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Friday 6th July 07                                                                                                                                                

RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire.

We'd been booked to play at the party for the 40th Anniversary of the Hercules 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.

Saturday 7th July 07                                                                                                                                           

Parkers Piece, Cambridge.

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 hanging out.

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!

Pic: Clare Ellis
Pic: Clare Ellis Pic: Clare Ellis Pic: Clare Ellis


Tuesday 17th July 07                                                                                                                                         

Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe.

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 comfortable.

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's very off-putting.
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.

Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan
Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan

Saturday 21st July 07                                                                                                                                         

Openluchttheater, Bloemendaal, Holland.

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 be continuing.

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 have arrived.

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.


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