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Sept. 1999 - Finland
Oct. 16, 1999 - Cerdanyola Blues Festival / Spain - Including competition: Win a Two Timers CD!
Dec. 1999 / Feb. 2000 - Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Lapland
Feb. 2000 - Spain
March 2000 - UK
April 2000 - Paris
April 27-30, 2000 - Scotland
May 4, 2000 - Lee Brilleaux Memorial, Canvey / UK
Oct./Nov. 2000 - Status Quo Tour / UK
Nov. 2000 - Jamaica
Copyright all texts on this page by Sarah
James, Two Timers
Diary 2001 (separate page)
FINLAND - September 1999
I have to admit I was not looking forward to this trip as I had been told horror stories about drunken audiences crashing onto the stage and appalling weather etc etc but I have to say the whole thing turned out to be - A BLAST.
Things got off to an ominously Scandinavian start with our friends from Kokkola's Scandinavian Blues Party (E-mail) driving the tour bus into a moose (!) (Hey Teitzi, Ufo & Sture - Rock 'n' roll!). That moose turned out to be a godsend as we then got a (comparatively) luxury Dodge to cruise around in... Backtrack a couple of days to Vaasa where Tapio at Hullopullo's Wednesday Night Rock Club gave us a welcome to melt the nuts off a polar bear... Thanks to Radio Vaasa for plugging the CD... Back to Kokkola Thursday where we caught up with some friends from last year's Blues Party and got a tan (I kid you not). Robban from Wentus Blues Band (External Link!) ran some great sounds by us including their latest album featuring Pelle Lindstrom, and Pelle's other band Urban Turban which is an amazing mix of blues played on bozoukis and bagpipes and stuff - wild. Friday's gig in Pietarsaari was a killer with Tumpe the soundguy riding the dials just how we like it ... we shall meet again... Gordon swapped notes with Erki from Landola Guitars (External Link!) who so kindly gave him a Landola D80 last year. (Check it out on "Lock & Key").
Saturday and the sun is still baking as we head into unknown territory ie. Koskenkorva, home of an enormous vodka factory and precious little else. After a record-breaking soundcheck we were almost too knackered to do the gig but the locals plied us with the aforementioned liquor and spurred us on with some hilarious formation dancing. Though there was no enamel left on my teeth you still couldn't wipe the smile off my face. The whole town is probably playing the spoons as we speak... Thanks to Micke Bjorklof (E-mail) and Timo from Blue Strip for making a long trip to see us. Why the hell Finland needs us when they've got homegrown bands like this I do not know... Check out their record "Swamp Baby"on Bluelight Records...
Long drive to Helsinki Sunday and time to refuel with Wentus Blues Band before Monday's big show going out Live on Radio Mafia (E-mail). Our favourite Fin, Mafia's Teppo Nattila took us on a tour of Helsinki's record shops and boy was that an eye opener. Try finding this much choice at these prices in the U.K.and you'd be hard pressed. Another example of rip-off Britain! Call the Daily Mail immediately!! England is a cultural void!!! (Gordon has just intervened to stop me ranting about England again.)
Aaagh ...a beer and I feel much calmer... where was I... Oh yes, check out Fennica Records (Albertinkatu 35) for a wicked selection of rock, blues and country and Digelius (Viiskulma Laivurinrinne 2) for jazz and world... Inevitably we were headed for some serious expenditure when stroke of luck our good friends Susanne and Jussi Raulamo walked in and diverted us (whew!). Susanne interviewed us for a national paper a few days earlier for which we are very grateful and many thanks for the cassette featuring Tiny Tunes, Groovy Eyes etc. Being our only tourbus cassette we now know the whole thing backwards! Jussi is a phenomenal jazz swing guitarist and deserves much wider recognition... record labels please note.
Before long we're upstairs with Mafia DJs Esa and Teppo at the Beefy Queen for the live show and I am, to put it bluntly, shitting the proverbial bricks. You can't flash a winning smile on radio, girl... Anyhow we both give it our best shot and the radio Mafia guys love it to death so we reckon we must have done something right. Esa is a wealth of musical knowledge and apparently a great guitarist too so we hope to be back to exchange a few sounds on his show in the future... Many thanks guys!
