The page title is exactly the number of miles I have driven in the past 3 days to see Nick and Ben [Jones] in Poole, Penzance and Kingsbridge, and what a weekend it has been!
I'm not going to attempt to write full reviews for these gigs cos I'm just too shattered. Just to say that they were very good indeed (no surprise there then!). I will say that Nick's voice wasn't exactly perfect, I think this tour is taking it out of him... luckily he's had a day off before the London gig tonight, so he may be back on form for those you are going. If you are going (I'm not, I'm going down the road to see John Hiatt and Robert Cray), make sure you get there in time to see Ben; he was REALLY on form this weekend and well worth seeing, and if you've got a spare fiver then buy his new CD too!
The Poole Mr. Kyps and Penzance Acorn Theatre gigs were in very good venues and he had pretty good turnouts - he'd never played either place before. Penzance was a biggish theatre (but much more chilled out than most) and was virtually sold out, a very big surprise for Nick as he was just expecting a few folk to turn up! I managed to get him to play Stronger in Penzance, though his response to my request was "B*****ks!" He knew he would struggle with it, as it demands a lot from his voice - it wasn't exactly perfect but a great attempt. It wasn't a great surprise that he wouldn't attempt the song again the next day in Kingsbridge.
Talking of Kingsbridge [Loddiswell], you may have seen reviews saying how brilliant the Pit venue in Farnham is. I'm not surprised that Nick has often said that it's one of his favourite venues as it's just an amazing magical place - if he ever plays there again, I would highly recommend it to everyone. Well, Hazelwood House (near and not actually in Kingsbridge, as we soon found out on a dark November evening) is run by the same charity as the Pit. The early Victorian (I think) house is set in its own 900 acres of land and Nick was playing in their converted chapel! It was about 400 yards down a very dark track from the house; you had to follow the candles that they had placed along the way. As Nick enjoys this venue (which holds about 70 people), he decided to try out a few new songs from the Blood Songs CD. At Hazelwood the "newish" ones he played were Fore Play, Love Junky, Boy Meets Planet and Bloodsong. Although the latter was played much more quietly than on the CD, it was just superb, can't wait until he sings that with his band next year! I think that over the three days the only Blood Songs song that I didn't see him play was Kissing Gate [shame! and I'm totally jealous about this LOL - P.]
Other highlights of the night had to be Three Magpies, No Truth Up In The Mountains, and a very bizarre version of Guitar Man as the speakers decided to go AWOL during the song and provide some rather strange extra sound effects!
All in all a very VERY knackering 3 days; 3 great gigs, lots of sightseeing (even visited Land's End while we were down that way), lots of beer (and other concoctions) including the excellent St Austell HSD, and just a great time hanging out with Nick, Ben, Jeff and Diane, and Paula (in Poole). But I'd better get some work done in the next 3 days, so I don't feel too guilty (as if) when I take more time off this week to see Nick in Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea!