Wednesday 19th May
It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and I’m sat in bed, eating crisps for breakfast in a damp smelling Premier Inn in the industrial end of Newcastle. My feet ache, I have a slight (but not severe) alcohol induced headache and my throat feels like fine ( it’s going to get worse) sandpaper. Day 2 of the tour then!!
Where to start about yesterday? We were already ‘up mucky North’ as we had spent the weekend in Middlesboro with Ian’s brother Gary, and had planned to do the first gig with them. Geordie Jan had organised the pre gig meet in a music pub called the Dog and Parrot and we were expecting maybe 20 or so to meet up for the usual sing along and partaking of alcoholic beverages prior to the first English gig of the 2010 tour. Such is the power of Facebook there must have been at least a hundred of us at it’s peak. Think the bar staff were a little overwhelmed and there was a sea of green and white and Tartan.
Picked up the Smiler tickets from the box office with no difficulty at all, and they were ready earlier than the hour before which meant we could relax and enjoy the pregig with tickets safely in hand. It’s a bit like opening your exam results when you open that envelope, and it seemed that seats were a bit scattered all over the place, and some people were happier than others, but we got 6th row, very central so we were very pleased with ours. As we walked in we noticed a large area at the back with no seats, so far from a sell out here.
So there’s that moment of anticipation when you’ve stopped all the milling about and checking where everyone else is sitting, and the guy’s voice says ‘please take your seats’. Deep breath and the music starts ‘ I’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye…’ The stage curtain, emblazoned with a huge train being driven by a cartoon Rod starts to move and suddenly it’s the Stripper (oh how I’ve missed that) , and everyone is on their feet from the off and the curtain raises and there are the band. New horn section that we have talked so much about, with the return of Jimmy R and Anne King on trumpet, and Lorelei on vocals. Band is looking mighty fine, black flapper dresses for the girls and smart shiny black suits for the guys. They are playing the ‘Time is Tight’ intro and it sounds tight, sounds good, crowd are up and bopping awaiting the entrance of the man we are here to see.
Rod bounds onstage, looking dashing in sparkly orange jacket. Straight into Love Train. There is a massive central screen rather than one either side, and the backdrop also has lots of effects, it’s quite a spectacle. It’s too early in the gig for us to do the love train (maybe that’s deliberate?). Rod says hello and that its been three years since that very wet and miserable day at St James Park (cue booing from the Sunderland supporters in the crowd. Rod ignores it and welcomes the Newcastle fans back to the premiership, cue more booing!)
Tonights the Night, everyone is singing already. Ruth and Gill are sat in front of us wearing the Celtic away strip and when the lights are low they look like fluorescent bees and Rod notices them and waves. Some Guys is next, and then Rod announces a bit of vintage Rod from 1972 so we know its Wear it Well.
The band is superb, but I’m struggling a bit to hear Rods vocals over them. Asked later and no one else agreed so maybe it was where we were sitting. Having a party next. Rod says ‘ we just came back from Belfast and Dublin, and security there made everyone sit, nice to see everyone up and dancing here (THANK YOU ROD!!!!), so yeah we did have a party.
There was a security guy sat on a chair right at the barrier in our aisle, and he let people come down to take a pic but then asked you to go back, no heavy security though, and it was a relaxed atmosphere, and as soon as Rod said get up and dance, we knew there was gonna be no trouble. Turns out I was wrong about that, but more later. Ann King introduced after her bang on trumpet solo, and Katja is a ‘horn star’ apparently!
This old heart of mine (did anyone else notice Rod cock up and try and come in too early… now I know I’m paying too much attention!!), and when the girls walked off stage he enquired ‘where you going?? Down the pub??’ To the audience… ‘Is it alright so far, need air con up here, where’s a towel when I need one?’ Ruth ran up with a Celtic towel, got there a tad too late, but he saw it and picked it up.
Rhythm of my heart and now I’m sure that Rods vocals aren’t loud enough. The ending of the song with all girls singing their line is phenomenal. Rod surrounds himself with such talent that sometimes he can be in danger of being overshadowed.
The girls do ‘you keep me hanging on’ and do a fine job. What would you give to hear Rod sing this live? And I don’t mean any disrespect to the girls who have fantastic voices and do such a good job. It’s just a little painful to a long time Rod fan to see Rod walk off a stage and allow his backing singers to cover a song that in my opinion was one of his finest vocal perfomances on vinyl. Just my opinion and I may well get shot down in flames for it.
Rod comes back on stage in the pilot shirt minus the hat. Have I told you lately. He really sings this, with the magnificent J’anna on solo. We’re all sat down and I absorb this mans voice and remind myself why I am here. Fantastic and goosebumps up the arm time.
He sings Handbags and Gladrags holding onto a Celtic shirt (‘lovely song, I recorded this in 1969’) and then follows it up with the interminable It’s a heartache but the crowd are all back on their feet. Rods lifting his shirt up, showing his belly and it has to be said there are a few screams around the arena ( no not Ian!!)
Then onto the stage comes Alistair. 4 years old and holding the mike like a pro. Rod says he knows people think he exploits his kids, but Alistair really wanted to do it, he had a speech all worked out, but he manages a ‘hello Newcastle’ before he runs off. Gorgeous kid.
Sweet Little Rock n Roller has us dancing in the aisles and then Rod introduces the song that was his Dad’s favourite. ‘Dad loved it’. Maybe it was because of the ‘my dad said we looked ridiculous’ line, but I was only Joking has the biggest reception of the night so far. It’s one of my favourite songs and makes me very emotional when I hear it. Vocals were fantastic on this and it didn’t really matter that he missed a whole verse out at the end. ‘The principal would like to leave the stage and I know my friends in Newcastle will understand.’ Interval, just time for a wee!
Second half starts with the Match of the day theme and we have the band all in red. Boys in the silk tartan jackets and the girls in red fringed dresses, very classy. Rod comes out in a blue jacket, yellow shirt and we get into the soul section of the show. It’s the same old song… I love the beginning to this song and how it kicks off and whips up the crowd.
Then for me the highlight of the whole show. Rainy Night in Georgia is an impeccable vocal performance that takes your breath away and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Just superb Rod. And yes Ian… it is.
Liven things up with Twisting and then a full version of DYTIS. It seems to have found its way back into the set this time, even though for such a long time Rod didn’t want to play it. The jacket is off now and Rods dancing with his back to the audience and his tie over his shoulder. The crowd are doing the ‘ oh oh oh oh’ bit and it goes on a good while, and it’s a good feeling.
The band do an instrumental – Soul finger. So good to have Jimmy Roberts back on the stage, …. Gives the band a much more bluesy feel. Very classy. Rods back in black and we get First cut . Someone throws a very large bouquet of flowers on the stage and Rod picks them up, unusual for UK shows. The solo’s from J’anna and Paul Warren are fantastic on this song.
I don’t wanna talk about it, to massive singalong and a new backdrop of the musical score. In my heart and by now I’m down at the barrier, pretending to take a picture but wanting to catch a football. Rod shows the video of the sleeping dog that we saw in Ireland last year and a couple of tranny pics and we are into Hot legs and more footballs. Wasn’t my night tonight.
So the opening bars of Maggie and the audience didn’t really respond like I thought they would. Everyone has been up dancing the whole show though, but Maggie wasn’t quite the big finale it usually is, it felt flat. Uneventful was a word Ian used and yeah it seemed a bit unenergetic, routine like, if I’m honest.
There were two encores, Sailing and Baby Jane, and it picked up a gear again. The security guy at the barrier by now had a girl sitting astride him and then two blokes in their 50’s suddenly started fighting in front of me, or should I say one bloke headbutted another. Where are security when you really need them?
Overall opinion of the first show on our part of the tour? First the band - better than ever. Such talent on that stage, they knit so well and I love the additions. Very very classy, professional show . Rod is such a consummate performer and he ages with grace and doesn’t try to be what he is isn’t. The highlights of the show, for me, however are still those moments when he can switch from the highly polished and produced numbers to just Rod putting his heart and soul into those vocals. The voice still does it for me.
Tonights the Night
Having a Party
This Old Heart of Mine
Rhythm of my Heart
You keep me hanging on (band)
Have I told you Lately
Handbags and Gladrags
It’s a Heartache
Sweet Little Rock n Roller
I was only Joking
Same old Song
Rainy Night in Georgia
Soul Finger (band)
You’re In My Heart
I will write about the after gig shenanigins at a later date as my fingers are dropping off but can tell you that it includes the battle of the gay bars and Steamy doing a very choreograped and energetic dance to Dolly Parton's nine to five!!
See you in Nottingham
Thursday 20th May 2010
I’m in a pub. Nothing new about that you might think, but I’m in a pub drinking coffee. And Ian is drinking Coke. Its gig day (no 2 for us) and we are doing what’s called pacing ourselves. Ian tells me that the pub chosen for the pre and post gig meet today is open till 2am. That is a scary thought and methinks it may get messy and so I have persuaded Ian that 12 midday is too early to start.
