November 2006 U.K. Tour Diary Print E-mail

In association with Planet Rock Radio

WED. 15th NOVEMBER 2006 : PLYMOUTH PAVILION, ENGLAND

First night nerves suitably blunted by a stiff drink or two, we took to the stage around 9pm. We're played seven songs from Robert Johnson's Tombstone which is a lot and for that reason we were probably less relaxed than usual, although we were really looking forward to seeing how the audience reacted to the new material. As is usual on first nights we had a few technical gremlins but 'Dirty Dream', 'A Million Faces', 'The Devil Made Me Do It', 'My Darkest Hour' and 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone' were all very well received. We nearly always alter the arrangements of songs to suit the live environment and whenever we do exaggerate certain dynamics and they work out well, it's very satisfying.

Now we've got a handle on what works and feels good we will almost certainly change the set for the next show and the nipping and tweaking will continue for the first few gigs.

After a certain amount of dressing room 'post match analysis' we agreed things had gone pretty well for an opening night so, after a thoroughly pleasant meet and greet session and a swift nightcap or two, we boarded the bus and headed off into the night towards our next port of call, Llandudno. It's good to be back on the road. Hurrah!.



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / River Of Pain / Last Man Standing / My Darkest Hour / The Devil Made Me Do It / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / Love Walked In / Can’t Keep a Good Man Down
Encore: I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll / Low Life In High Places / Dirty Love


FRI. 17th NOVEMBER 2006 : LLANDUDNO NORTH WALES THEATRE, WALES


Having had a day off in Llandudno the day before, we were all looking forward to getting back into the swing of touring. It's a bit odd to do one show and then have a day off, and in all the years we've been doing it I think this is the first time it's happened. Like I said... odd. Still, the usual pre show preparations went by hitch free, and soundcheck time came at 4pm. We smashed through some of the new tunes, and the sound on stage was really nice so we all felt excited about the show to come. Luke started busking "The Stealer" by Free, and we all just fell into it. It sounded great for about half a song, before the inevitable unravelling, and it quickly fell apart. I like those moments.


The show was a vast improvement on the first one, with minimal technical dramas. We re-jigged 

the set a little bit, and the crowd were extremely noisy from the off. It's always a bit strange playing new songs so soon after a release, but a lot of the crowd seemed to know them, and those who didn't were very enthusiastic after the fact. My Darkest Hour is rapidly becoming a really nice moment in the set, I shall say no more for fear of spoiling it for those yet to come. The Devil Made Me Do It went down very well, so hopefully loads of people will buy it on December 4th, and get us in the single charts. I know I'm shameless, I just can't help it..

When it was done, we went off to a lot of noise, so we felt really chuffed. The after show was very nice, lots of new faces, and loads of young faces too (always a revelation to me), so we did our thing, chatted, did pics and signed autographs galore for an hour or so. Llandudno was really good, must make sure we don't leave it another 8 years before going back! 



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Love Walked In / Fade into the Sun / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / Low Life In High Places / Dirty Love


SAT. 18th NOVEMBER 2006 : OXFORD NEW THEATRE, ENGLAND


Having successfully negotiated the one way system that is Oxford city centre and still feeling very good about the previous day's show in Llandudno, we assumed our positions for soundcheck. The New Theatre is a great sounding room and it was a pleasure to run through a lot of material from the new album. Speaking of the new album, all the new stuff seems to be going down very well which is very satisfying. The audience tonight were great! There was a guy in the front row wearing horns who'd painted himself red; crazy! There were also a few ladies looking like horny little devils........mad; I loved it! Everybody seemed to forget about their seats and stood up for most of the show which was nice!

The aftershow was as sociable as ever and it was good to see some of our friends from the world of football (Messieurs Speroni and Sorondo). Much drinking ensued backstage until late and I made the acquaintance of a beautiful mental health nurse who I thought had come to take me away ha ha, he he..... but sadly I was mistaken.

We finally boarded the lovebus around 1.45am tired but happy.



