Live Dates

2018
NEW ZEALAND
2 February Town Hall, Auckland Tickets
3 February Opera House, Wellington Tickets
AUSTRALIA
6 February Forum, Melbourne Tickets
7 February Tivoli, Brisbane Tickets
8 February Enmore Theatre, Sydney Tickets
10 February Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide Tickets
12 February Astor Theatre, Perth Tickets
IRELAND
1 March Olympia, Dublin Tickets
2 March Big Top, Limerick Tickets
UK
3 March Ulster Hall, Belfast Tickets
6 March O2 Academy, Liverpool Tickets
8 March O2 Academy, Glasgow Tickets
9 March Ironworks, Inverness Tickets
10 March Grand Hall, Kilmarnock Tickets
12 March Rock City, Nottingham Tickets
13 March Guildhall, Portsmouth Tickets
15 March O2 Academy, Bristol Tickets
16 March Tramshed, Cardiff Tickets
17 March O2 Academy, Birmingham Tickets
19 March Nick Rayns LCR, Norwich Tickets
20 March Cliffs Pavilion, Southend Tickets
22 March O2 Academy, Leeds Tickets
23 March Engine Shed, Lincoln Tickets
24 March O2 Academy, Brixton Tickets
26 March GLive, Guildford Tickets
27 March Hexagon, Reading Tickets
29 March O2 Academy, Newcastle Tickets
30 March Corn Exchange, Cambridge Tickets
31 March O2 Apollo, Manchester Tickets
FRANCE
8 July Festival Les Deferlantes, Argeles Sur Mer Tickets
12 July Musilac festival, Aix Les Bains Tickets

Features

Baz & Merv's European Road Trip

The band’s summer festival season this year included a pair of biker gigs, one of which was a Harley Davidson bash at St Tropez in the south of France. Keen motorcyclists Baz & his mate Merv decided that they could ride there and back, using it as a great opportunity to explore the tarmac of Europe during their nine day roadtrip. Arriving by ferry at Bilbao in Spain, they would ride through Spain and across Southern France to the gig before heading North back to Calais and home. Baz picks up the story…

This was an idea originally borne out of a drunken conversation after the O2 show in Sheffield on the March On tour earlier this year…

A good friend of mine Joe Blackie was there discussing the new Triumph motorcycle he’d just bought, and like Pavarotti in a cake shop his enthusiasm was very infectious…especially after a few sherberts…

Baz & Merv

Soon an idea was hatched which originally included Merv the Swerve, myself, Gazza our tour manager and possibly JJ…although to be entirely honest I can’t quite remember…He spends a lot of time down near the gig we were planning on riding to and I think was going to be in the area then anyway which would have ruled him out from the start…I think…Anyway he couldn’t make it…

We thought the St Tropez show might be the best opportunity with nothing else around it,and Merv, having done the area many times, and boasting a missus with great organisational skills, took up the mantle and started to sort it all out…Next thing we knew it was happening…Gazza understandably knocked it on the head after considering riding all that way and then having to despatch managerial duties once he got there would be just too much…he’s the consummate professional…He was gutted but gave us great support…At his insistence we sent him daily reports as to our progress and he kept us abreast of any changes to the schedule that might affect our ride…I had a gig at the end of it after all and he was protective of his charge as he always is…

Joe couldn’t make it due to work commitments which was disappointing but again understandable…not everyone can just bugger off on motorbikes for a week when they fancy it…with all the will in the world…

So it was left to me and Merv…and once the bookings and tickets and hotels were sorted out, which was remarkably quick, we were off…

Here’s what we did…

Merv’s Bike (left): BMW R 1200 GSA…125bhp…Tank range 300 miles

Baz’s Bike (right): Triumph Tiger 800 XC…94bhp…Tank range 150 miles

DAY 1: TUESDAY MAY 5TH:

Sunderland to Newbury…288 miles…

WEATHER…English…ranging from clement to fucking deplorable at the drop of a hat…very windy and wet…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 1/ Baz 3

INTERESTING ASSIDES…The day starts with 2 new tyres for Baz from Triumph North East in Newcastle…a trip which adds 13 miles to today’s journey…a total of 301 miles…

