mood! Ourselves and Joe’s crew were getting to know each other and getting along real well making the whole experience very positive. Another sold out crowd and I think one of the better sets of the tour playing wise for me, we’d really settled into the swing of things and there’s nothing better than showing off to all your mates’ haha! Going back to our own homes that night was a little unsettling, we were use to being away after 3 days and were enjoying that buzz, and as soon as we got home we wanted to get back out in case we burst the bubble so to speak. The next morning we set off early for the 5+ hour drive to Glasgow’s Renfrew Ferry.
Glasgow really was one of the highlights of the tour. Arriving at the venue you had to walk all the gear down these huge gang planks onto the ferry. Although the ferry was moored, you could still feel the sway of the tide, and looking up you could see the huge PA/lighting rig gently swaying, was a little unnerving to say the least. It was a really decent sized stage so we had plenty of room to manoeuvre. After set up we sat outside and had a beer with Aaron and Dave. Dave regaled us with stories of people he’d worked with including some great stories of Ace Freely and our mutual acquaintance Ritchie Scarlet of Mountain. Come show time the venue was rammed to the rafters, the stage went long ways down the side of the boat so the back of the crowd was easily visible 30ft in front as well as the huge balcony that surrounded the stage on the top deck. This meant you could see the entire 550 crowd, and they could see you! The audience really knew how to tear it up and have a good time and more so show there appreciation, the crowd that night was magic. This really made us pull our fingers out and raise the bar on the previous nights playing. This came back to us in the fact we sold over 25 albums that night, plus EP’s and T-shirts, a very successful evening! We headed off to the hotel; however we couldn’t find anywhere to grab some food that was open, not a dodgy kebab shop in sight. I ended up having the Rustlers burger we had stored in the fridge in the van and heating it up in the microwave... hmmmm tasty!
Our next drive was direct to Sheffield and Sunday’s gig at the Boardwalk. We’ve played this venue a number of times and always had a good gig there. Tonight was no exception. With the familiar environment we had a great evening playing to another sell out crowd. At the end of the show we all go back to Joe’s dressing room, the first proper time I recall both bands and crew all sitting together over a few drinks and sharing stories. Joe was holding court offering some great advice and tips as well as telling stories about various bands he’s opened for and what he learnt along the way, including a few gems he picked up from BB King himself!
The next day was our first day off; we travelled back home and tried to get our heads around what the last few days had been like. By Sheffield it felt like we’d been away a month, totally absorbed in what we were doing as a band. A great feeling! Come Tuesday morning we were up and ready to start what would be the longest stretch of gigs in a row. We had 6 consecutive nights and a hell of a lot of miles to cover, starting that night in Nottingham at the Rescue rooms.
We had opened for Robin Trower here a few months back, so knew what to expect, a good room and a great audience. We had sound checked quite early so it afforded us some time to hang out with Joe's crew and have a few beers, a nice relaxed vibe which was a great way to start this second leg of gigs. The crowd as expected were great, we even through in a Robin Trower number for the people that had seen us back in May. Although I wasn't overly happy with my playing that night, a little scrappy, there was great energy and a real buzz in the air. Joe went on to play a great set as I sat on the side of the stage and shared a few beers with Dave and Aaron the ever vigilant techs. Come the end of the evening I got talking to Joe and Dave about guitars and was fortunate enough to have Joe go through what he uses and how he sets them up. I had a quick play on his rather nice 59 reissue Les Paul and his signature Giglioti Tele, a beautiful hand made telecaster with an ornate copper flamed top... guitar porn! One of the great things about The Rescue Rooms is the late bar they have aside the main room. We stood at the bar for a good hour after the show with Joe and the crew. Joe was buying the drinks, not a bad thing considering the very large Makers Marks everyone was drinking, we all got nicely toasted for the drive home, the next five nights we'd be hotels all the way!