UK Tour 2011

I have deliberated with myself as to whether this should be an extension of the 2011 UK tour diary, or whether it warrants a diary all on its own, and I have decided that it should be the latter. Although Hard Rock Calling came only a couple of weeks after the other gigs, it was a world away in terms of fan experience and the whole feel of the day, so I wanted to write about this in it's own right.

I was nervous about this gig. I didn't go to Glastonbury when Rod played there, although I saw a little of it on TV, and certainly read all the fall out and criticism that came after it. I so wanted Rod to do well here.... a chance to shut up the critics and enjoy some of the respect that he is due. But I lived in fear of a set list including Love Train and It's a heartache, and a safe cabaret style performance with shiny jackets, and choreographed stage moves that would do nothing to remind the world who he is and what he has done. So fair to say that I had more trepidation about this performance than I have had a long time.

So Sunday dawned bright and full of promise. A very hot day was predicted ( no rain in all Rod's outdoor shows this tour, must be a record), but it didn't start off brilliantly for me. Friday night had been a surprise 40th birthday meal in Worthing for Sab ( Farewell on here). I would just say that a surprise meal kind of insinuates that the surprise is at the meal, but a German style strop and refusal to leave the sofa meant that the 'surprise' had to get in a taxi and go round there. I'm aware this has nothing to do with a review of the gig, but there is a tenuous link here somewhere. Large amounts of alcohol were consumed during this evening, but my subsequent illness during the next day and into the Sunday morning ( there is the link) was solely down to the dead sea bass floating in dishwater served to me that night. Nothing at all to do with the wine, or the JD or the vodka redbull.
Helen (Purple Heather) was down for this weekend. She does actually live here now, and just pops home to Scotland every now and again. We were also joined on the Saturday by DJ Gary and his WIFE ( still can't get used to saying that) Tess, and Big Al ( thats twice in two entries) for some extensive party planning ( just try doing that with a hangover / food poisoning - news coming soon), so it was a like a little RSFC tour party setting out very early Sunday morning ( Yes Al - three times - I know you went home and met us there but it scans better like this)
The pub meet at the Swan had been widely advertised by Ian, after lots of people requested one. This pub was right next to Lancaster Gate tube station and right opposite the park , so ideal place to meet then? Well it would have been if the park it was opposite was actually Hyde Park. But when we went into the Park and found no sign of a festival, it turned out that the Park it was opposite was not Hyde Park at all but actually Kensington Gardens. Never mind Mr President, nobody is perfect. So what if it was a mile walk to get the tickets, go back to the pub, and then back to the venue. None of us mind at all do we guys? Good exercise!! We walked up to pick up our tickets and bumped into poor old Tom who was off to see Elton John. If I was American I would write Go Figure? there but I'm not so I won't.
Kind of a disjointed pre meet with people coming and going, sorting out tickets etc, and with a mile walk or a tube ride either way it took a while to come and go but we were in this pub from around eleven till half two ish. Breakfast ( Eight quid for that? Well you are in London, Ian) and I was still on tea and toast, and when others moved on to pints I stayed on the lemonade, testing the water , not wanting a revisit to Ralph and Hughie land on a gig day. The temperature was increasing by the minute and the decision to wear the black RSFC shirts and jeans was very quickly being established as a bad one. We sat outside in the courtyard, and the banter was flowing. I get told off for saying who was there because I always forget someone but I remember Steve (trublue), and his daughter Robyn showing us her holiday sunburn, Hobo and CHRIS, not thingy, Allen ( Dixie Toot) and Ruth. Stefano was over from Italy but apparently had got so pissed the night before he had fallen over something and had practically broken his foot and was hobbling . Banksey and his gorgeous kids, Elaine Duncan ( great hat) and Lydia. Kev ( Down at the Border) and Sue and Mick. And yes it is noted that Sab and Mark turned up after we had all left, but you were late mate, bleedin' late.
Not sure what I was expecting but the ground was enormous. Lots of stalls, lots of bars, two stages. No seats and no shade anywhere except inside the beer tent where they didnt want you to loiter, although loiter we did. Loiter we did alot, didn't we boys?

