In the past, when I have put pen to paper, or to be more precise, fingers to keyboard, to record for posterity the antics of the Rod Crew on Tour, I write a little bit as I
go… regular updates… and I’m aware that if you can’t be on tour, its good to read about others who are. However a £319 phone bill after our Tenerife antics ( mostly from the internet dongle thing I
used) meant that the Plymouth - Ireland jaunt was done laptopless in order to avoid temptation. Had I realised that this trip was going to involve a second mortgage to pay for alcohol alone, and that
the total trip involved almost as much expenditure as South Africa last year, I think I may have taken the chance and thus avoid this situation of having to write about a whole trip in one go. I
write from memory and from some scribbled notes under the influence of falling down water, so I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies or omissions.
Thurs 2nd July Plymouth Gig
So the plan was to train it to Plymouth (and we would have flown from there to Ireland but we cocked it up big time) so off we set. bags packed, tour hats on and tickets safely stowed (except Plymouth ones that we were getting via Smiler). Parked in our seats and only a few miles down the tracks when a lady sits opposite us and says… excuse me don’t I know you? Turns out it was Liz Short, a previous Weekend attender and long time Rod fan, so we were off talking Rod before we even got to our first destination.
We were staying at The Travelodge for this one and bumped into Steamy at check in, tried to avoid having a room near his (because you just know you may lose furniture) but failed. We already knew we were on tour because it was raining…. pouring down in fact. Was this gonna be the 10 days of rain tour version 2??
Arrived at the Meet… a screen proclaimed ‘the Mutley Crown welcomes all Rod Stewart Fans… a good start! People started drifting in and the Rod music was already on. Great to meet Rosanne and her husband who had come from Brazil and this was to be there first ever gig… she sure had a trip to remember. Think we have a new recruit for the weekends.
Ian is going to post the pics, but there was a really well attended meet for this first gig. Mandolin Wind and co, Scottie Girl, Banksy, Bloko boy, Rodders one (in trousers for once!), Dee and Roxy, Steamy, Yve (get better soon) Pete the Red and Sue, Gary Interludings, Muffen, Kev Freeth (68 ), PH and Suzi (BBG) who was over for the States for this tour, Mark You wear it well , Down at the Border, Bunker , Frank and Karen, Dom and Carol, Gillian and her aunties, to name a few and no doubt miss some out. Suzi gave out some ribbons (leopard skin of course) , she had made in memory of Rita from Smiler and many of us wore them, which was a lovely touch. We were singing well before it was time to go to the gig, but there was a sense of anticipation as we all wondered what the Smiler tickets we had ordered were going to be like.
So on the short walk to the venue, Steamy is telling anyone who wants to listen that the ticket thing is nothing to do with him and he is not a representative of management at all. We queued at the box office and all got our envelopes really easily, and then it was like exam day as we opened them to squeals of delight when we realised we were all in the first three rows centre front. Oh Happy Daze!! Then, miraculously, Steamy decided that he was indeed the official Smiler representative after all!! Odd that!!
So we found our seats and it was such a brilliant atmosphere with us all together waiting for the start of the show. Some bloke comes up to Ian and has a go saying that his wife is in tears because she doesn’t have good seats and ‘how come you and your cronies are down the front again?’ Ian asks him if he got his tix from Smiler and he says no, so there you go. How the hell his bad seats ended up being Ian’s fault I have no idea, but guess he felt better blaming someone else.
There was quite a stir as Penny, Renee and Liam walked past us to get their seats, several people held out their hands to say hello but Frank decides that’s not enough and jumps up for the full blown snog, think he will be eternally devastated that no one was quick enough with a camera!
Huge laughter from us lot as Gary Interdudings arrives trying to find his seat…. where is Row A?? Where is it I can’t find it??? Mark G who has a cheap seat at the back suddenly appears and manages to squeeze in somewhere… there is a huge sense of camaraderie amongst us all, no one gonna tell us to sit down tonight… security look worried!! Ger arrives from nowhere and tries that old Irish Blarney with the stewards in a effort to stay where he is which I think actually works.
The arena is virtually full and the rain has held off and it’s a great roar that greets the start up of the intro and the Rodominator video that we have seen before (lets face it we have seen the whole show before) which gets louder as the band come on and is deafening as The Man takes the stage.
Some Guys is the first song, he’s in the Blue jacket… don’t need to describe the clothes, you’ve seen em on the pics and you tube… Having a party and the SLRR and Dom is vaulting over the seats lfrom row 3 to the front like a man possessed. Carol is quite happy to see him go as she has made a friend called Chardonnay!!