Unusual for me to be so sensible, but actually I was fairly sensible on Tuesday. We returned to the Dog and Parrot after the Newcastle gig to find no Rod music. We asked many times and were more or less told to sod off next door which is what we did. Turns out we were in the heart of Newcastle’s gay district… we figured this out pretty quickly when the DJ walked past us wearing black satin hot pants, fishnet stockings and a ruffled black blouse, and he had full make up. He was playing Rod every other song… and saying to us in campest Geordie speak ‘ ooh alright I’ll play some more in a minute, just stop giving me evils you lot’.
Half the crew were in this bar and half in another across the street which was called the Dog as opposed to the Dog and Parrot) and this was another gay bar but seemed to be frequented more by the female variety. They were also playing Rod every other song but the ones in between were of the very Gay variety. Still, never to be put off we were strutting our stuff to Tina Turner, Suzi Quatro and most impressive of all, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. Was an excellent night and we did a bit of crossing the street (not cross dressing, Dave Stewart managed to keep his trousers on for once) before giving it up around 1am.Wednesday was my birthday (thanks for all the messages btw) and so Ian decided I should have a treat and be allowed to drive his shiny BMW (never been known before) Actually it was covered in dead flies, and the fact that Ian was hungover to hell had nothing to do with it, what a lovely thought!!!!
Headed down the A1 to Nottingham and checked in to a Travelodge where were booked in for two nights. Wednesday night we caught a bus (impressed??) into Nottingham centre and had a few celebratory cocktails. J’anna and Conrad from the band came out for birthday drinks, and were telling us about Conrad’s gigs that J’anna is guesting on, and so we have decided to change our plans a little to include them… more rock n roll, Happy Daze!!
Ok so that brings me to today. Lots of people travelling ready to meet up in the Bunkers Hill. I have a mate coming who was with me when I first saw Rod back in 78. She does one Rod gig with me every tour and I haven’t seen her since Manchester 3 years ago, so I’m looking forward to that.
Be back tomorrow sometime to update you on the Nottingham gig. Oh, and in the time it's taken me to write this, Ian has decided it's now time for a beer! Oh well, I tried!!!
Friday 21st May 2010
Have arrived in Birmingham, somewhat fatigued, due to the fact that someone well known to us all decided that 7am was a good time to get up, even though we didn’t go to bed till 2am.
What a day yesterday! What a gig! I’m a bit late writing this and I see the review and the set list is up already (thanks Hels) so I’ll just tell you the little bits I remember from the meets and the concert. Got to the Bunkers Hill pub at around 3ish after having been accosted in the street by Sab (Farewell) who spotted us from afar. Ian - ‘how did you notice us?’ Err must have been something to do with the Celtic shirt he had on and the white Celtic hat I was wearing (more of that later).
Anyway it was very warm and people started to gather and we were sat outside. Some new faces, invited via the RSC Facebook page (great idea that Ian!) The pub landlord had spent all morning downloading Rod and it was playing inside and eventually after a few sherberts we ventured inside to commence the now obligatory singalong (vids on FB page).
Our seats were absolutely fantastic, front row centre, we managed to pick them up quite early. Some had great seats and some not so good, and there was much bartering and exchanging going on outside the pub.
Now most of you know the story of last year’s hat (I know I bore the pants off everyone telling it). Anyway this year I had bought a new hat and had dragged Ian around haberdashery shops in Newcastle to make it into a Celtic hat and planned to throw it up on the stage if I got a chance. Well with front row seats I was never gonna get a better opportunity.So we headed for the venue (just next door) at around half 7. We had my friend Jo with us who was ecstatic at her seat and we were very upbeat.
For me this gig was much better than Newcastle. And it wasn’t just down to the seats, Rod seemed really up for it and there was more energy on the stage. There was no security to speak of, certainly none in front of the barrier and we stood all the way through. Those in rows further back had no trouble standing at the barrier, there was no trouble and it was a happy atmosphere all night. Just shows you that the less security the better it is.
Highlights were the return of Stay with me, cracking version, had us rocking our socks off, and thank God he ditched It’s a Heartache to include Have you ever seen the rain.
But again Rainy Night In Georgia stole the show for me. It’s like he just stops and loses himself in the song. Despite the weird spectacle of a bloke in a rain mac carrying an umbrella walking across the stage during it. Even Ian said he got goosebumps and that never happens to him. The pure emotion that he puts into that song just blows me away.
During the interval there is some odd Indian voice saying ‘will you please be taking your seats, we won’t be telling you again’.
Second half and Rod says these three songs are gonna blow you away… First cut, IDWTAI and You’re In My Heart and they did. Ian caught a ball during Hot legs and we gave it to Jo who had never had one. Well by the beginning of In My Heart I’m getting nervous about throwing my hat. Earlier Martin Baker (Blokoboy) had chucked his tartan tie and Rod had put it on, and he had picked up flowers and scarves etc, so I was hoping , but you never know….. so I timed it just as the stage lit up in the chorus. It landed with the Celtic side facing the audience away from Rod and I held my breath. Rod didn’t see it at first but then came forward and put it on, not noticing the Celtic bit. I was leaping about, with excitement and then as the song ended he took it off and then he noticed the design.
He went off stage for a change and when he came back to do the finale, he picked the hat back up and put it on again. I’m doing my nut because Ian’s iphone had died, no one had a camera near me. I shouted to Andy Darcy to take a pic for me, but he had been told to put his very large camera away, so no photo’s…. hope someone has got one. Rod comes over, says thanks for the hat….. did you get a ball?. I point to show that Jo has it so he says hang on, I’ll get you one, and personally threw me a ball. I was ridiculously ecstatic.
They did the first encore which was Sailing, a sea of scarves and hands in the air. Crowd were fantastic tonight, really up for it. And the curtain came down and we hoped for Baby Jane like last night, and suddenly there was Rods voice saying ‘ err ladies and gentlemen, we were just about to do our final encore but the string on the curtain has broken… cue riotous laughter. Sod it says Rod, we’ll do it anyway, and off they go with Baby Jane and we are all leaping about in front of the curtain. Half a verse like that and then we see hands pulling at the curtain and Rod balances in front of it, and pulls out the band that he can do and they finish the song there….The roadies tried to hold it open a little but it wasn’t really working so they all ended up right on the edge of the stage. Just so funny and a brilliant end to the show. And at the end the whole band get to step up and take a bow in front of the curtain. which was great and I think they should do that every show, cos we never really get to show our applause for some members of the band like Dave Palmer, Matt O’connnor, Chuck Kentis, Conrad Korsch.
Overall a fantastic night. Easily better than Newcastle and I loved every minute. Band were superb, and I must mention in particular Paul Warren who played his socks off, and J’anna’s flawless performance. Really like the solo on Have I Told You Lately. Rod was just fantastic. He is always good but at times last night he took my breath away. Loved it.
Got back to the pub and party was in full swing. Now, this would never normally be a problem, but the landlord had downloaded Rod music only pre 1977 because he said everything after that was shit! So it was fine for the die hards but we wanted to keep the newbies there and so we had to beg and plead for some greatest hits. Hence we had the ridiculous situation where Three Button Hand Me Down, was taken off and replaced by Young Turks and we all cheered… would never normally happen!
Anyway we had a great party fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol. Prime suspects Mark Gaudiere (You wear it well) Tom Mann (Bad n ruin) and Dave Stewart being the main instigators of all outrageous behaviour. I remember specifically a riotous version of Georgie which was changed to the Killing of Davey, sung to Dave on his knees (be careful they are Rod’s jeans you are wearing), me beckoning to Sab to come and dance, which was misinterpreted by a rather large spectator sitting nearby who jumped up to accompany me, and a big circle a la the Big Weekend at the end. Big shout out to the landlord at the pub who was a diamond and looked after us really well. And thanks for the drink Max, and your friend for looking after my ball… told you I’d mention you in this.
Glad we have a night off tonight, but so looking forward to the Birmingham gigs. See you there.
Sunday 23rd May 2010
Well, it’s not quite 6am… a quarter to 9 is still fairly impressive considering the day yesterday. I did try to start writing this up last night, but kept typing things like Shang a Lang. In-joke there for which I apologise but it appears we have a closet Bay City Rollers fan in our midst – I have promised not to ‘out ‘ him but apparently he has quite a ‘passion’ for the boys in Tartan.
OK, yesterday was a very long and very hot day. We walked through Birmingham city centre and all the way to the pub near to the venue which was a couple of miles. Had no idea Birmingham was so hilly! Arrived at The Flapper too early really, landlord had agreed to play Rod, but not till 4pm and we were there for 2. Slowly the crowd assembled, but the warm weather meant that lots were outside and it didn’t really get going till an hour or so before the gig. We had taken Rod cd’s but apparently the DJ had taken home all his equipment and so Ian used his Iphone to put throught the speakers, hence no video of the pre meet on RSC Facebook this time. But nevertheless it was lovely to sit and chat with follow Rod lovers, especially Paul and Lorraine, and that Liverpool supporter…. Pete the Red!!!
And suddenly 6 hours had passed and it was time for the gig. Security was brilliant again and we had no trouble standing straight at the barrier and staying there all night, but we did have aisle seats that made it easy. At one point in the interval, a security guy came over to a girl who was sat in front row and said to her, are you going to stand at the barrier for all the second set, and she said err yes, why? (thinking she was in trouble), and he said, are you sure, for every song? And she said yes, why? And he said OK then, is it ok if I bring a couple from the back to come and sit in your seats? How fantastic is that, never known it before. Ian said he must have been on a promise!!
There was a much bigger gap between the stage and the barrier which made it seem a bit less intimate than the Nottingham gig, but Rod was in good form, band all seem up for it and was a great gig. No Have you ever seen the rain, but he put back It’s a Heartache. I was watching the crowd and I know we don’t like the song but it got more of a reaction than some of the Rods best known tracks. Just don’t get it. Great moment from Rod when he said ‘ Here’s a song NOT by Mick Hucknall’ and launched into Stay with Me!!
He embarrassed J’anna by acknowledging her solo saying that she recently married and is hot and horny tonight cos her hubby Steve was there , and then said ‘whoops overstepped the mark there, sorry Steve!!’
There was a very lively crowd over to the left of the stage and Rod spent a lot of time on that side, kicking out loads of balls over there.
Set list was the same except for the changes mentioned. Highlights remain Joking, Rainy Night in Georgia (who is the guy with the umbrella?) SLRR and Stay with me. Maggie has lost a lot of its energy, he performs it with the band and it’s very static, and doesn’t have any of the singalong bit. In fact Sexy is a much bigger, more audience participation song. In fact, thinking about it, there is much less audience singing – you know when he lets the audience take the song, there is very little of that. Maybe he has been criticised for doing too much of that in the past, but it’s really noticeable on Maggie.
He cocked up the words on Sexy big time, don’t worry just keep it going, and was messing about big time up there. Just at the start of Paul Warrens big guitar solo on First Cut he untied his neck tie and pulled it tight around his neck… didn’t miss a note though!!
No hat today, bit too much to hope that he would wear it again, but at least it means I can stop boring the pants off everyone going on about it.
The show is so professional, we were having a debate in the pub afterwards if it’s TOO professional. The best bits are when things go wrong or Rod mucks about? No the best bits are when Rod nails it… I didn’t hear a duff note all night. Great gig, maybe not the atmosphere of Nottingham, crowd were better there, but a fantastic show…
The after show party was outside the pub cos the DJ inside the pub was resistant to playing any Rod. Well he said he would play one track and see how it went down. So he played Stay with me and we all jumped up to make a point, yelling it at the top of our voices, Roxy and Pete the Red chasing each other around the pool table, but he wasn’t having any of it, and we only got the one. Not to worry, it was so hot, it was good to stand outside (although there were a few having a little trouble with the standing part!)
Ian was starving and we left to go and find a kebab shop and we were followed out of the pub and down the street by Kev (down at the border), Dave Jones, his son and his mate, who were all very much the worse for wear. As we looked back at them stumbling up the road I said to Ian this looks just like a scene from Shaun of the Dead! You had to be there, it was very very funny.
All in all a great day, great show, great company and guess what… I’m gonna do it all over again today!! Life is good!!
Monday 24th May 2010
The hotel we are staying in is in the middle of Spaghetti Junction. Well it’s not really but it bloody sounds like it this morning. Got to have the windows open because its SO hot, but it’s so noisy it even drowns out Ian’s snoring.
Was too tired to write about last night when we got back. By the time I’d had my pot noodle (yes we are living the high life on tour) all I wanted to do was sleep, which was a shame because now I have to try and remember what I wanted to write about.
Second gig at Birmingham and for those not in this country we are having our summer. It usually only lasts three days so I am expecting to need my jumper by the time we get to Manchester, but yesterday was again stifling with 28 degree heat, so we decided yet again to walk a miles into Birmingham from our very centrally located hotel (not!) and then another mile out of it again to get to the Flapper pub. Arrived looking like a damp rag and needing cold beer and fast!!
On the way Ian was consulting his Iphone (his absolute pride and joy by the way!) and he had an email from Penny Lancaster which caused some excitement, until he had digested the contents only to discover that it was from a Penny Lancaster on facebook, who was writing to say that she wasn’t the real Penny Lancaster. To which Ian replied that it was ok, he wasn’t the real Ian Roberts either. (If you google Ian Roberts you get a gay Australian male model!!)
Now I have to be honest and say that a combination of the hot weather which has meant people wanting to be outside (where you can’t hear the music) and the reluctance of the management of the pub to play any Rod when people did come inside has meant that the Birmingham meets, have lacked the decibels and enthusiasm of other pre and post gig meets. However we have the Hard Rock coming up in Manchester, so all is not lost.
Lots of hassle and upset about tickets again. I do have to make the point that Ian and I do not have any involvement in who gets what tickets, and whilst I am sorry that some people have been upset, it is nothing to do with RSC. We also had the tickets on the side that were causing the drama, and note that we were sat with Rod and the bands family and friends and therefore considered prime seating. And also there was a huge crowd of us together which makes any gig more fun, and we definitely made the most noise and I enjoyed it more than last night, so that tells you something!!
The heat was almost unbearable in the auditorium. Air con obviously hasn’t reached Birmingham yet, but it was energy draining and quite uncomfortable. We sat in our seats and were quickly ousted out of them by J’anna’s husband Steve and his mum because we were sat in theirs. So we were a row behind, with Mary sat just in the seats in front.
Set list was exactly the same as last night, no changes at all. Personally I thought this was a better show than last night…. Crowd were better, better atmosphere and very energetic Rod despite the heat. We were up on our feet for all the fast numbers but welcomed the opportunity to sit for the slower ones, because it was honestly very hard work in that heat!
Couple of funny quips by Rod… he said did we notice that he always sings with his head in the air…. That’s because he saw a picture of Sam Cooke singing like that and that’s why he has always done it like that. He also thanked the audience for the singalongs, and gave tribute to The Faces (which got a huge cheer from us lot) who began the whole singalong thing.
Fantastic version of Sexy which is a really big highlight and again Maggie is played down, no energy in it at all. Sailing was amazing being up high and being able to see the whole auditorium.
All too soon it was over. Steve had bought us a couple of beers from backstage during the interval and as we were standing up to make our way out, he said to hangfire and he invited us backstage to have a drink. Now I have never, ever been backstage before and all I could think was that I looked like a drowned rat in a by now fairly smelly baggy Celtic Tshirt with my hair plastered to my head. Oh well, how not to make an impression.
As we walked through, it was incredible to see how many people were there in a military operation to dismantle the stage and get it moved to the next location. They worked so fast and you got yelled at if you got in the way. We knew that Rod was already long gone but even so I was nervous walking into the backstage area. First thing we noticed was the Clothes storeroom, and a rail / trunk thing that had all Rods stage clothes in it. Now we are not allowed to show a pic of this, but there in the middle of it all was…… wait for it……..sorry I know I’m gonna be insufferable but there in the middle of it, nicely positioned was MY HAT!!!! The new Celtic one I mean. Spoke with Nicole, Rods wardrobe person, who told me that she thought she better keep it, given the history. So he may not be wearing it just now, but if he ever wants to, it’s there. So that’s me happy!!
Spent a great hour chatting with the band, especially with Paul Warren about his new CD, following the interview he recently did with us, and J’anna was a perfect hostess, keeping us supplied with beer and wine. It’s a memory I will keep, and I felt very privileged. Got back to a closed bar at The Flapper, and some fairly noisy RSCers and we were feeling pretty knackered by then so it was time to call it a day, but it was a good day.
Today we are off to Manchester, biggest city in the World apparently. Did you know that their Wheel is bigger than the London Eye? No me either but apparently so according to Roberts.
Hope a few of you can turn out for Conrad’s gig at the Sandbar on Tuesday night, and if not see you in the Hard Rock!!!
Tuesday May 25th
I was saying to Ian at about half 8 last night that I wouldn’t have much to write about in my diary for yesterday. It was supposed to be a quiet day, a day off. Mmmm didn’t quite work out that way!!
So I got the pleasure of driving Ian’s car from Birmingham to Manchester. He’s so kind to me isn’t he!! We popped in to see Ian’s Mum and Dad and then checked into our hotel. Sacha’s is a budget hotel but slap bang in the centre of Manchester and at the end of the day, all you need is a clean bed and a shower, the rest is just trimmings.
Ian had been recommended a jazz club in Manchester called Matt and Phreds which is just a couple of streets away. They had on a jam night where anyone is invited to jump up and play with the house band. So we arrived at this small, intimate club and listened to the band setting up. There was a piano player, a big upright bass, drums and sax. The drums sounded too loud to me and it wasn’t knitting together very well. I know next to nothing about jazz but it sounded disjointed and the drums were too loud and it wasn’t melodic enough for me. I was being a tad negative if I’m honest, saying things like ‘how do you know when each song ends ‘cos it doesn’t sound like the band do’.
