You heard that correctly brothers and sisters! In just a fortnight, me and DJ Jack Nimble will be returning to the arena of LIVE after a three month sabbatical to play righteous jams and party like it's 2011. WHICH IT IS!
Also playing are Barbarossa, The Melting Ice Caps and my buddy POLARBEAR!
It's for CHARITY!
DAMN HOMIE YOU'D BE A DUCK TO MISS THIS!
Let me hand the mike over to the organisers (who didn't ask me to play until after they'd made the flyer or something, hence me not being on it, yeah right nice excuse etc.):
On Wednesday October the 19th 2011 Music Like Dirt is organising a charity concert as part of Oxfam’s month long “Oxjam Festival“. All proceeds from the night will go to help Oxfam’s work and some of my favourite bands and musicians have kindly agreed to play. There are styles to suit all tastes, from indie to pop, to hip-hop to electronic soul…So great music, great cause… its a win win!
Ahead of his 11 night run at Camden’s Roundhouse, the highly acclaimed PolarBear will be bringing his beguiling mix of spoken word and hip hop to Walthamstow. Barbarossa aka James Mathe performed a session for Music Like Dirt earlier in the year, and his gorgeous track “Stones” recently featured in US Series “How I Met Your Mother“. Blessed with a gorgeous voice and a knack for tying lovely melodies to melancholic lo-fi electronics, he’ll be playing a stripped down set. One not to miss. Also on the bill are MLD favourites, The Melting Ice Caps with tales of love, loss and betrayal courtesy of lead singer David Shah. Reminiscent of the great English lyricists, Heaton, Tennant, Morrissey… able to craft intelligent, witty lyrics but with a slice of pop to embed them in your brain.
Knitting it all together will be the one man multimedia empire Akira The Don who’ll be performing as well as hosting the evening.
Can’t make it along but still like to support our fundrasing efforts?
There’s a Justgiving page which gives extra cash to Oxfam if you’re a UK taxpayer - OXJAM WALTHAMSTOW JUSTGIVING. You can also donate via text message: Text HQJB81 followed by the amount to the number: 70070 – eg to give £1 text “HQJB81£1″ to 70070. You wont incur any extra charge for the text.
The Standard Music Venue is literally across the road from Blackhorse Road tube station, 20 minutes from Oxford Circus on the Victoria Line (or close to St James Street Station for those coming from Liverpool Street on the train).
http://youtu.be/cLZSgfboT5M So, this past week I have bene consolidating the contents of my three PC harddrives onto one large harddrive that I can use on my Macbook Pro, and my Macbook Pro's Bootcamped Windows alterego, meaning I have access to my 7 year sound, art and video archive (I have also, for the first time ever, got separate drive automatically backing everything up, thanks to the Mac's super easy and visually gorgeous Time Machine thing). In doing so I discovered a ton of amazing historical video footage. Like Narstie and Littles fighting over a carton of juice. And me getting mobbed by zombies. And the footage you can see above: Me, DJ Jack Nimble, Marvin The Martian, Dego Brown and Jeres guesting on John Kennedy's XFM show in 2006, with Tego Sigel strapped to the camera. Richard Bacon was cowering in terror down the hallway, but I ran into him in the corridor afterwards and he expressed his admiration. It was dope day all round. Aside from BOOM!, I think we did Oh! and a cover of Chris de Burgh's Borderline. We went straight from the session to do a gig at the Barfly, I think.
Anyway. I hope you enjoy it. I sure did. It's weird to hear how much my voice has changed over the years. And what vocal tics I still have, and which I have left behind.
Speaking of THE PAST, we saw Super 8 last night. Now, I am not saying it was a horrible experience or anything, but it was basically the film equivalent of Ocean Colour Scene. Or Beady Eye. Basically a rose-tinted attempted recreation of 80s kids adventure flicks like The Goonies and E.T. It got me wondering whether JJ Abrams and Geoff Johns (who to the uninitiated is a comics writer who's spent the last few years trying to make the DC universe look like it was when he was a kid) have ever been seen in the same room. As you now, I'm all for referencing the past to create something new (like Zef's amazing teletext referencing online CV, which he serendipitously just sent me), but recreating the past to, um, recreate the past seems pretty pointless to me. These people seem to confuse fond childhood memories with some kind of artistic golden age, which they spend their careers trying to recreate, and it really is all the rage these days. Hollywood's doing it, the record industry's doing it, even rap music is no longer immune to this plague of nostagia-as-real-art buffoonery (HAI Cool Kids, Freddie Gibbs, etc).
But never mind that old nonsense. When we got out of the cinema we discovered that my little brother's baby, initially scheduled for release a week ago, had been born. Joy to the future!
http://www.akirathedon.com Akira The Don, DJ Jack Nimble, Marvin The Martian and Dego Brown guesting on John Kennedy’s XFM show in 2006, with Tego Sigel strapped to the camera. Richard Bacon was cowering in terror down the hallway, but I ran into him in the corridoor afterwards and he expressed his admiration.
AKIRA THE DON
BUY Akira The Don CDs, T Shirts, MP3s and more:http://www.akirathedon.com/shop/
Burning CDs on my raptop on the tube felt like being on tour again. I’d just slept for close to a day, the culmination of my post tour super funk that had gone mainly unseen or heard, buried beneath a ton of work, catching up, last-minute-mixtape, team-changing lunacy, and pre-wedding excitement.
Team wise, I was back where I started – no radio, no press, no manager, just me and my awesome records, friends, family. You. It felt good, for no good reason I could grasp.
I was on my way to play Manga Entertainment’s 20th anniversary party. It was twenty years since Island Records Chris Blackwell set up that company and imported Akira to these shores, changing many lives in the process, including, quite obviously, mine. And now, 20 years since I cut out the first advert for Akira from the back of Vox and stuck it to my bedroom wall, I was on my way to play its birthday party.
So it goes.
I noticed my fly was undone looking at twitter on the escalator. I was nervous about the show. Playing a gig that’s yours is one thing – even if seven people show up, they’re there to see YOU, and will know some of your material, and want to have a good time during your performance. Playing the Manga 20th Anniversary party all I knew was that there’d be 300 people there, and that a good percentage of them were likely to be pissed, what with the free bar and all. Whether they would cared for my particularly unique line in rap pop remained to be seen.
The venue was pretty amazing. Empty of the expected 300 people it was vast, white, cavernous, like the beginnings of film set, or the inside of a space ship. Anime projected onto every spare area of wall. Men ran around constructing elaborate dangling shelves in which to house “the sushi wall”. Beermatts adorned with the iconic Manga logo papered very available surface. I met the folks I’d been liaising with, who seemed distinctly jolly, if a little manic, as might be expected, and sat down with my laptop, to finalise the set, or at least the relative confines of the set, which I then burnt to disc whilst listening to the Paranoia Agent remix of Big Iron, as the early echoes of the butterfly storm approaching fluttered around in my bely. I told you I was nervous.
The soundman was a tall, gentlemanly North American called John, and a very nice man. He was the king of our castle in the corner of the room – a small stage, with some decks on it, framed by a pair of speakers. There were no monitors, which filled me with a small ball of dread – monitors are those big wedge shaped speaker’s you see on stages pointing at the band, that allow the band to hear what the fudge is going on, unless they have those in ear things, which are very expensive, and I aspire to. A further oddity was that the mixing desk, such as it was, was on the stage next to the DJ equipment, behind the speakers, where the soundman would not be able to hear what the rest of the venue was hearing and thus would not be able to mix accordingly.
Well, I thought, he is a professional. It will be fine.
Presently Jacked showed up. Jack came off tour and was throw into a world of pain, and he looked tired and harassed. It was good to see him. We soundchecked, a long, queer process that involved us performing four songs in a row and the soundman running on and offstage repeatedly trying to fathom how it was all gelling together, the little stage with the twin speakers in the corner of the vast echoey aircraft hangar. I made sure my mike lead was good and long, so I could wander out in the venue space, and hear the actual sound. It was variable. Some of the cloakroom attendants gathered to watch the proceedings. Their evident enjoyment gave me hope.
After that, all we had to do was drink amusingly-named Manga-themed cocktails, soak up the atmosphere, steal beermatts and wait for stage time. A bunch people I know, and like, turned up, and we hung, and ate fine sushi bundles and drained the amusingly-named Manga-themed cocktails, and watched street-art hero Aerosol Jim paint an Akira-themed mural outside the venue. A clutch of Cosplayers, or rather, one might say a manga of cosplayers showed up, and posed in front of Aerosol Jim’s mighty artwork for a while, resplendent and joyful in their home-made cartoon garb.
Downstairs the DJ DJed. The effect was something like Tetsuo’s energy blasts in Akira. People seemed to occupy every space in the building that wasn’t within the immediate sonic reaches of those twin speakers. The sound was simultaneously very loud, very top-heavy, and very indistinct. One couldn’t really make out what was being played, yet one could hardly carry out a conversation either. I realized that I was the only person in the room with such concerns. Everyone seemed to be having a lovely time.
At 8:55 I changed into my Run DMC lounge parts and the T-Shirts (plural) the kind bawse of Manga UK had gifted me with, and at 9pm we took to the stage. It was entertainment as war, as Chilly would have it. We had interrupted the chatter of gang of people, many of them industry folk, and attacked them with high end fuzzy sonics from the far corner of the aircraft hangar. Some of them appeared visibly annoyed. Some of them seemed very pleased. I played for both. I worked hard. I utilized the full length of my mike cord, exploring the furthest reaches its fullness allowed me. I high fived. I climbed. I encouraged audience participation.
A performer really does feed off the energy of the crowd. A show can only be as good as the audience allows. Quantum theory applies here, as with everywhere else. The act of observation changes the observ-ed. When the crowd’s energies are mainly focused on their conversations, it is hard to syphon those energies into one’s performance, and to give it back, amplified, as is the righteous path, and the way of the ages. But there were enough active participants, enough open hearts that I was able to do what I came to do. I was thankful to those people. I looked into each and every one of their eye-pairs. My soul thanked them. I was acutely aware of the unspoken conversation. I was certain they felt it.
I decided we wouldn’t play Oh! What A Glorious Thing. It seemed inappropriate. That would be one of perhaps four shows I have done where I have not played that song. Each of them important, legendary occasions, for entirely different reasons.