The majority of people who bought tickets through our site got the gold circle wristbands which meant that there was no need to stand there all day in the hot sun, but you could walk in and out of a small area at the front as much as you wanted. We didnt take advantage of the other stage, but have heard that Mike and the Mechanics were brilliant. We heard Train from the beer tent, and they sounded fantastic, watched Adam Ant ( who failed to Stand and Deliver in my opinion) watched a bit of Stevie Nicks ( missed Rod coming on to introduce her!) and then went for fish and chips - she has a nice voice but doesnt do it for me, not an entertainer) and waited for the main event.
Mary and Fiona came and found us, along with Geordie Jan. Mary told us that she hoped that for once she would get to stand at the front, something she has always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to.
We had been in the park from 3ish and Rod was due on at 8.20. I'm trying to find words to describe the building atmosphere. The sun was so hot, not a cloud in the sky, even that late in the day. We were stood about four deep at the barrier. The gold circle that was full for Stevie was suddenly half empty again and I remember thinking , where have they all gone ( VIP's back stage probably) Security giving out gallons of water which was being gratefully received. Think I only had two wee's all day, which at a festival is not a bad thing. I looked back, and behind the circle it was full as far as the eye could see. I remember thinking, all these people are not all big Rod fans, please let them go home as Rod fans. I felt so anxious.
The stage was being set up. Familiar road crew ( always remember the guy with the long hair and denim shorts who swept the water off the stage at Manchester 07) Riggers up the rope ladders and it's getting close. Gold circle is filling, feeling a bit of pressure behind me. Mary turns up and is given a spot at the barrier, with us forming a kind of protective circle around her. Kev is on his second bottle of bacardi and coke and I fear the worst.
And we are off. You take the High Road ... and the Stripper. Band all come on, usual routine, sound is great ( it had been fantastic all day) I remember thinking please dont let it be the gold jacket. Not sure why that was so important but it was.
But yes Rod comes on wearing the gold jacket and it's Love Train. I just want something different for this show. But its a great reception, great atmosphere. Tonights the Night and we are following the format. Hello my multitudes he says... this is a big deal to him you can tell. He says he wants to get in as many songs as possible so not much talking. Having a party and This Old Heart. He is in a really good mood, seems to be really energetic, all over the stage. SLRR, really rocky and then we slow it down for First Cut, and he is nailing the vocals. You can hear the crowd bellowing from the back. Set list is really mixed up cos next is Baby Jane and it goes down a storm, really loud singing coming in waves from the back. Have heard varying estimates of how many people there, but I'm guessing 50,000.
And Jimmy Roberts is doing his stuff, so cool. The stool comes out and it's Downtown Train ... off for the obligatory costume change. Not the purple suit, yes the purple suit.
Young Turks and Stevie is back on for this one. Can tell they have done it a few times. Much improved since the firrst you tube video of it. Then Rod talks about his new album. Doesn't mention Jeff Beck but says that he is not sure where it going but this is definately on it and goes into Shake Your Money Maker. Rocking off the band. Even Conrad is smiling. Feels different this gig, not sure why at this point.

Handbags And Gladrags. The vocals on this are breathtaking. They told me you missed school today, so what I suggest, you just throw them all away. The handbags and the gladrags that your poor old grandad had to sweat to buy ya. He sang this in 1969. Yeah he makes a joke of it, but it's no joke. 42 years. 50.000 plus roar their approval and remember that Rod Stewart is a legend. Turning point of the gig for me, just as the sun is going down...

And just as we are getting our breath back ' If I listened long enough to you.'...he hasn't done Reason to Believe this year and it's a beautiful song and he sings it perfectly. It seems clear he is tailoring the set list to the event. Thank you God.
Every Picture Tells A Story and we are going wild down the front. Building to the chorus and we are jumping up and down. Rod introduces the girls to do Proud Mary that gets a great reception, and comes back on looking amazing in white jeans and white shirt with a black newspaper type print. More casual.... and we soon find out why. Can't be wearing a shiny suit when you've got Woody bouncing off you. So on Woody strolls looking like he is lost in a supermarket. Rod doesnt notice him at first and then when he realises, kicks him off and has to introduce him. We've all been going nuts since he walked on and cant understand why there is a massive roar after the introduction but obviously with that many people there, he wasnt seen till he was on the screens.
Maggie May and the whole of Hyde Park are screaming it. It's done, he has crowd in his hands. Janna is up rocking with Woody, all the band seem relaxed. Choreography is out of the window, its relaxed, impromptu, fun. .
Stay With Me and to echo my friend Al ( four times) no one plays the riff like Woody does. It's just magic.
Twistin' The Night Away . Rod's looking a little tired here, I know I'm knackered, but again he gets his breath back and picks it up.
You're In My Heart. We have the RSFC banner waving at the front and it's up on the screen. Singing our lungs out
I Don't Want To Talk About It. It's dark now and the phones are all out and the whole world is singing.
Hot Legs. Big Al is in his underpants throwing footballs from the side of the stage ( No not you Al, it's still four times, or does that mean five) the other Big Al
Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? Oh God yes. The crowd are doing the oh oh oh oh bit from the back of the park to the front. It goes on for ever, but not long enough. And he says thats your lot and it's all over.

So we know there has to be the encore but while we are waiting the oh oh oh oh bit carries on while no one is on stage. And Darren starts there's only one Rodney Stewart and Mary reminds him it's Roderick!
Sailing Can you hear me? Through the dark night? Oh yes.

On the way home they were singing. I mean really singing, lots of people. On the trains and the tubes. Singing our man's songs. I haven't heard that in a very long time.
Job done Mr Stewart. Conscious that I always get so overwhelmed by the emotion of it that I sometimes don't get to be critical enough. Much better set list. Lost the Heartache and Some Guys, tailored the set list to the occasion. Learned from Glastonbury. Having Ronnie on stage loosened the band up. So much better when they are less structured... enjoyed the fact that we didnt know what might happen next when he was on.

But above all Rod really delivered this show. Right between the eyes. As one of the ( if I must be honest, very lazy) reviews has said, he showed us who is the Daddy. Reminded the world of the legend that is Rod Stewart. It's not always easy to be a Rod fan. I left Hyde Park exhausted, but so very proud to be a Rod Stewart fan.

2011 Summer Tour

Howdo guys.... here we are again. One gig down, four to go and I'm lying in our nuclear holocaust of a hotel room with achey feet and a stomach that feels like my throats been cut. Par for the course... but I feel I'm getting old..


Sunday 29th May... Newbury 2011

Should have started off the tour feeling relaxed, energetic and ready for the two weeks ahead.... but had a terrible nights sleep due to next door having a 21st Birthday party which culminated in gangs of kids fighting outside our front door at 5 in the morning, hence we were up at 6 and on the road by 9! Called in to see Mary on the way for a cup of tea, who was also excited about the tour, and looking forward to seeing us all out and about.

Found hotel, no probs, and nipped next door for a drink. Immediately met Roy and his wife ( not bad for Scousers was Ian's verdict!) who have been lifelong Rod fans, he is a collector, and yet knew nothing about the fan club scene. He is now a newly recruited member - welcome aboard Roy!!
My vegetarian moussaka turned out to have meat in it, and then I broke off half my backtooth :-tooth... day going well then!!!

Met up with Geordie Jan and we shared a taxi over to the ground. The racecourse was set up like a mini festival, but you could clearly see the stage from the area outside, so we watched quite a lot of the soundcheck from a distance, until security moved us on ( when Rod arrived we think!) We were excited to hear Joking and EPTAS in the sound check... very promising.
Pre gig meet was planned for an outside area with bars with a tiny stage set up... there was a skiffle type band on and the sun kept trying to come out. Nice atmosphere and slowly people drifted in. Henri and Giles.... The Clayton crew...Louise Cotton, Barb Clarke Tune and Fay, Dom, Uncle Stan ( bit disappointed you didn't grab that mic, Stan!) Elizabeth Cmon the hoops Klaus, Gillian and Ruth... and Patsy doing an impression of Penelope Pitstop won the prize for best outfit of the day.
We had this plan to do The Huddle during You're in my Heart ( for the Americans and non footie people, this is where you all put arms round each others shoulders, turn your back to the pitch, or in this case stage and jump up and down singing 'lets all do the huddle' and yes it is just as juvenile and ridiculous as it sounds, but hey ho....) so we had some practices on the lawn, causing quite a stir. A girl came over to take our pics... from the local newspaper... so look out for the green RSFC shirts in the reviews!!

Ok so time for the gig. Arena looked totally full, no seats empty that I could see. We had third row seats, hard uncomfortable seats at that, but the brilliant thing for this tour is that all the fans are together so the atmosphere was great. There was a jazz band on as support who no one was really watching until they did their last song which was King of the Swingers from Jungle book which had us all going ' you hoo hoo i wanna be like you hoo hoo... had to be there!!
Ian and I decide to do a loo visit just before Rod starts... came back to find chaos. Seems like everyone rushed to the stage and they were standing about four deep all along the stage. Missed the chance to be at the barrier, but fantastic that we were all up there... security tried in vain to get us to sit down.... not a chance in hell. One guy was saying to me... Rod won't come on till you sit down, and the music had already started... yeah course he won't!! it basically became a standing gig from the very start, which is just the way we like it.
So Hels has already given you the set list, and I have to say I sent the first four songs by accident to Geordie Jan who was stood right next to me in my eagerness to get the set list up quickly. A big stage, very high up, fairly large gap between barrier and stage. All the stage stuff exactly the same as we have seen a hundred times before.
But, there was something different about this gig, just an edge that was hard to put your finger on. Yeah he started with love train ( no chance of doing it considering the scrum we were standing in) but no other soul book at all. The order being so different made it seem more rocky some how. He put a little bit of Beck, Rock my Plimsoul into the end of SLRR and obviously the new song Shake your Money Maker ( kinda appropriate considering he just signed for Vegas dontcha think?) and the very welcome inclusion of EPTAS just seemed to signal a new kind of direction, or maybe I am letting my heart overule my head? I mean he still left in the dire It's a heartache... but it does get the crowd going. Interesting to see the new backing singer Kimmi be blown away by a UK crowd for the first time, she looked like she couldnt believe what she was seeing. Anyway it was a very good gig, two full hours not the 90 mins we were expecting. He was in a great mood, enjoying the fab reacton from the crowd. Musicians excellent as always... in particular the slide guitar from Don Kirkpatrick on the new song.... and the girls nailed it on Rhythm of my heart. Usual fracas over footballs during Hot legs, and Kev Freeth ended up on the floor with someone's drink poured all over him! Lesley got her ball ( sign worked then!!) The only disappointment, no Joking, even though we had heard the rehearsal. Not sure whether it was originally planned as an encore, or during the set ( we did see a white stool being held on the side of the stage and Rod gestured it away so perhaps he changed his mind?) Shame though, because I think that one track may have moved this from being a good gig, to a really great gig.... but I am biased towards that song.
Lovely day, great gig, good solid start to this tour.... and despite the Vegas news... some hope for the future. Feel very positive.

Fairly quiet post gig, after waiting ages for a train back to the hotel,we were all fairly knackered and we just sat in the lounge. Bearing in mind I'd had no lunch, I was starving and Ian offered to take the ham out of his freebie ham and lettuce sandwich. Bless! I declined his very generous offer. Despite giving the barman some CD's we couldn't hear the music and I was fading fast so we hit the sack fairly early on. Long day ahead hitting the road to the Sheep Country... see you in Swansea.
Wednesday 1st June 2011 

It's 11.45 am and just waiting for Dave ( Banksey) to get back from work so we can get this show on the road.

