Although we've had these dates booked for some months, it's always struck me, especially in the final moments before Andrew picks us up; how do 'proper' bands start tours? Do they wake up, have a shower, make some toast and sit around waiting for the tourbus to pick them up from their house? Or do they spend the previous night bonding in some mass black magic ritual before swaggering to the magic tourbus depot, choose their transport and speed off?
Either way, no such ritual for us, only a rather ramshackle rehearsal in Balham the night before. We've got a nice blue van, which is hastily loaded up with instruments, then unpacked again to fit the drum kit in, repacked, seats assigned (Sharon refuses to move from the back right seat, I get lumped with the job of co-pilot), and off we go.
I won't bore you with details of our journey to Edinburgh, other than to say it was smooth and hassle free. Dan, Andrew and I alternated the driving, and we mercifully avoided any traffic jams or major wrong turns. It's interesting that it's the first time that the six of us have been in prolonged company of only each other, though. I mean, I've been on holiday with Sharon and Dan before, and Sharon's been on holiday with Waz, or shared a chalet with Andrew at ATP, but with just the six of us, I suppose your true personality takes hold and you find out if you really like your bandmates. And, fingers crossed, so far so good. No-one's exposed themselves (nor in that sense) as a mid-morning drinker or smack addict, and aside from Martin's concern at Andrew's mid-morning consumption of a curry at the services, everything is just dandy.
The smoothness continues at Edinburgh. We park up, set up and go to the pub. Amy the organiser is super super nice and props must go to her for booking us without hearing us and for pairing us with the mighty Lucky Luke whose album Patrick The Survivor is one of my albums of the year. A load of friends are there, which is equally encouraging and nerve wracking; some have seen us before (especially Paul who's come up from London and now holds the record for the most amount of Gresham Flyers shows attended by a non-immediate member of the Flyer family), but some have only heard the talk and are thus expecting something good. I hope we don't disappoint.
As it turns out, we go down pretty well. The set is upbeat, we play well (people are dancing!) and apparently it sounds good out the front. At the last minute we drop our cover of Enola Gay and put in Dreams Never End by New Order instead. Sharon's assertion that we're wrong playing our signature introduction tune (Theme From) The Gresham Flyers as a mid-set intermission proves to be correct. However, the real only mishap for me is during Student Nurse, I tread on the guitar lead and thus my solo is never heard (an particular pain as we'd spent the majority of soundcheck making sure it sounded good!). Waz's only mishap appears to be his hat, but the crowd notice this and heckle accordingly.
Set over, we apparently manage to won over a few new converts with our tour CDs (two tracks- Falling Down and Shiftwork, recorded last weekend on a 16 track and sounding very good), though since I’m only the bass player, no-one talks to me about these things. Lucky Luke play a far more impressive set- note to band; buy an autoharp- and are enthusiastic about our set too.
We don't hang around too long; Waz and Helen go to their hotel, Dan and Sarah get a ride in the Lucky Luke bus back to Glasgow (and apparently get to eat biscuits and listen to banjo music, the devils), while the rest of us decamp to Kristin and Jonny's lovely new flat for a good night's kip. So good, in fact that we don't wake up until half eleven the next morning. That's rock n roll, baby.