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


MON. 20th NOVEMBER 2006 : PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL, ENGLAND


Welcome to the first instalment of my Thunder tour diary. Today finds me relaxing in the dressing room at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, after traveling overnight on the bus from Portsmouth. I've had an incredibly hectic time for the past few weeks, having been on the road on and off since the start of September with another band. This tour was still ongoing when the Thunder rehearsals started, meaning I rehearsed in London during the day, did a gig in Kings Lynn that evening, rehearsed in London again the next day, did a gig in Northampton that night, then two more days rehearsals before the Thunder tour started. On the day after the first show in Plymouth when everyone else had a day off in Llandudno, I had a gig in Basingstoke!

I'm glad to say the other tour has now finished - I'll never complain about having too much work, but it can be a bit nerve-wracking trying to juggle it all.

Last night's show in Portsmouth was great - the new songs are becoming more familiar with us and the audience, and the sound onstage was really good. All went well except a minor incident during River Of Pain, when Luke's guitar strap broke, and, completely unfazed by this, he had to finish the song sitting on the front of the stage. What a pro!

Much to the band's amusement, I decided to wear a tie during the gig at Oxford, which prompted Danny to introduce me as "Chris Childs on bass guitar and tie". The jury is out as to whether it appears again this tour...
I'm loving the new songs - the highlight of the set for me is "My Darkest Hour" which has been a firm favourite of mine since I first heard Luke's demo. TDMMDI is also great fun to play, and has one of the sexiest riffs ever in the chorus.

I can't wait to get on with the rest of the tour - we're all really pleased with the new album and the reception it's getting from the fans. See you in Wolverhampton!



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


TUES. 21st NOVEMBER 2006 : WOLVERHAMPTON CIVIC HALL, ENGLAND


At last sound checks are down to only three whole songs and a few bars from Backstreet Symphony (because Pete the soundman can't remember how it goes). This is a good thing, it shows that we are happy with the show arrangements and comfortable with the songs. It's all downhill from here (in a good way of course).
It's sunny and very cold in Wolverhampton but we are glad to be back at the Civic hall, not because of the acoustics or the fact that its sold out but because the dressing room has a jacuzzi and a shower that can squirt bits of you other showers just can't reach. With ten minutes to curtain call we manage to pull Chris screaming and kicking from the shower and into his sparkly costume, he's been in there experimenting with nozzles for the last two and a half hours and gone a little prune like.

We all go down to the side of the stage and await the phrase "house lights please..." from our Tour Manager.

Rock and Roll is a wonderfully choreographed dance between a band and its audience. Take the idea of an encore for instance, you know we are going to do one, we know you know we're going to do one, we know you know we know yet we still go though the merry dance; disappearing off stage whilst you shout for more, it's all part of the fun and I for one wouldn't trade a second of it.

Another RnR operational procedure is "house lights off - crowd cheer" - This is one of favourite bits for me; the call for house lights is a good indication of whether an audience is in the right frame of mind or not as when the lights go off so do the audience.

Tonight was spectacular, as the auditorium was plunged into darkness the cheer from the audience was incredible, they really took the roof off; we all looked at each other and although no one said anything we were all thinking the same thing... is my hair OK?

The Midlands has always been a strong area for Thunder and this evening's show was no exception, the audience were fabulous. It was as though Danny could do anything he liked with them and so he did, splitting them into team A and team B and setting them against each other during You Can't Keep A Good Man Down, then into women and men in Dirty Love, only Brucie himself could have done a better job.

Having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, we retired to our dressing room and with Chris safely back in the shower I managed to finish off the best part of a bottle of vodka in the jacuzzi before walking in a crab-like fashion to the tour bus, falling into my bunk and into a coma. I woke up in London with beautiful fresh breath and no hangover at all... Armageddon!



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


WED. 22nd NOVEMBER 2006 : LONDON FORUM, ENGLAND


I woke up this morning (da-dah da-dah) feeling less than my best but after a London show I've come to expect nothing less. We've not played at the Forum since our farewell tour in '99 and I was really looking forward to last night's show. Some venues have a vibe about them and I particularly like this place. I have fond memories of the first time we played here in 1990 as an unannounced support act for Little Angels and FM. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then but the hangover remains the same! It must be me getting older. Anyway, enough misty-eyed nonsense.......

Once again I managed to miss Even Nine although people I spoke to afterwards seemed to enjoy them. It can be difficult being the opening act but I do think our audience is very fair when it comes to giving support acts a listen.

