As the tour nears its end, camaraderie among the Dead Men is excellent, as are the shows.
Thursday 20th October-Birmingham
Spent the day in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Arrived at venue around 4:30 p.m. My friend Keith Birtschin who is a coach with Birmingham City Football Club came over to have a chat and before you know it we are back onstage again.
Quite a show tonight. We got into some banter about Eric Clapton which proved to be the source of some good laughs. At one point Kirk Brandon and the Captain got into a short version of 'Crossroads.'
We finished the show with what has now become the traditional end of show lark. Each member is introduced to the audience by another member of the Dead Men only they have to be from any band other than the one they are known for. Tonight for example, Captain Sensible introduces "Slim Jim Phantom from Showaddywaddy," Kirk Brandon introduces "Captain Sensible from Mud," Slim Jim Phantom introduces "Mike Peters from Electric Light Orchestra" and I introduce "Kirk Brandon from the Nolan Sisters." You've got to be there, I suppose, but it changes from night-to-night and it's this sort of thing that keeps us going.
By the time the audience are on their way out of the venue, we are usually laughing in the dressing room over the night's events. I have to say that it is a very 'up' Dead Men Walking tour. Everyone is into the spirit of making the tour fun. You'd be surprised at how many moaning musicians there are out there.
After the show I drove home to Wales.
Friday 21st October-Liverpool
Liverpool Academy. Early show tonight as the venue has two shows to put on. One by ourselves and a late 'NME Riot Tour' with four or five up and coming new bands. We have to be finished by 10 p.m. on the dot so that the venue can close and reopen in half-an-hour for a totally new audience. It's tough on the crew as we are virtually thrown out after our show (the band aren't but the crew are).
Anyway, it's another rocking gig and for the encore we are joined on stage by Ian McNabb (solo artiste of repute and Icicle Works leader). Ian joins us for the encore and he knows all the songs without the need for rehearsal. Like all guest artistes he loves singing the line in the Beastie Boys 'Fight for Your Right' about the "porno mag." Boys will be boys I suppose...
Ian is a fantastic musician and fits into the Dead Men Walking with ease. In fact, we tried to get him along for this whole tour but with two albums to promote he had a massive workload of his own to undertake. Hopefully, we can make it work next time. We hung out in the dressing room for a while after the show, before Ian took the troops for a night out on the tiles in his native Liverpool. By midnight, I was in the car bombing it through the Mersey Tunnel.
Saturday 22nd October-Old Trafford & Manchester
Today, all four Dead men are going to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United Football Club. We are to be guests of honour at half time during the game between Man Utd and Tottenham Hotspur. We meet up outside the ground at 2 o'clock and took our seats for the match. At half time we are lead out onto the pitch. The Dead Men's version of 'Sixty Eight Guns' is blasting out all over the stadium speaker system. We are all introduced to the 65,000 plus crowd and our job is to pull a winner for the Cash Dash Draw. We have our pictures taken at the side of the pitch and there is much hilarity as only myself and Slim Jim are true Utd fans (Kirk being Chelsea and Captain Crystal Palace). The game finishes at 1-1 and we catch a train back into the city.
Meet up with Liam and Jules (who have been having a meeting planning events for the next Alarm album release) in the Temple of Convenience, a pub on Oxford Road which is in fact a converted former public convenience!
A packed out gig in Manchester tonight. Possibly the best of the tour so far. The Captain ends up surfing the audience from front to back during the encore. In the dressing room after the show we are visited by Manchester United players and lots of friends. A good night was had by all.
Sunday 23rd October-Off
Would you believe it? That very rare thing happened today. I had a day off!
Monday 24th October-Bristol
Caught the train down to Bristol. I arrived in time for the show at the Academy despite torrential rain that meant that my train was delayed for two hours. Tonight we played to the biggest crowd a Dead Men show in Bristol has ever pulled. Things are definitely on the up.
In the dressing room before the show I started to try and write some new songs for use as b-sides for the Alarm singles due out next year. I'd had an idea for a lyric on the train that implied a certain kind of melody. I like writing at this point of the day. There is often a heady combination of nerves and adrenalin flowing through your body and I find it is a good time to write.
