You can tell a place is great when you arrive an its raining and it still feels awesome.
We rose and shone and were sat in the Manchester Wagamama’s dining on noodles and broth by Lunchtime. We figured we deserved it. We had worked hard in Liverpool. We had beaten illness, entertained the people and slept the sleep of the righteous. My legs were starting to feel like they had cracks running down them. Last night’s speaker stack was 10 foot high. I nearly landed on Lars’ head when I jumped off of it.
Tim showed us around Manchester. We’ve all been there before – in fact last time I played here I put a hole in the venue’s roof – but Tim knows it well. We wandered the streets looking at the shops, and pondering the strangeness of how the normal thing to do when visiting a new place these days is to look at the shops.
Manchester has amazing shops though. I am not a shopping person, but Manchester made me want to go shopping. I saw the red leather biker jacket I want. I saw amazing cowboy boots and hats. I saw the hallowed gates of Forbidden Planet, and my heart skipped a thump.
It has always been my dream to have my own comic shop. I’d have some decks set up and play awesome records, and hang out with my people and read comics. I’d have ace movies and cartoons projected on a wall. I’d have an amazing assortment of toys and masks, and I’d always have Peter Bagge’s Hate Annuals in stock.
Forbidden Planet was lacking a couple of those essential features, but it outdid itself on the masks front. So many cool masks!
They also had SUPERHERO FACE TATTOOS. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know such things existed. I bought a Wolverine one, to wear at the show that night. It felt like the righteous path.
We ran into Raydome in Forbidden Planet. He was very excited t see us, and to pick up the vast pile of comics that was waiting for him in Traveling Man, another, deeply great comic shop round the corner. It lacked a few of my essential features (like the Peter Bagge Hate Annual), but it was pretty awesome. Raydome had £40 worth of comics waiting for him behind the counter. He and Jack geeked out over Marvel continuity, while I searched in vain for the hate Annual, and Tim got excited over Nemesis comics. We were in geek heaven.
After I’d failed to find my Peter Bagge book, and decided that I hadn’t turned a profit on this tour yet so I couldn’t justify spending £18 on a Strange Tales paperback, we headed off to what someone described as “Camden in a single building over 6 floors”, the world famous Afleck’s Palace.
Truly, it was a treasure trove.
At the top of the thing there’s this incredible little place that’s just stuffed with 80s… old video game systems and cartridges, Castle Greyskull, original He-Man and Skeletor masks sets. All at great prices – Castle Greyskull was just £16! Jack spotted £200 worth of stuff he wanted to buy.
There was a ptetty flipping ninja costume shop in there as well. I got in a conversation with the owners, who were kind enough to share their wisdom on the subject with me. Apparently the most popular pop singer costume they have is Adam Ant’s. And the only pop singer of the past 20 years that anyone wants to dress up as with any regularity is Lady Gaga. “I mean, who’d go to a party dressed up as Noel and Liam?” explained one of the dudes. “You’d just look like very other scally in the place.”
We left without buying anything, and retired to a Starbuxx, where I wrote some blogs and Jack and Raydome geeked the fuck out over Dome’s gigantic stack of comics. Apparently they’ve weaponised the venom suit or some shit, and Flash Thompson’s, the jock dude that used to bully Peter Parker at school and lost his legs in Iraq is wearing it. Crazy shit.
Jack was deeply enthused. It was nice to see him well again.
We were playing at the world famous Ruby Lounge. The stage has a beautiful thick, deep red carpet on it. You bounce in it, rather than tread. It’s a beautiful feeling. The sound was brilliant in soundcheck, and the soundman was nice enough to hang around for an hour till Envy got there to run through I Am Not A Robot a few times.
That’s right, we were going to do I Am not A Robot live, for the first time ever. I was excited.
Our soundcheck was great then. And so was our merch table. It was a great merch table.
I also had a wolverine face tattoo. So we all went backstage, where Envy, who is an expert in such matters, applied the face tattoo, with a bucket of warm water and a damp cloth. It looked pretty flipping amazing. “I don’t know whether to cry or applaud,” said JTL. “Do you want me to do you some plaits?” asked Envy, who also an expert in plaits. I acquiesced.
