His wife and toddler son in tow, Mike resumes the Dead Men Walking tour in Scotland and Captain Sensible decides the gigs are 'clothing optional.'Friday 30th September-Kinloss, Scotland
Big drive up to Scotland today. The whole of the Peters family is on the road. Myself, Jules and little Dylan. It's a massive journey for a small boy of 17 months, at least eight hours, but if you're going to be born into a rock and roll family...
We set off at 10 a.m. and by 11 Dylan was asleep in the back. I kept my foot down and by the time he awoke, we were near Lockerbie so we decided to stop for some lunch and break up the journey. It was a beautiful afternoon as we drove through the Cairngorm mountains. I have to say Dylan was fantastic for the whole journey and we made it to the venue in Kinloss by 6 p.m., just in time for the soundcheck.
Tonight, we are joined by Bruce Watson from Big Country and so we have to get to grips with a couple of Big Country songs to add to the set. The venue is a huge barn and is exposed to the elements. Soundcheck over and we had our evening meal served in the dressing room. The dressing room also doubles up as an acoustic venue and has a small stage. it didn't take Dylan long to discover this and before you know it, he was dragging me over to the stage. He loved it; he was performing his new trick of speaking into the microphones that were still on the stage.
Took Jules and Dylan back to the hotel and then got myself ready for the gig. What an amazing night it turned out to be. We brought Bruce out after half a dozen songs and the place went mad for him (Bruce is a bit of a local hero...). The venue was packed and despite the cold from outdoors the gig was soon a heaving mass of sweaty bodies.
During the encore, the Captain dived into the audience complete with bass guitar. The crew managed to retrieve the bass while Captain danced with the fans, I picked it up and carried on playing. Bruce cracked out the riff of 'Pretty Vacant' (dedicated to Glen Matlock) and while all this was going on the Captain had managed to strip off and arrived back on the stage dressed only in his underwear. I was falling about laughing, so much so that I could hardly carry on playing. What a gig.
As soon as we came off stage we made a dash for my Jeep and I drove the band back to the hotel. Captain was still dressed in his near Birthday suit when we arrived at reception. Myself and Slim Jim headed for our rooms; Captain, Kirk and Bruce headed for the bar.
Saturday 1st October-Aberdeen
Set off early for the drive to Aberdeen. Took the scenic route around the coast. Checked into the hotel and took Dylan for a stroll through the city. Tonight we are playing at the Lemon Tree. Another great gig. The place was packed. Did a 'runner' with Jim back to the hotel after the show.
Sunday 2nd October-Glasgow
I took Dylan for a wander around the shops. I love going off with my son, just the two of us. Met up with Jules and went for a meal. Had a great laugh at the soundcheck. Dylan wouldn't leave me alone and kept dragging me by the hand towards the stage. He loves guitars and leads and all that stuff. Well, you should have seen his face when he spoke down the microphone. This time, the speakers were on and his little voice filled the room.
Took Dylan back to the hotel, gave him his milk and put him to bed in his cot for the night. Tonight's gig is absolutely 'sold out' so much so that we could have done two nights. Vince Davey of the road crew gave his customary introduction and the place erupted. We launched into 'New Rose' and it was frenzied form the off. I played 'One Step Closer To Home' tonight keeping up with my ambition of playing a different acoustic song each night of the tour.
Bruce Watson came up for an amazing rendition of Big Country's 'Chance'. With Bruce, the Dead Men walking is much more of an 'electric' band. Kirk and Bruce are taking it in turns to do the solos.
At the encores, chaos ensues once more. We bring up Derek Forbes of Simple Minds for a few numbers. God knows what he makes of us. He's only been onstage two minutes and we are romping through 'Fight for Your Right' when the Captain is in the audience again. This time, I give the bass to Derek and he accepts the invitation. We finish the night with 'Pretty Vacant'. At the end, the Captain is back on stage minus his clothes careening around the stage knocking us all over. There is a stage pile up of 'Dead Men' with a naked Captain at the bottom of the pile. I hope no one is taking photographs... no chance.
