We’ve given every tour van a name. My personal favourite was Lieutenant Van, so named because it required a tire change early in its service, which prompted one ingenious passenger to exclaim in his best Forrest Gump: “Lieutenant Van! You got new legs!”
The van for our tour with Albert Hammond Jr. seems as though it will be called Party Whelan. Marty Whelan is an ancient Irish television personality who my mum once accused of dying his mustache. His only current employment would appear to be announcing the Eurovision Song Contest every year for Irish television. Apparently he also hosted a successful variety programme in the 1960s that was like American Bandstand but with less leg and more bodhran.
Party Whelan is earning its title because it’s the first van we’ve had with a kitchen table layout — seats facing each other and a table in between. It also has blue disco lights. It’s quite clearly a Party on Wheels, both in terms of architecture and décor. Party Whelan even has two trucker berths up behind the back seats, which, seeing as we acquired him from a longstanding musician’s van rental company, have almost certainly played host to a large amount of coitus and have almost certainly not been sufficiently cleaned afterwards. But that’s the sort of thing you have to expect in a van named Party Whelan.
So we’re currently zooming down the A1 in the bowels of Party Whelan listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland. It is in my estimation one of the best albums I know for driving when the sun is out. It is buoyant and gung-ho and optimistic, just like the essential nature of auto travel, but it’s elegiac too, like that twinge of sadness one can feel while hurtling along a superhighway past small towns they will never know.
Tonight we play a show in Newcastle, a city I have never been to but one that I have a fairly strong set of preconceptions about based on my knowledge of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and Premiership football. I recall there was one feature length film set in Newcastle which starred a young boy who ended up playing for Newcastle but was subsequently undone by the city’s vibrant nightlife scene. So that sounds promising. But the sad truth, if my burgeoning catalog of touring experience is anything to go by, is that 80% of my opinion about Newcastle after tonight will be based on the availability and speed of wireless internet.
This post was written by Nightbox synth player James Shelly, as part of their takeover of Indie Music Filter. Find them on twitter here.