We took a bow together, in front of a Cornish beach crammed with arms and grins and shouts. Dan, Tim, Will, Jamie, Lukas and I. Jools Holland was due to play next and we had played the Sun down over the horizon and our hearts had been lifted by the joy of a few thousand excited souls in front of us. We’re all on the same ocean, zig-zagging, tacking around, some lost, some confident, some lost and confident, and if you sink, you hold your breath and stroll along the bottom instead. It takes longer but the view is different, it’s just a bit like moonwalking, except when you look up, you don’t see Earth, you see sky through a hundred fathoms of refraction. Take your time surfacing or you’ll get the bends.
Looe Music Festival was a great gig. It was a return from last year. We really enjoyed going back. That night felt a bit like coming home, if home was a big sandy beach with the population of the town looking through your brick wall, through your kitchen, through your yard, and into your heart.
That gig at Looe was the end of something and the start of something else, in many ways. Louis and Jake left the band a month ago, to pursue different musical paths, so Jamie and Lukas joined us in time for this one. The evolution of Tankus the Henge continues; exploring the dark and the light at the same time, like a tight-rope walker on the edge of space, either looking up into the endless blackness or down onto the sunlit ground. Both will kill ya during a few last heady moments of exhilaration, one a lot quicker than the other.
After the mainstage show, we played an intimate show in Zute Bar, a tiny venue with a big heart (this was after Jools had taught everyone how to be a gentleman cool cat playing boogie without breaking a sweat) – and so began a night of music and stargazing like we’ve never had. We lay in the road in a line, all ten of us, and stared into the depths of space, back in time, looking at long dead stars in distant galaxies, hooting, laughing and then lapsing into moments of silence, probably to the relief of the sleeping neighbours around us. If they were looking at us, they’d see the dinosaurs. The stars that is, not the neighbours.
Thank you Cornwall. You never disappoint.
Canterbury was next. A beautiful city which we don’t go to enough. It was a night of students rampaging through the streets, looking for their prey in packs, wearing their colours with pride on white t-shirts with slogans emblazoned upon. We played in The Ballroom which was decked out for Fundrum, a post-festival event with an enthusiastic crowd to boot. I particularly enjoyed a six foot tall ‘hot air balloon’ suspended from the ceiling. I almost rode in a balloon, three times, but the weather was not on my side each time. It gets you up in the morning though.
Supporting the band was Funke & The Two Tone Baby, a one man street-style musical act, growling voice, acoustic guitar and loop pedals, and a groove to keep the audience bouncing.
We played for an hour and half, realising that because Jamie had just joined the band and played Looe only, which was forty five minute set, he’d have to wing his way through a few tunes onstage which he’d never played. Thankfully, that boy’s got a cool head on his shoulders under all that hair, and it went down fine. I got on the bar, and didn’t break a single glass, and we couldn’t even set the fire alarm off (we tried).
Ophelia had broken down on the way back from Looe so we were in a borrowed van, with no locking system on it, and a wet seat in the back (draw straws, boys). That meant we had to drive back to London after the show, and get all the gear out into a lockup at 3am. This is the life. It’s all glam. Ophelia’s fourth gear had gone on the drive up from Cornwall. Probably the best gear to go, but it’s not ideal. We picked the van up from the garage in Leyton and the mechanic cheerfully shouted “every time we have it, we improve it!”
Around the corner to Folkestone, and we played in The Chambers, a basement venue near the seafront. It was a pleasure to meet the owner Chris, who cooked us up a storm and introduced us with aplomb. Never been to Folkestone before, apart from when we’ve gone to France. Folkestonians came out to meet us. Even some returnees who were at the Canterbury show. Off down the cliffs in the early hours with some pirates to the beach, and back to a hotel with a grand piano in the reception. They’d lost the key, sadly. Jamie wisecracked “Losing the key to a grand piano is like losing a grand piano” as we rounded the corner to the very modern elevator.
We’re counting down the days with the sun in the sky. These sunshine days are numbered.