15 May 2015
We decamped the north London countryside of St. Albans late morning for RAF Northolt Air Base where after security we boarded our Embraer jet and headed to our first show of the Tracker tour. It was a sushi fuelled flight and since I’d not had breakfast I staked a generous claim to the platter.
After landing we were taken to our usual venue formerly known as The Point, a wonderful old fortress of a place that was redesigned and expanded several years ago. Along with it’s larger capacity it also picked up an identity crisis of names. Depending on which number you prefer it’s either 3 Arena or O2 Arena.
We ran over a few things in soundcheck then ran off to catering. I’ve made a loose resolution for this tour to not eat when I’m not hungry. Not as easy or logical as it sounds when every meal served is remarkable. But between the sushi lunch and a pocketful of first show jitters I passed on dinner and found a quiet room to practise for a couple of hours before the show.
We’re very lucky to have both Ruth Moody and Nigel Hitchcock with us for the next three weeks of shows. Ruth’s beautiful singing and Nige’s soulful sax grace many of the songs.
There’s nothing quite like the first show of a tour, lots of good nervous energy, new and old songs to remember and the inevitable technical glitches were all present and accounted for. This is a great band of musicians and friends and none of it phased us a bit. Over the next few days we’ll iron out the wrinkles. Meantime it was great to be on the boards again and of the 6000 seats I didn’t see one of them empty.
A runner back to the plane for the quick flight to Manchester where we’ll stay the next couple of days. There was just enough time for a quick Thai green curry and birthday cake. Happy b’day Johnny Trem McCusker.
Before closing, I want to remember B.B. King who died a couple of days ago. There are too many high points in his career to count and he taught us all something. I can highly recommend that you check out his earliest recordings that appeared originally on the RPM label and of course the life changing Live At The Regal album. Here’s a wonderful BBC clip from 1972 where King talks about his life and music. http://www.jazzonthetube.com/page/28352.html