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Archive for December, 2007

NEW VIDEO From Blackpool!!

Alright, they’re coming hot and heavy now. This one is us performing ‘Another Way’ at The Opera House in Blackpool. The last show before the 2 cancelled gigs… I’ve also included some of our fun in Blackpool as well!

Enjoy… more to come still!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iq4Pr51AI

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One Week Later…

So here I sit, one week after the final show. Christmas was fun, but fast. With 2008 on the immediate horizon, I have a lot to be excited about, and yet enough uncertainty to keep it from getting out of hand. Since I’m stoned, how about a little bit of reflection…

I miss my bunk on the bus. Last one on the left side; the one on the bottom. Hell, I miss the bus period. Our driver John and the other crew driver, Carl, who had just finished driving for The Killers and who told us stories like how the bus company was fined 500 pounds when Damien Rice washed a dish and spilled water onto MENA’s floor (when you use the sink on the bus, the water drains out onto the ground and at MENA there was a resulting fine). I miss the lounge where we played cards and argued over Boggle, the sandwiches that waited for us after the show and the fridge full of booze, even the Strongbow, but mostly I miss my bunk… oh and the crowes nest where I listened to Social D while everyone slept and thought crazy thoughts like I tend to when listening to Mike Ness.

I miss waking up to a new place everyday. “Is it raining or is it sunny?”, “Are we near the town?” I miss rolling out of bed at like 10:30, only to get breakfast and then usually go back to bed for another hour or so. Waking up when I’d normally be still shovelling horse shit back home was quite a perk. I miss seeing the diehard fans, all smiles every day even though they made the trip on their own and usually by car, while I slept away in my bus. They are the people who make sure Quo can’t retire even if they wanted to.

I miss trying to figure out the maze that every venue offered, only to be met with a new one the next day. I miss dealing with a new security guard’s personality and then the feeling of finding our dressing room and seeing what it had to offer. “Is it big?”, “Is there a couch?”, “Is there more than one?” (In MENA we had a whole area to ourselves. Like 5 rooms, pimp couches, a perfect card table and a huge bathroom with showers) I miss hoping it had internet so I could write these blogs. I miss finding catering and rolling the dice that there would be something my picky-ass would enjoy and somehow there always was. Mmmmm breakfast. My favorite meal of the day… THOUGH I must say I couldn’t wait to get back home to eat some Bobby’s. Best breakfast in the ‘Ville…

I miss kickin it until lunch on the bus, pickin what movie to watch and whether I wanted one that I could nap to or one that would keep me up. Actually, instead, I miss waking up and exploring said new town and thus avoiding the aforementioned movie decision. I miss knowing it was 2pm, aka lunchtime, because Greg always ate lunch at 2pm sharp. I miss eating lunch with Francis everyday and realizing how much he enjoyed having B on tour with him. I miss OT returning from his walk and showing me the 800 photos he took of everywhere we went. I miss exploring the venue after lunch to see the view from just about every section and then locking myself in the bathroom, up until soundcheck, while I went through all my harmonies and the random new shit you will hear very soon…

I miss deciding whether I would start drinking before or after soundcheck. This usually depended on how well I’d behaved the day before and usually resulted in accepting that “Since I’m even thinking about it, must mean I need (want) one.” I miss loading our gear onto the stage and realizing that, in arenas, we had far less room on it than in halls… Fuckin kabuki… I miss taking the piss out of The Danny’s, Steen and Lloyd as we set up,  while playing the same Em/D progression everyday, to be sure I still liked my guitar tone… Amazingly I always did. I then miss listening to T2’s which always needed tinkering (except on the last night!). I miss Francis’ being there to tell T2 his tone could be better and all the other lessons he shared with us during soundcheck. Fuck, I even miss B’s constant trilling. In actuality I should also clarify that most of the time it was The Danny’s, Steen and Lloyd taking the piss out of us, not the other way around…

I miss “choosing” what I wanted for dinner and being called Spiderman by Felix everyday. I only quoted “choosing” because, for my picky-ass, there was usually only one thing I would eat. If only I liked seafood… I miss listening to Greg customize his dinner order because he is even MORE picky than I, and I miss OT downing custard with the passion of a crack-head. While on the topic of food, I miss always having fruit salad available and that no matter how much I wished for it, Chicken Noodle was never the soup de jour…

