Wednesday, June 19, 2019

17th June 2019

Well, ‘hello to you all’.

After taking a long break from touring and spending time building a new space for my barn swallows, seven species of bats, and the c.1840 cider press, we at last got down to some work.
The Pretenders supporting Fleetwood Mac at Wembley Stadium, June 18, 2019. Photo Credit:@tealbassmusic
A new album was recorded after I had planted some seeds with Chrissie about getting together with James Walbourne to get some new songs written. As some of you may know, I have deferred from recording for a while. The reason was Chrissie had to make the albums she made. This new one had Stephen Street in the chair and that was a big plus for me. I completed my parts in four days. I guess my parts are a little ‘off the cuff’. I haven’t as yet heard the finished article (album).

Last year, on our way to a festival in Portugal a delayed flight gave me some time to talk with John Lydon at the bar of the airport lounge.
An ambush of drums.
John is an interesting guy and got more interesting as more drinks arrived because of a delayed flight. Like the ska band, the Specials at the Arroya Seco festival in Pasadena earlier in the year, John’s band Public Image were great. He showed his usual quick-witted presence and forceful vocal attack.
Sound check at Wembley Stadium.
This year we were asked to perform some shows in Europe with Fleetwood Mac.
I had seen them first at a tiny club called the Top Spot Club in Ross-on-Wye in 1968.
The first show there was with a blues band called Black Cat Bones. A few months later they had the band Chicken Shack in support.
The piano player in that band was Christine Perfect. That night she played the song ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ that was a recent release by Etta James. I stood no more that a few yards away as she sang and played the piano. She became Christine McVie after marrying John McVie bass player with Fleetwood Mac.
I was wearing a bib and brace outfit, like a man who paints the inside of your house. The outfit combined with the bowler hat made me look like a Clockwork Orange gang member... 
he he he he he he. (Photo credit: Justin Welch)
I got to play on the bill with Fleetwood Mac in 1970/’71 at the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare in my band Karakorum. Over the years I have got to know Mick who is a wonderful gentleman.
Photo credit: Justin Welch
So…last night we played the first of our two Wembley Stadium shows.
The date, 16th of June. It was the 37th anniversary of my best friend, James Honeyman-Scott’s death.

With regard to my book and album,
I will finish my book this year and also try and complete my album.
There is no release date as yet. Between the conversion of my home, working on the latest Razorlight and Pretenders albums, and touring duties, time has been a bit pressing to put it mildly.
My room, the Tudor Suite at the Gore Hotel, London.
Much love from the Gore Hotel in London.
I can’t wait to get home on Saturday after our last festival show in Oslo.

Be good to yourselves.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

UK / Euro Tour, Summer 2018

Always Travelling...
The short stay at home after the summer tour of the USA was a good time for catching up with sleep. However, with all the decision making to be done on my build back home, it became as hectic as ever.

I thank all of you who sent messages encouraging me to rest up. It didn’t work out like that, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

Things are progressing nicely at my build and soon phase 1 will be completed and I will have more room to at last organise and correlate my archive and get on with all the other projects on hold.

This UK/Euro tour which we started on Sunday the 29th is a logistic nightmare. The first two weeks involved a lot of travel. After driving east across England and parking in the multi storey car park, I took a flight from Luton Airport to Glasgow for our opening show at an open air venue known as The Bandstand.

Panoramic view has done something to James' arm. Eek!
This was followed by three days of production rehearsals in Glasgow for the upcoming shows that are all outdoors. This involves some talented people controlling the screens. We have been a band that have only ever had sound and lights, so this was new for us. 

On Friday the 3rd of August, we traveled from Glasgow in Scotland by train down to York and were driven to Leeds for a show in the city centre. After the show we travelled on down to Maidstone in Kent and arrived at our hotel rooms at around 6am. The rooms faced south and the weather had been very hot with the drapes open wide all day. Consequently, it was too hot to sleep.

This was the first show with KT Tunstall and Simple Minds. After the show we travelled again through the night to Cardiff in Wales with another show that night in Merthyr Tydfil and a train the following day to Belgium. The combined distance travelled to these shows in a handful of days was approximately 1500 miles. This was followed by two nights in London where I fit in a rehearsal with piano player and singer/songwriter Diane Birch. We were joined on guitar by Paul Stacey and Johnny Borrell from Razorlight on bass. We made a bloody good quartet and got some good grooves down. Later in the year, I may be working with Diane on her new album, which would be pretty cool.

