Brilliantine Mortality


Third Battalion

Third Battalion home / The Origins and Early History of the 3rd Battalion / Embrace the Past / A Rock in our Hearts / First Rites / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2003 / Cath Aubergine's 2003 BSP Travelogue / ULU / BSP on tour Jan-Jun 2004 / Cargo / Springtime at Sea / True Adventures in the Land Beyond / To Cork and Dublin / The Children of the Summer's End / The Fall of British Sea Power

Footnotes The Search for HMS Sussex / Irish Jack

Fan reviews of BSP gigs can be found on the main site





Cath Aubergine's 2003 BSP Travelogue

If that's what's waiting for me on the ground
Oh I hope I never come down
Is it any wonder that they think I've lost my mind?
... if that's what they think they'll find
We'll leave them all behind...

– The Chameleons, my favourite band in the world from 1986-2003


Part 1 – Blazing Sunshine & Frothy Beverages Round the Four Corners of Germany

I barely remember what life was like before this tour. It was summer, I think. Yes, because I remember soaking up the sun on the terrace at Bremen airport way back in mid-September whilst KLM tried to work out which random place our bags had been despatched to. And drinking the first of many foamy German beers at sunset in Rosa-Luxemburgplatz square, East Berlin, checking out pairs of passing men trying to guess who might be "Kevo" and "De Lacey"... The venue was called the Roter Salon and it was, quite definitely, the reddest place I have ever been. The walls, carpet, ceiling, bar, stairs and toilets were varying shades of red. Still travel-dazed I'm told it was one of the lads' best gigs, but for me it was overwhelmed with a sense of relief that I had even got there at all in spite of the random obstacles chucked in my general direction. A feeling which, with hindsight, was actually an omen or blueprint for the next two months...

I have tried a few times to explain what happened to me in Hamburg but still can't find words for the emotional overload which left me standing at the front on my own with nobody within ten feet behind me, tears streaming down my face on several occasions - I'm kind of glad the band didn't really know who I was then. Put briefly I realised round about Blackout that I had fallen completely in love with this band, at a gig to which I had brought one of my best friends, Mark Burgess, who had been the singer of my previous favourite (and recently split) band of 17 years standing The Chameleons. As Hamilton handed his acoustic back to the ever-trusty Stan I turned round to see Mark and his German wife Daniela enthusiastically applauding. Heavy stuff. Afterwards Mark said the band looked like "the bastard sons of Michael Palin" and we tried to explain to Daniela what Kendal Mintcake was, without a great deal of success... They'd done the stage up fantastically, it was almost like a Christmas grotto only with branches, and they had even sprinkled a few loose leaves on the drinking tables. We got Salty Water and a rare outing for A Wooden Horse as an encore. The show was rather under-attended; Mark had told me how he had had to try several different ticket places before he had even found one which had heard of the gig, there had been no publicity around the city either in the form of posters or in the local listings papers, the venue was a long way out from the vibrant and social areas such as the Reeperbahn and even directly outside there was little or no indication that there was a gig tonight. To which end I'm amazed that 60 or 70 people did make it. The band seemed slightly unbalanced by the complete lack or crowd response, and later apparently said it had been one of the worst on the tour. But for me it was very special... (read an alternative – very alternative – review of this gig, translated from German, here).

So eschewing our intended break in Berlin, I convinced Bloke to spend six hours on a train to Munich for another one. Somewhere en route we passed the world's funniest named railway station Germering-Unterpfaffenhaffen, at which point reality left me for a while. So we walked out of the station and there were a couple of lads in green and white hoops. Scotland had played Germany a few days before, hey, perhaps they've stayed on for the Oktoberfest...? Um... hang on, there seems to be quite a few of them... what the...? What day is it again? Wednesday... that means...