I miss our pre-game. It always began with discovering what beer we’d been blessed with. Usually Carlsburg Export, Beck’s, Heineken, Wife Beater or Kronenburg. Set-time was 7:30 and OT wouldn’t drink until 7, T2 drank sometimes and sometimes not and I always liked to be on my third as we hit the stage. I miss watching DVDs to stoke ourselves. Most of the time it was ‘The Last Waltz’ but The Chili’s at Slane Castle got some reps in too… and Led Zeppelin. Either was always accompanied by T2 jammin along and the hilarity of OT, B and Greg fighting over cards. I miss OT always winning and the others seeking the consolation that it was good luck if they lost. I miss arguing over who had turned out the hottest between the cast members of ‘Full House’ and I miss everyone always in a hurry to get to the stage, only to wait there because T2’s watch was 2 minutes faster than Toot’s “official time” for the entire tour. I miss doing OT’s wrist stretches, worrying that the beer had made my hands too cold and our cheesy group hug that we did probably only because we figured we needed to do something together before hitting the stage. I miss Francis telling us that we’d watched too many movies everytime we did it (which was every night) and then I miss Francis hiding in the shadows somewhere so he could catch our first couple of numbers…

I miss rarely remembering much of any set. Though I do remember always being sort of bummed when we got to ‘Did You Ever…’ cause I knew another night was almost over. I miss B talking about shovelling shit and the part at the end of ‘Did You Ever…’ where I tried to excite the crowd, who always reacted better than I expected. I miss the end of our set, watching everyone battle for the best spot to see Quo and being greeted by Liz as we got back to our room. Always there to let us know how it went, but we already knew. I miss Greg telling us how Francis was behind the kabuki, messing with him while he drummed. I miss figuring out how to get to the concession without having to walk through the crowd and how we always somehow found the route as The Trews were playing on the house PA. I miss the discovery of whether we could bring bottles, had to use cups, or if booze was even allowed in the front area all together. I miss meeting the people who supported us and always forgetting my Sharpie…

I miss dinner. Our meals waiting patiently for us, just needing a short reheat. I miss hunting down the ketchup and all the random nonsense we talked as we ate it. Mostly to do with farting, clarting or what a male dog was called (seriously, what is the opposite of bitch?). I miss then deciding how to kill time before doing our meet and greet, at the end of the night. I miss catching a bit of Quo’s set as we packed our gear up, readying it to be loaded for the next show. Actually, I miss playing 2 shows in the same city because then we didn’t have to do shit with our gear. I miss being blown away every night by just how amazing Quo were, and by how their fans let them know this fact each and every show. I miss imagining it being the 70s and 80s, wondering how crazy this scene would have been then, and pondering what it must feel like to say that playing in Quo is all you know…

I miss my post show joint. The tiny little pinner we rolled after every show. Tiny only because the British treat pot like gold so getting ahold of a decent amount was tough and therefore reflected in the size of our rolls, which usually consisted of half weed and half hash because hash WAS easy to get lots of. I miss looking at how big the joint was and thinking at least its not 3/4’s tobacco like it would have been if someone else had rolled it. I miss watching T2 get anxious afterwards because we had to do another meet and greet. He would brush his teeth as if he was trying to scrub the filth off. I miss coming back to the dressing room and finding myself smack-dab in the middle of another card battle. It was either this, Greg doing a crossword or everyone watching the performance from that night and mentally noting what to do better the next. Gametape was the key to our steady improvement, hands down…

I miss dressing rooms where we had a speaker to listen to Quo’s set. Even better was when there was a speaker in the bathroom because there was nothing more strange than Quo following me into there. I miss tagging every dressing room with a B & The North sticker and saving our beers from being stolen when the crew came to take our cooler. I miss knowing that “Whatever You Want” meant the encore was coming, “In The Army Now” meant the encore had started, “Rockin’ All Over The World” meant grab my Sharpie, a beer and head back to concession AND “Good-bye Johnny” meant I was LATE…

I miss the everyday pattern of the post-show signing. The first people were the ones just trying to beat the rush, then came the people who would stare and recognize us, but were too affraid to say anything. They were followed by the one’s who would commend our efforts, saying it in close and quietly, almost as if they were scared someone else would hear. Then came the first people to buy an album, ask for an autograph, or start some sort of conversation. These were the people who got the ball rolling every night. Once others saw that we didn’t bite, it always got fun. I miss places like MENA where the security feared for our lives and couldn’t believe that we would just hang around in public. I DON’T miss the venues where the security were dickheads to kind people that just wanted a quick photo or to say hi. These same dickheads who would then ask B for a photo afterwards…