Esa, HoundDog, Gordon, me and Teppo at the Beefy Queen
If ever you're in Tampere check out the Hotel Tammer for its amazing period 1930's decor and the Sputnik club for rock gigs- do people here never sleep? Can't remember much about the rest of the tour except great audiences in Jyvaskyla and Kausala (though one guy here actually bit my shoulder- woah!) and the villa in Hanko where the 20 layers of wallpaper stood up all on their own, independent of the wall!!
Well I loved Finland - great food (how many restaurants in England offer you gluten-free, lactose-free options?), beautiful scenery (population density 15/km²), clubs open till 3 am even in small towns, hotels with saunas, friendly people, adoring good-looking young men (er..hang on a minute...). Check the giglist for future dates (Lapland , Feb. 2000).
Mega KIITOS (that's thanks in case you didn't know) to:
Teijo Oikarinen, our Man Friday & Robban Hagnas (E-mail), our booking agent Tel: 358(0)6 8317 907. Check out Radio Mafia Monday nights for the best in blues, roots and country...
Signing off, your very own... Sarah
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CERDANYOLA BLUES FESTIVAL, SPAIN - Oct. 16, 2000
October 16th was another opportunity for Gordon and me to pay a visit to our FAVOURITE city - BARCELONA, albeit a rather fleeting one. Needless to say we had a phenomenally good time as usual, and by the way the crowd mobbed us for CD's after the show they must have enjoyed it too! As we were playing outside in the town square we had the dubious pleasure of using the local police station as a dressing room (this just wouldn't happen anywhere else!), and were blessed with a little Divine Intervention (the church bells behind us tolled with ominously good timing!). Many thanks to the organisers for looking after us so well, and to Catalunya Radio for playing the record. All being well we should be back on tour in Spain early next year - All enquiries to our MAN with the PLAN, ALFONSO CITO.
Post-gig with the festival organisers; Alfonso shows us what his right arm's for...
Which brings me to our new TWO TIMERS COMPETITION... If you missed out on in Cerdanyola, here's your chance to win a copy of our new CD "Aubrey Rex & Other Stories"! Here's the question:
Q: In the photo of the Cerdanyola crowd below, what are these lovely people saying? Que dice la gente en la foto?
Any smart alec who answers "Rubbish!" or anything like that will be severely spammed by our people so don't even think about it... Email your answer and your name & address to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and the first correct answer gets a free CD!
Signing off, your very own... Sarah
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SWITZERLAND, BELGIUM, HOLLAND, LAPLAND - 1999/2000
Firstly, my apologies to our friends in Switzerland for the omission of December '99's Swiss tour in the diary. Not that it wasn't enjoyable or worthy of comment, but the fact was, Gordon said he was going to write about Switzerland and, well, you can draw your own conclusions... To be honest it's been so long all I can remember is that incredible water park in Pfaffikon where we spent hours on those amazing water chutes alongside all the other 9 year olds... Anyway, a belated big thankyou to the Dr Feelgood Swiss posse who lent us their unrelenting support, and to Wolfgang and Joachim in Austria to whom we extend our deepest sympathy for having to cohabit with a bunch of fascists.
And so a new millenium was born (yawn) and what better way to kick it off than with another blinding bash in Belgium at Vervier's excellent music venue, Spirit of '66. We are hugely indebted to Francis for his persistence in booking TWO TIMERS and apparently it's finally paying off as a very healthy crowd turned out. Doubly spurred on by the great sound system at the Spirit, Gordon was frankly unstoppable and after 4 encores and a surreal version of "Communication Breakdown"(!?) I just about needed oxygen. Thanks to everyone who was there and Francis, anytime you like mate.
Fast forward a bit to Holland where Frits Collenbrander (Hi Frits!) persuaded Assen's Blues Festival to give us a try and boy did we all have some fun upstairs at Cafe Sandburg... One of those all-singing, dancing on tables, don't-hold-back kind of crowds and lots of gorgeous young girls to keep guitarist morale high ...hem... We didn't get much time to talk to the organisers in all the furore but cheers chaps and let's do it all again some time...
Now they have some pretty crazy ideas in Finland but TWO TIMERS, game as ever, thought nothing of schlepping the trusty suitcase all the way to Saariselka, Lapland (get your atlas out) to entertain the Finnish folk for a chilly February weekend in the Arctic Circle. And we were not alone in our folly as we were joined in this trek across the tundra by our very own record producer Dave Bronze, and Gordon's early guitar mentor Steve Simpson, accompanying the very excellent Eric Bibb. The gigs were at times strangely wild... and at times wildly strange as the audience tried to apply their 3-time polka dance thang to some good old 4-time R'n'B but hell, let's not get technical here. In their own way I like to think they enjoyed it.