One of the negative things about playing your hometown is the long, lost friend effect; i.e. your phone starts ringing like a runaway fire engine and everybody you don't hear from the rest of the year suddenly calls you having noticed you happen to be playing in town tomorrow or worse still that very day. Having said all of that, it was great to see some dear old friends chatting away at the bar in the after show (Lig, Nick, Jon, Rob, Chris etc.).

The show itself went very well. The audience was fantastic and the band were the band! The new material is feeling comfortable now and we're starting to play really well. The sound on stage has been superb throughout the shows and the net effect of that is we all play better and Danny sings better. I was chatting to Chris about it this morning and we concluded that part of the reason is the new Marshall amplifiers we're using for the first time on this tour. Nice one Steve!



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


FRI. 24th NOVEMBER 2006 : MANCHESTER ACADEMY, ENGLAND

Having been at home for the day off after London, it was a case of "in the cab and to the station" for the train up to Manchester. My stone age man monosyllabic cab driver was the least chatty person I've ever met, so the journey was mostly silent, apart from my phone constantly ringing of course... Met Harry at Euston (he went home for the day off too) and got settled on the train. Uneventful train ride:- phone off, read newspapers, listened to iPod, had a kip. Harry went for the kip only option. Nice. 


Got to the venue around 3pm, all was in full preparational swing, busy busy and on schedule. It all begins around 8:30am on show days you know. Had a little chat with the lads from Glyder, welcomed them to the tour and wished them good luck for their 3 shows. They seem like a nice bunch.

Soundcheck time came and the band blasted through 75% of half a dozen Led Zeppelin classics, minus me, who was experiencing some microphone drama. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, knob twiddling, and much contemplative stroking of chins, the technical guys opted for a change of microphone, and the odd muddy sound disappeared, replaced by crystal clear DB through the monitors. Hurrah! 

The show was fantastic. Hot and sweaty in the extreme, just how I like it. The ceiling in the Academy is so low so the lights are very close to our heads when we're up there. I felt sure poor old Harry's head was going to catch fire.. The crowd were (as they say in these parts) mad for it from the get go, and got progressively noisier in response to my constant appeals. Of all the shows so far, the singing when we played the songs from the new album was the noisiest tonight, more people knowing the words. I began to get a bit light-headed towards the end of the show, having been leaping about like a maniac for the best part of 2 hours in the extreme heat, and felt myself on the edge of passing out, but luckily managed to re-focus just in time, rather than fall off the stage into the crowd (how undignified would that be?). 

The aftershow was manic like it always is in Manchester, with lots of very nice and some very drunk peeps, all very high on life. Toby Jepson was there, looked like he'd had a good night. Had my bum pinched a few times (gently please ladies), and more than a few improper proposals from young (and some not so young) ladies, which is always amusing. Back to the bus for some sitting up, drinking, chatting and laughing with Brian & Co from Mostly Autumn. Having felt great throughout the tour so far, I must confess to feeling a bit on the tired side when it all calmed down, perhaps I'm getting old? 

Another great show, and so we draw inexorably towards the end of the tour, it always goes by so quickly, I guess we must still be having fun...



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / Low Life In High Places / Dirty Love


SAT. 25th NOVEMBER 2006 : NEWCASTLE CITY HALL, ENGLAND


I was woken quite early outside Newcastle City Hall with a bang! There was a lamp-post in the way of the back of the bus. Thought I was dreaming as the cry of "woh woh woh WOH!" went out followed by the inevitable thud. No big damage done thankfully, but Jimmy the bus driver was teased mercilessly all day.

It was a lovely bright day in the Toon and I was treated to the sights and sounds of the shopping centre. Had a walk round to clear my head from the previous night's alcoholic poisoning.........again!

I did make a consolidated effort to lose a bit of weight this year, but as soon as we hit the road, the food cooked up by our on the road caterers has been just too good to refuse. Feel a couple of pounds heavier than when we started the tour. Must be all those puddings I don't normally eat at home, it can't be the booze can it? Still, felt sure I'd work some it off tonight.

