U.S.A Tour Diary Double Bill Pt.1

TTMTOUR DIARY3 Comments

The drive from Newark International Airport to Norfolk, VA took about 7 hours. Myself, Damon and Phil were met at the airport by a healthy and tanned looking Luke Potashnick fresh from his week of eating tacos and hanging out with alligators in Florida, and a fresh faced and smiling Iain Graham who, despite having had to endure six weeks of babysitting the five of us, appeared happy to see us again. We collected Paul Sayer in Philadelphia and the team was once again compete.
For the first hour or two, the van was buzzing with chat. We all had a weeks worth of stories and events to catch up on before the conversation turned to the weeks ahead. It was then the quiet realisation set in that we would be spending a long, long time in this van! When undertaking his march across the Alps to Rome, I imagine Hannibal, rather than focusing on the whole journey, took each day as it came to avoid being completely overwhelmed by the scale of his mission. I think we’ll be employing the same tactic on this second leg of the tour as worrying about a 17 hour drive from Florida to Texas before we’ve even got to Virginia isn’t going to help anyone. If Hannibal can move 46,000 men and 38 elephants across Europe, I’m sure the six of us can get across America in a Mercedes Sprinter with no elephants to worry about! Plus, Hannibal didn’t have the luxury of being able to pull into The Great Machipongo Clam Shack along the way. We stumbled across this eatery whilst driving through Nassawadox – a place seemingly named by someone with an unlucky rack of scrabble letters. If Willy Wonka owned a Seafood restaurant, this would be it. Pretty much anything that lived in the sea could be broiled or deep fried here and as usual, we had eyes bigger than our stomachs. We left having eaten one or two fried oyster too many before driving the crazily long Chesapeake bay bridge to our beds in Norfolk, Virginia.

We woke to a dreary, drizzly morning. A mist hung in the air making the gun metal grey of the military ships in the port blend effortlessly with the flat sky. Looking out of our hotel window, if I hadn’t known otherwise, I might have guessed we were in Plymouth (a seaside town in the UK probably not in my top 10 places to live). As we’d smashed the drive here yesterday, we had most of the day to mooch about. Paul and I found a great breakfast near the hotel then took the van off for a spot of shopping. Possibly you imagine us returning to the hotel laden with large, expensive looking shiny bags full of clothes and shoes with designer sunglasses perched on our heads but the sad reality is that I splashed out on a new Kindle and Paul treated himself to a lovely set of digital calipers. Not very rock’n’roll but if we do ever become real rockstars, we’ll be sending people out to buy our Kindles and calipers for us whilst we sit around figuring out what socks to wear!
The venue in Norfolk was fantastic. For a start, our dressing room contained huge sofas in front of a billboard sized TV, a pool table, a couple of old-school arcade games and an arm wrestling machine. Further exploration of the venue revealed a basketball court upstairs! Phil, Iain and myself spent half an hour discovering that we are pretty shit at basketball but felt much better for the exercise and fully charged up for the gig.
When I walked off the stage that night however, I hit a wall. Jet lag got the better of me. My eyelids became leaden and I felt like I was walking through treacle. When my head finally touched the pillow that night, I was out like a light.
Next stop was Richmond, Virginia. The first thing we’ve noticed since being out on this second leg is that it’s noticeably warmer. It’s nice not having to go about dressed like Scott of the Antarctic and load-ins have become somewhat more relaxed as the urgency to get inside the venue before suffering frostbite has gone. The National is another top notch venue with a pretty deco facade and, like the Electric Factory in Philadelphia,has screen printed posters on display from some big name bands who’ve sold out the venue. As with a lot of towns on this U.S. tour, we didn’t really get to see as much of Richmond as we’d have liked but we we’re given a warm welcome by its inhabitants and we look forward to returning one day and claiming one of those posters!