Blog: Juliet’s Summer Serial (Summer 2012)

Cullen Skink

6th May 2012 | Juliet

Back from the USA and some pit stops in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, the band convene in a country hotel in Scotland for The Big Stooshie festival. The Big Stooshie is a charity gig to do with Help for Heroes.

Larry flies to Scotland direct from Mexico and arrives first. He is given a room so small that he can reach the sink and the Corby trouser press without taking his head off the pillow. This won’t do. After a word with Ronnie he is relocated to the sloping roof eaves; he lands, sleeps and recovers from the tour. He is happy.

A hefty authentic smoked fish soup Cullen Skink is served in the country restaurant where musicians mingle with Saturday night eater outers. There is a roaring country fire and service is proper Scottish family hospitality.

That night Glasvegas have a post gig party on the landing. It sounds jolly until there is smashing glass in the mini bathroom next to the Corby press that is now mine. Has the wall gone through? Fallen glass smashed. Fall back asleep.

Meanwhile in the bar downstairs there is an incident but Ronnie sorts it.

Sunday we take the fresh Scottish airs with a walk in the hills. There is a sound check. There is swimming. Tim flies up from London and has jet lag…

A gig in the aircraft hangar that is The Big Stooshie. Then back to the country hotel till the small hours.

Vinny (aged 11-ish) has Cullen Skink for breakfast. This soup is named with hindsight James’ official soup of the summer.

But where is Andy? His train leaves Edinburgh in ten minutes……

Dancing in the dark…with The Boss

3rd June 2012 | Juliet

This was the James gig at Rock in Rio-Lisboa where Saul spoke to the crowd in Portuguese. He also got his body painted by Porto’s Dali-lookalike foto magician Alberto. It was a great crowd, fantastic response.

After, there was an aftershow under the canopy. Portuguese friends and family were there. Sofia was dressed as a Pocahontas punk and Tim’s niece Maya was there with a cast of friends. Then The Boss came in with some of the E Streets, and then they went on stage and we were all ushered with speed underneath the stage to get out there and watch.

The full moon was rising over the centre of the backdrop and Bruce was off…running his 3-hour marathon. And even if you don’t know many songs, somehow you do. So there we were dancing in the dark and twisting the night away….


Out on the hill is the Acropolis

27th June 2012 | Juliet

Wednesday night. It’s 2am. The soundcheck is over. Big stadium. Still hot, humid. So much checking and much running through songs. Piles of Greek salads backstage and a mountain of chopped carpoozi (watermelons). (Interesting fact: scientists have discovered that watermelon, which is a staple in the Greek diet, is a natural Viagra.)

Next day, Thursday, all is quiet. Up on the roof a mini-pool means you can swim 100 lengths (six strokes a length) and feel you did something with the day. Out on the hill is the Acropolis.

Miles Kane’s band appear on the roof and swim for England.

Mid afternoon things start to get going. There are salads to be found and curtains to be drawn open.

Tim is very jetlagged having flown in from Los Angeles. The set list is discussed at length…

The dressing rooms are two caravans, beds-cum-sofas decked out in 70’s pink Bri-nylon. Mostly bands sit under the moonlight outside their caravans.

Andreas from Radio Mojo, Patras, distributes some CDs to the band.

And then there is the show.

Then a party downtown at Tiki….

Dave’s daughter, who now lives and works in Athens, has brought along friends and families. They end up in the hotel bar with Kasabian. Dave is staying on in Athens.

Tim, Jim and Larry are staying on too. To write some new songs….

Margate redeemed

28th July 2012 | Juliet

Met at St. Pancras. It was the first day of the Olympics and there were lots of people speaking in lots of languages from all over the place being directed towards transport links.

Got on board the big pink bus. Full house. Full crew. Simon and Geoff came too. Tim arriving later. We had a brew or two, discussed the Olympic opening ceremony, favourite bits etc. Shot of the two Corgis won it for me.

The Sound Island line up included The Farm, Cast and Inspiral Carpets. A bit of a northern gathering down south. It wasn’t raining, bonus in this endless monsoon.

Tim prepared in his Portakabin opposite Cast’s. As he left to go on stage John Power was singing “Redemption Song” just outside.

Cast toured with James in the late 90s. Tim had his neck in a neck brace for that one. We went all over the UK. Adrian and Kulas were there back then. Larry and Andy were on sabbatical.