Marvin appeared, right at the end. It was just the adrenaline dart to the chestplate I needed. He bounded onstage, blur of red, and my powers quadrupled. We romped through BOOM as if we were at Madison Square garden, and it didn’t matter that Marvin’s mike made him sound like he was broadcasting via wireless in 1913. We closed to a springtime precipitation of applause. I thanked my witnesses and my spiritual benefactors from the bottom of my heart. I was grateful, and exhausted.
At the (still free) bar I met lots of wonderful people who were having wonderful times. I left with their enthusiasm ringing in my ears.
Jack and Marvin were waiting outside. We shared a spliff as we wandered transport-ward in the English summer drizzle, dripping with goodie bags of Manga Swag. London looked a hell of a lot like Neo Tokyo. I wondered what it would have looked like had there never been a Manga Entertainment. Had I never seen Akira.
Tim was getting dressed. It was eight thirty, or something like that. He was going to the car rental place to pick up the rental car we’d been promised, so we could get the heck out of doge and back up north, specifically to the Slam Dunk Festival, where we had the tasty 6:15 slot on the Front magazine dance stage. I was so excited. So excited I happily dozed right back off as soon as Brave And Noble Tim had left the doorframe behind him.
I woke a little while later to the sound of ringing telephones. Jack threw me mine. He had his Here We Go Again face on.
“Sprrfsh vrrrpsh vrrrp.” said the phone. “Sprrrk sppsh vo faaaargh. There is no car.”
“Whaddya mean there is no car?” I demanded, half askeep. “They promised us car!”
“There is no car,” said Tim, grimly.
"Fuck," I said, eloquently.
There was no train either. Well, no train that cost less than £300.
“We’re going to have to take the L,” said Jack, who, as he tells us often, is a Realist. “Get back to London, sort out shit out, be at the festival site in Hatfield tomorrow, ready.”
“Never,” I said. “People are going there to see us! They’re sending me messages about how excited they are! We will not let them down! We will make it! I have faith! And blind faith has got us this far. Let’s ask Twitter.”
I then remembered that, just last night, before we went to bed, CharCharGabor82, who was a real person I’d put on the guest list for the Nottingham show because I’d seen her on Twitter saying how sad she was that she couldn’t afford to come to the show, had, via Twitter, offered to drive down to where we were from Nottingham and drive us all the way to Leeds.
I opened up my raptop, still as pleasing a sensation as when I bought it nine weeks ago. "Fwup," it said, languidly. In my DM comumn in Tweetdeck were the following two messages, from CharCharGabor82:
Still haven't figured out if you want me to get u haha. I'm road trip ready if u do.
My numero is 0********** if u need a chauffer. I might even don a hat.
“We’re saved!” I exclaimed, with vast joy. “Look! That’s why out of all the billions of tweets in my Home column I saw that one and put her on the list! So she could save the day and drive us to Slam Dunk! Sweet serendipity!”
I phoned CHarCharGabor82 on the number she’d DMed me.
“Hello,” she said.
“Hello,” I said, remembering I’d read somewhere that the word hello was invented specifically as something for people to say when they greeted each other on the telephone. “This is Akira The Don. We would love to accept your generous offer of a lift to Leeds.”
“I shall be there in a jiffy,” said CharCharGabor82, or something like that. Perhaps she said “in three shakes of a lambs tail”. I can’t remember. Something to the effect of “soon.” I put the phone down and beamed triumphantly at Jack.
It was around ten am by this point. Soon Tim came back, and I told him the good news. He, like Jack, was cautious. “Is she in that little car that went ‘poor poot’ when we saw her leave in it after the gig in Nottingham? Has she left already? It takes 4 hours minimum to get to Leeds. We need to be there to line check at 5:30. It’ll take up to half an hour to get on site. So we need to leave here at 1 at the latest. Is she driving from Nottingham? Has she left yet?”
“Yes,” I said, in the manner one would say, well duh, as if they were the stupidest questions I'd ever heard. “It will be fine.”
We watched a little Russia Today, and Jack made some coffee. About twenty minutes or so later I got a text from CharCharGaboer82 saying she was about to leave.
“How far is Nottingham from here?” asked Tim.
Here was 3 hours from Nottingham.
Here was Bridgwater.
“Bridgwater is the country’s suicide capital,” said Jack, incorrectly. “Don’t quote me on that.”
Charlotte had sent me a photo of my cactus. It was flowering.
We left the hotel at miday, as is right and polite, and wandered into town, beneath the doleful calm a thick, damp tramp's blanket of doughy cloud. We passed the shit cinimea we saw on the way in, that looked like a crack house, or something that had gotten bombed in the war and never rebuilt. We passed the café we’d played in last night, the café we’d gone through hell and high water and a seven hour journey in the wrong direction to get to. The café Tim’s car had died trying to reach.
“Ho ho ho,” I said.
“Ho ho ho,” said Tim.
Jack smiled, beatifically. He seemed very calm. We all did. Our lives were not in our hands. It was OK.
We’d been sat in the Costa Coffee on Bridgwater High Street for a few hours, before that stated to change. I’d observed a middle aged woman telling some friends how it was her decision if she wanted to have sex with other men, and that her husband would have to deal with it. Jack and Tim had discussed things of great manly import, or so it appeared from where I was sat, clattering away furiously at my raptop. I suppose they might have been talking about comics, They usually were, now I come to think of it.
I had written most of the Manchester and Bridgwater blogs. It was half one. Four hours till load in. The occasional hopeful and cheery text would come in from CharCharGabor82, who had been stuck in terrible traffic for many hours. I spoke to her, and she said something about a possible shortcut. I pictured her spinning the steering wheel and abandoning the motorway, driving through rolling Postman Pat fields at breakneck speed.
“This is very much like Clockwork,” said Jack, who was still very calm. I was lesscalm. I had a sort of tragic desperation about me. I refused to believe that all was lost. I concocted many ways we could get there in time, mostly involving speeding and Luck.
“All is not lost!” I said, finally.
Jack and Tim went for a walk. It was Two-ish. Hope was draining from my pores like ghostly sweatbeads in a backwards gravity spaceship. I sat in the Costa like a sad pink island, surrounded by a sea of bags of cables and decks and socks and things, and finally, head bowed, accepted my fate.
I would not entertain the men and women of Leeds.
It was OK.
“Wah,” I said, sadly to myself, and drew a message on my fingers to post on the internet by way of apology.
At around three or so, CharCHarGabor82 rang, excitedly. “I’m nearly here!” she said, “We’re going to make it!” I knew that wer were not, but I thought it best not to say just yet. I didn’t want to crush that hope, and for her to crash in the last stretch, out of sheer sadness or something. I might have, were it me.
Presently, Jack and Tim returned.
“I just saw one of the most heinous and grimy things I saw in my life,” said Jack, excitedly. “I just saw a kid with one bottle of generic Tesco energy drink, pouring the bottle of energy drink into a bottle of Scrumpy jack. It’s 2 in the afternoon. That’s deep shit.”
I agreed. That was some heinous shit.
“Anyway, we got you something,” said Jack, and gave me a hug, and a large-headed Spider-man toy.
“We weren’t supposed to go, obviously,” reasoned Tim. “We could have got in a car and had an accident There’s no way of knowing we’d be in Leeds now. We might be dead.”
Jack nodded, sagely, and Tim burst into song: “There is no earthly way of knooooowing!”
Presently ChaChaGabor82 phoned. She was opposite the shit cinema by the hotel. “I’m opposite a really horrible looking cinema!” she said.
We found her, our knight in a tiny shiny car that went ‘poot poot’. I was sad that we had to tell her we weren’t going to make it to Leeds.
“Oh no!” she said.
“Will you drive us to London?” asked Tim, with his cheeky face.
“Yes,” said Char CharGabor82, which was an awfully nice thing for a person who’d just driven for four and a half hours to pick up a band to take them to a festival only to find out they weren’t going to a festival at all.
We didn’t go straight away, obviously. We walked back through town, showing CharCharGabor82 the sights, like the shit cinema, and the café we’d played in, and went back to Costa, our new home, with our sea of bags, and made a new island.
I clattered away on my raptop a bit more, and rang my girl to tell her I’d be home that evening. She didn't sound as excited at the prospect as I’d hoped.
“You’re not supposed to be back till tomorrow!” she said flusteredly. “I have to paint! My sister’s here! We’re planning the wedding!”
“Fine, I’ll find somewhere else to sleep!” I stropped, teenagishly. “See you tomorrow!”
I hung up and gazed mournfully at my sharpie stained hand. I supposed that she probably had an awful lot planned to do today, before I was supposed to go back. I figured I would stay at Tim's or something.
Charlotte rang back.
“I’m sorry, it was just unexpected,” she said. “Of course I'm excited to see you. I love you!”
I shed a sneaky little tear, and returned to the party. They were discussing pound shops.
We got into CharCharGabor82’s little car, which was no mean feat and reminded me of those jokes about Minis and elephants, and set off home. With the weight of expectation, and Not Knowing gone, everybody was suddenly in fine spirits.
We listened to CharChargabor82’s iPod, and bantered, merrily. Tim’s car, which was supposed to have been taken back to his old man’s house by the AA, had gone missing. This was potentially good news for Tim, who’d recently had a laptop stolen, out of the car and lost an iPod in the car, as if they had indeed lost the car he would get the insurance, and a new car, rather than having to deal with a dead car that needed scrapping, and maybe even a new laptop and iPod too.
We stopped at a services for food. I, foolishly, chose the KFC bucket, and suffered the consequences. Tim went for the lab shank.
“Ah, life” he beamed through his magnificent mutton chops.
“Ah, life,” I agreed. Jack smiled, nibbling on a sandwich. He looked as calm and comfy as he had all tour. A realist, I supposed, is rarely disappointed.
It was dark when we got back to Hackney Wick. Tim and Jack helped me carry my stuff up the metal stairs to my door. It felt like along time since I’d seen those stairs. The fairy lights twinkled up the metal hand rail all the way up to the top, where My tiger was sat at the top, waiting for me, surrounded by balloons.
Charlotte’s sister answered the door, grinning mischievously. Charlotte was getting changed, or in the shower, or something exciting and girlish like that. The house was all shiny and painted and new and full of pink balloons. They were for my birthday. I’d forgotten I had a birthday.
I dropped a second sneaky tear, and got rid of it just in time to meet the rocket ship embrace of my beloved. It was like the first time. My heart was full. I could have died there and then.
But I didn’t.
The first thing I did was wake up at 8am still high off of Lars’ damn apple, and get in Set Dressing Tim’s Rapmobile and head into Manny central where I was to be a guest on Envy’s Unity FM radio show. We left Jack trying to make another zombie mixer. I suspected he would go back to bed. I would have.
I still had my Tom Waits voice when I got to the Unity studios. My Tom Waits voice tends to afflict me for three (3) hours after waking and before sleeping if I happen to be drinking whisky or smoking weed, add another hour if both. It’s a very pleasing thing, sonically, but it really does wear off, in the manner of the bubble shields in Sonic, or something, which can confuse those who are unaware of it’s nature as a Temporary Special Power. Today it started to wear off during the on air interview, which seemed to confuse the hell out of Envy’s co presenter, who really ought to be aware of such things, given he’s been in The Game for thirty odd years. Perhaps they don’t have weed and whiskey in the bit of Manchester he’s from.
Anyway. I had a lovely time, and after the interview Envy and I played pool, wherein I was shocked and ashamed to discover that we are both as bad as each other, which is really flipping bad. If we’d paid, we’d have got our money’s worth fifteen times over. And we’d have gotten in a fight with other people who were waiting to play.
Afterwards I wandered into town and did some work in the Starbuxx. I wasn’t doing too badly on my whole working while on tour thing. I was supposed to be designing characters for an iPhone game, and I had had some terrible Wacom tragedy, which was troubling me somewhat, and I wasn’t managing to Blob Blog a great deal, and I wasn’t managing to keep up with all my Twitter requests at all, but apart from that, I really wasn’t doing too bad. I patted myself on the back (literally), and clattered away at my raptop while I waited for the boys to pick me up. Which, at around midday, they did.
Still buzzing from the triumph and glory of last night’s incredible show, Set Dressing Tim, DJ Jack Nimble and I, Akira The Don, did get into the rapmobile and aim south, for Summerset, and Bridgwater. It seemed a strange thing to do. We were playing the mighty, goliath, and excitingly SOLD OUT Slam Dunk festival in Leeds tomorrow. Leeds is only a 30 minute drive from Manchester. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, we were to drive four hours south, then back up again the next day. I knew nothing of Bridgwater. It must be a special place indeed to make such a detour. I was excited.
We spent a pleasant journey listening to MC Lars’s first album, and Jack, who was on the phone to Bristol lost property. We were still trying to track down the mixer and stuff that ended up on that train.
“It’s a black M Audio bag, with a DJ mixer in it, and a load of audio cables,” he explained, patiently, to the human on the other end of the line. “And a cowbell. Yeah, a cowbell. Really. Yeah, seriously a cowbell. Nah, nothing else. Oh yeah, a Lars Attacks T shirt. Yeah, DJ mixer. Vestax. Yeah, hip-hop. Oh really? Safe. Yeah, I appreciate that fam, that’s fine. OK. Well, either myself or my friend will call. If it does turn up that would seriously make my day. OK, thank you bruv. Nice to talk to you.”
There was a pause.
“Fucking techno DJ,” he concluded, grimly.
I wrote the Liverpool blog, until my battery ran out. We passed some farms. “Fucking hell Worcestershire you fucking STINK!” barked jack. He’s so not ill anymore.
We were racing along the fast lane on the motorway half an hour out of Bridgwater, 45 minutes from soundcheck, and I was halfway through some monologue about the nature of RA The Ruggedman’s flow when Tim suddenly, but calmly, informed us that the engine had stopped. We drifted elegantly through three lanes of traffic to the hard shoulder, where we rolled to a halt, the bonnet steaming ominously. Tim turned the key in the ignition.
“Chugga chugga pffff,” said the car, lamely. “Chugga chug pfffffffft.”
We got out of the car, and after some vain fiddling with the smoking engine, Tim called the AA. They said they’d be 50 minutes. We hung around on the verge, because Tim had seen too many cars on hard shoulders getting wiped out by other cars on Youtube, and whiled away the time in various ways. Tim invented a rock throwing game, wherein one had to throw a rock up the verge, and it had to roll down into the gutter. I was crap at it. Tim was remarkably cheeery for a man whose car (which he loved dearly) had just blown up.
I climbed the verge and took a piss up the top, looking down on the rubbernecking traffic that slowed down to stare at our party, hoping for some blood perhaps, or just confirmation that someone was doing worse than they. Which I suppose we were.
I cut my arm and my knee on the way down. It is to be expected.
Eventually some AA subcontracter showed. The belt was gone, the pistons were gone, the car was dead. Scrap. He towed us to the nearest MacDonalds, where we waited half an hour for another AA subcontractor to show up and drag us to Bridgwater. We were by this point way past soundcheck, and minutes away from stagetime. We rang ahead and they said they’d do their best to hold it back for us. The driver was, like his predecessor, a very nice man. He pointed out various Bridgwater landmarks as we entered the town. “That pub’s very rough,” he said. “And that’s the police station.”
The venue we were playing in was called Cherries. I wondered why and what sort of a place it might be. To have come all this way, it must be something special.
After some jiggery pokery with The Fucking Tomtom, which knows where it is about as often as I do, which is not very fucking often, we found Cherries, parked the dead car, and raced to the venue, where Science and JTL were waiting outside for us. This Cherries place, that we’d gone though proverbial Hell and High Water to reach, appeared to be…
A sweet, dinky little café.
We were pointed up some stairs, and wound our way up a few flights with our bags and record decks, WTFing amazedly at each other, and fell into a long thin room that looked like the sort of place one might hold an amateur dramatics rehearsal, or celebrate one’s auntie Vivian’s 60th birthday. The place appeared to be mainly populated with deeply hormonal children. About thirty of them. There were also a couple of fourty something longhairs hanging around, from whom some of the children appeared to be stealing sips of beer. MC Kal and a flustered looking Lars manned the merch table, which looked like something from a jumble sale. I recognised the friendly faces of Slinky and James from the Swindon and Exter gigs, which cheered me. They'd bought us a chocolate hedgehog.
We made our way through the tittering, hormonal throng to the Performance Area, which was basically the back of a room with some sort of aluminum barrier set up to differentiate between the Audience Area and the aforementioned Performance Area. We were greeted by a thankfully non-hostile soundman who later told Jack he was usually a glazer.
We were by this point half an hour late for our set, so we got our equipment and our merch set up (with the help of our friends from those aforementioned gigs) in ten minutes, and got our asses on stage. Well, on the bit of floor divided up with an aluminium barrier. We were greeted by a front row of amused looking teenage girls and boys, who giggled and whispered with each other for much of our set. Shit was intense, bubba. We gave it all we could. We didn’t come all this way to flake out now. And we are motherfucking pro-fesh-un-ALLs, after all. Soon enough, they got into it. They sang “WE WON’T BE BROKE! WE WON’T BE BROKE!’ with amused abandon. And they sure did enjoy their sing-along of Thanks For All The AIDS. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Lars joined us for a final run through LITF 2.5. The stool I was sat on at the start collapsed. It was joyful.
Like I usually do after a show on this here tour, I headed to the merch table, wherein one of the girls who’d been digging our set the most ran straight over, and started poking at the CDs. “Ooh, that one’s cool,” she said, fingering at Thieving. “What free stuff have you got?” I gave her a postcard. “Oh, thanks a lot,” she snapped sarcastically.
A clatter of click-clacks, a cloud of perfume and I was suddenly besieged by a crèche of teenage girls who descended upon my stall like a great hormonal thundercloud and proceeded to attempt to steal things and have a food fight with my Doritos dipping sauce for about half an hour. One of them, more self assured and industrious than the others, attempted to convince me that she was a beatboxer and breakdancer, and that she should be allowed onstage, and I should give her some of my drink. I agreed with the former idea, and disagreed with the latter. “But I’m eighteen in three weeks!” she wailed, not entirely convincingly. She attempted to demonstrate her worldly wisdom by explaining to one of her friends who were confused by my posters what “hemisphere” meant, in a very loud voice. “See,” she beamed. “I know what I’m taking about.” I gave her a high five.
An inappropriate ejaculation/acne of teenage boys lounged spread-legged to the right of the jumble sale/merch stall, ignoring the music and occasionally calling for the girls to come join them. “We’ve got MDMA!” shouted one. “I don’t CARE,” replied one of the girls, through braces caked with Doritos dipping sauce. The boy threw a chair at her. “Calm down son,” warned the doorman. “Fuck off twat,” chirped the boy, dismissively, then threw another chair at one of his friends.
Half way through Chris’ set and I had signed about 6 MC Lars T shirts, a number of Akira The Don posters and a couple of arms, but had sold precisely nothing, except a couple of hoodies for MC Lars while MC Kal was busy chatting up the alleged beatboxer and breakdancer, who didn’t believe for a second that he was 21. “You look 16,” she said, to his visible disgust. It dawned on me that none of the point of sale items mentioned the price of the posters. I put a “£1!” sign on the pile of posters. As if by magic, a queue of small boys formed. They knocked a centimeter or so off the height of my poster stack, and wandered off to shout obscenities at MC Chris. The girls returned to try and steal sweets and Doritos dipping sauce. “Come dance with me,” demanded the alleged breakdancer, repeatedly. “I must man my stall,” I replied. “I am a professional.”
She turned her attention to Tim.
“No, said Tim. “You are trouble. MC Chris has a song about you. Jack will dance with you.” They skipped off happily to pester Jack, stopping along the way to cadge a drink off of one of 40 something metal dudes.
I was soon approached by a trio of children. “Did you enjoy the show?” I asked. “Meh,” they replied in unison. “can you buy us a drink?”
I sent them packing.
Considering it was the last night we were all together, it was somewhat anticlimatic. Chris made it through his set just about alive, and Lars and Science did an admirable job of cranking the assembled into something approaching if not a frenzy, certainly a merry state of near-joy. I took the opportunity to stay on stage following my final, emotional appearance on White Kids Aren’t Hyphy to kotch next to JTL’s drum stool and watch him smash the shit out of Science’s mighty Conspiracy Theories With Mel Gibson. He’d started doing this fucking amazing thing where he shadowed Science’s machine gun second verse crescendo on the toms. Shit was fucking fire, son. I'm gonna miss JTL.
It was a fun night though, all in all. We met laughed, we nearly cried, we hung out with some mental, some funny and some safe people. But the assembled children were never going to cover the cost of our motorway sandwiches, let alone our petrol, our Travelodge, and Tim’s poor dead car. We counted our pennies, packed our boxes, and stepped out into the night. It was cool, and still. MC Chris bade Jack a final, fond farewell, half-smiled and waved regally at me, and in a puff of exhaust smoke, The Lars troupe disappeared off into the night, where they were to be staying at Tour Managing Ryan’s Mum’s house, which was conveniently close. I dug into my Gmail account to discover the location of our next Travelodge.
