Tour Diary - Day Eight 

Preston – Caroline & Mike’s house
After a long and leisurely day of drawing cartoons for a book that a friend of mine is working on (don’t be fooled. I’m shit at drawing and am baffled as to why I was asked. However my Emu was convincing) I picked up Louis and off we went to Preston. These northern gigs have all taken place within relatively safe distance of our two Manchester dwellings, so we’ve been able to enjoy the visceral thrill of being on tour while at home. Which basically means lounging about all day whilst telling the world we’re “at work”.
We arrived in a leafy suburb (why are suburbs always “leafy”? It’s the only adjective they’re allowed, I suppose) and pulled up outside a massive house. This was the home of Caroline and Mike, the two most die-hard Bedlam Six fans I’ve ever met. Their house was festooned with copies in every medium of everything Louis has ever sung into a microphone. It was clear that while I was most welcome indeed, it was Louis who was pulling them in that night, so we tacitly agreed that this must be the gig where our roles were reversed, and I should warm them up for him. 
However before all that there was the matter of the food. We have been continually delighted by the culinary wonders we have been presented on this tour, and any thoughts I had of shedding my holiday curves were lost somewhere between Brighton’s massive pasta marathon and Surrey’s meringue bonanza. And these folks were going for broke. We had a vast tray of different exotic Spanish sausage, freshly retrieved from the continent by their gourmand friend who happily toured me around his meaty presentation. I just read that sentence back. Yep. I’m leaving it in.
Three homemade curries! All the diet coke I could cram into my glum sober mouth! It was ace. We sat about outside, chatting with the younger contingent of the event, Mike and Caroline’s kids and their friends. All of these folk seem to gravitate around the Ferret in Preston, which Louis tells me is an awesome place to play. Looks like I’ll be back in Preston before I know it.
Performance time rolled around, and our hosts had gone to town on the performance space, hefting sofas and chairs into a makeshift auditorium for the large crowd. I tuned up and cracked into it.
I opted for a shorter set than usual, as I was well aware that these folks were clamouring for Barabbas. How very biblical. But I wanted to get them riled up for him, so I grabbed a few of the rowdier element from the crowd and press-ganged them into a percussion section to accompany one of my less-successful guitar solos. Luckily they took to their instruments/objects with such gusto that my seal-flippered attempts at rock triumph were drowned out by a chorus of thuds.

Fingers forgetting they have a music degree
I finished with Kiss The Misfits, a new song which (I CAN EXCLUSIVELY REVEAL…) will be coming out on the latest Xtra Mile Compilation (Details HERE. It's the title track of our upcoming new EP and HOWFUCKINGCOOLISTHAT). They hurled themselves into the end crowd vocal with tremendous enthusiasm, and I left the stage feeling very supported by this lovely bunch of new friends.

Continuing my series of Patrick Swayze tributes, here is the finale from Ghost
Louis hit the stage with grandeur. It was lovely to see him work a crowd who were clearly so familiar with his stuff. Their love for him was tangible, and they sang all the big bits in songs like “Mother” without the slightest hesitation. They even bombarded him with requests that precipitated some serious lyric revision on his part, so far back in the back catalogue they were. It was a bloody pleasure to watch. He daringly finished with one of the songs from his musical rather than an old favourite, and it paid off in spades as the whole crowd rose up and wailed the repeated chorus over and over, their grins widening with every bar. It was great.
Drinks, chats, hugs and warm goodbyes later, we loaded up and set off once more for home. Preston is ace.

