Liverpool first. Outside the venue, when we found it, were two men having an argument. One, of smaller stature and in a big black hat, seemed frustrated as he pointed us to the entrance, not looking in my eyes once, while muttering under his breath. The other just seemed confused once we got up close. The looming brick buildings which rose around us harked back to an industrial age, overtaken by the fame of The Beatles and Merseybeat.
A group of students wobbled past on high heels and lust for life, or each other, and disappeared into the night, their voices bouncing off the walls after we’d lost sight of them. The street faded into quietness again. No-one around. It’s another Wednesday night in Liverpool.
Before the gig, I went to an excellent Indian restaurant, with a amiable proprietor who spoke about Delhi and how it had changed from twenty years ago. I asked him what he meant.
“My friend’s servant now drives around in a jeep, with two bodyguards. Money changes people you know?
You can get held up at gunpoint, it’s not safe. North Indian wife is different from South Indian wife too. North Indian wife will say I won’t sleep with you tonight because we haven’t got the TV our neighbours have. South Indian wife is much cooler. In fact, in Bombay no-one gives a shit about anything. You can be anyone. You could be standing next to some guy in shorts and sandals and he’ll own the whole of TATA. You can dress a dog up in Versace, but it’s still a dog.”
Saddled with this wisdom, I took my paneer masala out into the street and walked back to the venue to eat it backstage and listen to the other band. As I walked in, I looked at the stage and realised that Black Hat and Confused were on the stage playing their set. It sounded great.
Later, around 2am, we were at the hotel. I carried my piano flight case through the reception and up to my room on my shoulder. It’s about as big as person and looks like a black and metal casket. The receptionist winced as I just avoided hitting the glass doors with it, but said nothing. Incidentally, I do know a guy who is banned from Travelodges the world over for breaking one of their glass doors trying to enter, in the middle of the night.
The van needed to be parked until a reasonable time, definitely until checkout hour. I stuck a pound into it which disappeared. None of the buttons did anything so I hit it and hurt my hand.
In the ‘morning’ we went to see the Cavern Club, where the Beatles played 292 times. Before we got there, Dan had to go and get some boxer shorts from H&M. It was a request from his girlfriend, maybe to stop him wearing her underwear on stage, which happened last week. The rain came down again (I’m sure it rains more up North, is that right?) and I saw the neon lights of a diner so disappeared inside on my own while the others went to a bakery. The music was good and the sauce was hot. Everything was okay for twenty minutes. My reverie was disturbed by the cartoon characters I choose to hang out with swaggering past the waitress and coming to sit beside me, singing along to the recording of “I get around” which came over the speakers. Will and Tim sat on the same seat, and Dan sat beside me, reaching over and taking the fries. Poor underfed boy. Will wore his massive black fake fur coat and was subsequently bigger than everything else anyone had seen that day. The diners at the table next to us laughed nervously and stuck their faces in burgers.
At the Cavern Club, a guitarist named Gary worked his way through a few Beatles hits, very well actually, and had the tourists singing along heartily to Hard Days Night and Hey Jude. His set was momentarily interrupted by a posse of Chinese rappers wearing tour jackets and weirdly, masks over their mouths. They were introduced onto the stage. It was MC Hot Dog and his entourage. They had a picture taken onstage but wouldn’t do a song. Jamie stood on the table and scrawled Tankus 15 on the ceiling with a black marker pen while everyone was looking at Hot Dog.
The windscreen held as we left Liverpool behind, and headed to Manchester. The staircase at the venue was so small we couldn’t get the piano up it, so I had to play the SV-1 on it’s legs and sit down. It gave the gig more of a twisted Blues Brothers feel.
The brilliant support band played to four people and us, sadly, although they didn’t seem to be very worried about it. Nude was their name. A Bowie-esque frontman who rarely looked at the audience, and scowled his way through various lyrics of regret and longing. The rhythm section were tight and funky, and I’m sure there were a couple of hits in their set. I wished more people had been in there to witness it.
After the show, I managed to source a pretty decent prawn korma with accompanying peshwari naan, and lacking any nuggets of wisdom from the owners, we sat at the plastic tables at 2am watching WWF Raw with Dan standing up under the TV yelling at the screen “SIT ON HER NECK! STAMP ON HER THROAT!”
This is our life.