Call me what you want… but when I went in to the school to teach today, I was definitely more focused on how my first shows and performances in Europe were gonna go moreso than the activities occurring in my own classroom – I can’t lie. I would catch myself zoning out rather regularly throughout the workday, only because I was so anxious to not only see what it was like in the U.K., but I wanted to check out London’s response to our music and actually be able to shake hands with everyone and thank them for supporting for all these years. So you can imagine how quickly I rushed outta that school when 3:30pm came around so that I could get some last minute running around done before finally getting on the road to Dulles Airport. I made sure to pack half of a library, iPod, and all other essentials to keep me busy for the upcoming 7-hour plane ride to Heathrow. I even made sure to grab a nice skrong draink to down fairly quickly to help with the napping process. Met up with our bass player, Kush in the terminal not too long before boarding the plane and got it moving to our gate. Apparently the Strong Island Iced Tea that I had assisted me in my quest for sleep because the entire plane ride over, I attempted to watch the movie “Wall Street 2” and could NOT make it through the entire thing… shameful considering the fact that I had over seven hours to do so. I would wake up to rolling credits, rewind it…. doze off again and wake up to another part in the movie that was completely unfamiliar looking to me. COme to think of it, I didn’t even stay awake long enough to catch the take-off. When I woke up the first time, I thought we were still taxiing on the damn runway… until I leaned forward to look out of a window and found out that this was NOT the case. By that time we were 30,000 feet in the air pretty much set at our cruising altitude. While the plane ride wasn’t too bad at all (I think my much needed sleep played a significant part in that as well), the length of my legs require my upgrading the seat on the return flight, so uh-ruh… I’ll be doing that for next week. Once we arrived, of course we had to fill out our “landing card” before making our way through UK customs. Passports and work permits were presented, and we were good to go. We walked down to baggage REclaim as they call it and picked up our bags, connected with our people and were out. I didn’t know what to expect once I arrived in London. The first thing I noticed was the consistent rain… It wasn’t pouring, but it was certainly dreary as all hell. This didn’t stop me from having my camera out at all times snapping pictures of any and ALL things on the drive to the hotel. Once we arrived at the hotel and got up to the room, I walked in and saw the size of the beds… Lawd.
When I laid stomach-down on the bed to connect my laptop to the net, even with me positioning myself diagonally my feet were STILL on the wall. lol The free wi-fi was non-existent at the Thistle Hotel as I had to kick out £9.99 ($15.55) for just 24 hours of low-speed net access. I love it.
I went on a food mission that didn’t take me far at all as I was on foot and the rain had picked up pretty significantly by this time. I ventured across the street to a hole-in-the-wall spot and got a simple chicken sandwich and chips. The sandwich consisted of… well… a grilled chicken patty on a bun. Therefore, you will find NO pics of this plate on the net as I had to doctor it up to the point that I damn near remade the thing. Had to throw that meal down pretty quickly in order to make it to soundcheck/rehearsal on time as we had to run the entire set with a new drummer for the tour, Laurie Lowe… Our regular drummer, Biscuit was unable to make the trip with us this time. We made it up to Cargo, which looked like a nice spot to me… and more importantly, once soundcheck started the soundman got our levels right and had us sounding GOOD together. So at this point, I was even MORE hyped up than before for the show to begin. We hurried back to the room for a QUICK turnaround of about 30 minutes, just enough time for a quick shower and a change of clothes. It was at this very moment that I realized I would have to supply myself with my own washcloths upon returning to Europe because there aren’t any in the hotel rooms. I used a hand towel to wash up with… Just a side note. lol
We rode back to the Cargo and found out that we had to walk through the crowd to get to the dressing room… Welp! Ok… The funny thing is, I looked up and a flashlight ended up in MY hand to lead the crew through this packed up ass, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. So I’m stumbling through people in order to clear the way for the crew, with a flashlight in hand looking like damn security of the first world. I could hear a couple people calling out our individual names as they gradually started to realize who was pushing their way through them. I even heard a few people say, “Zo!” …and others say, “Zo?” as I walked by them.
At the start of the show, I could already tell it was gonna be a night for the books. London was READY… We came out, and they were into the show from start to finish… From crowd response and participation to knowing all the words to the songs… they were ready to go. The personal highlight of the night for me on stage was the response I heard from Phonte simply saying, “I’ve got my man Zo on the keys.” The people got LOUD… The reaction caught me COMPLETELY off guard… so much to the point that I had to STOP playing the keyboard and just kinda stand there looking extra surprised. I couldn’t do anything but look at my kats on stage and say simply, “Wooooow.” Actually, someone asked me later on, “Why did you look so surprised when the crowd cheered for you?” Maaaaan, look. I haven’t heard a reception like that outside of Detroit and D.C. Very rewarding and humbling experience. Then to be able to walk right back out into the crowd after the show to take pictures, shake hands, sign albums, and greet everyone who has been following FE’s music and some who have been following my music for years was a huge bonus for me. Overall, the show was the perfect opening show for the European Tour run. Playing to a sold-out, hyped up crowd in a spot that I have never been before. Sounds pretty damn great to me.
AFTER the show, I was in for a not so great surprise as I decided to order the “Jerk Chicken Sandwich” at the venue and upon its arrival, I discovered that it was actually grilled chicken cutlets with lettuce and some damn chipotle mayo. Someone took it even further than that and ordered some calamari… I won’t even comment on it. I’ll just show you the picture.
Regardless, one a helluva show in London…… If this is any indication of how the remainder of this tour will be, then I. Can’t. WAIT for more.