In Bruges. Please advise.
In Bruges. Please advise.
It’s always the way with good, old friends, the ones you truly connected with back then, don’t speak to or see for year after year and then BANG! They’re back in your world and nothing really has changed. I spent the most convivial half-hour today on the phone to Duncan Mackay, he in Cape Town, South Africa, I in Suffolk. We connected truly. The familiar cracks were exchanged within seconds, not even minutes, and the loose ground upon which mates shuffle and dance and banter was established as though in a breath. For 30 minutes neither of us let up. Except, that is, to listen. We talked and we listened. Duncan will come to rehearsals and play off-book (no notes). He hasn’t toured since the old King died, but sounds like he’s chomping at the bit for November’s promise.
You’ll remember that pledge I made on stage at the Concert At The Kings Festival, All Cannings, Wiltshire, last May? Proceeds go each year to The Macmillan Nurses. I was not aware of this until a stage manager mentioned it as I waited backstage, a minute before show-time. It stayed on my mind through the first few songs. I was playing a new guitar, a fine Taylor, a 310-CE electro-acoustic model. It wasn’t sounding so great in my monitors and I had to send word to the engineer in the wings. I looked out at the 5,000-strong crowd and explained: “This is a beautiful guitar. New guitar. Really good instrument. So it should sound fabulous.” I remember holding it up and toying with extraneous thoughts. I looked down to those on the barriers and told them, “You can have this guitar”. We built a rapport over the next few songs, the guitar up for auction, starting at £1,000. I wouldn’t accept less. My guitar techie came on to swap instruments and told me “It’s up to two grand”.
My Godson, Archie, is 18 years old today, Armistice Day. Archie will probably read History at University, and his main interest is Military History. I have found him a gift relevant to that. Dinner at The Shard, where we will look down on to the moat of ceramic poppies and no doubt marvel at such a sight. Art is stupendous when installations such as that are given free rein. No un-made bed, or random scattering of bricks, this one! We will be finishing our celebratory evening at around midnight, or so I’ve been warned by Archie’s dad.
Steve was in Spain visiting his dad, who turns 88 years old soon, and could not attend Lincoln Anderson's funeral, which took place in Weeley Crematorium, Essex on Thursday. Steve wrote the following tribute, which, with Lincoln's wife Shereen's permission, was read in the Chapel by Barry Wickens.
Tractors tugging carts of grain are trundling past our house til way past midnight. Between downpours, thunder storms and the fear of Bertha, the arable farmer knows full well when the time is right. Now is right. And it has been right for two weeks or more. The harvest started early here on the Essex/Suffolk border.
Listening as I write to the Best Years compilation. I passed the test CDs a few weeks ago, but the real thing is a pleasure to hold and play. It’s a sharp, bright, clean and sympathetic cut by one of Abbey Road’s master mastering engineers, Andy Pearce (Andy, it’s brilliant, flawless, thank you). Check the backing vocals and horns on Panorama. Sensational.
Recently, at a Vintage TV recording, I met Fiona Bevan, who wrote (with Ed Sheeran) a hit song for One Direction. Fiona grew up in a village close to ours. She went to school with my daughter. I have known Fiona since she was 4 years old, and now she’s a professional singer/writer/performer, and very good she is, too. So it’s a small world, eh? But wait. It gets smaller still…
Manchester is a great city; and it has always been kind to me, since the beginning. And the sight of almost 2,000 filling the fabulous Bridgewater Hall was one to savour.
We were more relaxed on stage than in Symphony Hall a year and a bit ago. We’d done it before, so the crazy pressure was relieved somewhat. I sang for my life and can’t honestly remember a performance that brought me more satisfaction in the 40+ year career (so far!).
Been to the movies a few times lately.
Suddenly, I realise how busy the past couple of months have been, touring, completing promotion-duties and getting through myriad personal commitments, all told, and I haven't described a moment of it.
I leave on an early flight tomorrow for warmer climes to visit close family, so there won't be a great deal of words forthcoming right now.
It had to go.
Didn’t meet Ian Anderson, after all. But the setting was fabulous, baroque gardens, a Georgian Schloss and a big crowd in the sun. But did meet Bryan Ferry at Glastonbury Abbey. We shared a touch of small talk and that was that. He might actually be quite shy, and like myself really come to life once the light hits him. For the first time, I asked Michael Eavis for a photo together, though we’ve met on several occasions. He is a fascinating man; strolling around like a lost punter, shorts and wellies, and the ubiquitous Dutch beard – unmistakable! Back indoors, the following weekend the Holmfirth show brought a big smile to many faces, both out front and backstage. I’ll try to arrange something special, maybe festive, but different, if I can for the December 28th show there. Maybe I’ll shave – no, I won’t go that far!
It’s been the most glorious summer in our garden for birdlife and associated action. The wee ones!! Robin feeding robin, beak to beak; blackbirds emerging downy and innocent; chaffinches galore, yellowhammers and their young, a juvenile great spotted woodpecker has emerged from the hole in the Scots pine tree; and feeds on the hanging net feeder at the ancient pergola. By ancient, read near-wrecked. Woodpeckers have long been pecking at its holey frame, getting grubs as an appetiser before raiding the nuts. The pergola needs rebuilding, but to take away a food source for that beautiful creature – I’m torn! Even the family of Greenfinches have this year survived the malcontent mouser cats that last year devastated their nest. So, a glorious summer in the garden, for sure.
Just heard some of my team spotted Mike Johnstone in the bar of our hotel after the Buxton concert. If true, wish I’d spotted him, too. I would have said hello. We’ve met a few times in the past. “Hello, Mike”.
Just finished mixing the Birmingham recordings. Sounding good. Will package it as a double CD, of course, and might be able to get it on-sale at the end of June. Even now, there are moments in there that still stir my hackles. The memory of that night is now right up there among many memories from a long career that I can almost warm my hands on. We still hope to announce the Manchester edition by the end of this month.
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.
Symphony Hall came, and went. Hard to believe it’s behind us, to be honest. Roger Searle, my Production Manager for the event, and I worked on it, on and off, for about a year. Reading all the reactions from many of those who were there, I feel humble and touched. Never in a career close to forty years long, have I felt such a rush, such a warm glow, as I did during that first minute or two, preparing to break open the riff of Hideaway. I thought for a moment of looking around to see who else had strolled onto our stage. It was crazy for a flashing moment, then overwhelming. It’s been a plan for many years, to play those two albums in their entirety, in sequence, but I do credit one or two band members and at least one fan’s Forum note from a couple of years ago for the encouragement to actually get on and do it.
Norway. Spectacular hardly does it justice.
I am very pleased to say that we play there often. It is an expensive country, even for the natives. But that might be all that’s imperfect with it.