Exchange, Bristol 10/09/2014
I was looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. T? has a lot of close ties to the Bristol/Bath/Box area with recording studios being used (Real World, Moles) and lot of time spent there, our new album is produced by Bath resident, Tom Dalgety and of course there’s always the great gigs over the years in the different venues. My first time in the Exchange and it’s fantastic. Lovely small dark room and fine sound. It’s lovely to see Tony Wright (aka VerseChorusVerse) on the bill too.
The crowd is very affectionate and it helps me settle nerves as it’s always difficult to gauge just how to pitch these acoustic shows. Too much heads down playing and people mutter and head to the bar, too much chat and they can get restless for sounds.
Well, Bristol, thank you for your patience and warmth. I played for an hour forty-five and could have gone on longer. All the singing and support was very moving throughout and i was brought back to all those night out on the town round Bristol during the Infernal Love era. A wonderful part of the world and i can’t wait to go back.
The Moon Club, Cardiff 11/09/2014
Cardiff’s famous Womanby Street is home to the Moon club and on another, less sober, evening it would be tempting to stay on afterwards and get involved. I park at the Cardiff Arms park and on the way back to the venue take a sneaky look at the rugby pitch where Cardiff Blues play. Later that evening one of my long-time friends and Blues supporter, James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers joins me onstage for a version of Die Laughing and during the song i’m thrilled by how fantastic it sounds. The Manics ‘Futurology’ is one of my albums of the year and it’s always inspiring to have James around.
The venue is compact and the atmosphere is rowdy, sweaty and very, very loud. A good natured bunch you lot. The crowd was so close that at times i couldn’t hear myself over their singing and had tonnes of goose pimple moments during the set.I managed to chat to loads of people after the set, thank you so much for all your kind words and my apologies to the pocket in the crowd screaming for ‘Straight Life’, i’ll learn it for next time.
Another shout-out should go to another long-standing comrade of T?’s Mr Simon Philips from Newport who took a chance on booking us in TJ’s many years ago and has been a friend ever since. I should mention that he gave me a copy of an album his son has put together called Roaring South. It’s a splendid compilation of bands and it’s a cracker. If you go to www.roaringsouth.bigcartel.com you can pick up a copy. It was hard to drag myself back to the car after the gig but i had to head off to the hotel. Big up to the Cardiff crowd for making this intimate gig so special.
The Bowery District, Reading 12/09/2014
We arrive at the Bowery District, Reading and realise it’s the downstairs bar of Sub 89, last gig Therapy? played in the city. As that was a fantastic gig, the signs look good for this evening. Being close to London means quite a few friends have made the trip so a big hello to Mark, Clare and Kiran for popping down.
This gig is the trickiest so far. It’s Friday, people just want to let their hair down and get fucked up and that means that even though the lairy crowd sings along there is also a lot of very pissed chat between songs. Still, they’ve paid their money and as long as they don’t spoil it for the others then that’s fine. Fortunately the bar is in the back of the venue so many of the weekend warriors can retire back there for libations leaving the front of the stage free from office gossip. Reading has history with T? as we played the famous Festival three years in a row and the last one in’94 was one of my personally favourite gigs of all time. It’s a good crowd tonight and in the end it’s sweet to have everyone singing and cheering along together.
Afterwards I drive through the carnage of a Friday night and it reminds me of a painting by Hieronymous Bosch.
Grey Stones, Sheffield 17/09/2014
I wasn’t expecting this…..Drunken dancing, mad pacing fans ranting and tables and chairs of people at the back smiling serenely. It had a wee bit of everything.I got the feeling that at any moment the gig could collapse into chaos. How do you reply to someone so drunk their words don’t even have an onomatopoeic familiarity?
It’s a great mix of punters and it’s one of the most surreal gigs on the tour but in a good way because everyone seems to be having the time of their lives. I throw in a cover of Being Boiled by The Human League, a Sheffield band who once played one of my favourite sets in the Belfast Ulster Hall. After the show I was moved by all the kind comments and friendliness.
Afterwards we head off to stay in Leeds with the legend that is Diamond Dave and try not to wake up his lovely wife Cathy while playing with his wee dog called Chaos.
Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton 18/09/2014
Been in Wolves many times and always had fun but never been in Slade rooms. Lovely gig and they done it up nice for us with low lighting and seats.
It’s an absolutely amazing crowd and the feeling at times is more like theatre or stand up than a gig. I played a long set and felt so at ease on stage that i could’ve gone on all night. Tony Wright joined me for a version of Lunacy Booth which he nailed and i got to mention the family from Wolves that relocated to my hometown in the 70′s and who taught me all about their hometown.
Also great to see three of the band Thirty Six Strategies at the gig. Amazing band, check them out if you get the chance and yours truly plays a wee bit of guitar on their last record. After the gig it’s off to bed with a glow knowing that i’ve just played one of my very favourite ever acoustic gigs. Thank you so much Wolverhampton.
The Wardrobe, Leeds 19/09/2014
I love Leeds and it’s an unfamiliar venue , The Wardrobe. Good turnout, very, very loud and shouting for all kinds of obscure numbers. It’s a mix of leery cackling and lively banter and the noise doesn’t stop from the beginning of the set to the end. It’s great to see our friend Sarah from our Website and Wall of Mouths forum leading the ceremonies down the front with her pals and so many other characters that I manage to catch up with later. The lads that talk about my fave Saab cars, people regaling me with tales of early T? gigs and a touching story from a lad who came to a gig the day after a motorcycle accident even though he was in no fit state to do so.
