The Bob Catley Tour
The UK tour.
This was a really exciting thing to have been involved in and what a great bunch of musicians they were to work with.
The band comprised (besides myself on Keyboards and Piano) Bob Catley on Vocals, Vince O'Regan on Guitars, Gavin Cooper on Bass and Jamie Little on Drums.
We only really had the weekend before the first show to rehearse together and so the pressure was on to make sure it was a good one!
We all arrived in Stourbridge for the first show at the Rock Café and to familiarise ourselves with the Tour Bus that was to be home for the next week!
Despite a problem with the piano pedal which caused a bit of a panic and re-organising of the keyboard parts the show went off really well and we all came off stage very happy. I however was shattered and retired to the bus quite early (which is quite unlike me!).
Saturday saw us arrive in Sheffield for the show at the Boardwalk (which I have performed at a couple of times for the CRS). Gavin and I decided to try and find the local music shop to try and solve the piano problems which had plagued me the night before.
After going wrong twice and walking in what seemed like a complete circuit of Sheffield we found the music shop we were searching for. We then walked back to the bus and venue which turned out to be about 3 minutes away!
The show went well and it was great to catch up with some familiar faces (great T-Shirt Fiona!). Following the show we all had a bit of a laugh on the bus. We were touring with a support band called Lost Weekend on the bus and they were a great bunch to hang out with. Although I'm pretty sure the people in the Travelodge we'd parked next to weren't overly happy when the guys carried on partying until 5.30am! Being a sensible sort I had retired to my bunk much earlier!
Sunday saw us arrive in Camden, London to prepare for the show in the Underworld. I had a great morning hanging out with Paul and Dave from Lost weekend and they were very helpful when I was choosing a present for my wife in the market! So all was going rather well. It then got towards show time and I decided to get changed on the bus whilst everyone else was getting changed in the venue. I think I made the wrong decision as whilst I was getting ready some drug addicts tried to break in by shoving a bottle skip through the window!
All I heard was an almighty crash and the sound of glass going everywhere. When they realised that the security glass was going to take a bit more work they did a runner. I called the guys and security came out and we assessed the damage. Then I remembered I was due on stage in about 15 minutes and so hurriedly got ready and met up with Dave Wagstaffe and Paul Manzi (drums and vox from my band) with their lovely partners Maria and Rachel who had come to watch. It was really great to catch up with them and we had a nice evening.
Monday saw us arrive in Southampton for our show at the Joiners. I was particularly looking forward to this show as I got to meet up with my brother Oscar who is at Uni there. We had a really nice time, unfortunately I didn't get to meet up with my sister Jemma who is also there as she'd gone away without checking her emails and had no idea I was going to be there! The show was a lot of fun. The band were gelling really well and everyone seemed enjoy it. Shame the dressing room ceiling was so low though!
Tuesday. Ah.., a bit of a trip from Southampton up to Crewe in Cheshire. Again, I've played here a couple of times in the past with my band and so I knew the venue quite well. We arrived and Gavin and I went for lunch only to return to the venue for a soundcheck only to find that it was in darkness! It turned out that some roadworks were being carried out and the power lines for half of the town had been cut through! No power = no gig. After a bit of discussion we decided to start rehearsing for an acoustic show in the building next door which had power. So Jamie, Gavin and myself starting running through a few things. We'd just got it sorted when the power came back on!
It was 7 o'clock and the doors were due to open in an hour and we were now set up in the wrong room! Action stations, all hands helped to set up the main stage for the show. And what a show it was, deemed one of the best on the tour. Sold out, full of fans who knew all the words and a very special evening was had by all.
The evening was finished of nicely with a few games of pool with Tico (crew) and Paul (tour manager) which I got told off for after winning all evening. I was informed by Paul that as a musician I shouldn't be any good at that sort of thing as I should have spent my childhood practicing music whereas as crew have had plenty of time to become pool experts! Sorry guys, guess you'll want a rematch at some point!
