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THE TOUR WITH NO NAME - MANCHESTER

Alabama 3 do their accounts

Sleepless, staring at the roof of my bunk, grinding my teeth to the sound of hoarse, demented voices. It sounds like there's a couple of crows being strangled by Vinnie Jones in the back of the bus. Alabama 3 are doing their accounts. Pretty much every other night for the last 15 years we've had some version of this argument. Larry's got loads, Piers, and Ed have got a lot, Jake and Mark have got some, Me, Johnny and Steve haven’t got very much. I won't bore you with the details.  

'Oh Fuck Off! Fuck Off. FUCK off. Just fucking do whatever you want. Yeah? Yeah? Okay, I'm going to talk to you like you talk to me. Be a Man. Be a fucking man. Stick to your agreement. That’s being a fucking man. Oh fuck you, you fucking TWAT!!!'  

The band is a bad argument. The kind of argument that drunk families have at 1am on Boxing Day. There's a lot of love, and a lot of hate. Much of the vitriol is directed at Larry; he's subject to an unremitting stream of verbal and physical violence. And that's just his wife. I've seen him become tearful in the last couple of days at the level of hostility he sustains. But he's our leader, and this is no democracy - he takes the Glory, he takes the Shame. Pity the powerful.

Its not helped by Larry's tireless mendacity. It’s not that he lies. He has two modes - evasion, and exaggeration. Pure mathematicians are currently working on the precise equation to determine the relation of Larry's answers to the truth. At the moment the formula can be provisionally stated thus:  

Where    

T= Reality   

and     

L= What Larry Says:  

L
-- = 6.47
T  

In other words, to obtain the correct integer in any statement of Larry's you divide the stated sum by 6.47.  

example 1

'So what's the capacity for this benefit gig at the Bolton Wanklocker, Larry?' 'Oooh... about 3,000'  

[The correct number in this case would be approximately 463.]   

example 2

And how much are we getting paid?  

'Dunno...er.... £200 each.'  

[Approx £31]   

example 3  

'How much, Larry, did you pay for this shit gear?'  

'60 euros'  

[9.27]   

example 4  

'What's the time Larry?'

' Er, 7 o’ clock'  

[1.08 pm]   

                        *

I've learnt so much from this band. I've learnt that no one will pay you any attention unless you throw all your toys out of the pram. I've learnt not to trust your business partners over money. I've learnt the power of casual cruelty in conversation. I've learnt how to frighten. In short, I've learnt to be a man. The Alabama 3 is, as we keep reminding ourselves, a 'Firm'. It's a combative environment, and there's money at stake.


But when it works, it’s powerful, and funny. In Manchester tonight, there's real joy in the air. Is it a manifestation of a redemptive spiritual force, or a demonic delusion?  Are we brilliant or a bunch of tossers?   

And the answer is.... Both. Two hours on and we've ingested a white chemical that nobody seems to know the name of. It doesn’t matter; it’s working. Steve Finnerty is saying:  

'The thing is O, Funkadelic didn't change pop music, they redefined reality, motherfucker.'   

I am totally prepared to accept this assertion, and not only because I haven't eaten for three days...I dimly recall some band, or was it a comedy duo, called the Weathermen? 


Everybody's on the same page and there's real affection in the air. Joy and Passion, I swear, for the task in hand. There's only one gig left; we've pulled it off; no product, no record company. The numbers have been okay, thank god. Had the tour tanked, we'd all be fucked. All that’s left is to do one more show, and then we get high and spend our wages. Except straight after the last show half the crew and the tour manager mysteriously disappear, along with our wages and the merchandise money. I could make an issue out of this, but in the words of the Butthole Surfers:  

'There's a time to love, and a time to hate
I eat Elvis Presley's toenails when I want to get straight' 

                                                           

© Orlando Harrison 2009