We wanted to do a daily tour dairy on this website but that went out of the window when we were in the UK. Our days were packed and we were too tired by the end of each day. We did manage to update our Facebook page if that was a consolation. It’s been a week since I came back to Singapore and I thought it best that I write about our experience while the memories are still fresh. (Photos here and here)
Desmond couldn’t go to the UK due to prior commitments so it was just the four of us (Chang Kang, Wan, Alan and me) plus our dear friends Lennat Mak, Fiffy Chia and our manager Kevin Mathews (read Kevin’s reflections here). The tour wouldn’t be possible nor half as fun if not for them. For that, we’ll always be grateful that they came along for the ride and made this such an amazing experience.
Day 1 – 6 May 2013: We arrived in London around 12:15pm and had a big scare when Alan, Wan and I were stopped at customs and brought back up to immigration. We had working visas but made a mistake of telling the immigration officers that we were there for a holiday. We were so relieved when it was sorted out and didn’t waste any time after we checked into the hotel. We headed out to Rough Trade East to catch Savages play an in-store gig. While we were waiting outside Rough Trade, we spotted Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore! After the Savages gig, we met up with Axel Loughrey for an Indian dinner at Brick Lane.
Day 2: We went to the Gibson Guitar showroom in London to pick up a Gibson SG, Gibson ES-339 and an Epiphone Masterbilt acoustic guitar before heading to the 12 Bar Club at Denmark Street to do a soundcheck. Axel Loughrey and his band were the support act and they played a really good set. It was awesome to see some Singaporeans based in London come down to support us at our very first gig in the UK.
Day 3: Met Adrian Legg at the South Bank. We walked around the area and had a light lunch. Our second show in London was at The Silver Bullet (pic above). It was an Open Mic and all the performers were so impressive! The response to our set was really good that it caught me by surprise. Again, it was good to see Singaporeans amongst the crowd and we took a group photo after the gig outside the venue.
Day 4: We took the train to Plymouth and when we arrived, it was windy, drizzling and freezing cold! Jimmy Appudurai-Chua came to pick us up at the train station. We had so much gear and luggage that we also needed to take two cabs to the hotel. While the rest settled in, Jimmy drove Kevin and I to have tea at Rockets & Rascals, which is a quaint little cafe cum bike shop. After that, Jimmy drove us to his home in Torpoint, Cornwall via a ferry ride. In the evening, we braved the drizzle and walked to The Vauxhall Quay from our hotel. Due to the wet weather, the gig was moved to indoors. We had dinner there and watched the other performers who were all pretty good. They were supportive of our short set too (pic below), which was really nice. I was particularly impressed with Cy Brandl who plays amazing jazz guitar and sings really well too.
Day 5: After three consecutive days of gigs, we were glad to have a free day. We went shopping around Plymouth city centre and had a nice lunch there. We checked out a couple of record stores at the bus station. We spent most of our time at Really Good Records store and bought quite a number of vinyls there. The store even had an October Cherries (Singapore band from the early ’70s) album there! The store owner gave each of us a Really Good Records t-shirt. It was drizzling the whole day and after walking around the Barbican looking for a place to have dinner, we ended up at The Vauxhall Quay again. We saw singer-songwriter Alex Hart set up her own little PA sound system by herself and then performed.
Day 6: We decided to go to The Hoe and shoot photos and a video near the lighthouse (pic below). It was another freezing cold and windy day but we had fun at The Hoe. Then it started raining and that was the cue for us to head to a little cafe nearby for shelter and hot drinks. Jimmy came to pick a few of us in his car while the rest took a cab to the ferry point to get to Cornwall. Unfortunately, the cab took them to the wrong ferry terminal and they had to flag for another cab. Cars go on the ferry for a small fee while humans ride the ferry for free. Once we got across to the other side, Jimmy dropped Alan, CK and me at The Ruby Bar and then went to fetch the rest. We were opening for Plymouth rockabilly band Black Diamonds and they were nice enough to let us use their gear. The decor of the Ruby Bar reminded me of a typical ’60s American diner. We did a quick soundcheck and then performed to a small crowd. I just couldn’t get a nice tone from the Marshall amp and felt that we didn’t play as well as we could. Still, I’ll always remember this gig as it was like we were transported to another time and place.
Day 7: It was Sunday morning and we made our way to Liverpool. We had to take a train to Birmingham and then switch to another train to Liverpool. All in, it took us slightly more than 6 hours to reach Liverpool. Most shops and eating places were closed when we arrived. My throat was hurting so bad from all the fried food that I had been consuming. We walked to Mathew Street and found The Cavern Pub and The Cavern Club. This was why we came to the UK for.
Day 8: Being a Liverpool FC supporter, I wanted to go for the Anfield Stadium tour in the morning. Kevin, Alan and Fiffy were really nice to come along and I had a really good time. We went to Albert Dock for lunch and after that, I decided to head back to the hotel to rest as my throat felt like sandpaper and I felt a flu coming.
Day 9: The first day of the week-long International Pop Overthrow, Liverpool festival. We were the second band at The Cavern Pub at 4:15pm (pic above). The Amazing Kappa opened the festival and they were so loud! The stage had two Orange guitar amps and an Orange bass amp. Finally, it was our turn and I thought we played pretty good. We were asked if we wanted to take another slot at midnight at The Cavern Club, Back Stage as one band had to pull out. Of course we said yes! So we went back to rest at the hotel for a few hours before heading to The Cavern Club. The sound from the two stages of The Cavern Club do not spill over, which was pretty amazing considering how loud they were. The back stage is actually much bigger than the front stage. We came on after two Italian bands and played okay. I thought we were a bit tired.
Day 10: Our final show in the UK. This was why we came to England for – to play at The Cavern Club, at the front stage with the iconic brick walls and domed ceiling. There are actually three domed ceiling and the stage is in the middle column so the venue is bigger than it is in photos. Our set was at 11:30pm (pic below) and we came on after a singer-songwriter. It was to be our best performance on the entire tour. Everything fell into place and some people were dancing to our songs too. We had our CDs at the merchandise booth for people to take, free of charge. Before we had finished our set, the CDs were all snapped up. We felt good but at the same time, had the bittersweet feeling that the tour is over.
Day 11: Farewell Liverpool. We took the train to London, checked into the hotel and then went to return the gear to Gibson Guitar. Finally, our load was substantially lightened! A few of us went to the Gold Mine, famous for its crispy roast duck, to have dinner with our London-based Singaporean friends. It was the best meal I had on the entire trip. After that, we met up with the rest for drinks at The Lexington, where Seattle band Sea Pony was performing.
Day 12: Kevin, CK and I went to The Windmill to catch Farrah and Pugwash. It was a wonderful night as the two bands were fabulous and we got to hang out with them after the show too.
Day 13 – 18 May: CK, Wan and Kevin took the flight back to Singapore. The rest of us went our separate ways – to Liverpool, Madrid and Paris.
A big thank you to: David Bash, National Arts Council, Gibson Guitar, Kevin, Lennat, Fiffy, Jimmy Appudurai-Chua, Axel Loughrey, Black Diamonds, Adrian Legg, Cy Brandl, Adam Baine, June, Caiwen, Louisa, Joshua, Declan, San Y, Adelina, Shannon and everybody else (that we’ve missed) for making this trip so awesome.