Early on in the tour our booking agent asked us to send over small reports about the venues we played at so he could use the information to gauge which other acts might be suitable to send into those venues. Very diligently I (Middi) compiled brief weekly reports on email and sent them over, mostly about the technical side of things, ie. what the loading area was like, parking provisions, lighting and sound setup, how many crew members were used, all that stuff.
About eight months into the tour myself and the aforementioned booking agent were having one of our unusually rare catch up telephone conversations and he thanked me for sending over the venue info as requested but he then asked "What's with you and showers??". Apparently in every report I'd sent, without realising it, I had gone into very detailed information about the showers in each venue, he asked if it was 'some kind of obsession' and while I don't think it's an actual 'obsession' I guess it is one of those things that, on a subconscious level, is very important to me. Well, actually, turns out, not just me.
Once someone points something like that out to you, you start noticing it a lot, and not long after that conversation I noticed that it's a hot topic with nearly everyone in the group. Being musicians none of us are really morning people so small talk in the hotel breakfast room is usually little more than a nod or good morning acknowledgement until the coffee starts doing its designated job, however, there was always two questions and only two questions that ever rattled around the room until the group was awake enough to go through the details of the forthcoming days events and they were "What time did you get to sleep" and "What was your shower like" this would inevitably lead to lengthy and rather pointless discussions about eco shower heads, temperature control knobs and water pressure differences between hotel floors.
So, the thing is, showers are a big part of our touring routine. As you may know we tour as both cast and crew and so we don't just turn up at 5pm, soundcheck and play, our days usually run something like this; 8am up and coffee, 9am breakfast, 9.30am shower in hotel and dressed into crew clothes, 10.30am on the road to the next venue, 12pm into venue and setup, 2.30pm lunch, 3.30pm power nap in dressing room (or any space in the theatre that is quiet and can fit an airbed in it) 4.30pm more coffee, 5pm sound check and final preparations, 6pm shower in theatre and stage clothes on, 7pm house opens, 7.30pm showtime, 10pm quick change back into crew clothes and pack up, 11pm leave venue, 1am back to hotel to shower off makeup and packup sweat, 1.30am BED.
As you can see there was three showers involved in that last paragraph, so it understandable that it's a big part of our tour regiment and over the course of a years touring around the UK theatres I can safely say we have compiled a good list of the best and worst of the shower facilities in these venues. While there is no way I would dream of doing a "Top 5 best and worst" because it would not be fair on venues that either had no showers (I know, distressing to say the least!) and venues that have to use their limited funds for the front of house and not the backstage areas, I can give you the Wild Murphys top 3 shower related stories from the last year on the road..
#3) The shower room was a floor up from my dressing room, It didn't make sense to go up in crew clothes with wash bag and towel to bring all those clothes back down as I'd be changing in to stage clothes after the shower so instead I stripped off in the dressing room, wrapped a towel around me and went up to the shower room, got a shower and came back down wrapped in the towel, unfortunately as I went through a door at the top of the stairs my towel caught in the door as it shut and came off, then I realised the door needed a pass card to open it! With no other option I had to run down the stairs, past the stage door and to the dressing room with nothing but one hand and a bottle of lynx shower gel to cover my unmentionables. It was almost the perfect crime, I managed to do the run unseen, made it to the dressing room, ran in, shut the door behind me and then turned around to find the stage manager sat in the dressing room waiting for me with some paperwork. To this day I'm not sure who was more embarrassed, me or her.
#2) Once again the showers were not in the dressing rooms, instead, quite some walk away was a football team room style shower setup, we all agreed I'd go in first, I took my travel bag with me and headed down there, had a nice shower, came out, went in my bag for a towel only to remember my towel was in the dressing room! In the next room was a toilet with a paper towel dispenser, It took me about twenty minutes to get dried with a lot of very rough A4 size green paper towels which left a lot of scratches. Never again!
#1) Shower in the dressing room this time, the area clearly suffered from very low water pressure as the taps ran very slow when we were filling cups, kettles and water bottles so this shower cubicle was fitted with a "pump power shower" having got used to the fact it fluctuated quite rapidly not just between high and low pressure but also between arctic ice and molten lava temperatures, coupled with a noise generated by the pump which can only be compared to a cross between a pneumatic jack hammer and a boeing 747 engine with a bearing gone on it, I proceeded to put shower gel over my body, shampoo on my hair and shaving gel on my face. I had shaved one half of my face when the shower 'engine' made a clicking sound and proceeded to stop working, not a drip coming out and here was me covered in soap looking like a cross between frosty the snowman and the michelin man. the taps in the sink also stopped working so I had to simply towel off everything and get dressed, I went on stage that night with a half shaven face which looked like a constant half face shadow and had the lighting man scratching his head for quite some time, the soap which remained on my head and body was not an issue until I started sweating, at which point my hair produced bubbles and my eyes started burning! So if you were there the night I was singing all night with a bandana around my head and my eyes closed for the entire performance, you now know why.
I'm sure there will be more to come, I have a feeling my bad luck with showers will continue to be an endless source of amusement for my colleagues, especially as there are about four other stories that happened on the road involving me and showers but they are a little more risque than the above so I think I'll save those for my autobiography. So next time you step in the shower, think about the fat lad from the Wild Murphys and give yourself a little chuckle.
Bye for now :-)