Hello and welcome to Week Two of the Fairport Tour Blog! It’s been another brilliant and hectic week and here is what happened!
Friday 7th February, The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
‘Having coffee and working on the tour blog and after an hour looking through the wordpress help forums have finally found out how you centre-align photos in a manifest theme! I’m so pleased! It feels very luxurious to be only 38 minutes from tonight’s gig, I could get used to this executive touring! :o) xx’
After a big lie in and some admin and some more blog researching, I headed off from my luxurious base at the Chester West Holiday Inn to the New Brighton Pavilion and ended up at the lovely old-fashioned sea front and promptly got lost.
My sat nav told me I was there but there was no pavilion in sight, so after a bit of driving around and following my nose, I finally found the back street that I thought must surely be the right place and sure enough, like a vision from heaven, I saw Andy’s big blue lorry parked up and Mick parking the band van and I parked up next to them. Mick had dropped the guys off round the front and come round the back to park and I was so glad to see him! We made our way inside and I was given a dressing room and could hear the band doing their soundcheck through the intercom, so I got ready and headed on up to do my soundcheck when I heard them finishing. The backstage intercoms really are handy as you can hear everything that’s happening onstage and without them it would be easy to lose track of whats going on, especially in venues where the backstage area is huge and like a rabbit warren.
Soundcheck done I headed off to find the CD table, where Martin had already very kindly taken my merch bag and I set up my CDs ready for the interval. The sound was wonderful as always, but I decided to debut one of the dresses that I dug out last Monday and what a mistake! I teamed it with some untested trousers and it all felt too tight and all wrong and I was happy to get changed afterwards back into my driving clothes and put that one down as a no!
It was a really lovely gig with a warm and friendly crowd and the show went really well. Simon and I didn’t find each other before the show to go through Who Knows Where The Time Goes, so after the gig we arranged to meet up in Llandudno to have a run through and in the meantime I was still practising like mad in the car. Before we all headed off to our respective hotels, Simon invited me to join the band, Mick and Martin for lunch the next day in Colwyn Bay and so with arrangements made to meet there at 1pm I headed off back to my Holiday Inn!
It was particularly windy that night in New Brighton and I almost blew away heading out to my car! The wind blew me all the way back to Chester and I resisted the urge to faff about in the Mastermind Chair and went to bed! I did have a Kit Kat though.
‘Back at Chester West base after an especially lovely show in New Brighton. Lovely warm audience, lovely sound and the band were fab and Meet On The Ledge was really wonderful. I was very unhappy with my outfit, a trouser and sparkly dress combo that I wont be trying again but hey! I’m going to have an early night tonight instead of swivelling about in my Mastermind chair like a child! Super tired but very happy :o) xx’
Saturday 8th February, Theatre Cymru, Llandudno
After a fab sleep I got up, got ready and headed off to Colwyn Bay to meet the guys for lunch. Another wild and windy day, we all met at the Pen-y-Bryn pub which was really lovely. It was my first time hanging out with the guys outside of a gig venue and we all sat round a big wooden table and had a really lovely lunch. I had steak pie, mash, mushy peas and gravy which was a wonderful change from motorway sandwiches! I was sat near Gerry, Mick, Ric and Chris and I really enjoyed chatting with them, especially hearing stories of Gerry’s time in America.
With a couple of hours to kill, we all headed on into Llandudno where the boys checked into their hotel and I planned to head to the venue early. However, on the way into the town, I passed a little hair and beauty salon and on a whim pulled in. I asked if they could fit me in for a trim and the lady said she would be free in half an hour. So I called my Mum and pottered about and then had a fab hair trim and lovely natter with the hairdresser.
That done I headed to the venue and found my way through the car park to the barrier and the stage door manager let me through. It was ridiculously windy as I unloaded my guitar, gig bag and CD bag and I finally made my way into the hugest venue ever! After about ten miles of corridors I finally found our area and was greeted by the lovely promoter for the evening, David, who showed me where everything was.