Ian had let a few of Rod’s band members know about this club and we were gobsmacked when in walked Jimmy Roberts, and even more gobsmacked when we saw he was carrying his Sax – or his horn as he calls it. He is such a gentleman, a pleasure to talk to. Not far behind Jimmy came Conrad, accompanied by a couple of sound engineer guys. So we are sitting round the table, it’s all a bit surreal really. And Jimmy asks Ian (just call me Mr Music Mogul) to go sort it so him and Conrad could play.
By this time the house band had warmed up and they were sounding OK. There were two sax players up there, Jimmy said that one guy was obviously the student of the other, so the skill levels were very variable. Up gets Jimmy to do his bit and Oh My Goodness the place erupts. There are video’s of this on the RSC Facebook page if you want to see for yourself but it was fantastic. And then Conrad gets up to join in and he plays the huge stand up bass. Afterwards he tells us that it’s a five stringed one and he has never played one before, but it sure didn’t sound like it. The regular musicians were stood around the stage open mouthed. It was such an incredible night, both guys played their socks off and it was an honour and privilege to be there. And so unexpected…. Impromptu nights are always the best, and the memory of that night will last a very long time with me.
Tonight is Conrad’s gig at the Sandbar in Manchester. Janna is accompanying him and there may be a few other band members there, so if anyone is in the vicinity I urge you to get yourself along there.
I’m having such a fantastic time this tour… just keeps getting better and better! And as I write this, the RSC’s Simon Cowell is rinsing out his undies in the sink!! Rock n Roll Baby!!
Wednesday 26th May 2010
Well Well Well! Although I have been on tour for almost a week and a half, this morning I have the butterflies in my stomach back, and that’s because the Manchester gigs are special. So looking forward to the meet in the Hard Rock and hoping it lives up to expectations. We popped in there for lunch with Ian’s boys yesterday and chatted to the staff and they said that they still talk about the last meets there. They said that they have all kind of fans in there, for the shows at the arena, but there is something special about Rod days. The manager said he fully expected dancing on the tables and the window sills so we better not let them down eh?
Last night we went to Conrad’s gig over at the Sandbar. This is a student type venue, a poetry and songs night, and Conrad was using it as a warm up for his two London gigs. There were two distinct groups in the audience, the regulars and us lot… the band and some of the crew come to support him, and some fans over from America and Canada.
Conrads music is all self penned, melodic and many of the songs are kinda sad. Ian has put a video on RSC Facebook if you want to hear for yourself. Conrad silenced the student crew and everyone was listening and appreciative, and J’anna did a fine job accompanying him. I really enjoyed it, and one song called ‘I’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow’ actually brought a tear to my eye (well several actually). Conrad gave the RSC and Ian a big shout out during his performance which was much appreciated, and to Lynn who had arranged the gig for him.
After Conrads spot, the student poets etc got up on stage and some of the efforts were, well colourful to say the least. We were treated to discussions of female genitalia amongst other things and the two distinct groups of audience began to edge apart and it became clear that maybe we should move on.
We stayed behind for a while and chatted with Conrad and J’anna and then made our way back to the hotel. Ian was nominated official violin carrier which pleased him greatly as you can imagine.
Back at the hotel we had more drinks, and it was a relaxed and friendly night. Good to speak to Manny and Jean from Canada, and all the girls from the USA who are here on tour. The Roberts brothers (obviously twins separated at birth) were deep in conversation and we stayed late and drank more. A lovely night.
It’s now 10.45 and Ian just reminded me that we have to check out at 11 and I’m still in bed writing this, hair not washed and I have a date with Mr Stewart later so gotta get a move on. Haven’t eaten anything except nachos since yesterday ( I sent my lunch at the Hard Rock back yesterday….. tip if you are in there, don’t order the Salmon, its minging!!) so need to line my stomach before starting on today’s shenanigins.
I’m already starting to feel afraid about how I’m going to feel when all this is over and its back to reality but for now its party time and so ‘Let The Day Begin’
Thursday 27th May 2010
It’s official - Manchester Hard Rock has the best pre gig meet ever. It was wild in 2005 and 5 years later we are back to claim our territory. For those of you who weren’t there, it’s on RSC Facebook page if you want to witness 300 people singing their hearts out, dancing on chairs and tables and generally behaving badly. (Yes Pete, I know, but Ian says it’s much easier for you to get a facebook page than it is for him to get the video’s onto the main site while he’s on tour!! )
Interesting to see Dave 71 and You wear it well meeting and managing not to punch each other, considering the posts on the vagabonds bar thread!! Well we are all nice people but sometimes have strong opinions eh? And Dave’s mate who seemed very quiet until he suddenly jumped up with complete Rod microphone, including the mic stand and proceeded to give us a show. Cheers to Dave Reddy for sorting out the discs, and to the Hard Rock Management who are very very patient with us!!
So after several hours of major partying we headed for the gig. In the rain I should say – Manchester never fails to give you crap weather. Anyhow it didn’t matter. We had row 8 today, and were in the centre of a row which felt very claustrophobic, couldn’t get out to dance properly with the jobsworth security. They are always so strict at Manchester – except for that one magical Christmas one in 2005 when they obviously all had personality transplants – and they weren’t even letting the front rows dance. Not to worry.
My feet are finally giving up the ghost. Despite the foot repair kit so kindly donated by Sab to help with the rigours of being on tour (don’t laugh, it’s hard work!!) I have run out of shoes that don’t hurt and I was suffering big time yesterday, considering we were on our feet for a good 12 hours yesterday. Don’t tell anyone but I actually had to sit down between a few of Rod’s songs, didn’t like it much, won’t be doing that again.
After the pre gig everyone was in high spirits and the crowd were really fantastic. There were a few issues with the sound, Rods vocals were a bit quiet for the first few tracks. Same set list but much more singalong. I think Rod was warming to the crowd and he cut the band on I don’t wanna talk about it, and that’s the first time he’s done that in this lot of shows.
May or may not be deliberate considering the news about the Faces reformation, but the energy in SLRR and especially Stay With Me was fantastic, feels like he is proving a point, and boy did he prove it. Best song of the night for me. He did mention Mick Hucknall and there were a few boo’s, but he said he had the utmost respect for him and genuinely wished him the best.
Fabulous build up and ending to the show, everyone one their feet all around the audience. Another great performance from Rod…
After the show we headed (I limped) back to the Hard Rock. Ian had set a tab up in there before the gig and remembered somewhere in the middle of Have I Told you Lately that we had walked out of there without paying it. Luckily it was still open when we got back and no one had called the police, guess us Rod fans must have honest faces. The big screen was showing the Some Guys Have All The Luck compilation dvd…… and some guys do nothing but complain it’s true!! Spent another hour or two putting my feet through further torture and stretching the vocal cords a tad further, and giving my liver a tad more punishment. Several people missing post gig – Helen, Kev, Banksy, where were you?? Nice to see DJ Gary out to play, Tess having surprised him with tickets at the last minute!!
Going to try and have an easier day today, got a lunch date with Mark and Sab and Geordie Jan (anyone got a translator??) And we still have no idea where Helen is. And last Manchester gig tonight. Tomorrow have to travel back to London so it may be a while till I get back on here. Thanks for all the nice comments, it’s nice to know people are reading my drivel, ‘cos I know I do run on a bit.
Friday 28th May 2010
Have just packed up to leave our last hotel and I feel a bit sad actually, going home today, although we still have one gig left to go on our home territory. It’s probably as well because I could actually put all my clothes in the bags under my eyes! I am honestly exhausted but in a good way!
Spent yesterday in Manchester, and we met up for lunch with Geordie Jan and Mark and Sab. After the disaster of my salmon at the Hard Rock, I threw caution to the wind and ordered fillet of salmon at the Weatherspoons. Lets rename that ‘finger’ of Salmon maybe, two bites and it was gone! Oh well, I am actually losing weight this trip and that won’t do me any harm at all.
Met up with Dianne, new to this board, at a pub just round the corner from the Hard Rock and she very quickly met others. Welcome to this world of madness!! Slower start to the meet at Hard Rock but similar ending to yesterday. Dave (in Rod clothes) and Geordie Jan dancing on the window sill, with the fake Rod from yesterday and Raff in the opposite corner, competing for attention! Helen led the love train around the diners but it was a bit feeble to be honest and we gave that up when it seemed not too many wanted to ‘get on board’.
Highlight for me was Purple Heather…. The song came on and we urged Helen to get up there on the windowsill with the others. She was initially reluctant, and I said to her… ‘you may never get another chance’ and she was up there like a shot singing her heart out to her song. Who would have thought it… a fab moment and recorded for posterity for the whole damn world to see!!’
Had a bit of a scare when there were no tickets for me, seemed my card payment hadn’t gone through, but it got sorted (Thanks Thomas) and we ended up with seats on the side, but really great view and I loved the gig. Plenty of room to sing and dance and we were with other like minded fans.
