So, we’re a couple of shows in now, the morning after the day off seems as good a time as any to take stock of progress. Right now i’m on a friend's sofa bed, gonna get this blog down then think about some breakfast…
When we spoke last I was in the second day of band rehearsals hearing True Love 1980 and Spaceshot for the first time, and generally getting back into an ashey frame of mind. For the last week or so i’ve had ash on my ipod pretty much constantly, especially the last two albums, to get myself thoroughly reacquainted with the songs. Anyway, the band wrapped up about half an hour or so after I finished the blog, a quick pack down of the backline, an even quicker loading of the trailer and down the road to the pub for a few civilised drinks before the bus pulls out. Our driver for the coastal shows was a little Yorkshireman called Trevor, a little chap with big glasses, typical Yorkshire, he was scandalised by the cost of fish and chips in brighton – ‘five pounds f’ piece a fish?! throw the bugger back!’ . Anyway, after a few drinks in the pub Trev texted Lance, our sound guy and tour manager, asking him to pick up some chips for him on the way back to the bus. Lance is a Chicago native, has a big wide American accent, general all-round nice guy. Much texting back and forth ensued as lance attempted to clarify whether trev wanted chips or crisps, the American/English special relationship perfectly demonstrated by the various ways of frying lumps of potato…
After last orders we pile into the bus, and roll out to Brixton, Bristol, or maybe even Brighton. The first night is quite quiet, just trout beer in the back lounge. At this point steve is yet to join us, so we’re a perfect fit upstairs, seven seats to seven people. Through some stroke of fate I end up in the throne at the end, with lots of smooth flat surfaces either side of the chair. Convenient. Some Mike McMurray Metal Jukebox Funtimes© and a couple of hours later and we pull up on the seafront. All to bed and early to rise.
For some reason the concorde hosts some kind of rock school effort for kids and teenagers before our load-in, they’re kind to treat us to the opening bars of don’t stop til you get enough over and over again for our first couple of hours in the venue. Perfect. There’s a café across the road that serves some rather good coffee and refrains from bombarding it’s patrons with Michael Jackson songs, so after a shower I de-camp til we can finally tip our trailer. You know you’ve made it when you’re eating beans on toast with rock stars.
Concorde is actually a pretty nice venue. The in-house lighting rig is far from luxurious, and the desk is too small, but generally it’s sufficient for the room. The stage is a little tight but the sound is good, and the house techs are helpful and good at their jobs. generally everyone is pretty happy.
Once everything is in order and I’m programmed up I take a walk down the seafront with Flea to get some fish and chips, the fish is excellent. At some point in the afternoon Jedisteve arrives. For some reason he’s decided to bring his own beer and crisps (not chips), amusement ensues.
I decide to light the Panama Kings set as well as Ash, mainly as a warm-up for me, and to settle into the system. They play a good set, the drummer in particular is notable, not least because he looks about 12 If you're coming to Bloomsbury you really should check them out. Ash play, the set goes down well, the new stuff seems to get a good reaction, although as Lance said there’s often a moment of ‘oh shit, now I actually have to listen’ from an audience when bands do new songs.
The bus is staying in Brighton until the next morning as parking on Portsmouth is problematic, so after we’re rudely ejected from the venue far too early and I’ve only snatched the briefest of post-gig showers we move outside for more drinks on and around the bus. A clandestine raid with carrierbags ensures we receive our rightful allowance of bus beers, spontaneous bus aftershow continues. The bus is non-smoking so I spend most of the evening outside with the brothers McMurray and a couple of friends of mine who have come down for the show, all smokers. As the exuberance winds down we retire to the back lounge, I enthrone myself again and we proceed to listen to lots of the new material over the dubious surround system for the dvd player. Steve gets excited, Tim air-guitars to his own stuff and Mark looks ill in the corner.
Breakfast is calling me now, I’ll write up Portsmouth tonight some time. Things to expect – ice cream and vomit, things unlikely to be included – discreet showers and lighting equipment designed any more recently than the 1960s.