June 14, 2008

Well, we told you we were going, we went as advertised and we returned in more or less four pieces. That’s to be expected, since we are a four-piece. Getting away from the Higher Mathematics Theories for a moment, here’s how it all went down:

The band departed from LAX via Air France. Despite some rather negative initial indications, the AF personnel were able to see their way clear to allowing me to bring my guitars on board in the cabin, rather than checking them, i.e., damning them to utter destruction. Once on board, we were happy to learn that each seat had its own movie screen with a variety of continuous entertainments to choose from. Some of the band chose to be entertained by the unrestricted free beverages, but the less said about that the better.

After an uneventful flight, delirium tremens having not yet set in, we caught the Tube from Heathrow to London, where we unburdened ourselves of luggage and any surviving brain cells at a pub called The Green Man. Weren’t we surprised to see another American IPO band seated next to us?! We traveled 5000 miles to get away from the bleeders and here we are seated right next to them! But all kidding aside, we had a fair taste of the warm comraderie that all of the IPO bands extended. We set our controls for the heart of our hotel beds and prepared to be greeted the following day by those nice British Rail people, who were kind enough to take us (First Class!!) to Liverpool. Unfortunately, I mistakenly assumed that we could go direct from Paddington, so we carted our luggage by hand through London to St. Pancras, but managed to catch our train and enjoyed the two hour ride North.

Liverpool proved to be a real highlight. The people were warm and friendly and surprisingly displayed little bitterness about their speech impediments. Some used sign language, but there seemed to be only one sign…
Anyhow, we stayed at a really great hotel called The Liner, after their ocean liner theme. We took a cab to the rehearsal studio we booked sight-unsmelled. That is to say, the rehearsal facility was well-equipped and adequate for our purposes, but owing to the extreme and overpowering stench of mould, we used only one of four hours booked and paid for. Of course, that left more time for carousing.

Finally, it was time for the main event: The Cavern Club, legendary birthplace of all I hold musically dear. They ain’t kiddin’ when they say, “cavern”. I think I counted twenty flights down…okay, I exaggerate a bit…

Outside The Cavern we met a Scottish band called Eskimo Blonde, who were hawking their show at another club down the road. We promised we’d come see them if we could. We were also greeted by our friend Steve Winall and his friend Nigel, who traveled from Stourbridge to see us, as well as our friends Robbyn and Jamie who came all the way from L.A. to see us play The Cavern!

Our first show was on the smaller stage that most resembles all the early shots you see of The Beatles. Despite poor onstage sound, (which might be due to lack of monitors, lack of sound technician, and drum kit 50 feet back, but that’s just a guess…), it seemed that the sound coming off the stage was just fine. We were well received and a good time was had by all. We made friends with Spain’s The Satellites of Love, who followed us. As we got into the cab, Deborah noticed a guitar case that wasn’t ours. I naturally assumed that we grabbed the wrong guitar and left one of mine in the club. In a panic, I dashed back into the club with the stolen axe, but couldn’t find mine! Then I remembered that my other guitar had already been loaded in front with the driver!

After the surgeon put my heart back in my chest, we headed down the road to catch Eskimo Blonde. They turned in a rocking set somewhere between The Smithereens and AC/DC, but with a Scots brogue. Most enjoyable. The EB boys led us to a hip Liverpool bar and the ales, cognacs and Coca-Colae began to flow. I made sure to stay up shouting over the DJ’d music long enough to lose most of my voice for that authentic, “mak shau” effect and then greeted my second day in Liverpool by losing consciousness.

Upon waking, our thoughts turned to food! We took the opportunity to wander about the city, which was in the throws of a “total makeover” for the Cutural Capital of Europe celebrations that night. Ringo Starr was to play drums atop one of the major downtown buildings that night and Paul McCartney was to play before 40,000 fans next night. We did manage to decide on an Italian restaurant called “Ask”. The name is quite a propos, as they do not appear to have a clue. Fortunately, the service was as hilarious as it was incompetent, and we had nothing to do for those several hours anyway. To be fair, the food was quite good once we got it and Deborah & I later ate at another “Ask” in Marlborough, where the service was more worldly.

Fortified and pastafied, our second show was on the bigger stage, upgraded for Paul McCartney’s “Return to The Cavern”. As would be expected, it was a much better stage with better monitors, better P.A. and a live sound tech. We were also given a better back line. We recognized a number of people from the first show in the crowd. My friend Karen from Wanborough (Swindon) and her beau Lance came over after attending Karen’s cousin’s wedding in North Wales. The room filled up shortly after we started and we were given a very warm reception from fellow IPO bands and audience. I was sorry that a lot of the audience left after our set, because the next band, The Anydays, were really great. After collecting our gear and depositing it back at The Liner, Deborah & I deposited ourselves in bed, while Steve and Tommy closed the hotel bar.

The next day we took the train together part way. Tommy and Steve continued on to Heathrow and home. Deborah and I changed to go to Swindon to see Karen and Lance. We also had a meeting with a new record label in London and it looks promising. We should know more in the coming weeks…

Thanks for listening!

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