Monday, November 30, 1998

Tour Done!!

A word to our supporters: Thanks for coming to see us throughout the English tour, and giving us a fair hearing along the way. It wasn't the easiest of outings, and we had to perform in some less than perfect surroundings, but by and large the response was genuine and welcoming and several of the gigs were very satisfying - we definitely made some new friends (who might ultimately become real fans), and the already fans made their presence felt from beginning to end.

The final night in London was fantastic, and the band played their asses off at Sound Republic, aided by the fact that here was a gig designed and tailored for quality performance - a multi-media venue that embodied the best of both worlds, for the artist and the audience, and which I think is a revelation for a British venue in that no expense has been spared to enhance the abilities of the musicians and the opportunity for the crowd to experience that possibility in the most intimate atmosphere. F***ing grrreat!!!! (Said with Scottish accent, please)

All through, the guys played for each other, and were able to carry off the most difficult shows with integrity - now we really deserve a break from the road and some time off to recharge the inventive batteries that will lead to the next recording venture in the spring.

To the US fans (you swell in numbers each year........) we hope you've enjoyed the "Face To Face" CD which you've been able to preview prior to its EMI release in spring '99, and look out for our first Stateside March gigs in the southeast, hopefully belting out some new material headed for the next album.

To all of make us what we are!!

Happy Holidays, and keep the SOUL alive.


Friday, November 20, 1998

Rolling Along

We're in Sheffield today........the City where "The Full Monty" was filmed, and, coincidentally, as we drove to the gig yesterday we passed a run-down old pub advertising strippers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Maybe it's me, but the only thought that entered my mind at the time was what the hell THEIR dressing room must be like, when I'm sure a million more abject things could be pondered. I say that because we'd just been discussing the dire lack of basic changing facilities in these British gigs - no matter how new or custom-designed the building may be, the dressing room is usually a nook (or cranny, if you must) doubling as a beer keg storage passage/fire exit - the thought of the alarm going off as one is midway in & out of one's thunderbags, and the ensuing charge of terrified and panicked punters still clutching pints is enough to chill the nerve of the most stalwart entertainer - or a small room with good intentions which has been overcrowded by a large, useless couch and homely coffee table, when every inch of space matters, and a simple coat rack would be a luxury.

You see what we're reduced to on the road - where are the grandiose ideals of glittering stagecraft and inspired performance, carrying besotted throngs of idolising fans away on seas of abandon (and drink, of course)?, merely the mundane and menial carping of cold and uncomfortable men in the misty midlands of Mercia. Ah, Death, where is thy sting? Right now, it's about...... No, let's not go there.

Needless to say, the show was fine, if a wee bit difficult on my part trying to sing through the cold, but the others pulled mightily as always and more than compensated for my weakness. Tonight, however, we have a merciful night off to rest our bones, watch telly, have a toddy or two - in short what- ever takes your fancy, apart from McIntyre and me who have to make a train journey back over the Peak District to Manchester to an hour-long interview at the radio station Jazz FM. Who knows, maybe one of us will get the job!

Then, tomorrow it's off up North to Newcastle Upon Tyne, or Geordyland to us, where you're almost in Scotland, but not quite, though the weather's just as wicked, the more so for being perched on the North Sea, that grey body of near freezing water that separates us from Europeans, and which could probably counterbalance global warming single-handed, if science could contrive to aim the wind across it in the right direction. Billy Connoly's famous take on the North Sea is one where mothers were traditionally heard on Scottish beaches cajoling their chivering children into its chilling waves on supposedly summer days (Hah!), while not so many miles offshore, tannoy speakers on oil drilling platforms were greeting new arrivals with announcements like, "This is the North Sea - DO NOT FALL OVERBOARD, YOU WILL NOT LAST TWO MINUTES IN THERE".........meanwhile, back on the beach, the maternal voice is still screeching, "Go on ya big jessie!....get in the water an' hae a swim....."

Well, I should go and find out how many came back from battle last night, so that we can plan our next skirmish. I was bundled into a waiting car last night instead of the usual meet & greet after the show, and feel much better for it. All our concerns are that we embark on a six-night run on Sunday, now that the second night was added in Liverpool, the final night being London, of course, just to make it all the more scary.




Monday, November 16, 1998


Yes, a day off, some good food & wine, and a great gig here in Ascot works wonders as we were all burned out by Friday night in Blackpool.

Note for tour diary...... Blackpool makes Atlantic City look like Monte Carlo - it's so ugly even the seagulls fly upside down to avoid seeing it. It is a monument to tackiness - a museum of the worst fairground art known to man - a Goliath of garishness, and the absolute epicenter of the cultural donut!!!! Otherwise, the people were really nice.

Ascot is serene and lovely - the audience are 10000% there for us, it's a sellout both nights, and we're a happy bunch of campers, recharged and full funked-up again. Onnie took the three li'l dogs of the clubowner out for a walk on the racecourse - Royal Ascot is the biggest of Britain's horse raceing venues - and he nearly crapped himself when they all shot off in different directions as soon as they got out there....he had visions of going back to the club with three leashes dangling from his arm........ Fortunately, they're so used to it that they all came back and saved his ass.

Otherwise, we're already working on some US dates for March - this time in the southeast - so tell people to keep their eyes on this space for updates as soon as we confirm things. Oh, and we're going to Tokyo at the end of April for a week, at Sweet Basil (April 27 through May 2)

Right, I'm off to shower, and then with my new water-saving policy, shower everyone else - remember a clean band is a better band and much nicer to be around.