In the thick of it

Well, here we are in the headlong world of touring. After a frenetic start, rushing up and down Britain, we’re now in the Netherlands and about to go into another four consecutive nights of  playing.

The tempo of the days is of course set around the shows and they’re going by in an absolute flash. It’s great to have five under our belts now and we’re beginning to be comfortable – well, as comfortable as it gets!

The playing itself is simultaneously great fun and, actually, extraordinarily difficult. In particular, much of the new stuff, though fully bedded in now, has unexploded grenades coming at us one after another at incredible speed. Some of these tunes pack in at least as much Event in their five or six minutes as one finds in the ten minute “epics” of yore. For the most part we’re managing to negotiate them but of course we’re also coming up with a whole variety of car crashes along the way, some of them really unexpected! Of course these lead to some very interesting “how do we get out of this?” moments to negotiate. We have’t yet ground to a complete halt.

As usual the set’s changing on a nightly basis and it’s interesting to find that the songs we’ve chosen to do this time really do seem to fit together with some kind of common DNA in the trio format, whether they’re from “A Grounding…” or from way back. Equally, I think I’ve said before that we don’t really think “this is an old/new one” as each tune comes up.

What I do need these days are my lyric and crib sheets. They’re there partly for the, ahem, senior moments to which, gradually, I’m increasingly prone. Mainly, though, I just can’t afford to be singing the wrong verse or, indeed, losing my count in the variable criss-cross of riffs. Since each verse of nearly everything has subtle differences from the others it follows that the wrong words will send us all skittling off in different directions. The last thing we need is any additional doubt as we head into another section of contraflow.

For all the complexity, though, for all the whisper-quiet moments, I’d say the main characteristic of these current shows is Glorious Racket.

We’ve got our usual great team with us and all in all it’s a pretty civilised experience so far. That’s not to say that there’s not a degree of dislocation involved in stumbling into one’s bunk after the shows to awake in a different town hundreds of miles away.

OK, my suitcase is now loaded on the bus and I won’t see it again for a few days. Here comes the blur of the hours and the days. Just go forward!