Having fired up a few quick posts about the Dream Syndicate tour last week, I thought I’d bring a few thoughts together now the dust has settled.
Circumstances meant that the tour came at exactly the right time for me as I had more leave than Mrs MPT in the first half of the year (who wouldn’t have done five shows in a row, anyway). In fact, the timing of the tour announcement was so early that no other options needed to be considered in terms of what to do with those extra days, although it’s a fair bet that travel to shows of some kind would have featured on my wish list.
But I’d always wanted to do something similar with the right band yet had never even seen shows on 5 consecutive nights before never mind with the same two bands.
Turning to what happened on stage, I think what blew me away most was that the Dream Syndicate didn’t drop their level for even a small portion of any of the five shows. Sure, there were a couple of minor brief tech issues at the Leeds and Newcastle shows, but it genuinely felt like each show was better than the previous one. And looking back at the 10 shows I’ve now seen them play over the last 5 and a half years, I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen a consistently better live band.
I think part of that’s down to most of the band having played together for so long. The rhythm section of Dennis Duck and Mark Walton really create the foundations for Steve and Vicki to go off wherever they fancied with the guitars, but it’s worth remembering that Mark’s bass also plays a big part in a set’s melodies.
Watching these musicians at close quarters for five nights was a privilege and, as a non-musician, I am in awe of their talent.
It’s worth adding too that after simply watching five shows I was exhausted, mainly because I’m not a good sleeper in hotels. So I’m envious of the band’s stamina in playing night after night (Newcastle was the last night of a run of SEVEN consecutive shows).
Yet they all made themselves available after each show to chat with fans and sign books, CDs and posters. Good people.
And it would remiss not to mention Rain Parade. I had had limited exposure to the band beforehand but seeing them on five consecutive nights (and the tour EP) has made me a fan.
Another big thing that sticks out, particularly for the two shows I attended on my own, was the camaraderie to be found in the guys of a certain age standing (alone) in the front row. Everyone was friendly and chatty, adding to the experience of seeing the shows and I also ended up with a free CD (by Brenneman which features none other than Jason Victor and Chris Cacavas – thanks Jeff!) and having an essential eBay purchase flagged up (thanks, Clive!).
Travel wasn’t too bad as I was driving but doing it all myself wasn’t ideal and certainly Liverpool to Leeds in heavy snowfall for much of the way was the most tiring. I had considered public transport originally but, in the end, decided against it given the uncertainties over industrial action. And travelling Trans-Pennine on the train didn’t seem a great option either given the level of cancellations.
Finally, the oddest memory of the tour was probably going into the Cluny 2 to find Steve and Mark doing the door!*
All in all, it was a great experience . I’m not sure I’d do five shows in a row again but something like our European trip (when we had a night off between 3 shows) would appeal and allow us to do more than travel and see shows.
But I’m glad I was able to see this great band so often in quick succession. Not having a Dream Syndicate show to look forward to on the Monday after Newcastle was quite the come-down.
*They weren’t actually doing the door, they were just trying to access the venue’s wi-fi!
Some snaps from the five shows:
Previously on MPT:
Interview with Steve Wynn
Here’s a gallery of pictures from the show in Glasgow on Friday 10th March: