September 17th – 19th 2013
Everyone’s face is crippled with displeasure. The slanting rain and the callous wind are harrowing even hardened Mancunians. I pass a ditched polystyrene carry-out container, brimming with rainwater, a tomato quarter and some scraps of livid meat. Even the rats have taken cover. They’ve probably “…all got rickets” and “spit through broken teeth”.
The cinema is showing wall-to-wall shit, the museums are closed and walking is a thankless pursuit. I take a late breakfast in a proper caff full of bubbly regulars and shuffling OAPs. I watch a staff member chalk up a black A- board. He writes “Were close” which I think might be a comment on some football score until he thinks to add a “d”, squashed on the end like an unwelcome worm.
I wander about, hands in pockets. I am as aimless as a snowflake. This particular part of town is an interesting hash of ramshackle red brick and aspirational steel and glass. It looks thrown together but it’s not without appeal. A few more trees would be helpful. Actually, a lot more trees.
I return to my boudoir in the sky and gaze listlessly out upon the grey – the multi-storey car park and the faceless office block. Traffic oozes around my feet as I stand at the full-length window like a colossus. What to do…
At half past five I gaze down upon the stream of office workers emerging from the tower next door, hoisting umbrellas and flowing away like a 21st century Lowry painting. Then…nothing. I wait for the sun to set in a grey congealing clot.
The touring party regroups for a meal in a Hunan restaurant and after a few pints in a tiny pub we steal into a snooker hall opposite our hotel. We play pool and one thing leads to another.
Most of the following day is spent in the little flat that serves as The Brook’s dressing room in Southampton and I manage to fashion a comfortable bed from three chairs. The southerners are in good voice and it amuses me to hear how broad their vowel sounds are as they sing the words to Be My Downfall. Afterwards we get lost on the way to our hotel and find ourselves at a crossroads with high pines swaying in the wind leaning ominously over the van. A cyclist drifts past, and is illuminated in our headlights, ear buds in, oblivious. We’re on the edge of everywhere.
The trip to Exeter the next day takes us over high moorland in the New Forest and the special atmosphere of the southwest settles upon us. The sun breaks through, littering the fields with light, and I exercise my right to don sunglasses. I celebrate this turn of events with some local ice cream from a garage outside of Bere Regis. Rum and raisin: the greatest ice cream flavour known to mankind. I used to live on it when I was a sweet chef back in the days of flexi-discs, fanzines and hour-long nosebleeds.
We drive past sloping meadows and pretty copses of mature trees. Westward ho, boys. A great many caravans stream past on the oncoming carriageway as if fleeing from some nightmare vacation. The landscape is terribly pretty and it’s sweet relief to be off the motorway system. A wonderful view of the sea yawns before us suddenly, the shadows of clouds cast across the water in the same pattern as that on the Friesians grazing lazily in the foreground. All England dreaming in late September sun, everything right with the world. Hamlets nestle among chestnuts and weeping willows, engulfed by soil so rich you could spoon feed it to your children. When will this be swept away? When will England’s eternal destiny meet its unmaking?
Exeter proves to be rather quaint in parts with warped Tudor buildings and a lovely cathedral. Our venue is tucked away behind the main drag and proves difficult to locate electronically. It’s a seated venue with no stage like an arts theatre venue but it looks alright. Lethargy is the abiding atmosphere in the party today. We’re just starting to become rats of the road but it’ll all be over too quickly for the attitude to truly bed in. Times like these you yearn for a week off before doing a three month stint in the States. If only.
In the morning I pop in to BBC Radio Devon to do a rambling and enjoyable interview. I’m a little gig-lagged and find the fact that the studio is in the basement of an osteopath’s clinic unsettling. Bent old gents file in to reception as I’m waiting to go on air. They’re ready and willing to be manipulated. But I am less so.
Before the show in Wales I lie on my bed on the 13th floor of the hotel and watch the moon rise over Cardiff Bay. Its face has that usual perplexed expression; half joyous, half on the edge of tears. Seabirds keel through the still evening below my window as all the lights begin to twinkle in the darkling night.
15 Responses to “September 17th – 19th 2013”
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Just found out about the Del’s 2014 tour so booked 4 tickets for the Liverpool Empire for me, Mrs A and my 23year old daughter Heather and her mate Holly. They were both indoctrinated with Del’s Greatest Hit’s while sitting in the back of the car on several holidays to the south of France. They need to either exorcise their demons forced onto them by Dad or decide whether or not the Del’s are a “shit hot” holiday band. we wait with baited breath….
OK – so you’ve donned your slippers, made a cup of cocoa and are once again ensconced in front of the TV watching the footie after finishing another successful tour but please, please, PLEASE don’t forget to write a piece on the last show. For completeness, for me, …
Colston Hall was great, despite the technical hitches – well held as always sir! Slightly disappointed that you didn’t do Downfall / Drowned on Dry Land in Bristol. Such a perfect segue.
Looking forward to the Dels tour – what a treat!
hey..are you home yet..rest up …eat veg…stare at the wall ..and then let us have the hard on cover somehow somewhere…loved the gigs… loved the boots…needed a tumbleweed or two ..blowing across the desert scene
and i’m left full of existential ennui ( get a grip )
so your work is complete
Hi Justin, I wondered if you’d be so kind as to tell me who originally wrote and performed “Hard On”? I was at your show in Wolves when one of your strings snapped halfway through the song. I’d love to hear it all the way to the end but I can’t remember who you said it was by. Good luck on the rest of the tour.
Geoff, the version Justin covered is by Withered Hand, but it was written by Charles Latham.
Thanks Emily, I’ll look it up.
This is so beautifully written that it entreats you to slow down, and roll each carefully crafted word lovingly around your mind and drink in the pleasure in case it all comes to an end too soon.
Its always too soon
What a great venue (even if it was blinkin’ hot) and setting. I’ve only just stopped sweating from it! It was so intimate and close at the front, I felt as though I was onstage with you.
Just a shame I paid £40 for tickets and my wife was unwell so couldn’t attend then I found out my mate Dave (who you were chatting with pre-show) was the promoter so I could have got in on the Guest List. Bugger!! I needed that £40 to save me taking out a 2nd mortgage to buy a ticket to see Dels next year at the prices you’re charging. ;>)
Set list was superb, new songs sounded much better live (to my ears) than some did on the album, loved the requests taken and the crowd interaction/singalong was fantastic. Enjoyed seeing you singing off mic, it really worked, seen Elvis Costello do that a few times and it never fails to impress.
Fantastic show, thanks for being you.
Look forward to Del Amitri in 2014, I’ll be at Hammy Apollo but what a shame there is no date in Wales.
The Southampton gig was excellent on Tuesday evening despite the hours drive in shit weather each way. It is great to stand, live music is not meant to be heard seated, unless it is some God awful musical anyway! I thought The Brook was akin to the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth where you performed in 2007 when touring the first solo album.
Whilst very good the gig was not nearly as entertaining as the Newbury Arts Centre show on February 16th. This must have been the ‘one show in a hundred’ when you said you are witty. Great crowd interaction and I was wondering when you were going to tell the ‘smashed jakey female’ at the front to ‘F**k Off’ as she nearly had the speaker down for the tenth time……..
Looking forward to the band being back together next year. Still inspriing side burns (yes its all your fault) and providing up beat musical entertainment for the 21st Century………….Oh and did Susannh Reid flirt with you nearly as badly as the Artic Monkies front man on BBC Breakfast……..? Hilarious but shameful and she’s nearer your age than his……
Leo Sayer playing at the Parr hall in Warrington. It just seems bizzare, I wonder if he will don the clown outfit?
Anyway, I have the greatest hits CD, and basically it’s crap, some twat bought it me for my birthday. Needless to say I bought them a Showaddywaddy CD in return, like they say revenge is a dish best served cold.
Pissing it down in Wigan, just like Manchester. the back garden looks like the Somm, with dozens of dead worms, looking pale in the waterlogged mess.
I’m watching the wind turn the leaves to silver, and wishing the time away.
I wonder what it will feel like for you getting back into the ‘group’ mentality? After ten years of flying solo I would imagine it will take some getting used to.
I just read an interview you did up in your home town, the photo showed you in front of a wall that looked like a victorian urinal. Don’t tell me this is where you live?
Anyway, looking forward to the Apollo next year, it’s been a couple of decades since I was last there, grooving to Terence Trent d erby. I remember he had cut off most of his hair and dyed it blond, maybe its a look you could adopt?
By the way, he was awsome man!!!
My 15 year old loved the show. He must have brought the average age down by a few years too.
I’ve always wondered how you remember all the words to “No Surrender”. Now I know the answer. ;-)
Fantastic gig last night in Cardiff, the acoustics were really good and I really enjoyed it. I wonder whether or not you’ve considered releasing a live album of the tour? It was a stunning set last night and would love to re-live the gig again.
That was a fantastic gig (in Cardiff) tonight.
Nice little venue, good acoustics and a great set: the new songs sounded good live. As did all the old ones, of course.
I wonder if you would have come back a second encore if they hadn’t put the house lights up? What would you have sung?
A shame about the T-shirt sizes – did you not know that we’ve all got old and fat waiting for you to tour again? Who do you expect to sell ‘Size M’ to? (We’re all broken hearted sad bastards, so there’s no chance of us bringing children to one of your gigs)
Please take note for the Del tour next year: I’m not going on a diet just to fit into your merchandise.
Irrespective of this, y’all come back now, y’hear?