DAY 2: WEDNESDAY MAY 6TH:

Newbury to Portsmouth…59 miles

WEATHER…same as yesterday…got a decent soaking to start with but the sun came out for it’s customary 30 seconds…Thank god for the right gear…

PETROL STOPS…1 each…

INTERESTING ASSIDES…Got on the boat for 10.30 and after a nice hot shower went for lunchtime beers to assist in the days siesta…It can be a hard life sometimes… 24 hours of nothing now…bring it on…

Portsmouth to Bilbao…24 hours on a boat…mileage doesn’t count…

WEATHER…not really sure…looked nice but was too busy drinking…

PETROL STOPS…none…

TOILET STOPS…lost count after 5…

INTERESTING ASSIDES…The cabins on these ships have always rattled during the night…conspiring with the rolling and bumping of the sea to keep you awake indefinitely…no matter how polluted you get to try to aid sleep…but the showers are absolutely superb…had 4 in 24 hours just for something to do…Fell out of the last one…

DAY 3: THURSDAY 7TH :

Bilbao to Carcassonne…340 miles…

WEATHER…absolutely stunning…Spain and the south of France in May…’nuff said…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 1 Baz 2

INTERESTING AS SIDE…I’ve been to the Pyrenees many times with my brother Chris who lived down this way for a few years with his family…It’s always a stunning spectacle but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it looking as beautiful as it did today…just breathtaking…Me and The Swerve stopped to take some pics but you’ll never do anything like that justice in a photograph…If you’re reading this Our Kid by the way…way down there in New Zealand,I saw signs for L’ Isle en Dodon today would you believe…yes I’m that far down the country…That was some place…and some time we had…Give my love to the family…

Baz & his Triumph

DAY 4: FRIDAY 8TH MAY:

Carcassonne to St Tropez…257 miles…

WEATHER…Overcast and dull leaving Carcassonne…wet roads from previous rain but mercifully we don’t see it…It’s a French national holiday today so there’s plenty of traffic and it”s all heading south…and no wonder…We no sooner pass the official entry sign for the Cote D’Azur and the sun comes out…and stays out…Mervs temperature gauge says it’s 26 degrees…that’ll do…And it does…all the way down to the hotel…touching 28 as we finally park up…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 1 Baz 1

INTERESTING ASSIDES…The gig we’re doing tomorrow is for Harley Davidson…and the Promenade Percys are out in force…cruising up and down the strip screaming ‘look at me! look at me!’ There’s still plenty of original ‘geezers’ here on their old hogs though…blokes who’ve been riding these kinds of bikes since Adam was a lad…and fair play to them…They were the first to ride them and saw something in these rumbling old horses that inspired them and struck a chord…But there’s so much bling and noise too…Red faced fat old boys with their ‘dolls’ on the back, struggling with the sheer weight of their bikes and wishing they were in 1950 ‘s California…It’s all about being seen and heard in the here and now…try riding 100 miles on one of these things in one go…or turning a corner for that matter…and the more outlandish the bike the better…a very American angle…Maybe I’m being too hard on them and there’s the camaraderie and gang mentality to it that they love…the getting together with old friends you don’t see too often…They’ve obviously all been polishing these bikes for months for this…and we’re all enthusiastic about something after all…but it’s all loud and strutting and peacock like and very funny to the outsider…Ok i’ve said enough…and yet as i write this i hear yet another ambulance approaching the site…the 3rd one so far since I’ve been here…Maybe the weight of one of these outrageous machines finally got the better of George and Vera from Birmingham…or Klaus and Uli from Hamburg…or…ah bollocks…you get it…There are some genuinely jaw dropping machines here for sure…but cool? I’m saying nowt…

Soundchecking in St Tropez

DAY 5: SATURDAY 9TH MAY:

Hotel…no travel…suits me fine for today…

WEATHER…Spectacular…it’s St Tropez…

PETROL STOPS…0

INTERESTING ASSIDES…Although I had an incredible opportunity to ride my bike on one of the top 5 motorcycling routes in the world, we were here to do a show…and that was the focus of the entire trip…obviously…

