Subject: The Company Europe Newsletter July 2005
It's raining so it must be Scotland in July! It's been a strange couple of months all round with more than the usual upheavals and disruption right across the emotional spectrum. Not that all have been bad as events have forced me to come to terms with new approaches and responsibilities and the future seems a lot clearer.
The Uk tour went according to plan and in fact the reception to the "Return to Childhood" project surprised me as it was so positive. The intense rehearsals at Garvald village hall had proven their worth and the first gig in Manchester was a resounding success in front of the biggest audience in that city for years. Travelling South from Haddington in a transit van with Yatta did evoke some old memories. The romanticism only slightly relieved the discomfort and the traditional cornish pasty at the services below Penrith reminded me that nostalgia ain't what it used to be!
My birthday was spent in the back lounge of the tour bus with a couple of bottles of wine and a few deviants and cheese. We had no CDs so had to spend the early morning listening to Janice Long on Radio 2. We tried calling up a birthday request to no avail!
Nottingham was loud and raucous as to be expected on a birthday party and it was great to see so many old friends who made the effort to get to the gig. I felt slightly human and definitely mortal next morning. Sheffield was a rainy comedown but another cracker of a show. Day off in Stourbridge and a day in bed after a few lunchtime beers in the promoter's local. The gig next day was spectacular and the promoter admitted he could have sold out the show several times over. So much for a low key warm up tour!
A sunny Bristol and a full Bierkeller gave us another resounding success although the night was soured a little when the tickets didn't announce the show was an early performance. Latecomers were understandably disappointed and as we had to drop some numbers to keep in the curfew time, fans who had made the effort were also let down. And all so the late night rock disco could soak up the pennies! Southampton kept the bench mark high but clouds were gathering as the bus broke down again. Mario from the Company Germany had come over to Bristol and was travelling with us for a few days. He arrived sans baggage in Bristol and by Southampton he had his passport and credit cards nicked from the bus when the doors were left open during repairs. The bus was dreadful overall and the sight of a cockroach battling down the aisle summed it up. My head was scarred as the ceiling height was lower than on other tour coaches and a carefully placed wooden overhang above my bunk really did the business in the morning. To add to my bus hell I had been having hassles with both my knees and the eternal bouncing around in my "set" was causing added problems. Just to make matters worse I lost my painkillers and woke up in Falmouth in agony after only a few hours sleep. The bus had broken down somewhere on the road to the gig from Southampton and a cross bus load at 7am was just what we didn't need. The big shitty cherry on the top of the Falmouth cake was that it was another early gig. Getting together for stage was a tough one and I was dealing with white pain from my knees everytime I moved off the mike stand or took a step backward. I was amazed the rythmn section wasn't put off by the clicking from my joints. I was struggling and if it had been the last gig in a row I would have felt better than I did. Yatta had inadvertently booked 5 gigs in a row after forgetting he had OKed the Brook at an early booking stage.
And so the final in Liverpool at the Cavern which as expected was totally sold out. It was demonically hot and sweaty, not as hellish as previous shows but enough to warrant extra water rations on stage for audience and band alike. The show was excellent and possibly the best there yet. A wonderful end to the warm ups. I managed to find a full voice despite the trials of Falmouth but the next day flags were coming up as my system started to waver and then begin to collapse. I stayed over in Liverpool next day and then headed to Manchester to see Queen with Paul Rogers. A great night with a great band and then back next day to the Studio coughing my throat out and lungs full of gunge. A virus had hit and my voice was disintegrating. I had a week until the next show in St Paulo, Brazil and so went on double recovery duties, taking great care not to aggravate the situation. Doc's on Friday and antibiotics. I was close to ducking the tour as I was genuinely worried at attacking the South American situation which
I already knew was going to be an endurance test.
A full account of the tour is on the website but in short I got through it! San Paulo was a strain but a great result and the move next day after show to Argentina and the three shows in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Cordoba would all shine in different ways. Buenos Aires was spectacular. 3 thousand fans going ecstatic. The roar that greeted the " Misplaced " set was breathtaking and I admit to several moments on the tour when I could have been reliving the original experience of performing the album live. The travelling was the killer and going on stage at 11 to come off at 1am to get on a bus at 8 to drive 7 hours to the next soundcheck took it's toll on the vocal elements in the band. By Santiago in Chile I was exhausted and the two days off before the show were not enough. This was my worst show of the tour as the virus returned with a vengeance. The crowd loved it. I felt embarassed. Peru up next and finally Haddington Bear entered Lima at 2am after another day off in Santiago after the show. The antibiotics and injections were fighting my corner and the voice returned in force for the Lima gig. This was filmed for TV as was the Venezuelan show the day after. The Caracas show was another positive gig and a resounding success. Altogether a fine result we could all be proud of but an extremely tough fight to get through it all. It was only 12 days but seemed like a month on the road! The weekend festivals in June were going to be a cake walk!