From backstage it was clear something had gone a bit wonky at the beginning of the show…

Jim recalls, “We ambled on stage, a little late as usual and as we were about to kick into the first song, the keyboards broke. Well actually it was a lot worse than that. Unbeknown to the general public, Mark doesn’t JUST play keyboards, he has two laptops that do a million very necessary things; send Dave timing references at the start of songs and click tracks where appropriate, send drum loops to all the band and fire in untold samples, sound effects, farm yard animal noises, and cover up for endless mistakes made by the glory-seeking yet slightly unfocused musicians in front of him.

“I’m still not sure what actually went wrong, some say a power surge, some say file corruption, others that he forgot to plug it in; but eventually we got everything working again and cautiously proceeded with the set.

“Most of the gig was fairly shambolic, but what we lacked in precision we made up for with enthusiasm. We some how managed to pull it off and the crowd loved it. ‘Getting Away With It All Messed Up’ indeed.”

Anyway things were redeemed, and after James’ set John was still singing backstage and eating Skittles, except the yellow ones, which were left on the table. He can’t stop singing. “He’s a troubadour, a real singer unlike me…” said Tim.

Oh and here’s Neil from the old days. “What’s the soup today?” he asks, smiling. Saul had some leek and potato, but mostly no soup today….

And now overnight, north to Penrith for Kendal Calling….

Teddy Bears’ Picnic

29th July 2012 | Juliet

The bus glides north. Bunk next to back lounge—mistake. Head by TV speaker. Awake till four in the bolt upright club. Then a banging downstairs. Veer down to kitchen. Toaster hanging by lead off side of fridge, hitting side of cupboard. Unplug. Rescue two bottles of red wine opened and about to slide off the edge. Go back to bunk. Fall asleep for four hours. Wake parked up in a field.

Crew disembarking. Join early doors breakfast with some Inspiral Carpets. Vegetarian sausages and white bun with ketchup sachet and Graham’s got his own soya milk…

We are in the deer park. It’s drizzly. It’s beautiful. It’s green. It’s the Lake District.

Time to wake up for soundcheck. This is done and dusted. Some of the festival campers are up and about. Then there is nothing to do but chill, or so we thought.

Matt, our forever–cheery tour manager says, “I’ve got a job for you.” The task: organise seven genuine no-messing signatures on about 51,000 sleeves for the boxed set. It’s a bit drizzly outside and Jim, Dave, Mark and Andy set to it. Andy’s trumpet-sketch paw print makes for a slow sign but it’s getting done. The other three join in halfway and finally they are all done. Lots of coffee is served, treading and placing with Mrs. Overall precision. There are piles of precious half signed cards on every surface of the bus. Finally it’s done. Packed and checked, signed sealed and delivered to James HQ tomorrow.

The sun comes out.

We find Mexican food out in the field and a gingerbread house where children can paint. It’s a lovely festival vibe and Larry is out and about in the woods and forest with his extended family…

Tim is writing lyrics for Jam J….what rhymes with ‘eyes’….? Geoff Buckley suggests ‘pies’.

And then the show. Tim thinks it would be good to start from Teddy Bears’ Picnic (lifted from his iPhone collection). Shabby sorts it.

It’s getting late and cooler now. Tim’s new Toy Story soldier jacket is picked and off they go.

Saul’s set list rises from the picnicking bears with a clarion call Born of Frustration, and it’s plain sailing from there.

Jam J was happening. The crowd were out there.

Then four red guitars to sign for charity. No bother. There was a load out. There were burritos for the crew (no pizza for miles).

And off went the big pink bus south….

Last awayday this year

5th August 2012 | Larry

Stockton, our last awayday for this year :-( . . .

Backstage is Dave’s mate DJ Jazzy Jeff, larger than life itself, charmin’ as a darlin’, loud ‘n’ proud (esp. his shirts :-) ), his chat contains more bull than a steak ‘n’ ale pie!! He is holding court whilst elsewhere a rather drunken Dave Brown and the very sweet Filipa from Portugal swap fan tales.

Earlier in the day Mr. Hunter and I wander into the center of Stockton to find some food, we end up having a Mexican takeaway in the nearby park, sat in deck chairs watching the Olympics on a giant TV screen, like a HUGE tv dinner in a tree-filled living room.

This gig brings to a close a lovely summer of small festivals that have won us all over with their friendliness and warmth, Kendal was especially memorable for me.

Thanks to everyone who came along to see us and to all the folks who followed ‘@Larryontour‘ on Twitter.

See you all soon.

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