A short extract from a 1991 tour diary
May 13th 1991: Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Paradiso
Got up, drove to Holland. Graham is covered in bags in the back of the Renault Espace to make enough room for us all to get in. Mansi tells us that he doesn’t like Amsterdam, especially the hippies who run the Paradiso. We stopped at a petrol station and had a kick around. A hard-core pornographic magazine was bought from the petrol station; it had a woman dressed up in PE kit, being done by three men. Mansi couldn’t find his way to the Leipzer Plain, eventually we directed him to the American Hotel, and we drove past the Rijksmuseum on the way. Arrived at the venue. I didn’t want to leave my bags and leather jacket in the Espace because I was worried that the vehicle would get broken into, there are a lot of heroin addicts in Amsterdam. Walked around the venue and went on the bus. Oz (sound man) was really pissed off because someone has left the tour bus unlocked and a load of bags have been stolen. Paul the caterer has lost £3000 in cash and traveller’s cheques and all his clothes, a bit depressing – all goes to show that benefit of hindsight is useless. Adam from Manchester band The Train Set was outside the venue with his girlfriend. The Train Set’s ‘She’s Gone’ is one of Noel ’s favourite songs, he used to have the song on a compilation cassette that he brought on tour with us in 1989. The soundcheck is good, the venue has high ceilings and stained glass windows. I go and check a record shop, then go to a sportswear shop with Martyn, and talked to him about how he thought that his girlfriend Joanne might be pregnant. We didn’t discuss the Clint and Meagan situation. Manchester United are playing Barcelona in Rotterdam tomorrow so we may have some Manchester fans in the gig tonight! We play the gig to about 700 people, it is a respectable show and for the first time on this European tour we loosen up a bit. The tour bus for the band arrives; a man called Peter Best, a cockney, not the ex-drummer of the Beatles, is driving it. He is a bit of a cockney cunt and the bus it too posh for us; Clint gets a bunk that has a sunbed built in to it! Pete Best looks a bit like the darts player Eric Bristow. He shows us the ‘visitors book’ for the bus – the Monkees, New Kids on the Block, and MC Hammer have all been on. Inspiral Carpets appear to be very unimpressive to Pete Best, and that appears to be affecting the way that he is treating us, a bit strange considering we are paying him £500 a day to at least be okay with us. Pete Best bollocks Craig for putting his coat on one of the seats, saying that it will damage the leather, before telling us how great Status Quo are. Snore, snore. No one likes Pete Best, we all think he is a cunt, irrespective of how many shit bands he has had on his bus.
Pete Best refuses to park the tour bus anywhere near the venue and parks it a 15-minute walk away behind the Rijksmuseum and near the Van Gough museum. The whole band visit a whorehouse, everyone goes in apart from me as I’m too embarrassed. Everyone comes out apart from Clint. We wait for him for twenty minutes, but it turns out that he has come out the back of the place and makes his way back to the bus. We drive on to Frankfurt, I can’t sleep – the bunk is too claustrophobic. Paul the caterer and Ed go home to the UK. There was a national strike in the Netherlands because a driver was murdered today.