Arriving in Munich on the night Bayern are at home to Celtic will always be fixed in my memory. Having some tea in a nearby pizzeria we learnt an interesting collection of anti-English songs as both camps joined in love of a common enemy, and wondered how we were going to get out alive. Thankfully the match kicked at 8.45 giving us a 14 minute window to make a quick run to the venue whereby all events officially commenced at one minute to the hour. I've tapped a few Bavarian mates about this since, to see if it was some kind of tax dodge or whatever, but no, apparently it's for no reason at all. It was a good gig too (full review here); the crowd were quiet if appreciative, and I will always treasure my set list containing the immortal words Bass Cock. After the gig I nervously approached Hamilton and commenced the other general blueprint for BSP gigs... me getting all shy in the presence of band members and ending up talking complete bollocks to them. It's not my fault, I just don't have the confidence some people do, but because of my writing and general behaviour at gigs people assume I do. I did escape with a lovely big tour poster from the toilets though. The walk back to our rather austere accommodation (now the reason for lack of hotel rooms in town was all to obvious) was punctuated by occasionally tripping over comatose Scots, asleep on the pavement, some still clutching that last enormous Bavarian beer-stein.

After a weekend spent, in retrospect, in the wrong places physically and mentally (love my friend Mark as I do, his acoustic solo shows in godforsaken places like Duisburg were just not where my head was at - Frazer kindly brought some mint cake out for Daniela though!), we rejoined the boys in Wurzburg, with Frazer along for the ride. Heading for the address of the AKW Club we strangely found ourselves in another dimension, walking up a private road covered in conkers where an old man in full Bavarian dress and a yellow beard waved a big stick in our general direction. Further up the road opened onto a cobble courtyard surrounded by dilapidated mills, like Oldham crossed with the Brothers Grimm. "It's got to be down here" I surmised "because there isn't anywhere else", and we carried on up the wooded lane resisting the urge to go and hide from each other in the undergrowth and pretend we were in a film. Then we turned the final corner and came upon the big purple tour bus, gleaming in the late autumn sunshine, and the soundcheck of Remember Me emanating from somewhere deep inside. Some time later we met Northern Pete and Serene for the first time over copious Red Bull & Vodkas in the beautifully wooded beer garden; another picture fixed in my mind there of Yan and Hamilton looking so very small in their big socks in front of a 30 foot wall of ivy, deliberating at some length over their choice of fronds. The rather extended performance by the forgettable local support band gave us ample time to partake in some horrible beverage delicacy recommended by the thoroughly bonkers (in a good way) Volker (whom DeLacey and Kevo had acquired in Dresden a week earlier) which involved mixing two things you really shouldn't, the details of which I believe I have blanked out for a good reason. Eventually our lads came on and played a blinding gig, and I started to realise life had taken an interesting new turn. After the gig we (band, crew and UK fan contingent plus Volker and friend) narrowly escaped being attacked by a very large and drunk local who took exception to our Englishness, yelling "Auslander!" whilst swinging fists randomly in our general direction, before thankfully falling on his face and being dragged away by the rather belatedly-arriving club bouncer. Then it all get a little vague, I remember garish 70s wallpaper in the backstage room and a bowl of Gummi Bears which Frazer was finding in his pockets for days, and I think this may have been the night we crawled back into town up the tram-tracks and accessorised the luxury cars outside a local showroom with spare bananas from the band's rather bizarre rider, but I'm not sure...

And so on to Koln. It was very full of people, the inexplicable heatwave of the past week had gone all wet on us, and Frazer's attempts to navigate by the setting sun were hampered by his inability to remember in which direction it was supposed to set. He might well deny this now. Do not believe him. Oh and then there was the jumping on and off trams until we randomly found one going vaguely the right way. Head down, locate venue. Easier said than done. My Cologne-born-and-bred friend had never heard of it. Some other German friends crossed the river 5 times trying to find it by car. We, with the usual high quality Frazer-standard maps, still had no idea we were there when we did arrive. A note must be made of the toilets: I believe them to have been the worst I have ever seen in a venue, although this did not stop me spending 15 minutes sat on the floor in there sewing leaves onto my hat. I'd been looking for weeping-willows, for a kind of dreadlock effect, but had to settle for something less interesting...

It all was worth the effort though as it was quite simply the best gig I have been to this year. Every song was outstanding, stunning blue and green lighting against a white backdrop, Yan standing on a ledge high above the drumkit flapping a curtain over the unruffled Woody, Hamilton balancing the heron on his head and using it to hit cymbals, just the best gig I have been to in a very long time.

Post gig I managed to achieve scary new levels of trashed-ness which I paid for with a three day hangover, but if there is one time and place in my life I would like to revisit just for a second it's there, the Gebauede-9, the early hours, with me and Bloke and Frazer and our German friends and the band and crew attempting, possibly, to drink the bar dry. You think we look like shit in the photos I've posted online? You want to see the ones I didn't!! I never did find out who had my camera off me and took several shots of Stan's feet. I still haven't seen the photos of me and Eamon attempting to ballroom-dance to the Beach Boys (largely because I have no idea whose camera kept flashing). Nick and Frazer's Invisible Table Football game (the result of a weekend of being booted off football tables by big mean Germans) has already passed into folklore in certain circles. And for several weeks I had absolutely no idea how we'd got back to our hotel, until the kind soul who'd rescued us owned up. The remaining five days of my holiday was, frankly, mostly rubbish (with the exception of a bizarre trip deep into the former East on a rather rickety train for a friend's gig whereby Nick and Frazer got so shit-faced they ended up playing in a pile of sand by the roadside at 4am, whilst I was sliding down the middle of the bizarrely shiny road on my front singing Fear Of Drowning at the top of my voice) and I wish I'd just gone home after that.


Part 2 – Random Hits On Unsuspecting British Towns

Still rather battle-weary on arrival in Sheffield we were somewhat taken aback to find ourselves at a 1000-strong Freshers Ball, memorable mostly for me for my introduction to the living legends that are Captain Riot and Alan. Yes lads that was (at the time of writing) just two months ago... nice to reacquaint with Angela"Johnny"Cannon (to whom I will refer as Zoe from now on because (a) it's her name and (b) it's easier to type...). BSP played well in front of a healthy bunch of new converts, the Battalion giving it loads down the right hand side, and several hundred rowdy drunken indifferents.

Although not the best gig I'd seen it was enough to convince me to sack off my entire plans for the weekend and join the Battalion for an invasion of Leicester. Zoe and I, determined to hang onto our front spots in the rather long and thin venue, dealt with soporific support Tenderfoot by counting songs off the setlist as they played them, and cheering when they missed one out. Our lads however did not disappoint. Noble and Hamilton had chosen one of the hottest venues there is to come in full Arctic camo coats, and by three songs in looked like they'd been swimming with their clothes on. The place was so packed that the only way offstage for the lads at the end was to crowd-surf to the door one after another. I remember thinking possibly certain band members were maybe not washing their stage clothes... I also remember it being an absolutely fantastic gig, getting very stoned indeed, ending up backstage probably talking rubbish again, several of us being thrown out of the venue for the wrong kind of smoking, walking back in 15 seconds later having all altered our appearance slightly with creative use of hats and coats, a slight blank patch, then waking up in the world's scariest B&B with kendal mint cake all over my face and four empty wrappers on the bed. Then the BSP Transport Curse kicked in again and Doll and I spent most of the day trying to get home via a somewhat circuitous tour of the nations' railway system...

