In the autumn of last year, I embarked upon a small tour of England with my friend Chris Tavener.
Those of you who know me well will know that my memory varies when it comes to recall consistency. But luckily, I wrote a small, notes-based diary entry for each gig.
October 20th – The Slaughtered Lamb, London
- Fabia nails opening slot – great Jeff Buckley cover too
- Chris is flawless – has the room in stitches, realised tonight what a pro he is
- Feel in poor voice, and a little hesitant – but goes well, Feel Chris should have headlined.
- Expected a tiny turnout but had a sweet consortium. In fact, room feels packed.
- An old friend I have not seen in years who has drink a fair bit explains they enjoyed it but they do not know what market I am in. I say I am in the cattle market. I hope she got home okay.
- Lose my bankcard halfway home. The friend I am staying with Jake Smith finds it on the floor by Kings Cross in a fast-food eatery. Jake is a special person.
October 21st – Shakespeare’s, Sheffield
- Chris drives down from north of London with me as a passenger, good little ride down.
- As it is my brother Sam’s 30th, most of the Sheffield audience are his people.
- We expect a tiny audience but again we are pleasantly surprised. Not quite as many as London, but a good bunch there.
- I don’t know if it is the room, but I feel less hesitant and in better voice here.
- Great to see Sarah Marshall again. My brother’s friend Marion treats me like a best friend.
- I ate a lot of flatbread later at Sam’s.
- A success. I really like my brother’s new house. We went for breakfast that day and it was nice. I took a picture. I wonder if I will still have it when I type this up. <note I do and it is below>
October 26th – Arch Sixteen Cafè, Newcastle
- It is really Gateshead not Newcastle
- I spend five hours on the coach getting there. I only realise in the last half hour that there is a toilet on board. My relief is dramatic.
- This venue has beautiful acoustics. I enjoy singing here a lot. I like singing by the way.
- Kieran Taylor warms up room with his opening set nicely. Seriously nice guy.
- I enjoy playing in the middle immensely and see a gathering of people led by Alannah whom I know from Shrewsbury
- Chris is really brilliant again. This guy is a pro.
- John Dawson, and his wife Sue, are my hosts for this trip and when I get back home I have the best donkey stew ever, get to hang out with their Labrador Ziggy and a fantastic little conversation and many drinks. This is a good bed also.
- I think I make some strange faces at this gig.
October 27th – The Black Swan, York
- This morning was amazing. I meet the grandkids (John and Sue’s not mine, no grandchildren of my own just yet)
- John takes me to see the Angel of the North – what an amazing sight to behold it is as well
- I meet Chris before he drives us to York. It becomes apparent he has spent the night in a room with about three or four cats. At one stage they descended on him via a pincer movement. I bring it up at tonight’s gig.
- The audience is Chris’. I know one person here. He headlines magnificently. The venue is beautiful and the soundman is a genius and a gentleman.
- Great to meet Harrison Rimmer – nice guy and a good bunch with him.
- I am fully chuffed with this one. We drive to Leeds with some of Chris’ friends who are awesome. I end up at the Chemic Tavern and I find the infamous Rory Scammell there. He ends up playing Hurdy Gurdy during last orders. We meet some nice students doing post-grads.
- Rory drops me off at his and then dresses up as a Goth to go clubbing. He is an exceptionally tall man. I drift off and I notice him coming in at about five in the morning.
October 29th – Market Drayton Arts Festival
- We are the live music for the Sandbrook Vaults’ contribution towards Market Drayton Arts Festival
- I play first to a really sweet quiet audience, Chris goes on after to build them up brilliantly, and I end the night
- I end up in the Vaults until about three or four in the morning – this place is like a second hometown
- Great to see old friends, especially Loz, Alex, Julia, Tracey, Lydia and a few others too.
November 11th – 81 Renshaw, Liverpool
- This is my favourite gig
- We sell out
- Ellie Smith’s opening set is amazing
- Marc Dunn nails the sound to the wall. I immediately and successfully set him up with one of my friends.
- This venue is amazing and capable of fantastic things in the future
- I haven’t seen Chris be this good yet. I am reminded yet again what a total professional he is and he has the audience in stitches.
- I feel immensely lucky that this has happened – I am immensely lucky to have these friends there and also people who want to come out and support me playing music
- I have had the optimum amount of beer
- I have never been this happy with a setlist
- My friend Elle Schillereff joins me for The French Girl, and my friend Daniel Astles joins me drunk to sing Tip-Toes. Thrilled with both decisions.
- I bring up Elle, Dan, Chris and Ellie to join me on ‘On All Night’. Dan goes a bit mad, but it is genuinely amazing when the audience is singing the song back at us.
- Celebratory drinks
November 26th – The Castle Hotel, Manchester
- Chris’ night and he nails it
- Great to bump into Sam Lyon again (a very talented singer-songwriter herself)
- Also great to see Kieran Taylor again
- I really enjoy my set – I think the sound is amazing in the Castle and the venue is very special
- Audience sat on the floor – love things like this
- My friend Marlie comes down with me to take pictures
- Chris was exceptional again – funniest moment is after my middle set, where I get a little too sincere about how much respect and admiration I have for him (sincerity can kill comedy) he opens his set dedicating his first song to me called ‘I’m Better Than You’. You kind of had to be there. Damn funny that man.
- Gareth Heesom is a massive hero for driving me and Marlie back to Liverpool. Love that guy.
So if you have for any reason read all of this, please have a little visit to Chris Tavener’s website and have a look at his stuff. A brilliant satirical songwriter, but also a great performer.