Dressing room found, I made my way to the Green Room where Andy and Owain were having a cuppa and a bit of a chill out before soundchecks. It was lovely to have a chat with Andy, as I often miss seeing him due to him having to sleep during the gigs ready to drive the big blue lorry off into the night to the next venue. Owain was watching a movie and I decided to stitch some beads that needed fixing onto another dress I planned to try out that night. Mick came in and set up his laptop and showed us an article about when he was nominated ‘neighbour of the year’ which was really lovely! You can see the article here: Mick Peters – Neighbour in a Million! The band arrived shortly afterwards and after soundcheck Simon and I finally had a run through of Who Knows which was really nice. We decided I’d give it a whirl that night and arranged to have another run through in the interval.
I was very nervous indeed about singing the song for the first time but excited at the same time! I knew that night that a lovely guy called Ian would be coming to the show from near Hull as my friend Becky had texted to tell me, but I forgot that my Mum’s lovely cousins Mary and Sue were coming, with Sue’s husband Albert and a family friend, and even though Mum had texted to tell me, with all the nerves and excitement about singing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, I forgot to mention them in my opening set but they were very nice about it afterwards! Just before going on for my set, I realised to my horror that after all the bead stitching, this dress was also no good, as the minute as I put my guitar on, the beading on the front clattered against the back of it! Not having brought anything else to wear that night, I had to make do and decided I would just have to stand really still while onstage, so as not to make a racket. During my set, I heard a few funny sounds and assumed it was my dress beads on the guitar, but when the band came on to play Speed of the Sound, the first thing Simon did was come and change my microphone. It turned out that the lovely posh mic Simon had kindly lent me had decided to play up, after having just been repaired too, and so it wasn’t my beads after all but the mic making the funny noises! As Simon took the mic away and popped an SM58 in its place, it struck me what a great way to fire someone that would be, just walk on and take the mic away! :o)
Thankfully I wasn’t being fired, and the song with band was lovely and their first set was great. During the interval I sat with lovely Martin and signed CDs and met some of the lovely audience, and then raced backstage to have another run through the song with Simon. On went the band for their second half and I waited and listened and tried not to worry too much about the upcoming song, but in fact worried so much I almost exploded. I was thrilled that it was a venue where Martin’s CD table, Owain’s sound desk and the stage were all in the same room, like at Oxford. It’s so nice when it’s like that!
The moment arrived, and after the lovely introduction to the song that Simon always gives, mentioning how Sandy had written it as a teenager and brought it along with her when she joined the band, he invited me onstage and on I went.
I don’t really think I have the words to describe the feeling of standing there with the band singing that song, other than to say it was incredible and such an honour. Simon was so lovely and encouraging as he always is onstage, and with his help I relaxed and sang it with him and it was wonderful. Afterwards I wished I could do it all over again, and knew that even though I had got the words and melody in the right place, that I had yet to break it in and really sing it from the heart, and I could only hope that after a few more times, it would click. For a first attempt though I was very happy and the response from the guys was really warm and complimentary and I also had some lovely comments from audience members after the show.
As the band played their last number, I met Peggy in the wings as usual and we got ready to go on for the encore but for some reason, when Simon was saying goodnight and Thankyou, he mentioned Peggy and myself and Peggy said to me ‘come on’ and we started to go on. I knew it was too early, but still full of adrenalin from singing the song, and not really thinking straight, on we went! So there we were onstage, just as the band were about to come off ahead of the encore, and so we all ended up just staying on! We sang the encore and did the bow at the end, where we all link arms in a row and shuffle forward and bow, then shuffle back and bow again (my favourite bit of the show!) and then all came off and nobody seemed to mind too much about Peggy and I gate crashing the stage unexpectedly and it was all really good fun!
I must just mention a lovely young singer called Lani Bowerman who came along to the show with her sister and Dad. Family friends of Mick the TM, they were super nice and Lani is a singer/songwriter with a catalogue of her own songs under her belt and she is barely sixteen years old. I really enjoyed hearing her demo EP and have invited her to join me at a few gigs later in the year as she really is very good.
After hugs with Mary, Sue and Albert and some lovely chats with audience members, we all packed away and headed off to our hotels. I floated back to Chester on such a high feeling very happy and lucky after such a wonderful night that really brought home to me what music is all about in so many ways.
