Haven’t posted on here for a while… i don’t know life gets in the way, not being inspired enough to say anything that matters i suppose… but these last few weeks have been weird for us all…. Lockdown, the sadness brought to so many families by Covid-19 and a huge change in our day to day activities.
One thing that has brightened up evenings during the last week fews have been the great Twitter listening parties, originated and inspired by The Charlatans (one of my favourite bands) singer Tim Burgess, ShiiineOn Indie Music fans of so many great bands and my favourite band of all time, Inspiral Carpets.
For the last few weeks, we have convened each Thursday night on twitter for #InspiralThursday – as we listened back to their first 4 albums Life, The Beast Inside, Revenge of the Goldfish and tonight Devil Hopping, which covered a period in my life 1990 – 1994 where anything felt possible and music was the soundtrack to everything – so many great bands, tunes, memories.
It has been wonderful to listen to the albums playback along with loads of other Inspirals fans, the band themselves (wonderful to see Tom Hingley back in his true home) . I spent god knows how many hours, days, years listening to these records (and still do) and it has been lovely to see just how many people they meant something to as well and share memories, tales of great songs and gigs and stories of losing our hair…
It made me think back tonight, to all those hours spent following the Inspirals all over the UK, whole tours in fact at times, Travelodges, cheap trains and flights to listen to this wonderful music in the company of others who shared the same passion.
So i dug out this tour diary i wrote back in 2007 for one of the Inspirals tour after they had reformed back in 2003… up and down the UK for a week or so, having fun, enjoying life and making memories.
Thought i’d share that piece again (that was originally published i think very kindly by the band back in 2007). Hopefully Inspirals fans reading it (if anyone does!) will remember the gigs they were at on this tour, or if not this tour another one..
Inspiral Carpets first album Life is 30 years old today and still sounds as wonderful as ever. Thanks to the band and the fans for allowing me and many others to be part of something rather special…
Inspiral Carpets – UK Tour Diary March 2007…
It all started a few months before the tour began, as the dates began to filter through.
Could it be done, (in 2003 i did 8 of the 10 dates, 2006 it was more like for a couple of weekend jaunts for the memorable gigs back where it all began in Oldham, followed by the Cool as Fuck jaunt around Northern Britain) but this time i wanted to try and do the lot, follow the band who were the first and best ever live act i ever saw , for
the whole of their March 2007 ‘Keep The Circle Around’ UK Tour.
Looking at the list, it became clear it was do-able, theusual things would be involved – skiving off work early, incurring my bosses wrath (” the Inspiral who??”) , cheap flights (
that Easy Jet orange, queuing like cattle thing never gets any easier.
..A-D remind me of Argos), Megabus, petrol station food, unable to concentrate at work (nothing new there then) due to sleep deprivation etc etc. So it was decided, the 2nd – 10th March 2007 would see me take in Birmingham, Glasgow, Lincoln, Norwich, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester and London – Cool as Fuck as far as i was
Funny how now the Inspirals are only finally beginning to get the credit they deserved first time round, classic single after classic single and four albums that still stand the test
of time today (though it appears the band may beg to differ over the Beast Inside – for what its worth my favourite Inspirals album, probably because its so different). Bands seem to be willing to admit these days, that the Inspirals were an influence, when we all knew how special they were all along…
So rant over, Friday the 2nd March, bags packed ready to go, running the clock down at work, the 4 o clock departure greeted cheerily with the boss, its off to Birmingham with a friend, driving up the M40, in the pouring rain…the glamour of touring eh, venue easy enough to find, id beento the Bar Academy next door before to see Puressence (officially theworst view in the world in a venue), NCP fleece us for £6 odd for3 hours parking and i step outside into the rain to see the Inspiral Carpets in red letters above the venue door….step inside and the smell of rancid old mops / vomit / shit hits you straight away, christ knows what they clear the floor with in Birmingham. Venue aint bad, 650 capacity, sold out first night, crowd steadily building,as the support band from Stoke, the Rebounds play an energetic set,not really my bag but kicks the tour off all the same. Then it beginsto build up to the Inspirals, crew doing there checks, tuning up,tunes building up (the pre gig tape wasnt a patch on 2003 though, when it was classic Manchester themed – there is only so much Razorlight, Babyshambles you can listen to in a week before it feels like torture!!) . Band come on about 8.30, early show, Craig counts in Generations and away we go a week of classic tunes, garage filled at times, melodic at others, happy at times, sad at others…maybe that’s why i like this band so much, all these tunes get inside you in a way…..