Next stop was a rather subdued affair, with me (sober and tired), Doll, the Captain and Clark the only "regulars" stupid enough to think some windswept outpost of Stoke Staffordshire University on a wet and windy Monday night was in any way a sensible place to be, even in the name of fine musical entertainment. The Students Union building was made entirely of brown Formica, and the band played their hearts out through a massive PA The Darkness would be proud of, to a crowd of about 150 statue-still students (read a review here). Hamilton spent large parts of the gig atop one of the towering speaker cabinets (if you've seen my photo, I must say that doesn't really do this edifice justice) with Stan looking ever more nervously at him, although it was Noble who turned our heroic roadie's hair grey overnight by quietly slipping up a fire-ladder onto a lighting rig which looked like it was held together by bits of string and sticky-back plastic. And swinging there, grinning, for some time. A surprise closure of the M6 afterwards, leading to an hour in completely stationary traffic and the necessity of using mint-cake for its nominal purpose as a survival foodstuff, once again begged that little question "why exactly do we do this?". It didn't last though. Then the band, and half the Battalion, departed for Ireland whilst I, stuck miserably back home and wishing I hadn't used up two precious days holiday and a hundred quid stalking the rather undeserving Interpol earlier in the year, tried to remember what it is I do for a living and stuff... My bedraggledness of looks and vagueness of mind (I mean, even more than usual) was noted at a friend's birthday do, and that wasn't even half way...

By the time the big bus rolled into my hometown several people, possibly myself included, had taken almost complete leave of "the plot", whatever that is. Manchester was memorable for an absolutely storming show, Astrojax, planes on rulers and rumours on certain other bands' forums about my mental state. I had also been assigned to review this gig for the website (manchestermusic.co.uk) on which I used to be a fairly prolific writer but have recently, for some reason, been letting slide a little... (It's hard enough holding down a proper job whilst carrying on like this I can tell you!) The piece is still up there (read it here). The laugh is I couldn't be bothered with my notebook, and was so pissed that night I just made it up the next day from the set list and vague flashes of memory - and the photo accompanying the review on the site was actually taken way back in Germany! Still, they had the same clothes on... There's almost something a bit weird about being able to walk home to my own bed after a gig though. Makes you feel you've not really put the effort in, you know?

Mind you the Transport Demon struck again the next night with a broken down train blocking both directions out of Piccadilly, and I arrived in Liverpool with the by-now familiar bewildered and frazzled look in my eyes. Although it was around this time that I realised the idea of America, which had been bumping round my head ever since I saw the words "Maxwells Hoboken" on the listings, wouldn't go away... Liverpool was a top gig (read a review here), nice winter-look bare twigs in place of the leafy stuff, and the world's oddest moshpit duo of Frazer and Captain Riot impressing all and sundry by looking like total mentalists. Meanwhile Zoe, Doll and I scared random ladies in the toilets by practising our Astrojax tricks. And I converted two BSP virgins. All in all a great night.

Not so great was the crack-of-dawn start caused by my rather ridiculous discovery that it's cheaper to fly to Glasgow than drive or get the train. The only consolation being that Mumu looked a lot more trashed than I did. I spent half the morning in the Passport Office, having made an emergency appointment as my passport was almost expired and that nagging US itch just would't go away - I'm actually quite horrified by the picture I now have to live with for ten years. My hair looks dreadful and I'm inadvertently pulling a bit of a Hamilton stare - how scary is that? Anyway after an utterly bizarre afternoon whereby we acquired and then had to give up a very large pumpkin, had a pretend board meeting round the world's biggest pub table and ran down the street singing a Half Man Half Biscuit medley, King Tuts was treated to the word "Alan" being shouted repeatedly for several years... and another stormer of a gig! A whole month now till the boys were back on home shores*. But I had other plans, and was skilfully planting my devious thoughts in others....

*Cath was unable to make the last night of the tour, at the University of London Union. Read about it here)


Part 3 – What Are We Doing In Washington DC aka 26 Hour Party People!

At one point it actually looked like I would be going on my own, and this didn't actually bother me. I'd mobilised a few friends I'd met during previous Stateside band-stalking jaunts, rearranged my work shifts to something barely recognisable, booked my flights and sat back and waited for others to take the plunge. Kevo was talking about New York but for me only a trip back to places I'd enjoyed brilliant gigs at before would suffice. Tempting them with tales of my beloved Maxwells and a tray of nachos and Red Deaths with our names on it, I pretty much knew they wouldn't be able to resist...