We made the journey down from Newbury to Swansea by car in a total Rod fest which was really quite pleasant. Geordie Jan in the back barely awake, and me singing out of tune, so it was pleasant for me and no one else I suppose. Dave had kindly offered to put us up in his very nice house in Newport, and it's true to say we have eaten him out of house and home and drank all his beer. Cheers Dave!

Yesterday we jumped a train into Swansea and found ourselves surrounded by drunken and celebrating Swansea fans returning from Wembley. As the train pulled up at Cardiff they were all shouting down the train, 'If you want Championship football, get off here'. Was funny but you had to be there.

We spent the day visiting the drinking establishments of Swansea, of which there are many, just doing a little research for our members you understand!! The trials and tribulations we face!! The bar for the pre meet today looks great ( good choice Dave). We also found ourselves in the middle of the Celebratory parade with the cup. Geordie Jan was finding it hard to stop herself shouting Cmon Newcastle, surrounded as she was by the black and white. Oh and Ian managed to get himself interviewed by the local press about his reaction to the Swansea win??

Managed to miss the train back which meant our connection was seriously late, so poor Dave who had been working all day came all the way to Cardiff to pick us up. Serious brownie points Dave.....

So a relatively Rod free day, if you dont count the constant Rod on the sound system at Dave's and in the car. Still, gearing up for today. The sun is trying to come out and I have a knot of excitement that wont go away, so guess it must be gig day.... see you on the other side.
Thursday 2nd June2011

A smile on my face and I’m feeling very smug this morning because Mr Roberts has a very bad head whilst I am quite chipper, having now perfected the art of alcohol consumption on a gig day to a point of sheer brilliance! The rules are quite simply, eat first, don’t drink wine (or if I must, no more than two glasses, before a switch to something that is diluted) and don’t drink during the gig itself. OK so you lot all know that, but it’s taken me almost 30 years to figure that out.
First item of note for yesterday is an unexpected meet up with Ian’s brother from another mother, Mr Jimmy Roberts. Ian and Jimmy became friends on the tour last year when he organised the impromptu jam at the Matt and Phreds club in Manchester. Anyhow we got a call from him asking to meet up so we went along with Dave to see him before the pre meet gig. Jimmy Roberts is Mr Cool personified, so laid back he is horizontal and a really nice guy. We chatted music for an hour or so ( ok well Ian chatted music and I interrupted with fairly inane comments trying to appear educated) He did tell us some fairly exciting news about the new album and it seems like Rod is taking it very seriously indeed, and this one may just be what we are all waiting for!

So, onto the fantastic pre gig meet in the Varsity Bar organised by our very own Dave (Banksey) Jones. We had our own specially reserved area with Rod music playing ( eventually, DJ was having a bit of a bad day!) Was slow to start and for a while just us, Steve (tru Blue) and Geordie Jan, having a bite to eat – can recommend the Chimichanga!! People started drifting in Danny and Liz ( remember the great Kareoke voice from Walsall) Liz Klaus, Pat Rivara and her mate.... Sab Mark, Tom and Patsy , Gillian and Ruth, Kev F and Miranda. Sorry if I missed you out, but it became quite a party. Oh, and Megumi from Japan arrived to a big reception. She had been in the room 2 minutes before Liz K was flogging her a pair of tartan trousers!

The day before Ian had invested in a new camera to try and get better gig shots for the site. On it’s very first outing Mr R came back from the loo looking very sheepish. Yes he had dropped it down the toilet. Thank God for quick reactions and a water resistant case, but if the pics he puts up are a bit blurred you will know why.
The pre gig ended in usual style with everyone on their feet belting out Maggie at the tops of their voices, whilst the rest of the (fairly quiet I have to say) pub looked on in bemusement thinking ‘ who the fk are they?’ The landlady organised taxi’s for us all and at around 7 we were off to the gig.

First impressons, not as full as Newbury, but obviously a much bigger stadium. Seats on the pitch only went two thirds back. Most of the seating around the sides was full though. We meandered down to the front, stopping for beer ( err what happened to the ‘no drinking during the gig rule? Well we had 20 mins to drink it before he comes on was the answer). We had 2nd row aisle seats, and incredibly Banksey although having booked completely separately was sat right next to us. Not that it mattered, because nobody sat, not at all, not once. We did the usual chatting at the front thing, deep in conversation, getting closer and closer to the barrier and then suddenly we were all there. No sign at all of any security. They seemed content to let us stay there and we couldn’t believe it, twice in two gigs, standing at the front. Mind you the gap between the stage and the barrier was enormous and the stage really high so we were still a fair way away.

OK so onto the gig itself. I’ve been a bit crap and not taken my trusty pad and paper. Missed loads of the Newbury gig texting the set list into my phone, and to be fair there was not likely to be much change so I didn’t worry for this one.
Came out to Love train, no great surprise. Has anyone else noticed that when he sings this song live he changes the words to ‘ tell all the folks in Egypt and Israel too’? Nobel Peace Prize for Mr Stewart!!
His hello speech to the people of Swansea made great reference to the fact that the team had been promoted. We had heard that the team was to be invited onto the stage but that came later. He congratulated Swansea on their promotion to the premier league and said, just think you are going to have all those teams here… Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard ( and then under his breath, ‘ and all those other tossers’)

I noticed lots of new footage on the screen that I didn’t notice at Newbury. For Rhythm of my heart the footage was of more modern day warfare, from Afghanistan etc. He gave quite a speech about being born after the 2nd World War and owed his freedom to the men who died protecting it, and that right now, as we speak there are men and women out there still fighting for our freedom.
We were stood right in front of the amps and the bass was reverberating all through my body throughout the gig, which meant Rods voice was a little drowned out for some of the faster numbers. Of which there were a lot. Same set list as Newbury but with a slight change of order because he did In My Heart at the end of the first half, and changed the screen footage to Swansea . Of course the place went nuts and on walked the football team with some assorted WAGS. The manager said, I’d like to thank Rod Stewart for coming to our party! And Rod brought out the cup (which basically is a cup for coming third, which I have never really understood but I digress) and there was lots of cheering all round.

During the interval I said to Ian that although there were lots of celebrations going on, the crowd itself seemed a bit flat. At that point I did not feel the gig was as good as Newbury. However this was a concert of two halves. I watched as Rod picked this crowd up and pulled it all together in the second half. What a showman. When you see a lot of concerts, it’s easy to forget how bloody good at his job he is…. He had the place rocking and singing, and it was the loudest version of IDWTAI that I’ve heard in a very long time. In the second half he did say that we should sit down for the slow numbers, but by this point we were about 20 deep at the barrier and no chance on earth. He said, no one is taking a blind bit of notice of me so let’s carry on…..
Again no Joking ( saw the guy come on with the stool and Rod gesture him away again). He introduced Shake your money maker as a new song and then realised that it was the wrong song (oh fk, I’ve really dropped a bollock here!) and had to do It’s a heartache which was kind of ironic.
Sexy went on for ages with the crowd doing the backing and Rod and the band jamming it up. Some new instrumental bits, - New sax solo for Downtown train, new keyboards for Sexy. Riotous end with the encore of Sailing, flags waving.

Highlights for me, Have I told you. I love to hear him rock out and I love the band, but I’ve paid to hear that voice and when it’s just him and those majestic tones it reminds me of why I am there, and I wish he did it more, just stand and sing I mean. Every picture was fantastic tonight, all the fan club down the front leaping up and down to it.

Real rocky feel again to this gig, a definite change in direction I feel. He is happy to stand back and showcase the band, much more of Don Kirkpatrick on that slide guitar. If the last tour had a soul feel to it, even though the set list has only a couple of changes, the arrangements seem more edgy, more rocky. I think Rod is very astute and is leading us towards this new album.

And finally, for the girls, have to say that although the new and recently submerged camera took lots of pics, the battery ran out before the final costume change so I can’t show you what I mean but to quote a text I received from my mate Ina… ‘ Kevin Costner in Bodyguard, Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy, Tom Cruise walking back to the plane in Top Gun, Don Johnson in Miami Vice, Beckham in the England strip... but never have I seen a man as gorgeous as Rod looked last night. Have to say I agree. He came out in white trousers, white shirt and stripy blazer looking every inch the rock star. Came over all hot and bothered and fell in love all over again!! See you in Leeds...


Saturday 4th June 2011 9am

Morning chaps. I have precisely an hour to get all this written and loaded, plus Ian needs to get some photo's up before we need to check out and get back on the road. We only have one laptop betweeen us so I'd best be speedy. Tried hard to write some last night after the Leeds gig but strangely my fingers and the keyboard were not quite in tandem.... I'm blaming Jack!

OK so we spent Thursday, the day after the Swansea gig at the Jones B&B. You know it really is quite something else... if you are down Newport way you should try it sometime. Poor Dave had to go to work, and he got home at around 5 to find a crowd of us sitting in his garden in the sunshine, having demolished his wine collection and emptied his fridge. Cheers Dave! It was a lovely afternoon spent with Geordie Jan, Sab and Mark ( who was trying in vain to get Sab to chuck a sickie the next day which would mean that he could stay over that night and help us with the demolishment of Dave's alcohol collection, but she wasn't having any of it!) Rod blaring on the stereo all day and lots of laughs. Good times. In the evening Dave sorted out a take away, and we hit the hay early, knowing we had a really long day ahead.

Friday morning we were woken by Tonight I'm Yours being blasted out at 7am. Dave was in party mode... and getting us all up and in the spirit of things. After a a military operation to decamp from Dave's, it became a test worthy of the Krypton Factor to get all of us and all the luggage into Ian's car. We were a bit like sardines (although I was ok cos I was driving). Goodness knows how we will manage when he trades it in for the Polo.

Newport to Leeds, we did it in 4 hours including a stop for breakfast. May have broken the odd speed limit but we arrived in one piece.
Gig time. Now Kevin ( down at the border) Crossland had organised this meet and we had high hopes for it. There had been some rivallry between the Welsh party organiser and the Yorkshire one, and Kev was feeling the pressure, but we couldnt have expected the reception that greeted us as we walked in. TV camera's were there filming and wanting a crowd of us to be jumping up and down to Maggie May. Actually this was all down to the local celebrity in our midst, Julie Cartwright, who has been courting the media lately and flying the flag for the RSFC, nice one Julie.
Really busy meet, and such a lovely day that it spilled out into the road. Great atmosphere. Good to see Stefano ( The Italian Stallian) and Gaz Jones (The silent assassin? Don't ask me why) and Kath (Dont make me laugh or I'll thump you!) Lots of regulars from The Big Weekend, oh and I met Terje for the first time, never done a pre meet before and was really enjoying himself. Good to see Dave Stewart out and about ( who can guess what he was wearing?) and Paul G doing the gig for his Dad. And of course Andrea and her very famous Mum got a big reception!

