Thursday, 24th March 2005 in Road Trip U.K. 2005.
The journey to Rhyl takes longer than expected and we arrive around 5pm. The sound guy has already been in touch to find out what we need in the way of mikes etc so we anticipate nice and well- managed gig. The outside of the venue is nothing if not completely depressing, although you can go round to the sea-ward side and look across the acres of beach and pretend the pavilion isn’t really there.
But it is, and inside it is not quite as bad as it looks. Massive though – the wrong sort of place for Neil – more the venue for a showband or a ballet. The hugest stage area I have ever seen. The manager is a nice friendly guy who watches the show right the way through and enjoys it even when the guitar cuts out in ‘Urban Spaceman’ – but as the sound guy points out ‘it was ok, the bass and drums were still there!!’. The monitors are all over the place as Tom keeps trying to point out, by gesticulating wildly to the desk. But the beautifully unflappable sound guy says later ‘it sounded all right to me,’ so that’s ok then. To give him his due he does say that the desk is the problem, so hopefully he will have fixed it before the next solo performer visits. There is a very small but very keen audience who chat and buy CDs but as we pack and stow the instruments, only the two teenagers on work experience from school actually help. The rest all appear again magically when the van is packed, so we tip the school kids and drive off into the night and to the Springfields hotel.
At nearly every gig we have had brilliant crews who help in every way, lifting and carrying till the last piece of luggage is stowed away in the van. As I have mentioned before, the performers, whoever they are, have usually travelled many miles to do the gig. They wind themselves up to give as good a performance as possible and then really need to wind down slowly after it. Back in the Bonzo days we had a brilliant roadie called Fred who would not let anyone else touch the instruments. He used to do all the driving and was able to get absolutely anything anyone wanted at any time of the day or night. We miss him deeply, but these days few can afford the luxury of a roadie, so when the crew stay behind to help it is really really appreciated.
At the Springfields Hotel there is no locking of the swimming pool at 10pm. This is unusual for England where swimming pools everywhere are closed after ten ‘for your own safety!!!’ The night porter has already switched on the sauna so we swim and bask till we are ready for a bottle or two of bubbly. JJ and Tom stay up till the wee small hours but Neil and I are finished by about 1am.
Neil’s thought for the day : ‘Britain is a tiny island where half the people are introspective and xenophobic whereas America is quite the reverse.’
Tom’s poem -Body ‘ My hair is a canvas, My skin is a page, My body a temple, That I wage, War on.’