TOUR DIARY DAY 8. As names next to each other on the poster, Newcastle and Stroud made perfect sense. It wasn’t until I looked at the map the night before that I realised we were committed to traversing more than half the country.
But faint heart never won fair maid, so after helping Alex move some art materials, we left Newcastle before lunch time with a sat-nav optimistic four hour journey ahead of us.
Thinking we had all the time in the world we stopped at an American style dinner, authentic to a T save the thick Geordie accents. Refreshed, we clobbered the road, encountering rain enough to green the desert. But soon the light faded, five hours came and went and we were getting a little stir crazy.
The last hour we were a picture, both listening to demos of ourselves on our own headphones, two bubbles in a bubble. We only spoke to yell directions at each other in a reasonable impression of the grumpy old couple, may it be our fortune to one day become.
Tired and tetchy, we arrived at the Prince Albert in Stroud and immediately acquainted ourselves with the local ales and set about decompressing, taking at a normal volume and being civil to each other.
If you’ve never been to the Albert, it’s a special place. Animals, children, punters, musicians and once an albino hedgehog, run hither and yon, and every night the best live music from across the country graces it’s stage. It’s part famous music venue and part Gerald Durrell ‘My Family and Other Animals’ madhouse.
Overseeing this harmonious chaos is Lotte, publican and matriarch, who rules with the easy, open smile of one who knows she will be obeyed without having to break it. Lotte makes the Albert feel as much a home away from home as a stop on a tour and I’ve spent more nights than I can remember drinking out back or passed out upstairs after a show.
A slightly difficult soundcheck navigated, we ate with Lotte, some of the family, a few of the animals and Matt the sound guy, before doors opened. One of the best things about playing in Stroud is how many brilliant musicians live there that I’m delighted to call friends.
It was great to see Rob and Lachy from Low Chimes, my old Ballina Whalers mucker Sam Brookes, Pete ‘Submarine’ Roe, Bea and Emily together with a typically warm Albert crowd.
Gus played first and picked up where he left off in Newcastle, playing acoustically and standing between the audience and the bar in a mildly confrontational way which added to the energy he always creates. I played next and it was special to be able to play the new songs to old friends.
Before we left Sam and I sang a Ballina Whalers song for old times sake and we got excited about the prospect of playing together again next year.
Pete and Bea kindly offered to put us up for the night but the very short journey to their house was marred by me pranging the car off a pillar, reversing into a parked pick up truck and burning the clutch trying to reverse up one of Stroud’s very steep hills. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the election, but by the time we got in we were shagged from a long day.
We all woke early and despaired at the news but we’re on the road and the show must go on, so we’ve been thrashing cross country to play at the glorious Lighthouse in Deal tonight. We’re stronger together, don’t forget that, not on today of all days. Love Jamie x