It was in Bristol.
No trains, no car, and a hundred-plus-quid taxi journey away.
I might have said “fuck” at least a dozen times.
Phones were worked. There was no room in the (Premier) Inn. Or the Travelodge. Or the B & B. Tim disappeared off into the night, and returned a little while later with news of lodgings, in a pub, a snip at just 65 earth pounds. We trudged, wearily, through Bridgwater’s narrow streets, and soon we saw the inviting Manchester United Flags of the Blake Arms, flapping flaccidly in the cool night air.
Queen records blared through creaking, peaking PA speakers as we made our way through a Viagra of middle-aged revelers. We seemed to have happened upon some frenzied wife swapping party. There was not a soul under the age of fourty seven in the room, not a full male head of hair in the building, not an un-dyed female bonnet in the place, and not a dry eye in the house. They glared at us though hooded eyeslits, and we elected to avoid the nightcap proposed prior to entry, and hurried up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire, as my Granddad used to say. He used to call slippers beetlecrushers as well, and he had some pretty awesome sailor tattoos. I loved my Granddad.
On Twitter and Facebook, people were full of sympathy for our plight. One safe young lady called Cha Cha Gabor, who I’d put on the guest list for the Nottingham gig after she’d tweeted about how much she’d love to go if only she only had the money had even offered to drive down to Bridgwater in the middle of the night to pick us up and take us to our next destination!
But we had no need for such kindness. We laid down our weary heads safe in the knowledge that at nine am the following morning, we would be picking up a hire car pre-arranged by Tim earlier in the day, and making our merry way back up the motorway to play the legendary Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds. I couldn’t wait.
As my eyelids fluttered, faltered, and finally closed, I pondered the unfathomable insanity of our strange, unexplained, 207 mile detour. What a long, mad day it had been. Soon enough, I succumbed to sweet, sweet slumber.
Big up me, Tim, Jack, and Slinky for the photos. Thanks Slinky for the video footage. This blog is dedicated to the couple whose wedding Tour Managing Ryan attended not far from Bridgwater the next day. May you live long and prosper.
We rose and shone and were sat in the Manchester Wagamama’s dining on noodles and broth by Lunchtime. We figured we deserved it. We had worked hard in Liverpool. We had beaten illness, entertained the people and slept the sleep of the righteous. My legs were starting to feel like they had cracks running down them. Last night’s speaker stack was 10 foot high. I nearly landed on Lars’ head when I jumped off of it.
Tim showed us around Manchester. We’ve all been there before – in fact last time I played here I put a hole in the venue’s roof – but Tim knows it well. We wandered the streets looking at the shops, and pondering the strangeness of how the normal thing to do when visiting a new place these days is to look at the shops.
Manchester has amazing shops though. I am not a shopping person, but Manchester made me want to go shopping. I saw the red leather biker jacket I want. I saw amazing cowboy boots and hats. I saw the hallowed gates of Forbidden Planet, and my heart skipped a thump.
It has always been my dream to have my own comic shop. I’d have some decks set up and play awesome records, and hang out with my people and read comics. I’d have ace movies and cartoons projected on a wall. I’d have an amazing assortment of toys and masks, and I’d always have Peter Bagge’s Hate Annuals in stock.
Forbidden Planet was lacking a couple of those essential features, but it outdid itself on the masks front. So many cool masks!
They also had SUPERHERO FACE TATTOOS. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know such things existed. I bought a Wolverine one, to wear at the show that night. It felt like the righteous path.
We ran into Raydome in Forbidden Planet. He was very excited t see us, and to pick up the vast pile of comics that was waiting for him in Traveling Man, another, deeply great comic shop round the corner. It lacked a few of my essential features (like the Peter Bagge Hate Annual), but it was pretty awesome. Raydome had £40 worth of comics waiting for him behind the counter. He and Jack geeked out over Marvel continuity, while I searched in vain for the hate Annual, and Tim got excited over Nemesis comics. We were in geek heaven.
After I’d failed to find my Peter Bagge book, and decided that I hadn’t turned a profit on this tour yet so I couldn’t justify spending £18 on a Strange Tales paperback, we headed off to what someone described as “Camden in a single building over 6 floors”, the world famous Afleck’s Palace.
Truly, it was a treasure trove.
At the top of the thing there’s this incredible little place that’s just stuffed with 80s… old video game systems and cartridges, Castle Greyskull, original He-Man and Skeletor masks sets. All at great prices – Castle Greyskull was just £16! Jack spotted £200 worth of stuff he wanted to buy.
There was a ptetty flipping ninja costume shop in there as well. I got in a conversation with the owners, who were kind enough to share their wisdom on the subject with me. Apparently the most popular pop singer costume they have is Adam Ant’s. And the only pop singer of the past 20 years that anyone wants to dress up as with any regularity is Lady Gaga. “I mean, who’d go to a party dressed up as Noel and Liam?” explained one of the dudes. “You’d just look like very other scally in the place.”
We left without buying anything, and retired to a Starbuxx, where I wrote some blogs and Jack and Raydome geeked the fuck out over Dome’s gigantic stack of comics. Apparently they’ve weaponised the venom suit or some shit, and Flash Thompson’s, the jock dude that used to bully Peter Parker at school and lost his legs in Iraq is wearing it. Crazy shit.
Jack was deeply enthused. It was nice to see him well again.
We were playing at the world famous Ruby Lounge. The stage has a beautiful thick, deep red carpet on it. You bounce in it, rather than tread. It’s a beautiful feeling. The sound was brilliant in soundcheck, and the soundman was nice enough to hang around for an hour till Envy got there to run through I Am Not A Robot a few times.
That’s right, we were going to do I Am not A Robot live, for the first time ever. I was excited.
Our soundcheck was great then. And so was our merch table. It was a great merch table.
I also had a wolverine face tattoo. So we all went backstage, where Envy, who is an expert in such matters, applied the face tattoo, with a bucket of warm water and a damp cloth. It looked pretty flipping amazing. “I don’t know whether to cry or applaud,” said JTL. “Do you want me to do you some plaits?” asked Envy, who also an expert in plaits. I acquiesced.
And so, it was stagetime. For the first time on this tour, I had not been out in the room as it filled (or didn’t, as had been the case a few times). I had been backstage getting ready, as is the righteous path. I could hear Jack summoning the assembled, whoever they were, to the dancefloor. I ran down the corridor that linked the dressing room to the stage, as Richard and George, who were on their fourth gig of the tour filmed me with cameraphone. I launched myself stageward, in my Run DMC lounge pants and my Wolverine face tatooo.
Have you seen Anvil? It was a bit like the bit at the end of Anvil, where the band make their way through all these corridors with no idea what crowd is waiting for the and they’re greeted by thousands of Japanese kids screaming, “A-VEEEEEEEEL!”
I landed on the thick red carpet to a roar of joy from a packed room, and launched straight into Seek A Sound So Rare, the words to which the front know knew then entirety of, and it only got better from there. I loved every moment of that show. We did We Won’t Be Broke Forever Baby, announced as a wealth-bringing super sigil, and everybody sang along as if their financial futures depended upon it. Envy came out and did I Am Not A Robot for the first time ever. It was flipping glorious. I stage dived, backwards. I stood on the speakers, and fell backwards, arms outstretched. I was full of trust. They carried me to the back of the room, and set me down gently.
Back at the merch table Tim and Envy who had never met before were getting on like a couple of only-child toddlers whose parents had just moved in next door to each other, and were getting up to all sorts of mischief with a roll of parcel tape. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
I met lots of safe people and wrote on lots of things, including a pregnant lady’s tummy. I wrote, “Akira The Don approves this child”, which was true. One of the coolest things was that I met a whole bunch of people who are coming all the way from Manchester to London on Thursday for The Life Equation Launch Party. Shit like that is humbling. I can't wait, that party is going to be on some legendary, never forget it in your life shit.
There was a beer robot at the Travelodge. We ignored it, and Jack and I went out for our customary Travelodge spliff. We were discussing our lovely day, when suddenly a call if, “you cheeky blokes!” rang out, and we saw Lars poking his big smiley orange head out of the van door. He invited us aboard to share his apple. “It’s the American way,” he said, taking a hit and passing it.
Lars likes to sleep in the van, while everybody else sleeps it the Travelodge. “It’s become my dojo, like RZA says in the Tao of Wu” he said, sincerely. “I meditate in here. Pray. I speak to my family. It’s nice. Sometimes its lonely. But it’s nice.”
We sat up for a few hours, sharing, AA style. Where we grew up, how we got into hip-hop, that sort of thing. It was special. I found that nighttime bus-dwelling MC Lars reminded me of Crispin Glover, oddly enough. Daytime MC Lars is nothing like Crispin Glover. Jack asked him why he moved to Brooklyn, and he said he could only explain in rap, so he rapped his explanation, matter of factly, then asked Jack to rap for him. Jack spat his Sid James bars. “I like that,” whispered Lars. “It’s dar. Real. Do you know what I mean?”
Lars always asks "do you know what I mean?" as if he's genuinely concerned that people do not.
Photos by Tim Gibson, Akira The Don, Lee Clench and Raydome
My notes from last night are funny. They read,
“escaijg the light, fleeing th dy atv3 am, we culd see the true light, and we fled.\
so mich fin left behinf\
wheres the pillows?
Ust stole that shit out the aundry cubboards
We got the porno room
I felt like crap. Happy crap, but crap. Jack felt worse than crap.
On the way to Liverpool we listened to rap records and stopped off on the hard shoulder so Jack could puke his guts up.
“Uuurgh,” said Jack.
I slept for a good 50 miles. Then I woke up and wrote some blogs on my laptop, and battled for internet with my Dongle. We listened to the complete works of Ghostface Killah, then Nas, before taking a detour through peak-period Eminem, when he was going off on one at Everlast and suchlike. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I still know all the words to that one about how Eminem wished Everlast’s heart attack had been fatal.
My favourite Ghostface album is Bulletproof Wallets. My favourite Nas album that isn’t Illmatic is God’s Son. Many years ago I wrote a song called Last Real Wigga Alive based on a track from that. Shit was legendary. It was around the time I did Comic Shop. Ask Wade about that. He still talks about it. I might have to dig that stuff out one day. It is gloriously naïve.
