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

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