difford's tour diary
The following entries were written to the Squeeze online community during the 1996 "Unloved" tour of the US. Entries are in reverse chronological order.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
The last day of the tour finds us in Ventura, a sleepy hollow north of LA. The show goes well-- except our record company turn up, on the last night even!
They say it's all going to be okay and that things are picking up.
Erik throws a mad party for the band and I hear it went on until 9am. Me, I was in bed getting ready for the flight home.
Back home, meanwhile, "This Summer" goes into the chart at #32, great news. The next day A&M call to release us from our deal. Life is sweet.
So it's time to reflect for a few weeks before we put out another album and do another tour. I enjoyed my trip to the States and I hope we can return one day soon.
Thanks for the loving support on tour, and watch the website for fresh
juice coming soon.
August 5 - August 9
Monday is a day off for a much needed rest.
Los Angeles' House Of Blues is a new club to us and, once inside, I have to admire the way the club has been painted. The general feel of the place is very bohemian. The show is accepted with much applause and smiling faces, but on stage our ears are let down by the monitors, a common feature of some of these shows.
Once Blue open up for us and I'm in heaven as I listen to their set. Check them out and see what you think.
During the day we eat loads of sushi for British TV; a breakfast show has come over to film us here in Hollywood. Ah the stress of it all.
After the show we meet Seal and he holds court while we creep around the dressing room. He's a lovely, lovely man with simple smiles and a genuine love for our music.
Aimee Mann and Michael Penn also show up to cheer us on. It's good to see them both--it's been awhile.
Then Erik and I drive to San Francisco for the next show at the Fillmore. This turns out to be the best show of the tour so far: the singalong is loud and together, the faces are charming and it's altogether a very wonderful night in the foggy city. More sushi in Japan town and some sleep, then back in Erik's car for the nine hour ride to San Diego.
Poor Erik has to put up with me in the close confines of his lovely black Volvo, and I admire his tolerance. He may never drive that far again in his entire life. On both of these drives we beat the band to the gig as their planes are delayed both days by fog and mechanical problems. The show tonight is crap, the radio station who seem to control the evening get it all wrong, and poor Once Blue don't even get to play their show.
The sound was so bad on stage; Glenn and I are in a foul mood. Nights like these have to happen for nights like San Francisco to be the way they are. But Taylor Guitars show up during the day and Glenn and I are treated to some new toys, so a brief ray of sunshine glows on an otherwise dark day.
On the other hand I get this note from a net friend....
Hello Chris:So there you go, what can I say.
San Juan Capistrano is another night of slightly duff monitors and one bloke in the crowd who keeps calling out for Jools and songs from way back when, lost days when I could stay up all night and feel great about myself the next day.
Tiredness creeps over the camp and I can almost feel the weight of the minds as they idle between going home and playing the show. No sushi today but I do get to find out what LA traffic can be like as Erik and I go bonkers stop-starting our way down the highway.
The web site has made a huge difference as everywhere we go the more we hear people talk about the site and how great it is. That's fab news, thank you.
I will be moving my web address this week as AOL is not the right place
to collect and respond to mail, at least for me. I will keep you all posted
on that when I get home.
Sunday is a travel day, time to read a review from last week...
New York Newsday, 8/1:Well that's not bad, is it? Ten years younger too...
Two Shows In One Day
Back to the Waterworks and a show in the heat this time, along with a boat trip around the bay--I poured some tea into the water for good measure. Again the show was good and the people who had been there on Thursday saw another interesting set where we mixed and matched what we have in the pot.
Later that day we played up the coast at Hampton Beach, but by the time we went on we were half cocked and I dreamt my way through the set.
Beat me some more, slap me with that tired look, please a day in bed!
But you can't complain when the whole house stands to hear more.
Lobster for dinner, and a show in the round for ourselves tonight. It was a fab night; the crowd was really on our side from the first song. A sad appearance at a music store during the day was the only damp spot of our day.
The people who ran the venue were great to us all day and made us feel
very much at home. Nick Harper is going down better and better each night,
after all he is nothing short of brilliant.
The Strand in Providence seemed a little too large for our show--we only filled a quarter of the hall, but we had a good time. Late shows don't agree with me and I had to leave to get to my bed soon after the last song. My head hit the pillow and the lights went out.
The highlight of the day was going to see the Monkees, we met them backstage for pictures and magic tricks. The circus had come to town as we took our seats in the round, they appeared and gave their all in a slapstick kind of way. Glenn sat next to me in the pit and like little boys we grinned up at the stage and sung along to all the songs.
