From Gateshead we headed north across the border into Scotland. Past Edinburgh, over the Firth of Forth and through Queensferry up to Kinross near Perth. We were playing at the Green hotel in Kinross where we performed last year and although we were not staying in the hotel the night before the gig, we still went there for dinner and a drink on our travel day. Although I am not Scottish, I did live in Edinburgh from the age of 1 to the age of 9 and you could call me a Scotophile as I love the place and have spent more holidays in the Scottish Highlands and Islands than anywhere else over the last 25 years. Mull, Skye, Eigg, Sutherland, Ballachulish etc. I think it is so beautiful there. On the day of the gig itself we had some time to kill in the morning (after checkout time from the Travelodge before check in time at the Green hotel) so we all went to Loch Leven (pronounced Lee-van, as we were corrected), for a walk along the Heritage trail around the loch. It was glorious and great to spend a bit of time there. We took a band photo on the pier there too.
It is always a tour bonus to stay the night in the same place as the gig, as it does make things easier logistically, and you can always pop back to your hotel room very easily. Quite a lot of the audience was also staying in the hotel as we were to discover later and at breakfast, as they had come quite far from Glasgow, Edinburgh and even Newcastle.
The gig room, called ‘Backstage at the Green’, is at the back of the hotel and it is nicely laid out as a mini rock club. Lots of interesting photos and rock memorabilia all over the walls. For the gig itself we thought we would try walking on to the atmospheric album track ‘Breathe’ (from Hidden Details) and actually that seemed to work well. We had a very good sound engineer, who was called Travis (what a splendid name!) so we could hear ourselves well onstage and the out front sound was apparently clear too. The audience was fantastic, several who had seen us here 12 months ago. On the gig itself, I think John Marshall was the man of the match as he was particularly on form and burning throughout the set. Overall a very strong gig. Afterwards we hung out in the hotel bar for quite a while with various members of the audience who were particularly interesting and good to talk to.
The following morning we had the long drive to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire - about 250 miles. With the traffic, fog, small windy lanes and herd of cows in the road, it took nearly 6 hours to reach our hotel. Annoyingly, on arrival it was all closed up with no sign of life at all. Eventually a couple of guys turned up and we checked in and were given our room keys before going to the venue to set up etc.
I have played at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge before but the last time was at least 15 years ago. It still looks the same, though the sound system and green room were better this time. We had a support act on the gig which was an excellent young singer songwriter guitarist called Henry Parker who was playing with a double bass/ harmonium player. The songs reminded me of the style of early Roy Harper or John Martyn, music I love. He was really good. I managed to hear much of his set as well as his soundcheck. I hope he does well.
The gig was sold out so the room was full. We played a single long set rather than two sets because of the support band. I think we all played well and there was a great response from the crowd. I particularly enjoyed playing Hidden Details, Broken Hill, Gesolreut and Chloe and the Pirates which has was one of our encores. Some friends of the band came along, including Allan Holdsworth’s daughter Lynne, and I also met some people I had been in touch with by e mail which was nice. Always good to meet people in person rather than just cyberspace. After some post gig chatting and packing up it was back to the rather strange silent dark hotel at the windy crossroads on the top of a hill. I was glad we had collected our keys earlier as otherwise I fear we would never have got in. And so to bed. Next stop, home then the Borderline in London on Friday.