It’s five minutes since I got off the train. I’m sitting in a brilliant pub, where a beer festival has just begun, with a drink of something delicious. And I’m in a conversation about the Orkney Islands.
Then I finish dreaming, wake up and go on tour, and that’s exactly how it begins.
It’s Bristol. Kevin Moseley has offered to pick me up from Temple Meads. He drives us to the Volunteer. It’s amazing: just the right side of shabby, shadowy, friendly and cosy as a cuddle. Several beers later we repair to the home of Nikki Barr, who has offered to accommodate me for the evening. Bristol is all about hospitality!
Along with Gareth Jones we head out for some serious pottering. Bristol is an excellent city for many things, of which pottering is one. We potter along that picturesque riverside for a bit, and then potter up a 100-foot-high tower. The views are remarkable and not at all terrifying, and for some reason the effect of the afternoon’s beer abruptly wears off just in time for the gig.
The gig is ace. At first I look at the room, upstairs at the Lazy Dog, and think, uh-oh, too big, I won’t be able to sing proper acoustic in here. But it’s a wooden floor and wooden chairs and there’s no carpet or upholstery or wallpaper to absorb the sound, so it works fantastically well!
The marvellous David Leach has not only organised the gig and picked up his ukulele to start the music: he has also written a football song despite not really liking football. This is because Paul Lonely Tourist and I are both going to play songs about footballers. Not for our entire sets – that would be a bit much. I mean one each.
Indeed, the reason Paul is playing is that he emailed me to say hello a few weeks ago, after I blogged about his football song. So I do ‘The Ballad of Phil Jevons’, Lonely Tourist performs ‘The Ballad of Paul Tierney’, and David Leach plays ‘Accrington Stanley? Who Are They? Exactly’. Champion.
David’s lovely set brims with generosity, and cutting insight we’ve all come to expect. Lonely Tourist brings a change of tone, but is no less wondrous for that. There’s a dash of worldliness here, some rainy evening wit to balance light with shade. And there’s some spectacular strumming. I beg Paul to come and play in Sheffield next time we do an acoustic all-dayer.
I think my set goes well. There’s a first ever performance for my new country song ‘Don’t Marry an Anarchist if You’re in Love With The System’. The good people of Bristol buy about eight copies of The Glass Delusion afterwards, so I’m guessing it can’t all have been too bad.
Last orders are called surprisingly early – then I remember we’re not in the city centre and people live around here. So it’s back to Nikki’s house in the Kevinmobile for a nightcap and a “well, that was nice, wasn’t it?”
Bristol was all about hospitality. There was an excellent gig in the middle of it, but it is a tribute to the folks who looked after me that the whole rest of my time in Bristol was pretty much as fun as the gig. To Kevin Moseley, Nikki Barr and Gareth Jones for the former, and David Leach and Paul Lonely Tourist for the latter: thankyou ever so much!