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Archive for November, 2007

Harrogate

Sorry for the slack in posts but we haven’t been getting the best internet hookups over the last few days. Llandudno and Halifax will be up shortly AND I will have a new batch of photos, including more crowd shots, up in the next couple of days as well!! Here’s the Harrogate blog… 

 

 

Our three days in Harrogate were pleasant. Not much to do so not much trouble to find… well not TOO much trouble. I’ll get to that later…

The town itself was like all the rest. Old, but in its own beautiful way and chalk full of nice shops, pubs and eateries. There was an old Tea House that was constantly packed and a barbershop that looked straight out of the 19th century yet was immaculately pristine inside. From what I had heard from many of the crew, the town is highly regarded as a retirement community, and considering the style of clothing I saw in all the stores, I see no reason that this wouldn’t be true, though there were a large amount of young people walking the streets as well.

I’ve started to notice something about the architecture here that certainly differs from home, but that I like a lot. Its very simple actually… There is rarely a perfect corner on any building. Shit, that may not be clear enough to understand. Ummmm, at home, a street corner is usually 90 degrees and the building always follows that angle. Here, mainly because of all the round-a-bouts, the corners are rounded (like a right turn lane) and, in turn, so are many of the buildings. In fact, many of the streets don’t follow a straight path at all, instead carving huge bends and, again, the frontage of the buildings follow. This amazes me for two reasons. A) is simply because it makes everything look way less rigid and B) because these buildings were built so long ago I would assume a perfectly rounded front would be far more difficult to achieve with the technology of the times. So why is everything put together so boringly now?! Discuss and submit…

In what I regarded as the centre of town was the Royal Baths. Supposedly the land there is rich in all of the minerals necessary to create a pleasurable bathing environment. It still fully operates, except for now it has been split into several different enterprises, all offering pretty much the same services, yet mildly different.

 

The venue may have been the newest building in the whole town. A huge international centre with many halls (similar to Arrow Hall in Mississauga), though much nicer from the outside. Our dressing room was huge and contained all the necessary amenities, but suffered from one HUGE flaw. There was a stench coming from the showers that could be noticed meters away and grew more concentrated as you got closer. It smelt like mold. I assume because the door to the showers is always closed, the bacteria created from all of the moisture eventually adds up and this horrific scent is the end result. Needless to say, no one used the showers and any trip to the bathroom was made as efficiently as possible.

 

Night one was following a day off and aside from The Tom’s finding themselves in Leeds by the end of the night, not too much went down. Night number 2 was following a steady performance and the night ran deep, mainly due to the help of our new found friends and fans. You see the venue happened to be attached to our hotel and because of this proximity bonus, many of the Quo audience were stationed there as well. This made for some kinda night. We shut the bar down at a little after 3am and somehow found our way back to the room. Quo’s fans know how to spend a Saturday night in a hotel bar… this I know.

 

Last night, number three in Harrogate( show night 2 for those keeping score), followed much of the same path. A solid show and a supportive response, except substitute the hotel party with fans, with the bus party with crew. I wake up pleasantly with the sounds of gulls filling the air. Water must be close….

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Rolled into Woodstock early in the morning and checked into our coolest hotel room of the tour so far. I love how everything is always followed by “so far”. The surprises keep coming so its safer that way. Anyways, our room was more like a flat. It walked out right into the street and we had this huge window in the front. Felt a lot like the window I used to peek out of at my grandma’s when I was small. Nothing about physically was the same but the vibe felt exact. There were also two rooms and the one had a patio walkout positioned beautifully under a church tower. Needless to say, it was totally brilliant and another place where everywhere you looked reaked of postcard possibilities. While eating in a pub later in the day, the waitress seemed completely impressed at the fact we were staying there. The envy of the locals is always good.