Rod was in a really good mood and it was a great crowd again, don’t tell Ian I admitted this but I think Manchester have been easily the best crowd so far. Again, no changes to the set list, but he did have a fabulous new purple suit… very Rock Star looked very cool. Stay with me was again fantastic…. He referred to Mick Hucknall again and said ‘lets show him how its done’. Rainy night remains my favourite vocal performance, but Have I told you comes close. Janna got right out on the monitor speaker during Maggie.. scary in those heels. And the big build up at the end was fantastic again… looking from the side across the auditorium at all those arms waving and every voice singing ‘can you hear me’ at the top of their lungs is an incredible experience.
We didn't make it back to the Hard Rock after the gig, old age and exhaustion finally catching up with us, and being aware that we had a long journey ahead of us today, so someone else will have to report any shenanigins from the post gig party - if there was one.
Forgot to mention that Sab and Mark had asked to store their bags in our hotel rooms and I very stupidly gave them a spare key! So we arrived back to our room (after searching for a kebab for Ian and ending up with Pizza) completely knackered and ready to collapse into our bed, only to find it had been rearrange courtesy of our so called friends. Including the washing liquid bottle in our bed (from the undies - remember!) and Ians Manchester United shirt in the bath ( I think it was originally planned to be put in the toilet but Sab managed to persuade Mark it would be a step too far!) but the worst was that they had turned up the heating full blast and it had been on all day. So it was like trying to sleep in a sauna. Thanks guys. Just heard that on their bus for their 6 hour drive back to London today, the aircon has broken down. So there is a God!!
Even though we are at home, the last gig is tomorrow at the 02 so I will finish off then. Thanks for keeping up with me.
Sunday 30th May 2010
Hello Chaps.... time for the final chapter.... or is it? After yesterday I am having serious doubts about whether I can actually NOT GO to the two remaining O2 gigs. so we shall see....
So back home after a very long drive back from Manchester and a night in my own bed before it was time to party again. Have to be honest, I was flagging big time. However, in true Rod fan style we forget all about that on gig day and off we trekked to the 02. We were taking our friend Ann (a relative Rod virgin) and meeting up with Big Al (who had just recovered from the Lurgi in time to attend)
Engineering works on the railway meant we had a bit of a detour but hey, got to the 02 without any difficulty. I had forgotten my hiking boots for the walk to the Pilot, the convenient venue for the pre gig meet, so we were a bit late arriving (thanks for the drinks waiting for us Steve). Smaller meet than then Manchester, much smaller, but good fun nontheless. People being cheered as they arrived, and I think Banksy got the biggest cheer of all. Dave Stewart looking very dapper, Rods shirt in the wash then?? Geordie Jan doing the Mad Jan Dance and lots of riotous singing seriously out of tune. No one noticed that Ian shaved the last of his hair off!!!
We had 8th row seats in the middle of the row and there was no chance of gettting to the front. We did jump forward to row 6 for a while till Maz and Lynne arrived (where u been, bleedin' late??) to claim them. Set list seems to be set in stone now. Running out of things to write about the gigs, just a fantastic show. I thought the crowd not as upbeat as Manchester. Geordie Jan and Fiona had the best seats in the house, side, almost ON the stage... just call them Waldorf and Statler from now on, honestly they were almost part of the show.
Changes this time.... a tribute to the anniversary of Dunkirk during Rhythm of my Heart, some bloke that came on that Rod had met in the pub and he had Rod tattoos all the way up his leg... and he didn't get edited out Ian!! And then, for no extra cost to our ticket prices we had Penny strutting her stuff on stage. 'Told you to stay in the van Penny!!'
After the gig we didn't do the three mile adventure back to the pilot, we crammed into the Slug and Lettuce and drank several drinks very quickly. Lovely to have all Rod fans enjoying a drink together, or not! Kev down at the border declaring it was his best gig ever, nothing to do with getting to the front and getting a ball then? Rod winked at him you know!! And Mark and Sab somehow managed to wheedle a bed, breakfast and evening meal out of us, and somehow we managed to negotiate the train to get back. Several sausages later and we are sat watching Sounds for Saturday and marvelling at the pure class of our hero.
Today we headed down the pub and had a lovely afternoon with the visiting Rod fans including the crowd from the US, in fact it was quite an international afternoon. Thanks to Ruth it now seems we are off to Dortmund so I'm afraid there is gonna be more of my tall tales coming. Was a really lovely and warm afternoon telling Rod stories and just enjoying each others company. And on the back of that...there is another gig Tuesday.... it's not over till its over!!
Wednesday 2nd June 2010
Can it really be a week since The Hard Rock and those fantastic Manchester gigs? Time goes by so quickly when you are having fun, and so slowly when you are stuck at work waiting for the next gig.
And that’s where I am now. I’m full of cold and feeling very knackered but hey, it’s rock n roll. So Monday night was Conrad’s big gig at the Troubadour in Earls Court, so off we set on the train again across London, negotiating engineering works. Decided to get some dinner (cheap dinner) in the O’Neills across the road before the gig. Two meals at £3.99 each it said… so how come Ian orders the 10 Oz rib eye and it ends up costing 20 quid? Actually that was the least of our expenditure because it turns out that you need a mortgage to pay for drinks in the club… well it was happy hour for cocktails, so two for a tenner!!
Nice crowd assembled for this gig, Mark and Sab (No I don’t want to meet him, honest I don’t) Mary, Geordie Jan and Fiona. The US girls and some band members and crew all turned up to show support. Conrad seemed much more confident at this show, and gave us a great performance of tracks from his album, really enjoyed it.
Got home around 12.30 and had to go to work the next day (what an inconvenience!!) and I was refusing to let my cold get me down. Needed to leave work at 4 to get the train (again) to the 02 for the Rod gig. Oh yes of course we went. We weren’t going to – honest. We had ordered Smiler tickets for this one but they were for Stan Terry and a couple of his friends, and so as late as Sunday Ian rooted about on ticketmaster and managed to get seats right on the side by the stage, right where Geordie Jan and Fiona had been sat on Saturday,. Just shows you that if you leave it to the last minute you can get good seats sometimes (haven’t got any for Thursday yet though… but we are not doing that one, no we definitely are not….)
So Tuesdays gig…. Was raining and so we stayed in the 02 compound and met in the Slug and Lettuce. Small, but very lively crowd. Picked up the tickets for Stan and his group and they were not at all good, block 103 which is halfway back. Interestingly she couldn’t find the seats and then printed them out when we were there, when on Saturday night they had been in an envelope waiting… Poor old Stan got stuck in traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel so we didn’t actually get to meet up.
Joe Grech had flown in from Malta for the show and it was nice to meet him. He was disappointed with his block 103 seat too, but I managed to find someone with a spare single 2nd Row (thanks Ruth) so he ended up with a great seat and had a fantastic night.
Need to mention Jeff from South Africa too, another new recruit.
So we sat in our seats and although we had a great view, and were third row aisle, everyone around us seemed very glued to their seats… still, not to be put off we got the people behind us chatting and they were fine with us standing and dancing for most of the night.
Have I told you was spectacular tonight, fantastic vocal and they change the violin solo so that its half Janna and half Jimmy on Sax. Stupendous. When he introduced Handbags, he makes a big deal of it being recorded in 1969 and says it was ‘three years after you lot won the World Cup’. You lot?? Wasn’t our Mr Stewart born this side of Hadrians Wall? Then he goes on to say that he hopes that we do well and wishes us all the luck. Mmm – not sure if that was genuine! Fantastic guitar solo by Paul Warren on SLRR and with Stay With Me straight after it, the place is rocking ( except for the oldies sat behind us).
He talks about Alastair’s shirt again and promises a football for anyone who buys one (guess he’s not read the Lancashire evening post then?) I did see a girl later on waving her tshirt in vain, trying to attract his attention. Finishes with Joking, as ever – wonder why he leaves out that penultimate verse?
Second half and he strolls out in the now infamous purple suit. It’s like Marmite, love it or hate it… I love it. Think it makes him look like a Rock Star, but I’ve heard other fans say he looks like a Spiv in it. His vocal at the beginning of Same Old Song is breathtaking… deadly quiet in the audience for a change. We get a change of set list next (that’s the first change since Nottingham) and he does Higher and Higher which is a great crowd pleaser, and I’m getting worried that perhaps he has dropped Rainy Night to fit it in, but no, thank goodness. I hear those opening bars and settle back for three minutes of pure pleasure. There’s a moment when it’s just him (in the suit) with the spotlight behind him and the white mike and he just looks and sounds like the Rock God he is. Have to confess I got a bit wobbly!!
Sexy without Penny tonight and he says we are a better audience than Saturday, ‘you’re all stood up over there and on Saturday they were all sat down’. The big sing alongs of First Cut, IDWTAI and in My Heart. Someone threw up a Scotland Flag and I’m sure I heard a few boos when he picked it up. Hot Legs and Ian and I are down at the barrier by now and security are trying to move us back – For Gods sake it’s the last few songs, does it matter?