So it was a bright-eyed and excitable Cath, Kevo, Doll and Alan who touched down in Washington DC at 3pm EST, having started drinking at 10am GMT. Picked up by my friend Kurt (ex-US military, and wearing the Man City shirt a fellow Mancunian mate had given him last year, much to the horror of the Other-Lot-supporting Doll). Soon we were demolishing the decanter of sherry the hotel had stupidly left in reception, then a short walk to the Black Cat and in my case a brief "power-nap" through two incredibly tedious support bands.

It was fantastic to watch the bewilderment of a lot of the crowd as the stage was loaded. Somehow our jet-lagged eyes opened, our exhausted bodies found a new burst of energy, and when they walked out on stage we were ready to give it loads as usual. There were moments of seriously high emotion as I flung my arms around friends I don't get to see that often due to geography, who had come to see a band because I had told them to, and ended up falling in love with them too.

Suffice to say by the time we crashed out we had broken several world drinking records, lost Kevo (who had thought he was back in London and left to try and get the night bus to Shepherds Bush), I'd given myself a nosebleed by being drunk in charge of a drinking straw, Alan was being refused bar service, we'd spent a good while talking to almost all the band afterwards and I'd probably made as much sense as usual, Doll had got in a strange car with a man who made her lie on the floor, from whose spitty and possibly coke-addled ranting we later had to spring various rescue operations on people (we dumped him on Eamon in the end. Sorry Eamon) and I was, as is often the case at BSP gigs, soaking wet without much idea how or why. (It's not sweat. It doesn't happen in sweaty patterns. I think people pour water over my head. Maybe I do. Not sure...)

So it was a somewhat bleary-eyed bunch that stumbled into the incredible architecture of Grand Union Station to catch the Amtrak to New York. I wish I had photos of Kevo on the train, I have never seen a hangover face like it. The journey was typically surreal, with the train having to stop at one point because the guard thought the brakes might be on fire, and a half hour of excessive giddiness which started with vague discussion about daft things we could take to future gigs and ended with us trying to convince Alan to bring his friend with a glass eye to New Years Eve so he could pop it out during the line "I would give my eyes to see you..." maybe you had to be there...

Having been to Manhattan twice before I was feeling relatively calm when we walked out of Penn Station. OK, so we had nowhere to stay, but everyone I knew who'd been to NY on gigging jaunts (you see in the circles I move in, this kind of thing is actually quite normal!) had always managed to get a room in the colossal monolith of a hotel over the road. But not us, not today. So off we went to the nearest internet cafe whereby Kevo's search for the toilet actually led him into some kind of hospital ward. Another door opened onto a hairdressing salon full of elderly Chinese ladies.

I almost considered phoning Frazer for the name of the seedy Bowery hostel he stayed in when we were over in June, but remembering his story of getting up one morning to see two elderly Italian men having a loud and rather physical argument in their underpants outside his cell-like room, decided we'd probably had enough scary weirdness for one day. We were almost on the point of giving up when a cheer went up from Alan. We have a room! A suite, no less! The very last hotel room in New York. Battalion ready to go! To... a "suite", near Central Park, which we were assured was suitable for four people, due to its bed provision being "two queens and a trampoline". But of course. Sadly when we arrived they were still preparing said queen/trampoline extravaganza for us, and we ended up washing and changing between the hotel gym and lobby area.

By this time the traffic in Manhattan was terrifying and for me it was great to be back in Hoboken, a lovely town and one place in America I wouldn't mind living... I'd be at Maxwells every night though, living on black bean nachos and listening to Marquee Moon on the jukebox. I left part of my heart there once, physically and emotionally crashed in the conservatory with friends I thought I would never see again, after what we could tell would be one of the last gigs by the already-disintegrating Chameleons, but here I was a year later with some of those same friends, a new love stirring my soul. My favourite band in my favourite venue, a lunar eclipse, the sight of the glimmering Manhattan skyline reflected in the Hudson River, and copious quantities of the local nutter-juice Red Death. Noticing the band sat around in the conservatory, and particularly Hamilton curled up in my favourite chair, posed a slight problem - would it look really stalkery to go in? But the lure of that leopard print cushion won out and they didn't seem to mind our invasion.