Rod announces he is gonna be here for over 2 hours and that we should remember that we should be more up for it than him as he is 64. He sure doesn’t seem like it today. Sound is good, vocals good as ever, Rod seems well up for it. Tells us he stayed in Salcombe and he just found out that J’anna has a house there. Bemused reaction…’ok well I thought it was interesting’.
It’s a heartache… everyong singing it to Steamy….Rhythm of my heart (he knows his place is Plymouth? Doesn’t really scan) Downtown train that’s he fks the beginning up, as always I make a dash for the loo during the drum solo. Ian threatened to tell Dave Palmer that once and I almost died from embarrassment. Comes back in in white jacket.
Handbags, and then a highlight for me, Tom Trauberts Blues… went down a storm. Fantastic vocals on that. Reason to believe, Forever Young… The massed choir are in fine voice and partying down the front. Security are happy to let us get up and dance and don’t seem to mind how many are in the front row but they don’t want to let us get to the barrier… it’s a thoroughfare apparently… how odd.
This old heart and then the announcement about the new album The great American SOULbook. Huge groan from the RSC/Smiler contingent. However Love Train was lively and energetic and had us trying to form a train and dance up and down, Security weren’t having any of that however and we had to save it for the post gig meet…
Dirty Old Town Rod reckoned he could feel the love in the room… but I reckon that was just Steamy and Gary.!!
Intermission and then the second half
Conscious that I’m not writing a lot new about the gig, not a lot new to write I suppose. Don’t think for a minute that it wasn’t brilliant because it was, just that it does what it says on the tin, and that’s our fault cos we do so many that there are few surprises, but in front of that stage is still the best place in the world to be.
OK Second half
First cut… and he is in the new lilac gear… nice, with the now familiar one side of his shirt out.
IDWTAI… security are getting more edgy as we are pushing further forward, Steamy has been asked to produce his ticket 5 times, obviously because he doesn’t look like he belongs on front row. In My Heart has the best singing of the night. ‘Whats on the table, Mable’ and then Twisting and we are dancing in a frenzy… I acquired a bruise on the inside of my thigh that I can only put down to climbing over the seats at regular intervals.
Ever seen the rain, the girls doing Proud Mary, then he comes back out all in black, easily the best look of the night. Have I told you with the hairs standing up on my arms at the end, Hot Legs with the footballs.
(Suzi got one and by this time had also been lifted over the barrier… do not ask how or why cos she aint telling!!).
Sailing and I missed out Baby Jane somewhere, and a finale of Sexy and it was over.
I was up at the barrier by this time and Roseanne from Brazil was in tears (well the first time makes you cry) and Mr Stewart has left the building.
Was all a kind of blur by the end (thanks for the Southern Comfort Dee!) and it was a great gig… not a Twickenham, but the best bit was that we were all together and that just makes it really special.
We started the long walk trying in vain to flag down a taxi and we were all in several groups. Suddenly Frank managed to get a 7 seater and we legged it across the road.. and guess what… there were seven of us. Happy Daze. When we arrived back at the Mutley there was a band on and the place was heaving with students. No I’m not gonna write about me and Ian jumping up and running up to dance to the band cos we thought we heard the opening bars of Stay with me which then turned out to be Kings of Leon
We were a bit concerned but we shouldn’t have been because shortly after the band stopped we had over 2 hours of Solid Rod and it turned into one of the best post gig meets ever. Riotous dancing and singing… see the pics to get the idea. Really was a fab night all in all, and the Mutley Crown did us proud.
We left it at gone 2 in full swing, knowing that we had to pace ourselves just a tad if we were gonna survive the next few days.
OK that’s enough for one night, will get the rest done over the weekend.
Friday 3rd July
Woke up with banging head which is not unusual when on tour and decided to visit the all day café for brekkie as we were starving ( had managed to persuade Ian that he really didn’t need that kebab at 2am). However ‘all day’ in Plymouth obviously doesn’t begin till lunchtime so we had to wander round the corner to an Italian restaurant that served breakfast (Ciabatta with my egg and bacon??? Where’s the Warby’s?? – Ian). Very soon we were joined by Dee and Roxy and Kev (Down at the Border) Phyliss for a dissection of last nights gig and swapping tales of late night party antics.
Mark G (Does he wear it well??) had offered to drive us to Bristol for our flight to Ireland (don’t ask why we were going from Bristol, lets just say that Ian had an attempt at travel arrangements!) and we were a tad concerned when the others said he was still out partying at 4am but no he appeared fresh faced and bobby tailed at midday and we were off on the next stage of our journey. Mark doesn’t quite reach Henry’s speed levels but he may be The Stig on weekends. Cheers for the lift Mark!
