(Keep upto date with Johnny Thirkell's Tour blog and all the shenanigans along the way...)
Here I am on the 22:12 to Aylesbury Vale Parkway calling at various Chiltern beauty spots en route to Great Missenden – my local station – not a little worse for wear but with a (low carbohydrate) Cornish Pasty for company.
It’s been a good day. A day full of laughter, trepidation, concentration, frustration, argument, tomfoolery and general lack of focus but, most of all, a sense of great excitement that we are all back together and about to embark on a 5 week adventure taking in most major European countries in the name of entertainment.
Over the past few days there have been rehearsals involving individual sections of the band – the rhythm section started last Thursday and I think Andrea was in yesterday – but today was the first day we were all together trying to a) remember what we did on the old tunes and b) work out what we are going to do on the new tunes.
Under the tutelage and stewardship of our esteemed Musical Director, 80s Dave, we have rehashed, amended and improved much of the set so that, if you make it to any of the shows, you will hear not only tunes from the new album but also revamped versions of some of the older songs.
Of course, there are some songs which it would be sacrilege to alter – and some which it wouldn't, but we can’t be arsed to, so I think generally we will have a set which should keep everyone happy – old fans and new.
It’s at this point in the rehearsal procedure that all of the creative ideas that 80s Dave and the rhythm section have had over the past few days get trashed by Ian, Mickey and I on account of being way too hard to play and we revert to how it used to be ‘back in the day’.
To be honest, they have come up with some cracking variations on the old songs and I think the great discerning public will enjoy them a lot. However, if you see Mick and I scrabbling round on the floor as if we are hunting down an errant contact lens, it’s because we’ve come to a hard bit which we can’t possible play whilst maintaining the usual high standard of fancy footwork.
The actual contents of the final set list are absolutely top secret and, were I to accidentally reveal them, I would be forced to kill both of you (assuming you have both made it this far).
Suffice to say there is a good mix of old and new, obvious and left-field, fast & slow, quiet and loud.
The general mood was one of positivity in the face of a dreadful racket but I’m sure that, by the time we climb on the bus to head to Zurich on Wednesday, we will all be feeling much more confident in what we are doing.
There’s quite a bit more singing for me to do this time around but that’s OK with me – I enjoy it, partly because it hurts much less than blowing down a tube.
After the band rehearsal Mick, Lisa, Ian and I retired to the Caledonian Arms to talk through the more tricky dance moves and to arrange for the leg warmers to be collected from our team of expert, ninja dry cleaners.
The new trumpet held up quite well – although, after 35 years playing the old one, it was a little disconcerting to say the least but….. more on that tomorrow.
In the meantime, I must sign off otherwise there won’t be enough time for me to nod off and miss my station.