Next we headed off to Ilfracombe in Devon for the last of the shows with Lost Weekend. I must be honest, I lived in North Devon for about 15 years and so jumped ship at Barnstaple and got picked up by my mum who still lives there and spent the day with her which was really nice.
When I arrived at the gig it was really nice to see loads of familiar faces in the audience (I have gigged extensively in North Devon) and we had a real laugh doing the show.
Then it was back up to Stourbridge to collect the cars and head home for a day off before we all made our way to the Celtic Warriors festival in Huntingdon in Cambridge. A great show with support from Shy and Demon in front of about 3500 bikers. A huge stage and very very hot lights. (The jacket didn't stay on long that night I can tell you!). We all came off stage and had lots of photos taken and had a few drinks to celebrate the end of the UK leg of the tour.
Then it was back home to my wife Lisa and my son Arthur hoping they hadn't forgotten what I looked like!
The European tour.
The European dates consisted of appearing at the Nemelrock 4 Festival n both Madrid and Santander in Spain.
This was a bit of a gruelling schedule but a lot of fun none the less. I set off at 4 am on the Friday in order to pick up Gavin on route to Gatwick. We arrived almost on time and met up with the others who were already at the front of the queue and so we had to join! (Apologies to those we pushed in front of!) We then had an uneventful flight into Madrid and then were picked up and whisked to the hotel. I was rooming with Jamie and we made our selves at home in our small room!
I then decided that seeing as I was in Spain, I'd try and see a bit of it and go to a few shops to try and get some food. I knew it was going to be fun as I know very little Spanish (all right none!) I did however meet up with Gavin and we went of in search of food and any Spaniards who would help the struggling Brits! We were very fortunate and met quite a few helpful people who helped us get croissant, apples and coffee! It was very amusing watch various women do animal impressions to explain to Gavin what meat was in the pasty though!
We then returned to the hotel and made our way to the venue where I was face to face with the flightcases that contained the gear that had been hired in for the show. A worrying couple of minutes is was to until I opened the case and found a Korg 01/w (which I'm very familiar with) and a Kurtsweil Piano which suited me fine. A quick sound check later and after meeting the guys from Soul Doctor and Bombay Black (who were supporting) we all headed off to a restaurant in Madrid. A very pleasant meal later and we returned to the venue only to find that it had all got a bit delayed. Gavin, Jamie and I decided to go for another wander and got a good look at Madrid by moonlight!
We then went back to the gig and it was great to find that we hadn't forgotten the set from the last time we'd played together and we had a lot of fun!
Upon arriving at the hotel after a few hours sleep it was onto a bus and a 400 km drive to Santander which took about 7 hours! I was really suffering with hunger when we arrived which was made worse by realising that the show was no where near the town and so I had to wait for food! We had a quick sound check and then we headed back to the hotel where we met the 'Matron' of the hotel who had little patience with Brits who couldn't speak Spanish! Bob, Annie (Bob's manager) and I then decided to go into the town to get some dinner. A very nice meal later and I decided to go shopping for my wife. thanks again to the shop keepers and staff who were so accommodating in helping me choose some gifts for Lisa (which she liked thank goodness!
Back to the gig and a great show later the whole venue turned into a salsa nightclub. Lots of great dancers flying around the floor. Puts our nightclubs to shame!
One 3 hour sleep later and it was back on the bus to Madrid. The return journey was a good laugh. We spent a lot of time with the guys from Bombay Black and John Kivel and swapped many stories. It certainly made the journey back really enjoyable. After saying our goodbyes to the guys we got onto our plane and headed back to Gatwick and the rain! By 8 o'clock I was back home.
A short trip but a really enjoyable one. Many thanks must go to Bob, Annie, Vince, Gavin and Jamie for being such a pleasure to work and to hang out with. Hopefully we'll do it again soon!
Oliver Wakeman - May 2006