And so, it was stagetime. For the first time on this tour, I had not been out in the room as it filled (or didn’t, as had been the case a few times). I had been backstage getting ready, as is the righteous path. I could hear Jack summoning the assembled, whoever they were, to the dancefloor. I ran down the corridor that linked the dressing room to the stage, as Richard and George, who were on their fourth gig of the tour filmed me with cameraphone. I launched myself stageward, in my Run DMC lounge pants and my Wolverine face tatooo.
Have you seen Anvil? It was a bit like the bit at the end of Anvil, where the band make their way through all these corridors with no idea what crowd is waiting for the and they’re greeted by thousands of Japanese kids screaming, “A-VEEEEEEEEL!”
I landed on the thick red carpet to a roar of joy from a packed room, and launched straight into Seek A Sound So Rare, the words to which the front know knew then entirety of, and it only got better from there. I loved every moment of that show. We did We Won’t Be Broke Forever Baby, announced as a wealth-bringing super sigil, and everybody sang along as if their financial futures depended upon it. Envy came out and did I Am Not A Robot for the first time ever. It was flipping glorious. I stage dived, backwards. I stood on the speakers, and fell backwards, arms outstretched. I was full of trust. They carried me to the back of the room, and set me down gently.
Back at the merch table Tim and Envy who had never met before were getting on like a couple of only-child toddlers whose parents had just moved in next door to each other, and were getting up to all sorts of mischief with a roll of parcel tape. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
I met lots of safe people and wrote on lots of things, including a pregnant lady’s tummy. I wrote, “Akira The Don approves this child”, which was true. One of the coolest things was that I met a whole bunch of people who are coming all the way from Manchester to London on Thursday for The Life Equation Launch Party. Shit like that is humbling. I can’t wait, that party is going to be on some legendary, never forget it in your life shit.
There was a beer robot at the Travelodge. We ignored it, and Jack and I went out for our customary Travelodge spliff. We were discussing our lovely day, when suddenly a call if, “you cheeky blokes!” rang out, and we saw Lars poking his big smiley orange head out of the van door. He invited us aboard to share his apple. “It’s the American way,” he said, taking a hit and passing it.
Lars likes to sleep in the van, while everybody else sleeps it the Travelodge. “It’s become my dojo, like RZA says in the Tao of Wu” he said, sincerely. “I meditate in here. Pray. I speak to my family. It’s nice. Sometimes its lonely. But it’s nice.”
We sat up for a few hours, sharing, AA style. Where we grew up, how we got into hip-hop, that sort of thing. It was special. I found that nighttime bus-dwelling MC Lars reminded me of Crispin Glover, oddly enough. Daytime MC Lars is nothing like Crispin Glover. Jack asked him why he moved to Brooklyn, and he said he could only explain in rap, so he rapped his explanation, matter of factly, then asked Jack to rap for him. Jack spat his Sid James bars. “I like that,” whispered Lars. “It’s dar. Real. Do you know what I mean?”
Lars always asks “do you know what I mean?” as if he’s genuinely concerned that people do not.
Photos by Tim Gibson, Akira The Don, Lee Clench and Raydome
It is my very extreme displeasure to announce that due to circumstances so far beyond our control we couldn’t see them with fucking HUBBLE, DJ Jack Nimble and I are stuck in fucking Bridgwater, and will NOT be appearing at Slam Dunk Leeds this evening.
A full explanation of the whole sorry take will appear in The Tour The Tour Day Eighteen blog, which will appear shortly, as I no longer have a show to do, and can thus spend the time I would have spent entertaining the assembled thousands at the Slam Dunk dance stage writing fucking blogs.
Once we’ve figured out our route to Hatfield that is. Which we will be playing tomorrow. The last day of The Tour The Tour. Slam Dunk South. Let us pray to the our gods within the internets. May this be a fitting finale to an epic adventure.
Bob Dylan is seventy.
My notes from last night are funny. They read,
“escaijg the light, fleeing th dy atv3 am, we culd see the true light, and we fled.\
so mich fin left behinf\
wheres the pillows?
Ust stole that shit out the aundry cubboards
We got the porno room
I felt like crap. Happy crap, but crap. Jack felt worse than crap.
On the way to Liverpool we listened to rap records and stopped off on the hard shoulder so Jack could puke his guts up.
“Uuurgh,” said Jack.
I slept for a good 50 miles. Then I woke up and wrote some blogs on my laptop, and battled for internet with my Dongle. We listened to the complete works of Ghostface Killah, then Nas, before taking a detour through peak-period Eminem, when he was going off on one at Everlast and suchlike. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I still know all the words to that one about how Eminem wished Everlast’s heart attack had been fatal.
