Looks like our second “The Human Menagerie & The Psychomodo with Orchestra & Choir” performance will come next year, in April, at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. We’re waiting on clearance for either Saturday, April 12th or Saturday, April 26th. I imagine we’ll set up a similar ticket-buying link on the website as we did for Birmingham, giving registered members first dibs. Sounds a long way off, but – hey, it’s good to have something to look forward to! I’m still hoping the show will go on at the Royal Albert Hall, but single-night dates are hard to acquire at that venue, and I really do want a Saturday, so people who travel long distances can relax without losing time from work. I’ll try to give it a unique feel, so I’ll look for different “bonus” tracks to throw in. Keep to the period, but let us know any suggestions.
I’ve been in a studio in the West Country recently, mixing the Birmingham recordings. They sound good. Very good. At last I am hearing what you heard! One or two glitches have been sorted and the mad mess where an extra verse got added to “What Ruthy Said” has been repaired. I now know what happened: the organ solo was inaudible on-stage, and as I looked around, faces were either blank or questioning, so I took it that I, myself, had missed a verse of lyrics. Seems I sang part of the second verse a second time! You couldn’t make it up…anyway, that’s been repaired. I’m not ashamed of a word or two going astray or getting mangled or forgotten (there is a great deal happening up there, live and also in the monitors, by way of excuse) but I won’t humiliate myself on CD! A mistake on-stage, stays on stage; it exists only there and then, in its own moment. A CD (or a download) is for ever.
What a night it was! What a crowd! What a band! What orchestrations! “Sebastian”…..I only remembered as we mixed the track, they gave us a standing ovation. For a song!! “Death Trip”…..so big and so right. I got a thrill, a tingling down my spine, at the reaction to the out-of-the-blue burst of “Stranger Comes To Town”. And “Tumbling Down”…..boy, didn’t we all fancy that! Did you exit singing the refrain, like in the old days?
I hear stirrings among some (a tiny few) that our man in the grand tiers may have felt humiliated after I picked him out and told his story. Well, he didn’t. He stood and waved at me and seemed to revel in his own moment of glory. Good for him. He knew I was being friendly, trying to amuse. How could anyone think I would actually humiliate a stranger, a fan? It’s called humour. And it was true, and very interesting, his story. We saw the ticket go - a single £37.50, in the dead centre of the first of three rows at the back of the Grand Circle, when there were many still available in the best areas. But a fiver is a fiver, and I respect that. It intrigued me, as much does where human behaviour is concerned. I’m a writer. I notice these things and worry about them. But mostly I love human-kind and respect the lengths fans go to in support of an artist and an event. The financial commitment does not go unnoticed by most performers, to my knowledge. Respect, that’s the key. Our man had a sense of humour (you need one, if you’re going to listen to me talking, at random, on stage!) and I respect him. Of course I do.
Then we hit the road as a three-piece acoustic band. Some life-shift that! We’d seen some memorable sights around Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg up to a few days before Symphony Hall. Then we were off to explore much of the UK, again. But strange things occur in that set-up, too. My office has been dealing with a most bizarre tale of one fan who is rent with angst in the belief that he (or she, they won’t say!) was singled-out by me at one of those shows (they won’t say which!) and eye-balled or something like that, by me, causing consternation and humiliation! I don’t see much from up there, you know. Stage lights in the eyes. Eyes closed in concentration and passion. The only annoying nuisance really is the white or orange light some cameras give off when filming. Out of the dark, a close-up lamp, almost like a torch some of them, is incredibly distracting. And what are they doing anyway, paying for a ticket, then holding that up for two and a half hours, “seeing life through a two-inch screen”? Now that’s a good line. Apparently I used it on the night our friend was in, the one who thinks I stared him/her out for some length of time (hell, don’t they think I have other things on my mind than an eyeball bun-fight in public? The more I think about it, the more absurd it all seems.) But that good line, didn’t I get that from one of our contributors? Didn’t I read that on the website, maybe in a Forum thread: “Seeing life through a two-inch screen”. Good line, but not my original. Who claims it.