And I did! Tonight at Newcastle City Hall was a stonker, but personally, I wouldn't expect anything less from a Newcastle audience. To add to the silliness, we had one of the biggest brazieres in the world thrown on to the stage. I was just a matter of time before it was going to be on my head for half a song. Had to happen didn't it? It was so big it engulfed my entire head, I'm talking industrial strength... And due to people's generosity and kindness, my wig emporium has expanded on this tour. They seem to be multiplying....or maybe that's just my imagination running away with me. Wonder what Sweep makes of it all (nice horns by the way). The meet and greet was very enjoyable as ever, lovely warm people. Had to put up with lots of women feeling my arse up, oh the misery of it all. Still, happy days....



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


MON. 27th NOVEMBER 2006 : SHEFFIELD CITY HALL, ENGLAND


Today's instalment of my tour diary is being written from a hotel room in Glasgow on our day off. Yesterday we arrived in Sheffield bright and early, and I was the first off of the bus and into the hotel day room, leaving the rest of the band snoring and farting. After showering I headed off on foot to the City Hall, where I knew that breakfast would be waiting for me in catering. We have a fantastic catering company, "Eat Your Hearts Out" who cook the most delicious and exotic dishes for lunch and dinner, but you just can't beat a good old full English first thing in the morning. The rest of the day was spent hanging around the gig or outside on the bus, watching movies and sleeping, with the occasional visit to catering. A tough life!


Soundcheck went smoothly - great onstage sound again - Gary, you rock! During a rendition of Back In Black I came to the conclusion that I don't know how to play any ACDC songs... shame on me! We can usually manage a verse and chorus of most tunes before it all falls to pieces, and it makes the daily grind of soundcheck more bearable.

The show had sold very well so we were expecting a good night, and we certainly weren't disappointed! Every gig we do seems to be better than the last - I really think this has been the best tour we've done for a long while.
Danny was his usual unstoppable self - at one point encouraging the people on the balcony to "get their kit off". A few willingly complied, though at that distance I couldn't make out if they were male or female! Damn short-sightedness. Due to it being a seated venue, there was no barrier at front, and people were standing right at the edge of the stage - I had to take care not to step on any fingers! A few beers backstage with some friends, then on to the bus for the overnight journey.
I'm feeling a little sad that the tour is drawing to a close, it's been such good fun, but hey - it's only a few weeks until the Christmas show! I'm telling everyone in the meet & greets that this year's show will be the best so far - just make sure that you're there to find out if I'm right...

Big Love,


Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Love Walked In / Fade into the Sun / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


TUES. 28th NOVEMBER 2006 : GLASGOW ACADEMY, SCOTLAND


So it seems that my last blog has upset our soundman Pete and he has asked me for a retraction. I think it was because I was sitting chatting to our lighting designer and Pete was jealous. There is a certain rivalry between sound and lights on a rock and roll tour and there is some fine banter between the two, as Pete went by he muttered "just remember no one goes home humming the lights” to which the LD replied “yeah, but without lights it’s just radio”. At this point I just sat back and enjoyed the duelling. “I’ve done shows without lights but never without sound” Pete stabbed back and so it continued until I decided to wander off to catering and get a mop for the blood.


Glasgow city centre has changed recently, as you walk down the street it is now full of people standing in doorways puffing away due to Scotland’s draconian new smoking laws. I love them as I have given up smoking and if I sound a little smug, I am and I don't apologise – good old Draco, I didn’t realize he was a non-smoker too. Some bars have assuaged and set up smoking areas outside with tables, chairs, ashtrays and little red heaters which bathe the smokers in an eerie red light. We were in one such bar for a pre-dinner drink and Harry went outside for a quick puff, when he switched the heater on he looked just like he does on the new album cover.

Having had a day off we were all rested and ready for a cracking show at the Academy. Last time we played here it was on a Saturday and this evening had a lot to live up to, after all Saturday night in Glasgow is a bit of a night. I knew it was going to be good when Harry came into the dressing room with the cross of St Andrews emblazoned on his shirt and wearing a kilt. “Shall I wear this in the encore?” He asked, “It would be rude not to, after all I'm sure King Angus would have approved” I replied.

The show was wonderful and the Glaswegian crowd did not let us down despite it being a wet rainy Tuesday. At one point Danny got his “magic finger” out which was a bit of a worry at first and there was much schoolboy smirking and innuendo from the rest of the band, but it all worked out fine in the end. Danny also did a real nice tribute to the late, great Alan "Fluff" Freeman who sadly passed away the day before, he will be sadly missed, a real iconic figure.