My favourite Ghostface album is Bulletproof Wallets. My favourite Nas album that isn’t Illmatic is God’s Son. Many years ago I wrote a song called Last Real Wigga Alive based on a track from that. Shit was legendary. It was around the time I did Comic Shop. Ask Wade about that. He still talks about it. I might have to dig that stuff out one day. It is gloriously naïve.
Jack looked like he was made of Volcanic Ash Cloud by the time we got to the Liverpool Travelodge. We made him some orange vitamin C drink and left him to rest in the double bed with a towel on his head while we went off to set up the merch table and soundcheck at the appropriately named Mojo venue.
What looked like a lickle pub from the outside turned out to be some kind of Tardis on entry. A Tardis full of ill posters of Debbie Harry and The Stooges with a whole wall covered in Elvis prints. In the dressing room there were loads of little vegan cupcakes these safe clarts Richard and George who’d come to three previous shows on the tour had made for us all. They had little MC Lars and Weerd Science and MC Chris and Akira The Don flags in them. They’d even made a special one for Jack Nimble with the Weed Song art on it because he said that was his favourite song.
We were blessed with another safe soundman who was in fact so safe that he drove round his mate’s house to borrow a mixer for us to use, as we’d never fully recovered from the one that went to Manchester and the one that blew up in Leicester. It was a very nice mixer as well.
We set up an excellent merch table next to MC Kal’s, with a good view of the stage, and I soundchecked alone. It sounded good. I hoped Jack would turn up. I had this back up plan that involved getting Ryu or Lars to DJ without asking them first by putting them on the spot at the start of the gig from the stage. I did something similar once in Camden with a 13 year old boy. He’d never DJed before and it was pretty ace. I figured we’d get away with it, and it would be fun. But I hoped Jack felt up to it. I wanted to do a really great show, not just fluke a fun one.
“Uuuuurgh,” came a voice from behind me.
Jack had showed up!
He was not well. He looked like The Goon. But he was HERE. And that was awesome.
Backstage Science was having a poo in the toilet that bore the immortal sign: “If you’re having a poo, please use the air freshener.” Science was rapping to himself. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man rap while he pooed before.
My legs and shoulders were starting to ache. My throat was sore. I feared I was getting Jack’s disease. I drink three bottles of water and ate three oranges in half an hour.
Then we played our mighty rap show.
Jack looked like he was about to collapse for most of it, but he did not. I was on my climbing thing. My standing on speakers thing. It was a joyful thing. Some hench young cat called Will had bravely shown up in a Thanks For All The AIDS shirt so we got him on stage for the ANTHEM and he was awesome. He admitted later his legs were shaking, but you’d never have noticed. He was a G.
It was a great show. I wanted it to be great, because there were lots of hardcore ATD cats in the house, who I knew from the internet, and was meeting in so-called real life for the first time. Like Cog, and Linden. Some of you might know her daughter’s poetry from the Doncast. She gave me a Charles Bukowski book I don’t have. So awesome.
They don’t sell falafel in Liverpool, so I ate more oranges. Tim offered me an alcoholic beverage, then thought better of it, and retuned ten minuets later with boiling hot honey and lemon water for Jack and I. Tim is a superhero. He then ran off to incite another moshpit, which he’s taken to doing every night. He runs to the front, jumps on people’s heads, then flees, leaving a Mighty Mosh Pit in his merry wake. It is a good skill.
“Give it up for history, yo,” said MC Lars, happily. Or maybe he said it the previous night. I can’t remember, but it struck me and Jack as an ill thing to say during a show. Lars is a funny dude. He says, “I’m having a WHALE of a time,” before he plays Ahab. JTL does the “badoom-CHA” on the drums. Lars beams. The worse his jokes are, the happier he looks.
Merch don MC Kal joined Lars and Science onstage for an insanely animated run through Download This Song. When he started doing it earlier in the tour he was shy, reserved, and nervous. Now he runs around that piece like flipping Bono or some shit. He climbs speaker stacks and jumps off and does a mental chicken dance. He stagedived headfirst at the end and nearly knocked a stack of glasses off the bar. “MC Kal!” roared Science, “the Jumping Bean!”
For that is his name.
