|from Mr. Phil’s blogFRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 1999 / MANCHESTER > LONDON — This was it, the tour finale. Marti trained in from Glasgow; Disco, Pat and I rode the freak train from Manchester to London. A whole bunch of us were staying at the St. Margaret’s Hotel, off Russell Square in Bloomsbury.
Marti and I love this part of the city and it was close to the Embassy Rooms, Panic’s venue. In the big room next to ours were Bill Mixon, Stacey Gates and Jeff “Sequoia” McClean (who had produced a pair of excellent limited-edition bootleg teeshirts for this tour). Disco and Pat had rooms upstairs. And we kept running into more Panic heads every time we looked around.
A number of us gathered for lunch at Govinda, the Hari Krishna restaurant I’d mentioned in my June 1999 article on London for RELIX. After lunch I went to a web café to check my e-mail and post to my page.
Then we had beers at The Friend At Hand, a pub near the Russell Hotel. Marti and I went to soundcheck. Dave Schools sat down across from us in a booth and remarked that he had particularly enjoyed the Paris gig. I told him I hadn’t seen a bad show on the tour. And I was sorry it was almost over.
Starting tomorrow Schools and Mikey were going on vacations in England and around Europe with their respective squeezes. They could hardly wait.
I spotted Sam Lanier heading out for fish ‘n’ chips and I asked if Marti and I could join him. Sure, he replied.
We walked all the way down the Tottenham Court Road with me limping on my fucked-up leg. But it was worth it, in more ways than one.
The fish ‘n’ chips were great. Sam smiled and said, “You know, Phil, you’ve really got to see us in the States, with our full sound and all the lights. Why don’t you come to New Orleans for Halloween?”
I was bowled over. Needless to say, I took Sam up on his offer immediately. I had already scheduled a November flight to the U.S., to visit my mom in Massachusetts. All I had to do was change the dates of the booking!
Sam walked back up to the gig. Marti and I took a taxi, because of my hurtin’ leg. When we got to the venue, the place had a special end-of-tour vibe to it.
I was wearing my Alien glasses, partying with everyone in the room. Bill Pannifer, who runs the London-based Deadheads website Franklin’s Tower was in the house. So was a fan from Sweden. And a number of limeys who are into Panic.
We were ready to rock it one more time, Panic was ready to get down to business.
Let’s Get Down To Business, Papa Legba, Bear’s Gone Fishin’ > Hatfield > Porch Song > The Waker, Dyin’ Man, Diner > Drums > Let’s Get The Show On The Road > Fishwater, Surprise Valley > Stop-Go > Climb To Safety
E: Sometimes > All Time Low
That was it. One last one-set extravanganza. Loved that “Climb To Safety” closer. And here was the new item, “Sometimes,” kicking off the encore. A super night.
The show was over. The tour was over. But it seemed like no one was leaving the Embassy Rooms anytime soon.
Way back in Hannover Schools had been whining that he didn’t have any mementoes signed by the fans, so we presented him tonight with a New Morning poster that I had been toting from town to town, collecting Spreadhead autographs for Dave. He was thrilled, he said.
I looked around. It seemed like half the audience stayed for the aftershow.
I had a marvelous time on this run. What great fun getting to know and gettin’ down with folks like Pat, Disco, Deepesh, Stacey, Bill, Sequoia, Harmut, Ralph, Laurie, Chip, Rudi, Hanno and so many other fine peeps. Marti and I said goodbye to all our Spreadhead pals and the crew and the musicians, but my farewell was made less bittersweet by the fact that I was going to New Orleans for the three-night Halloween run.
This all began for me with ten nights at the Chesterfield Café. Over the past 18 months I had seen 20 Panic shows, all in Europe and none before a crowd of more than 400 people. Not that I’m complaining!
Now I was gonna see the real deal — make that surreal, it would be Nawlins.