We'd been booked to play at the party
for the 40th Anniversary of the Hercules aeroplane...you
know, the big, four propellered transporter aircraft
whose body would split in two when you stuck its wings
on the airfix model because you were too impatient to
wait for the glue to dry. Originally, it was the
intention that we would arrive early and get a flight in
one of these beast, but somewhere along the line we
decided that we'd have to set off much too early.
There were a couple of smashes o the M6 which made
Spectrum's progress very slow around midday. By
the time the band were on the motorway in the evening,
there were still huge tailbacks and it wasn't until we
reached the M5 that the traffic began to lighten up.
The party was quite a big affair, with two live music
stages, one inside the main building and the one we were
playing, in a huge marquee. Outside, there was
something of a carnival flavour to the event, with
fairground rides and hog roast stands.
Our hour set at midnight went down really well with the
military, and it was good to have Dirk back with us
after his coffee fortnight and subsequent convalescence.
It was a 90 mile drive to our overnight stop at Hemel
Hempstead's Holiday Inn, but it was worth it not to have
to stay in the increasingly grubby Travelodge chain
which would have been the M4 alternative.
Breakfast is included when you stay at
one of these Holiday Inn establishments. Roy and I, as
usual, made sure we grabbed our entitlement, and then
Roy (who hadn't slept very well) went back to bed till
boot out time. I decided to stay up and have a
wander round the locale.
I was delighted to discover that the hotel was situated
on the side of the Grand Union Canal, so I spent a very
pleasant hour, just watching the barges negotiate the
lock and chatting to a couple of owners. I've
kinda got it in my head that this may well be the life
for me, and I am seriously going to have a think about
the possibility of living on a barge and leisurely
cruising round the country on one of these
vessels. The pace seems about right compared to
the stress and frustration of modern living.
Arriving at Parkers Piece five hours before we are due
on stage, there is plenty of time to mooch around the
fairground and stalls, buy a tasty German sausage, sup a
few shandys and visit the local church. For the
first time in what seems like weeks, it is actually a
really nice day and I think all of us quite enjoyed just
These types of gigs are not always easy. No sound
check means they are sometimes a bit hit and miss, but
using our own gear really helps, and having Ade out
front gives us a bit more confidence. I think we'd
all agree that this was one of our more enjoyable
outdoor performances. We had a really acceptable
on stage sound and we got great feedback from the
"park & ride" audience. All in all,
a fab day!
Much confusion as to the whereabouts of
all the equipment, meant a late set off for Ade &
Dave while the rest of us scratched our heads and drank
remarkably acceptable McCoffee at Lymm truckstop.
With the best part of 300 miles to negotiate to
Ilfracombe, it was perhaps not the best time to be
setting off late, especially with the Devon hills to
traverse in a governed Luton van and the now common
changeable weather conditions. On the plus side,
it's not Friday, so the motorways are just a tad more
The M5 is passed with a long, and at times vulgar
conversation about Ladyboys which has been prompted by
posters advertising the UK tour of a troupe of such
individuals. All we know for sure is that Ed will
not be buying tickets!
The show is due to start at 8.15, and we arrive to find
an anxious crew of four waiting to load the gear into
the venue. They would have to wait a further half
hour before they were able to get stuck-in to the
contents of the van. In the meantime, I set off
with the camera to do what I now feel a strange compulsion
to do. The lady on the box office refused to be
photographed, which is the first time I've ever been
"knocked back", but the Landmark's Media
Officer, Marie, was happy to oblige whilst setting up an
interview for me with BBC Radio Devon's Richard
Green. Richard has a section of his show called
"10 Life Questions", and I was recording a
section to be aired next week....obviously promoting our
next two shows at the Landmark.
The stage was a hive of activity as I came out of the
press room, with everyone mucking in to get the stage
set in time for the doors opening. Everything was
put back 15 minutes, which was quite good going
considering the day's difficulties.
There had been no real sound-check, but the on stage
sound was really quite acceptable and there were no
issues from our point of view. Half a dozen songs
into the set, I caught sight of a Jane McDonald flyer
stuck to the front of my AC30 - Roy had been up to old
tricks, and it had had the desired effect of making me
collapse with laughter. Every now and again, these
flyers turn up in unlikely places.....it's very
The show was very well received, but the heat on stage
seemed to bother the majority of the band and cause them
to enjoy the gig less than they might have.
It was possibly the latest we have ever got out of a
theatre, Sods Law with so far to travel home.
After being dropped off on the Motorway, Dirk had the
unpleasant experience of blowing out a tyre on the
Thelwall Viaduct. Fortunately, he was able to keep
his car under control and didn't damage the alloy.
It can be a risky business.
Preparations for this gig had been long,
drawn out and a real pain in the ass for everyone
concerned. I can't recall a fly-out gig I was less
looking forward to and I couldn't wait to get it behind
us. Once we had seen the venue, however, things
took on a different shape.
The flight from Liverpool to Amsterdam's Schiphol
airport had been uneventful, and the lack of turbulence
meant that Eddie was able to consume an entire cup a
soup without spillage. Chaos at passport control due to
too many flight arrivals versus a skeleton staff of 2
men with guns meant that by the time Eddie and I reached
the baggage carousel, the others had all the bags and
guitars loaded on trolleys. Peter, our driver for
the day was there to meet us. It was short jaunt
in a very comfortable Mercedes van to the Schiphol
Novotel, where we duly unloaded and marched to the desk
to check into our rooms. After ten minutes of
trying every combination of names we could think of, it
was finally deduced that we were not staying here after
all...we were actually booked into the Ibis, about 10
minutes away. The pattern of problems appeared to
With only an hour at the hotel before being picked up to
go to the venue for the sound check, four of us decided
to eat, while Eddie tried to get his head down in his
room. As the van reached Bloemendaal after 30
minutes, we realised that we were travelling
uphill!....something non of us with any memory of school
geography could understand. It turns out that
there are only two hills in Holland and we are playing
on one of them. There are less bicycles in
evidence here. The van swings into the venues
entrance gates in a picturesque woodland area, and we
The open air theatre, is not like anywhere we have ever
played before. The setting is wonderful, all the crew and admin
staff incredibly friendly and the sun is shining. "Oh...this
ain't so bad". Apart from a dodgy Gallien-Krueger bass amp,
which one of the crew managed to fix, the back-line equipment was
great. Eddie was particularly pleased with his AC30, and Ade was
happy enough with the sound he was getting out front. With little
likelihood of rain pissing on anyone's chips, this would be a good show.
By the time we reached Long Tall Sally at the end of the first half, most
of the near 600 audience were on their feet, dancing and clapping along,
it was a great reaction.
The standing up continued into the second half, but as the sun set and the
stage lights came into full effect, we began to see less of the audience,
we could only hear them. Dirk was having problems with his left ear,
which started to bleed during the last 30 minutes but the audience would
never have known, and at the last chord of "Get Back" they were vociferously
cheering for more. I'd been bursting for the toilet for the last few
songs, but didn't have time to make it back to the dressing rooms before
the encore. A bush round the back of the stage seemed to me to be
out of sight of the audience....but Roy wasn't so sure!
Back at the dressing room, Dirk's whistling of the "Jim'll Fix
It" theme tune, may have been highly amusing, but must remain a
private joke which I'm sure I've not heard the last of.