In rehearsals with Diane Birch, Paul Stacey and Johnny Borrell.
That evening there was a promotional Razorlight party at the Cuckoo Club in Swallow Street in Mayfair. Razorlight played five songs and after that, it became swinging London with bad thumping repetitive so-called ‘dance music’ played way too loud with people shouting over it. I was in and out in a flash but still had time to sample the free booze. The evening ended with a hot chocolate at the Soho Sanctum Hotel bar being served with added love by Rita.

Currently, I am travelling on the train up to Manchester to do a show in Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium. Tomorrow we charter two aircrafts to take the band, crew and equipment to La Coruna in north-west Spain where we play the Noroeste Festival. The weather has been impossibly hot in Spain for quite a while, so it will be a dust bowl. I can’t wait.

We go on stage at 11.45pm. The following morning we travel back in the same chartered aircraft to Luton airport. The reason for parking my car at Luton Airport to begin with becomes clear. I drive back across country to spend another few days at home. Without my car, it would take far too long to get back. Maybe five or six hours by train.

Sod that!

I will write again after the next few days at home. We are about to stop at Stockport and in 14 minutes will disembark at Manchester Piccadilly and catch a taxi to Salford. 

My, how the summer is getting swallowed up in large travel bites.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Difficulties of Sleep and Travel

Using a tour bus is great. Literally ‘on the road’. One for the crew and one for the band. The night drives for me are generally ok but that depends on the duration of the drive.

At last - recognition!
If the drive is less than five hours I will wait for everyone to vacate the front lounge and settle in with my pillows and blanket and watch TV or a DVD. A few times it was just C.H. and me watching something.

If it’s more than five hours I will make it to my bunk with varying results. The added complication is that the entertainment centre on these buses is far too complicated to work easily. That’s if everything is working correctly to start with!

Tom, our driver on this one, had to set up the DVD player after a week or so (no lead connected because there was no lead from player to TV)!

Last night we got in to Des Moines at 05.30. Over the last few nights I had watched a few Deadwood programs from the first series, and at this point I knew of it but had never seen it. I am now up to episode ten of the first season. After, I dozed a little for a few hours and then managed to sleep at the hotel from 6am until 10am.
The beard didn't make it!

Very often arriving into a hotel room where the curtains don’t fit the windows can mean little if any sleep. There are solutions.

The wardrobes contains hangers with a pair of grips on them. These can be utilised to hold ill fitting curtains together. However, balancing on wobbling chairs at 05.30 trying to maintain a sleep mode can be arduous.

Also, the temperature of the rooms and the foolishness of the bedding can be time consuming to adjust. This results in trying to sleep in a mood of frustration and sheer incomprehension.

By this time, in Minneapolis, sleep seemed not impossible but the roadworks started up and the maids and guests start their day. These activities could be described as ‘unfortunate’.

The reason we are in the U.S.A. is to perform our songs the best we can. This we have done to the best of our abilities. However, in the Comerica Park in Detroit, the sun beat down upon us mercilessly and it was a great trauma for us. I resorted to an ice cold towel around my neck that ended up over my head for the last five songs. Almost impossible.

The Def Leppard’s have been very kind and chatty. The other act on these few shows we never saw.

The Wrigley Field show was great and our own shows have been truly great. We have all shared various problems during the shows and this is par for the course.

The last two shows at the State Theatre in Minneapolis and the Opera House in St. Louis were first class.

So tonight is the last of our own shows here in Ames, IA. Tomorrow we fly into Denver for another show with the Def’s at the Coors Field.

It seems there are plans afoot for another tour of the U.S.A. next year. It could be in the late spring so please come see us again. There seems to be a complete change to the set list in the air!!

Thank you for your understanding of these unusual ways of life that we lead. And remember: DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR PLASTIC IS?

See you again soon!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Heat vs. Drummer

'A good looking 'Vette' parked outside the stunning Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.'
As I settle into the touring routine of bus, sleep, hotel, sleep, gig, shower, I find myself getting stronger. It takes a while.

