I have just - just! - returned from the first three shows of the twelve that Ruts D.C. will be playing in the month of November, and I'm pleased to say that barring the odd technical hitch they all went very well. Heavy traffic (and indeed heavy rain) meant that we were an hour late arriving at The Wardrobe in Leeds for the first show on Thursday but our new driver / backline man Jon got us all there in one piece - after an excellent support set from The Expelaires (who reminded your humble narrator of early U2, which is never a bad thing in my book) we took to the stage at 9.15 for a splendid 75 minute set with sound man Bob getting everything sounding pretty near perfect. After the show Rhiannon does a roaring trade on the merchandise and we chat many-an audience member, all of whom seemed to enjoy the show which is always good news. And it was great to see Phil from Bug with his wife Annette and my old mate and fellow Chicago Blues Brothers escapee Matt too. From there it was back to the hotel for a drink (ok then, quite a few drinks!) before bringing a long day to a close.
The next morning we breakfasted amid stories of cannibalism on the television news (Dave - 'if you were going to eat someone you wouldn't start with their face would you?') we all agreed that it had been a great gig to start the tour with. With the rain continuing to fall we left for Newcastle not long after checking out at midday, arriving at The Cluny a little after 2pm. I'd not been there before although it's a very well-established venue which has been putting on live music for many years - we'd not been there long before Martin McAloon appears to say hello to Segs and Dave, he's the former bass player in Prefab Sprout, brother of Sprout singer / songwriter Paddy McAloon and an old friend of them both. After setting up and soundchecking there time for me to help Segs solder a couple of leads in one of his bass guitars before we have a meal in the venue bar then head off to The Vermont Hotel to check in and have an hour-and-a-bit off before returning to The Cluny just in time to catch the guitar / vocals / backing tracks duo The Symptoms. Perhaps inevitably they bring Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine to mind, which can't be bad can it? Our sound isn't quite as good as the previous night, with a couple of monitor problems and a microphone failure but none of this bothers the audience, most of whom go crazy from the word go. Once again there's time to speak to some of the crowd afterwards before retiring to our hotel for, you've guessed it, a drink or two. And why not?
Saturday morning's weather was a distinct improvement on the previous couple of days, and with only a relatively short drive in prospect there's a chance to spend a couple of hours in Newcastle before leaving for the next hotel. This can only mean one thing - a visit to Guitar Guitar is in order. Within no time myself and Bob were ensconced in one of the demonstration booths there with a Vox AC30 - I'd wanted to try one for a while as I'd heard great things about the latest model, and I must say that it sounded absolutely tremendous. I've also been told that the AC15 is worth a listen so I'm hoping to find one or those at either the Edinburgh or Glasgow shops this weekend. We also auditioned an Electro Harmonix B9 organ simulator pedal which sounded frankly astonishing - there go the wages I fear... from there it was the afore-mentioned drive up to Stockton-on-Tees where we're returning to The Georgian Theatre around a-year-and-a-half on from our first visit. Steve and Martin of Big Figure Promotions were very helpful, support bands The Iron Hearts and The Filth both played well and we gave a good show despite more microphone problems - in Bob's words, 'I took 'em all of the shelf in the warehouse, and that's where they're going back to!'
Today it's been the long drive home, and I don't mind admitting that I'm feeling very tired now. Still there are four shows in Scotland on the horizon - now that's something to really look forward to! Mind you, that'll be an even longer drive home...