‘How did I love the gig tonight? Let me count the ways. Somehow managing to come on for the encore with Peggy before the band had actually left the stage aside, it was total gig heaven, and even that bit was funny :o) Playing these wonderful big concert halls with such a wonderful band all these nights, always with a gorgeous sound that makes singing an absolute joy, is just the most wonderful thing imaginable. It’s what it’s all about, the songs and the music. All the stupid worries about dresses and big hips and hairdos and shoes and doing a good job and do they like me, all fall by the wayside and don’t matter a bit at the end of the day, its all about the music and I really felt that tonight and felt lucky and humbled and proud and honoured. A truly lovely night indeed xx’
Sunday 9th February, The Lowry, Salford
‘Making the most of my last half hour at the Holiday Inn before heading up to Salford and the The Lowry for tonight’s gig and then home for a day off. I’ve heard that Britain’s Got Talent is filming at The Lowry today, and parking may be tricky but am going to try my best to squeeze the Audi in next to the big blue crew lorry, I like a challenge and I’m not parking miles away for anyone! John‘s blog about the same show last year when BGT was also filming was really funny, I especially loved the bit about a film crew suddenly appearing from round a corner walking backwards in front of Simon Cowell doing a walk and talk piece to camera and the whole thing going past him in a flurry :o) I have to say this hotel has been amazing and is officially my favourite hotel in this area now. Smoking rooms, free parking, free fast wi-fi, a fridge, a bar, a cafe and super cheap – awesome x’
After a big lie in I headed down to check out on my last morning at the hotel, and after a lovely lunch in the bar with piped Gary Barlow playing (not so lovely, no offence Gaz) I made my way to Salford Quays for our final show before a day off.
I absolutely love The Lowry and having played there a few times before I knew where to head for and was really looking forward to it. Having heard that Britain’s Got Talent was filming there, I braced myself for difficulty getting in but to my surprise and delight all was clear, and it turned out that filming had finished the day before so all was fine!
I made my way to the stage door and loading dock and saw the big blue lorry parked there like a big, friendly, welcoming beacon and parked up next to it. I made my way inside and found my dressing room and the stage and CD area and started to get ready. Having the world’s worst unruly hair, and with the weather having been so awful since the tour began, I have taken to bringing my hair straighteners along with me to the gigs, as if it should get wet on the way to the gig, it puffs up like mad and goes huge. As I have time to get ready after soundcheck, and because there are lovely dressing rooms to get ready in at all the venues, the first thing I do now is straighten my hair when I arrive rather than do it before setting off, like I normally do for my own gigs. I have taken to wearing my Skerryvore bobble hat on the way to gigs to hide my unstraightened frizzy mop!
Hair done, I discovered Martin having a logistical nightmare with the band’s huge merch flight case and some stairs! With Owain and Mick’s help he managed to get it down the steps and I helped him into the lift and we wheeled it up to the merch area in the foyer. The CD table was by a huge window that had a panoramic view of the Quays and the lights and buildings looked quite stunning, I wish now I had thought to take a photo! I brought a bottle of wine for Martin that night as he really is so kind and lovely to me on the CD table, and great company. We haven’t had Ellen with us this week at all, so it’s just been Martin and Peggy and I, and the two of them have been amazing. Peggy asked me to put one of my badges on each of his lapels while were setting up and gave one to the venue manager too who put it on which was lovely!
The gig that night was really great, I sang Who Knows Where The Time Goes for the second time, only marginally less nervous about it than the night before, and it went well but I knew again when I came off that I hadn’t quite nailed it. Peggy and Martin had a video screen opposite them up in the foyer and both were very complimentary but I knew I could do it better.
The band were brilliant and all too soon the show was over and we all went up to the CD table and chatted to some of the lovely audience members. The band come out every night after the show to chat to the audience and sign CDs and programmes, which I think is amazing. I don’t know of many big acts who do that, they really are lovely guys.
After packing away, everyone was keen to get off home as it was a day off the next day. With hugs and goodbyes all round we all pulled out into the night and headed off down the road.
