30 Jun 2008

Toby's June Tour Mega-Diary Part 2

+ posted by FlamingWhopper

London is it?
Usually the London show is the one everyone gets a bit nervy about. I don't specifically mean everyone in this band. I mean anyone in any band. All the business bods come to these shows. Press usually turn up. For us, a load of mates come (which can actually be more nerve wracking than not having any friends in the audience).
Today, however I'm not nervy at all and nobody else appears to be either.
Despite the very small stage, we get the majority of our gear on and it 's going to be incredibly cosy. Sweaty punk-rock show on the cards!

We just hang around the venue for a while, not bothered with wandering around or anything. I know what Islington looks like. So do you. Balls to it, mate!
A phone interview asks us about our life changing records. I choose Nevermind as it did change my life. Before that I was into the mainstream rock of the time and had the teenaged rather narrow-minded life-view to match. When Nirvana suddenly appeared on my musical map I realised that you don't have to be a misogynistic, homophobic buffoon to like rock music. I became something of a grunge evangelist as a result.

It is hot as the boiler-room in hell backstage. It's going to be hotter on stage. Neat.
I quite like the sweaty ones. Although, I've got to say this new hair-gunk I got courtesy of Tigi at the Download festival dunnarf sting yer eyes when the sweats hit you.

The crowd's a loud one tonight. A good few metal maniacs in. Whiplash goes down unbelievably well, again. As do Start Of Something. It's beginning to feel like a "hit", dare I say it.
Yes I do.

We wipe ourselves off the stage and indulge in a bit of back-slapping and all that malarkey and then Dan and I and a bunch of chums hotfoot it to The Dublin Castle for a bit of Camden caning. When in Rome and all that. Tomorrow's going to hurt, I fear.

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Out of the frying pan and into the van.
Dan and I have successfully "Overshone" and are a bit on the quiet side. It's a day off today, thank goodness. One we all could do with. It hasn't just been us on the go solidly since Robin came up to Norfolk to rescue us. Our crew hasn't had a day off lumping our gear around for eleven days either and there are small cracks beginning to appear at the corners of even the toughest of cheerful constitutions.
Johnny H, Dan and myself opt for the biggest curry of all time. It's a corker too. We eat so much we make ourselves feel a shade unwell and Hawkers and I carry our swelled bellies into the cinema to watch Indiana Jones. I really enjoy it, despite it's obvious flaws. Then it's a quick pint and back to the Inn for a well-earned collapse.

We get a proper lie-in as the venue's only around the corner. A bit too much of a lie-in, to be fair. Neither Dan or I (who are rooming together in Brum due to Rich and Robin having popped to their respective homes for their day off) awake until just after 2pm. Dreadful, really, and the fug of the over-sleeper stays with us all the way through soundcheck and into the start of the show.

They like rock music in Birmingham, don't they?
It's a bit of a belter tonight, by our estimation, and a few friendly faces agree with us after our turn. Unbelievably hot and sweaty too. Dan remarks that at one point he was looking down and it was literally raining out of his hair.
We dry off and hang out with fans and family for a bit of a jolly and then it's back to club Premier Inn for some Marks & Spunkup (©Robin Goodridge) chilli-nuts and Sake, the latter a gift from the ever-awesome Minako. Best 99p you'll ever spend, them nuts.
Many, many nut- based jokes are made and by 2:30am we decide to call it a night.

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Newcastle's blowing up an 'ell of a gale the day, man.
Windy as you fahkkin like, mate.
We just chill in our respective rooms until soundcheck. It's far too stormy to go wandering about.
It's Sunday again, too.
It was Sunday last time we were in Newcastle.
Is it always Sunday in Newcastle, I wonder?
Funny little room, the Academy. Soundcheck sounds like we're playing on a jet engine rather than on a stage. Very reflective walls, you see.
Then we do a really long, really weird interview in the drezzy. It's only weird because we suddenly get in a silly mood and keep going off on giggly tangents. A question of how the boys met me somehow turns into my pondering what it might be like to drive up the A 1 if it were made of wood. Very smooth, I imagine.

