- Written by Steve Harley
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Manchester came a little too quick on the heels of rehearsals, to be truthful, and a few endings must have seemed ragged to the sharper-eared and more critical among the audience. But those peccadillos were soon behind us and it all got better and better by the show. That’s touring for you.
It was a thrill to play again with such great guys and musicians as Duncan, Stuart and Jim. And the common sense of fun and humour was intact, too. I’ve always believed the core person does not change, regardless of changes in health, age or philosophy. Barry and Marty were their usual musical rocks and The Twins brought a fabulous amount to the table. They are young, but never once showed anxiety or nerves. They took on considerable responsibility at times and I respect them deeply. Having them in the band was more than a bonus… it was special.
I might carry with me a couple of really special moments from the latter shows (from about the fifth, I think) for the rest of my days: All In A Life’s Work, every time – Lisa’s guitar break and responses to the lyrics throughout it, were magical. And the ensemble gathering on the vamp of The Best Years Of Our Lives brought me a sense of reverie, honestly! Who’d have thought? But up there, in the light and haze of a concert stage, the thrill of performance never palls. It thrills at times and improves our lives in some small way at others. Never the same twice.
I’d bring them forward, one by one but never in the same order, and wait to find out what might be expressed by each player: Barry’s mandolin, Lisa’s uke, Mona’s stirring harmonica, Jim’s guitar. That’s the sort of music I’ve always loved playing, a sort of organised chaos, with occasional bouts of thoroughly tight, organised brilliance.
I met or heard about fans who came from Australia (Judy, you all know, but there were others, too), United States, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Japan. Here’s Japanese Fan, Ryuichi Ishikawa
who came to three shows, including Cambridge where I met him at the stage door when we arrived.
It’s possible that we’ll all come together again next year for a few concert hall shows comprising Timeless Flight and Love’s A Prima Donna. But we’re a long way off confirming it.
Back to earth: it’s nice to know I’ve got a song on a Number One album again. A Friend For Life is now in the homes of hundreds of thousands of people who would never have heard it without Rod choosing to record it. He was thinking about it for at least ten years, and finally….dear old Rod! We’ll hang on for nine months or so, then get the roof fixed!
At the homestead, we’ve got rats in the barn and mice in the old chicken house (now a mower and tool store). But we don’t expect to suffer their presence for long. Poison and traps are everywhere they run, and Stealth cameras in situ so I can track and trace their habits and ways. They might be vermin, and they need culling big time, and they are actually not very interesting. They scurry about, eat poison, then scurry some more and finally disappear. They are God’s creatures, I know, but there are electric wires in those buildings. We need to be rid of them, the vile critters.
But birds are beautiful and their presence rewarding. The winter residents are abundant in the back garden: chaffinches, on the lawn pecking at seed; goldfinches on the teasels and niger seed; great and blue tits fighting for the hanging seed and nuts; a stray starling came yesterday to challenge all-comers; blackbirds ticking at first light, robins competing for the honour. There are wrens and dunnocks, a linnet and magpies. They fascinate me. In the meadow, two olive trees I planted two years ago are coping well. They’ve coped with two British winters so perhaps they are destined to survive. I don’t expect their fruit, not in this climate, but they are hardy and pretty and evergreen and amongst the many grasses and wild flowers the meadow confers upon us as the seasons pass, they stand like sentries and I may plant some more. The silver birches are always proud and elegant, whether full-leaved in summer or barren now. They are indigenous and spectacular. We need more, as every time the wind hits 45 or faster, another ancient apple tree is felled. We plant apple, but I find the silver birch just about the most beautiful of all. Apart from the Chestnut, but they take too long to grow.
BBC Radio Humberside, next Wednesday , soon after 10 a.m, I’ll be on-air, Live, with Burnsy. An interesting announcement will be made. Early birds will catch the front seats!
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