#25 Schtumm, The Old Queen’s Head, Wiltshire

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I can count on one hand the number of songs that have utterly ripped my world apart in my adult life. I’m not just talking about “wow that’s my song of the year”. I mean full-on, powerless obsession – there when you wake up, with you all day and keeping you awake all night.

I have a theory that whenever a song is stuck in your head, the best way to rid yourself of it is to sit down and put it on repeat, no matter how embarassing or irritating it is. This might sound like the last thing you’d want to do with Michael Bublé (depending on your preference), but bloody hell it works. Your brain is saying “You may not like that you like this, but you DO like this. So stop lying to yourself, and listen to the goddamn track.” With its desire sated, it moves on.… Read the rest

#24 The Borderline, London

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It stopped me dead in my tracks when I turned up to the pre-gig ‘team meeting’ in a pub off Charing Cross Road to find 15 people sat round a large table. Band, management, booking agents, press agent, promoter, distributors and label (my own not a different one) were all there, with online PR guys and radio plugger sending apologies.

I couldn’t help myself, and I do apologise, but I had a proper Wonder Years moment. The internal narrator took over – “it was at that moment that I realised things would never be the same again”. Well, at least not for a year or two. Plans are afoot. We’re definitely moving up a level, more about that later. … Read the rest

#23 Hammersmith Apollo, London 2

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It’s amazing how quickly things become routine – we turned up at the Apollo like it was just another day at school. Could I ever get used to this kind of gig? Surely not?

We bemoan some artists for losing the ability to relate to others normally, when their normal is so extremely perversly different to ours, and when it’s us that put them there in the first place. We scream when they sing, and with our words and actions we tell them they are more important than other people. They adapt to their new surroundings, just like evolution has taught them. I’m not making my own tea, someone else does that…

The real problem, as it tediously always is, is weakness in the face of the corruptive influence of power, status, money, and all that crap. It’s the same reason we always end up with rubbish politicians. If only … Read the rest

#22 Hammersmith Apollo, London

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Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat after a nightmare about singing in front of a large crowd? The idea isn’t exactly a relaxing one right?

But since when have social interactions ever been relaxing? There’s always an invisible barrier of awkwardness as we grapple to find the right words for a situation, be sufficiently funny or clever, and hide the bits we don’t want people to see.… Read the rest

#21 The Glee Club, Birmingham

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I don’t mean to brag, or set myself up for an epic fall, but I am very very good at handling tequilla. Something the rugby lads I met at my last Ed Sheeran gig were keen to test again tonight by laying out 6 shots for me as I came off stage, with 5 minutes left til chucking out (hopefully not chucking up) time.… Read the rest

#20 Cox’s Yard, Stratford-Upon-Avon

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In 2008 a promoter friend hooked me up with a journalist for the Times who was writing a piece on the open mic scene. I was keen – anything to get my name in print.

Soon I was face to face with Gabrielle Starkey at the Hard Rock Cafe, she clicked the dictophone and off we went – my first proper interview. I started venting.… Read the rest

#19 The Railway, Winchester

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Going through the motions is banned in this band. I started thinking about this as we headed down the hill towards the place we had dinner last time we were here, whilst we were trying to remember the conversation we had last time we were here walking down the same hill to the place we had dinner last time. Familiar patterns… I don’t like patterns to my days. I’m in music to avoid patterns.… Read the rest

#18 Milo, Leeds

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When your gigs have a queue round the block you get to choose which block it is, how the block feels inside and what songs are playing before you play.

With a more modest queue, expect to choose bugger all and come on stage to colourful disco lights, thumping club beats bleeding through from the main room downstairs and pissed up revellers spilling their drinks on each other.

I’ve never played a gig in Leeds before, but quite a large number of people had come out to see us play. They were easy to spot as they sat in such sharp relief against the wasted girls in greyhound skirts. … Read the rest

#17 The Source, Carlisle

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On paper, this whole day was one long catalogue of woe. So much so that when the promoter, filling in for a cancelled support act, started covering ‘Spider Pig‘, I barely batted an eyelid. But life is not lived on paper, so what really happened?… Read the rest

#16 The Castle, Manchester

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There are occasional moments, such as when a sell-out crowd in a far-away city you’ve never played before are singing out all the words to your songs, that you think “wait… is this what it’s like when things go really well? Cos this is frickin awesome”.

These moments arise at oblique angles and it’s rare that everything necessary for them to happen actually happens together. A bit like those Channel 4 idents where for 23 seconds you watch the camera move around a seemingly random set of objects, until for an instant they align to reveal the number 4, and then the moment’s gone and you’re left shouting at the TV like an idiot “Go back foolish cameraman!! It made sense back there for a second and you went straight past it!”.… Read the rest