I don’t think it could come as any surprise when I tell you that we are absolutely shattered. We swing wildly between bouts of manic energy and paralysing lethargy. It’s the kind of fatigue that has become so deep rooted that it’s going to take more than a good nights sleep to shake off. Add to that the fact that I forget where I am and have no idea what day of the week it is and you can see that it’s probably time we went home to reset and assume some sense of normality. I don’t want this to come across as a complaint. Everything about this tour has been incredible and tackling this gigantic country was always going to involve a lot of hard work but, like I imagine a marathon runner as the finish line comes into view would feel an elated sense of relief. There are already plans for us to return to the States more than once this year and I’m already looking forward to this but it’s definitely time for a little breather – I’m knackered!
I was experiencing one of these bouts of lethargy on our arrival in San Francisco. We’d finished loading in and, failing to find a place to prostrate myself, I considered lying on the floor in the middle of the venue until doors opened and I was forced to move.
As has happened more than once on this tour, just as we start lacking in enthusiasm or begin to feel demotivated, something will happen to turn it all around and restore the status quo. The show in San Francisco was possibly one of my favourite of the tour. We didn’t know if anyone would show up to see us at all and whilst it wasn’t a huge crowd, it was certainly enough to create a great vibe. The sound on stage was magnificent and I felt that connection with my brothers in the band that I think makes The Temperance Movement special. It was just the tonic I needed and lethargy was replaced with adrenaline and pure joy – I love being in this band!
After San Francisco, we drove through breathtaking mountain scenery to get to Reno. Once there, I have to say that Reno was less breathtaking. At least downtown was anyway. Although at one time exciting and glamorous, the shine has rubbed off a over the years and left “The Biggest Little City in the World” slightly tarnished and tired.
Despite us feeling the same, the show in Reno was great and the crowd made the long drive more than worthwhile.
Our hotel in Reno was, naturally, also a casino and so I applied the old maxim, “when in Rome…” by investigating the slots. My self-appointed assistant, who sidled up to me once I’d selected a machine promising me good fortune and wealth, was a local drug dealer wearing a cap so low that he had to tilt his head backwards just to look at me. He first broke the ice by asking me for a lucky dollar which, when I handed it over, turned out to be not so lucky, and then proceeded to instruct me on how to operate the baffling machines whilst unsuccessfully offering to sell me various methods of getting high. With his slot machine know-how, we amassed a staggering fortune of just over four dollars which I donated to him to buy himself a better fitting cap before going up to my bed.
The next morning, we discovered that downtown Reno was not indicative of the rest of the city when we visited one of the finest coffee twatteries of the tour. We basked in the morning sun, drinking cortados and cappuccinos and eating unbelievably good pastries. Reno had redeemed itself!
The drive to Portland, although long, was stunningly beautiful and included a food-stop at an unexpectedly good Chinese restaurant literally in the middle of nowhere. Jeff Lee appeared to be both waiter and chef who, amongst his various life achievements, had once cooked for Jackie Chan, a memento of which he hung proudly on his wall. I’m sure Mr Chan was as pleased with his dinner as we were with ours.
Portland gave us some beautiful weather and a venue to match – The Star theatre. I’d like to add this venue to the list of ones we want to return to and sell out. Being a Monday night, the turnout wasn’t overwhelming but what the crowd lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm. Thank you Portland.
Our next destination on the home strait was Seattle. Or at least we thought it was Seattle until we were told that it was actually Ballard which is considered, by residents of Ballard, to be an entirely separate place altogether. Either way, the venue was in possibly the coolest neighbourhood in the U.S. Pretty much every shop or business was a twattery. Even the gym had exposed brickwork! (to those of you who may be new to the tour diary and unfamiliar with the term “twattery”, please see HERE
for an explanation)
After loading in, I went off in search of a toy shop. My little girl had requested I bought home a new “Sylvanian Family” (“Calico Critters” to residents of the USA and Canada due to licensing agreements!) to live with us. Faced with the shame of returning empty handed, I summoned an über car to take me to Top Ten Toys and it seems that even the über cars in Ballard are the coolest in the U.S. When the car arrived, I jumped in the backseat and was instantly handed a Gladioli by a wonderful lady who reminded me of a cross between Whoopi Goldberg and Mother Theresa. The pockets of both front seats were stuffed with more Gladioli waiting to be gifted to the next lucky passengers. I wanted to take her home with me but she told me she was busy studying network security at night school and was quite happy in Ballard or Seattle or wherever we were. Gladioli lady waited for me outside Top Ten Toys until I returned with a family of kangaroos, a pair of robots and a giant squid. Back to the venue we went and another show crossed off the list.
Now only one show now stood between us and the finish line – Vancouver.
As our final show, we were always going to throw every last bit of energy we had left into it. We were all running on empty but as we walked on the stage and Damon counted in “Midnight Black” for the last time on this tour, the fatigue soon transformed into unbridled energy and the next 75 minutes were spent immersed in a blissful, loud, sweaty, beautiful, emotional finale. And that was that – Tour over!
So, as I sit here in seat 48D, there is a strange feeling of disbelief that the previous 3 months happened at all. It’s almost dreamlike. Did we really just do all that? There’s also a huge sense of achievement similar, I imagine, to a group of mountaineers standing atop Everest thinking, “Fucking hell, we made it!” And whilst we might not have the same view, at least we don’t have to climb back down again!
Instead, I’m on my way home to give my little girl a huge cuddle…and a giant squid!