So we arrived earlier than we thought and uneventful flight over the Irish sea to Cork. No Ian it, it really was uneventful! Ian thought that the propellers on the plane and the very slight wing dips meant that we had the YTS guy up front but it really was ok.
Picked up our hire car no bother.. aren’t they supposed to be newish cars? We got a fairly ropey old Corsa with a left pull and a handbrake that wouldn’t hold on a hill but not to worry.
First night we stayed in a very posh golf resort in Blarney. Nice place but only one restaurant at a fixed meal price of 40 euro’s a head, plus drinks. Ouch. Very nice but we spent several days spending money in one night… kinda set the tone for the rest of the trip… bloody hell Ireland is expensive.
Sat 4th July Limerick
The next morning we didn’t get to kiss the Blarney stone. Someone had told Ian that you had to hang upside down with someone hanging onto your feet so we didn’t take the risk. Very nice drive over to Limerick through country lanes and really seeing some of Ireland. We took to counting the pubs in the little villages and towns we passed through. Ten pubs on one high street was not unusual, they like their beer the Irish, I’m just amazed they can afford it.
Found our digs in Limerick no bother, thank God for Sat Nav. Here we met Michael the owner and his very slobbery Boxer dog who loved fig rolls. Geordie Jan, Fiona and Mary were due to meet us here and it was funny to hear Michael running on about how nuts we all were following Mr Stewart all over the place having no idea his sister was one of us!!
They arrived after us and so we left them to settle in and we set off to find the pre gig meet which turned out to be miles away from the venue back in the town. This was to be a small get together as not many of us made this one but Lesley (Mandolin wind) and her party were there waiting for us, when we finally made it. (No I’m not gonna mention that we walked for a good 50 minutes in the wrong direction when Mr R’s famous sense of directions went skewiff).
We got to the venue to find Steve (Tru Blu) already in the queue and were quickly joined by the Brazilian girl Roseann, still on a high from her first gig at Plymouth and wanting to do it all again. She was disappointed to learn her Smiler tix were seated at the side and vowed she would be getting down the front to join us, which she successfully achieved. This gig was all standing on the pitch and we had worried how big the queue may be, but no need to worry. We got to the front barrier with no difficulty at all and had time to go for a wee and get a drink and still get back in.
The security guys were brilliant during the wait, giving out their sandwiches and their lollipops, and mucking about stealing sweets off each other etc. A really laid back feel to it.
The gig was great, smaller gap between barrier and stage and Rod was in a fantastic mood. Some changes in that he didn’t do Tom Trauberts Blues or Stay with me, seemed a slightly shorter set but more interaction than in Plymouth. I really, really enjoyed this one and if I hadn’t been at Cork this would have been my fave gig of the tour.
No surprises (what a surprise!) but during Twisting Rod noticed the aforementioned security guy dancing in his seat and came to the edge of the stage to peer down at him. The guy was facing the crowd so had no idea. Rod was laughing and beckoned the camera to film him.. then the guy realises and realises he is on the screen so gets up and is really giving it some welly… the security boss has his head in his hands and we are all cracking up, was really funny. Have to say that the security were absolutely brilliant at this gig, they were so into the show that we had to attract their attention twice when there were scuffles behind us but really great chaps.
The highlight of the show was the final encore Sexy. Just when it gets to the disco jazzed up bit at the end Rod could hear the ‘oh oh oh oh oh’ bit coming from the back of the arena. It just happened spontaneously and got louder and louder and you could see Rod was really thrilled. He shushed the backing singers and then sang on, bouncing off the audience like he used to back in the day… it was absolutely brilliant and we loved every minute of it and so did he. He lay on his back and kicked his legs in the air and it was fantastic to see him being the rock star.
After it was over we had to find Mary who was a way off in the stand somewhere, and we weren’t allowed up there and she wasn’t allowed onto the pitch. It took quite some time to persuade the security chiefs that this really was Rods sister and that we needed to get to her. In the end they took us up to her and then the security guy wanted a pic!!
Quiet after gig meet in Limerick, we were all pretty tired. Dave Johns and Sue had joined our group by this time, but it was just a drink and a chat in a packed courtyard bar and it was time for bed as we faced the long drive to Dublin in the morning.