They seemed tired onstage but gave their best (review here), and the sight of Eamon in a fur hat and no trousers is one which will live with me for some time. For a while writing this I couldn't actually remember how we got back to Manhattan, but I now seem to remember it involved the four of us plus two fellow Brits we'd acquired all piling into a very large taxi. All got slightly tearful later, not least because our 4am late-night bar debrief came under New York's annoying policy of no smoking inside and no drinks outside. This didn't seem to bother anyone when I was last there in a late-June heatwave, but November in NYC is cold. Flew back overnight Sunday and at work Monday... the entire US adventure went off without Random Weird Hitches too. Maybe the curse had lifted...


Part 4 – Approaching My Limit

I've followed bands on tour before. It's what I do. When I was younger it was hitching and sleeping on station benches. More recently, having a job, it's been train travel and B&Bs. Unfortunately by the time this final fling around home shores kicked off I was three days overdrawn in the holidays department and thus a reasonable number of gigs could only be achieved by doing the unthinkable - driving there and back and going to work the next day. Say goodbye to sleep and sanity. I have consumed so much Red Bull they should sponsor me.

And the Transport Demon was really having a laugh this time. Nottingham: political demo + roadworks x 2hr journey = 3.5 hours = miss the Killers and only just there in time for BSP. As we passed the sign welcoming us to Robin Hood's city a text message from Zoe told us the owls were being loaded on... somehow we made it, me sprinting down Talbot St because I'd started running at the top and was incapable of stopping... and in. Phew. Wedged down one side with a restricted occasional glimpse of Wood and Hamilton my only view, I was thoroughly demoralised. Then I spotted a moving disturbance: a little spot of action in the stock-still crowd, gradually moving forwards like a tornado crossing a landscape... Frazer! I set a course for intercept, and soon we were in the thick of the front with Captain Riot in his Kevo Is Innocent t-shirt and all was well in the world. By about three songs in I had realised a possible reason for the lack of crowd movement – the temperature and humidity in there was roughly akin to a steam-bath, but why stop having fun now. As soon as the band left the stage I lunged for the three remaining water bottles and downed the lot, before a quick trip to the merchandise stand to buy myself a dry T-shirt to go home in. A first in 16 years of gigging, that. The one I had had on was flung, still damp, from the car window on the M6 four days later...

Leeds, Lincoln & Cardiff, however, when I had all the time in the world to get from A to B, were characterised by traffic-free, peaceful, well-maintained roads and no stupid randomness from my car. A nice little weekend away.

During this period I discovered I had "caught" Doll's habit of turning up to gigs with bags full of really stupid stuff: in Leeds it was foam gliders in the shape of classic planes (although sadly my only Stuka got bent some time before its cue...) and in Lincoln the world's most disgusting flying saucer sweets. Which I bought in a motorway service station for the simple reason that they came packaged in a small bucket, which appealed to the level of derangement I had reached at that point. Zoe and I amused ourselves between support bands by wandering around the crowd offering them to people - and it's amazing how many people will accept sweets off strangers you know. I mean if ever a sweetie looked like drugs then Flying saucers would be it, all coloured papery shell encapsulating white powder... we could have had the whole place off their heads - or in hospital - had we been devious criminals as opposed to harmless borderline basket cases.