The pub had stopped doing food, so the supermarket next door got their sandwich store raided. We had to leave the pre meet earlier than normal because our presence was requested by the TV crew wanting to do a live interview with a crowd of us. Ended up quite a crowd and we finally got The Huddle in, hope someone has taped it!!

Leeds stadium had many more seats on the actual pitch, but alot of the stands were empty.... so not a sell out. What appeared to be different here was that Leeds had reserved the first few rows for the corporates and VIP packages, unlike Newbury and Swansea where we were all at the front. We had 11th row seats and really didnt want to sit in them ( middle of the row too, so once in, you're not getting out). So we all did the usual hovvering round the front being engaged in very interesting conversations, and getting closer to the barrier. Didn't work this time, twice we got moved back from the barrier, and then just as the gig was about to start the ' response team' arrived and herded us back into the aisles where we stayed, squashed like sardines until the last song of the gig. It was really hot and we were squashed as hell, but there was no way of getting out, and I honestly think that security made that situation so much more dangerous. Every single aisle was crowded all the way back and there were skirmishes breaking out everywhere. It seemed that all security were interested in was making sure that the front row got to party uninterrupted and sod anyone else. There was so much space between the front row and the barrier, and the stage was so high, those who wanted to stay in their seats could have seen easily. Anyway it spoiled what should have been a brilliant gig, so well done jobsworths, hope the front row corps ( who weren't even watching half the time) had fun. Bitter, moi??
Nevertheless, Rod was on great form. He seemed less than impressed with security, stopping in the middle of SLRR to tell security to leave a woman alone, and at one point grapping his crutch and indicating to ' grab them by the balls!!' He obviously got told to tell people to sit down, but what he actually said was ' are you ok standing up?, it's your show, do what you want to do'.
Sound was better this time ( well I was further away!) and he put back in First Cut, although for the life of me I can't remember what he left out! Jimmy Roberts particularly hot on the sax ( although according to Rod he's only been doing it for 18 months!) Again the more rocky feel, he talked about the new album saying he ' hoped' Jeff Beck was gonna be on it. Show was two hours plus, with no interval, although the band did two numbers, Soul Finger and Proud Mary. Every Picture was a highlight, looks like he enjoys singing that. Maggie was really flat, and ended with almost no singalong at all. He definately plays that one down and bigs up Sexy, although hard to get the same kind of reaction when the crowd are so far away and being penned in like sheep by security. The only place I've seen worse security that this was the infamous Earls Court gig.
At the risk of pissing off Paul Clegg, last costume change was the white outfit again, love that look. Since the very early days, what Rod wears on stage is part of his persona and his show, and I make no apologies for including it if it's worthy of mention.
Still the tiresome video of the dog ( isn't it dead yet?) and we were sure that we would get through for the footballs,( Leeds Utd balls btw) but it wasn't until Sexy that suddenly we all made a run for it, and then security finally gave up, but even then not without trying. Ian caught a ball but gave it to Angela cos it was meant for her really) Rod wished that greatness would return to the Leeds football team once again, and then the encore which was Sailing, and we were all where we should be, flags and scarves waving singing our lungs out, and the world was right again.

Running out of time, so just to add that the unexpected post gig meet was a bonus ( no end to your organisational skills Kev!) We congregated in the pub outside the ground and had a good couple of hours of singing and drinking, before the feet and the liver gave out and it was time for bed. Aberdeen next... och aye the noo!!!
About to start off with the date as usual and just realised I'm not sure what bloody day it is, let alone the date!! Think Alison....

Tuesday 7th June 2011 

Am at a home for a brief couple of hours stopover to dump one case and pack another for Norwich. I didn't take the PC up to Aberdeen ( travelling light!) so this is the first time I've had to catch up since Leeds.
Anyone with even a vague idea of British geography would assume that being in Leeds, halfway up the country, and the next gig being in Aberdeen right at the top of Scotland, that we would continue our journey north. Well not us, we like to do things the hard way. We had promised to accompany Mary to Aberdeen and therefore needed to go all the way back down south and then fly up from Luton. It was a tiring journey, made eventful by the fact that we got told off by the police for stopping on a hard shoulder to change seats, and before Ian gets his spoke in, I want to make it clear that the kerb I hit rather hard in the service station had clear markings where it had been hit before, so it obviously couldn't have been my fault.

Stayed the night with Mary who cooked us a lovely dinner and then an early start to the next day. At the airport Mary managed to convince me to buy some very expensive shoes which were supposed to be in the sale but when I went to pay for them they weren't. They were calling our flight and I had to make a decision quickly. Don't go shopping with Mary, she's a bad influence.

After a tour of Aberdeen airport ( Mr R's internal satellite navigation throwing a wobbly, even though as he mentioned a few times, he'd been here before) we found the taxi rank... ' could it be that queue of people over there by any chance dear?' and we were away to our hotel. We stayed in the Premier Inn. One woman actually said to Mary as we were leaving ' you can't be Rod's sister, why would you be staying here?' Why not?
So this gig was going to be a bit different for us as we had been invited by the promoter to a reception before the concert. However Mary was very keen to do the pre meet at the Pittodrie Bar, and so we turned up to that one quite early. Elaine Duncan had organised this and she did a great job, the place was heaving from early doors. Rod on the video screen and Danny did some live numbers which went down a storm. Fantastic to see Megumi made it up again, and Christopher from France. Lots of people wanting their pics taken with Mary, and at one point it was getting a bit hairy with people crowding round her. Ian and I were feeling a bit like minders, but as always she took it all in her stride. She's so unassuming, but at one point she was dying for the loo, there was a long queue and only one toilet, but the scottish ladies were so gracious and let her queue jump ( and me I have to confess, sorry girls!!)