Harry did come out in his kilt and shirt for the encore only to be told in the aftershow that he was in fact wearing it back to front which he insisted that he did on purpose, I leave you to make your own minds up as to whether he did or not.

We watched the Wicker Man in the dressing room, what a great film that is, we’re off to Inverness tomorrow…… worried, me?



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love


WED. 29th NOVEMBER 2006 : THE IRONWORKS, INVERNESS, SCOTLAND


We left Glasgow very late, having had a great show and a fun time afterwards, talking complete and utter rubbish with some nutty Glaswegians into the wee small hours (no pun intended). Goodbyes said, the caterers and additional sound and lighting crew peeps took off for home on one of the love buses, leaving us to wend our way Northwards to Inverness. The Ironworks show was bolted on to the tour and is a much smaller venue than the rest of the shows, so our production was also sent home, along with the truck. This left us with the bus and a trailer for the slimmed down backline.

The bus arrived at the venue in the early hours, and we all got a long lie in, rather than the usual early morning load in, the crew call was 12 noon. "Aah... sleep..." said they. Ironworks is a really nice venue, all new and shiny, with nice clean facilities and showers that work (always a bonus when you fall off the bus in the morning looking & feeling 135 years old). Having cleaned and polished our little selves, there was talk of a walk around town for some sights and scenes, but sadly the weather intervened and the heavens opened, in a big way... Chris made it to the stage door...

We had a few technical issues during the soundcheck, mostly to do with the way the audio system is set up in the venue, but we did our best to overcome them, and the people at the venue were very helpful. Not much jamming today, with no people in the room the soundcheck was no audio feast, so we did what we had to do and hoped it would sound better when the audience arrived. Dinner was very nice, having lost our lovely caterers, we were taken to a local hotel where they fed us very nicely (thank you Laura & co).

Showtime came and on we went. It was immediately apparent that the small crowd was not going to be a quiet one, so all concerns about on stage sound soon evaporated. I had a very silly moment in What A Beautiful Day, where, having gone around the back of Luke's amps for a drink, I returned with the microphone the wrong way up, then proceeded to speak into the wrong end, with a pretty quiet result (as you'd expect). I was so surprised, I burst into fits of laughter, and having never done it before in over 30 years of performing live, the weirdness of it kept coming back into my mind for the rest of the show. Even as I type I cannot imagine how I did it, or how I've never done it before now. A small but significant thing dear reader, but maybe it was the catalyst for what followed, for I was not the only one. Chris had an attack of the yips during My Darkest Hour, and went into a weird world of blank pain in the first chorus, the end result being a kind of jazz exposition, only very loosely based on the song that Luke and I were playing. Luke had a moment too, but swore he didn't afterwards, Harry told him though. I completely blanked at the beginning of You Can't Keep A Good Man Down, and had to lie on the floor and ask someone for the words to the first verse. The bizarre thing is that we'd all been so red hot and fab for the rest of the tour (honest guv), you'd think this would have happened at the beginning, not the end. None of it mattered though, both the band and the crowd were having far too good a time of it to really let it affect anything, it just seemed to make it all the more enjoyable.

We had a great night, and I told the crowd most sincerely that I couldn't think of a better place to end a tour. As it does, it flew by far too quickly, I mean both the show and the tour, so I guess this is it for the daily blog thing for a while. I'd just like to end by saying a very big thank you on behalf of all of us in the band, to everyone who attended the tour, and helped us make it one of the most enjoyable we've ever done.

Sadly my demands go on and on.. Please continue to help the Thunder cause, by spreading the word about the new LP, the new single (I meant it about everyone buying loads of copies), and of course the band in general. We'll be back to do it all over again later in 2007, after we've made yet another bid to take over the rest of the world, but for the meantime, our work here is done.

Thanks again, you are the best fans in the world.



Set list: Backstreet Symphony / Dirty Dream / What a Beautiful Day / A Million Faces / Laughing On Judgement Day / Gimme Some Lovin' / Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / My Darkest Hour / River of Pain/ The Devil Made Me Do It / Fade into the Sun / Love Walked In / I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Encore: Can’t Keep A Good Man Down / A Better Man / Dirty Love (Including 'Satisfaction' - The Rolling Stones)

 
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