I miss watching the crew work miracles before heading back to the bus. The coolest performance at any show is watching how quickly it all gets packed away when its over. I miss getting back to the bus and hoping there was a ham and cheese sandwich still left. Chicken salad was always a solid plan B. Anything with horseradish, tomatoes, brown sauce or Branston pickels… not so much. Maybe some tuna if I was DESPERATE…

I miss waiting for the crew to finish their work so we could roll out and get the bus-party going. Sometimes it went all night, sometimes just a couple of hours, but it was always the best way to end a good day. I miss the nights when everyone checked out early and I was left with the entire bus to myself. The alone time I used to write blogs, make videos, or listen to music and reflect. Reflecting like I am this second. I miss figuring out how many days and shows were left to go, and then being bummed because it was never enough. Well shit, now there are none left and that realization constantly reminds me of what I miss, maybe the most…. Going to sleep, fully aware that tomorrow I was doing it all over again.

Thanks to everyone who read these blogs and enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them…

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NEW VIDEO From Llandudno!!

Alright, I’ve finally been finding some time to put some shit together. Here’s a new one I just did up from Llandudno, in Wales. Its us performing ‘Heartland’, but first you get to meet my new buddies Jay and Corby… Enjoy it!

 Oh and more to come!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_gBIUpKrgs    OR just visit our Myspace or Facebook Group pages.

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So I get back behind my computer following some Christmas action and it seems as though the blogs I wrote on the plane for the final dates are nowhere to be found. I could blame the computer or the early flight mixed with alcohol, but I will not… ok, yes I will. Anyways, instead I will give a quick rundown of the last week on tour…

Following Wembley, we headed back to Scotland and finally we’d see what that country was all about. We called it our Scottish Mini-Tour. Four days and three shows in the birthplace of golf… and Scotch I suppose. First stop was Glasgow. Once again the show was situated away from any exciting civilization, so I pretty much kept to the venue all day. It was a Sunday and having heard how wild the Glasgow shows could get, I quickly assumed that this was no coincidence. The best way to ATTEMPT to calm a rowdy crowd is to catch them at their weakest – The Sabbath! ha… Our dressing room was equipped with a TV and couch so I quite enjoyed my day, watching Man U beat rival Liverpool and Arsenal defeat Chelsea on a goal by former Chelsea player Gallas. How good must that have felt…

The SECC felt like playing a festival show, indoors. The seating was spread wide in front of the stage and didn’t go very deep to the back. Picture one of those Japanese fans and thats how it looked. I would question the view some of the people on the sides may have had, but by the time Quo went on, most of them were partying in the isles in typical Quo fashion. During our set, for the first time and for the rest of the tour, people actually said fuck it and stood up front, along the rail for us. That was a good feeling. To tell you the truth, being around the Scottish for the next few days felt a lot like home. Of all the places we’d been, the Scot’s certainly felt the most like Canadians… to me anyway.

Following the show, I retreated back to the dressing room where I took in some American Football until the buses left for Aberdeen. On a sort of funny note, while hanging outside the bus I wrote “B & The North” in the salt stains. Realizing I’d left our name open to insult, I took it upon myself to add “SUCKS” after it. Hours later when the crew boarded, they were all like “Someone wrote some shit about you guys on the bus” finding it quite funny. When I told them it was me, they laughed because they should have known considering the use of the word “SUCKS”; it not being a word someone from the UK would commonly use…

Aberdeen was another blur. Woke up, walked a golf course that neighboured the parking lot, played, partied and then left for Dundee. I will point out that, like Canadians, people were still golfing and it was a week before Christmas. No one in Toronto would be still golfing, but if it were still green and above zero degrees back home, I guarantee they would have. To tell the truth, thinking back now it was here that I wrote that shit on the bus, not Glasgow… ooops.

Dundee started with a day off. I truly loved this town. Our hotel was the classiest we’d been in, and it felt a lot like Ipswich which made me reflect on all the places we’d been and how I’d felt when the tour was just getting under way. We’d come so far in this short time, that Ipswich felt like months ago at this point.

Being the last day off we, along with a few of the crew members, hit up a pub to celebrate. Many of them had been shopping all day, something I hadn’t even started yet. Mainly because A) I have no room to bring anything back with me and B) the UK is expensive as shit!