The reception thing at the stadium was in a private area. Free booze and nibbles and lots of people. Albert and Kaz Brocklehurst were also in there, and it seemed like a long couple of hours.... Kaz was saying, shit if I'd known about this I wudda worn something different! She had no need to worry considering Albert was quite the spectacle in his tartan suit and hat and orange Rod shirt! The only downside to this invite was that our tickets were in the directors box which sounds grand, but isn't and is basically some seats halfway back and halfway up in the stands. We were bloody freezing even before Rod got on the stage. I watched some of our crew doing the Love train down the front and partying and have to admit, without wanting to sound ungrateful, wished I'd been down there. We were also sat with others who had obviously got free seats and were not really interested in what was going on, and I was getting wound up when they wouldnt stop talking behind me.

Sitting further away gave us a much better perspective of the whole ground. Quite a lot of empty seats, but the majority of the pitch was full, one quarter if that with no seats on it. I had expected the Aberdeen crowd to be really enthusiastic. Certainly from the atmosphere in the pre meet, I thought it would be brilliant. I was wrong, the crowd seemed quite flat at times. Pockets of tartan and green clad fans going nuts but maybe it was the stadium, or maybe it was the fact it was so cold, but the crowd were hard work.
Usual set list. Again slightly different order. Almost no reaction to Every picture, I couldnt believe it and then Maggie was cut really short. Again I'm conscious that it may well have been just because I was so far back, but Rod seemed a bit to be going through the motions. At one point one of the backing singers must have been a bit reluctant to take off her fluffy white cardigan for the girls song, Proud Mary, because Rod said ' are you going to disrobe, or are you going to disobey the lead singer? Thats the way you lose your job darlin' Ouch, cut the atmosphere with a knife. Anyhow he came back on after their song and said, ' right you can put them back on now girls. He talked about the last time he'd been there in 95 and how it was blowing a gale. From where I was sitting it was bad enough this time!
The review in the paper was glowing and everyone who was down the front said that they thought Rod rocked it, so perhaps I've got it wrong, but for me I felt that this was not the greatest gig. Again he walked off in the middle of sailing leaving the band to finish the final song. We saw him run down the ramp and away into his car, and left immediately.
More free drinks after the show, and we managed to nab a lift back to the hotel in the promoters mini bus. Mary had had enough by this time and so we saw her to her room and then decided to go to the casino where we thought everyone was meeting, but it seems we got the wrong casino. Yet more drinks, and a a slight topple from the new shoes and a bit of knee skin left on the pavement - well a Rod tour is not a Rod tour unless I get injured somewhere along the way, and we decided to call it a night.

When booking the flights I had a choice of returning really early on the Monday morning, or at 9pm, and understandably I chose the latter. This meant that we were effectively homeless from midday. A weatherspoons brekkie, ( Mary can't get over people drinking pints with their breakfast, hence Ian had to order coffee, gutted!!) and a tour of several Aberdeen coffee houses during the morning. Geordie Jan met up with us in the afternoon and we went on a very long all round the houses hike to the beach, and sat in more establishments and ate and drank. In fact it seemed like all we have done this tour is eat and drink. It was a very very long day, and I remain astonished at Mary's staying power. Ian and I were knackered after late nights and long days and lots of working, but I never heard her complain once.

Had planned to come home and stay here last night but due to some unnanounced slip road closures on the M25, it took us much longer than planned to get to Mary's so we stayed there and hence, just flying visit home today.
We have arranged to pick up Helen from East Midlands airport on Wednesday morning ( don't ask, seemed like a good plan at the time as we would have been coming back that way) so we are just about to leave for Leicester, where we are gonna stay with my sister overnight, ready for an early morning Purple Heather collection before we head down to Norwich. Really looking forward to this one. Lets make this the best one EVER!!!

See you at the bar!



Friday 9th June 2011 

I feel like a stranger in my own body. My vision is blurred, every joint in my body aches , my liver hurts, my feet are swollen and my purse is empty. The end of the tour then!
For me, Norwich was by far the best of the five gigs... what a great day.
We had spent Tuesday night with my sister in Leicester, so that we could pick up Helen early on the Wednesday morning. But first Ian ( or should I say Mr President!!) had to do a live radio interview for BBC Radio Norfolk about the concert and the RSFC. I was hiding in the kitchen so I wouldnt put him off and we were pleased that he came on straight after Rod! I thought he did brilliantly - to be fair!!!
We picked up Helen early Wednesday morning from East Midlands airport and then travelled all the way down to Norwich. I should mention the fact that Ian was driving. Blue Moon then obviously. We had noticed a huge traffic jam on the southbound M1 on the way to the airport, so Ian took us on a lengthy cross country detour in order to avoid it. I was quite impressed until he sped triumphantly back onto he M1, right into the middle of said traffic jam. Nice one Ian.

