Tour 2018 - Manchester (Day 1) / by Mark Messerly


All right, time to start this trifle properly. By request the daily reviews of snacks unavailable in the States will be continued, but will be by necessity not confined only to the salty. Also, Britishisms (or whatever geographical ism is pertinent) will continue as long as they fall easily into my lap with a minimum of effort.

Snack of the Day:(SoTD)
Rockys: There was an unopened bag of fun-size* candy bars called Rockys in the van. Chuck and I eagerly opened, and with the lie on the wrapper creating expectations of a Clark bar type experience, we bit into what at best guess was the damp leavings from a nest of termites bathed in the not quite chocolate elegance of carob. They are so bad neither of us finished the usually disappointingly portioned fun-size. After two full days in the van only one has been eaten. By me, with the level of regret usually associated with sleeping with your ex and having your children walk in.

Britishism: Gone for an Eartha - From Shaun. I was talking about a friend of mine who did the monitors for Barry White and Eartha Kitt among others. Shaun then taught us this lovely phrase. It’s a fine example of rhyming slang of which the British are the champions. It goes like this: Where’s Joe? He’s gone for a shit. Change shit to to the rhyming Kitt. Kitt to Eartha. Then end up with, “Gone for an Eartha.”

We slept the sleep of which corpses do not dare dream, and then went off to the BBC to record a session for Marc Riley’s show, and a song for Gideon Coe’s program as well. Typically the Marc Riley sessions are done live, but since he was at a festival we did a pre-tape. And thank all the Gods for that. We’ve played exactly once in the last year and our first performance of the tour is to be broadcast to the nation? Fuck. Thankfully, because it was a recording session we could start over when we fucked up. We started over a lot. Kath, who was tasked to mind us, is an angel and made frequent encouraging noises, fetched tea, and generally made us feel like we belonged there. It’s such an honor to get to dip our toes in this grand tradition. But it was also our second time so there was less open mouth gee willikers mom - look where we are going on. It’s a funny feeling; less rush of the new but more appreciative of the gifts of such rare experiences. Needless to say I went for a walk. I fucked up though. I hadn’t figured out how to use my phone in this international setting so my text to the band asking them to let me know when it was time to soundcheck went undelivered. I had been drawn siren-like to the World War Museum that is across a footbridge from the BBC and was gazing at dirigibles when the understandably put-out messages from the band reached me that they were starting. I felt like a shit heel but really enjoyed playing. Still, we felt rusty.

Went through miserable traffic to the same venue we played last time, the Castle Hotel. Postage stamp stage, ancient room and bar, beautifully British to its timbers. Had no time before soundcheck and about two hours after. I wanted to see Afflecks, the apparently hip indoor market all the internet was raving about. Shops seem to close much earlier than in the States and even though it was barely 6:00 it was shut down. This area, called the Northern Quarter, has a million cool record stores, vintage clothing shops etc. but none were open. There was a sign in front of Afflecks saying only people who had tickets to the play could enter, and when I looked at the smaller print saw the play was entitled “We Apologize For The Inconvenience - A Highly Improbable Play about Douglas Adams.”** For the tragic among you still unawares, Adams wrote " The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series amongst many others and is one of my heroes. He’s dead of course. Living heroes are too inconvenient, what with their still saying things and shaky later works. Neil Gaman is alive and renders the previous sentence moot. So far. Regardless, I saw Gaiman speak mere months ago in Cincinnati and he told the story of Adam's publisher becoming so frustrated with his ignoring of deadlines that he locked him into the suite of a hotel, sat on the other side of the door and wouldn’t let him out until he had finished the book. So in an instance of serendipity almost beyond the Heart of Gold’s*** capabilities this one act play takes place entirely in that very hotel suite right where Adams, as played by the wonderful Adam Gardiner, after having taken another three hour bath, spends the next 50 minutes railing against forced creativity, doubts about his talent, and resenting beloved characters. All interspersed with many amusing discursions and fanboy references. I would be remiss however not to mention the personified rubber duck who appears part way through as a kind of sparring partner, scold, and creative goad. It was just wonderful and the beauty of travel, particularly of the vaguely planned sort, once again made me giddy. I couldn’t have asked for a better happenstance and you know how I do love legitimate theater.

Back to the venue, which tiny size notwithstanding, we had sold out! I went upstairs to the green room to wait and enjoy the penises. A grouping of penises is somewhat unexpectedly referred to as a plentitude of penises. Although I would suggest a murder of penises would be more accurate. The walls are covered in band posters and the posters are covered in penises. Only one vagina though, reasonably accurately portrayed, with knowledge undoubtably gleaned from the internet and not actual experience. My favorite sub-genre was the penis nose. I’ll post the best example later. And then of course the one we coined Rodin’s the Penis. The opening band, Good Grief, posited that the original could be found in the Vatican.

The show and crowd were amazing. The room was Finnish sauna hot. Even the walls were sweating. Then they were bleeding and everyone’s eyes went black. And just as suddenly it went back to normal. Except of course for the pale boy in the back of the room who hadn’t been there before and stared unblinking at me for the rest of the night.

After the show there had been an old boy of the grizzled alcoholic variety lurking in the hallway. Joe, carrying something heavy bade him to make way and he took offense. He then stood on the sidewalk for the whole load-out cursing us at the top of his lungs with the most wonderfully diverse colloquial English phrases. Our favorite was when he called us a bunch of fucking knobs.

Then back to the hotel where we watched a 1980’s Top of the Pops and puzzled as to how Jagger and Bowie were ever forgiven “Dancing in the Streets.”

Tomorrow is York

*Fuck you size really. “Hello Oliver, here’s your fun-size dollop of gruel.” “Thank you sir - may I have another?” “ARE YOU NOT HAVING FUN?” “Oh yes sir, it’s just that the outmoded reliance on an economic system based upon profit over humanity has created such suffering that the boys and I are planning on smothering you in your sleep!”
**I told you to wait for it
*** I’m sorry - it’s an obvious and not clever reference, but indulge me will you? I’m quite excited.