Day One – I say goodbye to the kids at the beach. Bodhi, the youngest, draws a heart in the sand and writes “Mom” in it, then gives me a too hard hug. Ouch. I hate this part.
Day Two – We land at Heathrow and meet the other Muses at our airport hotel. We all agree to stay up in order to acclimate ourselves to this time zone, then go to our rooms and fall asleep.
Hunger rouses us a few hours later, so Billy and I drag the others out to Terminal 5 (where we used to live when BA lost our luggage and my guitar). Nice to see the old neighborhood again.
After dinner, we go to Bernie’s room for an unplugged practice. This turns out to be a peak experience, for some reason. We are all inordinately moved. Looking at each other and squinting, we try to figure out what’s happening. “The songs are here,” says Dave. Bernie and I agree.
Day Three – We drive to something called “Butlins, Minehead” (which becomes “Butthead” within 5 minutes of leaving the hotel). Billy and Bernie must learn to drive on the correct side of the road. “I can drive backwards,” says Bernie, “I mean sideways.”
The countryside is breathtaking, as it will be for the rest of the tour. A side trip to Stonehenge has us all very excited until we get there and learn that it costs £6 a head to get in, so we stare at it through a chain link fence and then take pictures of the rest rooms.
All Tomorrow’s Parties is the name of the festival we’re playing and boy does it look like a future party. Post-apocolyptic. It appears to be an abandoned amusement park that a bunch of rock people are squatting in.
We are put up in “chalets,” which I guess, in British English, means “room that comes with a duck” because mine does. An exceptional duck that eats cookies out of my hand.
We’re very nervous before we go on, as our unplugged rehearsal was the only one we had (also because we’re big dorks), but the set goes fairly smoothly. We all start different songs a couple times (dorks), but the audience is sweet as pie and happy as clams, and that’s all that counts, really.
We end the night in Howe Gelb’s room (he has no duck, so it’s not a chalet). Howe shares his whiskey and tells us stories about the ugliest suit he ever had.
Day 4 – I say goodbye to Dave and the duck, then hit the road solo style (I keep Bernie just for the hell of it). We try to use every town name we see on a sign as a swear, shouting them angrily, and most of the time it works (“Bagshot” is the best and most long-lived).
Christopher Rees joins the tour as opener (great to see and hear him again) and we all eat dinner in the dressing room, (which is actually an art studio) under a drawing of a naked old man splayed face down on the ground. None of us look up until we’ve finished eating.
Day 5 – Newcastle. Bernie flies away, leaving me seriously solo. Our hotel looks a little like a jail and comes with a rat. A dead rat. I much preferred the live duck. Things are looking down.
However, we are in Newcastle, the town where our little toddler friend Sammy used to jump up on stage with the Muses and the Pixies whenever we came to town. She knew all the songs and was an excellent little dancer/singer/rocker-outer. When I missed my babies to the point of heartbreak, Sammy would crawl into my lap and let me baby her for a night.
Of course, she’s no longer a toddler and it takes me a minute to realize that the woman talking to me after the show is Sammy, but she lets me baby her anyway. We keep her close all night, give her juice, drive her home, talk to her Mum on the phone and only drive away when she promises to keep in touch forever.
The rat is still there when we get back to the hotel.
Day 6 – Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, the venue where Throwing Muses once did an unannounced, all-request show at midnight, forgetting that none of us speak any Scottish. The show lapsed into lame improv-style bullshitting: “I think I heard Surf Cowboy?”
Beerjacket plays first (the lovely Peter Kelley) – and our friend Ethical Paul joins the tour. Paul is a true, dyed-in-the-wool, genuinely idiosyncratic yet morally sound weirdo. We are looking forward to this.
Day 7 – Aberdeen. Before soundcheck, we check in at our hotel which turns out to be a mansion in the middle of nowhere (yay!). Rabbits hop around the Teletubbies-style grounds. Paul reads up on the history of the place and tells us that it was built by a guy named “Soapy,” who made his fortune on soap.
Aberdeen teaches us what Jaffa Cakes and travelators are. After the show, Chris Rees crashes with Paul, because we feel that he needs to see the soap mansion. We then spend a peaceful morning by the River Dee before checking out. We hate to leave Soapy’s house.