Main Site | Blog Home


J U N E   2 0 0 5 

Wednesday 1st June 05                                                                                                                                    

Our evening flight from Liverpool to Milan was fairly uneventful.  Well uneventful for us perhaps, but for Adrian Bryan, this was the start of a new experience.
We have long suffered on fly out gigs from not having someone on our side doing the front of house mix, it is about time that that changed.  Whatever he, or anyone else thinks, Ade is a crucial member of our team and we were all delighted that he would be with us on this trip.
Ade showed none of the anxiety that one would expect from a first time flier, on the contrary, he lapped up the invitation to have the window seat.  A privilege usually reserved for Roy, who likes to keep a close eye on the more technical aspects of the aviation.....such as  "is that fuel dripping from the wing?" or "that flap could use a bit of greasing!"
The Ryanair trolley dolly steward was less than useless when taking our snack orders.  I have never known an airline to run out of sandwiches by row 3, and every item we asked for was met with an invitation to purchase an alternative.
"Galaxy muffin please"
"Non monsieur ...  ow abowt aye petit pipe of pringles?....we 'ave onlee chives & chutnee flavour"  (apologies for my poor French accent)

Athos arrived to meet us at the airport with a minibus large enough for us not to have to sit next to each other.  Always a bonus on such trips,  we can stretch out and not have to fight over arm space.

We had flown into Italy, but our destination was across the border into Switzerland, so we were looking at a 90 minute to 2 hour drive.  After checking in at the hotel and dumping our bags, Athos took us across the piazza del sole, where we would be playing on Friday night, in search of food.  Most places were closed as it was around midnight, but we did manage to find one place open where we could get a pizza and some beers.  Ade got off to a poor start with the locals by setting the menu on fire with the tea light, but quickly improved as he got to grips with the Italian language and managed to order a pizza that looked suspiciously like penne pasta.  No matter, Ade assured us it was delicious.

All fully refueled, we returned to the hotel.  Dirk and Eddie sharing a room, Roy, Ade and I in the other room.  Our room felt like we should go and get another beer before bedtime.  The others went to bed, but the face on little Edward told of a deep desire to consume lager.  Dirk had sagely dissuaded him.....I think this was probably for the best.  It was odd that the one who was most keen to find more alcohol was Roy,....  perhaps there is a wind of change on the cards!!

It's not the leaving of Liverpool that grie-ee-ves me....... Raymon Athos

Thursday 2nd June 05                                                                                                                                       

Hotel Union, Bellinzona.
In spite of getting to bed so late, we (well at least our room) were woken quite early by the traffic noise and the drone of a helicopter moving some trees about.  The room was so hot that we had to leave the windows wide open, leaving no defence against the volume.  There was also a bit of thunderstorm going on which we hoped would clear the air a bit.  Breakfast was the typical European affair.  i.e. croissants, jam, coffee, and plenty of orange juice (which I always find essential for keeping me regular when abroad).

Later in the morning, Dirk and I headed over to the café across the street, where we both enjoyed some coffee and Dirk was to take his breakfast of ham and cheese toastie.  It seems that there is no word in Italian for "toastie", but 5 minutes worth of Una Stubbs and Lionel Blair impressions did the trick.  Never pooh pooh the value of saves you a fortune in Linguaphone courses.

At one o'clock we were preparing ourselves for the arse twitching part of our trip....The press call.  We never really know what to expect on these, but we always try to get through them with some humour and good grace.
First up was an TV interview with Derek and I.  Against a backdrop of the John Lennon Bag One Lithographs, and with smell of boiled eggs fresh in our nostrils, we answered the usual questions about what we do.  Although usually keen to pass the blame and look innocent whenever there is a "guffing" incident, I, unfortunately, have to take responsibility for the egg smell. (slightly over-did the orange juice).
The film crew then moved on to Eddie, who was going to give them a rendition of 'In My Life' for his "piece to camera".  Looking cool and relaxed in a lemon blouse, round specs and my country gent.,  Eddie leaned nonchalantly back into the exhibit of Lennon photographs. Spatial awareness not being one of Eddie's better qualities, he thinks they are mounted on the wall...... not so....they are on those exhibition screens, and they don't take much weight.   "oooh fuck!"....Eddie wobbles,  the large photographs fall to the floor.  In a major attempt to keep his balance, 'Lennon circa '71' gets one of Eddie's sandals on his face.  
In panic,  Eddie steps backwards onto one of the other fallen exhibits.  
In horror, the curators are franticly trying to salvage something to put on show for the public later that evening, Eddie is beginning to perspire profusely and Derek and I are trying to piss ourselves without appearing irreverent.

