Email 22nd October 1999

Time: 18:18
Subject: Fish 99 - US idea!

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, Fans and the Company,
I have been talking to Wes in the past weeks and in particular his wedding in Florida on the 22nd January.
As we both recognised all the band are planning to attend (Wes has told us it's a free bar!) so therefore it would make sense to throw in a couple of shows to pay for flights/hotels/food etc and maybe even gather a few wages for all.
The idea is St Petersburg, New Orleans and Atlanta, Day off/travel Washington, Philly and NYC.
Dates would be in the run up week to the wedding starting around the 13th. What do you think about this idea? It would only be a short East Coast/Southern section and we would need to have a strong commitment if we set this up as there will be no record company support.
It seems strange writing this as the steroids rage through my body in an attempt to reduce the most painful throat for years but what the Hell!! We had fun last time and I never been to most of these places. I think the band want to bring wives and kids as well so we could do some Appalachian sight seeing! :-)))))))
Would the mid West guys/ West Coasters and others be willing to fly in to places if we set up a convention type gig in these places?
Suggestions especially to the Company North America as I will be busy with the tour for the next 2 weeks.

all the best
Love
Onkel Fish
ps this would be perfect timing before the movie starts in February


Time: 20:58
Subject: Fish 99 - Haddington - The Electric Night! (finally!!)

