Friday 5th March 2010

Almost exactly two years ago this day, I felt the icy cold sensation of my ear canals being injected with ‘Smurf-wax’, a mildly comical process which must be endured if one is to receive the latest in in-ear monitoring technology. Since we switched ‘direct-inject monitoring’, we’ve never looked back and I think that if there is one single modern element to touring that has enhanced the experience it is just that. This leaves me wondering if there have been any notable advances in the science since we last geared up for the road..probably not. A quick click on the KTGC tour diary entry for rehearsals reveals that the substance was red and not blue as I thought I recalled. One of the nicest things about writing an online diary is that over time it becomes quite a useful reference resource. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it to remind myself of a specific day on the tour, a restaurant of particular note or a venue to be avoided in the future. (thankfully, not many of those)

The Kill to get Crimson tour of 2008 was the most enjoyable to date and unusual in that by the end of it, there was a very good chance we’d be coming out on the road again within 2 years, Mark was keen to start recording Get Lucky as soon as we’d finished the tour. The album has come and gone now but we’re all very excited about the prospect of playing the new tunes.

The moment is nearly upon us and today I find myself here at my home studio, readying the keyboard rig for the task at hand. All the old faithful multi’s (banks of programmed samples) appear on the screen of the trusty Akai S6000. Some of those samples hark back to the days of the Synclavier and Emulator2.. gads! I notice some patches I made for the last tour but were never used as we didn’t play those songs..maybe this time. Until the band actually gets together, we won’t know what the exact set-list will be and therefore what equipment will end up traveling with us so what generally happens is that we set everything up and take it from there. Consequently, the rehearsal room during week 1 is an Aladdin’s’ cave of cool kit, a gear-head’s oasis, an instrument lover’s dream.

Mark furnished me with a the list of songs he wants the try a few weeks back and I dutifully prepared and sent out CD’s (a mixture of live stuff from the last tour and studio recordings) to the rest of the band so they can learn and revise. Ah, the band, there are a couple of changes this time, we have onboard two new members for the US leg of the tour. I’m really looking forward to working with Tim O’Brien and Michael McGoldrick who will be taking the place of John McCusker as John and his fiancee Heidi are expecting a baby in a couple of weeks. John will then rejoin the line-up for the European leg which starts in Dublin on May 19th.

Incidentally, John played some gorgeous fiddle, cittern and whistle on my new album which has gone to press and will be out on the 26th March. You can pre-order next week.

Back to the programming….