"I think now outside we make more pictures"  said the photographer.

We gratefully shuffle out of the room do some group shots of the band, which were supposed to be sort of informal....but with wigs.

"What have you got that on for...yer tit?" was Dirks comment on my choice of attire; polo neck and jacket.  Sometimes, rhetoric is Derek's preferred choice of communication.

We are two thirds through the press call now and there is only one more obstacle to negotiate........  They want us to do the Abbey Road crossing shot.  One still photographer (well two if you count Ade), one TV camera and four very self-conscious "tits in wigs" are gathered next to a zebra crossing that would only resemble St.Johns Wood if one were on strong medication.  With embarrassment flashbacks that could only be matched by Judy Finnegan if she ever gets to accept another award, we organised ourselves into the necessary order for the march across the street, determined to make this in one take.  It was written in the stars that we would get it wrong, we are too far apart for the lens on the camera to get us all in.  Take 2 required us to be more "friendly" in our spacing between each other.  Rapidly losing interest in reproducing a good likeness of the album cover, we 'gave it legs' back to the exhibition room.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in pleasant fashion, sitting outside the cafe chewing fat.  We had been asked to attend the opening of the exhibition at 6.30 before going for dinner, so we cordially mosied over for 6.35.  We may have been a little earlier, but Dirk had fallen asleep on his balcony.
The opening ceremony, for want of better expression, had already begun and it was probably just as well we missed the start and elected to wait outside, as the whole thing was an oration in Italian.  The speakers lasted about half an hour after which there was a little wine and twiglets affair for the attendees.  Eddie insisted on being photographed doing his "Derek: after a few wines and smoking" impression, which amused us immensely.
I'd had a few white wines myself at this point, and this was going to set me up for a very strange evening indeed.  A casual comment from Derek was beginning to blend rather uncomfortably with the alcohol and by the time we set off for the restaurant with all the organisers of the "Belinzona Beatles Days" event, I was well on the way to being very, very drunk.
Eddie tripped over and fell sprawling on the threshold of the restaurant door and picked himself up with his now stock reaction:- "Fer fucks sake!"
Settling at the long table for dinner, Derek and Rick perused the wine list.
"Have you got any Chablis?"
"No signor"
"Well have you got ANY french wine?"
"No signor....just Italian piss"
"Oh!......well.. we'll have this one then" said Derek pointing to the grape at the BOTTOM of the list!!!!!
Derek and I smiled, but mine was a shade more manic.
The first course of parma ham arrived.  Eddie was heard to say  " I've never had raw meat before.....  I fuckin' love it", and with that, a hand reached across Adrian who was sitting next to me doing his best to take everything in, and snatched the ham from my plate.  The raw meat had brought out the animal in young Edward.
I have absolutely no explanation why, but when the main course arrived (pork chop, chips and beans), I decided to throw my chips over Roy who was sitting opposite me.  I was feeling very strange and very angry.  This is not the place for me to go into my emotional state, but I had to leave...there was a bit of a scene developing.  This, incidentally, had nothing at all to do with Roy, he was a totally innocent victim in the chip throwing incident.  Dirk followed me out the restaurant and tried to sort me out, but this was futile... I'd just lost the plot a bit.
There we were, two emotional wrecks, two friends with bonds deeper than we ever really realised.

Derek returned to the restaurant, and I went on a bar crawl to sort myself out.
Several hours and many beers later, I was walking round the town and I heard the unmistakable sound of Eddie's voice swirling round the streets.  Eddie was singing "In My Life" in some pub and I followed the sound and slumped outside to listen.  I then heard the rest of the band had got up to do Don't Let Me Down.  It was by now, about 1 in the morning and I decided to head off for another bar before people started to throw me their loose change.  At 2, I got a text message from Dirk, telling me to come back to the hotel....and I was ready for it.

Arriving back at the Union, I was greeted warmly by my friends, and Eddie was proudly showing me the  make-over he had carried out on Ade.  We had all agreed that Ade should get rid of the 'tache he has had since his teens and Eddie had finally convinced him to take up the razor.  Everyone was now certain that this was a good move, and it takes years off him.

Roy's fold-out Ikea coffin bed

Friday 3rd June 05                                                                                                                                              

Piazza del Sole, Bellinzona, Switzerland.

I don't know how..... but I made it to breakfast, barefooted and tramp-like.  Uncle Roy is sympathetic.