In my time in the band we’ve done 2 gigs on beaches…The last one was in Looe in Cornwall a couple of years ago…and if you were there…well…you’ll know it was ‘different’…

This one was different too…28 degrees and 500 yards away from a nudist beach…Helicopters filming the whole scene from up above and people sunbathing 50 feet from the stage during the afternoons sound check…boats bobbing on an azure sea and the locals completely oblivious to dozens of grown men in full leather ‘uniform’ grooving to Born to be Wild… No really…

But the gig in the evening was splendid…The beach was packed to its natural parameters and those that couldn’t find space probably wouldn’t have minded standing barefoot in the temperate waters for a spell…Couldn’t do that in Looe let me tell you…

The sound onstage was excellent and we played with power and precision…An hour and a half flew by, and considering this was a crowd who’d come to worship motorcycles and be seen…we held them to the very end and left the stage triumphant…(ha)…And even though we’d worked hard, the sea breeze was lovely on the skin and calming to all who were there…A more pleasant environment in which to play a gig would be hard to find…I even found sand in my socks the next morning…

DAY 6: SUNDAY 10TH MAY:

Had a day off and went to a party…And very nice it was too…

Joined by another biker (pic Gaz Knighton)

DAY 7: MONDAY 11TH MAY:

The party to Macon…300 and something miles…

WEATHER…Off the scale…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 1 Baz 2…

INTERESTING ASSIDES…This is a day I’ve been looking forward to immensely since we drunkenly put it together one night after a gig on the last British tour…The whole trip was very appealing but the opportunity to ride the famous Route Napoleon from the south of France up to Grenoble through the Alps was just too good to miss…JJ planted the seed a while ago and was on at me to go for it if we ever played in the locale…and so me and Merv based the whole thing around this day really…and what a day it was…

Starting out in going through a small town improbably known as Tourettes…A fucking beautiful place…we wound our way down to the Route Napoleon and stayed there for the better part of 200 miles…

There’s plenty of footage of it on Youtube and stuff, but until you’ve actually been there you’ll never appreciate the sheer beauty and rugged splendour of winding your way through the Alps on a motorcycle with nothing else to do but gawp and marvel at what’s around you…I just can’t describe what its like…I really can’t…All I’ll say is that if you’ve got a bike and the inclination you won’t be disappointed…Merv has done it before he tells me, albeit 25 years ago with mates and his head buried deep down on a racing bike…probably explaining why he can’t remember much of it at all…(well…you’re in a rush to do most things at that age aren’t you?) but he, with all his experience and miles gone by, running into many many thousands, can barely remember a better days riding…and that says it all to me…

DAY 8: TUESDAY 12TH MAY:

Macon to Calais…456 miles

WEATHER…Bright and very warm in Macon at 9 in the morning…stayed dry but got windy progressively northwards…Extremely windy at the end…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 2 Baz 3

Arrival in Calais

INTERESTING ASSIDES…I was sitting there in my own little world marvelling at the tremendous French roads and the lack of traffic thereon…They’re amazingly maintained thanks in part to the peagè system which, while being a bit of a faff on from time to time with cards that won’t work despite being fine for everything else (Merv…happened a few times…he was not happy) to not accepting perfectly good tickets and causing hold ups (both of us…and the French are not exactly famous for their patience and understanding of the ‘Roast Beef’…) they are fine roads to ride…A lesson we could sorely do with listening to in our own country…

Also the fantastic ‘Aires’ that they have which are basically motorway services, but really good ones…some great food, clean facilities and occurring very regularly…around every 30 to 40 km…or so I thought…

It was while I was thinking about all of this that my petrol light came on…which I didn’t notice at first…I then saw it and calculated i’d have enough to get to the next Aire…and I did…but this was one of the smaller ones that has toilets, a picnic area…but no fuel…I pulled in anyway with Merv following and explained the situation…I had, according to the gauge, 9 miles left in the tank, and after finding the nearest station on the satnav we decided to go for it…it was 8.7 miles away in a village apparently…and leaving the motorway was the safest option should I finally run out anyway…So we got to where it led us and there was nothing there except the canopy of an old garage and no pumps or anything…ball all as they say in my part of the world…