Arriving so early in Lincoln even my self-admittedly lazy window cleaner Lincoln mate Gaz was still at work (there are people in some parts of Lincoln haven't seen daylight in years you know!) Bloke and I spent a pleasant afternoon in a pub where my dad apparently used to go as a teenager and chased swans on the Brayford because you have to. My grandparents are long gone, and Lincoln just is my childhood memories. The toll bridge into town, the swans, the cathedral rising from the mist, the house on Lindum Road which used to be blue but it's faded, the rather literally named "Steep Hill", and visiting a city for the first time in years but knowing its every twist and turn. A spiritual homecoming for me despite never having lived there, I wanted this gig to be the best I had ever seen. It wasn't actually far off.

Both The Killers and BSP played their best gig of the tour here, in my opinion. Everything was just spot on. My Lincoln mates (yes, more converted virgins!) tell me that camo netting is always there. Bet it's never had a singer attempt to climb it and/or a pissed fan hang a bucket of sweeties from it before though! Other nice thing about the Bivouac: no attempts made to chuck people out or indeed stop serving for ages after the gig. Staggered out into the sort of fog I thought only occurred in Victorian-era crime dramas.

Cardiff on the other hand was, apart from a fine gig, disgusting. England's rugby triumph had ensured the city centre was full of marauding crowds of lager-sodden knuckle-draggers, some celebrating and others commiserating and occasionally propositioning the good ladies of the 3rd to acts they had no possible hope of fulfilling. It was a relief to get into the venue, even if its three floors and several bars arrangement was a bit complicated for our now quite seriously diminished minds. Unfortunately the club turned back into a stilettoes-and-Kylie tackerama after the gig, complete with hordes more of the aforementioned missing links, and eventually we couldn't take it any more... Wading through vomit past people rutting in doorways is not nice, although slightly less disgusting than the hotel room 5 of us crammed into...

So, still buoyant two days later on the achievement of three trouble-free gigs in a row, Doll and I set out for Northampton, the news of Hamilton's injury causing us some concern that our ability to attract crapness had spread to the band.

Well, it was definitely a show to remember (see the review here). Bass was provided by Joe, who had apparently learnt ten songs in three hours, and he was impressively competent (if rather scared looking at times). Hamilton looked rather confused sometimes without his bass, wandering on and off to provide backing vocals when required, clutching a large branch (not, as far as we could gather, the Offending Article) and sang "his songs" beautifully, sticking said branch down his back for a sort of deer antler effect at one point. And he had a heroic bash on a guitar at the end too. Sadly the majority of the Northampton crowd were so unreceptive that we considered checking for a pulse in most of them. People who'd been there before tell me it's always like that there, but on this most unusual night they could have done with a bit of affirmation and got little. Journeys to and from this experience totalled seven hours, during which Doll and I realised we are actualy old: we had radio 2 on, and enjoyed it - some of it. God only knows what chemicals had gone down the playlisters when they decided The Undertones – Atomic Kitten – some skiffle – Ultravox – Enrique Iglesias – Roddy Frame was a sensible sequence on anyone's planet, but we never got bored. The only down side was that having survived Britain's most notoriously speed-camera'd road (the A610 round Nottingham - according to the Guardian) whilst dropping AJC off I only went and fell foul of one on the A623. At the time of writing, I have not yet received a ticket for this, and only have three days to wait before I'm apparently in the clear.

Three days later I was sufficiently recovered to drag myself off to Birmingham, the city with a smile (according to Go-Kart Mozart's seminal late 90s album track "Mrs Back to Front and the Bull Ring Thing", anyway.) Not the best gig I have been to, I must admit. Somewhat marred both rather over-zealous security, and the fact that some twat thought it was OK to have some kind of disco club night next door without proper soundproofing, causing a droning thud to penetrate the walls between songs and during quiet bits. The band looked slightly perturbed by this; and to be honest would have been probably within their rights to walk off, although with a healthy Battalion contingent converging due to the conveniently central location it's probably a good thing they didn't. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it. Afterwards the venue seemed to grow increasing numbers of rooms causing more than a little disorientation, especially for Kevo whom I witnessed at the bar pouring 4 double vodkas into one glass, much to the horror of the bar staff.