Sunday 5th July Dublin
It’s a long way to Dublin (not Tipperary) so we set off right after breakfast, in convoy with Fiona driving in front with Mary and Geordie Jan and us following. Three hour journey with a stop off for a cuppa in Kildare / Kilarney, not sure which! We were staying in different guest houses there, and we found ours without too much difficulty. It was in a great location within walking distance of the venue and the pre gig meet which was planned in a bar opposite. This was one meet that didn’t go quite as planned, in that there was no Rod on the jukebox (they told us someone was supposed to bring it but we didn’t quite believe em cos they seemed very anti even tho the place was teeming with Rod fans. Despite the lack of music Dave Stewart and co tried to start the singing off , and were told to shut up or be thrown out. Oh well, can’t win em all. Mariann and her son Nicklas from Sweden had got there early determined not to miss us all this time, and Roseann from Brazil was becoming a regular. There was a barbie going outside, and that was the only food on offer so being veggie I had to settled for a burger without the burger and pay 3 euros for the privilege.
Lack of proper food may not have been the only reason the night went a bit pear shaped for me. Because the drink was so expensive, Suzi Hels and Dave Stewart had some water bottles filled with vodka (mind you the Red Bull was 4 euros a tin anyway!!) so after a few sherberts of my own, I then partook of the falling down water so must have been quite affected by the time we got to the gig L
Our seats were at the back of the seated section and then there was a standing section behind that that looked like a caged pen. Although it was further back, from talking to those who were there, it seems the atmosphere was much better back there. I’m not going to go into great detail about what happened except to say that I wasn’t happy where we were and went to check out the front, where yet again the security was very relaxed, nothing like our last visit to Ireland, maybe they have been told to loosen up. Anyhow Ian wasn’t keen on moving and I ended up leaving the ground just after the interval without stopping to pick up my toys! Therefore I can’t give you much info about Dublin, cos I missed the second half and can’t remember the first. A hard lesson to learn. What I didn’t realise was that as I had the keys (and there was no reception after 10.30) and then managed to misplace my phone, and Ian had left his phone in the room, that meant he couldn’t contact me. Was a very confused few hours and I’d like to go on record as saying sorry babe . So someone else will have to fill in concert and post gig meet details for Dublin.
Monday 6th July
Woke up the next morning not feeling as bad as I should have done, and after I had paid enough penance, we had a day off to explore Dublin. We met up with Suzi and Helen in Temple bar and had lunch and a few hairs of the dog… the Guinness is lovely over there. Suzi wanted to visit The Head Shop ( what goes on in a head shop?) and we ran into Steve (Tru Blu) It was just a laid back day which I thoroughly enjoyed, great company. In the evening we met at Suzi and Hels very posh hotel (which we found out later was the same hotel that Rod did that documentary with Britt in) and paid a fortune for a glass of wine. Dave Stewart joined us and then we went out and met up with Gillian and her crew of friends and Aunties. She told us that they were staying in a hostel to save money and there were seven of them in two four berth rooms, so the three Glaswegian aunties were all together in one room. Apparently they made themselves at home, hanging their bra’s and knickers on the radiator and generally spreading out, only to discover when one of them popped back for something, some poor young chap who had been given the fourth bed in with them… he didn’t stay there long !! We were entertained by some Irish dancers and some quite hearty renditions of The Wild Rover, and then we remembered we hadn’t eaten and it was almost midnight. So a curry before bed was in order and I sent my King Prawn Puri back because it was a mini shrimp Puri.
Tuesday 7th July Cork
So it’s the last gig and I always get anxious cos I so want the last one to be the best, and I needn’t have worried. Drove the three hours back to Cork, and Big Al had come over for this one and had called to warn us that the guest house we were booked into was in fact a building site.
We couldn’t actually get into the place for the builders lorries and the whole of the bottom floor was covered in dust sheets and some serious construction going on here. The owner was apologetic but didn’t knock any money off and we should have moaned but we didn’t. Big Al’s room was literally smaller than a walk in wardrobe with a bed settee in . If he laid on it, his legs stuck out of the window.. Ian’s in Manchester tonight and will post the pics for this bit when he gets back but see what I mean. I mean its not like Al is Big or anything. Anyhow we figured out that the bed pulled out, but it filled the room and we were in the middle of doing it (and struggling) when the owner turned up and said ‘no no, let me do it’ whereupon he promptly closed it up again and walked off!
Fiona, Geordie and Jan were due to stay here too, but Mary’s room was downstairs amidst the workmen and dust sheets and she didn’t fancy being on her own so she bunked in with the girls, she’s a one that Mary!!
The pre and post gig meet was planned for a bar called Rob Roys, in the town. Ian had been mailing them but no reply so after the fiasco at Dublin he was worried they may not have been accommodating. Shouldn’t have worried, what lovely people. Apparently their email was down so they had no pre warning but they made us very welcome. There were a few folk there already when we arrived, Pete the Red and Sue, Tom, Banksy etc, all suffering from the effects of the night before which Kev has mentioned elsewhere on this site, lets just say they were all a bit quiet. The juke box had access to Itunes so we had unlimited access to Rod and Ian did a fine job as DJ. Was the wildest pre gig meet with full blown singing by the massed choir well before it was time to leave.