‘Home, unpacked and in pyjamas and slippers via a cuppa at Alastairs and a stop at the 24 hour garage where the lady managed to get a huge bag of cat litter through the night pay window very impressively. It’s so lovely to see the cat, and after a few ‘where the hell have you been’ meows I think all is forgiven xx’
Monday 10th February, Day off
‘Having coffee and catching up with all emails and admin and just had a really nice email from a guy who was at the gig on Saturday who said he really enjoyed it and that he would have come up to chat at the end but his bladder was full but he really enjoyed ‘Over The Edge’. Things like that really do make my day :o) xxx’
And so it was the second day off! It came round so fast and after a huge lie in I spent the day doing washing, banking, bills, admin, emails, making calls and drinking coffee and then started on my Week One Blog. I remember looking at my notes and photos and thinking it probably wasn’t going to be very long and wondering what I was going to write about. Several hours later, I was amazed to see it was in fact 14 miles long, and after another hour checking spellings and grammar I headed to bed not really sure if it was any good, too long, the right thing etc…
Not used to being ignored, the cat went and sat on my laptop bag in protest! :o)
Tuesday 11th February, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa
‘Heading off to Leamington after a lovely day off for the next show of the Tour, really looking forward to it and hoping no more lightbulbs go in the house while I’m away, 4 of them decided to go this weekend all at once for some reason! In other news I have noticed my teeth are on the move making these braces worthwhile after all! I can no longer poke a cocktail stick all the way through my gap, it will now only go so far, so it is definitely closing up, although I can still fit my Tesco Clubcard in it so still a bit of a way to go yet xx’
After another lie in I got up and made coffee, checked the blog one last time and emailed it off to the guys, sent it out to my website mailing list and posted it on my facebook page. I got my washing off the radiators, packed my bags and set off to Leamington for gig 10 of the tour. The guys all sent back lovely comments about the blog which was reassuring and very lovely!
Before setting off I spent an hour trying to book a hotel somewhere south of Leamington as the following night would be Exeter, and I needed to stay somewhere on the way down. Having left my hotel bookings till the last-minute like a fool, having not quite appreciated the impossibility of driving home every night before the tour began, and being a dab hand at booking hotels when needed via booking.com and late rooms, I was surprised to find that all of the hotels I was trying had no availability. I decided to leave it as I needed to set off, and armed with a couple of hotel booking numbers I got going and thought I would make some calls later on from the gig and sort something out.
I made it to the Spa Centre fine, parked up in front of the lovely blue lorry, found my dressing room and totally forgot about booking a hotel as I got ready and said hello to the band and we all chatted about our days off and did soundchecks.
Peggy and Martin had mentioned that Robert Plant might be coming to this gig, being an old friend of Peggy’s but I didn’t think too much about it and certainly didn’t think that if he came I would meet him. Backstage I met Linda Leslie, Chris’s lovely wife, who had come along for the evening, and lovely Andy from Iconic Media, who I hadn’t seen since the first show in Tewkesbury. As I got ready for the gig, the main thing on my mind was my third performance of Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and the atmosphere was friendly and fun. Matt came to find me to give me an electric cigarette kit that his lovely wife Tammy had kindly posted up for me. He showed me how to use it and set it all up and I was very honoured that he and Tammy had taken the time and trouble to do that, he is such a lovely guy and super nice and friendly, and like Peggy is also very funny and laid back too!
Martin again took my CDs to the foyer which was lovely of him and he set them all out too, so all I had to do was play my set then go and join him in the interval. The sound onstage was wonderful again and I really enjoyed playing. I knew that some friends were in the audience that night, Barry, Ian, Bob and Martin, who have been coming to see me play at gigs in the Midlands for many years now which is so lovely. I gave them a mention onstage and after playing Speed of The Sound with the band I came off, leaving them to play their first set, and went to get a sandwich and a coffee with Mick. We found the staff kitchen where Mick made me a very welcome cuppa and I had my Tesco sandwich and wandered up with my Sharpie pen to join Martin ready for the interval.
As the audience all came out and started coming up to buys CDs, Martin suddenly said that someone wanted to say hello. I looked up and it was Robert Plant! He shook my hand and smiled and told me to get back to selling my CDs as people were waiting to buy them, and I think I mumbled something to him in delighted shock before heading back the queue of people for a whirlwind round of signing CDs.
I was also introduced to a lovely young singer/songwriter called Deborah Rose, who is playing at Cropredy this year and who was very lovely indeed. We had met years before at the Marrs Bar in Worcester and after a quick chat with her and some hugs and hellos with Ian, Barry, Martin and Bob, the interval was over and the second half began.