Jack looked like he was made of Volcanic Ash Cloud by the time we got to the Liverpool Travelodge. We made him some orange vitamin C drink and left him to rest in the double bed with a towel on his head while we went off to set up the merch table and soundcheck at the appropriately named Mojo venue.
What looked like a lickle pub from the outside turned out to be some kind of Tardis on entry. A Tardis full of ill posters of Debbie Harry and The Stooges with a whole wall covered in Elvis prints. In the dressing room there were loads of little vegan cupcakes these safe clarts Richard and George who’d come to three previous shows on the tour had made for us all. They had little MC Lars and Weerd Science and MC Chris and Akira The Don flags in them. They’d even made a special one for Jack Nimble with the Weed Song art on it because he said that was his favourite song.
We were blessed with another safe soundman who was in fact so safe that he drove round his mate’s house to borrow a mixer for us to use, as we’d never fully recovered from the one that went to Manchester and the one that blew up in Leicester. It was a very nice mixer as well.
We set up an excellent merch table next to MC Kal’s, with a good view of the stage, and I soundchecked alone. It sounded good. I hoped Jack would turn up. I had this back up plan that involved getting Ryu or Lars to DJ without asking them first by putting them on the spot at the start of the gig from the stage. I did something similar once in Camden with a 13 year old boy. He’d never DJed before and it was pretty ace. I figured we’d get away with it, and it would be fun. But I hoped Jack felt up to it. I wanted to do a really great show, not just fluke a fun one.
“Uuuuurgh,” came a voice from behind me.
Jack had showed up!
He was not well. He looked like The Goon. But he was HERE. And that was awesome.
Backstage Science was having a poo in the toilet that bore the immortal sign: “If you’re having a poo, please use the air freshener.” Science was rapping to himself. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man rap while he pooed before.
My legs and shoulders were starting to ache. My throat was sore. I feared I was getting Jack’s disease. I drink three bottles of water and ate three oranges in half an hour.
Then we played our mighty rap show.
Jack looked like he was about to collapse for most of it, but he did not. I was on my climbing thing. My standing on speakers thing. It was a joyful thing. Some hench young cat called Will had bravely shown up in a Thanks For All The AIDS shirt so we got him on stage for the ANTHEM and he was awesome. He admitted later his legs were shaking, but you’d never have noticed. He was a G.
It was a great show. I wanted it to be great, because there were lots of hardcore ATD cats in the house, who I knew from the internet, and was meeting in so-called real life for the first time. Like Cog, and Linden. Some of you might know her daughter’s poetry from the Doncast. She gave me a Charles Bukowski book I don’t have. So awesome.
They don’t sell falafel in Liverpool, so I ate more oranges. Tim offered me an alcoholic beverage, then thought better of it, and retuned ten minuets later with boiling hot honey and lemon water for Jack and I. Tim is a superhero. He then ran off to incite another moshpit, which he’s taken to doing every night. He runs to the front, jumps on people’s heads, then flees, leaving a Mighty Mosh Pit in his merry wake. It is a good skill.
“Give it up for history, yo,” said MC Lars, happily. Or maybe he said it the previous night. I can’t remember, but it struck me and Jack as an ill thing to say during a show. Lars is a funny dude. He says, “I’m having a WHALE of a time,” before he plays Ahab. JTL does the “badoom-CHA” on the drums. Lars beams. The worse his jokes are, the happier he looks.
Merch don MC Kal joined Lars and Science onstage for an insanely animated run through Download This Song. When he started doing it earlier in the tour he was shy, reserved, and nervous. Now he runs around that piece like flipping Bono or some shit. He climbs speaker stacks and jumps off and does a mental chicken dance. He stagedived headfirst at the end and nearly knocked a stack of glasses off the bar. “MC Kal!” roared Science, “the Jumping Bean!”
For that is his name.
I joined them for White Kids Aren’t Hyphy/Falling Apart, like we do every night, and it went off, like it does every night. “JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!” I shouted, whilst setting an excellent example as to how to achieve the commanded action.
MC Chris lead the audience in a singalong of Hey Jude for his girl. It was beautiful. MC Chris had one of those nights where most of the crowd knew his stuff, and a great deal of them were queuing up to buy his ceedees and have their photos taken. Some of them were very needy, and demanded kisses. Chris does not give kisses. He signed one woman’s ceedess, had a photo taken with her, but her final demand for kisses was met with stern “No” and an abut heel spin and exist stage left. The woman took her disappointment out on MC Kal, who dealt with it bravely, if wearily, then stuck her tongue down some dude by the soundbooth’s face and fell over. Ah, the fun we have at the merch booth. I was asked to sign one young lady’s face. I wrote AKIRA THE DON APPROVES THIS FACE on it. She had a great face! And so did her boyfriend.
Jack was vibing to Science at the bar, empty honeywater glass in front of him. He didn’t look the colour of Glasgow skies or old socks anymore. “I feel OK you know fam!” he remarked, cheerily. “Maybe it’s the adrenalin.”
Lars was faded, I realized pretty early. Lars is great faded. He gets super-joyful. He spent the whole of our set dancing around at the front with a great big beatific grin on his cheeky chops, which he was still wearing when we packed up at the end. “Who’s the best looking on this tour?” He demanded in the dressing room. “Who has the best beard? Who has the best clothes? Akira does. That cheeky bloke.”
He wandered off cackling into the night, Cheshire cat smiles till spread across his cheeks, pearly whites flashing in the moonlight, a lick of chest hair curling below his adam’s apple. I love Lars. I think he is part werewolf.
Rah though. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE LAUNCH PARTY!
I woke about nine, opened up my eyes, figured it’s time to rise, but I went back to sleep for an hour anyway. I don’t actually remember getting out of the Travelodge, but we must have, because soon enough we were cruising down the highway in Tim’s mighty Rapmobile, listening to mighty rap music and marveling at the Scottish skies’ incredible ability to produce rain despite being entirely blue. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful drive. I felt great. The rain fell, from the blue sky. I knew that was a sign that today would be a good day.
Jack felt sick.
We stopped off at a McDonald’s so I could use the internets and we could eat something shitty. The Icelandic Ashcloud was still advancing on the north, and the wind was still displacing vehicles on the motorway. The door nearly came off when I opened it.
McDonald’s was rammed with Wind Refugees. Tim got talking to a family who had been camping, but whose tent had blown away. Now they were in a Travelodge. They seemed pretty cheerful, regardless.
Aberdeen is a beautiful city, and it near took my breath from me as we entered. I could hear angels sing. I knew it was going to be a good night.
Jack and I went to Primark to re-up on socks. Fresh socks are essential on tour. Without them everything is grim. With them, everything is wonderful. I now realized that the reason I was so bummed last night was not, in fact, merch related, but unfresh sock related. I am learning to much on this tour. Next time I am going to be so well prepared.
Aberdeen Primark is a flipping treasure trove. I spent £11, and I came away with the most incredible bag of swag I have seen since my birthday last year.
Ice Ice Baby T shirt - £2,
Dr Dre The Chronic T Shirt with Death Row label sewn in - £2.
Socks - £2.
Dope-ass sunglasses - £1
Run DMC Lounge pants - £3
That’s right brothers and sisters. You read correctly. RUN DMC LOUNGE PANTS.
You could not possibly have anything but a wonderful night garbed in RUN DMC lounge pants. The fact that they matched my Marvel Heroes zip up hoodie Ali got me last Christmas was the sort of added bonus most men get one of in a lifetime. The gig was half an hour of awesome. The magical lounge pants filled the hearts of all who witnessed them with joy and wonder. I felt fantastic.
Jack felt sick.
So sick, in fact, that he WAS sick. In a bag. During a song. Naturally I didn’t notice, as I was busy entertaining the good people of Aberdeen. I don’t know if they noticed it either, as Jack reckons he was sneaky with it, but still. Poor bugger. And poor whoever found the bag. Jack feels very guilty about it. He meant to remove it from the premises, but he forgot. Because he was sick.
We were blessed with another excellent soundman tonight. The mighty Badger. One of those rare cats that loves, and takes pride in his work. He did us proud, and I hope to blazes I get him next time I’m in that part of the world. Everyone sounded brilliant. Lars and Science were on peak form. We did White Kids Aren’t Hyphy and it rang off like a mighty bell. Science took the opportunity to inform the audience of how much he’d grown to love me over these past few weeks, whihc was a beautiful AAAAAAW moment. They also dedicated a song to Jack.
I danced around for the duration of everyone’s sets, met loads of safe people and sold loads of stuff. Even the barman bought a T-shirt! I felt great.
Jack felt sick.
Tim looked after him, cos Tim is a lovely man.
My legs felt like they were cracking. It dawned on me that I had jumped off of a speaker every night for a fortnight. What good legs they are to withstand such battery, I thought, patting them fondly.
Afterwards me and Jack were supposed to be DJing around the corner at Origin, courtesy of grade A G Tom Ambrose. Jack was by this point the colour of prison porridge, so it looked like I was going to go dolo. The place was great, a labyrinthine stone cavern with brilliant sound and equally awesome staff. I drank Jager Bombs and played records to the joyful Aberdeenians, who danced like they would never dance again.
Then Jack appeared, like the Ghost of Christmas past, and we traded records for the next hour and it was ace.
Exhibit C, Wanton Soup, All I Do Is Win, Hypest Hype, Sirens! We took requests, and did some awesome interactive versions of AIDS, Oh! and Werewolves. We played until they shut. Then we fell into the car and drove through the gods’ raging tantrum to our Travelodge, fleeing the sun that rose defiantly behind us.
Truly, it had been a good day.
Well, for me, anyway.
Phase three began in earnest today. Suddenly I was acutely aware that there was less tour ahead of us than there was behind us. Set Dressing Tim Gibson of The Mighty Mutton Chops was in the house, chilling at a 27% angle behind the shiny wooden steering wheel. We were driving to Nottingham, taking the scenic route through the Peak District, blasting rap music, guzzling Costa Coffee (6/10) and scoffing down the scones Tim had made. For the record, I say Scone, like bone and Tim and Jack say scon, like gone, which makes them rabid poshos as far as I can tell, but I forgive them.
We stopped by a big ass lake where some kids were bouldering, which I learned is a bit like rock climbing but on a smaller scale. Tim bounced from rock to rock like Gollum, scooping brown pete water into his face and delighting at the tunnels, while City Jack ambled peacefully along like some giant Zen Buddhist, making ooh and ah noises with regards to the distinctly epic view. It was bloody windy up there, I thought my head was going to come off. Just like when I was little. Wind like that doesn’t care for cities.