Lunch is at the same restaurant that I have disgraced myself in the previous night.  This afternoon, things are move serene.
After lunch...we go through the papers, to look for any stuff that had been printed from yesterday's fiasco.  We came across 'la Regione Ticino', which is probably a bit like "Merseymart or "The Bickerstaff Bugle".  There.....taking pride of place on page 15, column 1, row 8, and just underneath the advert for "alpine stair-lifts" was the article  "I....Cavern Beatles are big in Shit"  Now, I don't pretend to you that my knowledge of the Italian language is extensive, but it does say "cover band numero uno", so.... it MUST be true!  Fuck!  I hope we don't get mobbed on the way back to the hotel!

A very business like soundcheck took place at 5.00, nothing much happened except the excitement of seeing the guy who had the t-shirts.  We'd been given the events promo t-shirts earlier on and wanted to change them cos we'd asked for extra large size.  When they were opened they were like, really really big. So we were looking for a downsize.  Derek, with his ever ready eye to save a shilling, pointed out that we could use them under the Shea Jackets and we wouldn't have to buy black t-shirts......  yer tight bugger!!  Our t-shirt friend reminded us of Jeff, from The League of Gentlemen.

Met up for dinner with Athos, Susie, and our old friends Eliano & Nelly.  Oh there was no Eddie....was he having a sleep?  Can't remember.....possibly having a shirt crisis.  So a nice couple of hours with good company till it was time to get ready for the concert.
I must admit, although we staggered our departure from the hotel to the stage, I didn't feel quite so much of a git as I thought I would.  We were fully suited and rugged..... in public!!!  Cringe cringe cringe!
A telephone call that Dirk made en-route to the stage, was not a fun part of this trip.  I need to remind myself that there are priorities in life, and some people have them shoved right up their arse!!  If anyone is interested in what it means to be a professional... put your 'player cam' on Derek for 24 hours when we are working these days.  
It was a large audience of maybe 5,000 (although.....someone told me 7).  We played 75 minutes, quite well I think, and went down great.  Derek performed amazingly, and no one would have slightly suspected he would rather not have been there.
Respect buddy!  We love ya!

We get off the stage and are about to head off back to the hotel.....still fully costumed.  They wont let us's the police.   They group us up, and escort us back to the Union.   Now, we weren't to sure why this was.  Had we committed a crime?...  Was it that bad?  Whatever the we do feel like tits.

Quick change and then leg it over for drinkies.  Regular readers may not be surprised to learn that the first 2 to get their lips round a cold one were Derek and Rick.  It's 1am and we have to leave for Geneva airport at 4.30. Eddie actually makes it to the bar in around 45 minutes, but strangely resists the temptation to have a lager.  We are aiming to get 2 hours know that's just not gonna happen.  Not sure where today ends and tomorrow starts, but I'll leave you with Ade's last words before he slipped into slumber.
" I like it here"

Cherries are only really small though...aren't they?

Saturday 4th June 05                                                                                                                                         

Victoria Hall, Stoke on Trent.

Stagger out of hotel at 4.30........get in for 5 hours to Geneva.........wait 2 hours in airport......bagsy next best thing to business class, the emergency Dave at Liverpool Airport......Ade and Dave drive to Stoke.......we go to get clothes and guitars from my house........crash for an hour.......load up car........battery RAC......Terry gets us started.........arrive Victoria Halls, which are a bugger to find, at 6.15............venue is really too big.....sound check hurried and scary.......doors very good in spite of poor attendance.......  audience give great reception......  discover Elton John is playing at the Britannia Stadium down the road which wont have helped sales for our show.......pack up........quick drink........chippy, first hot food since pizza 28 hours ago......get home....hit bottle.......... 
It takes it out of you when you get in your 30's !!!!                                                   zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!

Aay....Ade!.... thee've got, salami, biscuits, coke, mars bars...the fuckin' lot here!

Saturday 11th June 05                                                                                                                                       

BGWS Event, Cheadle.

It must be 5 or 6 years since we have played at this event, a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Welfare Society.  Nice big tent, slightly precarious stage and lovely people.  Gig was perhaps most memorable for Derek trying to sing with so much phlegm on his chest.  Having never typed, "phlegm" before, I am delighted to have the opportunity to use the most disgusting looking word in the English language without having to travel to Belgium.   
Stunning sky at sundown.

Sunday 12th June 05                                                                                                                                          

One Whitehall Place, London.

When hearts were entertaining June
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly whispered someday soon...
We kissed...
And clung together

Tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say

When twilight dims the skies above
Recalling thrills of our love
There's one thing I'm certain of

I will...
to old...


