Last night was our first show of the tour. What can I say about first shows? They can often be an exercise in terror no matter how long you've rehearsed, but last night was fantastic, one big grin from start to finish. We played in a very strange venue called Carnival City, a sprawling casino about 40 minutes outside of the town centre and made up of many buildings all decorated like circus big tops. Loads of swirling colored neon lights and a carnival mid-way atmosphere. It's really hard to describe but if you go to guyfletcher.co.uk you'll see a couple of great photos. As soon as we arrived for soundcheck the three years since our last tour somehow evaporated and we all fell into the usual routine which begins with the throwing of bags into the dressing room and a headlong dash for catering. Being professional means having one's priorities in order. With that out of the way we played for about an hour on stage to work out some of the technical problems with the room, buzzes and an aging sound system that came with the gig. That sorted and we're ready to go.
After soundcheck Mark did a 'meet and greet', a phrase used to describe the welcoming of record company people and maybe some contest winners who have been invited backstage before the show. Glenn Worf and I played some Hawaiian music in the background while this was going on, Glenn on the string bass and me on my 1929 National tri-cone Hawaiian guitar. A little music makes the meet and greet feel less stiff. This will be an ongoing event through the tour and already Guy and Matt are going to join in. We're thinking of working up a version of "That's Amore" with Matt on accordion.
You can always spot the first show because everybody's dressed and pacing around an hour before show time, as was the case last night. Plenty of time to summon up those first gig jitters. Chad and I have both quit smoking since our last tour in 2001 and climbed a wall or two during this hour where normally we'd fire up a few cigs. But we both held (mainly because nobody else smokes or carries any!) and did just fine. At last we took the stage and sailed through one of most enjoyable shows I can remember, grinning like monkeys at each other all night. Still a few bugs to work out, but overall a warm, relaxed and rocking show. After the last encore it was straight back to our hotel and the fab Polo Lounge for drinks, sandwiches and chips with mayo. Yes that's French fries dipped in mayonnaise, something I learned from the Brit boys and it's completely addictive. Deep fried carbs dipped in fat. How in the world can you go wrong?
Another show here in Jo'burg tonight then it's on to Dubai where I'll post another note from the road.