I’d never been to Leicester before today, I knew about the football club and their shock win of the Premier League in 2016, I knew about Family (the band) and Diesel Park West but hadn’t really clocked Showaddywaddy, Crazyhead, Black Widow and Engelbert Humperdinck, those are the names that came up throughout the evening. But what about Billy Nomates, Anthony Thistlethwaite (The Waterboys), Tony Kaye (Yes), Spring, The Apollinaires, Brian Davison (The Nice), Gypsy, Henry Lowther (trumpeter), John Deacon (Queen), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Kasabian, Pick Withers and John Illsey (Dire Straits), Davy Graham, Chrome Molly, and of course Graham Chapman.
We made our usual stop at the coffee shop, killing time till we could check in to the hotel and then soundcheck. It was another Travelodge that seemed to be in better condition than the last one although the amount of fire doors made it hard work to get to our room which was at the end of a long corridor – one end in Leicester and the other in Nice which is how Kasper Schmeichel got there. The same smell lingered, what could it be? I projected that it was the cleaning fluids they used but Olivia thought it might be something worse.
We left for the soundcheck driving out of the garage (with the very low height limit) and through the rush hour to the venue. Unfamiliar streets, grey in the rain, and as we found out when we went to eat, the familiar site of an English high street with closed down shops and a once thriving Palais de Danse. Whilst we were walking, an argument across the street that ended with someone on the ground and speeding ambulances and police cars. A friendly falafel restaurant before the show but the streets felt like a struggle.
The venue was called The Musician and looked like an old house that Raff the barman told me was once a slum. A once old beautiful building next door lay in disrepair and Jeremy the manager told me it wasn’t the best part of town, you would only come here to see a specific gig. The venue was a good size for a small enthusiastic audience and Alan the soundman did a great job. All the soundmen have been really good on this tour. The gig was great, it makes such a difference performing with good sound.
I invited Diesel Park West guys to the show but they weren’t in town (I sang some backing vocals on Let It Melt, 2019). I wondered about how a new guitar band might find an audience here but then I wondered how a new guitar band might find an audience anywhere.
Music today has been one of my favourite unknown progressive albums, the debut by Leicester band Spring (1971). I have a second album by them too, although it doesn’t seem that they released it officially. The drummer was Pick Withers who found himself in Dire Straits some years later.