Davy was the best. Then Peter, then Micky.
Quincy is just outside Boston, where the girls are so pretty. The rain poured down all day long on the five hour drive, and on arrival the PA decided to eat the rain and blow itself up. So we decided to play in the bar, on the bar. The last time I stood on a bar I was removing my clothes with dollar bills down my fly, but times have changed, I think. The warm faces of the wet crowd seemed to be pleased that we at least tried to put on a show. We will be back at lunch time on Saturday for another show, in the sun I hope.
What a strange night! Here's a email from a fan......
New York City
New York and the Supper club, well what can I say, it was brilliant. A night of many faces and friends, a night of real warmth and generous spirit. New York is home for us on any tour, we must have played 30 shows over the years. I could have played all night.
While in New York we went on television, the Regis and Kathie Lee morning
chat show, where the guests don't get to chat much. They even shipped in
a 100 year old Avon girl as a guest, she couldn't hear them very well so
no chat there. We played a short version of This Summer.
Monday night and from the sublime to the Ridiculous as we played in New Jersey at Club Been, a 'has been' of a club in many ways. The crowd was great, though, and we had a very wild show. Jokes followed songs and songs followed people shouting from the crowd.
Still no record company, not even a smoke signal from the hills.
Sunday was a day of rest, so I went out to Jones Beach to see James
Taylor. His show did something very special to me--I came away with a soul
filled with positive thoughts about the future. It's hard to describe except
to say the feeling resembled the colour yellow, bright and hopeful.
What a great night in such a perfect place for our acoustic show. The sound was good, the crowd friendly, and the art exibition in the front of house quite interesting. We played well and for the first time this tour I felt more at ease with my day.
Two great surprises: first, seeing Erik fresh from the West Coast, he walked on water and there he was. Then there was Billy Joel who came along to see the show. Very much as in the flesh as on the album sleeves, we shook hands and I hope he enjoyed the show.
Afterward, we met some people backstage and I realised how much an impact
our web site is making, of this I am very proud and forever in debt to
Erik, who walks on water.
Another dressing room to savour with its plastic seats and black walls under weak white light--home sweet home for five hours. Oh the glamour of it all.
Tonight the show was much better as the house was fairly full and all were in good voice. On the new songs they were a little unsure, and in the quiet ones they talked to each other. For my part I played poorly: due to the lack of stage lighting I kept missing the fret bars on my guitar. I felt like a prune and kept wishing I had eaten more carrots.
Glenn played and sang well, as he always does, and Nick delivered the
deep pan sound of his guitar with his usual excellence. Back at the hotel
I shared a lift with one of Kiss, who invited me to the show. "Thank you,"
I said as we reached my floor, knowing it was unlikely that I could go.
Instead I sat proudly in my room looking down at the Kiss fans on the street
below in the 3am New York night.
Walks with Laptop
Flying to America is never easy for me. I hate flying, but this time it was not too bad, especially since I got to sit in the cockpit for landing.
Washington D.C. was waiting with a show at the 9.30 club. We took the stage, and, looking at my watch, it seemed to be 5am.
Half full or half empty it was good to be back playing in America where the fans accept us like a good meal. Afterward, tired and almost out for the count, we raced back to the hotel. I don't remember much about the show itself apart from some girl who kept telling me to smile by pulling the side of her face up to one side. I smiled back to her with full beam.
The train from Washington to New York was effortless and altogether very civilized, but on arrival the heat glued me inside my suit and to the seat of the taxi.
The circle has come around, we are back in a small van humping our own gear, selling our own t-shirts, playing clubs up and down the East Coast. Our record company is no place to be seen and I feel slightly let down, to say the least. Life goes on like the road itself, so I guess I just have to get used to lousy monitors and smelly dressing rooms, and socks that stick to the inside of your shoes.
Glenn said on stage last night, "This one's from Babylon and On when we used to sell records." It sums up the mood, though the eternal optimist in me says it all will work out, smelly dressing rooms or not.
The Globe in Norwalk Connecticut has a smelly dressing room, but I took to it like a duck to water: the stage seemed like Eden compared to four hours in there. The highlight of the night was some fish and chips from across the street which tasted better than they do in my local at home. Our show was ok, the crowd looked happy and some of our grass roots chums were there to help us along. Another show bites the dust and another day in Hollywood slips by, hollywood heart that is.