Right, then! It's that "bloke" Adam "out of" Fountains Of Wayne. Our trip to the UK and Ireland was "ace, man," but also a "bit fucking mad"! And now it's time to write another "rubbish" A.V. Club tour-diary entry!
Our first stop was Dublin, conveniently located just seven hours from Newark Airport. When the cabbie who drove me into town found out I was in a band, he decided to sing me some of his favorite rock classics. He did a particularly rousing version of "Light My Fire." He also informed me that he was a close childhood friend of the sister of Dave "The Edge" Evans, which somehow didn't surprise me. I wondered if she also had a cool nickname, but didn't ask.
Speaking of U2, they own a hotel in Dublin, which contains a bar called The Octagon that we were told was a happening place. So that evening, Jody, Brian, and I went to check it out. It may have been the wrong night of the week, or maybe just too early, but the place should have been called The Empty Room. Plus, they didn't even have any cute U2-themed drinks—no Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday, no Vertigo Shots. Luckily, Dublin has almost as many Irish pubs as Boston, so we had no problem finding other fine establishments in which to spend our hard-earned Euros.
The next night, we performed at the Ambassador, an elegant former theater where we had played our first-ever Irish concert a few years back. Then around 2 a.m., we got onto a ratty double-decker tour bus with serious ventilation problems—and oddly, lots of Polish zloty coins hidden in the seat cushions. We drove north, boarded a ferry around 7 a.m., and crossed the Irish Sea for Scotland.
Scotland is a picturesque country where the people are friendly, yet completely incomprehensible. Also, the national delicacy is a sheep's stomach filled with its liver, lungs, and heart. For the next two days, we smiled politely as people tried to communicate with us, and ate mostly Mexican food.
In the parking lot of the Glasgow hotel adjacent to ours, Brian and I noticed two tour buses bearing the logo of the band Saxon, which was also playing the following night. Saxon, if you are unfamiliar, is a British heavy-metal band that has been around since the mid-'70s and was in no small part the inspiration for Spinal Tap. They have had several members named Nigel over the years. We ended up having a chat with a couple of the guys in the band. Turns out they're "top geezers"!
Our show the next night was at Glasgow's ABC club, where we were supported by a good local band called the Dykeenies (according to their guitarist, this name has nothing to do with lesbians and/or bikinis). That afternoon, I had purchased some fruit-shaped percussion instruments at a music store across from the venue, and during our set, we invited some folks onstage to shake them along to "Hey Julie." I never knew a banana could be played so violently. That night, we also attempted our version of "Killermont Street" by Aztec Camera, since the actual Killermont Street was just a few blocks away.
After a few post-show hours sampling a curious local drink called "Scotch" at a nearby bar (where we ran into those Saxon dudes again… stop following us, you metal legends!), we were off to Manchester.
Manchester is known for its world-famous football club, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as its many contributions to pop culture. It was here, for example, that people first discovered that taking a bunch of ecstasy while listening to dance music in a giant warehouse was a good idea.
The University Of Manchester, where we were scheduled to perform, does not—as one might guess—offer courses such as Symbolism In The Music Of Inspiral Carpets or Glow-Stick Design. It is, in fact, one of the largest and most respected schools in the UK. And the concert venue, known as the Academy 2, is not a giant warehouse, but rather a very loud, small, square box with a stage at one end, which always makes for a good sweaty gig. Also, the dressing-room graffiti is truly inspired, even by scummy rock-club standards.
After the show, we piled back in our increasingly malodorous "motor coach" and headed for London.
London is a vast, complex city designed by the same guy who created the Habitrail. It is full of narrow, winding streets, and it's basically impossible to know where the hell you are unless you have driven a taxi there for 60 years. Luckily, it's also obscenely expensive. American dollars produce barely stifled snickers from the tellers at currency-exchange windows.
Chris and I were sent off to visit a few radio stations upon our arrival in London, while Brian and Jody graciously volunteered to sleep soundly back at the hotel. And then later that afternoon, it was off to the Astoria Club for sound-check. When we pulled up in front of the venue, we were greeted by a large marquee that announced "FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE—GAY." This confused us somewhat until we were told that after our show, the rock club turns into a dance club, and of course, tonight was gay night.
The Astoria show was very enjoyable, and seemed a bit looser than the time we played there a few years ago. After the show, a guy from our record label took us to the nearby "Phoenix Artist Club," a historic basement "members-only" bar that looks like a more authentic version of a Bennigan's. A very welcoming maitre d', who himself seemed vaguely historic, announced grandly to the 20 or so people in the room that "Foundations Of Wayne" had arrived. He also mentioned that everyone should stick around because the Cold War Kids would perhaps be showing up later. It occurred to me that he might be the oldest person on earth to have heard of the Cold War Kids. We hung out there for a few hours, and met one of the guys "out of" Razorlight, but, alas, no Cold War Kids.
We would have loved to stay in London to enjoy a few more days of gray skies and high prices, but the road beckoned once again. Stay tuned, for I will soon be reporting from even more mysterious and exotic lands, such as "Cleveland," "Oshkosh," and "Ann Arbor." Bye!