When I get me book published, "The Anoraks Guide to Movie Locations", then One Whitehall Place will defo. be in there.  Formerly The Liberal Club and now a Thistle Hotel, the magnificent staircase features in one of my all time favourite films....Terry Gilliam's "Brazil"

The universe is indeed a strange place.  As fate would have it, my mate Pete was on the job with Ade today.  Now Pete has worked with Spectrum many times, but this is the first time he has been on one of our jobs.  It is a big co-incidence that it should be this particular job, as Pete is the one who introduced me to the film Brazil, and he is also a big fan of it.

At Warwick Services, Eddie and I had an amazing stroke of luck.  We both won ice creams with the scratch card that came with our Burger King meals.  Eddie and I have never won anything in our lives, so perhaps the planets are moving into a better position for us. I expect that there will be a lot more prize crosswords being done in the back of the car from now on.

After the stop, Dirk got all upset because the Scissor Sisters CD was playing in the car.  The toilet roll came out and was duly stuck in his ears, Dirks own Juke Box Jury was in session.

Apart from my (and Pete's) childish excitement at seeing the staircase, the gig was going to be just another corporate function, with nothing particular to report on.
Arriving at Whitehall Place we found a very cross Adrian examining the wheel clamp that had been attached to the van.  The street was virtually empty, but these traffic vultures are ruthless and will clamp anything for a few quid.  In fairness, Ade was told to park where he did, but the sign clearly stated "resident permits only".  Being one of those people who can take tops off bottles with their teeth, and having some history in the biting department, Eddie tried to chew the clamp off.  It was useless so my credit card had to be used as an alternative.
Hotel duty manager, Dena, was very helpful in sorting out the payment to the clamp bandits.  If the payment wasn't made at the right time, the van would have ended up being clamped again such is the pettiness of these bastards.
Back in the hotel the police were looking for the owner of the van parked outside.  Ade asked me to accompany him as he was concerned that he was going to be arrested for tampering with the clamp.  An act which he was surely innocent of.  It turns out that the rather disheveled appearance of the Spectrum vehicle had attracted the attention of the anti-terrorism squad, who by now were crawling all over the van looking for a suspect device.  The police were all very nice about it and agreed that Ade was doing doing a fine restoration job on the Transit.

The actual gig was for an American pharmaceutical firm and was received very well.  We had to perform very quietly, so we switched to our Val & the Valtones mode.  Dirk even played some lovely cheesy basslines that he had picked up from listening to another Beatle tribute band....well it made me laugh.

On the way home Dirk was christened with the new nickname of Pat Mustard, for reasons which shall remain a closely guarded secret.

Dirk's bastard face

Saturday 18th June 05                                                                                                                                       

Kløften Festival, Haderslev, Denmark.

With an early morning flight to Esjberg from Luton, we had decided to travel down on Friday night so we could be fresh and perky for dealing with the increasingly ludicrous performance of getting the guitars checked in.  Toddington Travelodge, our base for the night, had been hot and really unpleasant.  After knocking back half a bottle of cognac before bed, Eddie was a touch sluggish and feeling a little out of sorts as we made our way over to the airport.  Apart from a slight buttock clenching episode that Dirk provided at the check-in counter, everything was running smoothly.

Settling on the plane in the middle seat, Ade fell victim to Derek's no nonsense approach to personal hygiene commentary:
Dirk:  "Eddie....could you lend me your deodorant?"
Eddie fiddles in the overhead locker and chucks a can of Right Guard at Dirk.
Dirk:  " 'ere y'are Ade....   have a go of that....  I think you've got a bit of seepage!"
I hasten to add here that Ade does not have a problem in that department, and I didn't notice it myself, but Dirk's delivery of the punch line was superb and so was worthy of a mention.  
On that topic though, Derek and I did make a pact some years ago that we would make it very clear to anyone who had personal hygiene issues on an aircraft.  We have all been on planes and had to sit behind some bugger who's armpit aroma has wafted constantly under our noses.  It is frankly unacceptable.  Once we asked a stewardess to move us to another seat, quite loudly citing the rather overweight gentleman in the seat in front as the reason.  So what if he was embarrassed!....  maybe he'll get a fuckin wash in future and not subject the passengers around him to feeling sick for the duration of the flight.

The tiny airport at Esjberg was more like a bus station and so much more user friendly than small town sized ones that are everywhere these days.  Here we meet Fleming, the guy that has booked us and is going to drive us the hours journey to Haderslev.  We all took an instant liking to Fleming, he was a no-bullshit promoter with a very nice VW van.  