In North America, Woodstock is the place where the legendary peace, love and music festival went down in ’69. Over here it is the place where Winston Churchill was born and thousands flock here every year to get a look at his pad. You totally can’t miss it either. Blenheim Palace is retardedly huge! For 3 pounds, you can walk the grounds. The Duke of Marlboro lives there now and some locals told us you can see inside the palace if you get there before 8:30am. Needless to say I never got the chance…

So I settled into the room and then took a nap. The snakebites of the night before finally took their toll. Let me clarify with some background. I’ve already shared with you the fact that, over here, Stella is not held in a high regard. Well here’s another interesting tidbit of info. People here (at least on the tour) LOVE their Cider. At home anything that is not beer or hard liquor is generally looked at as being a ladies drink, but over here people drink whatever they like, without ridicule… well everything except Stella of course. So snakebites were introduced to us in Croydon by one of Pat’s buddies. It consists of half cider and half lager. Simple enough and sooooo deliscious!! Plus, one snakebite does the work of three or four beers easily and if that’s not fast enough, add a couple shots of vodka and voila… RATTLEsnake bites!!

I think the days off on the tour are hurting me more than the show days. The bus basically becomes a travelling party. We ride with 7 members of the crew and a day off for us is a day off for them too, thus the party begins as soon as we board and usually goes until we get to our next destination, continuing on until morning when we check into our new hotel. Good times are definitely had. They share crazy tales of the road with us, talk about home and family. This in turn helps the beverages go down easier and before you know it, its 7am and the bus fridge is empty.

Oxford is an old university. 1249 I believe. 1249 is a year I don’t even fathom. In school we maybe go back as far as the 18th century in our main studies and here is a school that’s hundreds of years older than that! Crazy. Being in its presence becomes almost surreal, knowing the shit its seen. It also put the dictionary into perspective. Always good to put a face to the name. I’m sure Oxford is a lot cooler than Webster, wherever that is…. ha. Ok, not that funny.

The venue itself reminded me a lot like The Opera House back in Toronto except a bit bigger and with seats. Our main concern venue to venue now is not its size, not our dressingroom specs, but whether its got seats or not. Seats make us work harder because we have to pull out all the stops to make the fans move. When you’re standing, moving just feels good but in a comfy seat, sleep is always an option. Sleeping fans for us however are not an option. It hasn’t happened yet thankfully…

The two nights in Oxford were great. We were warned that the crowds there tend to be more subdued, but on night number 2 we had the best walking on response so far. A couple of people yelling Bernadette’s name as she came out and a guy had made a sign asking if he could be her groupie! This makes a set go waaaaaayyyy smoother. Nothing better than a pumped up crowd before we even play a note. I do believe she even had a pair of boxers thrown at her!

Not much else to talk about. I spent most of both days touring around the city. We went up in the tower of St Mary’s church and the view from there was breathtaking. Almost as breathtaking as the walk up the narrow spiral stairs to get there. The Tom’s tried to go out on the one night and were turned down everywhere because they weren’t students so Oxford missed out there.

Alright, ‘The Weight’ is playing on The Last Waltz now, which means its time to get ready to go on. Another show about to go into the books.

Talk to you in Harrogate!

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Plymouth-ness

Awakening on the bus has now become routine. Since the bus now feels like home, imagine waking up everyday with a totally new scene outside of your window. This morning, like in Croydon, we were parked in behind the venue so my view consisted of mostly brick. Walking off of the bus though, we were perched high above Plymouth, providng the classic look of church steeples and row upon row of residential rooftops. In Canada, row upon row of rooftops looks perfectly cookie cut into the sky. Each one the same as the next like paper dolls or something. Here they’re more like snowflakes, each with their own colour and shape. I, for on, am a fan of variety so the view here is far more satisfying. Also, like many of the spots we’ve been, Plymouth has this WWII movie backdrop look to it, where at every corner you fear a German tank is going to pop out and open fire on you…

I’ve been fighting this damn cold for the last couple of days and its really starting to get on my nerves. You know those colds that creep up on you but never seem to just lay it on you? They’d rather half-ass fuck with you. Before you go to sleep, your throat feels a little scratchy and maybe you have a cough or two and then you wake up and your sinus’ hurt and you hack up a bunch of shit. Yet for the rest of the day, you generally feel ok… Well, on tour I hate it. Just give me the cold already, let me cope and move on. Instead I find myself holding back, trying to fight it off and thus missing out on everything else going on. Shitty deal…