I joined them for White Kids Aren’t Hyphy/Falling Apart, like we do every night, and it went off, like it does every night. “JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!” I shouted, whilst setting an excellent example as to how to achieve the commanded action.
MC Chris lead the audience in a singalong of Hey Jude for his girl. It was beautiful. MC Chris had one of those nights where most of the crowd knew his stuff, and a great deal of them were queuing up to buy his ceedees and have their photos taken. Some of them were very needy, and demanded kisses. Chris does not give kisses. He signed one woman’s ceedess, had a photo taken with her, but her final demand for kisses was met with stern “No” and an abut heel spin and exist stage left. The woman took her disappointment out on MC Kal, who dealt with it bravely, if wearily, then stuck her tongue down some dude by the soundbooth’s face and fell over. Ah, the fun we have at the merch booth. I was asked to sign one young lady’s face. I wrote AKIRA THE DON APPROVES THIS FACE on it. She had a great face! And so did her boyfriend.
Jack was vibing to Science at the bar, empty honeywater glass in front of him. He didn’t look the colour of Glasgow skies or old socks anymore. “I feel OK you know fam!” he remarked, cheerily. “Maybe it’s the adrenalin.”
Lars was faded, I realized pretty early. Lars is great faded. He gets super-joyful. He spent the whole of our set dancing around at the front with a great big beatific grin on his cheeky chops, which he was still wearing when we packed up at the end. “Who’s the best looking on this tour?” He demanded in the dressing room. “Who has the best beard? Who has the best clothes? Akira does. That cheeky bloke.”
He wandered off cackling into the night, Cheshire cat smiles till spread across his cheeks, pearly whites flashing in the moonlight, a lick of chest hair curling below his adam’s apple. I love Lars. I think he is part werewolf.
Rah though. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE LAUNCH PARTY!
I woke about nine, opened up my eyes, figured it’s time to rise, but I went back to sleep for an hour anyway. I don’t actually remember getting out of the Travelodge, but we must have, because soon enough we were cruising down the highway in Tim’s mighty Rapmobile, listening to mighty rap music and marveling at the Scottish skies’ incredible ability to produce rain despite being entirely blue. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful drive. I felt great. The rain fell, from the blue sky. I knew that was a sign that today would be a good day.
Jack felt sick.
We stopped off at a McDonald’s so I could use the internets and we could eat something shitty. The Icelandic Ashcloud was still advancing on the north, and the wind was still displacing vehicles on the motorway. The door nearly came off when I opened it.
McDonald’s was rammed with Wind Refugees. Tim got talking to a family who had been camping, but whose tent had blown away. Now they were in a Travelodge. They seemed pretty cheerful, regardless.
Aberdeen is a beautiful city, and it near took my breath from me as we entered. I could hear angels sing. I knew it was going to be a good night.
Jack and I went to Primark to re-up on socks. Fresh socks are essential on tour. Without them everything is grim. With them, everything is wonderful. I now realized that the reason I was so bummed last night was not, in fact, merch related, but unfresh sock related. I am learning to much on this tour. Next time I am going to be so well prepared.
Aberdeen Primark is a flipping treasure trove. I spent £11, and I came away with the most incredible bag of swag I have seen since my birthday last year.
Ice Ice Baby T shirt – £2,
Dr Dre The Chronic T Shirt with Death Row label sewn in – £2.
Socks – £2.
Dope-ass sunglasses – £1
Run DMC Lounge pants – £3
That’s right brothers and sisters. You read correctly. RUN DMC LOUNGE PANTS.
You could not possibly have anything but a wonderful night garbed in RUN DMC lounge pants. The fact that they matched my Marvel Heroes zip up hoodie Ali got me last Christmas was the sort of added bonus most men get one of in a lifetime. The gig was half an hour of awesome. The magical lounge pants filled the hearts of all who witnessed them with joy and wonder. I felt fantastic.
Jack felt sick.
So sick, in fact, that he WAS sick. In a bag. During a song. Naturally I didn’t notice, as I was busy entertaining the good people of Aberdeen. I don’t know if they noticed it either, as Jack reckons he was sneaky with it, but still. Poor bugger. And poor whoever found the bag. Jack feels very guilty about it. He meant to remove it from the premises, but he forgot. Because he was sick.
