Steve's Online Diary
Copyright Comeuppance Ltd. 2002 - 2012 This diary may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.
I’ve been a fan lately. Eurostar to Brussels to see Yusuf. He played a beautiful set, made up mostly of Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits, and you couldn’t ask for more really. Great band with him. Alun Davies back with him on acoustic guitar was especially good to see. Yusuf introduced him as “one of my best friends”. They took “a holiday” for Ruby, My Love, with Greek island seascapes on the big backdrop and the bazouki parts were played in brilliant harmony by guitarist Eric Appapoulay on mandolin and percussionist Kwame Yeboah on 12-string guitar. After the show, I spoke to Yusuf about in-ear monitors and why doesn’t he wear them. Like all of us of a certain age, he found them difficult to get used to, but I pressed him to persevere. They are a singer’s saviour. Yusuf had his beautiful wife and two teenage kids with him, and there was much good feeling back there. The canon of work he has to choose from is enormous and brilliant. He is one of the greatest writers the music industry has seen, in any generation, at any time. Played the Forest National, a circular arena, capacity close to 7,000, and it looked close to full to my eyes. We got close to selling it out in the mid-70s. Not today, sorry to admit. I felt pangs, the sort of wistful day-dreaming we get in reminiscing of other, better times. Today is good, too, though, and I relish every minute of my professional life.
Went to ITV on the South Bank for a chat with the production people of a new series, starting June, I think, of Popstar To Operastar. Don’t ask why, although I must admit to a little curiosity after counselling opinion from my agent and a couple of other respected industry judges. Maybe I just wanted to know how I would respond if offered a part. I was always 95% certain I would make my excuses. Never saw a moment of last year’s first series, but checked YouTube clips and it struck me beyond doubt as down-market TV, masquerading as middle-brow, for those who need it – I don’t. As it happens, we were kept waiting almost half-an-hour past the agreed time to meet in their lobby, received a pitiful apology only after my assistant pointed out that we might like a cup of tea, and an explanation. Many readers here would be amazed, rocked, to know the state of play these days among the Production offices of such companies and such shows. Either way, I never did have to make a decision. They didn’t even have the courtesy to let my office know the chosen ones! Just drifted. Incredible! But I got a little adventure out of it, and never, ever felt comfortable with the idea of accepting, if offered. Could have been chucked out, voted off, first week. The ignominy!
Back from Greece (more notes later) to learn of the shocking and sad news of the death of Sheila Naylor. Russ sent me the order of service for her funeral, held last week. I know nothing else, so if Russ or anyone (Ray?) wants to tell me (us) more, I’d like to hear. The Guestbook is there for you. I’m sure many would like to know…..Many of you knew Sheila, who followed me and my career path from the very early days. My thoughts are with Russ and their lovely girls, and, of course, Gareth.
Colchester, Essex, Wednesday: another leg of the 3-man acoustic tour comes to an end. I was pretty weary next morning, adrenaline running down etc. But now ready again. It’s always an adventure out there and on-stage, but some nights it’s even an event. Had some precious musical moments recently, with Barry and James letting off improvised mayhem night after night. We got into some rather ethnic rhythms and tempos (jazzy, at least) on Sling It! and Sebastian in particular. The respect shown by audiences to the guys for their musical brilliance brings much pride to me. Surround yourself with the best, and some glory will rub off on you, I reckon! It’s a privilege to be part of it up there. The standing ovations gave all the team (including Roger Searle on lights, Andy Linklater on sound and Shop on stage-duty) a real glow. The crew all know their contribution is considerable and highly respected by me. They are all pros at the top of their game. That’s why it looks so good and sounds so good.
A few random thoughts occur: Christmas has just passed, according to my head-clock. That’s weird. Weird, because soon after, on New Year’s Eve, we rolled into Holmfirth for a belter of a celebration. Was a great way to end a good year, and ring in a new one. Am sending thanks here to all who sent Christmas cards and gifts. More than I deserve surely. Somme guide will come in most handy when we visit Poperinge in August. Thank you, m’am.
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