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Fjord trips and fireworks

Published: August, 2008

Aug 1st: Ricoh Arena in Coventry:
Three stories above Coventry City’s pitch is their rather large function room called the E.on lounge, obviously sponsored by the power company who are continuing to build coal fired plants around the country, assholes. This is where we’re playing, a strange choice of venue but I’ll add it to the long list including Bull rings and floating barges! On arrival we encounter a jobs-worth security guy who tries to tell us where and where we can’t park the bus, despite it being pretty obvious where the load in bay was. Stick a yellow bib and a walkie talkie on any moron and straight away they think they’re Charles in-charge.

Today was not to be Tim’s day. He has had a nightmare. He was to fly in this afternoon from Belfast, but he went to the wrong airport. When he got booked on another flight it was canceled and then the next flight was delayed for hours. Me and Rick cover soundcheck and he finally makes it to Coventry an hour or so before things kick off. That’s typically the kind of bullshit that happens to me so I find it somewhat humorous.

The dressing room overlooks the pitch and the promoters are super attentive, this was the first show they’d put on and we’re anxious that everything ran smoothly. Our new web jedi-master Steve arrived to talk over the new site and press the big red launch button. We have big plans to make this the best band site ever… Colin Murray came up to DJ to an empty room as the doors opened, he was baffled why on earth he was booked to do the gig, but hey money talks! The Gentlemen go on before us and by the time we we hit the stage the room had filled up and the atmosphere was charged. Although this was only our first ever show in Coventry the crowd really got into it and looked to be having a great time as the pit sporadically spazed-out. Tim did some nice pandering to the locals with a few references to The Enemy and Coventry legend Micky Quinn and before we knew it the set time had run out and we had hit the curfew. After a few rationed drinks we hopped on the bus and headed for Heathrow… 3 hours sleep was all we’d be getting as at 5:30 a.m. we’d be checking in for Oslo…

Aug 2nd:
Or so we thought… SAS check-in was a nightmare, the line ran out of the main terminal 3 building and about 50 metres into the drop off area. Not good when you’re tired and cranky.

Once this unacceptable excuse for service was dealt with, including the need for a jedi mind-trick to persuade them to take Tim’s 35 Kg over-weight amp head, we had to beeline it straight to the gate and on to the plane. At which point I was meet by my next joyless experience… Being 6 ft 2" the lack of legroom is a foregone conclusion which I have learnt to deal with. But as the feeling and blood circulation in my legs began to fade, the dull numbness setting in with my knees crushed into the forward seat, something horrific caught my eye. Across the aisle to me was what can only be described as a meat mountain, his massive dribbling lip gave away what brainpower he’d been dealt. He was so large he was leaning into the aisle to avoid crushing the poor sod, in the most unfortunate seat on the plane, next to him. Not only this but he was trying to read The Telegraph (massive broadsheet) which he was unbelievably wafting past my arm rest into my breathing space. Although this pitiful slobbering sip was some 4 times my size I gave him a look to say, “get the fuck out of my territory asshole” to which he folded the offending newspaper, turned his head and shuffled round to his left. I was somewhat amused as I imagined the squeak from one of those rubber bones as the guy inside him was enveloped in his rolls of lard.

After dreaming about NYC’s destruction I shot back into some form of consciousness and before I knew it was through Oslo airport and on to the awaiting bus. Tim got on board last to say they were announcing my name over the PA and I needed to go to information, what on earth had I done? Idiot! In my half awake state I’d walked away from the shop without talking my credit card, thank god Tim heard them calling for Lord Mark Hamilton! (One of my proudest achievements that…) Soon we were on our way to Raumarock festival, 6 hours to go. We broke up the trip stopping at services to discover these crazy Norwegians really, really like Trolls. I mean they had two massive Troll shops at this one stop. After picking up pizza me and Lance watched Daily Show episodes to pass the time and then crawled into our bunks to follow the rest in catching up on sleep.