May 14th 1991 Frankfurt, Germany
Wake up in Frankfurt and recognise the venue from the 1990 European tour we did, and the sound of the trains, which run next to it. Get up and breakfast on big fat German sausages. Steve Cannel, the merchandise man, is cooking for us now that Paul the caterer has gone home in order to stop anyone from cashing the traveller’s cheques. Steve doesn’t know where any of the stuff is, so the cooking takes quite a long time. Wilf, the other caterer, has gone out to buy provisions for this evening’s meal. Have a wash in the venue’s bathroom, which is difficult because it is small and dirty. I go and do all the band’s washing in a launderette. I buy far too much washing
powder. There is a hippy skinning up and smoking in there. I talk to the venue’s runner about neo-fascists in Berlin, and the compromise between West and East Germany, and Chancellor Kohl’s current unpopularity. There is a weirdo at the launderette who talks to me and says ‘Everyone here is an arsehole.’ I come back after drying everything, which took ages. Pete Best has tried to ruin the suspense of watching the Manchester Utd game by telling us the result, which was them losing to Barcelona by 3 – 1. Cunt. By the time I get back to the venue, everyone has soundchecked. We play the B-side ‘The Wind is Calling Your Name’ for the first time, it sounds really good. The monitors are rubbish, really weak and quiet. Before the show there is a queue that goes right round the bus! We play the concert, it is okay, but the audience reaction is a bit quiet perhaps. The audience all look as though they are dressed up to look like the singer from EMF – sad bastards! I talk to Binsey over the phone about trying to persuade Mute that Janice and Mel don’t need to come wth us to Milan and Athens. He doesn’t seem convinced, though, and wants to keep Mute on side. Our agent from Primary Artists, Nigel Hassler, comes to see us at the gig and suggests that the support for the GMEX gig would be ex-Factory Records band The Railway Children and a Scottish band called The Apples should support us at SECC. Our bus drives on in convoy with the crew bus, we watch Man Utd thrash Barcelona on video. Martyn is going mad as the goals go in, Graham, who is an Oldham Athletic fan, throws his underpants around the bus, they land on the drivers head of course. I sleep, although in the excitement of the football match, no one else can.
May 15th 1991: Berlin, Germany. Quartier
Driving through East Germany over Hitler’s original autobahns, which are now very bumpy roads on the corridor between what was formerly East and West German farmland. We see aged labourers pushing wheelbarrows of potatoes over the autobahn while BMWs barely miss them, driving past at 100mph. Gypsies with donkeys and tack riding down the side, sheer madness. We see the old checkpoint, now disused and stoned by children, I guess. Drive into the city, Pete Best misses loads of turns, goes to the wrong Potsdamer Strasser, does 4 U-turns, eventually we get to the venue. We eat at the venue, the production office doubles as the catering room. Craig, Clint and Martyn go shopping, Graham and me go and have a look at the Brandenburg Gate and trace the path of Die Mauer (the Wall). I go to Potsdamer Platz where I was when I stayed with Tracey and busked on the Kurfürstendamm. I trace the section of Potsdamer Platz which was No Mans Land, where the old train lines ran under the wall and the observation towers rose menacingly over the wall, and rabbits played over the space where Hitler’s bunker had been.
A discarded Trabant lies abandoned at the side of the wall. We see a plant, which is cleverly recycling the wall by grinding the concrete into substrate, which is then compressed into blocks on site to manufacture as materials for the city’s new flats in situ. We walk down to the Reichstag, which is now naked of the wall, and you can trace bullet holes in the buildings which give a sense of the dying days of the fight for Berlin. We walk back to Potsdamer Platz where we see people bungee jumping from a crane. This daredevil act is a metaphor for the new unified nation, the plunging down, and the propulsion up of the body upwards expressing the individual’s right to taste danger an utter rejection of the former Soviet states crushing safety net. Scares the shit out of us when we see someone falling and being caught at the last moment by the rope and slung back up by the momentum and weight of the slack. Go to the venue then chill in the hotel around the corner. Mansi is under a lot of stress due to keeping on track with the tour budget and the unsuitability of Pete Best’s tour bus. He loses it, and smashes his mobile phone up. Mansi has booked our tickets to Greece in our Twin Peak nicknames. Play gig, Irish girls come backstage and sing ‘Silent Night’ to us with jealous boyfriends in tow, which is funny. Sarah Claughton comes backstage begging for food. (Sarah was an über fan who first followed Inspiral Carpets around our UK gigs in 1989, and then started following us around Europe.) We were concerned about her because she was travelling solo around our gigs, and we didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. We fuck off into the night, down south to Munich along bumpy East German roads. Sleep, but drunk.