Tip-top bearings..

Is it really ‘always’ raining in Manchester. It certainly seems that way. When we arrived in the early hours this morning it was a light drizzle and as I write this (midday) it’s a moderated drizzle. In fact looking at the UK weather radar, it appears not to be raining anywhere else today..no seriously, there is an area of precipitation which arrived in from the West this morning and has just settled itself over Greater Manchester. Astonishing. I did warn you about my mind-numbingly boring meteorological persuasion.

A lovely night’s sleep in a sumptuous Lowry hotel bed and I’m up for a spot of yoga this morning, I ignore that thought and order breakfast, Special K, Orange Juice and toast and set to work on the laptop. Determined to find a new Briggs and Riley suitcase (mine is shot, not a bad innings though circa 1996) It has to be Briggs and Riley as they have a lifetime guarantee you know. For real. I mean if it breaks, in any way shape or form, at any time in its life, you can get it repaired free of charge. I know cos I’ve done it…twice. They rock…and roll (the bearings are tip-top)

After all that, feeling quite pleased with myself, I stick the kettle on and tuck in to the toast reserved from the breakfast order. Then a spot of yoga for real. I’ve actually been recovering from an attack from a particularly crap virus (shingles) since just before rehearsals but am just about out of the woods now. Feels good to stretch properly.

After checking out of the hotel, the band assembles on the bus outside the Lowry for the short 500yard journey to the MEN. Dirk glides the bus into the tight parking area with consummate ease. We ‘debus’ and head for the dressing room area to find a space designated for us the size of a small tennis court. As usual, Bobs band are up on stage sound-checking and we mysteriously find ourselves gravitating to catering for the 5:30pm soup-fest. Carrot and Ginger. Yum.

This is Jonathan Lewis and Glenn Saggers preparing for the changeover. Jon has taken his dad’s place as monitor engineer and is doing a fabulous job. One of the toughest gigs on any tour.

I wandered off to the stage area to find our crew boys manning their posts in preparation for the stage changeover which by now has become almost routine. Basically, all our gear is set up behind the curtain at the rear of the stage, on risers which can be rolled into position. I still don’t quite know how it’s done as I haven’t actually witnessed it yet (lure of catering) but apparently it’s rather like docking a supertanker only a million times faster. When I returned 30 minutes later along with the rest of our merry band, it’s all set up, line checked and ready to go. We had another VERY brief soundcheck, ran a bit of Brothers in Arms on which Mark has decided to switch back to the ’58 Les Paul in original tuning. On previous shows on this tour he has been using his new Blue Les Paul reissue tuned up a half step so he could play in Am, the song is in Abm.

Mr. Saggers

Ian ‘Ianto’ Thomas. Pic taken by Pete M.

Back into the dressing room, a quick check of the setlist which had been mis-printed but neither Mark or myself spotted that we were perilously close to playing Sailing to Philadelphia twice in the set. Eagle-eyed Pete spotted the error.

A fabulous show, great crowd, all too short and we were off on the bus again bound for Nottingham. Pete once again had been shopping and prepared a selection of snacks to accompany a few bottles of delightful Chianti Classico.

What’s not to love about this?

BTW, if you’ve posted on the forum or emailed me, thanks for all the feedback re the shows, it’s great to hear it all…both pos and neg. Keep it coming.