So, because of this, my day in Plymouth was without much of note. I did take a quick stroll, but must have made a wrong turn because I found myself in the area of town that seemed to be forgotten. A lot of boarded up buildings similar to going far enough west on King Street in Toronto. I ended up doing my usual gawking at the churches which always entertains me. For someone who has virtually no belief at all in religion, I still marvel at churches. I think it stems mainly from the fact that they are basically built by strong belief. And moreover, a strong belief that I don’t share. In any town, home or here, the churches are the most amazing structures within them. Truly they are the focal point of everywhere we go. At home, the largest structures in any city are its churches, its political buildings and its banks. All things I tend to have some sort of grievance toward oddly enough. I don’t know what I think would be better. I guess Toronto’s two largest sights are the CN Tower and our ballpark, that I will still call The Skydome (it was purchased by Rogers and then renamed a couple of ears ago)…

The venue itself felt a touch more like home. A big gym with seats on the one side. Picture your highschool gym (well Streetsville’s at least), with stands on one side of the basketball court and the stage on the other. Now picture it like 100X bigger and you have Plymouth Pavilion…

The crowd was, once again, phenomenal. Buying into our sound really early on. Our set usually gets a similar response from everyone. The difference is usually the level of that response. We open with ‘Fading Fast’ into ‘Light Bright’. If they notice the connecting point of those two tracks, there is a small applause. Its still early and we’re already into the next track so they respect that. Next is ‘Waiting’ which picks it up and gets a slightly better cheer. Then we go with ‘Heartland’ into ‘Abused’ and this is where shit gets rollin. The crowd starts to get behind us during ‘Heartland’ and ‘Abused’ is a rocker (for us) and the crowd seems to appreciate our attempts to up the pace. ‘No Money’ comes next and its a crowd pleaser for sure. The catchiness of the chorus is easy to follow and though it may not be a Quo crowd’s style, they can’t help but bob their heads along with us. ‘Back Home’ is slower and after building the crowd up, I think its their chance to take a breath. I know they want the rock to keep going, but we need to gear down before ‘Did You Ever’ otherwise I think the pace change would be too dramatic. At some point in ‘Did You Ever’ though, I think they see what our intentions were. By the end of it, they are as on our side as they’ll ever be. The cheer as we wind it down gets me goin every night. ‘Did You Ever’ may have worked as the closer even, but the rules of rock clearly state that “No band shall ever close with a ballad”. Instead, we finish with ‘Another Way’. Its T2’s chance to shine and any Quo lover can’t help but get into all the lead’s he throws down.

Both Plymouth and Portsmouth really seemed totally down with what we are offering. Plymouth was also possibly our youngest audience. At least from what I witnessed. I think this is really cool for Quo. Its good to see the next generation is being taught well by their parents, though I think they don’t hold a candle to the energy put out by the fans who call the shows their 50th or 100th or 1000th!! A good night for sure.

As we waited for the bus to depart for Woodstock, an awesome moon was present in the sky and I located the Big Dipper as well. T2 and I have been scouting the sky everytime we take “breaks” and it was the first time we found a recognizable constellation. The only difference is that here it goes from up to down as opposed to side to side back home… For me to realize this, it must have been a great “break”…

Next stop, Woodstock (Oxford).

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Portsmouth.