The heat is still playing it’s part, but as long as I rehydrate and get at least one banana a day to help with the mineral intake quota, I settle and there are no muscle quivers when trying to sleep.
I once talked to my old friend John McEnroe about these essentials and he was an adamant banana consumer for the very same reasons. It was a pity to miss him at the Arroyo Seco show in Pasadena. I am however enjoying his commentary at the Wimbledon Championships in London. It was great to see him doing a summary with his youngest brother Patrick McEnroe one afternoon. Patrick was a great doubles player and captain of the United States Davis Cup Team.

'Resting spotlight. Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee'
The shows have been varied and we had to miss the Hard Rock show in Northfields on the 7th of July. Chrissie had laryngitis and couldn’t sing. After the doctor's prescription, recovery was swift. She has a way of singing in an adjusted way to compensate for reaching to various notes. I find it fascinating. She is a great singer and after all these years I still become transfixed by these places she can inhabit.

We got back up to speed and had some great shows. As I sit in my very comfortable room here in Birmingham, Michigan, last night's show that already feels like a week ago was one of the best yet. An all standing affair with winged balconies. This is my favourite type of venue because there was no box attached to the room like theatres have. I was in the room.

'A great gig to play. 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids.'
The previous night's travel after our show in Milwaukee got us in to Grand Rapids at just after 5am. It was a 250 yard drag to the room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and I couldn’t sleep because the light came flooding in at 5.40. I went for a walk by the river and got some fuel on board with an excellent breakfast. I ended up with two hours sleep.

I slept in the warm stairwell of the gig on a concrete floor for an hour. It did the trick and straightened my back out to great effect. A great show. Last night I slept eleven hours because the room is quiet and the curtains work! So now a couple of shows in Detroit and Chicago with the Defs.

Thanks for your interest. I will log back in soon. Take care out there!


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Hot Hot Hot

Ryman Auditorium
The Ryman Auditorium is best played acoustically. It really isn’t good for a rock band. Not unlike the Royal Albert Hall in London, as soon as the sound gets over a certain volume, it is not good for the band or the audience. 

It was a tough show. We got lost a few times but it’s about how we find our way back to the song that never fails to amaze me.
Heading to the Louiseville Palace in Kentucky

For the first time in 40 years I lost it on Tattooed Love Boys. For some inexplicable reason I stuck in a bar of 3/4 in a 4/4 section which turned the snare beat on it’s head. The song has a 4 bar base but on the verses the 2nd bar is in 3/4. So the section has count of 15. Still with me?

Basically I shuffled! It doesn’t help when I feel disconnected with regard to my sound. Nuff said!

We travelled the following day to Louisville, Kentucky and played the Palace which turned out to be a great night.

During the afternoon out the back of the venue I saw a Cooper’s hawk catching a starling. These events are a privilege to witness should you be aware enough to know these activities take place in an urban environment as well as in the countryside.

I took a hot bath in my room after the show and we drove through the early hours to Cincinnati. I need these two days to relax and rest.

My computer had arrived back from it’s travels after I had left it on a flight and I spent the following day catching up on the usual digital work.
The FIFA World Cup

The heat on this tour has taken at least four pounds off my usual weight loss, but all is good on that count as long as I sleep and get enough of the right food at the right time.

In a tense last 16 game in the World Cup, we beat Columbia on penalties to go through to a quarter final game against Sweden on Friday the 6th of July. So we are still in it. We just
need to win the next three games, that’s all! Then we can bring home the World Cup trophy.

The first World Cup was played in Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay won (check out my blog from when we played in Montevideo earlier this year). FYI, The Jules Rimet Trophy was used until 1974. England won it in 1966.

The latest trophy is imaginatively called the FIFA World Cup Trophy and is made of 18 karat gold with a malachite base. It weighs 6.1 kilograms and is 36.8 centimetres high.

We don’t call this game soccer. It’s called football because we kick the ball with the foot. The Football Association (FA) was formed in England in 1863. American football became popular in the early 20th century with changes brought about by a man named Walter Camp of Yale University and a Hopkins school graduate who is considered to be the father of American football.

More later.


Monday, July 2, 2018

From West to East

Looking down on Aspen, Colorado. Heading to Philly.
 After the Mountain Winery show I got a message from the former Pretender Robbie McIntosh containing the drunken outtakes by Orson Wells advertising the Paul Masson Wines (made from the grapes grown at this winery). Orson was such an arrogant drunk but quite funny to watch. Always good to hear from Robbie.