After a few pints we hit up KFC on the way back to the hotel. I hardly remembered this the next morning, but I’m sure it was good. I also had limited recollection of swimming in the hotel pool in my boxers and then parading around the changeroom naked afterwards. Good times. I do remember that after all of that, T2 and I sat down at the hotel bar and enjoyed some drinks and conversation with two of Quo’s fans. Throughout the tour I never got tired of this so I was happy that on the final night I got a chance to do it one last time…

Dundee was a hall show. A beautiful hall where the fans stood right up against the stage and had me trying not to cruch their fingers for the entire night. The hall was located in the city square, so out front it was a gorgeous night scene, complete with fountains, Christmas lights and decorations.

Being it was our last show in a hall, following our last day off, the reality of the situation was beginning to set in. This was not helped by the fact that every show was now also the last for many of the diehards and they would become emotional during their goodbyes. Awwwwww…

Sheffield may have been our best performance of the tour. I don’t know if it was our most entertaining show but we sounded and played great. There’s not much more to say about that day. It was huge arena (by UK standards). I believe only the O2 has a larger capacity but its all I really saw of the city. I think as the days wound down, I lost my urge to look around because I just wanted to soak in as much of the musical aspect of it all before it ended…

And it all ended the next day in Bournemouth. A great day because I had 2 long-time friends from Canada along for the ride which took my mind away from the fact it was coming to an end. I was pumped for them to see it because I alone would never be able to ever explain just what went on here. Having some outsider observation was perfect.

And the best part of it all? The show was AMAZING! The place was already packed by the time we hit the stage and when the lights dimmed, the crowd may have actually roared for us. The next 40 minutes are truly a blur. I remember more of the crowds performance that night than ours. They said goodbye to us the best way I could imagine. I remember as showtime neared, I got nervous that the last one would be a let down, but in the end it was quite possibly the most fun show of the tour and the fans definitely get all the credit.

As I headed back to Purley, cramped up in a van again, it was perhaps the longest 1 hour drive of my life. For 2 months I had lived out a dream. A dream that would have been amazing no matter the circumstances, but the fact that everything went far, far better than I could have ever imagined, makes it something I will truly never forget. Not in this lifetime at least….

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Final Posts To Come Soon!!

Hey everyone. Its all starting to sink in now that its over. So much to discuss concerning the last week but I need a couple of days to enjoy home and friends and Christmas and then in the following days, weeks, whatevs there will not only be more posts but tons and I mean TONS of pictures, videos, etc. You all deserve it for being so great to us during the last couple of months… Have a wonderful Christmas and I will be putting tons of gifts up here soon!

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Wembley Fuckin’ Arena

I played Wembley Arena today… Are you kidding me??!! Wembley?! This Streetsville boy opened for Status Quo at Wembley fuckin arena… Wow, just incredible…

 

We rolled into Wembley yesterday morning and checked into the Plaza Hotel. Our room had a beautiful view of the arena and stadium. It filled the entire window frame and later on as night fell, it seemed to throb under the florescent light that paints its walls in a multitude of colours. I thought it was calling us out, and why not? Who were we to have this honour laid before us? Well it wasn’t like we weren’t going to take full advantage.

 

I hung back at the hotel while the others took a trip back to Camden. Since being there to see Jaye, everyone had looked forward to going back, and a day off in Wembley seemed like the perfect opportunity. I chose to stay behind, get a little more shut-eye and make our next video installment. The sleep was great, the video creating?… not so much. Our computer is acting up and not allowing me to cut enough clips together. Super shitty deal considering I just stayed back from the trek to Camden… Oh well, I managed to cut that clip from Bristol with T2 getting the shit scared out of him at least (if you haven’t checked it, its on YouTube now. The link’s below in an older entry).

 

We had a chance to catch Bloc Party and The Cribs in London Friday night, but we never really pressed on it hard enough and, in the end, a night of lounging, some sauna time and leisure activities felt like the better choice for the eve of our date with Wembley.

 

This morning I woke up honestly nervous. I enjoy a little nervousness on a big day. It always ends up turning positive in the end. I ate some hotel breakfast action and then the bus took us the whole 5 minutes from the hotel to the arena. Pulled in and on the surface it felt no different. Just another arena. But deep down my gut reminded me it was more. This is London. If you come all the way to the UK, ace 31 shows and fuck up London, how good can the tour possibly have gone? Mind you having done the other 20 some-odd dates on the tour so far, we completely know better than this, but pretty much no one else does. Well nothing left to do but lay it all on the line the same way we have all tour.