I saw a truly great tenor at the Royal Festival Hall, Joseph Calleja. He is special, the best since Pavarotti, to my ears. Maltese, charming and modest, and gifted. And we’ve been to the cinema a few times recently: Lincoln is long-winded, really. Great performance from Tommy Lee Jones, though: worth the ticket for that alone, whereas, I felt I could see Daniel Day Lewis acting all the time. Quartet was amusing, not much more, although Tom Courtney is a consummate actor. But Dame Maggie Smith – is it just me, or she playing Dame Maggie Smith in every role these days? She played Dame Maggie Smith in the Indian Marigold hotel movie (sorry, full title eludes me); she played Dame Maggie Smith in what little I caught of Downton Abbey, and she’s playing Dame Maggie Smith again in Quartet. The Tarantino is good, Django Unchained…extremely violent, though, and I didn’t fancy some scenes one bit. But his work is always unmissable.
Must sound like I do little but buy entertainment, but there are songs on the way, too. I write every day, lyrics here and there and the occasional tune. But the process is generally much more drawn out than when I was younger. There are many thoughts and worries clouding the mind, preventing the imagination to run really free as it once did. Maybe the fog will clear in time. I hope so. We’re rehearsing “Ballerina Prima Donna” – I actually agree with Stella, that it’s a bit cheesey, but we’ve had lots of requests for it, all from women, to be honest. It has a bitter, accusing air, written by my good mate Mike Batt at a time of low self-esteem (wouldn’t have lasted long!), but maybe we can give it a one-off night out at Buxton, then shelve it again. Steve Norman will almost certainly be with us at the Isle Of Wight festival. Main stage again. Now there’s a thrill! And I’ll have to include a few oldies with sax solos for him.
Love the new Prince single: basic and uncomplicated, yet brilliant. How does he do it?
written by Stella Day , January 31, 2013
Hooray. At last. The first diary entry of 2013. I was just about to start nagging for one. Always good to read your words Steve. Let's hope we can now put all the Birmingham whinges to bed now and look forward to the CD.
Play Ballerina Prima Donna at Buxton if it pleases the women. I won't be there. I'll be celebrating my birthday in style with a DVD and a box of Maltesers.......just to avoid it
And another thing .....is Manchester as wet and dreary as Birmingham? I do hope you can get the Royal Albert Hall.
written by jo humphries , February 01, 2013
Hello ...Thank you for the diary . TYou
Any thoughts on "Les Mis" you will surely have seen it? I was pleasantly surprised as wasnt sure it would work in some ways.
Buxton..Ah, Ballerina Prima Donna...sweet!. Lighthouse.... and please please throw plenty of Harmonica in too x jo
written by Mike Meade , February 01, 2013
Is this for April 2013 or April 2014 ?
Manchester - great news! Even though I live in Berkshire! Don't care! Looking forward to the whole show again!!!
Brilliant!! Blooming great!! Yippee!!!!
Thank you Steve and fellow team!!!
written by Gerry Kennedy , February 01, 2013
'Ballerina' - marvelous! Love the track - and others from that '81-'83 period. Race Game, Can't Even Touch You and others.
I remember the video for 'Ballerina' being played at the Reading festival in '83, late at night (after Marillion's set and before an ersatz Black Sabbath) - perfect taster before Steve played the next (windy) day.
Those years were the height of synth, a musical rift valley had formed and it seemed that all that had gone before was finished commercially (and therefore might disappear for ever).
But quality will out, and Ballerina and Touch You (for me) were important, strong markers that Steve was still around; his voice sounds great on both tracks. Just for that alone they are fondly remembered (and played).
So here's to a fantastic set of shows in 2013.... 30 years on from a windy field in Berkshire!
written by Deborah , February 01, 2013
Balleriana.would be great to hear live.
Ha just love that song. Ive often quoted ! burst into song in times of trouble ! heated aurguments ! whilst in strife ! :-(
Ballerina ! Prima Donner " get your shoes and all your crap ! get out of my life ! and dont come back "
" I wont miss you when you're gone !"
I can be a little too harsh at times :-( must be the bull in me (ever the Taurus )
So look forward to reading your Diary's Mr H they always make me smile.
so looking forward to a DVD of the Birmingham .
No pressure mind :-)
written by Mark Scarfe , February 01, 2013
Good to hear plans are afoot Steve. And if it takes 12 months or more so be it; the waiting, the anticipation, the build up . . . it all contributed to a fantastic experience for us last year and it will do again.
