As I'm sure you're realised, illness had become a recurrent theme on the tour. Mark had been very poorly in Southampton, and I'd suggested that perhaps we could cope without him if he wasn't feeling up to it. Trouper that he is, though, he'd insisted on seeing it through, and on the morning of the Manchester gig he seemed to have recovered some of his inner zing. It helped that the journey from one hotel to another was the shortest of the tour. We finished breakfast, and by lunch were safely in our new base near the M6.
It Bites, however, were in a different world of pain. When we got to the venue we discovered that John Beck (keys, vox) had almost entirely lost his voice, and John Mitchell (Ld gtr/ld vox) was in danger of losing his. But these guys are made of stern stuff and were determined to do the gig come what may.
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We were at the Academy complex in Manchester - part of Man Universities Student's Union. Three venues in one, and all hosting bands that night. The car park looked liked a tour-bus convention. I have to say I've always liked touring by bus. You finish the gig, load out, party a bit, and then wake up the next day at the next venue. Felt a bit underwhelming dragging my guitars and merch from the car in the freezing cold :-)
Good gig though. Plenty of room, plenty of time and a good audience. They were kind enough to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Callum (who'd turned 25 again). His embarrassment was palpable. Made my night :-) The rest of the band went back to the hotel asap after our slot to celebrate, but I stayed behind as usual to encourage merch sales. As a support band you don't get paid much - if anything - and every album sale meant diesel in the tank or a breakfast paid for. When I got back to the hotel the bar had closed, but we adjourned upstairs for party food and a couple more beers. Happy days.
Or possibly not. It Bites management were concerned for the health of the band - and for their ability to make their biggest gig in London on the Sunday. Glasgow was on the verge of being pulled. I found myself stressing about it as I went to sleep.
Next morning I didn't feel so bright. I'd been feeling feverish overnight, and it was clear I was coming down with something. Callum dosed me up with lemsip and we headed north to the home of deep-fried everything. It Bites had decided the gig would go ahead.
Possibly the most miserable drive of the tour, with relentless heavy rain. Checked into Glasgow hotel and immediately passed out. All too soon being roused for the get -in. I could tell I wasn't well, but all I could do was use drugs to keep the lurgy at bay. It would have to be the last date, the home-town date, the one the guy from PROG was coming to review!!!!
Get-in and soundcheck relatively straightforward. But I have to say the gig itself wasn't my finest performance. Some recurrent schoolboy errors on my part, and my tightening throat, meant it wasn't as good overall as I'd hoped - but the punters didn't seem to mind. The merch take told it's own story :-) But plans for a night of post-tour celebratory curry and beer had to be puled as I started to get the shivers and shakes. Barely made it to bed that night. No idea how I managed to drive back to Surrey the next day. Five days later I'm still ill!!
It is - in the immortal words of Bon Scott - 'A long way to the top if you want to rock'n'roll'!!!