Email 22nd September 1998

Subject: Fish 98 - Malta, Releases and TV news Part 1

Dear Freaks, friends and FWO,
Another long gap and no chance of the frequent poster award this month. I've been busy as you've probably realised but a wee holiday in Malta was most welcome!

First the gig!
I was sad to miss some of you who lost out due to the postponed show especially Mo and Pete who left the island just as we arrived.
Tammi, Tara and I got in at 3am on Tuesday and it was obvious things had changed since the election. We still had the VIP treatment at the airport but the motorcycle outrider and the security guards were absent. (not that I ever need them or ask for them, I personally find them a bit restricting generally speaking)
I had been warned not to mention politics on the island as their were still some bad feeling about the recent election result which had ousted the Labour party who were behind the shows at ta'Quali National Park. Status Quo, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Demis Roussos and Alannah Myles had already played there this year and I was the last act in and the first under the new Conservative-led government who were not in favour of the gigs and although they didn't block the show or cause any problems they didn't help out either.
I was really disappointed that the gig was caught up in the politics. I offered on my arrival to promote the show in any way I could but was told that I wasn't allowed to be interviewed in case I discussed politics and as the organisers were Labour candidates at the election their presence at radio or TV stations would have been seen as potentially controversial. I was silenced and with only a couple of adverts to promote the show in the local press I knew that the crowds would be down as most people didn't know the show had been re-scheduled. The gig was very nearly cancelled but as the fee was already in the UK there was no option but for the Government to go ahead and try and recoup some money but without backing the show and making it a success that would validate the Labour party's attempts at trying to make Malta a recognised tour stop for name bands and stimulating the musical talent that exists on the island. I hope that the present regime don't ignore the positive vibes that have been created in the past 2 years as far as music is concerned and allow the development to continue. I love the place and the people but once again the politicians seem too wrapped up in their power games to see the potential that is on offer. Enough of the politics and on to the rest of the week.

Tuesday was pool day with my mobile playing 'Scotland the Brave' all afternoon much to my embarrassment and the delight of fellow sunbathers!
Roadrunner, my acting agent, Yatta, Elliot from the studio, the bank, all decided to call me with important news and problems and I didn't relax until 7 when we collapsed in the Chinese restaurant in the hotel and proceeded to get mightily drunk (except Tara!!) before crawling upstairs to our suite for a pillow fight (I won!).
Wednesday was pool side again and I began my lobster impression until dinner at the local Henry J Beans with the organisers.
Thursday we visited old friend and ex-Marillion PR Keith Goodwin and his family who've been there since 88 and spent the day waxing nostalgic over old times and gossiping with Pat his wife about Yes and other outfits that we both knew from old. (Keith was also Yes PR until Topographic Oceans). That night we had a severe fish dinner with buckets of Sambuca to chase the octopi down and joined by Keith's son Darius, his wife and Kelly his daughter who I hadn't seen for 10 years, The little girl I built Lego houses with at their old home in Bray at Monkey Island is now a gorgeous 19 year old blonde who had the audacity to challenge me to a drinking competition while plastered on Slippery Nipples!!
Friday we moved hotels to join the band who were arriving later. Another pool side coma until the sun dipped and we headed for another fish feast and a lobster cull.Tara was engrossed by the live lobsters and named them all! Thinking that she would be upset at the cooking ritual we tried in vain to pull her away from the open kitchen. We needn't have bothered as she explained exactly what happened and that although the sounds of screaming lobsters were put down to cats she corrected us by saying it was the air being forced out the shells! So much for sensitive kids!
Later on we headed to a free bar at the Alley and met up with some of the freaks that had invaded the island. Much vodka later and I was back in bed, relaxed that the band and equipment had arrived safely.
The record signing at Exotique next day was Spinal Tap-esque! No advertising. No one showed apart from a couple of locals and the Freaks! We had a great time. Morning cappuchinos and a chin wag with a sprinkling of gossip! The Freaks meet was casual and friendly and to be honest couldn't have been organised better if we'd tried. Good to see old faces and put new ones to e-mail addresses!
A lunch of snails, clams, mussels and other Maltese delicacies before soundcheck which as to be expected was a trial!
The drumkit was in better shape this time but the absence of side fill speakers meant that the on stage sound would have to be created from the half dozen wedges. The guitar amps we were supposed to have had been stolen at a previous gig when the hire company had forgotten about them and left them behind. We borrowed an amp from one of the support bands (who were both surprisingly good and very accomplished musicians) and Frank had to use a Bass amp for his sound. Robin's effects and acoustic guitars had been trapped at UK customs on return from the States (with Howard Jones) and the lead to the synth drum pads had gone missing in transit. The sound was compromised and the far flung PA didn't help. The out front sound was polite.
On top of all that the dressing room door had to be kicked in as the janitor didn't bother showing up till 5 and had left us sweltering under a Maltese sun! Guess who he worked for!
We went on stage at around 10.45, tired from the heat, pissed by the on-stage sound, frustrated at our lack of equipment and facing a depleted but enthusiastic crowd who did well to make up the numbers. A cordon of uniformed police were strung out front of stage. I felt that I was at a Doors gig in the late 60's. Totally unnecessary and intimidating but they chilled out when they realised that I wasn't getting my willy out or get into a political debate.

I must be honest and say that I didn't really enjoy the show for all the reasons mentioned above and the fact that I'm tired of the set.
Although the Clutching section was a kick the rest of the numbers have become overplayed. I rated the show at 7.5/10. Not good enough and the principal reason I'm cutting back on touring and revamping the set. I'll wait till next year before going out again and no doubt band members will change as availability takes it's toll. This was the last 6 piece line up on stage and it's very doubtful that Mickey will be around next year as he has a lot of projects on the go that quite honestly pay better than me!
I would have liked to have finished with a roar rather than a growl. That all said I'm excited at the prospect of a new set with the Raingods material. BTW We never played Chasing Miss Pretty and Mr Buttons as without the guitar effects and a decent sound there was a danger of disappointing rather than creating a positive image of the new stuff. (Sorry Joe, Dean and all)
So that was Malta and the last show of 98! The crowd got off on it and I suppose that's what really counts. I'll go back anytime and as far as I'm concerned Malta is on my tour schedule for next year if I get an offer to return! To those who made the effort, thanks and special award to Gary and Andy for hanging out in the nightclub till 5am as the badgers hung on till the 7am flight home!
 

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