So this is the English weather I heard all about. Basically since we got over here, the weather has been beautiful. If it rained at all, it hid for a while at least to give us a window to enjoy ourselves. Well not in Portsmouth. It basically rained from the moment we got there til the moment we left. Bummer. Especially with a day off…

Instead our day off was mostly spent in our hotel. The plus was that it was a Marriott so it was nice, mind you we were basically treated like the dirtballs we are by the staff. During the day we watched Scotland lose to Italy in football. I don’t know how England’ers feel about that, but I have to be sure when it comes to Italy, they were pulling for their brothers to the north. Must have been a heartbreaker, but I’m sure their fans were happy just to see them play so competitively… Dinner was Pizza Hut. I know, all the way to the UK to enjoy some Pizza Hut. Well it was good… even the second…

We tried to find a pub, following a discussion concerning the show Full House, where we debated which of the actress’ had turned out the best. Stephanie won I think, though there were strong arguments for DJ. I think Greg tried to suggest possibly Kimmy Gibler, though upon seeing current photos, she is certainly somewhere well below the Olson twins AND Dave Coulier. Stephanie won and OT proceeded to call her the hottest woman alive for the rest of the night…

The pub nearest the hotel was a write-off. Too fancy for us and so we literally walked in and out and opted instead for the hotel’s bar. After drink number one was where I first discovered the Marriott didn’t like the cut of our jib. I go back to the bar where I’m told that they can no longer take cash and I must charge the drink to my room. No problem. I tell her I’m in 701. She asks for the name and I tell her, and then she asks for our room key for proof. I don’t have it so she then asks for ID proving the name. I’m like, just let me pay and she wouldn’t… How would I guess the room number and the name? Forget it. We just went back to the room, where on the way up Greg was at the desk because they had charged him 30 pounds for a phonecall home?!?! 3o pounds??!? Thats like $60 cdn… The best part was he even used his phone card. Who would use their phone card on a call thats still gonna cost $60?! Better yet, who in their right mind would make ANY call that cost that much?! The next best part is they never let it go. We had to pay it… Hey Marriott, nice hotel… shitty service…

The rain really upset me on the show day. You see, months ago when I was looking up all the tour venues on the ‘net, Guildhall seemed the coolest looking from the outside. Upon arriving there, not only was it beyond what I expected, I could see there was so much else to see in the Univ. of Portsmouth area as well. Stupid rain… Instead Tom and I wondered the dark halls of the building, scaring the shit out of ourselves. At one point we were on the top floor where it was pitch black. Tom finds a lightswitch, turns it on, and the door directly in front of me reads “Coroner”!! There was also a U2 floor that we wondered in the hope that musical secrets would be passed onto us. First Quo takes us under their wing and then a U2 floor?!?! We’re way too blessed right now…

The show went so well. Maybe Bernadette had finally slowed her speech to where everyone could understand her, but this crowd seemed to be hanging on her every word and this seemed to have her acting the most comfortable we’d seen. Obviously a confident B makes for a great show, which it was. We walked off stage on a huge high. Hopefully we’ll carry it on with us into Plymouth!!

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Hello all! I hope everyone is enjoying the new pics we posted. I think it helps in giving our friends some what of an idea of what kind of life we are living. I must say it is a lot easier to show a picture than try to accuratley describe what we’re all going through. Currently it is 5:18 pm and we are in our dressing room just waiting for our soundcheck which should be any minute now. It should be our biggest show so far, somewhere around 3000 people can fit inside the hall. So far Neal and I have explored all over this building and are convinced it is haunted. Perhaps it’s just the low lighting, dreary weather and long abandoned halls. Or perhaps not, either way we are very excited tonight and can’t wait for another extravaganza!!!! 

Since we’ve last checked in we had a day of leisure at The Mariott in Portsmouth. So I’ve posted some pictures of the waterside and a picture of myself writting this blog.

Trying to keep you all in the moment 🙂

Bye for now,

Tom (O.T.)

  blogphoto3.jpgmarinawritting blog…….blogphoto4.jpg

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Finally Photos!!!

Ok, finally found some time to get this shit goin… Eventually I’ll move the shots to their perspective stories but for now I’ll leave them here… Without further adieu, we present B & The North’s Photo Update SPECTACULAR!!! Enjoy!