Sweet Baby Jesus this driver sure likes to rake the shit out of this bus. I knew we’d arrived when I stopped being slapped like a wet dish cloth against the roof of the bunk. We got out and met the promoters who offered to take us out on a fjord trip. Within the hour me, Tim, Tim’s sister (Heather) and niece (Katey), who just happened to be in the area, were out on the water screaming, “I’m the king of the world!” from the front of a fishing trawler. I made it absolutely clear from the offset there was to be no rods on boards, not even a net. We apparently passed some guys in a famous Norwegian black metal band dangling their rods in the water. How Satanic of them… After about an hour we were well drenched from the constant drizzle but also totally refreshed and wide awake by the water, wind and a few Tuborgs.

The Cumshots what a great band name. We’re told the singer has recently circumcised himself live on television, how hardcore is that! They played earlier in the day and I’m kinda pissed to have missed them. That jackass sounds like a proper entertainer! By 10 p.m. we’re on stage and a good sized crowd has gathered in the pouring rain, apparently they don’t care about being drenched. That’s good because we didn’t come all this way to play to no-one and we’re here to impress. “Meltdown” kicks off and it soon becomes obvious that something is wrong. My bass is awfully out of tune, the A string is the offender. So I quickly attempt to tune it up before “Burn Baby Burn” begins, then again half way through it’s out again, pretty much ruining the song. WTF! The tuner is spaz-ing out and it doesn’t make any sense. This bass is fucked and I don’t know why. (We later discover a mutant bass string, that changed gauge half way down, a complete fluke something none of us have ever seen.) I change over to the spare hired bass, a Fender Jazz, that I’ve never played before. WTF! This doesn’t feel right. It feels completely alien to me, like a completely different instrument. Between that and trying not to slip on my ass, on the soaked stage, this show is becoming a bit of a nightmare. At least the crowd are visibly into it and as rain continues to descend they jump around with smiles beaming, having the time of their lives. Well then, I’ll just get on with it, I think to myself. The rest of the show is a blinder and “Twilight of the Innocents” leaves them roaring for more. Unfortunately our time-slot is over and we gotta get going, the drive is 6 hours back to Oslo and we need to be there checking in at 6:30 a.m.

Once packed we’re drinking a few celebratory beers on the bus and looking forward to another…

Aug 3rd:
Four hours of sleep. “Get up”, booms the intercoms in our bunks, “we’re here”. AJ, the driver, wakens us from our slumbers and it’s back to standard airport bullshit. Luckily we’re checked in and through the war on freedom (security) in less than 15 minutes, still sleeping I try to board the wrong plane and am then directed to the correct gate. The flight is empty and I get a whole row to lie out in, maybe there is a God after all? Back through Heathrow arrivals and we’re soon on the big gold bus heading for Cardiff’s Big Weekend. I retreat to my bunk to sweat out last nights drinks.

The bus has stopped. That’s the cue to wake up. For some reason it’s near impossible to sleep on the bus when it’s parked, but when it’s moving you’re out for the count in minutes. Outside it is pissing it down, proper hard raining. Fuck, I hope this isn’t gonna ruin the show. All afternoon it continues to pour. There’s a strong internet connection reaching the top lounge of the bus so I’m not going anywhere for the rest of the day. I briefly venture into the rain to watch The Automatic who go down well to their home crowd. There’s a hoard of teenage girls outside screaming every time they catch a glimpse of Go Audio, I remember that sort of hysteria around us during 1977 and laugh to myself. The Young Knives are pretty funny to watch, House of Lords may well be his stage name but I bet that guy doesn’t have it rubber stamped on his credit card, I do. Tonight we’re headlining the festival and after a rather panicked change over we’re having one of the best shows of the year. Thankfully the rain stays away and by “Girl From Mars” the crowd are going ape shit. We encore with “Jack Names the Planets” and with precision timing the sky is filled with fireworks as the last chord strikes. Fuck me that was good. Later we hangout for a bit with The Automatic. Me and James discuss and compare video cameras like geeks.

We’d made it through a particularly gruelling schedule and all felt very proud of ourselves. While the rest are all heading home tomorrow morning I have a meeting in Brighton and then the undesirable escapade of moving 10 years of possessions out of storage in London and back to Ireland by van and ferry. doh!