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Touring with the Circus of Horrors

Well it was finally time I got round to writing my first proper blog on my new site. I’m currently sitting in the back of one of the shows two minibuses, en route to a Travelodge in Morecambe after tonight’s show in Derby – rock ‘n roll! Whether I finish writing it on this journey or fall asleep awaits to be seen, but that’s an excuse for you to read on and find out!***

So, onto the tour. It started all the way back in October, and now, 85 shows later there’s only another 15 left on the calendar, ending with 3 days in Jersey. Sounds like hard work? It has been! But (for the most part) it’s been a great experience, rewarding and fun. Apart from a couple of back to back dates in some towns we’ve been following the same routine pretty much every day:

Get up – leave hotel – travel to next venue – load in – set up – lunch – free time – soundcheck and cast meeting – free time – 2 hour show – pack down – load out – travel to next hotel – sleep.

Wash, rinse and repeat x 100.

Yep, a new town/city nearly every day. We’ve been able to see the full spectrum of towns and venues; from the plush new theatre’s to town halls somewhere you’ve never heard of. It’s a general rule of thumb that if the venue has ‘town hall’ in the title it’s going to be a long day, as these venues aren’t really designed to host fancy theatre productions, so things like setting up lights and rigging is always going to take longer.

For a musician, the show is great fun to play. The band is made up of drums (me), Guitar (Dan Angelow), Bass/MD (Andy Higgins) and Keys (Sam “Professor Meinheimer” Hicks). Although it’s a theatre show we’re not reading dots, as the band is up on stage with all the acts (costumes and all!), and songs can change at any time. This gives us lot’s of room to improvise, and we’re always trying to add in new musical ideas to help improve the show…and keep us on our toes! The music is generally rock oriented, but there’s a lot of variety. We have songs changing from a 3/4 Waltz feel into a dirty blues, shuffles galore, a bit of swing, and I even get to crack out the brushes in one number.

With this show it’s very important to be versatile and take on any changes very quickly. A lot of the acts require the band to vamp sections, so we have to wait for either a pre-arranged visual cue, or more often than not a vocal cue from Andy on the shout mic (which is only heard in the band’s monitors) – or in some instances a drum fill – no pressure there for me. As time’s gone on, the band has got much tighter, but it’s no embarrassment to admit there were definitely a few edge-of-the-seat moments for yours truly in the early days. Switching to in-ear monitors at the halfway point was an absolute godsend for this…I really can’t recommend them enough; they help you relax and play a lot better when you can hear yourself and everything else around you perfectly clear at all times, and not have to worry about dodgy acoustics in a venue pretty much making your monitor redundant.

That’s it for now. With this being the first post there’s way too much to try and fit in, and as we carry on driving down this random unknown A-Road my ramblings will no doubt get even more incomprehensible – and nobody wants that! The next post will hopefully be a ‘day in the life’ sort-a-thing.

*** Turns out this only took about 30 minutes to write (you can probably tell by the quality!) – so still very much on the journey to Morcombe.