We had a great laugh with them because they are all lovely people and the shows were excellent because lots of people came to see the two bands together, for all the right reasons. It was a joint headline tour except the Delgados insisted beforehand that they would be headlining as it was our first album and they were promoting their second album.
By the time we got to touring in Europe with them, the promotors insisted we swap around. Trouble is, by the time we were due to go to Europe with them, we had already pulled out of the tour to go on another tour with another band, the Manic Street Preachers.
Everything was going great, but after we got the offer from the Manics management, the others in the band seemed to want to go on that tour instead because they thought we could play to more people on bigger stages. Understandable really. I wanted to do that too but the Delgados tour was doing so well and many of the shows had been sold out and I saw the bigger picture as we were being asked to do this at such short notice that I knew there would be no time for any real publicity around us supporting the Manics.
Our European press guy, Craig at Beggars, told me that none of the European magazines would be able to do any press coverage because all the music magazines in Europe were monthly and they needed a 2 month lead time. As it happened I did two interviews during the whole 3 week tour. Consequently, no one really knew who we were when we supported them, not that they would have been interested anyway.
We got asked to do the tour whilst in Plymouth and we took a vote on it in the car park. I lost four against one.
The Manics tour was a waste of time. The band themselves were really nice people who just wanted to keep themselves to themselves. But boy did we get bored. I got so bored I felt like packing up and going home after the second show. It was agonising. It started with a gig in Stockholm. When we arrived in Stockholm, the Manics crew all came over and said hello to us in the venue and commended us on our forward thinking. On that first day, the singer from the Manics also came down into the venue to say hello to us and shake our hands and thank us for coming on the tour, which was nice.
I never met the other two Manics in the next 3 weeks we were on tour together. They seemed to appear on stage out of nowhere and disappear just as fast. We had travelled for 3 days to play half an hour in Stockholm but it got worse. The next gig was in Bergen, many more miles up north and up through the mountains. We travelled at about 25 miles per hour, smearing from one side to the other as we weaved our way up the mountains. There was nothing to do but drink in the lounge and watch films.
When we got to Bergen the gig was cancelled. The main band and crew were travelling in two buses, one for the band, one for the crew and the gear. The crew bus had got stuck in the snow in the mountains so the band had arrived but their amps and guitars had not. Man I was so desperate to play some music. We offered the Manics our gear and begged them to do a punk gig but their management said no.
We left in the morning and we drove all day again, drinking coke, beer and dining on crisps and watching The Good The Bad And The Ugly. That same evening I was sitting in the lounge at the back of the bus and I noticed that we were slowing down more and more as we trudged up the mountain. Outside it was pitch black and the snow flying past the window was getting thicker.
I left the lounge where the rest of the band and crew were engaged in the usual drunken shouting and singing and made my way to the drivers cabin at the bottom of the bus. I climbed in next to the driver and watched the snow darting out of the black night and hitting the big windscreen like millions of tiny white arrows.
The road ahead was thick with a white carpet of snow. He put the handbrake on. With that he opened the door on his side and baled out. My instinct was to follow him out as fast as I could and I climbed over his seat and jumped down onto the moving road. We were then standing outside in the blizzard watching this huge bus sliding backwards down the hill. It felt like an eternity as the bus carried on moving backwards down the road, then started to slide down sideways before coming to a stop.
What now? Me and the driver got onto the bus and went up the stairs to the back lounge and it was only then with the driver now standing amongst them, that the rest of the boys noticed we had come to a standstill.
We ventured outside to assess the situation and we just sort of stood there and looked at the bus and wondered what to do. After what seemed like no time at all, a couple of Norwegian guys dressed in green uniforms came out of nowhere in a Landrover and helped us out.
They put snow chains on the back wheels and got us all to stand in the back bottom kitchen area of the bus to put as much weight on the back wheels as we could. A lot of those guys are now front of house and monitor engineers for the likes of Jools Holland, Gomez, The Cure and Arctic Monkeys amongst others. They were all really dedicated people who used the Society to get into the music business and Bill Redhead gave them all an opportunity to learn hands on.
One night, I even sat there tripping my nut off on acid. It was great, I would do other peoples shifts too and most weeks I was on the door 6 nights and in between running down to the photographers pit to photograph Suede or whoever. It was great, free beer and some extra dosh and film for my camera. The first band I photographed at the Poly was John Martyn. I had been a fan of his for years and had already seen him a few times in Canterbury, once in London and also a couple of times in Leeds.
I went down early to watch the guys build the stage and get a feel for what went on to make a gig happen at the poly. There was a fuck up with the PA that night and it never turned up. John Martyn did though and when he found out he promptly went down the pub until it got sorted. The guys from the Student Union were professional as ever, calmly and without panicking they made a few phone calls and sorted a PA. They made the gig happen even though they could have all by rights just fucked off home.
Someone went down to the pub opposite the poly and managed to haul John Martyn out and I saw him come into the downstairs bar of the Byron building, absolutely steaming. John Martyn sozzled… actually pissed as a fart but still able to play and sound amazing I politely asked him if I could take his picture and he agreed.
I pointed over to the corner of the room and he followed me over and sat down on a chair in front of me. He loved it and started to relax. He immediately launched into it and started singing very quietly. He played it in standard tuning in the key of D. He laughed at me and started playing some old blues stuff and mumbling about Big Bill Broonzy. At my request he also started to play Easy Blues off Solid Air.
He had fingers like sausages and the strength of his grip on the guitar was immense yet he floated across the fret board with grace, a truly amazing guitar player.
I gotta go, I gotta play. Sound check! During my first year at College I photographed many bands, every single one that came through. The ones that stand out are Curve, because me and my mate hassled the singer so much to let us go on tour with them that we got thrown out of the dressing room. Gong, because we stole their rider and they nearly came back to stay at my house. The Australian Doors, because they did come back to stay at my house. Daisy Chainsaw because the lighting rig fell over and hit me on the head and knocked me out.
The Manic Street Preachers, because they were going to kill me. I went to the balcony and observed from a distance as the Manics came on and launched into You Love Us. The kids at the front loved it. It was all blood and thunder and the band knew exactly what they were doing. I shot off three rolls of film without them even noticing and for the final frame I lifted my camera so high it was practically under the singers nose.
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