Tour Diary: Brighton (UK / Day 10)

Salty Snack of the Day: Leighton Brown Sweet Potato and Cheese and Jalapeno Crisps – Not a very common brand I gather but ridiculously delicious. Oh and before the show a couple of audience members who have reading the blog provided an entertaining and educational discussion  about the merits of regional salty snacks. And when people began shouting out different snacks during our set I was tickled beyond belief.

Britishisms Heard Uttered: Wee – As in pee. In the Windmill’s men’s room, one peed against a ceramic wall where the collective urine was collected in a gutter-sized trough and sent steaming to the right. During the second afternoon, when the festival was still going on, a little boy said to his father, “Daddy, I’ve never had a wee in one of these before!” He was so innocent and excited he didn’t realize it was actually barbaric.

 Birds: I saw one species of bird in Brighton. The Herring Gull – large, noisy, and ubiquitous; they are the American tourists of the bird world.

Signs That Sound Naughty: All three of these were spotted on the way to the hotel after playing Brighton. Will likely not be a regular feature.

Sussex Tent Show

Arlington Upper Dicker

Polegate Willingdom

 

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We got up and hustled out of Leicester as every one was excited to get to Brighton, a seashore town made famous to me by the Who’s “Quadrophenia.” We had about an hour and a half to see the sights before soundcheck so Olie, who lives there, played tour guide and took us around. It was a stunning, perfectly sunny day as Olie parked the van at the beach by the huge Ferris Wheel. The beach at Brighton is composed of rocks. Some as big as a steak bone, some patches of small pebbles, but most the size of a small rubber bouncing ball. A bit difficult to walk in but the child in me, as well as Chuck, (our inner children are conjoined and named Bo and Percival) began selecting the most interesting examples until we had a pocketful of rocks

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The beach cuts towards the ocean in a steep terraced fashion and when the water was pulled back into the ocean as the bigger waves receded it made a hissing, bee-like sound I loved. There seemed to be a lot of what looks like flint in their composition, but regardless, the rocks make a glassine sound when knocked together either by us or the ocean. Just lovely.

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Next we began moving into town via the South Lanes. Very narrow, twisty, pedestrian only roads going back to the city’s fishing town origins, but now full of unusual posh shops like the one that created these two-foot high edible chocolate eggs.

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We walked by the Pavilion, described as a pleasure palace built for King George the IV. By the time it was done it had domes, minarets, and towers, reflecting a decidedly Indian flare. It’s quite stunning even if it was just built so a spoiled prince would have a place to party and shag.

Then into the North Laines, spelled differently for reasons I could look up, but I’ve already looked two things up and honestly it’s just below the threshold of fucks I give. The North Laines continued the trend of cool antique/vintage shops, bookstores and such. And here is where I’d like to state my favorite thing about Brighton. It’s a beach town, a longstanding tourist destination, but it is almost entirely bereft (bereft can be a good thing) of cheesy chain stores. Of course there are some sops to tourism. The world famous Pier, which had closed by the time I got to it, looks just packed with noxious family entertainments. But it has retained a certain elegance. Olie says it’s a town very accepting to artists and the odd. I could easily spend several happy days here I think.

We split up for about half an hour while Olie went back to fetch the van. I had a half pint, sat outside watching the world go by and eating my first Cornish Pasty. (rhymes with patsy or ummm…rhinoplasty) Like a large empanada but with dough more similar to that of a pie. I had the cheese and onion and it was like a Hot Pocket fit for a very kind, benevolent king.

On to the Hope and Ruin, our venue for the night. The downstairs pub and restaurant were super cool with all kinds of hipster shit on the wall. (Not literally – although I did contribute a little smackeral later on) They had fit a camper (caravan) into one corner and turned it into a vegan kitchen. I enjoyed their Krautwork vegan dog later. The windows were open to the sidewalk and we all sat there for a bit, reveling in the beautiful day and rather fetching populace

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The venue itself was a lovely clean version of the rock bar box. When the soundman, a fastidious and thorough man named Leon, spent a full five minutes just on the Joe’s kick drum sound, Lisa laid down on the stage to wait and we all drooped a little bit. But oh my God it was the David of kick drum sounds, and the rest of the band sounded just as good. It was like we were getting studio sound in a club.

After check everyone went off to get food but I was still engorged by my pasty. I headed towards a very thin, incredibly tall and modern looking structure that Pierced (2nd worst James Bond ever) the sky. When I reached it I saw it was not yet completed but would eventually have a clear glass restaurant or some such riding up and down it like a doughnut on a hot dog. When I asked Olie’s girlfriend (a thoroughly charming and delightful young lady far too good for Olie ) she had several choice words for that horrible, expensive monstrosity. I will say, the early days of the project appear to have nothing to do with the aesthetic of the town.

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I walked up the beach from the twice burned pier to the presently popular and unburned pier, walked through town until my feet sent pings of pain up my legs with every step, like the Nerka being depth-charged by Bungo Pete.*

The show was fabulous. It’s amazing how much more you can bring to a performance with great sound. Someone explain to me the high level of ability the soundmen (unfortunately all men thus far) of this island possess? The sound has been consistently great night after night, the engineers and crew consistently cheerful and accommodating. One thing that is the same is the weird way some towns become aware and fall for a band. We had one of our top two biggest crowds and they were excited to see us. They demanded extra encores (“Majestic 12” and “Muscle Cars”) and gave us a night to fill us up enough to power through the last three shows. (Hopefully! We’re really tired)

Tomorrow is Birmingham.

*”Run Silent, Run Deep.” Read it. Watch it.