Purley…

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(L-R) The world’s biggest wishbone… Neal… and possibly the funniest photo I have ever seen. Greg, Bono… errr, I mean Neal & T2…

 First Stop: Southend…

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(L-R/ Top-Bottom) Packing the van… Cliff’s Pavilion… Dressing Room Door… Quo Backline… Our Hotel… T2 chillin… The view of The River Thames from our hotel window… The world’s longest pleasure pier and 2007 Pier of the Year!… A picturesque Southend sunset…

Second Stop: Ipswich…

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(L-R/Top-Bottom) Neal checkin the news… some shopping in town… The Regent… The stage… Neal takin it all in… Greg and his usual pre-show crossword… Neal and his little green friend… Tom pre-ing it up… B putting her foot down… B and guitar… Neal and Tom… Neal… Neal and The Momager… Back to the hotel… Greg shooting pool before a night on the town… Sharing a fishbowl… Tom proclaims his love for Ipswich and fishbowls of alcohol…

The Bus (At midnight it turns back into a Pumpkin)…

There’s only a couple but I know everyone back home’s been askin…

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Cambridge…

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(L-R/Top-Bottom) The view up Downing Street from the Crown Plaza… Campus archway… Tom in evolutionary order… A slice of home courtesy of the Earth Sciences building… Preppin for the show backstage… The crowd*… More live shots…

* Sorry but the other crowd shots are on a camera we can’t upload yet… hang tight Croydon!!

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Straight Outta Croydon!!

Currently I’m a bit drunk and on the way to Portsmouth… Actually, by the end of this paragraph we’ll be there… Departed Croydon at like 2am and made the trek. That’s the way it works when going between cities. We finish the show, load it all up and leave. Even if there’s an off day in between like there is tomorrow (well today now). We finish our meet and greet at around 11:15 and then find a pub if one’s available or head back to the bus for drinks and a movie (Gangs of New York tonite), while the crew does all the dirty work… Simply, the crew are beasts. I’m happy for them when we’re in a locale for two shows. Set up on day one, take down on day two. Otherwise they are up before dawn, setting shit up and then burning the candle at both ends, finishing up takedown usually after 2am -like tonite- and then staying up with me, drinking until 4 until we get to the hotel. We all had to check in immediately because there’s no place for the buses to park here. I knew all this before we left so, for myself, sleeping was not an option. The bus is often inconvenienced by lack of available parking. Oh, and if I haven’t mentioned before, our bus drivers are insane and pull off feats I would fear attempting in a small car…

So Croydon. Croydon was another sit-down venue, but there’s more. You can only drink in the reception area and once the show starts, the doors are closed. Needless to say there were a few empty seats on both nights. I hardly blame anyone though. If it was a choice between getting a good buzz on for Quo OR taking a sober chance on the unknown opening act, I think the decision would be clear. Both nights were great shows either way. I honestly thought the first night was tighter but the second night was the sharper performance. This is always debated within the band of course but it seemed that way to me. But, judging by the response at the meet and greet, the fans decided that tonite may have been our best show yet. Sales wise it definitely was, roughly doubling our totals for any other show. Once again we were taught that we know absolutely nothing when it comes to judging the crowd responses over here… I can’t say I don’t appreciate the surprise though.

Maybe some of our comfort here was due to the location though. Croydon feels very much like many of the Canadian cities I’m familiar with. It has its older sections, but much of it is mid-twentieth century in age. Fairfield Hall, where we played, was built in the late 50s like my high-school, and the similarities reflected it. The smell, the tile, the colour of the carpeting and the pebbled rooftops. It all reeked of highschool for me… It also was more comfortable because being close to our homebase of Purley, many of B’s siblings were able to make the shows. Pat was hangin both nights, Nick came to the first show and Eileen and crew showed up tonite. B dedicated “No Money…” to her, in honor of the fact that without her, who knows if we would have survived the 11 days in London before the tour even started. The woman is a SAINT. Basically Croydon was as much of a hometown show as we can have over here… Other than that, the last couple of days have been sort of lazy. Spent the days being mallrats at Whitgift, bought some board games for the bus, threw down the rock and then left under a cloak of darkness… Straight Outta Croydon…

bsuktour-c.jpg Daniel and Steen from our crew

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