Thanks Caroline and Mike!
Read Louis’ tour diary HERE

Tour Diary - Day Seven 

Salford – Kieren & Ella’s House
Salford! Home of gang violence, scallies, wastrels and scroungers. This is what we are told by the all-powerful hysterical hive-mind of our time. The same intangible, didactic opinion machine that has also concluded that poor people are stupid and lazy, artists are vapid and ineffectual, and that Costa Coffees and executive flats are more vital to society than community centres and music venues.
So fuck that, obviously.
Salford for me is the home of grassroots culture in Manchester, borne aloft on the three pillars – The Lowry, The Eagle and The Star. And the furtive engineers of this cultural scene, the sparks that fly along the once-dead synapses of society, are folks like Kieren and Ella. They are responsible for (amongst many things) Evidently, the stand-up poetry event that occurs once a month at the Eagle Inn. Check out the details HERE.
These two are long-term fans of the band, coming to us like an awful lot of our beloved friends through our association with the big dog Frank Turner. You can see them dancing along with Larry the Parrot in our LIVE VIDEOS, which we shot in the cherished Eagle Inn. They have also, along with fellow Salford wunderkind and renaissance man Jack Dixon, played host to a solo show of mine at the Star Inn, which was the flame that ignited the idea of this tour. Until then I had generally shied away from solo shows. I didn’t like the idea of performing without the comfort blanket of a loud-as-hell rock band, and I felt forced to play all the strange quiet songs from my back catalogue whilst sitting down and not dancing. But the warmth and general “fuck this, let’s dance!” attitude that hummed in the air of the Star Inn that night made me realise the possibilities of what one could do once you let go of the boundaries of normal civilised society and treated the solo gigs like rock shows. So it was with tremendous glee that we accepted their offer of a stop on the house tour.
They are also old friends of Louis, so it was a joyous reunion all round when we pitched up at their door.
We set about barbecuing a herd’s worth of beef, plus assorted vegetarian oddments for my herbivore touring partner and his darling other half Bryony, who had come prepared with marinated halloumi (the world’s greatest food) and a wonderland of vegetable treats.  
Pretty soon the guests started arriving. And didn’t stop arriving for a long time. It was the biggest crowd we’ve had by some distance. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Like Kingston-on-Thames in the south, Salford is filled with the kind of people who won’t stand for dullness. Where other people might see a long empty afternoon, they see an impromptu poetry slam, a jam night or an acoustic house concert from two itinerant frontmen waiting to happen. They are the fun creators. The sorcerers of mirth.
This point was driven home when Kieren revealed to me that seemingly half the people there were musicians or performance poets. Obviously this couldn’t go unaddressed, so we quickly rustled up some extra performers from the eager crowd and got cracking in the garden.

Kieren MC’d with practiced skill, delivering some of his own fantastically urgent and funny poetry with elegance and wit. As if his good-guy credentials needed any more bolstering he revealed that he stood as a candidate for our chums the Greens at the last election (I mean chums literally. Their deputy leader likes us on Facebook. Great bunch of folks). And his poetry exhibited the impassioned and articulate heart of a man who believes in his community and will lead the charge for its vindication from the sniffing hordes of snobbery.

Kieren King. Not your typical politician, sadly. 

Next up was Rod Tame, an acclaimed poet whose tales of life as a gay man caught between the twin pillars of joyful abandon and looking too straight were glorious, funny and touching to behold, and by the time Louis took to the stage the audience were attentive and up for anything. We had elected to begin the evening out in the garden, and Louis made full use of the space, leaping and capering like a hobo jester in Oberon’s court. We were delivered a set of entirely new songs, with the odd old favourite thrown in by request.

Barabbas Decimus Meridius. Sparking a revolution. 

Quick break, and then we moved indoors for the second half of the evening. Another poem from Kieren and then we were introduced to the aforementioned Jack Dixon, who delivered some charming verses exploring various romantic misadventures and drunken misdemeanours. I am a complete novice in the world of poetry, my poetic output thus far outside of song lyrics being the odd nonsensical comedy rap song and the occasional never-ever-to-be-seen-by-anyone-ever love poem. But these guys with their astonishing skills have ignited a fire under my soul. I simply must have a go at this. It looks such fun. We shall wait and see.
Anyway, my turn. I knew this one was going to be a biggie, as pretty much everyone there was a previous attendee to one of my shows. I generally test how many people are familiar with my stuff by playing Go Back Home first, and seeing how many people join in on the “Doo-Doo-Doo-Dooby-Doo” bits. And this time it was EVERYONE. Ace.