 

We were helped a tiny bit by having some new friends in our corner. B’s cousin Deborah and her sis Layla flew in from Dublin and Bill started his week with us, as well. Anyone who hasn’t seen us since we were back home, I am just DYING to have see us play. Extra incentive to push it to another level.

 

I ate some grub and headed to The Greyhound with OT in tow. The whole band came, but OT and I hung around to experience State of Quo. The whole vibe in that place was something to behold. I wish there was a party like that every day of the tour. It was amazing to just sit back and watch a great  bunch of people smile like nothing else in the world mattered. It would be like watching Quo at The Cock and Pheasant back home. It’s not REALLY Quo, but considering the packed, pub environment, I couldn’t see the band anyways, so it wasn’t hard to imagine it was. A true testament to the Quo diehard fan; being able to pack in 4 more hours of live Quo, before even heading to the arena for the real deal. Tom and I wished we could have stayed ‘til the end but soundcheck was nearing so we headed back just after 3.

The whole tour we’ve been warned again and again about how shitty the sound would be. Wembley Arena originally housed an Olympic sized pool, which turned out to be 3 inches shorter than Olympic standards and thus (I’m assuming) fairly useless (much like a certain Olympic building in Montreal)… When it came time to do some renovations a few years back, they were not allowed to touch the pool due to historical restrictions placed on the building… so its still there. In Wembley you basically play over a near-Olympic sized cavernous hole in the ground. This in turn makes anything low-end sound ridiculous.

 

Regardless of how everything appeared to sound during ‘check, we all knew that A) once people were in there, it would get better and B) who cares, its Wembley and its got to be good no matter the sound.

 

The rest of our time leading up to the set was spent doing some photo shoots and the usual kickin it in our green room. Because it was London, said green room was more happenin’, with more of our friends and Francis’ kids around to be with us. It was the perfect way to spend the final moments before the big performance; listening to music, playing cards and catching up.

 

The show itself is a blur. I know it went well. I could actually feel the energy of the crowd and for an arena, this was good. I think the trip to The Greyhound helped a lot with that, since the front rows were filled with the people we had just spent the afternoon there with. Quo’s sound crew was even impressed with it and that means loads, especially in a place that is notorious for its shitty audio.

 

So here I am, fresh off the stage and maybe only now does it feel like its sinking in (as you can tell by the beginning paragraph of this piece). Not much time to reflect though because there’s another biggie tomorrow in Glasgow. I’m so looking forward to FINALLY playing in Scotland. We better step it up again. No more disappointments allowed from here on in!

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Brighton

Brighton was an amazing day. It’s a gorgeous seaside town and the arena looks out over the water. Definitely cool. Inside the walls were adorned with beautiful photos from past shows there. Bands like Thin Lizzy, Queen and of course 1982’s Quo lineup, stare back at you while you carry on with your pre-show activities. My favorite was a quiet room attached to ours with Springsteen on the one wall and bearded Clapton on another. Bearded Clapton has always been my personal fave of the many Clapton looks…

 

My buddy Scott arrived just before our soundcheck and was certainly an asset to our pre-show. When you’ve been on the road with the same people for this long, simply adding some new blood to the mix makes all the difference. Someone who has some fresh tales to tell, and suddenly all the old jokes we’ve been reusing for so long become funny again for one night.

 

The show was nothing really to talk about. The sound in the arena was pretty bad and when the lights dimmed for our set to begin, you could hear a pin drop… It was silent. I’m sure it did have a lot to do with the fact that we went on at 7:30 and the doors only opened at 7, but we just did our thing and slowly the crowd warmed. I wouldn’t call it an off night really, but it was definitely uneventful. Well aside that B made several references to her wearing (or not wearing) of “pants” (trousers) which we later realized that, to the Brighton crowd, would have sounded like she was talking about her panties.

 

Who knows, maybe we were just all looking past this one, with Wembley on the horizon. Hard to slight us for that. Regardless of what we’ve done over here, we’re still only a bunch of young musicians, about to play in one of the most legendary venues in the world, supporting one of the most legendary bands in the world, and it doesn’t get any crazier than that! On to London…

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