I give a shout out to the sadly closed Cockpit venue (to cries from the locals of “It was a shithole!”) and the attendant Diamond Dave. Afterwards it’s great to catch up with the very talented Chris Catalyst and then it’s off for a late night drive home, diverted by roadworks, to arrive home early AM. Leeds you were ace as always, you mad feckers.
Borderline, London 23/09/2014
Ah..’that’ London. It’s the day after my birthday but i’m not hungover being the true professional. I like the Borderline Venue a lot. An early T? gig about the time of Babyteeth was there, I played acoustically there last May and have seen lots of brilliant shows there.
A fantastic turnout and a very warm-hearted crowd. There’s no nutters to battle with and the singing is very loud and scarily accurate nearly putting me to shame. As always in London there’s a special guest and this time it’s my mate Chris McCormack from Three Colours Red who does a tasty version of Screamager with me and Stevie. The jokes all seem to hit the mark tonight and again it’s feeling as if it could veer towards stand-up if I don’t keep my yapping in check.
My early start the next day meant that i’d to go straight from the stage to a cab to the train station so my apologies to those waiting to have stuff signed, photos and a chat. Next time hopefully. I was later sent a picture of our agent, Paul, selling the CD’s and that is a rare sight I can tell you. Big shout out to the Irish and Polish contingents who made their presence felt throughout the gig and a big whole-hearted thanks to all of you who came out on a wet Tuesday evening to support the show. Kudos.
Night & Day, Manchester 24/09/2014
Can I just start off saying Manchester a big thank you to everyone who chatted to me after this show. So many of you made me feel so humble by telling me stories of your hardships and how the music of T? had got you through turbulent times. Some of your stories and words left me speechless but i’m so grateful that it all means something to you. As a kid it was the sound of Manchester bands Buzzcocks and Joy Division that got me through adolescence so i’m grateful that I can reciprocate in any way I can.
The Night & Day is a legendary gig in the Northern Quarter and that gets me pumped up before I play a note. I pick up the Hyperdub 10.3 compilation from Piccadilly Records over the road, do some shopping and then get ready for the show. Everyone seems to be smiling, it’s one of those kind of gigs and it makes me feel so well inside. Even though i’m sober the affection of the crowd and the low lighting make me feel spaced out. Hats off to the promoter Matthew for putting the show on and extra thanks for guarding our belongings as there was no lock on the dressing room door. I think the author Gwendoline Riley may have worked here once or maybe i’m imagining i read that somewhere but she’s another, more recent, Manchester influence on me. (“a bad excuse for daylight” comes from one of her novels).
At the end of the gig we have a wee bit of a panic when we find ourselves (along with some punters) locked out of the NCP car park. A few phone calls later we’re on our way, relieved to avoid expensive city-centre hotel rates.
Manchester, you are magic.
Bannermans, Edinburgh 25/09/2014
In the early days of T? we would end up here after gigs in the Venue and it was a place we enjoyed going so tonights gig is one to look forward to. A very raucous crowd, very loud, very sweaty and extremely passionate which is what it’s all about. Everything about the gig is in your face, it’s like being in a massive party with everyone determined to have fun. It’s been a while since T? was here so it was superb to fly the flag in this stunning city. At times the cheering, hollering, stomping and yelling was so much it drowned out not only my voice but my acoustic guitar. It was such a joy to play I can tell you.
Afterwards the entire audience seemed to move into the pub next to the stage so I was able to enjoy an amazing evening chatting to people. A big shout to my pal Chris Nangle who I went to school with and a band mate in The Likwidatorz, an early punk band we had. It was lovely to see him and catch up over some Edinburgh Gold beer.
A big thanks to Christian at Bannermans for looking out for us and also to all the staff who were so helpful and kind. If you’re visiting Edinburgh make sure you pay this pub a visit. As for the fans, you mad mad people, thank you for such an unforgettable evening and all your wonderful hospitality. Can’t wait to get back with T?
The Mooring, Aberdeen 26/09/2014
Up to Aberdeen on a Friday to a pub called Moorings. All very laid back during the day and to an extent very laid back in the evening. Strangely, more people bought tickets on the door than in advance (it’s usually the other way round) but i’m not complaining. The audience was by far the quietest of the entire tour and at times I was wondering if there was another musician called Andy Cairns and people had bought tickets by mistake. Three quarters of the way through the show things began to liven up and by the end of the gig it was fantastic. Afterwards chatting to people it was striking how many were from outside Aberdeen. Folks had travelled from Easter Europe, Germany, Netherlands, Inverness and Dublin to attend the gig, I’m always knocked out that people do this and to you all, i’m very grateful indeed. For once I managed to see a bit of Aberdeen during the day which was a bonus. After the gig we had to walk through flooded toilets to get to the dressing room which was, forgive the pun, a bit pish. Anyway, last night of the tour and a long drive home.
A big thank you to everyone who came along to all these acoustic shows. I love doing them as it gives me a chance to chat with some of the more hard-core T? fans that we never normally see. Your kind words have really touched and inspired me and all your encouragement has fed me extra energy. I couldn’t do this without your amazing support.
Thanks also to Stevie Firth for the extra guitar and the company and to Michael and Neil for being so understanding (really looking forward to getting T? back out there chaps). Thanks also to Kris, Jonah, Gerry, Susan and Paul for all your help with the planning.
See you all again very soon,