One more to go then. Warwick. Or was it Coventry? I'm still not quite sure. Somewhere Midlands anyway. As ever, my attempts to see this band were hampered by the usual sort of random nonsense I am starting to realise is my life. Namely, a flat tyre. I can't even begin to describe how much I could have done without that, especially as the spare appeared so welded to the underside of my car I had to call the AA to help, which made me feel rather damsel-like. I'm not sure that trying to explain the reasons behind my feeble state would have done a great deal for my dignity either... Followed by a succession of the country's most ridiculous traffic jams with nothing at the end of them. It was a somewhat frazzled Cath (and you wouldn't have me any other way - it's sooooo good for the old adrenaline!) who arrived in the godforsaken student Hades that is Warwick Coventry University Arts Union CentreThingy, accompanied by Foxinthesnow and other half plus the ever-entertaining Doll and her bag of sherry and mince pies. Which went down rather better than my flying saucers I think.

Thankfully both the Killers and BSP were on top form. As was Frazer, who I suspect plugs himself into the mains before going out. Mad bastard. I believe the somewhat bouncy antics of he, myself and Doll with occasional assistance may have been captured on video.

And then it was over. I remained buoyant for the not too disrupted drive home, slept four hours, went to work Monday, came home, at which point my entire body and mind sort of collapsed into some sort of tadpole-esque mulch, from which I have been trying to recover ever since.

My flat looks like a hurricane's ripped though it. My hair needs seeing to rather urgently. I am for the first time in my entire life not looking at my bank balance. I have missed gigs by the previously unmissable likes of Half Man Half Biscuit. I must be so sleep deprived I probably should not drive or operate heavy machinery. I haven't even thought about Christmas and it's less than three weeks off.

I wish I was going to a Strokes gig or two this weekend but somewhere a line has to be drawn. I'm not hugely keen on watching bands I like support bands I don't, and I've still got that possible speeding ticket to pay for with the last dregs of last month's wages before I am allowed out to play again, and when I went in to get the tyre replaced it turned out I needed another one as well, thus wiping me out. So this is the end for now... I just want to say a massive hello and hug to every single person who has evolved from a name on the internet to a mate in real life, and long may we continue to cause havoc in unsuspecting towns... big hug to Stan the world's best roadie, well done for bowing to peer pressure regarding facial hair and thanks for not killing me for turning up with three cardboard cutouts of you on sticks in Coventry... and love from the depth of my soul to the greatest band in the world for reaffirming my shattered faith in music. I thought I was too old and bitter to fall in love with a band again.

Next year? Well I'll be seeing in 2004 in the only way possible, with a great many of the people mentioned here, and raising a toast to those who can't get there. Then... a new year! A whole new holiday allowance to play with! I think you can guess where most of it might end up...

Cath Aubergine
Aubergine Towers Control Room
Manchester, England
December 2003

The author wishes to thank Red Bull, Reef, Multimap, BMI Airlines, Astrojax, and the AA (no, not that one, I mean the nice men in yellow vans who change tyres without laughing at you). All incidents described in this report are as I remember them, and I have a great power of recall even when tipsy, so hey probably did actually happen despite the improbability factor.


Cath's End Of Tour Attempt To List Gigs Attended In Order Of Excellence

Please note that this is entirely a personal list and relates as much to my mood and circumstances as anything else... and that BSP's #20 could probably crap all over most other bands' 1. Cologne 2. Washington 3. Lincoln 4. Wurzburg 5. Leicester 6. Liverpool 7. Berlin 8. Hoboken 9. Hamburg 10. Manchester 11. Coventry 12. Leeds 13. Munich 14. Glasgow 15. Cardiff 16. Stoke 17. Sheffield 18. Northampton 19. Nottingham 20. Birmingham


All photos on this page by Cath Aubergine, except Leeds photo, above, by Pitmo. Please do not use without permission.



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