Before we know it we're in that little elevator that takes us up to the stage and we're bounding onto it to an audience twice the size of our last visit.
They're all up for it, despite it being a Sunday and we decide to reward them with a headbanging competition during Whiplash, the winner of which gets a Stone Gods t-shirt. Nice.
It's a very enjoyable show for us all, even when Dan almost sends me flying when he races over to share an "oi!" in Don't Drink The Water.
Rich clambers up onto the railing and takes the leap of faith back onto the stage. He later admits to slightly "shitting it a bit" once he'd got up there and realised there was no other way down. Luckily he escapes injury and we bundle back into the lift in what seems like five minutes.

We head over to a brilliant little Salsa bar just over the road with some friends, some fans and Robin's father-in-law and a couple of his pals.
Strange little Salsa bar really, considering they play AC/DC and Guns N' Roses almost exclusively. Good on 'em. They stay open late for us too!
Then it's a cab back to the hotel for a vin rouge and pizza frenzy that takes us nicely to 2am. Cheers!
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An early-ish start for our trip to Glasgow results in my sleeping almost all the way. This turns into a mildly bleary walk around the shops before the always classy King Tut's serve us dinner and we get started up.
The Scottish contingent of the Templars, or Temple Girls, or various versions of the moniker some of our fans call themselves are in tonight and let us know by delivering a pair of bottles of champagne and a box of fudge. Thanks from the borrum of our hearts for that. Especially from Stewey Q who was having a kitchen-tile nightmare back at his homestead and wants to punch someone until his mood is lifted considerably by this gesture. Marvellous!

The crowd is on good form tonight and so are we. Sweat drips, heads bang, grins and winks are exchanged. Rich slips slightly on the carpeted stage and twists his ankle requiring a big bag of ice and shouts of "Fuckin' 'ell it's coooolllld!" back in dressing room land.
Our chums from White Ace pop in for a glass of champers and a chin-wag. Dan and I end up going to a club called The Box with them. Sambuca rears its ugly head. Dirty seafood noodles to soak up the booze and suddenly it's 4am and we haven't the faintest idea where our hotel is. Rock and Roll. Once again, we've been Tutted.

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Robin wakes me up with a cup of tea and a "What time did you get in, you naughty boy?" and my eyes burn like the sandman worked overtime and enjoyed it. I struggle into my clothes, down the stairs and into the van where I snooze all the way to Edinburgh.
It's such a pretty place. Even when the weather's horrid.
A smile cracks Dan's face open as we discover a Pizza Express for lunge. We manage to avoid pudding for another day and make our way back to the smallest venue we've ever seen. It's a cave. Next to the "most haunted pub in Edinburgh". We consider having a really scary pint there later.
We get up to the dressing room, which is like someone's flat. Nice, but unbelievably warm. There's an air conditioning unit in the corner which barks out an almighty noise which is less than relaxing, but the snooze hounds are licking at our toes and sleepy-time drags us all in quickly.
We amble down to check our sound. The smallest stage yet doesn't sound too bad at all and we fairly eagerly await show-time.

Our crowd are a little self-conscious tonight. It's a small room and they try to get out of second gear, but don't really manage it. We can't put on a huge show on such a tiny stage, so it's a slightly frustrating gig. Still good and everyone has fun, but there's an air of restraint that we can't shake.

Everyone's looking forward to a day off.
Edinburgh's a nice place to have a day off, too. We head down to the grass market area, which has a bevy of pubs and restaurants and vintage shops. It also has a joke shop in which Stewey Q stocks up on fake dog shit, snappy-banger-things and a packet of chocolate cigs.
We settle on lunching at the American style restaurant and indulge in wine and pizza. Wing commander Haskett goes for the classic combo of Cullen Skink and a Haggis pizza. Apparently it goes surprisingly well.
"Do you want another fish?" cries Robin as we break the first bottle of wine and ask if we can have one that isn't broken. We can and Dan decides to join us in a splash of the grape.
We waddle back to the hotel and watch the football and add to our wine collection with gusto. The "restaurant"/bar is the most appallingly run place we've ever been to. People's meals are delivered wrong and late, a waitress comes up with a coke for someone but she has no idea who, the other waitress speaks so little English she has to ask the manager when we inquire about having the volume on the telly. Ramsey would do his nut, mate.
We don't let it affect our performance. Beddy-byes calls.

