Tour diary 3: the final leg of Swing Into Christmas 2023!

Published: 02 Jan 2024

The final stretch of the 2023 Swing Into Christmas tour (and also the longest one!) started in Norwich for a show at The Halls. It was great to return to this venue for the second time this year and be greeted by the lovely people of Norwich who always make us feel very welcome. Whilst we were in Norwich, we were also able to go and quickly visit The Playhouse, the venue in which our All-Stars will be playing in June 2024. The Playhouse is just a stone's throw from The Halls, and we loved playing there to a sold-out audience earlier this year with our All-Stars. 

The Norwich Playhouse

The show in Norwich was followed by a quick day off - some of us drove home, whilst others stayed in Norwich, having a lovely time grabbing coffee and seeing the sites of the beautiful city, and, of course, having a Travelodge drink!

Next up was a sold-out show at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge. It was definitely a busy day, and it was fantastic to see every seat in the house filled with lots of lovely faces - the first time we have sold out this lovely concert hall. We've already got two shows on sale at this venue in 2024 (in April and November) so do get your tickets now whilst we have the most availability!

Down for the Count Orchestra at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge

It was an early start for us the next morning, as we had our longest drive of tour (other than our November Scotland dates of course) up to Harrogate - a brand new destination for our Orchestra. We played at the Royal Hall, and we were absolutely stunned by the beautiful room.

The Royal Hall, Harrogate

Shortly before we were due to go on stage, Marvin mentioned to Mike that he had found a poster in the front of house area showing that our hero Louis Armstrong had once played on the very stage that we were due to be performing on - so we had to take a quick snap as a memento.

Mike Paul-Smith, Marvin Muoneké and Ineza in front of the Louis Armstrong poster at The Royal Hall, Harrogate

The Louis Armstrong poster at The Royal Hall, Harrogate

Our trip to Harrogate also included dinner at the lovely Christmas market, so successes all round. 

After Harrogate we remained up north for a double-show day in Liverpool at one of our favourite venues - St. George’s Hall (where we will also be returning to in the spring with our Orchestra). St. George’s Hall is encased by Christmas market stalls at this time of year, which creates an incredibly festive atmosphere, albeit a slightly harder get-in for our crew. Our crew were absolute heroes on this day in particular, with an earlier start and then a double show day to power through - we are incredibly grateful for all of their work! 

The Down for the Count Orchestra at St. George's Hall, Liverpool

The Christmas market in Liverpool

The Christmas market in Liverpool from St. George's Hall

Our Liverpool shows, as always, had a very lively atmosphere and some very joyful crowds at both shows. Liverpool is one of those cities where we have a firmly established post-show routine - we inevitably end up at the wonderful Teddy's for drinks and dancing, and tonight was no exception!

Down for the Count at Teddy's Liverpool

Down for the Count front of house team

After the long but rewarding Liverpool day we had one more show to complete before a day off. So, we got in our vans, minibuses and cars and headed across to Huddersfield for a show at Lawrence Batley Theatre - a venue we love visiting every year at Christmastime. It was another full house for us, which meant another busy day for us all! We performed on the glitzy panto set on the Lawrence Batley stage, and had a lovely time doing so. 

Then a day to relax and recuperate after a few shows and a lot of driving. On our day off in Huddersfield, a few of us headed into Leeds for dinner, bowling and drinks whilst others spent the day getting some fresh Yorkshire air. We had a great time hanging out off-stage and felt well rested for the final leg of the tour. 

Down for the Count musicians on a day off in Yorkshire

The next stop was Birmingham for a near sold-out show at the Conservatoire. We love coming to Birmingham, the crowds are always lively and the atmosphere always warm, and with this being our third visit to the Conservatoire it was great to see so many people filling the seats! 

The Down for the Count Orchestra on stage at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Next it was time to drive up to Manchester for a show at The Stoller Hall - a venue that we love returning to (and will be doing so in the spring). The Stoller Hall is also special to us as it is a part of the Chetham’s School of Music, where four of our Orchestra members studied. It was great to get a picture of Jonny, Augustė, Rose and Jordan up on The Stoller Hall stage where they were once students (albeit before the concert hall was actually opened). 

Jonny Ford, Auguste Janonyte, Rose Hinton and Jonny Ford on stage at The Stoller Hall, Chetham's School of Music

For the show that night, literally every seat of The Stoller Hall was filled (even those behind the stage!), and there was a real sense of camaraderie on-stage and within the audience members that made for a wonderfully jolly night. 

The Down for the Count Orchestra in rehearsal at The Stoller Hall, Manchester

Finally, it was time for the penultimate show of the tour, and the last show before Christmas! We went into this show with much anticipation, as it was at a venue and in a city where our Orchestra had never played before. However, Nottingham certainly didn’t disappoint! With this being the final Friday before Christmas, the air practically sparkled with festive spirit as our Orchestra launched into one of the last shows of the tour. We’re thrilled to be returning to Albert Hall in Nottingham next Christmas on Tue 17 Dec! After a night that special, how could we not return?!

The Down for the Count Orchestra on stage at The Albert Hall, Nottingham

After our show in Nottingham, it was finally time to return to our loved ones. The Orchestra dissipated across the country (and in some cases, abroad - take a look at that blue sky, that definitely isn't the UK!) to wind down and spend Christmas with those we hold dear to us. 

EasyJet flight to Porto

And then on 28th December, it was time for the finalé of Swing Into Christmas 2023 - a double-show day at Cadogan Hall in London! It was an early start for our amazing crew, who had one final set up to complete for the year - we really couldn’t have done this tour without all their hard work and dedication!

For our Cadogan Hall shows, our Orchestra featured an extended line-up, including extra strings and a harp, making the sound even more luscious and full than before. Ending our tour at Cadogan Hall is such a privilege, let alone doing two shows there, so we wanted to make our performances that bit more special. Both shows were a huge success, and we look forward to returning to the Cadogan Hall stage for four shows in 2024! It’s been a journey from our first show there in 2020 and a great one indeed! 

Swing Into Christmas at Cadogan Hall, December 2023And so that's a wrap on our Swing Into Christmas 2023 tour. We performed to well over 10,000 people at 22 shows in 19 venues, had lots of lovely post-show gatherings, driven thousands of miles... and, we have seen more Travelodge rooms than we thought possible.

Travelodge room key

It was exhausting at times, but also immensely rewarding, and everywhere we go we've been met by wonderful friendly audiences who have made us feel so welcome in their towns and cities. It really is such a special opportunity to be able to make music for you, so thank you so much for your unwavering support.

But perhaps most important of all are the friendships and camaraderie that continue to grow in the Orchestra - with every tour, our group of musicians gets to know each other more and we continue developing new and cherished friendships. Our Orchestra really does feel like a family now and we're so lucky that we get to spend so much time together.

The Down for the Count Orchestra on tour - Swing Into Christmas 2023

We can’t wait to head back on tour with our Orchestra twice this year - first in April, then at Christmas (and who knows, we might be able to add a few shows before then as well).

Check out the upcoming live dates here - see you soon!

 


About the author

Ruby Willis

Ruby is Down for the Count's marketing and communications assistant. When she is not writing Facebook posts and making Instagram reels, she is often performing in short films or physical theatre shows.

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