Further along our journey we stopped off in a little riverfront town full of bikers and fish and chip shops, to cop some fish and chips and refrain from stealing the bikes as our Grand Theft Auto honed instincts ordered us to. We happened upon a shop full of golliwogs and mugs with golliwogs printed on them. We were amazed. Tim was the most amazed. His eyes bulged on stalks like Tex Avery cartoons as he studied the packaging, and found them to be brand new, 2011 dated golliwogs. “They’re not even antiques,” he gasped. “They’re new! Who makes these things? Who goes into a warehouse and says, yes, we need all those golliwogs for our riverside shop?”
What amused me was the placing of the golliwog mug next to the bald Nazi prince mugs. That shit was so perfect, so beautiful. I couldn’t have made that shit up in a hundred years.
In the Travelodge I did some work while Tim and Jack watched Willy Wonka and a bit of Back To The Future, both excellent films. That Willy Wonka shit seems to get better and better as the years go by. Jack remarked that he couldn’t believe how badly Tim Burton had fucked up the remake, to which I replied that Tim Burton hasn’t made a decent movie since Edward Scissor Hands, apart from maybe Big Fish, which was pretty good. Now I think of it, Big Fish is pretty much the only movie Tim Burton’s made in the past two decades that didn’t have Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in it. That guy has the laziest casting this side of Martin Scorsese.
Nottingham is another of Jack’s favourite cities. It’s a rap city, apparently. People in Nottingham love rap. Jack loves rap. Therefore Jack loves Nottingham. He looked positively beatific up there on that stage, with a nice shiny mixer he’d borrowed from the soundman, who was a deeply safe individual and very good at his job. A deeply safe and good soundman is like the flipping holy grail on tour. If we had a guy like this everywhere we went we’d have nothing to worry about. Not even Jack’s wiring.
The gig was another flipping smasher. A packed house, a party atmosphere, a table in the middle of the stage for me to climb on. Barrier at the front with kids pressed up against it, whose heads I rested on as I delivered a set more like sermon than anything else. It went went beautifully. My vastly improved diction plus the excellent soundman meant that people could actually hear what I was saying. I could tell as they laughed at all the funny bits. There were many beautiful squads of genuine ATD people in the crowd, who knew all the words and requested songs that we then played. I dedicated a song to one such pair and got the girl’s name wrong. I’d written Tinley on my arm, or at least I thought I had, but the T was really a K. I felt bad, but I DID remember that the dude was called Corey. You don’t meet that many Corey’s in real life. It is always special.
We introduced Werewolves to the set in Nottingham. It was a righteous last second decision. We’d just bought the house down with AIDS, and I said, yo, Jack, let’s do Werewolves, and he said, “well it’s a good job I just found that,” and off we wrnt. AOOOO! The good people of Nottingham, did a most excellent and harmonious ”Aooooo”. Music to mine ears.
We finished by getting Lars onstage to do Living In The Future with us. Always a special moment. Lars wore a shit eating grin and executed his rhymes with glorious precision. “Give it up for Akira The DON!” he said. They gave it up for Akira The Don. They gave it up for Jack Nimble. They gave it up for Richard Whitely. They gave it up. I was proud of them. “Tonight,” I mused, “we are all The Don.” They agreed, noisily. We exited the stage damp, and joyful.
MC Chris treated his set like a battle tonight. He was on that Chilly G entertainment Is War shit. Some night’s most everybody in the room will know MC Chris and all his songs. Some nights less. Tonight was in the latter, and when it’s the later, you get Evil Chris, and Evil Chris is on some formidable shit. Evil Chris VS The Audience is an amazing thing to see. A handful of unfortunates got the brunt of the Evil Chris Force, amongst them a woman who got C worded. This lead to her enraged boyfriend hunting Chris down to his merch table after the show to threaten him with death. Jack and Tim appeared at either side of him like guardian bouncers, but I don’t know if they’d have had to do anything. Chris was very apologetic. He was genuinely amazed that anyone had taken his evil routine seriously.
The Weerd Science saga took a new twist today. Science had emergency dental surgery that morning, and could thus barely talk, let alone rap. His swollen face bobbed up and down at the side of the stage for most of the gig, but it did not grace the stage, much to the disappointment of the many new fans of his I’d met that night who’d heard Sick Kids on the internet and couldn’t believe how flipping great it was. “Technically, I haven’t heard a new emcee come that correct since. Ortiz,” said one head. “But he’s better than Ortiz. And he’s not annoying.”
Regardless this left Lars without his right hand man. Not that any one need have worried, because it left Lars to do to do what he used to do . Lars is, after all, a flipping Pro, 8 years deep in this rap shit. Backed by the mighty JTL on drums, he delivered the first pure Lars set of the tour, and the kids loved it so much I thought they might explode. I joined him for White Kids Aren’t Hyphy, and clambered a speaker stack. I didn’t mean to, I just saw it, beckoning me as I walked onstage, so I climbed it. Do you ever get that? Is it a boy thing? I get it all the time. Walls, trees, whatever, if they look climbable , I tis my instinct to climb them.
After the gig we shared Chris’ smokey apple, and bantered merrily.
Back at the hotel Jack and I forced ourselves to stay awake and watch Ultimate Avengers. It was totally worth it.
Photos by Akira The Don, Tim Gibson, Drew Manoram & Chris_CSP
I didn’t tell you about the bus, did I? We got the Alton Towers Staff Bus. It was awesome. Everybody had a red shirt on. And they were all safe. Gossiping about Stuff. Sharing music on headphones. And getting off with each other. It was like being on a school trip, without any dickheads. It was especially refreshing to discover that they weren’t jaded towards rides, despite working in a theme park. They all still loved the rides. We discussed the relative merits of Nemesis VS Oblivion (the latter of which was the first ride we went on yesterday, and Jack Nimble and his icky tummy’s last). And they told us where to get off our bus.
So we made it to Sheffield in plenty of time. Plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep, plenty of time to wake up at a relatively decent hour and visit Jack’s favourite eatery in one of his favourite cities. “I fucking love Sheffield,” he kept saying, “It reminds me of when I was little!”
Which I concurred to be factual. It reminded me of the midlands in the eighties. Ah, sweet hiraeth. I bought some fresh socks for £2, in honour of famous Sheffieldian Joe Elliot of Def Leopard, and because I needed new socks. Then I sat my ass in a Starbucks for the afternoon while Jack went hunting for Robots. I had a lovely time, working away while a seemingly never ending assortment of young women came and went, babbling excitedly about shoes, boobs, bras, boys, dresses, snogging etiquette, and othersuch. I don’t know where all the men where that day, but they were not on Starbucks.
There weren't that many of them on the street either. but there was an awesome lady with an electric guitar singing the praises of Jesus as we were on the banks of the Mississippi River and it was 1928.
It was another great show, in another great venue, with another great night at the merch booth for Akira The Don and his many new friends. We plucked a safe dude called Ewan who was singing along to The Weed Song out of the crowd, who joined me for an acapella duet of that song’s chorus, then helped us out with Oh! He was great, he knew all the words AND he had a good singing voice.
Shout out him. And shout out his buddy, who drew this:
Science, fresh from saving the tour by defending the tourbus from thievery yesterday was on good form, despite needing emergency dental surgery. What he thought was an earache back in Exeter had turned out to be some wisdom teeth issue. I do wonder why they call them that. Where’s the wisdom in a tooth that attacks the other teeth causing great pain and sadness and has t be removed at inopportune moments?
Yeah, me neither. Still, bleeding painful face or no, Science joined Lars up there on that 6 foot high stage to put in the performance of the tour so far. They were on God-Form. They bought the fun, the joy, the clarity, the superpowered tag team rap awesome. They kicked seven shades of shit out of that piece. It was a thing of glory. Science’s redemption was complete.
To top off an already great day, Set Dressing Tim turned up with his rapmobile. No more trains! Rap music in the car! Excellent company! And he bought the smoke! (Which was fortunate, because if Chris had had to go any longer without weed for his apple I fear he might have gone feral). Also turns out Tim is bloody good on the merch table, he got right in there as if he’d been doing it his whole life.
And so begins chapter 3 of three of The Tour The Tour. Brand new wheels, brand new line up. Tomorrow we shall adjust the set accordingly.
We had planned on partying, as the show turned into a classic rock club afterwards, and it was Saturday. But something weird happened to the bouncers after the show finished, and the switched from being the safest droogs to ever have drooged, to terrifying cold blooded psychopaths, and they wouldn’t let Tour Managing Ryu’s blonde friend who recorded the Weerd Science remix of MC Lars' 23 last night back in, so we all went back to the same Travelodge and passed the pipes of peace around in the carpark, then retired to our luxurious quarters to watch the Ultimate Avengers cartoon that safe clart Lee hit me off with back in Oxford. Shit was amazing, but we fell asleep about 15 minutes in. I dreamed I had jetshoes. To the future!
Humans have a terrible propensity for creating routine. Time stopped meaning anything for a short while when we embarked upon this thing – away from my desk and out in the World, the tapestry of habit I’ve developed over the past few years crumbled to dust, rendering my self-created notions of so-called-time meaningless, unaviagatable.
But soon enough, new habbits are formed, stringing the hours together like beads on a wire. The spliff outside the Travelodge. The packet of mini cheddars and the packet of Skittles from the vending machine in the hotel every night. Russia Today. Argue with the bell boy about check out time. Get into the new town at 3 or 4, and go straight to Soundcheck. Search for Wireless, do some work. Hit the stage between 7:30 and 8:30. And so on and so forth.
But not today. Last night we passed the peace pipe around outside the Americans’ van and swapped stories and props and mutual respects, and I avoided the vending machine… and this morning I was up and out of the hotel and in the new town before lunch. The new town was Leicester. It was a new town on me, anyway.
I had my magic Dongle, so it didn’t matter that Nandos didn’t have wi-fi. I sat myself down, and did some work for a few hours, over a chicken burger, chips, and the whole library of exotic sauces they have up in that piece. I was a happy Don. I took this photo:
I spent the next few hours doing similar in a Starbuxx, over a single, goliath caramel macchiato. The world seemed to buzz around me in fast forward, like in music videos when they have the singer stand in the middle of a road lipsynching to a super-slowed down version of the song then speed the footage up. Before I knew it, soundcheck time had dawned. I picked up my many parcels, and walked my traditional 15 minutes or so to the venue. The venues always seem to be a about a 15 minute walk from wherever I happen to be working beforehand. Routine lurks at every turn.