During Maggie, two people in the front row get up and walk out (what is the matter with some people?) so Ian and I jump into their seats, and finish the show in the very front row of the Royal Box.
As he says his goodbyes Rod mentions for the second time this tour that this is the best band he has ever had – and then he says, ‘I wish you could all know what it’s like for me to be up here… you never ever let me down’. No Rod, you never ever let us down.
I’m not going on Thursday. I’m not going on Thursday. Anyone got spare tickets for Thursday???
Friday 4th June 2010.
Ok so I went. But first we have Wednesday night to discuss. For the third day in a row I jumped a train straight from work and headed for London … Hammersmith this time, to catch Conrad’s last gig in this little series. Now my cold was fully fledged by this time, and I was doing a fairly good impression of a leaky tap, but that was nothing, absolutely nothing in comparison to Ian who obviously has Man ‘flu coming (it’s not here yet… but definitely on the way, so that tickle in his throat is obviously much more significant than my very obvious symptoms!!) Anyway we ignored all that and arrived at Hammersmith after a fairly hideous journey through the rush hour (how do people do that day in day out?) and decided to get some food before going to the Distillery which is where Conrad was playing. Found a very grotty pub that had an onsite Chinese and had a very nice starter and an inedible main course consisting of rubber tyre and rice pudding.
Arrived at the venue to find Conrad, Janna and Steve already there (think they are stalking us) and the US girls. Also joined by Pete the Red and Sue and Sab minus Mark, Joe from Malta and Maz and some friends, so it was a friendly and supportive gathering. It’s a small intimate venue and they were broadcasting the performances live via webcam, so no pressure then!! Conrad was up second and we knew he was only allowed 6 songs, but what they did was let him perform three and then come back at the end to do the last three. I think that was their plan in order to keep us all there (we did make up the majority of the audience). We had a great night being entertained not only by Conrad, who’s sad (it has to be said) songs are now firmly lodged in my brain, but by such a variety of music. There was a suicidal duet, a Lily Allen wannabe, who actually was really good, a kind of Tracey Chapman singer songwriter on a piano and a guy making the most amazing noise from an instrument that looked like two dustbin lids stuck together. It ended up being a really late night so we stayed just long enough to catch Conrad’s last song and then had to leg it for the train, and I slept all the way home.
When the alarm went off the next morning I was surprisingly bright considering we’d had on average 5 hours sleep a night for the last few nights, and skipped off to work repeating the Mantra… I’m not going tonight… but of course I was. Last Rod gig for a while and only half an hour away… how could I sit at home? Ian to be fair was prevaricating, arguing the pro’s and cons, but we both knew we were gonna be there. Small problem in the fact that we didn’t have any tickets but I spent a large proportion of the day continually refreshing Ticketmaster (hope none of my bosses read this), but it was looking fairly hopeless. At one point I found two 6th row seats … happy daze, was just about to book when the emergency alarm went off ( I manage a nursing home and if the alarm goes off, I have to run) and by the time I got back I’d lost them. Finally about 2ish I finally found tickets in 3rd row block 112, which isn’t too shabby at all, so I nabbed em… listened to my credit card screaming… and that’s it, we were off to the 9th Rod gig in 17 days.
I was a bit later leaving work (well I suppose I’ve not done badly this week), so met up with Ian at the venue. Had a bit of a drama when three lads thought it would be really funny to run across the track at Romford station causing the station announcer to call them bloody idiots over the tannoy, to which everyone agreed. Small crowd again in the Slug and Lettuce, nice to see Mr Clegg out to play for a change. Several people really happy with great Smiler tickets, 1st and 2nd rows, which was lovely to see. And nice to meet Amanda (of RTC fame) for the first time.
And so we found our seats, not bad at all. There had been a bloke in the pub who was very obviously very worse for wear, and he was sitting just in front of us, at the end of the row fast asleep, not waking up for anyone who wanted to get past him, so people were having to climb over the seats to get round him. We saw Penny come in and she walked all the way around the arena and then came down the stairs and sat in the seats immediately behind us, with a security guy in tow.
As Rod came on, the drunk guy woke up, jumped up and immediately fell forwards right on top of the people in front of him, it was really quite scary. I was surprised that security didn’t remove him, considering how quick they were to remove one of ours on the floor who wouldn’t get down off his seat later on, but they left him there until he got up and staggered all the way up the stairs, never to be seen again..
First half ran it’s usual course. Rod saying that Saturday night’s audience had been good, Tuesday’s were fantastic and he hoped we were gonna be fantastic too. We tried our best Rod, we were up through most of it, although the guy next to me on his blackberry all night was really tiresome…. Why did he bother going? £70 to sit on his own on his blackberry emailing people telling them he was at a Rod concert?? (I was reading his messages) Saddo.
Have I told you was fantastic again ( I know I keep repeating myself, but so does Rod) with shared (not stolen) solos by Janna and Jimmy. Jimmy used to be with the band, says Rod, and then he opened a vegetabe stall in the Balls Pond Road that failed, so he came back!! It’s a heartache, Rod says you lot are quiet tonight, so obviously we’re not as good as Tuesday then? SLRR and Stay with me has us all on our feet all the way round, and Penny is going for it behind me, and having her photo taken by people trying not to look like they are taking her picture.
Then comes I was only joking. Rod starts the speech about his Dad coming from Scotland, and suddenly, inexplicably there comes the sound of booing from halfway back in the crowd. ‘How dare you fuckin’ boo’ says Rod, and he is raging, really angry. For a moment I thought he might not do the song and there is this palpable tension all around the room. The song starts but its clear Rod is just going through the motions, trying to put his professional head on, but he is clearly upset. Shouts of ‘you tell em Rod’ and trying to lift him but it was really unpleasant. Penny looked very concerned and leaves to go backstage and thank goodness it’s the interval. If that had happened anywhere else in the show, without the break would have been very hard to get back on track.
I braved the 5 mile queue for the ladies and just made it back in time for the second half and it’s clear that tensions are forgotten and Rod puts his heart and soul into lifting the crowd. The big singalong is not quite a big as Tuesday, he cuts IDWTAI for the crowd to sing later in the song. He has said again about Alastair’s Tshirt and getting a football, but qualifies it by saying ‘if you make it down the front you can have a football’ but no one has cleared that one by security so there are some fairly furious Tshirt holders out there!! Maggie is more upbeat, a slightly changed ending, bit more gritty from Paul Warren, and by Sailing everyone is swaying with the scarves as only Rod can do, and Penny is videoing it from behind us.
Baby Jane and it’s the last song at the last gig for a while. And the curtain comes down.
Sat for five minutes letting the crowds stream out (why do they always make you go out UP the stairs when there are perfectly good DOWN stairs?) and reflected on the past three weeks. Think it’s good now that it’s the end for a while because I am, in all truth, all Rodded out. Only so many times that you can bellow ‘you’ll be my breath should I grow old’ whilst waving just one hand in the air (why do we do that?) I know I have another couple of gigs coming up in July, so it’s not like it’s really over, my scarf is merely resting, not put away for a year or two.
People ask me all the time why I do it, why we do it? As Rod says ‘Thank you for your time and your money’… and he surely does take all my time and definitely all of my money. But it’s also the people in our Rod World that make it so special. All of us weird and nuts in our own way, all so different, from all walks of life but all with a bond that grows every time. Thanks to you all for being part of it.
Sunday 4th July 2010
Dortmund was never in the plan, was not supposed to happen and as always, unplanned spontaneous events without fail are always better than the ones you spend years organising and looking forward to. First off want to say thanks to Ruth, without whom this trip would never have taken place. She presented us with tickets for this gig and pretty much a fait accompli and was exceedingly generous whilst we were there, so a heartfelt thank you to her.
Our flight left Luton at 10.45 so quite why we were there at 8am I’m not really sure, other than to give Ian more time for his usual pre flight pints. Decided I needed a new tour hat… can’t afford to keep giving them to Rod so deliberately brought a bit more girly one so I wouldn’t be tempted to bung it on the stage.
Got off the plane and like a scene from Ab Fab almost collapsed as we hit the 34 degree heat. It was like landing in the Carribean but no palm trees. We had met up with Gillian and Ina at the airport and Ruth was already in Dortmund and came to pick us up.
Checked into our hotel, and it was hard not to notice that there was a football match planned . So over a couple of very large beer steins(when we finally got served… diabolical service!), we watched the four nil annihilation of Argentina by Germany … alright so we were in posh hotel, but God they were very quiet. Cheers after each goal but silence during the match, no shouting at the screen…. Strange lot the Germans. As Sab explained, they wait until after the match is over, get into their cars and drive around beeping the horns, and that’s how they celebrate.
Thanks to Ruth who has work contacts at the venue we were able to get into the venue before the doors opened. It was very strange being in the empty auditorium watching the preparations. Although the main floor was standing, on each side of the venue was a row of tables and chairs set up for dinner… apparently they were serving dinner! One better than the prawn sandwich brigade, but at least they weren’t sat in front of us!!
