Following on From their ace ‘Anarchy’ album and successful tour Chumbawamba release their next instalment titled ‘Showbusiness!’, before embarking on The Showbusiness! Tour
On Tour: Hary – drums, Danbert Nobacom – vocals, Alice Nutter – vocals, Dunstan – percussion, Mavis Dillon – trumpet, vocals, Paul Greco – bass, Boff – guitar, vocals. Vocalist Alice Nutter takes up proceedings…
Southhampton University 1 March
”Sod’s Law dictates that what can go wrong will. The tour starts today and Mave (trumpet player, third harmony, hedonist) has tonsillitis. Faced with a choice of cancelling gigs or busking it without him, we go for the punk as f**k option. It’s impossible to cover his absence but we attempt to do it Spinal Tap style: “There should be a trumpet solo here; no problem I’ve got two hands…I’ll clap and distract the audience.”
Just as it seems things can’t get any worse, our agent rings and offers us a dream gig in Greece, unfortunately Danbert has booked his love life into that week. We want to be in Greece; Danbert wants to be in America. Danbert wants us to do the gig without him, we refuse and Danbert’s head explodes. Halfway through our set the fire alarm goes off and everybody gets an interval and no ice cream. Turns out that a backstage spliff next to the smoke alarm is responsible for the forced mass evacuation. The night’s f**king freezing and the building obviously isn’t on fire, still there’s a jobsworth type who refuses to let us back in. We storm the doors.”
Exeter University 2 March
”It’s possible to gauge how wealthy a town is how shite the charity shops are. Rich people are loathe to give anything away…that’s why they’re rich. Exeter is obviously well-to-do ‘cos the charity shops are almost empty, expensive and reek of dried piss.
Dan managed to change his ticket to America and stops acting like a man on the verge of throwing himself down a well.
Lou and Casey persuade Pete (the bus driver) to dye a big blonde blob in the front of his hair. He’s too shy to preen himself so we do it for him. Exeter University takes the wealthy flotsam and jetsom that Oxford, Cambridge and York reject. It’s full of fools with plummy voices and good teeth. Dentistry is a good barometer of class – sparse, crooked teeth point to the drunken sadist with hairy arms at the school clinic. Surprised to find the venue sold out. Maybe Exeter ins’nt full of rich bastards after all; when we play ‘Oxymoron’, i.e. it’s not possible to have a ‘good cop’ the audience cheer. We rattle through the set without Mave…the harmonies are missed but the atmosphere is still kicking.”
Reading University 3 March
”The bus always travels overnight so we wake up at the venue. This particular venue isn’t open in the morning, so Lou and I head off to the student sports centre for a shower. Behind the counter is a jobs-worth from home counties hell. She is a BITCH. After looking at us like we’re a bucket full of shitty nappies, she tells us that we can’t come in without student passes AND she won’t allow people just to shower there anyway. The cow obviously believes that opening up showers will result in 300 travellers and gypsies asking to use the kettle and camping on the front lawn. It’d liven the f**king lawn up. Lou and I argue with her. We claim that the ENTS secretary has said we can use the showers. Corset brain rings the venue and returns looking triumphant. Lou almost jumps the counter and strangles the Bitch when the women tells us we should thank her for ringing the Uni. Leaning into her face, Lou yells ‘piss off’ and we march off in Absolutely Fabulous style. Decide to mount a campaign to make the Cow’s life miserable. Harry agrees to go into the sports centre and say that ENTS sec has sent him for a shower. Lou and I hide behind a bush waiting for the Bitch to erupt. Unfortunately the Rottweiler is on her dinner hour and a cute brunette tells him he can use the showers. He doesn’t want one. Mave turns up. The gig’s good.”
Colchester University 4 March
”F**k the town’s Roman architecture and the rolloing green hills; Colchester is great because it’s ram jam packed with charity shops. I am a woman on a mission; two black bin bags later, I stop shopping. The venue is particularly ugly, a 70’s architectural nightmare. Twenty odd years down the line, the 70’s don’t seem so tasteless anymore; tight shirts, bell bottoms and platforms appear beautiful again. But no amount of time or nostalgia could ever make damp, grey pebble dashed concrete look like anything other than a good place to piss in corners or commit suicide.The dressing room is a lecture theatre complete with a huge glass specimen cabinet. Someone nods in his direction and Dan takes all his clothes off and climbs in. Predictable as ever, we lock him in.