It then sunk in that Robert Plant had probably seen my set which Martin confirmed, and I was so pleased that I hadn’t known beforehand! Coming out to join the band in the second half knowing he was in the audience was fairly nerve-wracking though, and I found out later from Owain that Robert had sat next to him at the sound desk during the show!
All went really well and after a lovely second half, we all headed back out to the CD table area where everyone chatted and mingled and photos were taken. I met a lovely friend of the band, a singer called Anna Ryder who supported the band a few years ago on tour, and also met Matt’s Mum, Mrs Pegg, who was really nice. I got a chance to chat more with Chris’s wife Linda and also talked more with Mr Plant (!) who told me to remember that even though Sandy is revered and very loved, she was also loads of fun and I shouldn’t be worried about about singing her signature song, which was lovely to hear. He told a few funny stories and was just really lovely all round to everybody, and he also signed an autograph for my friend Paul who works at the bank in Driffield. I told him that Paul has a Led Zeppelin coaster on his desk at the bank for his coffee mug, and Robert told me that his one and only job had been in a bank for two weeks before he went off to play rock and roll.
After all that excitement and a lovely time we all packed away and headed off, and I got to my car and remembered I hadn’t booked a hotel! Armed with a Holiday Inn number I called it up from the car and got a guy in a call centre in America, who found me a hotel in Bath in about two minutes! He booked me in and gave me the address and, still on a high, I found myself saying to him, guess who I met tonight? He said who? And I said Robert Plant! After a moment’s pause he said ‘Robert Plant? Was he in a band or something?’ :o)
I left it at that, Thanked him for finding me a hotel and headed off Bathwards. I stopped somewhere near Gloucester for coffee and toast and a few catch up texts and emails on my phone, and made it to my hotel in Bath at 2am. It was a lovely hotel but not a patch on the Chester West one! No Mastermind chair, no smoking and no Kit Kats, but hey, it was a room! I headed to bed very tired and very happy.
‘Bath-bound to a Holiday Inn after a really fab night in Leamington, Thankyou so much Barry and co for coming and Simon and the guys and Martin and Owain for another lovely gig. Feel a bit scratchy in the throat but got an electric cigarette from Matt tonight so perhaps its a good time to give it a whirl. Maybe just after this roly! xx’
‘One of these three is an international icon, a true legend and a multi-millionaire.
The other two scrape a living in Folk-Rock. Can’t put a fag paper between them.’
(photo and caption courtesy of Mr Nicol!)
Wednesday 12th February, The Corn Exchange, Exeter
‘Bath is so pretty. I’ve never been here before and can’t get over how many three-story crescents and blocks of sandy coloured terrace houses there are, its stunning. Heading to Exeter and in need of a Boots as I’ve run out of hairspray and definitely have a cold coming on, and have brilliantly remembered where there is one in Exeter! Right next to a Matalan too! Thats my afternoon sorted x’
After checking out of the not-as-good-as-Chester Holiday Inn and a gorgeous drive through Bath, I made my way down to Exeter. News reports of severe weather and flooding all over the UK were increasing and it was slow going due to traffic jams, accidents, high winds and heavy rain. I made it to Exeter with big plans to go to Matalan but in the end only had enough time to pop to Boots as I could feel a cold coming on and my head felt very cotton-woolly and my throat was scratchy. After a whizz around the pharmacy I also got some hairspray and some face cream for 40+ skin, which was slightly depressing, and made my way to the Corn Exchange. The blue lorry was there as was the band van and I made my way inside and found everybody.
The following day was to be a bonus day off, so there was a ‘last night’ feel in the air again, even though we would all resume on Friday! The venue was lovely and we all had gigantic dressing rooms! I dosed myself up on my Boots cold and flu products and the show went really well. I realised during Who Knows Where The Time Goes that I was having trouble with the breathing in one of the lines, which was what was making me feel like I wasn’t singing it was well as I would like. I made a note to try it differently on Friday night, and by now felt very happy that I knew all the words and melody off by heart, and vowed personally to try breathing differently and maybe finally manage to sing it to my own satisfaction at the next gig!