My chirruping, dooby-doo beauties

We played, sang and laughed together, passed the hat round and then for the finale I led them all into the garden like a young bearded Lord Summerisle and we danced and sang Molly with one voice under the dying sun. It felt perfect.


We finished the night with cupcakes, board games and long, lovely chats, and we reluctantly drove away from this beautiful island of culture with joy in our hearts.
Thanks Kieren and Ella!

Next Stop: PRESTON
Read Louis’ tour diary HERE
Check out some of Kieren's poetry HERE
And Rod Tame's poetry HERE
And check out the lovely review of our Leeds show on Chimeo HERE

Tour Diary - Day Six 

Leeds – Louise’s House
Yesterday was our day off, so in pursuit of a good time we drove out of Norwich and found the biggest fucking traffic jam that has ever occurred in the entirety of human endeavour. Luckily our new friends Abbie and George had filled us full of lovely breakfast, so spirits were high as we trawled through the various hilariously named backwaters of Norfolk, staring at the back of the same bastard lorry for three hours. Did you know that Stobart’s Haulage are offering swift logistics to Bruge? I do.
We used this time to raid each other’s minds for lyrical ideas. Louis instantaneously and brilliantly thought up some awesome words for this chorus of a new one of mine that has already had ninety heartbreakingly lame incarnations. The song’s about wanting to dance like Gene Kelly, and other such doomed youthful aspirations of mine. Louis was instrumental in finding the right balance between sweetness and rock. What a brain.
Several days later, having exhausted our emergency supply of cookies and begun the slow slide towards cannibalism, we pulled back into darling Manchester and went our separate ways, Louis to his tower to continue Lionel Bart-ing the balls off his musical, me to a giant bath and a long night of combing the tangles out of my beard. I’ve grown an enormous one for this acoustic tour. You’re not allowed to play folk otherwise. Them’s the rules.
The next day I drifted about in a dressing gown, dealing with emails, playing piano and attempting to shake off a week of hospitality pizza with calisthenics and fruit. I’d have a rippling six-pack if only people weren’t so bloody nice.
Eventually it was time to head to Leeds and our date with Louise. I picked up my freshly laundered travel companion and headed off.
I have only been to Leeds once before aged seventeen, when a fit of romantic foolishness took me hundreds of miles from my teenage home on the South Coast to a recording studio in the Uni, where I slaved over hot instruments for days in a bid to make someone fall in love with me. This all culminated in an ill-advised trip to a psy-trance rave, which ended two days later with me wide-eyed and covered in glitter on the train home, a washed out wasted little boy weeping chemical tears. It’s what inspired the song Dirty Little Urchin Child. I wonder if this time would be quite so momentous?

Leeds is lovely, but forbidding. It’s the kind of place that looks like it has been there forever, and the rest of the country just sort of grew around it. Things are built to last, and as we pulled through rows of heavy-stone houses I felt like a frivolous theatrical pipsqueak. The wayward son at a symposium of granite-hewn men. Luckily the welcome we received was warm and loving. Louise welcomed us into her lovely house with hugs and astonishing home-made curry. I also noticed something wonderful on the hall table. If the ultimate musical tribute is the lyric tattoo, then second place must surely go to lyrical crochet:

This is actually how I write all my lyrics
The guests all soon arrived, and we got straight down to business. We had a multigenerational crowd this time, with Louise’s parents in attendance. Her Dad was full of stories of seeing bands like the Sex Pistols and Motorhead in various salt of the earth pubs back in the seventies, so we braced ourselves for some high expectations.
Louis nailed it as always, and I strode up to the carpet and kicked off my set. I knew in advance that this gig would be different, as Louise is one of those blessed people who know that a house isn’t a home until it has a piano in it. It was a lovely thing as well, a real “let’s all get around it and sing roll out the barrel” upright. I’d brained up on some of my piano-based songs that rarely get an airing, and I bashed my way through things like Desperation Reeks, I Can’t Do Anything About It and My Little Lusitania, my fingers struggling to remember that this is basically what I do for a living. I was also able to add in the actual piano solos to the guitar songs, instead of having an odd schizophrenic argument with a fictional Joe Davison during those sections, as I have been doing in the other gigs. Luckily the piano survived, and we ended the night with a few rousing choruses of Molly. I eschewed the usual compulsory crowd-waltzing as I was bound to the piano, but the crowd were as obliging and delightful as ever.

An impromptu post-gig hot jazz boogie. Awesome. 
Music done, we sat about and chatted warmly for ages before Louis and I headed off into the night with sweet farewells and hugs galore.

Thanks, Louise!
Next stop: SALFORD

Tour Diary - Day Five 

Norwich - Abbie & George's House
Norwich! Home of an empty football stadium, a lot of hills and a pub full of wondrously-haircutted muscle boys, as we discovered on our impromptu tour of the place. There is also a takeaway called “Mr. Burger Mr. Pizza”. Nice to see those two have reconciled their differences and opened a shop together.
I’d spent the morning helping my brother shift popcorn machines around Fulham. He, amongst many entrepreneurial ventures, is the impresario behind Shepstone’s Popcorn, the machines in pubs that dispense delicious fresh hot popcorn goodness into the gleeful mouths of London. Go and eat it. It’s fucking ace.

Find this. Eat his delicious wares. 
Louis arrived and we shot off for the motorway and Norwich. I had no inclination at all of just how far away that place is. Thousands of miles! The country yawned open before us and we ploughed in.
Hours after hour of motorway later we pulled up at Abbie & George’s house.
We were met with hugs, gallons of squash and our old friend pizza. Abbie was full of fascinating tales of working at Harry Potter World (I obviously immediately began imagining what Felix Hagan World would look like, how much we would charge for admittance and whether we would ever see off those pesky Disney bastards). Did you know that Alan Rickman’s Snape wig was filled with purple and blue highlights to make it look blacker and greasier on film? And that he would remain in character all day until his costume was taken off?
NOW YOU DO!!!!!!
Did you know that Daniel Radcliffe has size six feet?
I was like an insane excitable child. Facts flew around, and it was all just bloody lovely, really.
Music! The whole merry band of us shot into the living room and got down to it. Louis started things off, and I was delighted to hear the shocked gasps and delighted laughter as this human firework went shooting off around the house. Yet more songs from the musical, and my Oliver Twist-raddled brain is squealing with anticipation of this thing taking shape and hitting the stage.

Louis Barabbas Presents: Advanced Cab Hailing

My turn. I was pretty damn nervous about this one. These folks have been fans for AGES, and were encyclopaedic on the lyrics to songs that I can barely remember sometimes. On this tour I have been playing loads of new stuff, including all the songs from our upcoming EP, and I suddenly was filled with huge anxiety that they wouldn’t like them… I’m edging more and more towards pop every time I write a song these days, and the top-hatted, showtuney days of the first album are edging into the distance. But the screaming need to entertain people is just as urgent as ever, so I was petrified the new stuff would be met with disappointment or worse… boredom.
Luckily I needn’t have worried. These people are beautiful and lovely, and they were full of delightful things to say about it all. Thank god.
Abbie graduated to top of the class when she requested a song from my old band that I haven’t played in years and years, which was a pleasure to dust off for the occasion. It’s called Cupid, and is a shameless bit of business from a thesaurus-chomping showoff. But the video was fun:

After that we sat up and chatted for ages, me spilling the grisly and salacious details behind a load of my lyrics (they asked me to do it, I promise. I’m not a monster), eating choc-ices and making friends. We sealed the deal by sitting down for Disney’s Hercules, putting the icing on an already psychopathically well-iced cake.
Not only did we have beds, but we had our own rooms! It’s like we were the fucking Beatles.
It was magic.
Thanks George and Abbie!

