So having returned late the previous evening from glamourous Salford, I was straight off the next morning for the much-anticipated start of my tour as support to It Bites. To be honest, it was a beautiful day for a long drive - which is just as well as Plymouth, the first stop, is a mere four hours away from my base in Surrey. The crisp winter sunshine lightened the mood as I thundered down the M5 into the west. I could see why people decided to come here for their holidays.
Mark (Spencer - keys/bass) was already in Plymouth and I headed to meet him at the hotel. In these cash-strapped days, every penny counts, and I'd booked the accomodation for the entire tour based around a cut-price promotion by one of the budget chains. Down by the harbour, and walking distance from the venue, it was actually a pretty good deal. It'd save us a long schlep after the gig. The gig itself was the usual rock venue - dark, sticky of floor and covered in dog-eared posters. Just my sort of place! The downside was that it was actually part of the main bust-station complex, which made parking and load-in of gear a bit on the tricky side.
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It Bites were already loading in when we got there. Relations between headliners and support acts are often a bit fraught, so I wondered how things would be. I had the advantage of knowing the band's guitarist and most of the crew pretty well, but I didn't know the rest of them. The first day of a tour is always a little stressful. No matter how well rehearsed a band is, there's always that insecurity that things aren't quite together enough. The last thing you need then is an annoying support band hanging around. Especially when they help themselves to the tea and biscuits!!
Needn't have worried. We got the measure of eachother pretty quickly. I even managed to steal a couple of biscuits :-)
And then the waiting began. Touring mostly consists of waiting. Waiting to go to the hotel. Waiting to get something to eat. Waiting to soundcheck. As touring mostly occurs in late autumn or winter , you also usually have the added frisson of soul sappingly cold, miserable weather. And so we waited in an unheated venue as the sun went down for our turn to take the stage......
Showtime, as ever, is the fun part.. That went well :-)....
Bristol was our next stop. Mark and I opted to head up early to get lunch, but after the usual faff trying to find useable parking we ended up in the pub next door to the venue trying to kill time till get-in. Bit by bit we were joined by the entire IB entourage. It's at times like these you almost forget you're there for a reason and could quite happily settle down for an evening in the pub. Everyone was much more relaxed after getting the first night out of the way, and it seemed a shame to break things up to rig and soundcheck.
Much roomier backstage area in Bristol meant we weren't all tripping over eachother. A much better vibe altogether. Better attendance and a livelier crowd meant both acts were happy bunnies. Back home for a day off (read laundry and household chores) before off for the second leg which takes us South to North from Southampton to Glasgow. For that I'll have the full 4-piece Sensational Alan Reed Experience! For up to the minute tour minutiae and occasional photos, follow me on twitter @3hobbits.