We were blessed with another excellent soundman tonight. The mighty Badger. One of those rare cats that loves, and takes pride in his work. He did us proud, and I hope to blazes I get him next time I’m in that part of the world. Everyone sounded brilliant. Lars and Science were on peak form. We did White Kids Aren’t Hyphy and it rang off like a mighty bell. Science took the opportunity to inform the audience of how much he’d grown to love me over these past few weeks, whihc was a beautiful AAAAAAW moment. They also dedicated a song to Jack.
I danced around for the duration of everyone’s sets, met loads of safe people and sold loads of stuff. Even the barman bought a T-shirt! I felt great.
Jack felt sick.
Tim looked after him, cos Tim is a lovely man.
My legs felt like they were cracking. It dawned on me that I had jumped off of a speaker every night for a fortnight. What good legs they are to withstand such battery, I thought, patting them fondly.
Afterwards me and Jack were supposed to be DJing around the corner at Origin, courtesy of grade A G Tom Ambrose. Jack was by this point the colour of prison porridge, so it looked like I was going to go dolo. The place was great, a labyrinthine stone cavern with brilliant sound and equally awesome staff. I drank Jager Bombs and played records to the joyful Aberdeenians, who danced like they would never dance again.
Then Jack appeared, like the Ghost of Christmas past, and we traded records for the next hour and it was ace.
Exhibit C, Wanton Soup, All I Do Is Win, Hypest Hype, Sirens! We took requests, and did some awesome interactive versions of AIDS, Oh! and Werewolves. We played until they shut. Then we fell into the car and drove through the gods’ raging tantrum to our Travelodge, fleeing the sun that rose defiantly behind us.
Truly, it had been a good day.
Well, for me, anyway.
The gods were angry today. One of those Icelandic volcanoes was shitting out a great big fuck off ash cloud all over the next geographical stop on our mighty tour, and as we bombed up the motorway to Glasgow a gale so mighty was blowing that it had picked up a caravan and dropped it over the other side of the road. Rain slashed at the windscreen like Kruger hands. Shit was ominous out there. Power lines were out. Planes were grounded.
It took us all day to drive to Glasgow through the gods’ tantrum, so we didn’t get time to do any sightseeing. We drive around a wet town center looking for the venue, loaded in, soundchecked, and at 7:15 we were rushed onstage to do our thing in front of the handful of people that had braved the apocalyptic madness going on outside. And the thing we did. It was pretty weird up there – the room was 7 times as wide as it was long, and the nature of the lights meant one couldn’t actually see anything out there in audience-land, and there was a weird little rail separating the stage and the floor. But we did our thing. We are pros. We sparked our energy off a safe longhair called Colin who came and stood at the front, and built from there. That’s all you need when you’re a psychic vampire.
Ha. Psychic vampire. That would be true if we kept all the energy for ourselves. But we do not. We give it all back, along with our own. We are generous. You’re welcome.
I was kind of bummed by the end of the night though, for the first time of the tour. Mainly because we didn’t do very well on the merch. The problem with tying up commerce with art is you start judging your art’s worth by how much cash it generates, and I fell into that trap tonight, and felt rather worthless. Which was dumb, as the people that were there enjoyed it and lots of them came over and got me to write on things and take pictures with them. But at the end of the night we were way under the amount we need to do daily to break even, so I was bummed. I grumped about in the rain outside like an asshole and didn’t help pack the van, which I’m usually very enthusiastic about. Tim tried to cheer me up with a battered Mars Bar. It was pretty good.
Tim dropped Jack and I off at our Travelodge, and swept off into the night to his sister Hells’ place. She’d suffered a tragic harddrive death that day. The thing had a vast percentage of her uni coursework on it. The gods’ rage knew no bounds on that dark day.
The Travelodge was packed with refugees. But what a Travelodge it was! IT DIDN’T LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME AS ALL THE OTHERS! We couldn’t believe it. The bathroom had colours other than white in it. The bed had handsome wooden headboard. There was a wood framed mirror on the wall. There was a Rudyard Kipling poem on the wall. Little thing like that can change your whole outlook on life. Suddenly I felt great. We watched bit of Sky News to make a change from Russia Today (which is just like Brass Eye, possibly even sillier), smoked a spliff and I stayed up till 2:30 working.
Meanwhile, the Americans drove around Perth looking for new lodgings. The Gods had ripped the roof off of their Travelodge. Those buggers were incensed.