Next stop: LEEDS.
Read Louis’ musings on the tour HERE

Tour Diary - Day Four 

Twickenham – Max and Clair's House
Yesterday was the first of our two days off on this two-week jaunt around the country. And we kicked things off like fucking Mötley Crüe by doing laundry and eating leftover meringue. Katie kindly and perhaps unwisely left us to our own devices in her lovely house, and I whiled away the hours bashing my head against a new song that just won’t reveal itself (needs a meaty final line in the chorus, and all my brain had to offer was chaff) and chatting to my publishers about various upcoming collaborations. We generally shoveled coal into the engine of professional musicianship under the beautiful Surrey sunshine.

Move over, Nikki Sixx. The big boys have arrived.
Eventually it was time to leave, and we loaded up the tour wagon for the trip into the capital. We drove in far enough to get a tube, and Louis hopped out to go and have a solo London adventure while I parked up at my brother’s house in Fulham before racing to the south bank to meet my old mate Freddy Syborn. On the way I decided to amuse myself by taking surreptitious photos to add to my “People who look like members of The Family” collection, which I include here for your enjoyment.

Here we see a portly Tom Webber

And a crumpled Chris Hunsley

And a couple of Ellie and Tash Hair-alikes. 
Feel free to send in your own submissions.
Eventually I got to the South Bank and met Freddy. Fred is one of my oldest friends and is the ascendant sitcom writer who was responsible for my ten seconds of lute-smashing glory in ITV’s Cockroaches earlier this year. He is also the man behind my various collaborations with Jack Whitehall over the years. He is a beautiful man. We caught up over hot dogs then rushed to the BFI for a screening of Some Like It Hot, which I had never seen before. The BFI is a wonderful place. Every single person there looked like the Modern Parents in Viz, all polo necks and well-stroked goatees under their horn-rimmed spectacles. In their honour, we eschewed the gallon of pepsi and kilo of nachos in favour of Virgin Marys and Truffle Popcorn and sat down for the movie.
I am now in nine different shades of love with Marilyn Monroe, and shall inevitably write some gushing songs about her that I hope no-one ever hears.
Back to bro’s, sleep on sofa, end.
The next day I peeled myself from the couch and sat around in a general malaise for a long time, drinking extravagant coffee and perving at grand pianos on the internet. Eventually I couldn’t take the boredom and met up with Louis, fresh from a wholesome day of gallery-trawling, on the New Kings Road. We wandered around for a couple of hours, nibbling passing sandwiches and sipping macchiatos like seasoned louche timewasters. All this excitement culminated in me falling asleep on a bench outside the Saatchi gallery, while Louis sat watch over me like a mother lion. 

Glam Tramps 
Nap done, we rejuvenated ourselves with ice cream and set off for our date with Max and Clair at their house in Twickenham.

There it is. Magnum. 
Max is an old school-friend of Louis’, and he had kindly agreed to host a stop on this tour after our previous London date had fallen through. We were welcomed into his house in a flurry of pizza and Max and his fiancée Clair made us feel right at home. The rest of the guests arrived and we piled into the sitting room to crack into it.
This was an unusual gig for us. All the other hosts on the trip have been long-time followers of either Louis or myself, and therefore are pretty well versed in the sort of thing we do, pelting us with requests, singing along to their favourite bits and generally being awesome. These lovely folks on the other hand were complete strangers to our work, and had invited us in out of kindness, curiosity and a general sense of fun. So the pressure was on to create a good impression. But the sort of people who would invite a couple of strange musicians into their home are not the kind of people to shrink from a good time, and they sang, clapped and laughed along with us as we played. At their request, we even dusted off My Little Lusitania as a duet (our first since our Mamma Mia Singstar battle in Brighton), a song which we have never properly performed together, let alone rehearsed. It was wonderful fun, and we set off back to London with gleeful grins, our hearts bobbing contentedly in a sea of human kindness.
Thanks Max & Clair!

Next stop: NORWICH

Read Louis' account of proceedings HERE

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