Gin, pasties, Indian food, weird accents, massive crowds, and rock n’ roll. That’s right folks, we’ve made it to the United Kingdom. It’s been a week, and each show has been absolutely “mental m8.” It’s both exciting and humbling to see thousands of new fans getting exposed to our music already. This is the reason we do what we do. Without live shows, music would never be the same, and nothing will ever compare to seeing music live. No 3-D, Google Glass-level of technology can replace the shared experience of dancing and singing along with fellow fans sandwiched between that pre-show anticipation and post-show high from all the adrenaline.
Every night we try our best to deliver that electric feeling to new and long-time fans of varying types of crowds. Although we’ve really brought our A-game this time around, it’s not always easy to create the experience the crowd wants each show. I’ve noticed over time that usually our best performances at night come after having a really great day. That means going out during our free time before or after soundcheck (or on days off) and taking in what each unique city has to offer. Because how else are you going to connect with a crowd if you don’t know who the hell they are? How they spend their free time? What their culture is like? Before we get into week 2 of tour, I wanted to share a few gems I’ve discovered so far in some of the cities that have stood out to me personally.
We are fortunate enough to randomly be friends with some hilarious Welsh dudes and touring has allowed us to keep in touch. Our friend Ryan showed us where he lives down by the bay, and afterwards we went “for a curry” with his girlfriend. This was our day off, which was much needed after our previous night out. (After a few post-show drinks we went to “chippy alley” in downtown Cardiff, where drunk “lads” among other people find solace and greasy food at the end of the night.)
This is Dorothy’s – quite possibly the best “chippy” on “chippy alley.” (For all you Americans, that’s what they call a fish and chip shop.) Ryan is seen two photos above in his natural element, consuming chips and some kind of strange sausage thing. This stop was a wise choice and it definitely helped soak up the booze. Rumor has it that our friend Charlie’s Grandpa once got thrown through the window here. Cole is also pictured here with his classic fish n’ chips (worst vegetarian ever).
This is as close to Harry Potter as it gets, people. Joey and I ignored all signs and strolled through the private grounds of King’s College. We both agreed that if schools in America looked anything like this we probably would have never left. Apparently the students wear dress robes to formals (like in Goblet of Fire) and there are “house colors.” A walk through the nearby narrow cobbled streets was like meandering through Diagon Alley or even Hogsmead. After our little jaunt, we sat down at the ever so pleasant Pint Shop for an afternoon drink and the perfect pre-show meal.
As I have made known before, I am a gin guy. And when the waiter of this restaurant told me they had over 100 different gins available with specific pairings, I knew I signed up for the right game. This gin was produced right there in Cambridge, and the added garnish of juniper berries (an ingredient used in the distilling process as well) were very flavorful. Joey got the roasted chicken and I got mackerel fillets that were to die for. A few hours later we were on stage playing to a few thousand kids in one of the U.K.’s most famous venues, the Corn Exchange, where practically every famous classic rock band has ever played (The Doors, The Who, The Kinks, Blur, Rolling Stones, Oasis, etc.). Not a bad day.
Yes, this is where the Beatles came from. Yes, it was a dream. Yes, the crowd was insane. Yes, I had a rough time understanding almost everyone I spoke to. We had a walk through the city centre with Phoebe Fox, an excellent photographer who will be out here with us for a few days. Fortunately, I was able to revisit a favorite from our last trip here, called Bakchich. This Lebanese food joint is not only inexpensive, but completely legit. I had a meat mezze plate. The lamb stole the show along with the fresh tabouleh. You can also find cool thrift stores and street art in this area. Walking around the fab 4 stomping ground in rainy weather was everything I could have asked for.
There is a section of our song, Turn Up (the solo), that is very Liverpool-era Beatles. Playing it on stage the other night was so surreal it gave me goosebumps. This tour is epic. More updates coming soon. Hope to see you guys in the crowd or in the city streets of our remaining U.K. tour.