We chose London for our first tour abroad, & I’m so happy we did. Most of us had been there previously, so it was somewhat familiar, but it was great to experience it together as a group.
The 4 of us stayed in a hotel that was just one step above a student hostel – but none of us cared. We had our own bathroom (not all of the rooms did), so that was good. 🙂 We all slept in the same room & shared the bathroom; when you do that for a week with 3 other people, you get to know them better than you ever thought you could. Luckily, none of us ever wanted to kill each other (although a few times I thought I might have to whack Don upside the head if he took any longer getting ready – just kidding!!), & we had the BEST time.
We played 4 gigs in 6 days, & each one of them was amazing!! I have to say that the first gig, at Dirty Dicks, was my favourite for a few reasons. One was that we’d had SUCH a day already – redeye flight, rush to hotel to check in, rush to tube station, get Oyster card, rush to instrument rental place, walk with heavy instruments to vegan restaurant, find tube station to rush to first gig, all while saying, “I’m exhausted; I can’t believe we still have to do a two hour gig!! How will we get through it??” – yet the gig itself was SO much fun that when it was over, none of us wanted to leave, & in fact couldn’t get to sleep that night for quite a long time. Another reason that it’s my favourite is that Moody Blues flautist Norda Mullen, & her husband Kelvin Cheatle, came out to support us. I can’t explain how great it is when not only your friends come to see you, but when musicians of that calibre come out to support “local”, live music. Not only that, but Norda sang & played tambourine with us when we covered the Moody Blues’ “Tuesday Afternoon” & “The Story In Your Eyes”! She’s such a good sport. It was fun to really be able to sit & chat with her, too, something you don’t really get to do at Moodies shows.
Our friend Dawn Stanton (whom we’d previously only known via FB, me having met her on a Moody Blues page) & her boyfriend Andy came out to support us (Dawn in her Wag t-shirt!), our friends Jon Revell & Jean Gibney came to see us, & our new friend Ashley (whom we met for the first time that night!) came out to see us, based solely on the recommendation of our mutual FB friend Scott Einhorn. In fact, Ashley gave us a ride “home” that night, for which we will be eternally grateful!
Dawn came to all 4 of our shows, sometimes bringing Andy, & also bringing her adorable daughter Zoe to the non-age-restricted ones. At one of the shows, Dawn & Zoe had brought paper cups with our names written on them, as a prop/gag gift for our song Paper Cup. 🙂 At that same gig – a vegan place called Karamel – we had a profound effect on someone. This one man there had never understood why his group of friends would go out to see musicians play; he was just never into it, but went along just to be with his friends. By the end of our gig, he was up front, dancing, bought some CDs, & excitedly chatted with me for a good 20 minutes. We completely changed his perspective on music. (Arielle tells a more involved version of the story in her essay.) THAT is what it’s all about, my friends.
My friend Marian Witham, from New Zealand, also came to one of our gigs, at a place called Rise 46. How fun – we’re global! 🙂
At our last gig, at a coffeehouse called Cool Cats, Dawn, Andy, & Zoe gave us each a keychain that says Keep Calm, You’re A Star. We were all so touched!! Mine went immediately onto the zipper on my gig bag. When the final gig was over, Dawn began to not just get teary-eyed, but actually cry! She’s so sweet – she knew that was the last time she’d see us for a while, & she didn’t want it to end. Well, neither did we, & I began to cry, too. The walk from the Overground station to the venue was long, confusing, & I don’t think through the best neighbourhood. We were all a bit nervous (more than a bit, really) about the walk back, because we’d have to navigate our way back to the station, & we only had one chance to catch a train; the last one left at 11:57, & if we didn’t catch it, we were out of luck. Thankfully, Andy piled the 4 of us & all of our equipment into his vehicle, leaving Dawn & Zoe at the venue to pick them up later, & dropped us off at the station. Good thing, because we just caught the last train!! The Tube system is very easy to navigate – I wish we had something like it here – but it stops running at certain times… who would think it would stop running at midnight on a Friday night?? But it does. So we caught the Tube which should have taken us “home”… but as it happens, although it was the correct line (our favourite, the Piccadilly Line), it wasn’t going to take us quite where we needed to go. Basically, after a stop called Acton Town, the Piccadilly splits into 2, like a fork in the road, & if you’re on the wrong one, you have to get off at Acton Town & wait for the next Piccadilly going your way. Only since we were already ON the last Piccadilly, we were out of luck. I noticed that we could alight at Acton Town & catch the District Line to get us one stop closer to “home”. Then we’d have to figure it out from there. When the train arrived at Acton Town, we got off, & there was an Underground employee standing there. I was ready to race for the District Line, but Brian asked the lady if there was another train going to Sudbury Hill (our “home” station). There shouldn’t have been – we were already on the last train – but somehow, luck was on our side, & she said that the next one, which was the LAST one, was coming right then, & so it did. We were SO thankful!! We really didn’t know what we were going to do if we’d had to find another way home.
It wasn’t all… well, play & no play for The Wag, though! 🙂 We had some free time during most of our days, & we had 2 completely free days. We went to a little village called Avebury, where they have a true henge, & to Stonehenge (Brian & I had been twice before, but never *inside* the stone circle, which we got to do this time!), which isn’t actually a true henge at all. We also saw Westminster Abbey (from the outside), Big Ben, rode on the London Eye, visited Carnaby Street, watched the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, got to pet a police horse named Merlin (who tried to eat my sweatshirt!), visited Hampton Court Palace, the summer home of King Henry VIII, visited the Tower of London… am I missing anything?? Oh yes, we couldn’t go to London without doing the famous Abbey Road crossing, & visiting the outside of Abbey Road Studios. If you want to go inside, you have to book at least 4 hours! There was so much we wanted to do – go to Hyde Park, visit the London Zoo, go to Liverpool – but we just ran out of time. We had dinner one night with Jon & Jean, which was lovely; Brian & I had met them in New Zealand in 2008, & we’ve been great friends ever since. We always try to see each other when we’re in each others’ respective countries (she’s Irish, he’s English, they live just outside of London), & it’s always such a treat!
There are SO many other little stories I could tell (the time that I had to force the train door back open so Arielle could get on, & had a sore shoulder for days; the time that I was looking at the map & my bandmates got on the train without me & I nearly missed it; the REALLY drunk girl called Alice; the time Arielle set off the fire alarm in the hotel; happening upon the Thriller marquee on our way somewhere – friend & Moodies drummer Gordy Marshall plays in that; he wasn’t able to see us, & we weren’t able to see him, because we kept having gigs on the same nights!), but this is getting too long already. Of course anyone that knows me knows how wordy I am… LOL
Suffice it to say, we had an AMAZING time together, & I wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, we’re already in discussions for our next London tour, & who knows what’s next?? 😀 Stick with The Wag, my friends – it’s sure to be a fun ride!!