And besides, how often to you get to see that eerie green smudge across the sky (the Northern Lights) in your day job? How often does your boss invite you and your mates to a log cabin in the wilderness to sample the local fish by a roaring wood fire, while a skilled craftsman who has spent the last thirty years perfecting his technique carves you an exquisite firebird out of a single small block of wood... (But...why?? I hear you cry. Don't ask... time moves differently up here). Can't remember, huh? Many thanks again to Eero Raittinen and our agent in Finland Robban Hagnas for making it all happen.
Signing off, yours Sarah
Lucky 13 wins me a Firebird carving: dreams, love, happiness....
Round the campfire with Eric Bibb... From left to right: Dave (don't dig this hippy shit) Bronze; Eero (should I be
somewhere else?) Raittinen; Gordon (no-one will make me sing) Russell; Sarah (always game, bless her) James;
Robban (forgot the words) Hagnas; and Eric (what's that burning smell?) Bibb.
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At last! Back after a mega hiatus of six months for which we apologise profusely... Either the gigs got too scary to talk about or domestic nonsense took over (equally scary) but anyway here's a whistle-stop tour of the highlights... Hold on tight...
SPAIN - February 2000
joy. No sooner back from the Finnish mid-Winter but we're touching down
at Barcelona airport and the whole placed is bathed in a warm pink sunhaze
which instantly makes you feel good. I can't understand why anybody wants
to live anywhere else! However there is just one hitch, in fact one major
crushing blow - I've gone down with a hideous flu bug the previous day
and my head is about to explode. Now I may look like a frail snip of a
woman but fact is, I'm a pretty tough cookie by all accounts, but this
was no ordinary virus. Consequently I spent most of the tour groaning in
my hotel bed and the rest of it growling pathetically on stage. Sorry folks...
Despite this setback there were some killer moments: like the Akelarre
club on Menorca Island where the crowd blew us away with their Gypsy Kings-style
handclapping on "Living in the 21st Century", and the Jazzbah
in Ciudadela which really rocked. The Spanish people never do a bad gig.
Special thanks to: Ana our agent Alfonso's partner for plying me with every herbal remedy she could lay her hands on; Mikel at Akelarre showing us the good life in Mahon; and Jaume and the team at Jazzbah for making it all happen so well.
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Well Spain is always a tough act to follow and I'm usually dreading going back home, but if you need an instant cure for post-tour depression I can recommend the John Otway show (for which we did the support slot at the Worcester Park Tavern (0208 3371015) (Feb 25). ) Just like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, most of the audience knew the script already which made for some hilarious crowd participation numbers like "The House of the Rising Sun", and yer man leapt around popping buttons off his shirt and head-butting microphones with such eccentric glee that you couldn't help but laugh your head off. Wild Willy Barrett is no longer present but the band were great and stormed through all the hits(!) and more with obvious enjoyment. Just what the doctor ordered...
Other highlights of this leg include a couple of venues well worthy of mention for the dedication of their promoters: firstly, the Spalding Blues Club at the Red Lion which Richard Howell has nurtured for 9 years now and who earns himself our highly coveted DGA (Diamond Geezer Award) for making us feel well at home and organising a sell-out show. Secondly, the Bluebell (01825 840080) near Lewes, East Sussex run by Barry Firlong who also earns a DGA for setting up such a great venue at considerable cost in an area otherwise completely devoid of decent venues. And while I'm here, where's me soap box.. right, PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL VENUES and STOP SHELLING OUT TO SEE F**K*** TRIBUTE BANDS WHEN YOU COULD BE WATCHING GREAT ORIGINAL ACTS FOR MUCH LESS. At this rate there'll be no new live music at all and we'll be destined to listen to Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy impersonators etc etc for the rest of our lives. Don't get me wrong, I loved 'em as much as the next guy first time around, but for Chrissakes! - enough is enough.
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Paris was not our idea of a great night out following a previous engagement
at Festival Disney (the bit with all the bars and restaurants) in 1997.
"Have a nice day" is not a phrase which falls easily from the
lips of Eurodisney employees, and we found ourselves in line alongside
several disgruntled Daffy Ducks and Goofys arguing about the conditions
or whereabouts of our respective contracts. This time however, we must
have done something right, as the whole day ran with clockwork precision
- excellent P.A. and sound engineer, stagehands falling over themselves
to please, ample supplies of brownies and beers in the dressing room (now
we're talking), hotel with pool etc etc, enfin, mes amis, le grand luxe.
The venue was Billy Bob's, a wapping great 3-tier mother of a place packed
full of European revellers, and to give ourselves a small pat on the back,
we BLITZED 'em! A great time was had by all and a better advert for pro-Europe
campaigners you could not find...
SCOTLAND - April 27-30, 2000
apologies to our agent, Chris Simmonds). After some consideration of this
short period north of the border I have come to the following conclusion:
The Scots should be sent on an annual compulsory month's holiday to Italy
for the following reasons:
a) to learn how to have a good time; and
b) to learn how to cook.
This would make Scottish tours so much more enjoyable for everyone concerned and would make the horrendous drive to Ullapool or wherever a tad more bearable. It's hard to believe that Aberdeen and Bergen, Norway are on the same planet, let alone the same latitude. Anyhow, a DGA was justly awarded to David Mundell from the Bein Inn, Glenfarg (01577 830216) for providing an oasis of comfort and a great gig in the otherwise dreary routine of Little Chef fare and damp B&B's. Gawd bless ya, guv. Funnily enough, he's from Hull... I rest my case.
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LEE BRILLEAUX MEMORIAL, CANVEY, UK - May 4, 2000
Lee Brilleaux Memorial gig at The Oyster Fleet, Canvey Island rolled around
on May 4th and as always was an ideal opportunity to catch up with the
huge extended Dr Feelgood family which I'm happy to say has embraced TWO
TIMERS with equal warmth. It's amazing the number of messages we get from
fans every year wishing us well and we'd like to thank everybody for their
words of encouragement and particularly BLUEPRINT magazine for completely
ignoring all the other bands on the bill and singing only our praises!
Our good friends from Finland were present, as was John Butterfield (Feelgood fan club secretary), Ann Adley (Feelgoods' right arm), and handsdown DGA winner, Chris Bray.
So far these annual gigs have raised over £20,000 for cancer relief nurses so that's a good reflection on Feelgood fans everywhere, ain't it?
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Summer as usual was punctuated with some hugely fun festivals around Europe starting with BLUES ON THE FARM on 29th June at the painfully named Pumpbottom Farm in Appledram, Chichester. (Extracts of the festival can be viewed at VirtuetTV (who incidentally want me to pay £20 for a video copy of my own show - get real, guys!). This is an annual weekender run by the very excellent Julian Moores and team at his Ciderhouse, headlined this year on day 1 by Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings. As is so (too) often the case, we had the dubious pleasure of opening the whole weekend which meant that the crowd gradually drifted in with bemused expressions on their faces mumbling "who's this lot then?". However, by the end they had big grins on their faces and despite the fact that I'd ripped a gaping hole in my drumskin (Nobody noticed? Does it normally sound that bad?!?), so did I.
One advantage of going on first - you get to watch the rest of the show backstage! Not necessarily the best place to appreciate the awesome talents of the next band - The Nightporters. We'd previously met at a festival in Assen, Holland and they really are great fun to watch. Kevin Crowe is one of those rare drummers you actually want to do a drum solo... And then Bill Wyman and his all-star band... The man himself had made his mark by arriving in an ultra-stretched white limo earlier on but on stage he left it to the band to shine. Which they certainly did. After a pretty MOR first half-hour Gary Brooker did a killer solo version of "Whiter Shade of Pale" and the crowd just erupted. Alvin Lee and Martin Taylor ripped it up with an impressive guitar duel (Alvin Lee won). And at the side of the stage we sang along to the words of the entire set as they scrolled down the autocue monitors in front of the whole band! They don't have this down the King's Head, I can tell you! More hilarity as Bill Wyman's personal assistant kept running up behind him to puff talcum powder on his sweaty mits! Now that's what I call the Big Time...
|Now what I need here is a photo as I know most of you never bother to read the text and just look at the pictures. So, having forgotten to take the camera to the gigs, here comes one of Mr Gordon Russell on vacation in the south of France this Summer...|
22nd July was an excellent opportunity to go back to THOUARS in France, where fate once again threw us together with Eric Bibb and Band for a gloriously hot Summer outdoor gig in the town square. We had played the Theatre there a year or so ago and had made a lot of good friends so as a result our set went down a storm. The highlight for me was when hugely talented Steve Simpson got up with us and played fiddle on an impromptu version of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't that Peculiar" - oh joy! Eric was brilliant as usual and at the end we all got up together for a spontaneous jam - happy memories. If anyone has any photos of this please send them in - I'd love to see them. To top it all the next day we managed to find our secret Anjou vineyard again where we stocked up with a few cases of the good stuff before going home. It's situated in the hilariously-named hamlet of Sainte Verge (Saint Penis - I kid you not!) and I have no fears in divulging the location of this secret gem because you will never find it...
PEPINSTER BLUES on 5th August was a well-organised and reasonably mud-free festival in a field close to the town of Verviers in Belgium (where we have spent many a great evening at the Spirit of '66). It started off as one of those rather dark, black-leather- biker jacket affairs with all the bands girlfriends adoringly carrying their guitars for them (honestly!). So I decided to put on my pinkest, fluffiest stagewear to counteract the machismo and pretty soon darling everyone was in touch with their feminine sides! Lovely bunch of fellas and many thanks to Franck Esteves from France for helping us out and roadieing in the mayhem. I always thought the Belgians were a tad inhibited but going by the bar we hit on after the show this is absolutely not the case. Whether they had just come back from a Club Med holiday in Spain and were still living the experience I don't know, but they showed no qualms in stripping off and revealing their innermost secrets to us and all to the tune of the Lambada (or this year's Spanish equivalent). Delightful! Give your average British male the same dose of Bacardi & coke and they just get belligerent...
Pepinster Blues. More photos at www.bluescruisers.net
and at the Two Timers' Photos page
And finally... August 's mini-trip to FINLAND got off to a bad start when ooops! we managed to miss our flight to Stockholm thanks to that atrociously gridlocked hellhole otherwise known as Heathrow Airport (This really gets me going). If you ever have to get a flight out of Heathrow during the rushhour - just forget it. If you can't afford the inflated price of a hotel room in the vicinity and a taxi to the terminal - don't bother. Take a train. Stay home. But for God's sake don't put yourself through the torture of trying to drive there. Anyway, after a five-hour wait and a lot of pleading with the power mad gate attendant we finally managed to get another flight to Stockholm and arrived in Vaasa 12 hours late. Fortunately the first gig was the next day so no harm done.
Highlights of the trip included: a chance to catch up with a few of our favourite Fins:
STURE hanging around in the park... while UFO enjoys family life
- a sun-baked barbecue with WENTUS BLUES BAND and their current record producer Clas Yngstrom. Axel, the drummer from Wentus fished us some beautiful salmon (really) and Clas showed us that not only is he a phenomenal guitarist (and a legendary one in his own country, Sweden) but he can also cook a wicked salsa! All of this washed down with copious strawberry margaritas. Bliss: - the real excuse for the trip: the Kalliojärvi Kesäillan Blues and Jazz Festival in Isokyro (aka the middle of nowhere). Sort of like Newport meets the Little House on the Prairie. The Waltons in this case were the organisers Eki and Leila who invited us for a perfectly-formed wholesome lunch of fruit picked from their garden and wheat grown on their farm etc etc. At the gig we were given exquisite hand-crafted objects carved out of local trees or fashioned out of clay by local potters etc etc. As Graham Norton would say, it was all SOOO nice!! Joking apart, it made me think how much we've lost in the hustle and bustle of our stress-ridden lives over here. (Not that much then). No seriously (I'm not too good at serious), everyone should go to Isokyro and restore their sanity from time to time. Then go home and go mad again! Many thanks to Eki and Leila for looking after us so well, and to Micke Bjorkhof for chaperoning us.
soon... The Status Quo Tour diary extravaganza!!..