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company!
Well you can tell a) that I'm bored and b) that I am on quiet routine these days! Scanning through a zoo of Lists I was reminded that I never finished the review of the Convention weekend which now seems an epoch away!
I kind of remember waking up on that Sunday morning with a similar feeling of trepidation as I have before these up coming French dates. I woke up on the morning of the 29th in a state of panic. The throat burned and Tammi knew exactly what was going on. The Doctor was called and at 11 pm I was in surgery with my trousers round my ankles getting 250 mikes of steroid in the fatty tissue known as my ass! I'd tried to sleep but the impending ritual of the day kept my eyeballs pinned to the ceiling. Tammi insisted I ate as I hadn't eaten properly due to commitments and demand from the schedule since Thursday. The Waterside had Wes' set as well as a meet and greet to face. I ducked in upstairs well aware that the rumour of my affliction preceeded me. I knew that Team Badger needed me and I was reluctantly trying to extricate myself from selection. If I played and the gig was made to suffer it would be hard to explain. I ate some Haggis and drank a wee bit wine. An over whelming feeling of goodness swept over me - the drugs were working!
It was raining - strange! I decided to at least go down to the pitch at Millfield to support the cause from the touchline but just in case of emergency I headed to the Farm to get changed. I arrived just as the Germans trudged off the field after being defeated by the favourites for the Cup, The Company Northern England. I was so sure we'd get cuffed in our semi final against The Southern English Team that I'd told Yatta that we'd be at the Corn Exchange for soundcheck in 40 minutes.
No-one but no-one was more surprised than me to be on the pitch and not only lay on the first goal for our superstar Elliot but also to score myself from a diving backward header. I was in fantasy valley, I was at Wembley, I had just dislocated 4 vertebrae and didn't know it!!
The following game was minutes away and once again we all rose to the occasion. Tired, exhausted and underdogs we rose as only Scots teams can do in the face of overwhelming adversity and against all the odds to put one over on the Company Northern England. When the whistle blew and we knew we'd taken the cup the sense of relief, accomplishment and pride was immense. We had done it! The Cup stays at the Tyneside for a year!
I was really proud of the way the games had gone with no hassle or arguments, no cynical fouling and a truly inspiring display of sportsmanship that is sadly missing from many pro games - and they have referees!
If the up and coming Scotland v England games can match the excitement of our wee matches (and the results I hope:-) then we are in for more than fireworks in November!
I don't expect to retain the Cup next year by the way! :-) The preparation for some teams started as soon as they got back from Haddington I have heard! :-)
Yatta was unhappy but when he heard my voice at soundcheck and saw all the musos in one piece breathed easy.
Now was the Big one!
The steroids added to the euphoria of the event and the adrenalin rush overwhelming as I took the stage to the most enthusiastic Haddington crowd I can remember. I was so fired up I didn't even realise that there was a mike problem on "Faithhealer" and that the out front vocal was missing!
The Voice in the Crowd was humungous and we were lifted to an ear tingling high as "Lucky" led the march forward. "Just Good friends" and "52" shone and the dedication pre gig on stage to Doc brought a tear to my eye as I remembered.
"Goldfish" had turned into a new epic and is still a fave on the tour so far although for "vocal safety" reasons had been omitted in recent gigs since Milan.
The only downer was the "Emperors Song/Credo/What Color Is God/1470" medley which paled in the shadow of the 97 epic and in fact took the set down rather than up at that point in the show. The new medley was executed before Groningen and the only live record of the song is on the Haddington Recordings from the convention.
"Clutching" was brilliant and reinforced my intention to bring it back this year into the main touring set.
All went well. Rough in places and a few fluffed bits and pieces. However the vibe was tremendous and the crowd never let us think about mistakes or anything else, a total celebration. When Kenny Graham our very own Company barman at our hallowed Tyneside came on stage to accept his retirement present we were all trying to hold back the tears from a highly charged emotional occassion. He is heading to Spain and really wanted to take the Gold "Vigil" album I'd given the pub in 91. He knew it was special to the bar so after overhearing his dilemma I knew there was only one choice as gift to Kags and his wife Bianca. Two of my finest friends and definitely the best barman I have ever been served by. "The Company" was the all time classic rendition in Haddington and I have never in 11 years seen Kenny speechless and in tears!
The band were superb with only Elisabeth having a bummer due to nerves and an overdose of red wine pre and during gig. Next day she honestly believed she would be fired. She is now performing brilliantly and has backed me up all the way on this tour rising to help me in the last week. She is now considered an integral part of the team and in the next year you are going to be seeing this Diva arrive on a far bigger stage me thinks! She was overcome with nerves at Haddington having never seen the Company en masse. Tony was the second most nervous and it's taken him a few weeks to realise that he is a great keyboard player. He has been playing all the notes in the right bits but I have never had to tell a keyboard player to turn up as much in my life. For those of you coming to the UK shows and the second leg of the tour be prepared to witness a different man. It's genuinely scary!
Squeeks as the Old man of the band now has grown up so much that I find myself well proud that he is still with us considering the style and quality he can offer! He is a demon on that kit and holds all the"kids" together like an uncle.
Steve Bubbles is getting more evil every tour and his grimaces and shapes with that manic stare he has is frightening front rows. With Squeeks and Bubbs I reckon I have a rhythm section comparable with any of the top units in Europe!
Last but not least there is Wes! He at last gives me the foil I have been waiting on. The visual balance to work against Steve on Stage Left and a "Puppy" for me to play with! :-) I consider Wes to be the finest all-round guitarist I have worked with so far and will go as far as to say that I consider his interpretation of the "Cliche" solo better than Frank Usher's. That's not being disrespectful to Frank just extremely complimentary to Wes who many people thought would struggle with the lead guitar as well as the rhythm. His contribution has been immense and the unit as a whole I honestly believe eclipses the classic 97 line up. I hope that we can get a tape of the entire show to showcase this set properly and do the team justice.
After the gig the sense of relief was explosive. We had passed the first test! PPPAAARRRTTTYYY!
Later at the house all Tammi and I's fears that we would be facing a trashed garden and a huge landscape bill was unfounded. The 500 or so people were immaculately behaved and the great vibes from the weekend continued. Everyone gave space where needed and respected the offer to party at the house. It was a perfect end to the convention although sad that it would be the last Company party at Spittalrig.
Tammi was rightly very very drunk and woke up with a hangover from Mars. She has still to see Roby's photos of Liz and her on the trampoline! :-)
Tammi - as she has been throughout the tour - has been an organizational genius. Without her the Convention would not have been the success it has been in 99.
To all the other who helped out with the footy, the coaches, the bars and the general help I can only thank you all. We took as many memories from that weekend as we had across all the previous conventions.
Thanks to all of you who made the effort to get here and contribute your presence and friendships to the occasion.You made it happen!!! :-))))))))
I decided, as we all did I think, that this is an annual event from now on. No matter what happens with other world touring the Live fix can always be had here in East Lothian!
Until next Summer it's bye bye from the Haddington Bear who btw spent nearly a week on his back after the drugs wore off! :-))))))
lots of love
Onkel Fish
 

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