We flew east to Philly and I left my computer on the plane and didn’t notice until I unpacked. Disaster! Desktop not backed up! Horror! It was located after several sleepless nights. Should be reunited in Cincinnati.
At the Count Basie show I felt disconnected sound wise and it was hard work for me.
In such theatres the stage is a box attached to the room. I’m at the back so deep in the box. The band is along the joint of the two boxes, and I’m behind that awful Perspex, and behind the line of the amps. I never used to be in this position in the earlier years. Enough said.

It was great to have the All Mighty Senators doing our show at the Fillmore in Silver Spring M.D. A great night with an all standing floor! Although we joined our bus in Philly we took a flight to Atlanta and I had a glass corner room on the 26th floor at the Loews Hotel. The World Cup football was now into the last 16, so come on England. This was our first show with Journey and my friends in Def Leppard, it was at the new Sun Trust ball park. We did our 45 minutes and rocked out. It was hot and it was a joy to see the Defs after our show. Joe Elliot loves Mott the Hoople who I had worked with in 2009 and 2013. Joe would come on and sing a verse on All the Young Dudes. Jimmy Page was a regular at those gigs too! Unfortunately, we lost Pete Overend Watts and Terry ‘Buffin’ Griffin since those shows. Mick Ralphs has since suffered a stroke and I visit him when I can. Life is a day at most. Grab it. Feel it.
So far the whiskers are still on the road!

We traveled by bus to Nashville and gained an hour so, a regular night’s sleep! But man it’s hot now here in Nashville and It’s only 11am. I’m looking forward to seeing Emmylou Harris tonight. I believe she is one of our guests. She’s such a wonderful and gracious lady.

Brazil 2 Mexico 0. Mexico are going home although they caused some great and pleasant upsets!

So the Ryman Auditorium tonight. Love the room.

I will write again soon when I get my computer back! This is sent from my iPhone! None of this back in Jimmy and Pete’s day!!!


Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 25, 2018

If You’re Going to San Francisco...

We spent seven nights at the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill, San Francisco. Getting acclimated to the eight hour time change, we ran up a couple of new songs for our sets across America at SIR studios where Norman the little dog kept us company. The Fairmont Hotel had bee hives near the gardens and I was witness to the honey harvest.
This hotel has quite a history. It was hit by the 1906 7.9 earthquake, but the structure survived and was rebuilt. In December 1961, Tony Bennett debuted the epic song ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’ in the Venetian Room. The room just reeks with the atmosphere of those days.

We did our first show at the Masonic three hundred yards away from the hotel and all
was well. It was a welcome change to hear the sound come together at sound check and the evening was great. We were lucky to have Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express opening
the show for us and I had a good ear full of that before I got changed and settled my anticipation of the evening. It’s all about good songs and Chuck has written quite a good selection over the years. After a few stretches and exercises I was warmed up and ready.

The following morning we flew from Oakland to Burbank and went straight to the Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena. It was good to see Clem Burke at the show and swop a few stories.
After the show I saw a few friends and was happy to meet up with Jeff Goldblum and his wife Emilie. We had been on an adventure along with a couple hundred other guests cruising in the South China seas in 2016. Jeff and I had serenaded a few Proboscis Monkeys in the mangroves of Borneo with some old time songs. He was performing at the Arroyo Seco weekend but we had arrived to late to see him due to a delayed flight.

After Jack White and just before Neil Young finished his set we got out of there and I got an early night. The highlight of the day were the Specials who are from Coventry in England. Sadly, Brad died at the end of 2015. We had done some gigs with them in 1979 and they were just great guys to be around. It’s great to see them still doing it.

I was up at 5am to watch the 2nd England game in the World Cup against Panama. We beat them 6 - 1. Then as if by magic, I watched the F1 Grand Prix live from the Paul Ricard Circuit. The Englishman Lewis Hamilton won that one. A great start to the day and a flight from Burbank up to San Jose for our Mountain Winery show in Saratoga.

I sit in my dressing room writing this blog and realise what a privilege it is to do these performances and having done them with one band or another for the past fifty-one years.

Tomorrow we fly to Philly.