Stiff and sore after sleeping on floors, we arose begrudgingly, wanting to get out of the place as quick as possible to the gig.

Sonia Waterfield – Day 11 – Manchester

Stomachs growling, we walked into a nearby Frankie & Benny’s for breakfast. All in foul moods and zombified, we waited in eagerness for our food to arrive, and we waited, and we waited. An hour later, we were still waiting.

Making things worse, Matt already had a chesty cough and Tony was feeling the effects of a cold after surviving the Amazon, yellow fever and whatever else.

To take our minds off the hunger which was cramping our guts, Tony entertained us with a Geordie dancer who normally shows off his moves on the pitch. Joe and Tony were laughing and crying like girls, which was amusing in itself, and then recalling tales of the original Pink Panther series and Tom Selleck.

During this time, Luke crashed in the van, sensibly catching up on his sleep, bless him.

Our serving waitress advised they had an influx of customers which had stretched their staff. We scoffed our food the minute it landed on our table and set out on the road again.

On our already tight schedule we didn’t need anymore hiccups, so when pulling into a petrol station, metres away from the pump we ground to a halt due to running out of diesel, a sigh of despair emanated from us all. So all hands to the deck and a push to the pump was required.

Gallantly we managed to get the van there and filled up.

However, more disappointment was to come when Ed went to start the engine. It wouldn’t catch or start.

Doubt and concern set in alongside the worry of a) getting off the forecourt and b) whether we would get to Manchester in time (still had a three hour drive ahead and it was already 3.00pm with load in and soundcheck to do upon arrival). It was a tight and nervous time for all, especially with the previous night’s mare still fresh in our minds and bodies. Talk about ‘one of those days’!

With frustrated lorry drivers stacking up behind, we pushed the van away from the pump. With Ed’s perseverance he managed to get the ol’ girl started, much to the relief and joyous cheers of us all – well done lad!!!

Spinal Tap, eat your heart out!!!

So back on the road and all dozing off to catch up on lost kippage, hoping that the petrol station was the last incident – they say it happens in 3’s!

Occasionally drifting back into conciousness, I was aware of murmurings and groanings. The traffic had come to a total halt and added an extra hour to the journey. It was already 4.47pm, which meant that we wouldn’t be arriving at the venue till 6.00pm. It was going to have to be a quick load in and set up as doors were at 7.30pm, which had already been changed from 7.00pm.

I woke again as we were driving through a beautiful part of the M62 which looked remarkably like the Brecons and brought more memories of home. It’s mad how you take the simplest things for granted but miss them so much when you’re gone.

With no stops during this mad drive, all of us were now starting to get a thirst on and numb backsides. I was starting to feel revived after my nodding off, however the cobwebs of sleep were still clinging on.

Soon we arrived at the venue and a very quick load in ensued due to our lateness. Having to take the stairs, of which there were plenty, I made my way through the maze of corridors and stairs and felt rather knackered by the time I got to the top floor where the bands were playing.

Soundcheck was done and the other two merchy people had set up. With still an hour to go before doors, I could thankfully relax a bit and set up.

Once done, the doors literally opened and the queue of people dribbled in. Ginger joined us and tagged onto the end of my table selling his album. He seems to be really enjoying his pre-show meet and greets, getting into the flow of having his photo taken and listening to the fan’s stories.

Its nice to see him for off the person he is instead of his on-stage persona and to be honest, he is a really great person. He even bought, yes, bought a Voodoo Six lighter!!! Now, that’s merchy girl power for you! I wonder how many merchy people can brag that they had Ginger purchase from their stall?

Steve Conte had decided to get in on the act and came up, selling pin badges which he initialled for his fans. He seemed more weary about the whole thing at first, and left A4 sheets informing people about his solo cd with The Crazy Truth. He and Ginger left and I decided to take control of his sheets as Ste, the Michael Monroe merch guy, had been hounded with the Ginger stuff.

Merch sales were slow, but the night seemed to be going quickly.

N.Y.A.A.A were now through their set and already the crowd were rocking, applauding after every song and a big cheers when their set ended.

Changeover time came and went. A few people came to enquire about Voodoo Six as they had heard of them through the Planet Rock/Classic Rock PR campaign.

Now, I must explain, that during the whole tour, I have been Queen Of Leaflets, so, when my precious leaflets ran out, I was left at a lost end and didn’t know what to do with myself. So, smiling sweetly at anyone that walked passed in the hope that it would spark some mild interest (and failing miserably), I had to find other ways to attract people to the stall.

Again, as per the previous night, there were a few dedicated Voodoo Six fans amongst the throng. Applause and cheers arose as they took the stage.

By now, the room was full to the max and you could feel the heat emenating from the main arena.

The guys put on a really tight performance and were clearly loving the attention they were receiving. With the crowd still being very responsive and the atmosphere rocking, I have come to the conclusion that the further up north you go, the more receptive the crowd are.

Leaving the stage after their set, the guys were drenched in sweat from the extreme heat, but full of smiles and murmurings of what a great show it was.

A quick change and they loaded out their gear during the time the stage was being set up for the Monroe troupe.

The all familiar intro tape kicked in and the Monroe gang entered, causing madness in the crowd. People were raising their arms, roaring and cheering. The energy was electric. At one point during the set some girl tried to grab Mike whilst on stage with a lot of crushing and pushing going on. It was manic! I had not seen anything like it! Pure madness which the boys on stage were loving, bathing in the glory.

The show finished after an hour and a half of madness and the throng were ushered out of the room by security, right past the confined merch area, which filled up in seconds with people baying to buy t-shirts and other memoribilia. By now, Matt, Chris and Luke had joined me to sign the cd’s that were selling like hotcakes. For the first time on this tour, ‘windmill arms’ were in force and I was loving it!

Steve Conte joined me and together we went on a mission to sell his album, gain people’s names for his mailing list and for fans to get signatures and photo opportunities.

The atmosphere at the merch area was buzzing and it felt so great!

11.00pm came around and the security guys moved along the ‘hangers on’. Steve went off to do more greetings by the bus, leaving myself, the V6 boys and Ste (the Michael Monroe merch guy) to clean up the area and load out.

All of us feeling absolutely worn out due to the cold that had got us all, we wearily got into the van and headed out to find food. Domino’s Pizza was the group choice, so we parked up nearby the closest one and Tony ventured to place the order.

The next minute, we heard chaos and shouting. Thinking that little Tony was in trouble, we pelted out to rescue him only to find the attraction was a girl indulging in fire breathing and twirling outside the pub next to the pizza place which was 24 hours, much to the amusement of us all. With Hawain, Margaretta and garlic bread in hand we munched through it all – nommage!

After pizza’s, the topic got onto Tony’s ‘breeding hen’ legs, to all of our amusement.

Back in the van, with an hour’s drive to the lodge, we plugged into the headphones and kipped.

Arriving at the Lodge, memories of the previous night’s disaster still fresh in our minds, we dragged ourselves and cases to reception. With trepidation, we asked for our room keys which were gratefully handed over to cheers and applause from us all.

Straight to bed to sleep off the weariness in readiness for the epic journey to Matt’s hometown of Glasgow.

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