Hits me that some of the audience are off their faces. Couple of Australians say that they’ve necked their first E. I wonder what percentage of the crowd take E at our gigs? Makes more sense that there’s never any fights (unless we start them).
Warwick University 5 March
It’s Harry’s birthday. He wakes up to cards and cake and we all wake up in another student concrete bubble in the middle of nowhere. Still, at least the food’s cheap in the refectories – it’s always crap but it’s cheap crap.
At the front of the crowd are a load of women from Coventry who turn up at quite a few of our gigs. One of them is wearing a harness. That she can walk round with her tits out without getting the slightest bit of hassle, means that our gigs are definitely safe places to be. Time was when she’d be harangued by dickheads desperate to get an eyeful, or women who misinterpreted feminism and tried to make it mean prudery instead of basic rights. The Coventry girls strike up a chorus of “we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going shopping” during our encore. I prefer, “we’re here, we’re queer and we f**king love shopping!”
Cambridge Junction 7 March
The bus breaks down. Lou and Pete the bus driver arrange alternative transport for most people. Spot, Dan and I wait with the bus and have a double bill of Sir Patrick of Swayze. Me and Pauline Calf think Sir Patrick is sensitive (in all the right places).
Tricky is supporting PJ Harvey at Cambridge Corn Exchange, a few people head off to check him out. Opinions vary, a couple of people love him, but as Boff points out, anybody who employs session musicians with ponytails don’t deserve to be liked. Boff couldn’t watch the gig because the ponytail (and the band put together to flog the album) offended him too much. Our gig goes down well.
Sheffield University 8 March
There’s a f**king Mandela room in every university. Academics (and liberals) are always more concerned about oppressive regimes in other countries, than they are in their own backyard. As long as there’s a Mandela room they appear to have a conscience without upsetting the status quo which pays their salaries.
Most of the gigs on this tour have been full or sold out. I think that most of us are pleasantly surprised by the turn out, and by the response to the stuff we’re playing. Harry and Mave’s families are at the gig because we’re so close to Barnsley. None of us ever give a shit if there are so-called celebs in the audience, but if someone’s mum, dad or next door neighbour is around we’re nervous as hell.
Warrington Parr Hall 9 March
From now on it’s war. Music journalists (who work for the nationals) have always insulted us and made it entirely personal, but it’s one thing to slag a band off and another to write a whole town off. A piece in Melody Maker claims that Chumbawamba playing a ‘shithole’ like Warrington, means that we’re washed out. According to the journalist, the only people who’ll be at the gig are two drongos accompanied by dogs on strings. Bore me with stereotypes. Boff reads the piece out to the 1,000 strong crowd, and when he gets to the part which calls everyone from Warrington ‘f**k wits’ and Chumbawamba ‘shitheads’, I know that I’m going to take up kick boxing.
From now on we’d like national music journalist to introduce themselves to us. After a decade of being slagged off in print we don’t want a debate. Most of the band want to get at least one good punch in. Dunstan is keeping a list of names so that we won’t inadvertently thump the wrong person.
Leicester University 10 March
A hot day, but several of us are coming down with the tour lurgy. Bugs love communal buses. Pete, the bus driver has painted all the bulbs on the bus, and put coloured gels on the table lamps. It has become a tour ritual to dance to jungle every night before we go to bed; from now on all that’s missing will be a disco ball. Pete is man of the match; he even lets us dance in his cab…though he does drawn the line at our sticking our heads out of the roof. Something about decapitation.
Bradford University 11 March
We’re all dead excited because the gig is so close to home…it’s better to end the tour somewhere we all know well. Always like the atmosphere in Bradford and Leeds. My best friend, Alison, is there, and Frank and Betan who live round the corner. For the most part, being on tour consists of hanging around. You live in this little bubble and it’s about as glamorous as being in a queue. Then you get to spend an hour jumping up and down and the audience jumps up and down as well. It’s a f**k of a lot better than working at ASDA.
With thanks to Alice Nutter