Since writing my last instalment, we have commenced our annual jaunt around the UK. I think I mentioned previously that we’ve been doing a yearly tour of the UK every year since 1993, and we’ve built up a very loyal following here ever since. A lot of familiar faces turn out for our shows every night and it’s never failed to make us feel very fortunate and very humble at the same time.
In the early days, we would take any booking we could, no matter how small or remote the venue and we’ve travelled all over the UK due to that taking in many sights and meeting a lot of interesting individuals. On this tour we’ve been doing a lot of Meet & Greets, which is a great way for people to actually meet and talk to us, get something signed and have a photo taken – they also get a nice goody bag with a few exclusive items to take home and a great seat for the show. Some of the people we see in these Meet & Greets are first timers who have heard of us but have never been to a show of ours. This is great as we get the chance to win them over and convert them into our fold. (sounds sinister…Ed) Some however are people who have seen us multiple times. It’s not uncommon for us to meet people who have seen us more than ten times, which is incredible. I was talking the other night in Glasgow to a couple of lads who had seen us many times over the years ever since our Renfrew Ferry shows. The Renfrew Ferry is a music venue in Glasgow which literally is a decommissioned ferry moored on the River Clyde. The shows we did there at the end of the 1990s were often very rowdy to say the least! The weirdest thing though is the feeling that we’d been on a boat all day – which of course we had! Some of us suffered a little with that weird feeling the next day that everything was still moving – and we’d more than likely be at another venue doing another show. For this year's Glasgow show we were at the brand spanking new Hydra Arena, a modern ‘spaceship’ of a building, made of pre-cast concrete, steel and glass, and only open since November. It’s an impressive sight to play to 5000 Glaswegians, and was definitely a show to remember for lots of reasons. To say it’s not perhaps the best designed venue acoustically would be an understatement, but we, and our hard working audio crew managed to tame it and the show was a great success.
The Hydro, Glasgow – boarded and departing for Alpha Centauri
By contrast, last night's show in Edinburgh was at the famous Usher Hall - somewhere we’ve played before and enjoyed. The contrast is that the Usher Hall was built in 1914, not 2013, and is typical of a nineteenth century theatre in its design and grandeur (even though it was built in the early twentieth century) – it’s the ‘spaceship’ venue of its day if you like. So which venue do we prefer?, I hear you ask….well, as we bring all of our own production with us in three trucks, it doesn’t vary from night to night for the band as much as you might think. Modern sound systems and on stage monitoring mean that we, the band, have it pretty easy to be honest. The crew on the other hand have a tough time of it when the venues are small or if they are old. These kinds of venues were definitely not designed with this kind of large show in mind, so the working conditions can often be quite a challenge. Spare a thought for our hard working crew next time you see us in a small or old theatre – you won’t notice anything, but behind the stage there will be a massive amount of boxes, cabling and technology shoe horned into every nook and cranny.
Tram passing Edinburgh’s Usher Hall soon after its opening
The Usher Hall from behind stage right – before doors open and after some shoe-horning!
It’s all smoke and mirrors, as they say.