So we staked our places slightly left of centre at the barrier. Doors opened at 7 and gig scheduled to start at 9. Small venue by comparison… holds maybe 5000. A bit like Cork but not a tent! Familiar faces joined us at the barrier (including the Rail Rodders - and there was the usual battle to hold on to your space… like old times. Mind you at our age, two hours standing in 30 degrees isn’t a lot of fun. It was made ten times worse by having Amy Whinehouse’s album Back to Black on repeat for the whole two hours. And she still hasn’t been to bloody rehab… we were all groaning NO NO NO by the 4th time…
Crowd were warming up nicely (for a German crowd!) even before Rod got on stage and the curtain lifted to a riotous welcome. I’ve now seen the stage and the beginning to the show many times but I love it. Obviously there was not going to be any intermission and the girls had the red dresses on from the beginning but the boys were in the black suits.
So usual start… usual gig more or less but a bit shorter than the UK gigs, an hour and three quarters. But considering the temperature up there I think we did pretty well to get that. Rod and most of the boys were drenched in sweat from the very beginning
Love Train, Some Guys. Rod says we are a small but enthusiastic audience. Sound is good, so tight this band, no room for error., Tonights the Night and Having a Party. We’re all dancing. The floor looks full there are some seats left in the stands, but the atmosphere is really good. Danke Schon says Rod, Shuns and Dankes! During This Old Heart he is gesturing for his mike to be turned down. Fk it’s hot up here he says, and it really is… his shirt is soaked . Boys you can take your jackets off, but don’t take all night about it!! Rod’s tie seems to be on back to front and then he has real trouble getting it off. One side of the shirt is out and he is set to go.
Downtown Train, first time I’ve heard it this tour… has a trumpet start and a two handed drum solo. Paul Warren has his second solo in two consecutive songs, on fire again tonight. Rod has put on a dry shirt during the drum solo, and comes back to do a weird kind of whispered finish to it. He acknowledges the drummers as Dave Palmer who likes a shag on a Saturday night, and Matt O’Connor, causing a rumpus in Dortmund.
At times Rod seems lacklustre and tired… affected by the heat but the whole gig its just moments of that, and then he seems to shake it off and he is back to his usual self, good humoured, larking about lots of energy. Where’s me oxygen he says, get me an ambulance!
It’s a heartache (groan) and then a riproaring outstanding version of SLRR. It is the best I’ve heard all tour with the adlibbing of ‘ dance little sister’. In fact this gig had lots of adlibbing and extended versions and more creative versions… shows it was a good gig.
Have I told you had Janna’s solo followed by Don Kirkpatrick doing an acoustic guitar solo which I haven’t heard before which gave it a different dimension. Had a few tears in my eyes for that one, some moments of vocal brilliance by Rod that stopped me looking for detail and changes and put me back into total reverence.
Rhythm of my Heart with the big vocal finale from the girls ‘how about them girls’ and then it was time for You Keep me hanging on. All three girls having lots of fun and missing cues etc… and Janna looks like she has so much fun doing the backing vocals for this one.
Rod comes back out in the famous Purple suit, and has obviously had a fight with the hairdryer. Twisting is just fab… like SLRR lots of energy and the girls are strutting their stuff and Rod giving it the ‘ shake your money maker’. Video of the end of it on RSC Facebook.
At this point its clear there is to be no Same old Song or (travesty) no Rainy Night. Disappointed big time, but kinda knew it was gonna happen after seeing the set lists of other European gigs.
Sexy is next and again its an extended version, adlibbing the vocals. Rod and all three girls with their legs up on the amps. Conrad gets a bass solo, and I know he had one in Budapest, but this is the first I’ve seen and its great to see him out there showing what he can do. Seriously talented musician.
Singalong time - First Cut, IDWTAI , and In My Heart. Audience participation is very good, and the flags are out and we are doing what we do best. Rod says he’s starving hungry ‘anyone got a cheese sandwich?’
Band do Soul finger, highlights the horn trio - God they are fabulous. Jimmy makes me stop looking at Rod when he plays! Rod comes back on and says Spain are winning one nil if anyone is interested - ‘course they fkin aren’t!’ And then the dog thing and the pics yawn, although there is a new one of vuvuzelas on tribal warriors penis’s - honest - and it’s the ususal finale. Hot legs footballs, and Bridget kicks a couple and almost decapitates someone on the front row! Oh by the way Rod is now wearing a the shocking pink jacket and a bright yellow shirt that only he can get away with!
Maggie May and he changes the words to I wish you had an air conditioned room. Crap start, too slow, but its livens up and has a great ending, and finally Sailing and Baby Jane, and its over.
OK so shorter set, dull as fk setlist if we are honest… a lot of the good stuff missing, and some songs that I’d be happy if I never heard again. But that is my fault because I go to so many and if I went to just one a tour, or maybe one every ten years I’d be happy with it. But there is no getting away from the fact it’s a dull set list. Band are superb, great entertainment, seriously good musicians. Rod has moments of brilliance and he is a fantastic entertainer and I loved the gig,…. Just wish for more like we all do.
After the gig Isi and crew wanted us to go partying with them and we were boring as hell and just wanted to go back and collapse at the hotel. I know I know….
So we got back and waited an eternity to get served. We were joined after a while by Gill and Ruth, Jean and Manny and Simone and her friend also from Germany. We were sat listening to some fairly awful eurovision crap when suddenly there was a commotion at the main entrance and in walked Rod.
He was staying in the hotel apparently and you should have seen the circus that followed. The guy sitting next to us jumped up so fast he knocked over the candle stick holder on the table, girls were screaming and squealing and the entire population of the hotel lounge it seemed ran over to the foyer and were asking for autographs and photo’s and he had to wait for the lift to come down so he was trapped. I have to say that Ian and I stayed in our seats and watched what happened open mouthed.
Rod being the good sport he is (and because he had no choice whilst waiting for the lift) had a group picture taken with about a hundred people it seemed! Much more excitement in that few minutes than the whole hour and a half when their national team were stuffing the Argies!!
That excitement seemed to wake us up, or maybe it was the JD kicking in, but we suddenly decided we were hungry and jumped a taxi to an area that can only be described as the Cardiff town centre of Dortmund. Broken glass, vomiting and fighting all around us. Brought some virtually inedible food as a sponge for our alcohol and spent an hour entertaining the locals singing Rod stuff at the top of our voices. At one point they asked us to sing more softly so we launched into a very loud version of killing me softly with his song (OK not Rod but it was funny!) Turns out our Gill has a not at all bad voice. Apologies here to Isi that we ended up going out after all, but it was never planned I promise.
OK I have run on forever. Long way to go for one night but well worth it. Next and last instalment will be Glasgow.
Friday 23rd July
I’m a bit anxious as I start this, not sure if I am going to be able to properly convey the experience that was Glasgow. I was there in 2005 but missed the first famous gig where Rod cried during Purple Heather, and then managed to faint twice during the next one. Glasgow is also the place where I first met Rod, and ended up with only a picture of his hat so it holds some mixed memories for me. However this was to be the final leg of this tour for us and I know that the Glasgow crowd are without doubt the best Rod crowd in the world so I was so looking forward to this one.
We had standing tickets for both Friday and Saturday, Monday was a step too far, can’t have any more time off work. However we had a day’s leave booked for the Friday, so left really early. Flight was at 8.40 and for some completely inexplicable reason we were at the airport for 6.30 which gave Ian plenty of time for his customary two pints of Stella prior to the flight. Arrived in Glasgow at 9.30 and went straight to the hotel. The Crowne Plaza is next door to the venue and we were gobsmacked to find out we could check in that early... but very pleased. Time for a shower and a bit of a chill out then it was off into Glasgow to meet up with Sab and Mark who were already there and already in the pub. So they were at the Weatherspoons on Argylle Street. So Mr Sat Nav Roberts walks us for 40 minutes in completely the wrong direction before we finally give in and get a taxi. Of course by the time we arrived Sab and Mark were just about ready to go! Had a spot of lunch and then went over to the Central station to meet up with Helen and Hobo and crew. Walking through the concourse we bumped right into Conrad Korsch, who was dragging a very large suitcase and told us the story of the logistics of trying to get a case with three months clothes in transported via budget airlines to the last gig in Malta. We really do have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.
Quite a little crowd in the pub, and then Henry and his wife Danielle and Giles (Little Roddy!!) arrived and all of a sudden I was really flagging, maybe the early start I’m not sure but I didn’t feel great. So back to the hotel and a 20 minute power nap (works wonders) and we are rockin and rolling and ready to go. The bar at the Crowne Plaza is the natural place for the meet due to its proximity and not due it’s prices, and there were a fair few doing the sneaky bottle in the handbag routine!! Lots of debate about what time we should start queueing, and finally we agreed on 5ish although there was a lot of frantic pint finishing before we set out across the walkway to the venue. Once Ian and Mark had Sab and I safely established in the queue, they decided it was imperative to ‘nip’ back to the hotel because they would surely not survive a whole hour without a drink. To be fair Ian was back at the agreed time whereas Mark being absent was a bit of a theme throughout the whole weekend... gone to the bar..... gone for fish and chips..... gone to the loo......
