So here’s how a mad weekend can sometimes fall for yours truly. Thursday afternoon, I pack my little case and set off from home to talkSPORT towers to cover Thursday evening’s show with Matt Holland (great company and very knowledgable on all sports) before heading further south and west to stay at the house of Dressed To Kill’s bass player, Gary, as we have a long trek up to Glasgow the next morning for our show at The Ferry on Anderston Quay.
That entails a 6am alarm call to get a train back to Waterloo, tube to Euston, then train up to B’ham New Street to meet up with the rest of the lads in the band in the tour bus so we can get on the M6 pronto for a 5-hour trek to the banks of the Clyde.
Thankfully, the M6/M74/M8 all behaved themselves (despite it being a Friday) and we made the venue by mid-afternoon which, given the amount of equipment we hulk with us, is necessary if we’re going to be able to set up and get ready in time for a 9.30 show.
I think anyone who tells you about the glamorous life of a rock band on the road is either deluded or spoon-fed by a few dozen personal shreeves and assorted hangers-on...which narrows it down to Bono I suppose. The 2 hours spent on stage and the half hour or so chatting to fans immediately after a gig are the only high points. Diesel at 1.29 a litre, budget hotel toilets and the inevitable aches and pains that come with pretending to be KISS are just some of the downsides. But it’s in the brochure, as they say – I’ve known little else but cramped transit vans, Ginsters and the smell of stale beer in the dressing room for over 20 years as a semi-professional muso.
But you keep coming back for more punishment because of that time spent on stage performing and giving folks a proper night’s entertainment. Trouble was at Glasgow, we had a few gremlins in guitar amps and stuff like that which irritated the hell out of Danny (our ‘Ace Frehley’) but, as usual, this was of little interest to the punters who promptly went nuts and had a great time whilst we struggled with technology. Go figure.
The Etap hotel was our bolt-hole for the night just across the river from the venue – it has a café area next to reception where we noticed as we left that some residents had come down to eat breakfast in their pyjamas. Either that or there was an MC Hammer convention on Sauchie Hall St that hadn’t come up on our radar. Anyway, it was then a punishing 5-hour haul down to South Yorkshire to Saturday night’s show in Birdwell, just outside Barnsley.
The sort of venue that screams ‘social club’ when you first walk in and see the rows of tables and chairs in the audience, the Birdwell Club was a really pleasant surprise for our first visit there. A friendly welcome and a boiling kettle always helps, I find. A far better show from our muso point of view than the night before and almost as well received…it’d be hard for almost any of our other venues to match Glasgow for the noise and the reception they give us. It’s very humbling.
Still, one chap came up to me after the Birdwell show and said “I was expecting just some blokes playing KISS tunes with a bit of make-up on – didn’t realise you did the WHOLE show!!” It’s lovely to surprise people like that, but it also makes you wonder why he hadn’t heard of DRESSED TO KILL before as the band’s been going 20 years! Oh well, no time to think about that – must pack up the gear and load it all into the van YET again so we can drive back to Brum and unload the gear at our lockout before everyone goes their separate ways home, whether it’s Solihull, Grimsby, Wootton Bassett, Loughborough or Woking. We don’t get to rehearse much. As you might imagine.
Managed to grab a bit of sleep in the van and then a bit more back home until my alarm woke me in time to watch the Sunday repeat of Match Of The Day, followed by a dash for another train back to London for the 3-7pm talkSPORT show.
Now THAT’s a weekend. And yes I’m not a junior nurse/doctor or serving in Afghanistan. But it was hardly a cakewalk!