Watch this space... Sarah xx
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QUO "FAMOUS IN THE LAST CENTURY TOUR"
October/December 2000 / UK
||You've got to hand it to "the Quo" - they are not without a sense of irony. After 35 years of critical slating the world's most unfashionable band are still "Rockin' all over the world" playing to sellout (allbeit smaller) crowds of devotees. It's a phenomenon that gives us hope folks... For the record, we did not get the guest spot on this tour because we are buddies with Rhino (for the uninitiated that's John Edwards, Quo's bass player). Though we have since had a chance to get to know him a bit and he really is a top geezer. No, the fact is that he saw us play at Worcester Park and suggested we contact their management, and after many a phone call and much holding of breath we finally got the OK 2 weeks before the tour started. So absolutely no favoritism there AT ALL. So after a good month in denim detox trying to reassemble the remains of my burnt out grey matter after this mind blowing tour, I have come to the following conclusion: being a support act is a lynchable offence and you are GUILTY until proved INNOCENT. Or in the case of the Quo Army you are GUILTY anyway. However, going by the audience reaction we got, the number of CD's we shifted, and the torrent of compimentary emails we're still receiving (and Quo will back me on this), it is fair to say that we were granted a Right Royal Pardon.|
I'd like to give you a day by day account of our 25 days of Quo mania but I was so stressed out with the juggling act of being PR, accountant, merchandise sales coordinator AND rock starlet (!), not to mention flyer hander outer, that I forgot to make notes as I went along. In any case you'd be surprised how samey the old touring schedule gets after a bit. The whole operation is run with such military precision that as the tour progressed the days slotted into a carbon copy of each other with only the relative merits of local shopping facilities to differentiate them (many thanks to Mother Supremo Visa). And that's if like us you're lucky enough to get any time off and people don't mob you in the street. Which is not the case for Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt who are cloistered in their hotel/dressing rooms with only the prospect of a gaggle of denim clad ageing peroxide groupies descending on them if they step out into the street. But I'm sure their lifestyle well makes up for it...
Left pic: It was 'im guv... Gordon with soundman Dave Roden...
Right pic: Stage manager Dave "break a leg" Salt, takes his job too seriously
|So things got off to a nervous start in Llandudno with an icy reception from the Quo management and crew. About minus 40 to be more precise. Which was offputting to say the least when you haven't played a note yet and you have the prospect of going through it another 24 times. Anyhow, with the help of Stereophonics soundman Dave Roden we do an OK show and the ice melts a bit. I even get a compliment from David Walker Quo's notoriously hard-to-please manager. Phew...|
So the days kind of join up: Southport, Stoke, Grimsby, Scarborough, where we decide to give up on B&B accommodation and go for the predictability of Travel Inn, so avoiding the rude awakening of the svengali landlady beating at your door at 8am just to remind you you haven't had your daily cholesterol overdose (the great English breakfast) and you've got to be out by 10. (Oh cool, that leaves us a tidy 7 hours to kill before we're due in Carlisle or wherever). Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, York and gradually the crew are getting friendlier, Francis is coming out for a chat in the soundcheck, Rick is swapping notes on guitar tunings and haircare or whatever, and we're breathing a huge sigh of relief that they realise that we're not a bunch of arseholes after all.
Cardiff, Bristol, and the audience reaction is getting better and better as word gets round that the support act are actually WORTH watching. What is amazing (not to say alarming) is that you see the same faces in the front rows at nearly all the gigs... despite the fact that the show is virtually identical every night... I just don't get it but there you are. In Nottingham I hook up with old school friends Pat and Marilyn whom I haven't seen in years, and also Andy, who is celebrating his 100th Quo gig and I manage to sneak backstage at Birmingham NEC to meet his idols... We head off back up to Scotland for our own previously arranged mini-tour with Trojan hero Gordon ever at the wheel of the trusty Peugeot (the man deserves a medal, and another for putting up with me).
Quo devotion... You're on!
||And so on and so forth...
Plymouth was a night to remember in that we very nearly didn't make it. Having flown back from Jamaica that morning (of which more later) we are met by the very excellent Nic who is to drive us to the gig, the idea being that we get to sleep off the jet lag during the trip. That was the theory anyway. The reality was we got stuck in a major traffic jam on the M4 for 3 hours and it was only thanks to Nic's recklessly fast driving that we arrived at Plymouth Pavillions 15 minutes before showtime. We were so hyped up by then that we played our set five minutes faster than usual! Huge thankyou to Nic and tour manager Andy Taylor for staying so cool throughout...