Doors opened at bang on 6.30 .... walk don’t run!!! Yeah like that is possible?? How to walk as fast as you possibly can and not run, whilst holding a pint of water.(yes I did say water… being a good girl during the gig!) They should make that an Olympic sport. Anyhow, centre stage, front barrier so I’m well chuffed and now just an hour and a half to kill and the Glasgow womens alcoholic anonymous failures brigade to fight to keep my place. I kid you not, I still have the bruises. ‘It’s alright hen.... I’m there’ she shouts as she leans from behind me to put her arm under mine and grab the barrier. ‘Oh no you’re not!’ When I won’t move she pinches the skin on my arms... but I am going nowhere. The crowd as a whole are the best in the world, but God those Glaswegian women (no offence) can be aggressive. Poor Giles who was behind us was actually beaten by one who was frustrated in her failed attempts to get past him. Security meanwhile were much more interested in checking that no one had anything Celtic or Rangers related on their person. I got asked about my Rod scarf so many times... oh my God its a ROD scarf, not a Celtic one!! Of course the pushing in is ok if it’s one of ours, and Big Al arrives late (bomb scare at Luton) and manoeuvres his way to the front carrying beers and makes out he has been there all the time!
Ok so the gig..... massive build up... Because its standing and because its Glasgow. I’ll take the high road being belted out before anyone is anywhere near the stage. The crowd are SO loud it takes your breath away. Out come the band and Rod is the expected orange jacket and I miss most of Love train because I’m fighting with the bloody woman who will not shift her arm from under mine. Maybe I got it wrong and she was trying to do the love train, but methinks not. The gig in truth was everything we have had before but with nothing left out, with the most amazing reception from the crowd that overshadowed everything.
Rod seemed a little nervous at the beginning, Glasgow is a big deal for him, he says he has been looking forward to the show for ‘obvious reasons’. The highly produced and polished show is stage managed to within an inch of its life. Sometimes I wish it were less so. Highlights in particular were Stay with me... Don’s slide guitar is just fantastic on this and its such an energetic number. Joking was incredible, poignant and heartfelt. Ian got a ball thrown directly to him and he was very impressed with his catch. Some of the Soulbook stuff was a little less on the mark, Rainy night he cocked up and seemed to be kind of getting through those numbers until we got to the bits that matter… Sexy was fantastic... massive participation... kept going for ages. But the big singalong numbers at the end, First Cut, IDWTAI and In My Heart knock the roof off and its like being 15 at Granby Halls in Leicester all over again. Bit of a disappointment that there was no Purple Heather, after all the expectancy but it seems that Rod is getting a bit annoyed during Baby Jane, gesturing to the band, and the planned extra song for whatever reason doesn’t happen, and after such a high, the ending feels a bit flat.
Wear it well
Having a party
This old heart
Rhythm of my heat
Have I told you lately
Hanbags and gladrags
Sweet little rock n roller
Stay with me
I was only joking
Same Old Song
Rainy night in Georgia
Twisting the night away
Proud mary (girls)
In My Heart
So we traipse our way back along the walkway into the Crowne Plaza and the queue for the bar is already almost out of the room. No chance of getting served any time this century, until some bright spark has the idea of setting up a cash only bar selling bottles of beer and wine, and this does the job very nicely. Quietish post gig meet really, Mark gets dragged home by Sab but we are all witnesses to the fact he is allowed to stay out as late as he wants to tomorrow night. Ian is a lightweight and does a Cinderella, disappearing before midnight. Gillian arrives and is very chatty after an few Bacardi and cokes and I’m kept busy giving foot rubs to Hobo’s harem!
There is a really big international contingent over for this one, and it was good to meet Holga Rod and the Railrodders from Germany, Stefano from Milan and Mike Gregor over from the states. Apologies if I don’t mention you… it was nice to meet so many new and old faces, but the wine it kills the brain cells you know and I can’t always remember everyone. They were playing Rod music after a fashion but you couldn’t hear it very well due to the noise from the hundreds of people in there. I give it up around one thirty (well we were up at 5) and retire to face another Rod day ahead.
Saturday 24th July
Made it for breakfast and had to queue forever to get in there (queuing is another theme for this weekend, along with Germans) So how to spend a free day in Glasgow? I could lie and say that we explored the city, did a bus tour, went shopping but by now you all know us too well, so we did what we do, we sat in the bar and talked Rod. Pretty much all day really. Joined by Dimmo and RobbiC who was showing us his IPad, and we were showing them the RSC facebook etc. Ian whinged that his fish and chips were minute, but it was a lovely afternoon with Rod friends, just nice and relaxing, preparing us for the onslaught that was to come.
Off we went to the queue around 5ish with Mark moaning vehemently it was way too early. Walking over there it felt like we were on a military expedition with everyone following us. We queued at the second door but didn’t do so well tonight as they opened the first door first tonight (I know, its confusing) so we were well to the left but on the barrier. At least Ian and I started on the barrier but as we had two midgets behind us, had to give up our places ( well at least they didn’t pinch my arms… Helen, Amanda you are welcome!) Less welcome (and Kev we love you really) was Mr Down at the Border who was on a mission to consume every alcoholic drink known to man in the shortest possible time just prior to the gig, and therefore was a tad, shall we say, exuberant. Sab and I were extremely patient!
There was less aggression in the air tonight, and God the crowd were up for it. I can’t stress how loud they were. The beginning and build up actually gave me goosebumps. Being in that standing crowd, it’s just like the old days with everyone yelling the stripper theme and then screaming when the curtain goes up. It was really fantastic.
Tonight’s show was just brilliant from start to finish. I know that’s a very sweeping statement, but I just loved every single minute. Rod was in such a great mood, messing with the band, and joking about. Voice is spot on, no wobbles tonight. Set list was the same except no Stay With Me. The crowd are singing word for word songs they don’t usually… they are singing every word of every song. At one point, I think it was during IDWTAI the crowd came in so loud it actually made Rod jump back in mock horror, very funny. Two hours of pure adrenaline. I’m actually jumping up and down - me, at my age!! The band are on fire… Jimmy Roberts doing his thang, and Paul Warren really nailing it. You know, it really felt like a party, everyone was loving it. Best show of the tour for me without doubt. Even Maggie which has been a bit flat in some shows was kept going ‘cos the crowd wanted it to.
It’s very emotional getting towards the end, by Sailing I’m starting to get lip wobbly….. I always expect purple curtains to pull across the stage during the last bars of that, always think about it. ‘Can you hear me?’ I think they could hear us in bloody John O Groats!!
And then its Baby Jane, and there’s no repeat of whatever happened last night, everyone is still smiling and we are holding our breath, is it going to happen?? Ian points out the guitars being switched, they are not going off… yes they are gonna sing it, and I’m squealing like a two year old. To hear Purple Heather sung at a standing gig in Glasgow, as images of Scotland are played across the screen… well I’m English and I had tears pouring down my face (yeah OK I know I’m a wuss!)
Such a dramatic and moving end to the best of all concerts. When it was over I was exhausted, drained. Could hardly speak for the first half hour back at the Crowne.
Needed a drink, a strong one.
Now.. there is a tradition that’s Marks Ipod has to make an appearance and the fact that we were in a very posh hotel in the middle of the lobby made no difference. Neither did the fact that they were playing their own music. So as the crowd drifted off, the diehards, plus our international family congregated, around Marks brand new speakers that cost him 60 quid and were completely useless in such a large area. Not to be deterred we sang along, and as the alcohol kicked in also danced in what from any distance away could only have been described as a silent disco! We have the phone footage and when watched back the next morning it wasn’t pretty.. Jayne and Yve being the main culprits whereas I was the model of sobriety and good behaviour! We were invaded by two ladies who were a good way over the legal drive limit, who were incensed that we were not playing Rod. When we explained that we were (think it was Debris on at the time), one in particular was very vocal and decided that we were only playing English Rod and she wanted to hear some Scottish Rod??? Big Al spent most of the night having his hand massaged as opposed to his ego! Oh and Patty (sorry, terrible with names) managed to fall spectacularly from a very high stool and escape with only her pride hurt.
Fell into bed around 3 after what was a brilliant night. In fact it was a stonking weekend all in all, two great shows (Saturday topped it for me) and if I could have invented an excuse not to go to work on Monday or Tuesday and also robbed a bank, I would definitely have been up for Monday nights gig, but maybe Sat is going to be the highlight and its best to finish on a high? We have been having that debate all the way home. When is enough enough? When the credit card is maxxed? When it doesn’t move you anymore?
Torben wrote on this forum recently ‘The man used to be great’. Torben you should have been in Glasgow. In fact you should have been anywhere where this man is on stage. The Man is Great. The Man will always be Great.