Got the beginnings of a great riff and I'm sure I will be able to get it finished over the next few days. I record the piece into my laptop via a piece of software that I have for recording simple ideas. I love the challenge of writing b-sides, sometimes it can lead to some of the best songs. It's an Alarm tradition that often the b-sides are better than the a-sides!!!
Another excellent show tonight. I played 'High on the Hill' from my solo album 'Rise' and it came off well with the venues acoustics and high ceilings adding to the sound. Had to rework a couple of the songs as my harmonicas gave out on me, so Kirk had to improvise a couple of 'solos' on the spot. He did a good job too.
Captain told a story about his former life working in the railway offices and how he had copied his pipe smoking boss only to be given the sack (The boss didn't take too kindly to the 'new boy' smoking a pipe in the same office as him). For the rest of the set the word 'pipe' started to appear in all of the songs. The best one came in 'Fight for Your Right' with Captain singing the line "That hypocrite smokes two 'pipes' a day." Slim Jim was laughing so hard he could hardly keep up!
Tuesday 25th October-Swindon
Swindon Arts Centre today. The gig is completely sold out. Spent the afternoon at the gig writing songs on the guitar (I'm determined to make the next set of Alarm b-sides the best ever!).
As we were all introduced to the stage one-by-one, Captain surprised us all by coming out with the huge plate of sandwiches that had been in the dressing room. Captain walked straight off the stage, down the aisle and began serving sandwiches to a rather bemused audience. By the end of the show he was serving up the beers from the dressing room as well.
It was a fantastic night all round. The humour was top notch and the music didn't sound bad either! In fact, I think the audience love to hear the inter-song banter as much as the songs themselves. At one point in the show (before 'Rumble in Brighton'), Slim Jim asks "Are You ready Goth?" (a reference to Kirk's musical background). "Sure thing Teddy Boy" replies Kirk Brandon. Next it's me, Slim Jim asking "Are you ready Mod?" I don't say anything I just peel of the first two bars of the Who's 'I Can't Explain.' "Are you ready punk?" Slim Jim asks the Captain, who replies with a growl and a flash of the universally accepted two fingered V sign. The fans are in stitches... "This ones on behalf of myself and the Rockabillies" shouts Jim and counts off the intro to the next song. It's rock and roll theatre and the audience is right there with us.
Wednesday 26th October-Norwich Waterfront
The drive to Norwich Waterfront wasn't as bad as we thought it might be. Liam Feekery and I mapped out the days after the DMW tour for the Alarm b-side sessions and video shoots.
Nowadays with the music magazines being mainly monthly publications (rather than weekly like they used to be back in the day), albums have to be submitted for review at least three months ahead of their release dates. In the '80s, I remember finishing albums and a month later it was out and in the shops. In fact, we used to have to record the singles first, so that they could come out while we were still finishing the rest of the record. How times have changed.
We have just approved the album sleeve (front cover) and tracklisting with EMI so now the album is ready to be sent out to journalists etc. It's becoming increasingly hard to keep an album under wraps until release now because of these long lead times. Most albums nowadays find their way into the public domain almost within days of the first promo album being sent out. I'm sure some intrepid fan will find a copy of ours and post it onto the Internet any day now! Still, as the songs say, "This is life, better get used to it."
One of the things we are planning for this album is to shoot a video for every single track which should be interesting. Most albums these days feature a 'making of' documentary on DVD but we thought we would go one step further. I think more and more albums will become 'visual' in the future.
At the soundcheck, I carried on working on the new songs and met up with some old friends before the show. What a great gig it was tonight. Great crowd as well. Before 'Rumble' Jim did his "Are you ready?" routine only this time I answered him with a couple of bars of 'My Generation,' Kirk steamed in with "People try to put us down" and all of a sudden we are doing an impromptu version of the song. What a diversion. Jim even threw in the 'Won't Get Fooled Again' ending for good measure. Memories of early Alarm gigs flashed through my mind.
Captain was up to his usual antics on the encore running off the far side of the stage and back again teasing the audience. After the show we bagged a hundred miles and spent the night in a hotel near London. Portsmouth tomorrow.
Read Mike's previous entry.