first show=BRISTOL– venue was once called fleece AND firkin, now it’s just “fleece”. jetlag=fierce, but mightily we seasicked with the stage buckling ‘neath us like a watery grave. wicked head-cold, and tore thru 2.5 hour set like worried automatons. BIRMINGHAM– awful dive, big-hearted people. carpeted stage, concrete floor= a bright-white squall, and us in it like exploded atoms in an infernal pinball machine. we did not rise, nor did we succumb. and sweet crowd carried us almost home. post-show= bad vibrations outside, and the sky like a death-threat or a whispered curse. rats in the bushes and a half-finished skyrise complex 1/2-mile south, jutting out from all of it like a dirty tooth. night-time highway-ride outta town was like a prettiest reverie, all of mt. zion as silent as ghosts with the dirty yellow road-lights splashing across our faces. DUBLIN– 7AM ferry. high seas and we are pummeled. rock-joint= was once temple bar music centre, now it’s called the button factory. carpeted stage and dead ceilings/walls. like playing in a congested lung. a tough slog but we plant a flag on top of it and rest our heads on the crowd’s shoulders for awhile. too many kids on terrible drugs. the modern human condition in full-bloom. load-out is through 4.5 blocks of cobblestoned temple bar debauchery. rivers of puke and piss and misery. thierry’s pain continues unabated. the rain falls in thin lazy sheets across all our horizons. GLASGOW– 6AM ferry. the sun rises across flat water. we play at the art school. wood floors, wood ceilings and wood walls finally. first order harmonic reflections thrumming like salve on our torn, wounded ears. we love glasgow even when she is inhospitable, so tonight’s earnest mercy is doubly golden. opener is r.m. hubbert, old-school flatpicker of the new-school of gentle strumming bearmanship. lovely. post-show drinking on olde sauchiehall, the folly of drink wedded to anger on full flagrant display, and we flee. baby ezra wakes mid-night with high fever, wheezing and screams. early-morning visit to hospital= ear-infection and chest congestion. sweet scottish nurse, sweet scottish doctor, sweet scottish pharmacist. no sleep. no rest. and onwards, grasping at the light as we tumble, together.
MANCHESTER– lucifer’s sweatbox=manchester academy. god’s pee played this joint eleven years ago, yesterday’s fresh paint has faded and stained. pop-idol talent show one floor beneath us like a hallucination. their clean lines and rosy faces vs. our anxious angles and mottled facades. carpeted stage, concrete floor. no ventilation, our and their breath condenses as droplets on our arms- we respire like morning’s pale fauna! sound is clatter, sound is holler, sound is tiny knives aimed imprecisely. thick air+humidity=we drop heavy anvils that barely make it off of the stage. audience is golden/loud/sustaining. sweet hospitality from bernie. night’s sleep finally. morning’s rising is gentle finally. light rain, coffee & cigarette in the garden. amen. LEEDS– not the brudnell social club, but a larger joint, gussied like a cruise-ship. everyone’s a sweetheart. the weather continues to deride us. uneven ceiling-height means that the p.a.’s speaker stacks have to be mis-aimed. null spot in centre of room where phase runs amok with it its ruthless cancellation schemes. carpeted stage, tiled floor. glassed-in smoking room at the front where the regulars smoke morosely. audience is clever, bemused. we flail a little, fall over just to get up again, as if our fuel-lines our fouled, we sputter and dive in fits and starts, and distinguish ourselves by the poetry of our clumsy recoveries (we hope). LONDON– we roll in early AM, and just like that we’re in the thick of it. camden town like a theme park of dead subcultures, dreadful costa coffee/nero coffee/pret-a-manger on every corner, the bustle, the hustle, and we’re all like jon voigt at the beginning of midnight cowboy. gate-watcher at the rock-joint is fifty-something teddy-boy with a boombox hung from the wall and treble-stomps tumbling out joyously. wood stage, wood floor, wood balconies, and it thrums like a daydream. baby ezra’s health has much improved. thierry’s pain is still chronic. london-town rock-crowd is generous with us, tho our clamor is a little thin this eve. nighttime we loiter on the corner, sipping and muttering, incognito and knee-deep in glorious mud, we’re the kings and queens of saturday night.
NOTTINGHAM– a sad joint called “the rescue rooms” and we’ve played here too often. the filth is evidence of their rip-off tactics. every surface as sticky and stained as a spent rubber. pack ’em in, rob ’em blind, and kick ’em out= customer as fattened sheep. fuck this place. BUTBUTBUT sweet workers inside who are also oppressed thusly i guess, but kind to us and we are grateful. and a sweet crowd also. open-faced, open-armed, curious and bright. also, the openers totally slay. and red roses for sophie from a dashing young fan. us, we stumble and rise again, lift off just to fall. and fall we do. and thierry’s pain is too severe to encore. load-out is uphill through two niteclubs worth of mid-week drunken student discoteque grotesquerie. and a focused rain dumps buckets across all of that engorged flesh. a wednesday night culture war, and though our rusty muskets and sabres do not suffice, perhaps our resilience will triumph in the end. SHEFFIELD– last time we “rocked” “this” joint”, our set was followed by dismal disco-dancing/mixed-drink social, so we approach the venue with apprehension, sniffing at the corners like spooked dogs. stage is carpeted and sticky with muck. a reek like childhood fever, cough syrup gone rancid, stains the heart and closes it to joy. our set is a cacophony of breakage and malfunction. we buzz and hiss and bark like an impotent tantrum. captain stubing is in the crowd, and when they turn the disco ball on, a bundle of dust pours from its northern pole like sad confetti. post-show is drinks ’round the corner, where the d.j. does no wrong until he plays motherfucking con-man bruce “the boss” springsteen. fuck. OXFORD– early roll-in. weird greek coffee like a psychotic episode. cavernous theater-gig. sounds magnificent. second opener is a ten-piece choir singing arvo part. lovely. during our gig, there’s a sound like chains being dragged across a long corridor. dressing room is littered with champagne corks from previous dubious occupant(s). post-show is another student discoteque and an all-night keystone kop routine between the security guards and kids trying to sneak in through the back for free. the moon is like a gentle reminder, and the hole in the clouds too, blue and black and blue.
BRIGHTON– church again, same as the last time. display cases full of chalices and vestements. AA meetings and gymnastic classes in the basement, and a picture of jesus hung dangled above the stage, blood from his wrists pouring out on us. too much. brighton is lovely. we are fans of the place and its people. we could have done better by them i think, but church-gigs are an awkward thing- uncomfortable as those fucking pews. sweet matthew hosts us in his perfect bar. the sea is a shining thing as the sun falls. clocks jump forward and we do not sleep. england is done, and france is next and then italy beyond. god bless our mess. road-worn, we bang through like a homemade locomotive, and we are lucky. outside nighttime. and stars through cigarette smoke. it’s like camping this time around. and an uncertain slumber. thank you everybody, you were kind to us and we appreciate it, and goodnight everybody, goodnight everybody, and goodnight everybody. and amen…