The opening five songs, are just classics, quite possibly the best way an Inspirals show could open – Generations, Joe, Move, Directing Traffic and This is How It Feels…. the opening drum beat of Joe gets the crowd really going, band all energy, Martyn throwing shapes on the monitors, Tom cranking the crowd up….Move then for me, is the greatest Inspirals song there is, that bit toward the middle is just classic Inspirals,
organ / bass / drums just build and build and then Graham just nails that guitar line (listen to it again see what i mean)…fucking beautiful…next up Directing Traffic, must be 20 years old and still sounds as fresh as a daisy, drums kick in and away we go again, Birmingham absolutely bouncing…then its This Is How It Feels, lesser bands couldn’t afford to throw away such a song so early in the set but for the first night of eight, its all hands clapping in the air in time to a song everyone just everyone knows….a special moment in Birmingham but one that would be bettered further along the
Two Worlds Collide is next up and we continue on the classic streak, this song was never appreciated for how good it was when it was released, a song with a big heart, another one that has everyone singing along…. The night continues in the same vain, great song after great song, i’ll mention the rest of the set during the course of this ditty, so i dont bore you all to death, trying to think of new things to say about songs for every gig, other stand outs in Brum though, are Cobra, two minutes of fast, forgotten by all but those who remember, garage rock from Devil Hopping…raises the game in the mosh pit a few more notches…and of course for me Sleep Well Tonight, still for me the ultimate lost Inspirals great track, beautiful melody, keyboards that just wash right over you and a heartfelt (or it sounds that way lyric), perfectly placed in the middle of the set before they crank up through the gears again….Plane Crash (live edit – there’s a future b side for you lads, when you record that 5th album?) ends it all but Glasgow deserves the mention for that… The band return to a great reception for a 2 song encore of Sackville and Saturn Five lifts the first of 8 roofs off before its back into a cold and increasingly wet Birmingham night
, a car park stairwell that smells of piss and a drive back down the M1 to the first Travelodge of the tour…first Gingsters Cornish Pasty of the trip, washed down with a bit of Travelodge tea before its shut eye for the night and the short trip to Luton Airport for the flight to Glasgow
Easyjet flight on time shocker…but yes for the first time in my life they get me from A to B and back to A on time..wonders will never cease…early check in thank god allowed in the one decent hotel of the tour in Glasgow and never has a shower felt so good…(well there was one once but that’s another story…) Down to Celtic Park in the afternoon, to take in Celtic /Dunfermline in the SPL, its pre Milan, so Celtic with a 19 point lead have their minds else where and the crowd do too (atmosphere is flat compared to my previous visits there with Liverpool) but its an ok game all the same, 2-1 to the champions , then its back to the hotel and round the corner to the gig…..the ABC is a beautiful venue, nice to see an indie venue that has had a lick of paint in the last five years, has toilets that don’t leak and great sound…the crowd are absolutely fucking mental…like Newcastle on the last tour..only far more of them.. Everyone appears to be drunk, happy drunk i mind add, no bother at all, everyone bouncing in unison to every song, lads and lasses knowing every word to songs like Weakness, Sleep Well Tonight, Come Back Tomorrow (makes me feel slightly less sad!)…set list remains the same as Birmingham but the vibe hits a new high, the band seem to buzz off it as one, Glasgow remains one of the gig cities of Britain, simply because the people don’t seem to care about whats cool and whats not…good songs, great bands get proper respect and responses, and that’s exactly what happened to the Inspirals…one of their best ever gigs….
Up early the next day, bus back to Airport , flight on time again…(surely he’s lying – i hear you say..) car picked up from Luton Airport and off up to Lincoln (where the f**k is Lincoln?) 125 miles of rain later i find out, on a Sunday its in the middle of nowhere, especially on a wet Sunday in March….nothing going on and it becomes a case of where is dry for a few hours…the pub and then luckily the cinema, Hot Fuzz i can well recommend….then its straight across the road to the venue, the Engine Shed…i have noticed it creep onto bands ads in the NME recently as a touring haunt and on first impressions its a nice place, big room, good sound, not sure the microwave lighting was to everyone’s taste but a good venue…the band came on mega late not sure why (lads?),
had to listen to Razorlight three times on the warm up tape..so a good performance was needed and it came, lot of Nottingham / Midlands / Lincoln City boys in the crowd and it made for a great atmosphere, loads of singing along, dancing, jumping around. Same set as the previous two nights, Weakness is such a good song live, blisters along and Uniform (again this song sounds re – energised 13 years on) been high spots. For the encore, we get Commercial Rain added to the setlist and it remains there for the rest of the tour, complete with additional guitar work from Chameleons guitarist and long time Inspirals friend Dave Fielding, now resident in Lincoln itself….Saturn Five ends it all again and its the M1, a dry ham sandwich from Peterborough services, Ribena and back in London…
Back at work Monday morning, ears still ringing, work colleagues enquiring as to progress (attitudes vary between he is mad and well he is mad but happy)…straight out the door at 5 o clock and train from Liverpool Street to Norwich…commuter ville, the bird across from me had great legs though…and check in to Travelodge again….feels like home, they all look the same, same stains on the sheets most of them as well….Gig is at the Waterfront, which i think is by some water, it was dark,old fashioned venue, chocka block, big posts down centre of the room, so got myself by the stage and waited for the crowd to kick off at Generations…(no), at Joe (no) and so on, a very polite crowd, great applause for the songs, singing along but not the slightest wiggle of an ass anywhere….i don’t count i grandad / bez dance anyway….Then it all started to go comedy, when some wag / lad / knob in the crowd, well a lad who was about 9 foot shouts out ‘ dont play any new ones’. After that for whatever reason, it just went up and up,band cracking gags, mosh pit going, birds coming on stage for Commercial Rain, go go dancing or whatever it was…Tom falling over the monitors and cracking his skull on the floor (didn’t miss a word of the song even on the floor – true professional!) and turned into in its own unique way one of the best gigs on the tour….