However, the Swerve had other ideas…He has two litre petrol bottles (three of them) and after deciding I shouldn’t risk riding any further, swiftly set off up the road to another garage to fill them, leaving me sitting by the roadside feeling sorry for myself…15 minutes later he was back and we were on our way…so four petrol stops for me would be more accurate i suppose…it was touch and go there for a moment…

 DAY 9: WEDNESDAY 13TH MAY-THE LAST DAY:

Calais Hotel to Chunnel 1 mile…Chunnel crossing to Folkestone 15 miles…

Folkestone to Sunderland 336 miles…

WEATHER…Lovely in France, not raining in England! Cloudy but dry and windy…

PETROL STOPS…Merv 1 Baz 3

INTERESTING ASSIDES…The first thing I noticed after riding on French(and briefly Spanish) roads for a week or so, is how bad our roads are…sounds silly to say but you tend to forget and just take it for granted…It’s not until you get to compare immediately in the same day that it becomes apparent how big the difference is…

…and home: Baz's final SatNav stats

Of course, France is over twice the size of the UK with only 2 million or so more inhabitants…and it’s easy to assume that if the populations were proportionately the same, French roads would be in much the same state as ours…I’m mostly talking motorways here though…some of the streets I’ve been on in Paris or Lille for example are like ploughed fields just like ours… Overall though, although I’ve been to France touring and on holiday countless times, and driven there a lot too, I’ve never been on the bike there before…and that’s when you can really tell…

I’d also like to mention my riding partner Merv Warrilow…and his missus, the lovely Helen…affectionately known as H… Spending a lot of time with someone you’re friendly with but not massively familiar with can be weird…I’ve done it so many times over the years and being in close proximity with someone will often and usually inevitably bring little niggles to the fore…people are different after all…But none of that happened with Merv…I can be pretty volatile and I know Merv can take care of himself too…but we found ourselves feeling like we’d known one another for 20 years…and that happens sometimes too…You just click with someone…no squabbles, great crack, belly laughs and an amazing amount of knowledge passed on…He sure knows his bikes,and watching and learning from him was an easy pleasure…He was the best travelling companion you could ever wish for and even when I fucked up and nearly ran out of fuel he never flinched,winged or shouted…He just said “it happens…it’s happened to me mate” and nipped off to find some…

He’s a totally top man and I want to thank him for coming with me, looking after me,and opening up a magnificent new world for me…and I know we’ll do it again…and soon…Thanks Swerve…

As for H…none of this would have happened without her either…She booked all the hotels,the ferry and the train…worked out all the distances and arrival times…and when we ran late a couple of times,because her and Mervs phones are paired for tracking and she knew exactly where we were,she even phoned ahead to a couple of hotels and told them when to expect us,and to keep the kitchen open for dinner too…heheh…Now that’s dedication to her man and his pal…So nice one to you too H…very much appreciated Lovely…Thank you…

Merci beaucoup…

Baz/ May 2015

Merv’s postscript: My view from the saddle…… The night before this trip I didn’t sleep, what if Baz couldn’t ride his bike properly/safely? How do you tell one of The Stranglers you’re not willing to do the trip with them?! After looking after his bike and adjusting the chain etc we headed off to Newcastle to get two new tyres fitted. As soon as we left Baz’s place I was put at ease immediately, Baz rode smoothly, had good awareness of what was around him and made light work of the traffic. The following days have been covered in the blog. We had no problems, in fact it was an easy trip with fantastic company. Baz and I have become close friends as a result of this trip, you just don’t get the same vibe in a car! Roll on Faro so I can do it all again only this time on my own… Merv

Footage of Baz & Merv’s epic roadtrip can be seen here

Thanks to Baz for his diary, Merv for his photos, Go Pro footage & help and Louie for the video edit. We look forward to hearing about their next bike adventure…

Route Napoleon

 

 
 
Facebook Twitter Linkedin