Before we headed to Spain and our first date in Tiana, Tara arrived from Berlin. Her room wasn't ready due to the traditional "tradesmen" availability problems and she was due to start school the day after I got back from my first working weekend. Thanks to delayed flights and long stop overs it took me 14 hours to get home. I was up at 7.30 am to take her to school for her first day! The week was a nightmare as I was getting up earlier than I have done in my life without a plane to catch. A shock to the system and I was glad the second weekend was free! I had a lot to deal with on all fronts!
On arrival back from South America I was handed Kim's resignation. Kim has had to return down South for family reasons and is understandably sad at having to leave the farm. I am sorry to lose her but totally understand the reasons. She has been my right hand since joining me in April 2001. She has helped me on all levels both business and personal and has been with me through some difficult times. I will miss her as will quite a few fans out there whom she has helped over the years. Kim's replacement is Elspeth Laidlaw who will be operating the office on a part time basis. The new website domain set up created by Mo and Pete will change the way orders are received and processed and the mail order system will hopefully prove far more efficient and take far less time to supervise. Certain problem areas have already come to our attention and one in particular I would appreciate some help with in order to create a more efficient service and eliminate problems with in the future.
Could anyone who has ordered items by cheque or by postal orders and who has experienced problems with missing checks and / or orders in the last year please get in contact with either Elspeth or myself at our e mail adresses or by post in order that we could ask you a couple of questions about the service. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated! (this query is only about orders sent by post to the office and does not apply to credit card orders)
We will soon be putting together the new merchandise for the "Return to Childhood" tour as Mark Wilkinson has completed a spectacular piece of artwork for the project. He is currently putting together a cover for the new "Best of...." album which will be called "Bouillabaise" and released on Snapper Records in September this year. The "Return to Childhod artwork can be see on Mark's website. More details on the album will be sent out in the next newsletter scheduled for early September. This will also contain the new tour dates for the European leg that will operate on a week on week of basis in order to put less pressure on my voice and my parenthood as Tara will be at school during that period of September until late December.
I will be recording the DVD and live album from the tour during this period and most probably in Holland at a venue where we can shoot the performance across two nights. The album and DVD will be released next February/ March on Snapper Records and through our website.
The touring in the Summer has been restricted by my domestic arrangements but we still managed to score a couple of major hits. The Spanish show at Tiana just outside Barcelona was a great success, the Childhood material again going down a storm. I was then off to Cyprus for a show with the SAS band. It was the "big band" with Roger Taylor, Midge Ure, Chris Thomson, Paul Young and myself sharing the mike. We played in the Famagusta football stadium and definitely came out with away goals a plenty. I flew back from Cyprus into Brussels for a show in Luxembourg next day. 5000 fans in Dudelange main square made up for the jet lag and we played one of our best shows this year to a very receptive crowd a lot of whom had travelled long distances to see the "Childhood" set. Our final gig as a band for the next few months was at Parkpop festival in Den Hague, Holland in front of a field containing 350,000 people! We were on at around 6pm for 50 minutes and it was to be the fastest 50 minutes in history. It was obvious the adrenalin was on tap as we played the set about 10 minutes faster than normal and it felt good! The promoter was so impressed by our performance he allowed us an extra encore! A great result! The message is spreading and so far all the reviews have been very positive about the performances overall. Our next outing in the Azores on the 12th August should be fun and set us up for the Norwegian tour in September. I am playing Trondheim 2nd, Bergen 3rd and Stavanger 4th, Oslo Rockefeller 6th, 7th Scotland v Norway World Cup match, 7th Oslo Centrum (to be confirmed) and finally off to Denmark for a show in Copenhagen on either the 9th or 10th September.
My last show was with the SAS band in Ahaus in Germany. As with Cyprus I sang "Lucky", "Kayleigh", "Sweet Home Alabama" a verse on "We Will Rock You" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" but with "Lavender" added due to a small artist roster due to pull outs! Next day I went down to see Queen in Arnhem with Tara who experienced her first stadium show. She loved it and it was great to see my 14 year old daughter holding court later in the bar that night with Brian May, Anita Dobson, Roger Taylor, Spike and a couple of very intimidating German security guys all totally charmed by my young lady's banter!
My other royal connection this month was an invitation from Buckingham Palace to a dinner with HRH Prince Charles at Holyrood palace! It was a dinner in celebration of Scottish arts and I was quite humbled to be in the presence of Brian Cox, Aly Bain, Ian Rankin and a host of other famous Scottish artists and writers. I got big brownie points off Tara for getting the autograph of Billy Boyd the actor who played one of the hobbits in the "Lord of the Rings" saga. I was introduced to the Prince before the dinner and was very impressed at his laid back attitude and sense of humour! :-)
I was again lucky to be sat at a table with one of his assistants and of course conversation drifted toward gardens and an invite down to Highgrove to visit the most impressive organic gardens in the UK! It was a great night and altogether a surprise invitation, even more so when I discovered I was the only "rock" musician there.
And so the Summer and a period of intense gardening and preparation for the Autumn touring and releases. The disruption is still ongoing but the light at the end of the tunnel is brilliant. The chance to reorganise the office and to build a definitive regime into touring will work out to our advantage in the end and having an active label working for me again should prove a valuable asset in the coming months. Until next time take care and stay alive!
all the best.
Email 19th July 2005