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Dundee is surprisingly pretty. It's always thought of as being grey and horrible, but on a sunny day such as today it's attractive streets are bustling with happy-looking shoppers and aimless but not moody teenagers.
We pop into a Spudulike for a quick lunch. I haven't seen a Spudulike for years, so it's a trip down a potato-lined memory lane for me.
Dan then decides to go for a quick bit of acupuncture and a Chinese massage because his rocker's neck is getting the better of him.
We go on ahead to the venue where Stewey entertains us with the previous days purchase of Shit In A Can. It doesn't really work that well and he considers taking it back to the shop with a cry of, "Ere, mate, this poo is shit!" and demanding his £2.79 back.

The sound onstage tonight is hilarious. Just a big honking noise without any definition whatsoever. It's service with a smile all the way though. We go on to the strains of the Indiana Jones theme tune which makes us all grin.
Just before the intro to 'Beero Stewey throws a couple of happy-snappies, or whatever they're called, and the size of our pyro-show matches the massive four lights we have. It's another giggly moment in a funny show all round.
We hang out for a bit with the fans, among whom I promise to mention, Jack, D.J. and Dave who are very excitable and do the most convincing headbanging of the night. Nice one, lads.
Then we bid farewell to the Scottish Temple Girls and jump in the van for a bus-party all the way to our hotel halfway between Dundee and Manchester, which we reach at about 3am. Out like a slightly pissed light!

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Friday night in Manchester. Let's fucking have it!!!
As per usual, it's a rainy day in Manchester. It is every single time I come here, but as I've said in previous diaries, it also always rocks.
There are some big tour busses in the carpark belonging to My Morning Jacket. I get bus envy a bit… oh alright then, a lot.
We do a couple of interviews in the drezzy and chill.
Big Linda have a great show tonight and come off drenched and buzzing. This bodes well for good ship Stone Gods.

The second the strains of Indiana Jones start up the crowd knows what the score is. It's time to rock out. And they do. Awesome stuff.
Rich's top comes off for the encore and everything. Robin comes off stage looking like someone's pushed him in a pond. A few familiar faces make the grins on our musches that little bit wider and before long we're soaking up the local fud in Big Hands.
Thank you once again, Manchester. I promised I wouldn't cry.

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In the morning Robin and I wander up to Piccadilly for a breakfast PrÍt and a nose through the papers. We can't help but notice large groups of blokes dressed as women walking around. There must be a convention on. Some of them look really bad too. No effort involved at all. Get a better wig, stuff your bra, have a shave, have a fuckin' word, mate. Funny old game, innit. I can't pretend to understand it, but each to their own.
Off we trundle to Stoke.

For some reason we don't expect much from Stoke. I don't know why. It's not a big college town. And we're all a bit tired. Knackered in probably more the word.
The Sugarmill is a big box of noise. Reflections and all that. Shiny, shiny. Loudy, loudy.

The crowd don't respond to Big Linda very well, despite their putting on a really good show in my opinion. Our concerns grow.
We say well, if they don't get into it after the first three songs, we'll just fuck off, will we?

Then we're standing at the side of the stage and Jonesy pipes up.
And the crowd go fucking bananas.
Barely containing our surprise, we bound on the stage and kick things off. One of the things Rich kicks off is a bottle of beer. Off the podium and right onto the middle of my pedal board. I wait for it to go bang and stop working, but it's made of sterner stuff and Rich's apologies aren't needed at all. Have a nice moment when he dedicates Lazy Bones to "The bloke who wrote it", aka me. Ahhhhh.
Towards the end of the gig I look over and catch Stewey flipping me the bird to the beat. He's ever such a funny boy, that yin.
While we stand at the side of stage again waiting for Steve to tune-up the crowd starts a huge chant of "Stone Gods, Stone Gods, Stone Gods" and we all look at eachother grinning and wondering where the hell did tonight come from?!
Awesome stuff, Stoke.
Whiplash goes down as well as usual and Beero ends the night with a lad shouting "Youtube!" in defence of a slightly-tongue-in-cheek accusation of illegal downloading.
Nicely done!
We hang out on the roof terrace for a while, which is awesome. It's like L.A. up there. But without the swimming-pool and the models. Still, really very pleasant. We all agree that we'll most certainly be returning to Stoke.

It's a long way to Naaaaaaaaooorrich.

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