A few hours sleep, trains never get anymore comfortable to fall asleep on do they? and back to the office…cant hear anything which is quite handy, when you work with some of the people i work with, night off tonight, so what do i do, go to a gig, The Rifles at the Astoria, a great album, i stood upstairs to avoid the 15 yr old moshpit throwing their first pints on the stage…good show and a nice diversion from the main event….
Back home for a change of clothes and off down to Brighton, the Concorde 2 is a funny
venue, like some old tea shop or something on the prom, complete with the new chicanes on the approach road for Brightons strong boy racer crew by the looks of it to enjoy. Caught the end of the second support, Actress Hands, sounded ok, to the lad who gave me the CD by the Lanes (1st support act) i am listening to it now, some good tunes… Inspirals were mega tonight, in the hottest venue of the tour, crowd not bad either, i am glad they finally played Sackville in the encore as it was the only title the lad behind me (he was legless to be fair) seemed to know…. after the show met the band at the aftershow for the first time in 17 years and a lot of gigs following them, which was great. Always feel a bit of a knob at these things but its great to see a band who will say hello to their fans and have a drink and play some tunes….
In at 3am, shower, decide against shaving again, too much effort, hair going even more mullet like, the lack of proper food and sleep for a week cold kicking in, its the train up to Leeds with the other half, staying with family tonight, not much time to spare before getting in to see Rick Witter and his Dukes…having seen them a few times before, looking forward to the album which i think is available from their website from next month. Stood in front of a stage with no barrier (is it me or has the Leeds Uni student union completely changed from last time i went there to see a gig? – answers on a postcard please). Right in front of Grahams guitar monitor, so got the guitar nice and clear, bass going through my gut and not a lot of keyboard….great gig though,crowd were really on one, all the classics I Want You, Dragging Me Down, Tom had them well regimented, ears bleeding my the end of it, lots of smiles, a bit of cocked up Cobra and the first time i have ever heard Joe without hearing any keyboard at all….another entry for the top 3 gigs on the tour…but two nights to go…
Mullet removed on a quick dash over to Liverpool and home…then back over to Manchester, great curry and off to the Academy (the same smelly, dirty, hot, impossible to get the bar but good venue it always is). Maybe i stood in the wrong place crowd wise, but not enough people buzzing off it, compared to the 2003 tour..though the right hand side of the room seemed to be going mental…home town gigs are always weird ones though. Set list sadly shorn of Sleep Well Tonight (curfew strictly imposed there i guess) but again classic after classic, She Comes In the Fall, crowd eating out of the palm of the bands hands). Still no Mark E Smith on stage in Manchester for I Want You, next time maybe lads… just wonderful to hear the words though, Inspiral Carpets, Manchester , 2007, don’t suppose many of us thought it would happen a few years ago…
So onto the final leg, back to where i call home these days…London…Megabus what a great invention (£1 for a coach trip Manchester to London – it costs four times that to go one stop on the tube these days… Shepherds Bush Empire for gig 8 of 8….venue with a good crowd in, an old fashioned theatre style room and my favourite venue in the old smoke…….spent the first 9 songs trying to breathe sandwiched on the barrier and enjoying one particular elbow in the face a lot…but a great gig, crowd for a London crowd really up for it, no fashionistas or any of the bollocks all too prevalent down here at gigs…just people bang up for a good time…set list by now known off by heart (lovely to hear Sleep Well Tonight one last time), dancing to Commercial Rain one last time, lifting my hands in the air to Sackville one last time and singing every last word to Saturn Five one last time….and then its all over….8 nights, 9 days, 1 great tour…..lads i look forward to next time, be it the UK, Europe or somewhere more exotic…thanks also to the guys in the crew who i met over the week for their help.
Its hard to put it into words really what the Inspiral Carpets music means…i suppose though, if you have not got bored and have read this far, if you have been to 1 ,2,, 8 gigs on this tour, or simply listen to Inspirals tunes from afar because you
still enjoy them, you will understand what i mean when i say the Inspiral Carpets are still as Cool as F*** and that’s all you need to understand really…