So the boys have played four shows now. Strasbourg and Nancy were warm ups. By Lille we started getting better but last night in Paris, we hit our stride. Paris has always been a hard gig. Like London or New York, its easy to lose your cool or at least be tempted to. We didn’t.
Simon Lea is settling in well. Things to know about Simon: he’s a Londoner, from Streatham. He’s played drums with Ronnie Wood, James Blunt, Boy George, Seth Lakeman and Rizzlekicks. His last gig before this was the Bowie musical, ‘Lazarus’. He’s a runner. Does 6 miles every day before breakfast. He’s a straight talker and he don’t stand for no bullshit. He’s very funny and slips in and out of a husky voiced cockney caricature, developed over time on the road for is own amusement. He records every single rehearsal and gig he plays on a little dictaphone and listens to it in the van the next day. He could quite happily talk self-improvement with Lorraine Kelly over a blueberry acai refresher, or share a pint with Ricky Gervaise, laughing about the non-existence of atheism today. In short, he’s one of us.
This whole tour is about Simon much like this time last year was all about Matt White. Last year would have been impossible without Matt. Same goes for Simon now. Losing two of the original members of the group has been tough. White Bear has been tough on everyone. But I look at my right arm and I’m proud. That bear tattoo means even more now. More than just pride. It represents survival. The mark of a new band. A new day.