Checked into our travelodge ( God those places are depresssing) and headed out for the premeet. Bumped into some old friends while were waiting for our taxi....they didn't have much to say, and they weren't smiling? Must have been the shock, or maybe they had been listening to Radio Norfolk on the way down.
The pre meet had again been organised by Kev Crossland, and when we arrived the press were there again, wanting interviews and it just went on all day. Papers, more radio, we were teasing Ian ( Happy Birthday Mr President) but it was all good publicity. By 5 oclock the place was rammed, lots of regulars, plus quite a few who had heard Ian on the radio where he had invited everyone down. We kept asking them to turn the music up because the noise level kept rising and rising. The radio had us all outside giving renditions of 'You're in my Heart' and ' there's only one Rod fanclub'. We did a free raffle for a couple of tshirts and badges, and Ian twice pulled out our own tickets! Shirts eventually won by Kev and a newbie ( if you are on here, please introduce yourself!) Good to see the Carshalton Girls make a tartaned appearance, Big Al was running around taking pics ( there, are you happy now???) and Ians brother Gary was drinking the bar dry and taking the mickey out of my hat. Banksey living up to his name with the grafitti in the mens toilets and Mark trying sing louder than the rabble in the bar. Geordie Jan was stealing the limelight - she is a star you know! Tom was missing his Penelope Pitstop, the Clayton crew were watching Ians back. Gillian in her Rupert trousers, and Elizabeth a few decibels quieter than usual. Finally Suzi's banner made an outing!! Sun was shining, and it was a lovely atmoshphere, great pre meet, I really enjoyed it. Great choice of pub Kev.

Ok so 7.15 and we were off to the gig. Now I had three second row seats and 2 front row, to be shared between, Ian and I, Helen, Ians bro Gary and Big Al. Much debate about who should sit where, but the females won out in the end. Turned out it really didnt matter as none of us sat in them anyhow. I spoke to the security guy who told me that on no account was anyone going to be allowed at the barrier. Thought we might be in for another Leeds, but we weren't. I was at the barrier ten mins before the start, walked back towards our seats when asked, and then when Rod came on went straight back and stayed there. Seemed they kept the middle block clear, but as we were to the right, not a problem.

It was so different to Aberdeen. Rod was in a brilliant mood. I think when you go to alot of gigs, you can tell when he is really enjoying it and when he's just going through the motions. He was introduced by the Manager of Norwich Paul Lambert, who is ex Celtic player, and got the crowd going right from the off. The opening bars of Love train and I grabbed Helen and we were off doing the Love train in front of the stage. Security looked startled, and weren't sure what to do, but others joined in and we were well away by then. Rod loved it. The fact that so many of us were all together makes such a difference. Set list was the same, and I've heard that there have been alot of complaints about the sound, but from where I was, it sounded fantastic. Rod's voice was on form, ours not so much. I believe I sang every word of every song for two whole hours. It was so brilliant being there and this was the highlight of the whole tour for me....

The band were also really fired up and looking like they were really enjoying themselves. At one point ( Handbags I think) Janna was on our side of the stage, and the shout started up J'anna J'anna... she loved it. When Rod announced Shake your money maker he confirmed what we already knew and have been talking about on this site for a while, that he is writing songs for his new album. Ians brother Gary was getting extremely excited next to us and suddenly without warning he was up and over the barrier. The cameraman wondered what had happened as he jumped on the blocks behind him, and the security were a little slow and Gary almost made it to the stage. The security guy just grabbed him as he got there, and manhandled him away, but Rod came running over, shouted the security guy to bring him back, and then incredibly he lay down on the floor of the stage and reached out his hand to shake Gary's. Gary told us afterwards that he asked Rod, ' can you let me on the stage' and Rod replied ' I can't mate, got a gig to do' So funny, we were all in stitches. Even more incredibly the security let him back in and he came straight back to the barrier. Well done Rod and well done the security.

Maggie went on for ages, some real improvision at the end which was brilliant, and the singalongs, the footballs, all of it was just fantastic, and I didnt want it to end. By Sailing I was getting lip wobbly. Unlike all the other shows, Rod stayed on right until the end, and took the bows, and once again it was all over.
Easily the best gig of the 5 ( although I thought Swansea came a close second). Best crowd, best atmosphere, best set up. ( I managed to get to the loo and buy 4 beers during the drum solo in Downtown train.... yes I know I was breaking my own no alcohol during the gig rule, and paid for it later!!)

Not going to write much about the post gig shenanigins for fear of being sued, but lets just say that a few of us were tired and emotional ( which is writers speak for completely pissed), and if anyone in Norwich finds the bits of Ian's broken glasses please can you return them ( they'll be somewhere near the bits of skin from his chin!) And yes Tom, I would like to take you up on your offer of taking me to Poland!! And so thats it... well for a couple of weeks until Hyde Park anyhow, but that can't really be called part of the tour.

I just want to finish by saying this. There is so much negativity out there about Rod, but I honestly think it's a great time to be a Rod fan. Here we are after 40 years with our guy still at the top of his game. Who can touch him? Playing stadiums, new album coming out and he's writing again? What is there to be negative about? We've been out there supporting our man, enjoying him as much as we can, while we can, for as long as we can.
We are fans.
We are a fan club.
We are The Rod Stewart Fan Club.

ali Very Happy


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