Wednesday, July 26, 2006

1988 Tour: Fulham Greyhound

When we arrived in Britain in October 1988 for our first tour, we didn't play any shows right away. We first spent about two or three days doing nothing but interviews, photo sessions and BBC recordings. Our first actual gig in front of an audience was at the Fulham Greyhound. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. In the rush of events, my memories of many of the details of that show are hazy, but a few details stand out. I remember doing a soundcheck in the afternoon, and noting the fact that the promoter had supplied a brand-new "Snakes and Ladders" board game in our dressing room, along with the usual refreshments. We learned that this was a clause in our contract rider, that each venue would provide a board game for the band. I played chess with Ken on a couple of occasions when a chess-board was offered. (Ken was a fine chess layer and always crushed me easily, even while spotting me a few pieces.)

After doing the soundcheck in the empty venue, we went somewhere for dinner and came back a couple hours later for the show. At this point, the place was absolutely packed. I cannot exaggerate this point whatsoever. I have never been in a denser crush of people in my life—it took at least 15 or 20 minutes for us to squeeze through the throng from the pub's entrance to the dressing room. It was unbelievably hot and humid from all of the bodies packed together. As we got on stage, I looked up and saw that the walls were literally dripping with moisture. I was so sweaty that I nearly dropped my saxophone a couple of times. Already nervous about the show, having to worry about simply holding my instruments added another layer of stress that I'd never experienced before. As we faced the audience, the crowd let out a deafening cheer that seemed to last forever. I remember thinking quite clearly to myself, "Now I know what the Beatles felt like..."

The actual gig is a complete and utter blur for me. Maybe Phil or Ken can remember something else, but I can't. I have no idea how we played. I don't think it really mattered that much. I dimly recall playing "Considering a Move to Memphis" and the roar being almost as loud as the band. Somewhere I have a glowing review of the show that I'll post if I can find it. After that, we were launched on the tour. Our prospects seemed limitless at that point.

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