Next stop on our tour with It Bites is Southampton. The first two gigs were just me and Mark (Spencer - keys/bass/witty conversation), but from now on we're going to be joined by the other two members of what has become known as 'The Sensational Alan Reed Experience'. Callum (McCallum - guitars) and Jen (Clark - bass) have travelled down from Glasgow to join us for the rest of the tour.
Before then we need little run-through to blow out the cobwebs, so I've found a little rehearsal studio a few miles from the gig. And a lovely place it is too. It's primary role seems to be as a dance studio, but it's well-appointed, has a little cafe, and most important of all, it's warm. Considering we haven't played together for almost 9 months it's sounding good. Time for another gig.
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It Bites take it their stride that the support act has suddenly doubled in size and complexity. Southampton venue has a decent-sized stage and we have plenty of time to get both bands sorted and comfortable. Like every venue so far, the dressing room is positively arctic. IB's crew finds an old abandoned heater, but it fuses pretty much as soon as it's plugged up. Nathan (King - IB Bassist) remarks that a week or so ago he was in Cancun with Level 42. Mark and IB's the two Johns (Mitchell and Beck) are starting to suffer from the lurgy. Why does touring always happen at the most miserable time of year.
Gig goes well, and then it's off home in the dark through the freezing fog. It occurs to me that most of the audience will already be tucked up warm in bed while I'm still crawling through a scary whiteout back to Surrey!!
Next day we're off to Wolverhampton. Hotel tonight, so a swift check-in and then off to the gig. Mark has filled his car with fan heaters so we're prepared for anything the venue can throw at us. A third band have been added to the bill at a late stage, and all are worried how we're going to fit everyone on the stage and keep everything to time.
It Bites have a world record-breakingly fast soundcheck and clear the stage for us to get set up. We sort ourselves as quickly as possible to make way for The Reasoning, who've travelled up from Wales to take part. But it's been clear from the outset that there just isn't room onstage for their kit and bass rig. Sadly for them, they have to perform in a cut-down form, which nevertheless sounds rather good.
All too soon our performance is over and we're back to the hotel. It's the first time we've all had time to sit back and chew the fat, so a few beers are consumed late into the night. Onawards to Manchester and beyond!!