Amidst a flurry of birthdays we kick off our UK section of this extraordinary tour in Scotland’s fair city of Glasgow. But first a day off. If it wasn’t for the simple logistical fact that getting two trucks and three buses from Luxembourg to Glasgow takes the best part of a full day, we would most likely be doing shows back to back. We did that once back in the days of the Hillbillies and our 40 date tour in 41 days I vaguely recall. Never again.
With no real gym in the hotel to speak of, although to be frank, I haven’t even ventured to look; a brisk walk around town was on the cards to put some air in the lungs. With a mental shopping list of socks, fresh milk and possibly a new EF lens I set off towards Nile Street and the main shopping area. There’s a huge John Lewis here, always a reliable source for such mundane items.
Now we all know that socks have mysterious tendencies such as shrinkage, sudden uncomfortability and downright dematerialization. There’s plenty of worse things in touring life than a vexatious sock but these issues have to be addressed and a nice cotton-rich multi-pack of John Lewis specials is a comforting thing. Even though I confess to hoarding tendencies, my hotel room bin currently houses several pairs found guilty of petty annoyance.
Prompted in part by Pete Mackay, (who has been exploring the world of photography with great success as his photo contributions in these diaries testify) I headed for the electronics department and pangs for my first prime lens were soon realized. A 50mm f1.8 EF caught my eye. £89. Nothing extravagant, just something I can use to further progress in the intimidating yet fascinating world of photography. Also, a lens mount adapter for the EOS-M so that I can use EF lenses on both cameras now. After a day of experimentation with the new lens, I’m seeing the possibilities a multi-lens setup can offer. Now of course I’m eying up the next slightly more expensive addition, a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 telephoto.
As a diary topic, food is never very far from these pages and stays in Glasgow are more often than not punctuated by visits to one of the finest Indian restaurants in the UK, Mother India. Jim, Glenn and I met for a very early pre-birthday party dinner at 6:30. The plan was to have a meal and be back at the hotel by 8pm for John’s 40th Birthday bash (and Paul’s). Mission accomplished, we were in the swing of things by 8:30. Our dedicated crew were scheduled to arrive from Luxembourg via Heathrow, mid-afternoon but an engine fault on the first leg of their journey meant they missed their connecting flight and didn’t land in Glasgow until just before 8pm. John had kindly extended invitations to them and most of them came directly from the airport to the party. It was a great night which predictably extended into the wee hours. There were casualties.
Some early evening shots..
John and Heidi
Paul ‘Crocks’ Crockford (also birthday boy) and Kevin Rowe guitar tech
Show Day –
Our show in Glasgow coincided with another very special event closer to home. My wife Laura has just completed her Fine Art degree and exhibits this evening in the Preview of the Fine Art Degree Show 2013 at Chichester University. The exhibition continues until May 26th. We were scheduled to go on-stage just as the show opened so obviously I couldn’t be there. The preview show went really well and the band all send their congratulations. I’m now officially married to an artist.
‘Twenty-two’ by Laura Fletcher
We gathered outside the hotel on Blytheswood Square in the mid-afternoon sunshine and jogged each others memories about what actually happened last night then set off for the venue. we arrived in plenty of time, an hour before scheduled sound-check time in fact. Time for a much needed bowl for Scotch Broth, expertly prepared by Dave in catering. Then I had some time to play around with the new lens on a stage bathed in light. Simon had kindly left it nicely lit. When you’ve spent years shooting in full auto. mode, ‘manual’ is a whole different world. It’s a world I need to inhabit more often. By 5 o’clock, we were ready to sound-check so we ran the tunes the great Nigel Hitchcock was guesting on this evening. An hour later, we were ready for dinner. Oh what a surprise, another difficult decision to make. The truth is in fact that it doesn’t matter what you order, it will always be spectacular. I opted for Sea Bass with scallops and Broccoli with a white wine, cream, basil, clam and chorizo sauce, topped off with chorizo oil. Stupendous, Ridiculous, Herculean, etc. etc.
Nigel Hitchcock and Glenn Worf..
Fed and tired from the night before, we headed for the dressing room and realized there was less than an hour until show-time. After being on the continent, 7:30pm seems like an early show. Suddenly it all felt a bit like we were back out with Mr. Bob again and that all too familiar frantic rush to get prepared for stage. Two ‘interesting’ such tours meant we were well practiced in speedy preparation. The house lights were switched and birthday boy Paul Crockford stepped up to his microphone in an unfamiliar plain black suit to make is band announcement and we launched into the set. I’ll make no attempt to disguise the fact that some of us were a tad the worse for wear but as ever, with consummate professionalism and determination, you really wouldn’t have noticed, at least I think. At one point, Mark engaged in conversation with a wonderful, warm Glasgow audience explaining that fellow Glaswegian, John McCusker celebrated his 40th last night and “if you see me wobbling a bit, you’ll know why”. Of course, there were few wobbles and the band performed brilliantly as did the audience, and when the ‘punter-blinders’ swooped upwards out into the crowd during our final encore, we could see genuine joy on every face in the 4,000 strong crowd.
A great night in a great town.