We all had single rooms at the Harmonion Hotel, which is a bit of a rarity these days.  A few years ago we would really be pissed off if we had to room share, but these days we don't mind so much.  Fleming told us that the Festival was 'just round the corner' and we could walk over, get some food and drink and have a look round.  We had 5 hours to kill before the sound check, so we all trotted off.  Round the corner to a Dane, is clearly NOT an expression that they should use to merely amateur pedestrians like ourselves.  There  was the odd... "Arh fuck this...I'm going back!"  exclamation to be heard, but eventually, after some 15 minutes, we found ourselves being tagged up like sheep with festival wristbands.  Then it was only "a short hike" through the woods to the food tent.  I, for one, really liked the whole festivally thing.... this is a good job to have.......this puttin' wigs on lark....don't be blasé about it!  
After lunch in the fly infested, but very ambient food tent, we strolled back to the hotel to relax and prepare ourselves mentally for the show.....   yeah?
Over a beer and a coffee at the hotel, Ade, Dirk and I met another festival band from Vancouver called The Paperboys.  We tried hard to fence questions about the identity of our band.  It's just not something that we are really comfortable bringing up.
So, a short kip and a shower later we are driving back to the sound check in Fleming's van.

"In all my years in this vital industry"...... I can't remember having our back line spec. being so precisely adhered to! was pretty faultless.  Dirk had a bit of a problem with the monitors but we certainly could not complain that we hadn't got what we asked for.  The tent we were playing in was empty...we were on in 20 minutes.  Up to this point we had not even considered that we may be playing to just Ade and the bloke with the false-looking beard at the back.
At 8.30 we're dragging Eddie to the stage after a bizarre post tuning conversation about heated hair rollers.
We walked onto the stage to a tent that was completely full of cheering Danes.  It's a good feeling and I thoroughly recommend it.
The show was really good I think, and it went down a storm.

Rough...... but not quite ready!

Ray Davies sings "Lola".

Within seconds of me arriving at the main stage, Ray Davies started the opening guitar chords of "Lola". This was a bit spooky for me cos it was what was on the TV when my son was born, and so the song always conjures up  a moment.   I'm smiling.  Sometimes tunes make the best photo albums!
Who can forget that summer when you first heard Voodoo Lady by Cremé Bruleé ??? (or even The BCR's Summer Love Sensation!)   You old bastards!!!
My vantage point for Ray Davies was less than ideal so I wandered back to the other stage where Beth Hart was performing.  I confess I'd not heard of her, but I heard her last 2 songs and really liked them.
Met up with Dirk and Ade and had some more of the very nice lager that had been put in our dressing room.

Eddie and Roy had buggered off back to the hotel for their own little adventure involving a sandwich, several lagers, and a fine old cigar.  It will have been impressions and stories aplenty.

Back at the Festival, more tops were being popped off lager bottles as we watched Blue Foundation in the tent, an amazing firework display and some even more amazing bottoms.

Fleming picked us up at midnight right on cue, and took us back to the hotel before introducing us to a nice bar in the town where an Dublin bloke called Tom was playing.  This guy was a great act and did a mighty fine rendition of Carrickfergus, one of Dirks' all time favourite tunes.  After another beer and having finished off all the Starmix and pretzels that were on the Festival rider, we were feeling a bit peckish, so set off in search of a kebab.  We settled for a pizza!  Tomorrow we would be back to the blistering heat of the English summer...phew! what a scorcher!

Beth Hart

3.  Ed Bishop
|| Moat House Hotel, Glasgow  :: August 1999
I was saddened to learn today of the death on June 8 of Ed Bishop.  Perhaps most famous to a certain generation for playing the part of Commander Straker in Gerry Anderson's "UFO" and providing the voice for Captain Blue in "Captain Scarlet", Ed also featured in dozens of movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey.
We were playing a corporate in Glasgow when we met him. Ed had nothing to do with the function, he just happened to be there.  He was a lovely fella who made the time to stop for a chat and was gracious enough to sign an autograph as "Captain Blue"


Tuesday 21st June 05                                                                                                                                       

Durham University, Durham.

Where has the time gone to? We have reached the half-way point in the year and before we know it, we will be checking the anti-freeze in the car again.
Not a lot to say about this gig came and it went. An enthusiastic response from the Summer Ball revelers just after midnight in the Great Hall of the Castle.


Blog Home

© Fab Productions 2005