Leicester reminded me a little of Redditch. Like an old Redditch, with a soul in it. I wandered through a forest of factories, up a hill, and saw a giant on the top of it, blocking out the horizon. Jack was Back!
Yes, DJ Jack Nimble, who’d missed last night’s gig because he got stuck in London trying to find a mixer after the one he was using ended up on a train to Manchester, had returned, triumphant. He had a mixer. And not just any old mixer – this was a mixer he’d sat up all night BUILDING, like some mad scientists, out of bits of other mixers. Lacking a table, we set it up on a plan of wood sat on top of a keyboard stand, and hoped for the best.
Soundcheck went good. We built a mighty merch stand, out of an old wooden box. I was pretty proud of it. I’ve gotten pretty good at this merch shit . Making it look nice and selling it. I wasn’t fully comfortable with it at first, but now I love it. If I position it right, I get a dope vantage point to watch the whole show from, and I get to meet loads of cool people AND cover our costs. At the time of writing we’re still in the black (that does mean credit, right?), which is incredible for an opening act on a tour of this size. I am forever indebted to all of you that come down and hang out and buy stuff, and of course to David DV for setting us up some nicely with his knowledge and excellent laminated Point Of Sale stuff.
The venue very quickly filled up with excitable drunks, many of whom wore Akira The Don shirts and joyful smiles. The safe dudes who I made come onstage at last night’s show had turned up with their womenfolk. The barman was playing Gang Starr and random dubstep. I sold and signed a ton of stuff before we even went onstage. All signs pointed to yes.
After my night with the robot, it was good to be back onstage with Jack again. The crowd was LIVE, and I didn’t give a shit that the CD skipped. Shit was going off. Jack’s homemade mixer was working. We were having a ball. When the music disappeared 4 bars into the second verse of Hypocrite I just thought Jack was doing some hip-hop shit. When it didn’t come back I just kept on spitting that thing acapella. Then Jack informed me that the mixer had blown up.
So I left Jack to entertain the crowd while I went looking for my laptop. Jack later said those were some of the toughest 5 minutes of his life. I have no idea why he decided to do a impromptu stand up comedy routine, but he did. And so followed what Jack described as "Terrible Jokes about Sven Goran Erikson, Walkers Crips, Emile Heskey"… he says he “didn’t get as far as the Red Leicester material, but that was next”. Praise Jah for small mercies. And praise Jack for holding that crowd down with his laughstop while I hooked up the laptop. Phono through to jack and we were back off like rockets, and we blew a hole in the roof. FWOOM! It was awesome. Thanks For All The AIDS was a particularly beautiful interactive moment. Actually all the crowd vocals was awesome. I filmed them shouting a message to my Mum for me to use as an emergency Mother’s Day present should I ever need one. I did some more crowd surfing as well. I think that was after I joined Lars and Science during their set. It was dope, I got them to carry me to the bar where I had myself a tequila.
Yeah, I had a great night. When I wasn’t onstage I was partying behind my awesome merch booth, taking occasional trips to the front of the stage to jump up and down.
But for some strange reason, the force was not with Science. After a strong start, at some point during the show something happened, and he retreated behind his skin. It was weerd, bubba. After nine nights of flawless merkery, Science retreated to the back of the stage where he stood to the left of The World’s Greatest Punk Rap Drummer, JTL, glowering uncertainly.
The fact that Science barks the illlest machine gun spit fire spray this side of RA The Rugged Man goes a long way to making one forget that he is a relatively new cat sharing a set with a headliner whose fans don’t necessarily know his shit. It’s a brave thing to be doing, putting yourself out there in a foreign country, inserting your hardcore rap songs about gonorrhea and coke addiction between the headliner’s well loved crowd favorites abut Ahab and Edgar Allen Poe and downloading MP3s. Science has stunned me these past nine days, and he is officially my favorite new emcee.
My respect for Lars grows daily. Only the most scrutionous eye would have noticed any sign of him being phased by his right hand man’s dip in energy. He whipped that crowd into a righteous frenzy. His pacing is perfect. He’s never out of breath, and always seems to peak with the final song, to which he’s jumping up and down on the spot throughout.
I’m getting a lot better in that respect. The first few shows I ran out there like a fucking tornado, and I was panting by the fourth song. I’ve got it to the point now where I can spit the last 8 bars of Hypcorite’s second verse , which we tend to do towards the end of the set, in a single breath. By the end of this tour we’re gonna be so sharp we could cut you by just thinking about us. Just in time for the launch party. I can’t fucking wait.
Photos by Anthony Stratton, Jon Finn & Akira The Don
All of a sudden, I was alone. Where once there had been four, there was now just me. After yesterday’s tragic Mixer Mishap, wherein my Motu bag containing Jack’s mixer, all his wires and leads, my Lars Attack T-Shirt AND MY COWBELL had accidentally stayed on the train to Manchester when we changed at Bristol, it had been decided that Jack would have to return to London to get another, and I would travel to Northampton solo.
I was excited to go and play in Northampton. Alan Moore lives there. It’s the oldest city in the country (I think). It has a strange magic and mystery about it. So I did a reckie on the Travelodge, counted my bags, checked my pockets, and called a cab. 27 minutes later my cab arrived, and 12 minutes after THAT I was frantically trying to get the stupid bloody ticket machine to give me my prebooked ticket as my train made ominous About To Leave noises. 2 minutes later me and my many bags were flying down a flight of stairs and through the closing train doors, and the thing heaved off with me collapsed on a table panting like a lapdog in the desert.
I only had to change once, which gave me the perfect opportunity to drop my coffee on the platform like a fucking wet BOMB, and I did a lot of work on the trains with my magical Dongle, which pleased me greatly. I also met a self-professed Nomad, whose brother did sound at the venue we were going to be playing at that night, so I gave her a CD to help her on her travels.
Jack, meanwhile, had got to London, and had gotten to his mixer and wires and leads, but was finding it difficult getting hold of his lift back. I said, “don’t worry G, everything will be awesome,” because I think that to be true.
Northampton greeted me with a thick wet sky the colour and consistency of porridge, and a hill stretching out into infinity. So up the hill I went, me and my bags, like Dorothy up the Yellow Brick Road, observing the many sights and sounds and smells of this new place, and after 20 minutes I happened upon a troupe of Amateur Dramaticians, who introduced me to The Legendary Roadmenders, our venue for the night.
The Legendary Roadmenders is a colossal, labyrinthine collection of rooms of varying sizes, some containing stages, some containing speakers, some containing bongos and crisps. I realsied that I had seen the place before, recently – in a very vivid and detailed dream, so make of that what you will. At any rate, it wasn’t long before I got the sad news: Jack was stuck in London, and would not be able to play with us tonight.
"OH NOES!" I thought.
“Where’s Jack?” said Lars.
“Jack’s coming back, right?” said Tour Managing Fireball Thrower Ryu.
“Oh no, that sucks for Jack,” said Weerd Science, sadly.
“What are you going to do without Jack?” asked MC Kal.
It was a good question. But we are resourceful people, and we come prepared, so OF COURSE I have all my instrumentals on my laptop, and OF COURSE Jack bought me a toy robot for my birthday, and if you are confused as to how a toy robot could help in such a situation, first you must be made aware that what many people love about our show on this tour is our rapport. “I love the way you and Jack Nimble talk to each other during the set, it’s so funny,” said Lars after the first night, and variations on that righteous statement occur nightly.
And so, I took that yellow robot that talks when you squeeze his hand out onstage with me that night, dear reader, and lo he did keep me company up there, and his banter was pretty good, but not a patch on Jack’s, obviously, and he DID start singing and refused to stop at one point, so I had to chuck him on the drums and leave him be.
And yes, it was pretty tricky up there with no DJ having to press laptop buttons all the time and stuff, AND it was a pretty quiet night as far as numbers of people in the building were concerned, but those that WERE there were awesome, and as you ought to know by now, I am a G, and I smash the crap out of stages, and I bring the party, and lo, I did smash the crap out of the stage AND I bought the party. Here's me doing Thanks For All The AIDS, courtesy of Ben Sorrie's magical camera:
MC Chris continued the party, and did a good job of dealing with a large, bearded heckler/loudmouth, deflecting his crudery with wittery, and giving the best performance of that song about Neville Longbottom of the tour thusfar.
MC Lars and Weerd Science were brilliant yet again, and turned a small room of people into a zoo. Science then told the zoo how sad he was that Jack Nimble was stuck in London, and how much we all missed him, and how we were a family now, and how being on this tour was like being on tour with your best friends, and everyone went, “WHOOOOOOOOO! JACK NIMBLE!” and lo the Northamptpn Magic I’d been wondering about on the train did make itself very apparent, and lo, we did boogie, in honour of our absent friend.
Day Seven of The Tour The Tour got off to a cracking start when, after changing trains at Bristol en route from Exeter to Cardiff, we realised that Jack's mixer was still on the train, in my Motu Music Bag, along with all our leads and my Lars Attacks T-Shirt.
Frantic phonecalls revealed it to be on its way to Manchester.
"Can I not leave you guys for 1 day alone?!" asked Drift Race Car Driver Damien on facebook. ":'(FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU"
Which was a good point. But really, dear reader, you try lugging a load of equipement from city to city on a daily basis and keep track of it all. Shit is hard. It's not like figgas are on holiday out here. Not only are we tourmanaging ourselves, not only are we entertaining the masses at the hardest point of the evening (when nobody's drunk yet) on a daily basis, not only are we selling out own merch, setting up our own merch stand, and so on and so on, but I for one am still having to do all the stuff I'd normally be doing if I was back in Don Studios! I've got an album out this week! I've got videos to sort! An inbox to bomb! I've got employee's asses to kick! It's intense out here!
Oh, but it's fun, dear reader. So much fun. We're like a family out here right now. These dudes are my brothers. They're all invited to my wedding.
Naturally, it was raining when we got to Cardiff. It's been sunny for the whole tour pretty much, but it would have been weird to get out of Wales dry, and I don't need anymore weird right now, so I am thankful. I have never played Clwb Ifor back before, weirdly enough, despite having done about a dozen gigs in Cardiff, and the place was very clean and had no stage, which lead to me clambering ontop of tables during my set. As if I need an excuse. Jack was trapped behind some bulletproof glass, or what looked like bulletproof glass, as he was at the mercy of the in house decks thanks to our unhappy train misshap, but he held that shit the fuck down like a G.