Monday 3rd October-Wales
Drove home to Wales early morning. Dylan went to stay with his grandparents for the evening. Jules and I had a beer at the local pub and finished off the night with a curry. Classic British fare... Slept and slept.
Tuesday 4th October-Billingham on Teeside
Caught the train up to the North East. We are playing at the Forum in Billingham on Teeside. Had an hour stop over in Manchester so met up with my friend Russ Taylor for a cup of tea at the Cornerhouse on Oxford Road. Russ is a lifelong friend and was responsible for helping turn 'Seventeen' into a 'Mod' band. 'Seventeen' was the apprenticeship prior to becoming the Alarm.
Russ and I used to travel to shows all over the country and I learnt a lot about London from Russ, who introduced me to the delights of Northern Soul. He got me a job working at the 100 club in Oxford Street London in 1979. I used to run the cloakroom at the 6T's Soul All Nighters. I often used to let a young Shane McGowan (the Pogues) sleep on the pile of coats when he had had to much to drink!
Arrived at soundcheck to find that there is no soundcheck as the rest of the guys have decided to leave it to the crew. I was eager to try out the song I have in mind for the 'Dead Men' recording session, so had a crack at it with Vince on drums and Craig playing bass. (Craig also plays in the Alarm with me these days, but loves being on the road so much that he wanted to come on this tour with us... even if it meant looking after the guitars.. Rock and roll is in his blood, believe me...) The song sounds good and I'm confident it will work really well.
Tonight is the first 'seated' show of the tour' and turns out to be a cracker. There is some fantastic banter coming form the stage and I wish I could remember all the stuff that we talk about on stage. The subjects range from the dawn of 'punk rock' to observations of the social climate in and around Britain. Some fan keeps jumping up on the stage and dancing. We let him have the microphone to sing a song but all of a sudden he develops stage fright.
That's the beauty of the Dead Men Walking, you never know what is going to happen from one show to the next.
Wednesday 5th October-Sheffield
Tonight we are playing at the Boardwalk. While the crew were setting up the gear, we all went for a meeting at a restaurant. The topics of discussion are to do with recording the Dead Men Walking.
I have called up Tim Speed who runs Elevator Studios in Liverpool with his brother Paul. They have agreed to make some time available for us next week. We all agree that it would be a good thing to record the band and just see what happens. Liam has informed us that Sunday's show in Whitehaven is off due to a problem at the venue so it gives us two days to record. We also discuss the possibility of creating a Dead Men Walking TV show. Tons of ideas are thrown around and we all agree to try and create some time to make a pilot show.
Back at the venue and Jim shows me the lyrics he has written as a tribute to the late Eddie Cochran. I grab a guitar and rattle off a tune. This is the magic of rock and roll. One minute we are having a cup of tea in the kitchen of the venue, Jim shows me a set of words and all of a sudden we have a fairly complete song. The lyrics are the road map and without trying to think about it too much, the chords just seem to arrive as I start to dream up a melody. What is the force that drives us to these conclusions? I never cease to be amazed at moments like these. Five minutes later and we are jamming the song on stage with the rest of the Dead Men. Captain comes up with a fantastic bass riff that I think will kick the song off great in the studio.
The Boardwalk is a great venue (most British rock bands have played here at some point in time), notable for the fact that the Clash played it's first ever public performance within these walls as support to the Sex Pistols back in 1976 (the venue was called the Black Swan in those days).
Before the show itself, we are joined in the dressing room by British soccer legend Chris Waddle. Chris regales us with stories of his playing days and is even sent a text from Paul 'Gazza' 'G8' Gascoine while we are chatting.
Another excellent gig ensues. The band is just getting better and better. Everyone is singing and joining in the fun. The songs are developing and Slim Jim Phantom and Kirk Brandon have been getting into some serious drum/guitar dueling during 'Runaway Boys.'
After the show Jim and I end up in the kitchen with Chris Waddle and continue the conversation we were having before the gig. Jim enlightens Chris with a fabulous story about Kevin Keegan (legendary Liverpool player and England manager). Alas, I can't impart the story to you dear readers as the rules of rock and roll decree that the secrets of the tour bus are sacrosanct.
Read Mike's previous entry.