|By the time we get to Wembley Arena (which we weren't originally booked to do but Francis Rossi fixed it) the crew are really pampering us - Gordon gets his G&L guitar set up by the formerly frosty guitar tech Tonto, I get pre-gig hugs from tough cookie stage manager Dave Salt and Andy Taylor tells us we're the best support act Quo have ever had. Would you Adam and Eve it! I have to say we were scared shitless when we saw the size of Wembley and to top it all soundguy Dave Roden went down with chronic flu and couldn't finish the tour, so we had a charming and equally proficient new guy, HARM SCHOPMAN, who'd never heard us before but did a great job. A sticky moment... But we love playing and I guess it must show a bit cos we got a lot of compliments after... Oh Wembley, if my mother could see me now...||
Wembley here we go...
Last show was Birmingham NEC and by now it's just another arena gig... (ho hum)... We decide to get stupid toys as Xmas presents for the crew and give them out at the soundcheck. Bad idea. Five minutes into the show and I notice small plastic pellets are shooting out from the backdrop behind us... it's Dave Salt firing at us with his new toy dart gun. I'm in the middle of a hear-a-pindrop ballad in front of 8000 people and these pellets are pinging off my arse! True professionalism for you.
And so we say our goodbyes and head back to the wilderness of pub and club gigs... but we've all got a feeling this won't be the last gig we'll do together. We're just pleased we've got to work with such a down-to-earth bunch of guys as Quo and their crew. At this level there can't be too many like them, that's for sure. Keep rockin' lads and good luck to ya! And a MEGA THANKYOU to all the Quo fans who gave us such brilliant feedback and made it all worthwhile. May we meet again...!!
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JAMAICA - November 2000
Wow!! We were so busy on the first leg of the Status Quo tour that we completely forgot about the invitation we'd had from Belgian blues aficionado Michel Geraerts to play his blues festival in Negril, Jamaica. Once we get on the plane though we're like a pair of kids and we know this is going to be a trip with a difference when we can't touchdown in Kingston because... there are wild dogs running around on the runway!! We get picked up at the airport by lovable laidback North Americans Sonny and Sandy and the nightime drive from Montego Bay to Negril is a gas - sweltering heat, reggae blaring out fom every shack along the ramshackle road which never gets repaired cos the money always disappears into someone's back pocket...
Coconut Man & Festival Banner
We take a walk from the hotel next morning and get hit on by every local hustler there is trying to sell us weed, crack, hairbraids, taxi rides, rasta hats, you name it. So we make it to the relative safety of the Yacht club where the festival will take place and hook up with Michel, who has to be the world's most misguided organiser, but means well. He's got some top acts flying in from the U.S. and Europe: Terry Evans, Cigar Store Indians, Johnnie Bassett, Last Call, and many others, but hasn't reckoned on the fact that this is Thanksgiving week or besides, who goes to Jamaica to listen to blues anyway...? So it turns out that the audience is principally 20 holidaying Belgian friends of Michel's, a few American blues fans, and a small bunch of local Jamaicans along for the ride. The rudimentary sound system is just about held together by a hilarious local reggae band who are none too familiar with the blues so we get some wonderful dub echo moments and the bass is always louder than everything else... brilliant! Star of the show is MC Ballistic, a perpetually stoned compere whose bullshit wacky intros had me in fits. Watching him urging a load of puzzled Belgians to "big it up" and "respect the Lion" etc etc was priceless...
Left: Henk from LAST CALL and TWO TIMERS play air guitar. Strangely, note only Sarah uses a plectrum...
Right: Natty Redlocks and MC Ballistic
well, for us the whole experience is huge fun and we have lots of laughs
with Henk from superb Belgian band Last
Call and Dave and Patty from the U.S. Gordon gets to try scuba diving
and I take leisurely bike rides up the stunning coastline in the glorious
sunshine. Me and G. are too happy for the blues and head straight for the
reggae beach parties after the show - craaazy maaann! And the food - yeahman!!
Saltfish and ackee at Belladonnas, or grilled lobster in garlic butter,
or jerk chicken all washed down with a fruity rum punch - mmm, yummee.
I get myself the nickname of REDLOCKS from the locals and by the end of
the week we love the irie vibes so much no way do we want to go home.
But then all good things must come to an end, and the 2nd leg of the Status Quo tour awaits us in the U.K.... (see above)...
TOUR DIARY 2001
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