The bar owner even organised our transport to the gig. We were worried because it was standing and obviously we needed to queue. Ina had been there since 11am and was keeping us updated about the length of the queue and by 6 she was telling us to hurry. So we got there about 6.30 after a riotous journey in an eight seater, and there were maybe 50 people in front of us. It was quite simply a huge circus tent a la Ronnie Lane, and it was a superb venue. At 6.45 they let us into an inner concourse thing with bars etc and there were several entrances there to the main arena so we queued there immediately which meant we were then at the front and then when we were let in 5 mins later we walked (WALK don’t run) straight to barrier centre. Fantastic position… here we are again. Excitement was high, Kev is right when he talks about the buzz in the venue and as it filled up there was real pushing and shoving and I felt like I was 14 stood in Leicester Granby Halls watching him for the first time (cept then I was nowhere near the front)
When Rod came on you just knew it was gonna be a special gig. It was like Bournemouth in size with the barrier near the stage and Rod was just loving it. All the RSC crew together. After a few songs the sound at the front altered and we couldn’t hear Rod above the band and we were all shouting at him to let him know. They kinda fixed it but it still wasn’t brilliant but it was like, not to worry Rod, we’ll sing it with ya!! I hung on to my barrier spot with difficulty but gave it up willingly to pull Helen into the front, and a bit later on Suzi. Someone gave Rod flowers and he launched into this speech about this special lady who had given him flowers every gig (but he had it wrong and Suzi still had her flowers to give…. I know we don’t do it, its an American thing) anyhow she got them to him and he realised his mistake.
Have you ever seen the rain, and I’m saying to Ian, I’m gonna throw my hat. I have worn a cowboy type hat all through the tour and this is the last gig and I want to chuck it on stage. Ian throws it and Rod picks it up (I’m screaming with joy) and not only does he put it on, he says ‘ great hat, I’m gonna keep it’. An amazing moment for me. Rod is giving me the thumbs up and then throws me a ball during Hot legs, fair exchange!
Just like Twickenham I’m sitting here trying to work out how to put down in words what made Cork such a special gig. Its not like the sound was great we actually struggled to hear Rod at times, but just something about being there in that venue and the close interaction and the joyous mood all added up to make it an incredible experience. A wonderful end to a fantastic tour.
All too soon it was over and just like Twicks we hugged each other and said ‘did that really happen?’ The same sense of euphoria but drier!
So then we are jumping in cabs and back to Rob Roys. A post gig meet a la Plymouth, with the addition of Roy Keane’s dad, who wanted his picture taken with Mary and has insisted we email it back to him (we heard him on the phone… you never guess who I just had my pic taken with!!)
The pub was just full of us… and with every meet we know each other better and we get a little louder! The locals were a bit taken aback at first and then they were up dancing with us. Was a superb night .
And after last orders yet again we were suddenly starving so Ian, Big Al and I went looking for food and found some greasy kebab shop. Nothing without meat except chips and some revolting garlic sauce and onion rings, but it all went down the right way. We were joined by a young lady who wanted to sing us Every Beat of my Heart at full volume but for some reason there was a security guy (why does a kebab shop need a security guy?) who tried to manhandle her out of the shop and boy did she give him a backhander. Quite interesting entertainment for the end of the night.
And that’s about it really, I could tell you about me trying to keep Ian and Al quiet as we crept into the guest house, and then giving up and doing the Love train up the stairs. I could tell you about the couple who had breakfast with us the next morning who had obviously had a huge row and wouldn’t speak. I could tell you about spending a whole hour trying to find a car park and then as soon as we finally found one then seeing nothing but car park signs. I could tell you about going back to the scene of the crime (Rob Roys) the next morning, and hearing the staff say to each other ‘ were you here last night… no thank God, but I heard about it!!’ I could tell you about spending hours at the airport with no euro’s left. But really I just want to finish by talking about Rod.
7 nights, 5 beds and 4 gigs. Other people ask me and sometimes I ask myself why do I do this. Its no secret that the shows are almost the same and that we pray for new songs and something different. But there is something about seeing The Man on that stage, the charisma - its like no one else. Its about hearing that voice - its like no one else. I feel so lucky to still have that chance…I’m so grateful that he still gets out there and gives us that opportunity.
And of course I’m in the company of the best fans… and the best friends in the world. Thanks to all who made it what it was.