Here's Emma's take on the Pocketbooks tour with The Loves!
The mini-tour, then. Three dates in three towns over bank holiday weekend. Probably not the best of times to be going on tour given the hoiked-up train fares and absent students, but off we went with high hopes.
Euston station on a Friday afternoon, we all manage to make it on to the train, get our assorted books and ipods out and settle in for the journey to Manchester, only to be told 15 minutes after the train was due to leave that it had been cancelled. Not a good start. Cue lots of running with equipment across the station to catch another train, where we are rightly upgraded to first class. OK, it's not so bad. Two and a half hours later a rainy Manchester slides into view and we catch cabs to the venue, The Black Lion in Salford.
It turns out to be quite a nice, if a little subdued, crowd. Someone points out that everyone has probably been out drinking on the Thursday night, and it does feel like we are playing to a slightly hungover audience. But we enjoy it nonetheless. The Lovely Eggs, The Bobby McGees and The Loves all put in ace sets. Three of us have been staying the night at my sister's place, where we're given endless beer and pizza, and even breakfast and coffee in the morning while Ian and Dan stage a guitar-picking workshop in the front room with my sister's guitar-mad boyfriend while us girls talk about hair. It's a healthy start, and we feel more refreshed than we're supposed to on a rock and roll tour.
Later, we take the train across the Pennines to Hull, a journey which starts out with lush green valleys and rows of red brick chimneys and clock towers, and ends in dull grey nothingness as we approach Hull. We find the hotel and as we approach reception to check in, I think we cause a bit of excitement as the lady on the desk clocks our musical equipment.
Are you playing here tonight? she enquires, eyes lighting up.
Yes, I reply proudly, at The Adelphi.
Oh, says the woman disappointedly, I don't know it. Then after reading out the terms and conditions of the stay to me robo-style, she suddenly lights up again and says: We had a proper band here a while ago - they had demos up on Myspace and everything!
Impressed, we take the chlorine-scented lift up to our room, wondering what pop history might have come before us.
A cab is called to take us to the Adelphi and, having been there a few times in my teens to see bands I no longer recall, I think I might even be able to recognise it despite it looking like a regular house from the front. I don't. The cab pulls up and the toothless driver (having been freed from The Goonies) does a sort of grunt, nods in the venue's direction, and then gives me a look that I'll be having nightmares about for weeks to come. I hastily hand over four golden coins and we stagger out of the car into a waterlogged entrance to the "New" Adelphi, although once inside I am happy to see that it still looks exactly the same as in 1990.
Soon the others arrive in various states of sleeplessness, and we chat to members of The Rocky Nest who are promoting the night and have kindly laid on a rider including salad items grown in their very own gardens. There is a tense moment as Andy realises he has mistakenly put his dreaded coriander into his brown roll, but this is luckily detected before consumption and a disaster is averted. It's a nice atmosphere, and I am happy to be at a scene of my youth. People arrive and hi-5 at the door (this being the done thing at this night, hence the name DIY Hi-5). I have been practicing mine and I manage to impress some people with my strength and aim.
The Rocky Nest play a lovely, but too short, acoustic set and I'm glad they're playing Indietracks in the summer. Our own set seems to go down well. It's a nice friendly crowd and people seem enthusiastic. I wonder what my 17 year old self would have made of it? I think I was probably more interested in watching boys than bands back then. It was fun to play The Adelphi and we made some nice new friends there.
After the show we nip back to the hotel to drop the gear off, then meet up with the other Pocketbooks and The Loves at a nightclub called Chi-Chi (despite my telling everyone we should've been going to Spiders, but would they listen?). After the initial discomfort of being surrounded by barely dressed young rubbery people dancing to rubbish 'guitar bands of the moment', we discover a small empty room playing more bearable tunes, and take over this room for a couple of hours. We make our own fun. Once everyone starts heading off, Me Dan and Ian think it a good idea to get a late-night tandoori pizza from the takeaway next door. We miss our cab as a result and have to order another one (cab, not pizza). The Chi-Chi staff lock up and go home, and we wait outside on a street corner while another toothless man tries to nick our pizza. Dan has noticed by now that all men in The North are top-heavy. We eat the amazing tasty pizza in the hotel and fall asleep.
The next morning I sample the previous night's leftover pizza and decide it's horrible. We go out in search of breakfast. The only thing open is a Wetherspoons, and we congregate there with our luggage. My sausages are horrible and I leave them on the plate and drink a pint of coke instead. It perks me up a bit and soon we're on our way, but not before someone steals Nat's suitcase from beside her table. Thankfully she gets it back as someone has witnessed the whole thing, and the suitcase has been abandoned by the thief near the bar. Nothing has been taken from it, but it doesn't leave a good last impression of Hull. There is also a funny unidentifiable smell everywhere, which we're later told is the river Humber. Euw! We get on the train. I take a couple of pictures of the Humber Bridge (which I swear triggered off my fear of bridges from constantly being dragged across it as a kid), plus this nice one of our Ian through the hole in a train ticket. We fall about laughing, then fall asleep.
Newcastle's a different story altogether. I had been before, but the place is really quite breathtaking. It's a complete contrast to the flat greyness of Hull. There's a definite feeling that this night will be the best of the tour. As we hoik our gear across the road towards the Head Of Steam, the car that has stopped to allow us to cross starts honking. It is The Loves, arriving at the exact same time. We unload en masse then disappear for feeding and watering.
We take a walk down to the riverside and take some pictures. Spirits are high, but some of us feel more nervous than usual. A combination of tiredness, rail madness, it being the last night, and a collection of family members and friends about to arrive. Before the gig I have to lock myself in toilet cubicle and give myself a good talking to. No matter how easy it is once you're up onstage, you can never talk yourself out of nerves. The minutes leading up to this gig seem like hours, and everyone mills about looking at their watches. Finally we're given the nod and it's time to go on. There's a good crowd now and we want to make this a good finale. The first two songs seem really slow, or are we just tired? But then we start to get into it and it turns out fine. Halfway through Paper Aeroplanes I realise I've got a hair in my mouth, and I sing the rest of the song with a lisp. Eight songs flash by, and then the set is over.
The Loves play their best set yet. It's a real end-of-tour feeling. They're a lot of fun to hang out with and it's one big Pocketbooks/Loves love-in at the disco afterwards. Before long it's only the bands and DJs left at the club, it's 2am and a cab has arrived it's time to go. Hugs and CDs are exchanged with The Loves, and we're all on our way.
The train journey the following day takes forever and all I can do is stare into the countryside and think about the weekend. There's a lot to think about. We get home in time for 24 and suddenly everything is back to normal and it's like it never happened. It's all over!
Until the next time...
But that's not dry land...
5 days ago