Criss-crossing the Capital, west to east, north to south and back again by road and rail, clocking up the miles on this, our longest tour to date. We leave our various homes on Sunday March 9th in beautiful spring sunshine, a welcome mini-heatwave after months of rain.
It’s a short hop up the M1 to the city of St Albans in southern Hertfordshire. Originally the Roman city of Verulamium, it was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north.
Tonight we’re playing at the Alban Arena, a theatre and music venue which has been the centre of culture in the city since the 1970s.
It’s always a thrill to arrive at these venues, check out the dressing room and backstage, then wander out to the auditorium. Some are stunning, others less so, but all have their charm, their history.
We usually arrive around 4pm, by which time the road crew are set up and ready to rock. Mike and his mechanics soundcheck from 5 till 6, then it’s our turn. By now the sound boys have it down and after a couple of songs we’re heading back to the dressing room for a bite to eat and a glass of wine before kick-off…. by 9pm we’re usually back on the road home. As Bison once lamented, “You guys are halfway up the motorway by the time I’ve turned their amps on!”
Monday afternoon finds Sadie, Simon and I pulling out of Waterloo East, rolling through the Kent countryside to Royal Tunbridge Wells, a large town and Borough about 40 miles south-east of central London, situated at the northern edge of the High Weald.
The town came into being as a spa in Georgian times and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Beau Nash when the Pantiles and its chalybeate spring attracted visitors who wished to take the waters. Though its popularity waned with the advent of sea bathing, the town remains popular and derives some 30% of its income from the tourist industry.
We welcome our American ‘pledgers’, Bre and Whitney, who join us for dinner at the Mount Edgcumbe pub - a fantastically quirky place with bird boxes, restored furniture, lanterns, and a cave where you can chill out before dinner. It’s also home to Ian’s daughter Kirsty (& partner also called Ian) and delightful grandson Josh. Kirsty is a wonderful photographer and will no doubt be adding to her impressive collection of band shots at tonight’s show.
The Assembly Hall Theatre opened in May 1939. During WWII it was used for troop dances, film shows and events to raise money for the war effort. Refurbished in 2001, the theatre attracts audiences of over 150,000 a year. It’s a sell-out again for tonight and it’s been a real privilege for us to perform to packed houses….
… it’s not over yet, but only four dates left. Catch us if you can!