Thanks ever so much to the people who came out to the first leg (proper) of the tour. Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham were all superb shows, each in their own special way.
Manchester being in a bar, on a Saturday, in the capital of the North, led to about as much drinking as the start of that sentence suggested - not so much by me, but to the bunch of friends and fans who cheered us on. It was great to catch up with friends I'd made on the May tour with Frank and Franz as well as some I've known for a while.
The good folk of The Ruckus passed on a big kiss via Ian and Ant of Moon and Back (who promoted the show), which for a while was the hottest guy-on-guy action to be posted to YouTube before I requested it be taken down for fear of affecting our nation's fiercest heterosexuals. We all ended up in a pop-punk club until 3am, complete with faux-crowdsurfing to Toto's 'Hold The Line', before heading back to the lounge of the McNeil family where I unsuccessfully attempted to get some sleep.
We made it to Kidderminster the next day to find it was on fire, but instead of a wicker man, it was instead a furniture store. Turnout was mildly affected but it was an afternoon show so we were not expecting The Swan to have been at capacity anyway. Generous locals helped us make a profit for the weekend to the tune of £1.24, which Barry instantly blew on a timeshare in Basingstoke.
A special mention for Barry/Oxygen Thief - before driving us up to Manchester he played a show just outside London on Thursday night, then a house party on Friday. Both involved drinking/dancing, then Saturday involved driving/drinking/dancing/not much sleep, and Sunday involved driving a lot and trying to recover. I'd be much, much worse off without him, so seek out his debut album Destroy It Yourself post-haste, lest the hounds be released upon you.
Oh, and the ensuing working week? Barry's busiest of the year, he being employed by a University and that week being Fresher's week. Quite how he makes the show on Friday in Bristol i'm not quite sure, but he beats me and Jay Newton (with Sid of Club Velocity as our minder) to the Louisiana and is digging into food by the time we roll up. The Louisiana really treat us well, so it's a shame when my guitar's input gives out midway through 'We Are No Longer 25'. Which is the second song. Again, I have to use Barry's but events add up and I never hit my stride. It's a good show, but I think we can all tell it lacks the electricity of the same show back in January.
I try in vain to fix my guitar once we arrive at Birmingham's Bright House, and it dawns on me that Friday's failure means that my guitar has broken in and around all four of the tours I have undertaken - from a busted battery pack in 2009, to a broken input(!) at the start of 2011, to a perilous unglued bridge during the Turner tour, and now this. Still, well prepared for having to use Sir Thief's guitar this time around, I get things hooked up and we have a great time. Oxygen Thief also slays it, as do Quiet Quiet Band and Neil Morris, who is finally getting his record label Front Room Records into gear.
Then, it's back to Addis's for late night chats. Barry excuses himself due to brainexhaustion (which turns out, in the end, to be real conventional illness) and we sleep top to toe in neighbouring single beds crammed into a spare room like either impoverished little boys or very unhappy spouses.
Still, the sleep is great, and there's even time to squeeze in a trip to Birmingham's PMT to find me a new guitar.. a mission which we fail at. It turns out I'm a pretty picky consumer. By now I've booked my broken beast in with Mick Johnson for Monday, who will turn out to be as jovially frank as ever. He has until October 29th and my show at the Borderline to get it fixed, hopefully once and for all. Two inputs in a year is poor form. I'll pick it up when I return from the break in proceedings which will see me go Stateside tomorrow.
Oh, and a special mention goes to the Pontings, Els and Jon, who give up their afternoon on the Sunday to put us on for a house show where we meet some new friends and have a chat. Thanks for letting us occupy your Sunday, folks!