We saw Martin and Mary before we went onstage. And their little boy Sonny. And their little girl Cher. Cher is still in mummy's tummy, but she won't be for long. Jack and I noted later on how much we love those two, and how rarely we see them, and how great it always is. Sadly, they couldn't stay for the gig, as they had tickets for Mike And The Mechanics round the corner. At least they weren't watching the doomed Cardiff game, like so many people who hit me up to apologise and weep about how they wished they'd been to the gig instead of watching that miserable performance. Serves them right I say. What did they expect? At least you know you're guaranteed an awesome night if you come out to The Tour The Tour.
Me, I climbed tables like I told you already, and walked through the audience high-fiving everybody and it was flipping ACE, and then I spent the rest of the night dancing behind the merch stand, where I beat David and Damian's record on Saturday. WE ARE IN THE BLACK! (That does mean credit, right?) Which is amazing for an opening act on such a tour. So thank you to everybody that's been hanging out with me after shows taking photos and doing fist bumps and buying T-shirts and CDs and stuff, you are keeping this dream alive and I love you forever.
Speaking of which, we have a brand new shirt, screen printed lovingly by a Real Welshman and dropped off in Cardiff, and they look like this:
Le swag! Cheers Carla for the picture.
So, yeah, awesome night. Possibly Lars and Science's best performance yet as well. The sound was great. I went crazy up at the merch stand, and i went crazy when they bought me on to to do Falling Apart. "AAAAARGGGGGGGH!" I screamed at the end.
The other amazing thing about the Cardiff Day, was it was the day that Weerd Science's album came out. Have you listened to that shit yet? One of the albums of the year. That dude's flow is on some fucking post-Pun shit, it is so flipping choice. I congratulated dude onstage and he looked all bashful, but he knows he's the shit really.
And to cap off a great day, Jack's gigantium brothers (and their buddy Marco) showed up right at the end and scared the crap out of the Americans, all jolly with tales of Cardiff Pleasures, of which There most certainly Are Some. Shout out my ole mate Baz Boobytrap, who wrote a song with that as a title, and who missed the gig cos he as watching some crappy footaball game. HA! What did you learn?
Anyway, right now I am sat in a Starbucks writing this and getting emotionally psyched for tonight's show in Leicester. My inbox is terrorful but I am making headway. We just set up a Facebook page for the LIFE EQUATION LAUNCH PARTY that's happening in London On June 2nd. Me! Stephen Hague! Eddy Temple-Morris! Envy! Marvin The Martian! Big Narstie! littles! Pixel! DJ Jack Nimble! The Indelicates! AND MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED! We're gonna be filming the whole thing and making a movie with it. It's gonna be legendary. The FB is here, and you can get your tickets here. BE WISE AND DO THAT THING NOW!
Oh, and look what else I found in my inbox!
I really enjoyed your gig in Cardiff a couple of days back. I was half way through writing a beat and I came across this acapella on your website, so I thought I'd run with it. Let me know what you think of it man, and make sure you get back to Cardiff soon!
Check that out below. Thank you Alex, that shit is dope. AND it's reminded me that I need to release the acapellas for, well, everything I've released this year. I'll do that when I get home.
What a GIG.
I mean, I knew it was gonna be awesome.
But that was some next level shit.
I'd spent an hour in my pink towel dressing gown, and I felt good. That good feeling was everywhere. We all felt good.
And we played great.
That was the Four Headed Tour Monster on Saturday, and we were at the peak of our powers.
Marvin and Pixel joined us for a 700MPH run through Boom. I got some ill footage of it. I had my laptop onstage hooked up to the projector, and I decided to turn on photobooth so the people who were partying with us could se themselves projected up behind us, and I pressed record. That thing is so cool. The sound is borkage, but footage is awesome, we're going nuts, people are going nuts, this ill dude with his foot in plaster is going nuts, it nuts.
This guy was a dude. Prolly still is, for that matter.
Pixel copped himself the Fresh Garment. People look so cool in that thing.
There's Jack, before he failed to go home to bed and get a good night's sleep ahead of the second leg. He earned it.
Lars is such a fucking lovely dude. That's us just having done Living In The Future during my set. He brought me back out during his to join him, John and Science on Falling Apart. It was a beautiful moment in time.
They all are.
Photos by Drift Racin' Damo and @matthewvose.
That's right friends! Today at 9pm UK time, 1pm LA time, 10pm Norway time, via akirathedon.com and justin.tv we are having a very special, one-off, pre-tour DONCAST!
There will be great music played!
There will be special guests in the house!
There will be live rapping!
There will be competitions!
There will be conversation!
There will be FUNTIMES!
So get ready! Send your requests, shoutouts, stories, questions, jokes, and DONCAST DEDICATIONS via the channels: the comments section, @akirathedon, akirathedon at gmail.com, OR SEND A VERY FAST PIGEON!
Oh, and if you're not in the UK, and you know what time 9pm is where you live, let me know and I'll add it to this post.
Rah. Pre-tour Doncast. Christ, that is some terrifying shit - this time next week we will be on TOUR! My tummy just went a bit weird thinking about it. A LOT TO DO BEFORE THEN! CHrist. Krypton Factory. Let's do this thing...
So, Pixel sent me a load of photos of last Saturday's gig the other day, but I got them too late to use in the post I wrote about the gig. I have been looking for a reason to post them, and now I have one, in the beautiful shape of Planetnotion's singingly put and factually accurate review. POW!
The bill for Saturday’s We Love Japan benefit at the (cough) “Relentless” Garage had been put together hurredly but with vigour, as is usually the case for such rapidly-announced charity gigs. All credit to the organisers of the night, who not only secured a plethora of bourgeois swag for the evening’s inevitable raffle but who had also coaxed out a rare solo gig out of, and I hasten to repeat the words, 70′s glam legend Adam Ant. I wouldn’t want to be glib, or offer too ready an embrace of kitsch- but gods! I’d come to check out Akira the Don, who had initially been booked to headline- but now I’m seeing an Adam Ant gig! Potential for rock star anecdotes to tell my dad just went through the roof!
Anyway, we’d not come to see the Ant- or that guy from E4 cast as the night’s awkward compere (how do you strike the right tone between recognition of utter tragedy and the desire to have a good night out?)- tonight promised only the opportunity of a rare live outing for the Hackney-based rap-tastic Akira The Don.
This gig, albeit a benefit slot, came at a good time for The Don- shortly after the release of the 25th free mixtape via his website, and before the release of his second proper album, The Life Equation. That mixtape, ATD25- is a phenomenally enjoyable thing- a unstoppable barrage of rapid verses, stupidly good sampling (their remix of Marina and The Diamonds ‘I am not a robot’ is a work of breathtaking alchemy), complementary guest verses and taut production smacking of professionalism and potential. Such sonic results demonstrate well why Akira was initially booked for the night’s main slot. That being said, and making do- a half hour set was more than enough for this enigmatic hip-hop artist to bring his particular ruckus to an audience left tender by the ear-shattering heavy metal band that had preceded (note: that’s not a criticism per se: I think ‘ear-shattering’ is firmly in the mandate for heavy metal bands- central to their raison d’etre, if you will).
Donned in an authentically ‘back in the day’ Wu Tang jumper (from the Iron Flag tour, OG auditers- but besides, what’s with everyone hating on Iron Flag anyway? Ok, it’s not traditional Wu- but it’s got some solid tunes! Akira knows…) and with the help of DJ friend Jack Nimble (who was given his props, no doubt) Akira tore through a set that reflected much of his back catalogue at it’s finest. Old school number “Living in the Future’ was performed with it’s trademark innocence remixed and Akira bouncing around the stage with a glee that was infectious. The beautifully summer ready ‘Oh! What a glorious day!’ gave opportunity for some bona fide sentimentalism, a sing-along in the chorus bracketing odes to cycling down the Kingsland Road in the sun. Pausing between numbers to orate in his uniquely enthused manner (after climbing up a side-stage ladder, noting to himself with excitement ‘Ok, wow- that’s a good climbing ladder..’)- there’s something that’s plain irresistible about the kind of hip-hop Akira the Don is making and all his swagger is ultimately endearing. Calling onstage a troupe of “hip-hop superfriends” (Pixel, Littles, Big Narstie, Marvin the Martian) for the closing number ‘Big Iron’, a standout track from ATD25- the song had the feel of a special moment. The track bounces and jangles like something the RZA might have produced on an upbeat day- and along the finest teachings of the Wu, each verse is magnificent, each rapper’s tone and flow complementing as well as drawing distinction from those around it. And that was that- the support slot feeling all too brief, all too enjoyable.
Maybe it was The Return Of Winter in East London. Maybe there was something in my cereal. Maybe it was the lack of coffee. But whatever it was, shit was off today. For some reason today was kind of fucked up, in that I couldn't quite get my head focussed on what I was supposed to be doing, so I spent a bit of time messing about with my Macbook. This was me testing the photobooth app as a stop motion animation device, something Jack Nimble put me on to. Its kind of crappy, but I like it actually. Even if it did make me look like I was rubbing one off under the table. I might do another with my Batman-headed Robin. And keep my hands on the table. Or out of the frame entirely. Yes. That will do. Living In The Future out April 18th!
Oh, and look at this awesome email I got:
Dear Akira The Don Hello, my name is You Huajun, I am 20 years old, I come from beautiful China, I am your fan. You are an excellent Music Group, the world has a lot of you love your fans, because your songs are very good, your song has been the music charts. we all love you. In China there are many fans love you, we will always love you, support you. Finally, I hope you can get autographed, I hope you can satisfy my desire, thank you. Best wishes, You Huajun
You Huajun left an address for me to send the autograph to. What do these people want with these autographs anyway? I got about ten of these a week. Seriously, I don't get it. I asked on here once before, assuming they were all spam scams, and then the one I singled out turned out to be real and the person was offended (sooooorry!), but I am still confused by it all, and I still suspect 99% of them to be spammy scammers on the spammy scam. The only autograph I ever had was Dale Winton's, which I a friend of mine got for me when she went on Supermarket Sweep because I specifically didn't want one.
Saying that I DO have Chris de Burgh's autograph on my copy of Best Sides, and I DID get Gruff Rhys to sign my packet of fags when I ran into him on Bangor High Street when I was 15.
Still odd though.