I had some family friends in the audience, my Aunty Barbara’s friend Hilary and two of her friends, and my friend Phil’s Mum and Dad, Marion and Len. So there was much chatting and hugging during the interval and after the show, and I also met a local promoter and friend of the band called Steve, who was there promoting his Budleigh music evenings.
I went down to the stage door after playing my set to have a roly, and after going through a kind of indoor wheely bin loading dock area, I opened the heavy door to the outside and two pigeons flew in, frightening me to death! I really hope they don’t have CCTV cameras in that loading bay as I was flailing around all over screaming and the whole thing was like a really bad spoof of The Birds! They disappeared up into the rafters and I was quite worried that they might then fly up the stairs into the auditorium, disrupting the show, but Owain told me later that they had been coming in and out all day which made me feel better! The band van also got a parking ticket that night, even though Mick is meticulous in his arrangements. He was understandably not too happy about it and went round wearing it on various parts of his body for the rest of the evening which was brilliant. :o)
Martin was brilliant company at the CD table as always, as was Peggy, and I realised that my name was coming round on a video screen in the foyer which was quite exciting and I decided to take a photo. Well, it took about ten minutes for it to come round again but undeterred I waited and finally it came round and I got my photo!
I was as always amazed at how hard Owain and the crew work at the end of a gig, breaking down and packing up the PA and loading it all onto the big blue lorry. They usually have help from some of the venue staff but still its a mammoth task and they do it without complaint and always in good humour. Andy Salmon wasn’t with us at Leamington and Exeter as Jools Holland had a show that he was working on, so we were joined by a lovely guy called Steve, who drove the lorry.
We all said our goodbyes and headed off. The guys were going home as was I, and with all the weather warnings I was wondering what kind of journey I was in for, but to my surprise it was very smooth! While the poor North West was battered with strong winds, I somehow avoided the worst and zipped home. It took 6 hours with two coffee stops but I was very glad to get home through the night rather than spent my day off driving the next day, which would have taken twice as long, and finally home, I headed to bed exhausted and happy.
‘A third of the way home and stopped for petrol and a toasty and coffee after gig eleven of the tour which was really lovely. Im tuning into the weather forecasts but other than seeing an incredible electrical storm up ahead a few miles back and some hailstones round the M4 area it’s not been too bad so far. It’s a very windy night not to be spotted at the petrol pump though! The lady didn’t see me for ages and by the time she turned on my nozzle I only had enough stamina left to fill up to £53 before my hand got too cold to go on. It’s enough to get me home, it’ll do! Having my toasty and coffee by a display of Belvita breakfast biscuits and wondering who buys them? A breakfast no more needs a biscuit than a roast dinner needs a slice of toast but they seem to be popping up in shops all over. Hope the guys all get home safe tonight, looking forward to our bonus day off tomorrow xx’
Thursday 13th February, Day Off
‘Coffee, admin and post in pyjamas :o) xx’
After waking up at the crack of 2pm, I spent my bonus day off doing washing, grocery shopping and also went to Driffield Electricals to get some lightbulbs as four of them had decided to go at once while I was away this past week! I also popped to the bank to give Paul his Robert Plant autograph and told him the story about him working in a bank for two weeks. Paul was over the moon and said he was going to frame it! All of that done I went to bed at the very early time of 10.20pm, very unlike me, all set for heading to Hunstanton and back to the tour the next day!
‘Shopping done, washing done, admin done and off to bed at the insanely un-rock n roll-y time of 10.20pm! x’
So that has been Week Two! Two weeks in and I am still loving every moment and think I am even more in love with all the guys than I was last week. Not even halfway through and I already know I am going to miss them all terribly when it’s over, but there are three more weeks to go yet so am not going to think about it!
I have had some lovely feedback from last week’s blog, Thankyou so much. One reader came up to chat at the Exeter show and mentioned that while he had enjoyed the blog, he had found the inclusion of the set list photo a bit of a spoiler. I thought perhaps I should take it off last weeks’s blog and pop it back on at the end of the tour but after a chat with Peggy, who suggested I change the titles instead, I did just that, and with the help of my lovely friend Stephen and his photoshop skills, I replaced the original version with a ‘new original’ one and will pop the ‘original original’ back on at the end of the tour!
Thankyou so much for reading and I will post Week Three next Tuesday!
See you then,
Love Edwina xxx