As for films, may I recommend catching Life of Pi in 3d before it leaves? A wonderful and intelligent novel brought to life in fine style for cinema by Ang Lee. My film of the year for 2012, a visual treat.
written by Deborah , February 01, 2013
oop's sorry should of written
" so looking forward to the CD of Birmingham and hopefully DVD " ;-)
I do try and pay attention ! Honest. :-)
written by Mike C , February 01, 2013
Judy says thank you for "Ballerina" at Buxton, it will be worth the wait !
written by Rachel (PA to SH) , February 01, 2013
Pandorah (Debs) - I thought "get your shoes and all your crap" seemed a little unlikely! May I just correct you?
"Take your shoes and your shellac" is more precise!! I understand Ballerinas use shellac, a sort of polish that dries like plastic(?) to harden the toes of their pumps.
written by Leo Nachtergaele , February 01, 2013
Reading this diary entry on a Belgian friday evening is as good as taking a deep breath before starting a perfect week-end . We can feel the right sense of the words.. fantastic news for april ( hope we can make it .... in our allready fully booked agenda ) and what an open , honest & insight introspection of SH in view of the audience , reactions or perception . MUCH APPRECIATION STEVE !!!! YOUR MUSIC IS FAR BETTER THAN MEDICATION ... healing , relativating . Love from East Flanders , love from L&S .
written by Deborah , February 02, 2013
with respect Rachel, correction excepted !
although as a Fan ! I should know the correct words , and know Mr Harley would never use such a word ! ( well not in a song )
I use the word " crap "in the contexts of my own situation, as reference to the sentiments in the song. I dont actually know any Ballerina's although I have known some primadonnas :-)
but ! sadly at times I Do miss them .
hence the change in the line ! the tune is always the same though.
I've used liquid shellac in the past for silk sceen printing whilst in art collage. yes it dries just like plastic . so the ink only penetrate's through the silk where no shellac is applied .
enables an artist an excellent choice of freedom to be creative and also precise.
written by Davie Mclure , February 07, 2013
......mibbees not from Human or Psychomodo (My Fav!)
but from Best Years,
how about a live version of "It wasn't me"!
or "Back to the Farm"!
ahh you never know eh Steve?
Dreams are made of this!
written by Bill Headley , February 08, 2013
I posted a note following the Manchester concert stating "Why oh why do people watch it (the show) through a 2 inch smartphone screen instead of just sitting back and appreciating the show."
Would be nice to think that was the line you were referring to !!
Thanks for what you did at De Roma in Antwerp by the way! The lads fancy Norway this year if you're going back there.
written by Jack Dorris , February 12, 2013
Absolutely superb to hear about the proposed Human Menagerie/Psychomodo concert in Manchester and great if it is on a Saturday as Steve points out some have to travel far and wide....Glasgow for me. As a bonus track I would love to hear Panaroma from Best Years of our Lives. However as long as I hear the likes of Cavaliers, My Only Vice I know I will be a happy man. Looking forward to the concert already.
written by les , February 19, 2013
Saw steve last night in buxton, what a show, just like the old days.Cavaliers blew me away thanx steve.
written by Angela Bezer , February 20, 2013
Brilliant, Manchester 2014, better than driving to Birmingham and back in that horrible rain, although we buzzed all the way back home. Booking for Holmfirth now, brilliant gigs as always and in August not the snow of new years eve . thanks Steve you can single us out anytime, especially after the Northen Music college comments !! and the manc crowd knowing your b sides xxxxx
written by stephen singleton , February 21, 2013
Rock n' Roll Parade , Such a Dream .
written by Arthur Narth , February 25, 2013
Can anyone please tell me the name of the track of music played during the intervals at Steve's concerts.It is not the slow version of Here Comes The Sun but another very slow piece.Thankyou in anticipation.
written by Stella Day , February 26, 2013
Hi Arthur Narth, Steve used to have Gabriel's Oboe(and other pieces from The Mission by Ennio Morricone) playing before his concerts. Not sure if he's still using that one. I think I do recall hearing something different in the intervals these days but frankly it's washed over me. I love Ennio Morricone's work. I'd suggest For Love One Can Die if Steve's looking for something new. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r35WQD6MCe0
written by Arthur Narth , February 27, 2013
Hello Stella,thankyou for the reply.Unfortunately the link that you gave is not the piece that I was thinking of.It was played at Buxton on the 18th February if this helps.Thanks again for the reply.