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UK tour - Al's First Four Days

I meant to write a post every day on this first tour of UK in umpteen years but I've been so busy and tired that it hasn't happened. I flew out of JFK on Tuesday after a full day of work at the school. It was the longest day. I couldn't  wait to get out of there and was a little worried that I might be late but it was for nothing. I got to the airport in plenty of time and everything went off without a hitch.

The flight to Manchester was delayed slightly but only slightly. Still I waited in the airport for an hour and a half for Philip, our tour manager to pick me up. We then drove an hour and a half to Cilthero where Joe and Dennis had stayed the previous night. We had coffee and a sandwich and then set off for Middlesbrough.
Another couple hours and we were at the gig, the Marton hotel. It looked to be a very nice place at one time but like much of the surrounding area was looking a bit shabby. The hall was huge and I was a little worried if it wasn't a big turnout it might look bad. We did a sound check that went on for awhile but the drum kit that I got sounded quite good and was nearly exactly like the kit that I use back home.
We had a meal before the show and I had fried shrimp and "chips". The chips were excellent with a soft sweet center and not greasy. It was close to show time so I didn't dare eat too much.
The turnout for the show was not too large with the hall only a quarter full but there were still a good number and they were very enthusiastic, making a lot of noise and joining in on the singing, not really like your typical English audience. Maybe I've just played London too many times;-) After the show there was a long line of folks who bought stuff and had us sign even more stuff. I met some people who had mutual friends and once again I was reminded how small a world I live in. We had only brought a few dozen CDs and they sold out completely. People also bought the special Uk tour T-shirt and even some cowbells.
It was an early night because we had a long drive to Herford the next day and I as completely exhausted. We did an interview in the lounge and after an hour we went to our rooms and konked out.
We got up early and set out for the 5 hour drive towards London. I was excited to be going there because I knew Xavier Russell would be there and writing a review for Classic Rock magazine.  Also Tish and Snooky would be singing with us that night because they were in London and could take the train up to the show. We did a brief sound check and went to the hotel to check in. Bad news at the hotel. We had to pay extra for Internet and even though I was willing, the stupid thing would freeze before I could enter my information. I eventually gave up and went next door to the Carvery to get some dinner. I had vegetarian Wellington which was made out of nuts and mushrooms in a pastry shell. It was totally delicious but in my haste to eat quickly I burned the roof of my mouth. Bummer. I knew it would take some days to heal and hoped it would not affect my singing.
Show number two was also great in spite of some technical snafus with Joe's guitar rig. Tish and Snooky were awesome as always and there was quite a bit of friendly onstage banter and we goofed around too. Once again there was a line of people with stuff to sign and many lamented the fact that we were out of CDs. Joe and Dennis brought their own CDs and they sold like hotcakes. We went back to our hotel and I promptly went to sleep.
I woke up around 11:30 felling refreshed. It was too late for breakfast at the Carvery so we headed out on the motorway to get back up to Hull.  We stopped at a service area and had a good meal. There was free wifi so everybody went online and posted updates and checked their email. I texted Lesa and urged her to look in the storage for more CDs to send us.
On to the gig at Hessle where we met up with Chris who was going to take over for Philip who was going to Skegness to stage manage the festival there for the weekend.
The show was packed and the audience was sitting but we had them on their feet by the end. For our encore we had Peter sing I'm 18 and it came off great. It was a good night for me because I was finally feeling good physically and was able to pull off almost any riff I attempted.
We went back to Hull after the show to another Travel Lodge and sat in the cafe with David and Peter and their wives and had a beer. After a little time Dennis and I went up to our rooms to catch some sleep as we were going to try and get an early start to Mickleton the following morning. It was snowing hard after the show and already many roads in the UK had been closed and we were not sure  how the conditions would be the following day.
Unfortunately for me sleep was not to come easily. I started obsessing about the last time I had toured here with BOC and got myself thrown out of the band. I was thinking how frustrated I was at that time, how the whole band was frustrated and that frustration led us into some bad decisions. I just couldn't stop thinking about how I had let the band down and even worse,  how I had let the fans down. I tossed and turned for hours until I was finally able to tell my mind to shut up.
Fortunately the gig the next night at Mickleton was another great one. Mickleton is a little community built on a large hill and spilling into the valley below. The Town Hall is where the gig was and it is set up as sort of a blues club but really it's like a school auditorium. There is even a picture of a grammar school concert up in the office/dressing room. The hall was built in 1993 according to the plaque on the wall though. We got there early and while waiting for the sound man we went up to the Crown Tavern for some brilliant food. Everything was locally grown and it tasted a fresh and yummy. We were all starving because we hadn't any food after the show in Hessle and didn't find any food on the road to this community that is in quite an out of the way place.
Anyway all the people we met walking up to the restaurant asked who we were and when they found out we were the band they said they were coming to the show and were looking forward to it. As Joe said it's Saturday and there's nothing else to do.
Sound check was quick and painless. The drum riser was a bit small so I positioned the cymbals with a tilt and placed them farther away than usual and that was a little playing adjustment when we started the show. There was some computers with Internet upstairs so before the show we checked our email and made set lists for the Skegness show. We went back to the B&B and got our rooms and made friends with the house dogs, 2 English Springer Spaniels. The B&B was beautifully decorated in an old stone house (all the houses were stone in this area) with comfortable rooms and a fireplace in the living room. It was very homy and comfortable, not at all like the plastic travel lodges that we had been staying in.
We returned to the venue after a brief nap to find the hall full of people and a guy onstage singing TL's "Jailbreak" to a backing track. We played 2 sets. The first one seemed a bit sedate even though we had David Geddes friend, Peter (who sings in a Scottish AC tribute band Gallius Cooper), sing 2 Alice Cooper songs. The set was heavily loaded with AC tunes although we did play a smashing version of BOC's Astronomy. 
The second set started with "Ain't Got You" and Joe came out of the crowd playing his lead for the intro. We played mostly the hits and had Peter came up again to sing the second verse and the rest of Schools Out which finally got the crowd on their feet. When we came back for an encore we had Chris Allen, our fill-in road manager, who also sings lead with the current touring version of the Troggs, sing Wild Thing. It was over the top and the audience absolutely loved it.
We took pictures with fans, signed stuff and sold stuff and when most of the people left we had some English pizza, walked back to our B&B and went straight off to dreamland.

 

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