Halfway thru the tour, we hit Sheffield. And then Sheffield hit us back.

Due to poor advertising, sales have not been spectacular; we're relocated to a smaller room in the venue, half the original 2000 capacity. Before the soundcheck, I generally like to go for a stroll and get a flavour of the burg I’m in, maybe gather a few pithy insights for my blog. This is what I'd like to do, what I ought to do, but not what in reality what I do do. In reality, I wake up on the bus in utter darkness, having missed daylight, and the soundcheck as well. After 14 hours of dreamless sleep I emerge from my bunk like a maggot from a fetid reverse chrysalis. Wasn't I supposed to turn into a butterfly, Mummy?

Lack of photosynthesis has me on edge. And it's not just me either. There's a shadow over all the inhabitants of the Zoo Bus*. Ed stoically demolishes a Mayfair in a single drag, but I can tell from his bulging eyes he's feeling it. Devlin too; she's slipped into full Diva mode, stamping her tiny hooves and swearing like a 50 year old driving instructor. I stupidly (masochistically?) walk into her line of fire, meekly requesting the loan of her eyeliner; she lets me have both barrels:

'Fuck off Tarquin I leant you one yesterday and you lost it you muppet buy your own fucking make-up you fucking TART!!!'

I turn to Rock for help but he just sits there quivering, hand over eyes, an expression like he’s been tricked into joining the Portuguese Navy...

Larry, however, is as happy as er, Larry. He's sitting in the corner, giggling like a demented girl. There must be a scientific name for a person that takes erotic pleasure from engineering psychological derangement in others. I expect it ends in 'iac'. But I’ve never met anyone who takes such glee in the mental and physical deterioration of those around him. Maybe, given his unremitting self-abuse, he just wants his friends to keep him company on his slide down the loony tube. I suspect the truth is more complicated, and horribler. You know the sample in the middle of 'Mao-Tse-Tung said'? If you don't already know, that's Jim Jones. The Crypto-Marxist Evangelical Psychonaut who lead a community of 909 Americans into 'revolutionary suicide', with the promise of a Venusian paradise on the other side. Think about it. That's not 6th former attention-seeking self-harm. That's a PHD in Narcissistic rage. In 1920, there was a small Austrian landscape artist who suffered from the same condition.

If you're terminally ill, or contemplating suicide, take note. There's nothing Larry likes more than a good funeral; If you're a friend of his or even if you've just spoken to him for two minutes in a pub ten years ago, there's every chance that Larry will turn up at your wake with a tambourine in his hand, demanding to know where the rider is. Then he'll ask the vicar for a sub so he can get a bit of sniff before the 'gig', and invite your grieving mother to do backing vocals on this wicked Dub-Step/Skiffle remix he's been working on. The worst bit is, knowing your mother, she'll probably say yes.

Larry Love's chronic morbidity has often been the subject of comment amongst the band. Once, Strung out on the Pram of Doom at 4.am, as Larry tearfully rehashed the grisly demise of the his latest dead mate, Eddie sardonically asked him what he wanted at his

There followed a florid itinerary of death the like of which you've never heard. It was the Last Wake of Fidel Castro, scripted by Edgar Allen Poe. He wanted the whole Necropolis; fucking cannons, Black horses with white plumes, The International, the Last Bloody Post, A 21-gun salute, and a specially trained flying squad of Rooks spelling his name out in the sky with their tears.

So when neurosis and cirrhosis kick in, our Glorious Leader really starts to enjoy himself. That's him in the corner of the dressing room, tittering at our distress, in a cream suit jacket stencilled with the words 'Shame' 'Revenge' and 'Revolt', in Gothic font.

'10 minutes to showtime, ladies'

Stuart, our young drum tech, a handsome Hibernian Karate Master, rounds us up, a pedigree sheepdog herding a flock of mangy sheep into the abattoir of entertainment** . Actually, It's a lot of fun playing these hard-bitten northern towns. Say what you like about skint, violent people, they really know how to have a good time.  By some strange alchemy, as soon as we hit the opening chord's of 'Only Girl in the world' all the shit turns to Gold. The best gigs happen when you're on the edge of a nervous breakdown; the fragile psyche is suggestible and therefore susceptible to vibe permeation...

By the encore, we've got these stone-washed Yorkshirepersons by the balls. I do a Townsend on the final chord, slamming £2,399's worth of expensive keyboard equipment onto the stage. Yeah, it's been done†. But it feels so.... necessary.

Back in the dressing room. Larry's flying. "Right. Let's go and get our heads kicked in", he says...

(continued next week)

*see 'No Sleep Till Frome 1'

** Eat my Metaphor!

†  Actually, due to the weight and expense of keyboard equipment, and the traditionally puny and introspective nature of keyboard players, I believe the 'Townsend' has never, prior to me, been attempted by a keyboard player. Furthermore, I would assert that the greater expense of the destructive act in this case increases the valency of the sacrificial gesture accordingly.

(c) Orlando Harrison 2008