Subject: Fish 2006 - What I Did this Summer - "Lost Weekend"
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and The Company,
Tuesday 22nd August, it must be Home! The bottle of classic tequila was in the cupboard, laundry in the machine, head somewhere over the Atlantic, my body under a duvet at one in the afternoon, my girlfriend due in at Dunbar station around three. The band were on their way in from Gatwick after an unwanted stop over in Houston where only the distraction of a lap dancing bar prevented an International incident!
Wednesday had been allotted to rehearsals but the delays meant everything was put back a day and the other backing vocalists, Angela Gordon and Anne Marie Helder were arriving for final run throughs the day before the first show. I was increasingly nervous and from previous conventions I knew I had to totally pace myself thoughout the next 5 days if I was to deliver my side of the performance bargain.
We rehearsed at the Studio as Garvald Hall was proving an acoustic nightmare. Dave Haswell had worked out his percussion contributions on the previous rehearsal week and only Anne Marie was coming in cold with Angela and Heather confident in their responsibilities. They had briefed Anne Marie on the BV parts and had established their backing instrumentation while we had been away on tour duties. We were on track for the first gig at the Church on Friday.
Thanks to Fiona Duff my press officer I had been receiving quite a bit of interest for the convention which she had taken on herself to name "Fishstock". A trifle cheesy but effective nonetheless!
Front page on the Evening News for the first in a long time although the pairing of Heather and myself gave it an extra boost with the "Fish finds new love in his Life" angle. I am still waiting on the letter from the council re my single occupancy allowance on my rent as it gave the impression that we were already living together! :-D
Thursday was a late start and Anne Marie clipped in perfectly with the other girls who had put in a fine shift before arriving. Tara was still reluctant to sing on her song and Heather, Anne Marie and Angela worked overtime at convincing her to join the BV section.
We spent the afternoon on run throughs which were sounding more sublime at every pass. Even 'Chelsea Monday' was taking a shape as we had been tearing our hair out (or rather Steve had) trying to make sense of it as well as de prog it a bit! It was still a jam of sorts but sounding a bit more confident. Tara eventually took the mike at close of play and I admit I found it hard to look at her without choking up.
We were confident that we had a great set in place and Calum Malcolm had already been taken on board to record both the church gigs on multi track. I felt it had a lot of potential and had always regretted not recording the previous acoustic gigs at the last convention.
My voice was healthy and I was coping as were the others with the recent Jules Verne like travel experiences.
I still had extra curricular work to do and last minute arrangements were still popping up. The accommodation was the biggest headache as beds were limited in Haddington and I had hired the old residential block from my neighbour for the week. It was a bit strange going into the building to see band members in their old rooms. Elspeth was still panicking over the upcoming "Weakest Link" and running about like a dervish sorting out problems for people. In the last week it turned out that the Council had not told their Parks department that we had booked the area around the football pitches for the campsite and as they had quite literally moved the goalposts they wanted us to move somewhere else. Last minute negotiations resolved the problem.
Planes were now landing and taxis rotated pick ups back to Haddington as crew and band wives arrived to join the increasing numbers of fans that were gathering in the town. The buzz was becoming audible.
Thursday night was relatively quiet, a few buckets of wine and a Chinese take away. I was relying on Elspeth's nephew Gregor to help me with domestic affairs and the general mish mash of "things that have to be done by somebody, somewhere quickly" such as going to Tescos to replace the foodstuffs that the giant pink rodent population at the Studio was going through in earnest including supplying the staggered and staggering breakfast sitting, buying wine, putting up the tents in the garden, buying more wine, picking up easels for Mark Wilkinson's exhibition, bringing back more wine, ferrying musos to and from town and generally oiling the machine with wine. He did an admirable job over the entire weekend and helped fill in all those gaps that Elspeth and I couldn't fill as we were run off our feet.
Friday morning it kicked off. I am sure I heard a whistle blow and headed for the Plough to take part in a photo session for the 'Scotsman' newspaper with some fans who had arrived early and who were already sampling the delights of Belhaven beer. Great chance for my first pint of the day and the first contact with FishHeads.There was a great vibe and the excitement was palpable.
I retired to the Farm until soundcheck at around 4. Calum was setting up his portable studio in the vestry at the church and Yatta was in command of the crew setting up the rigs. As there was a wedding the following day we would have to break down the gear and stow it out of site. But no-one had told us about the wedding rehearsals and it would be the first time the soundcheck would be delayed for those reasons. The flowers for the ceremony were already arranged in St Mary's and we had to promise the that no-one would damage them as it was a special day for the bride who was getting married for the first time. The bride and groom were in their late 60's!
I held my own in the Tyneside Tavern waiting on the soundcheck to begin. the Tyneside had always been the spiritual home of previous conventions as our HQ had been in the Bridge Centre behind the pub. When I enquired as to hiring the centre for Mark's exhibition and the general "welcome address" etc I was told they wanted #1600 for the weekend! This was nearly twice as much as the Town Hall and the Corn Exchange for two nights. I tried to haggle but there was no compromise and so I had to move the HQ to the Town Hall for the Saturday morning and then to the Corn Exchange in the afternoon. For a committee who preached a "non profit" motive the Bridge Centre seemed pretty adept at business deals but I wasn't going to have a gun at my head. The Bridge Centre wouldn't even allow us to use the courtyard because of "noise pollution" so we couldn't even have the outside bar! Moving the convention HQ meant that Paul Kinnoch and the Tyneside were out of the centre of operations and would only benefit from the audience around the St Mary's church gigs. It was a blow.
With the Corn Exchange booked by an "Antique and Arts Fair" over a year ago on every Saturday last week of the month I was kiboshed at setting up the Convention there in the morning. Elspeth had forged a deal with the council so we had the Town hall until 3pm before it was set up for a function for that night. The organiser of the Fair had agreed with me on the phone to let our crew in at 3pm to set up a working vocal PA to address the fans at 4pm. Little did I know what would transpire the next day.
Friday was kept pretty clean as far as my commitments were concerned and as the Convention "proper" didn't get underway till Saturday it was a reasonably relaxed run up to the weekend's activities.
Soundcheck went well and Calum was happy with his set up. Nerves started to show a bit and with an early performance, on stage at 7.30, the gig came at me out of the blue and I was suddenly racing up in Gregor's car to grab my stage clothes from the farm to arrive just in time for the group hug and a quick swallow of our "communion" wine.
Opening with 'The Field' we walked down the aisle separately and took our places. The polite ripple of applause seemed curiously apt given the circumstances. I felt totally exposed as we began the build to the number and swung into the groove. The church gave it an eery edge as the "Jacob's Ladder" lyric and the "word of God" references took on a far more dynamic meaning than I ever intended.
The girls were superb and not only sang well but looked great in the setting. Dave Haswell's factory of tricks dwarfed Gavin's rig and the groove and swing of having a percussion dynamic tied to our normal rhythm section lifted the entire performance out of a rehearsal room and into full on "showtime". It was very dramatic and felt more of an event than our normal sets. The slow building list of numbers felt totally comfortable and I was welcoming the space in the music in which I could lay my work.
A couple of monitor problems and subsequent tuning issues threw us a bit on 'Favorite Stranger' but otherwise the set flowed well and our confidence grew as the audience responded positively and enthusiastically to the unfolding performance.
The acoustics were superb and it showed in the playing, the band - especially Frank - rising to the occasion and more.
It was hard to see the audience at times due to the spotlights and the length of the church itself. We had previously played in the "round" but were this time planted firmly at the end of the building. With the wedding the next day we had to put the seating back exactly as we found it so were limited as to what we could do. It really didn't seem to matter as the music flowed throughout the dramatic venue. I knew my parents were coming but hadn't caught them before the show. They had no idea of what was happening and when Tara took the stage with the other girls on the last number I was told my Dad burst into tears. It took him completely by surprise. At soundcheck I couldn't look at her as I was so proud and close to tears myself but when I turned to see her singing with me it was a moment I will treasure my entire Life. She looked so beautiful and assured it was as if she had been up there for years rather than her first "proper" gig.
I always find it a strange feeling playing the church where I was married back in 87, a year before I moved to Haddington, even stranger singing songs like 'Lady Let it Lie', 'Gentleman's Excuse Me' and the "plain speaking" 'Rites of Passage'! With my (then) girlfriend and my daughter in the band the occasion took on a surreal feel. Somewhat cathartic and also in some ways a homage I had to retain my composure throughout the gig as emotions sometimes welled and threatened to take over.
We were concentrating so much on stage that when it all ended we hadn't really appreciated just what we had achieved.
Calum was over the moon with the performance apart from a couple of glitches that we would run through at soundcheck the next day and record them as safeties just in case we didn't catch them during the show.
I was back at the house an hour or so after the show and dunked myself in a bottle of wine before a movie and a relatively early bed.
I left the girls raiding the "war cupboard" for munchies and heard them laughing and giggling and popping corks till I drifted off to sleep.
Up and at em around 11. Gregor was master chef in the kitchen, sausages abundant, sides of bacon grilling and a platter of fruit fit for the finest monkey cage was spread across the tables. The sun was shining, the tents in the garden dazzled as the troops came to order in dribs and drabs. Elspeth was on fire and whizzing around doing everything, relishing her new role. She was superb and everyone was amazed just how Rock and Roll she had become. Her energy was boundless.
However all was not well in the Fishy kingdom. News had filtered through about the fracas that had occurred down at Yellowcraigs beach.
The Norwegians had elected to hold a beach party instead of hitting the first acoustic night and had set up their encampment at the barbecue pits which they had booked through the council. On arrival they found about three buses of teenagers already pitched up and in party mode. It turned out they were from a High School in Penicuik. The Vikings set up stall, turned on the music and the beer and, as is their wont, partied on down. There were only a few of them, vastly outnumbered by the teenage munchkins who were taking great interest and getting somewhat jealous of their organised set up. Our boys shared beers and took the diplomatic route but it didn't take long for a couple of the munchkins to take umbrage for some reason or other that had crept into their twisted tiny rodent-like excuses for brains. Drugs and a high intake of beers and made some of them fearless and a suicide runner made a dash and hit on one of the Norwegians who went down in a bundle of blows. The others waded in and the Norwegians and friends made a pretty good re enactment of Rorkes Drift except the Zulus were replaced by nutter Scots teenagers. The outcome was pretty similar. One of our team phoned the police who duly arrived with an ambulance and divided the crowd allowing the Vikings and friends to walk in relative safety to their vehicles parked in the car park. Our side had taken relatively low hits apart from one who was mostly damaged by two of his friends trying to "save" him by battering the teenager who had gone to ground with him with tent poles! It seemed their aim wasn't as true as their intentions.
The munchkins were a bit worse off with one of their berserkers taking a few blows to the face which had broken his nose so badly it required immediate hospital treatment. He had forgotten rule number one - don't mess with ex members of the Royal Artillery!
The only loss was a bit of pride, a great evening's entertainment an iPod and some wedge. The beer was saved!
I was embarrassed and angry when the story started to unfold as I arrived at Mark Wilkinson's exhibition around 1.30pm. At the time I didn't know who the culprits were and if it was a local mob then I was worried this battle might not be over. I still cannot understand the mentality of people like that who when offered hospitality and smiles turn on their hosts, friendly visitors to our country, and assault them for no apparent reason. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!
I felt bad and ashamed and sorry for those fans who had come to Scotland in all good faith armed with nothing but smiles and good will.
It maybe have been a minority of those present on the "opposing side" who got involved as I was told there were a number of people dragging the offenders away from the fight, but that minority was too many.
Although the sun was shining I had a dark cloud over me and that was about to go thunderous.
On a convention weekend the most important thing is to protect the voice because apart from all the extra curricular activities fans are there to see the live performances. The most damaging thing (apart from smoking!) is talking too much. That's a tough call as everyone in the town wants a word and I always try my best to accommodate. I had the welcome address at 4pm and had arranged a small vocal PA to be set up in the Corn Exchange. I caught a little of Mark's exhibition and headed to the "Cornie" to check up on the load in. It was now approaching 3pm. The Antique and Arts fair was virtually over and only a few blue rinsed ladies in 'heather' twin sets meandered amongst the sea of tables. I had agreed months ago with the organiser of the event that we could load in and on to the stage at 3pm for a 4pm kick off. He had originally wanted "compensation" as he was allegedly losing out on sales if he closed early. We settled on a compromise and he agreed to close 30 mins early. This was better than nothing and the only way we could get round the problem of not having a dedicated HQ from the start. But there was no sign of a PA and no sign of the fair shutting down. I approached the organiser who hired the hall and then rented stalls to the various retailers. I got a bad vibe from the off. On asking when he was planning to close he at first tried to ignore me then announced that the fair would close as normal at 4pm. I reminded him of our deal but it was obvious that he had no intention of shutting down early or in the near future. I was furious. On any other occasion I think I would have reacted otherwise and it was tough to just walk away. The stalls began to pack up at 4 and my crew were struggling to get gear in and wired up. I had a soundcheck at 5.30 for a 7 o' clock show! And just to add to the stress levels it started to bucket down with rain. I had around 400 people standing outside by the Plough waiting to enter the hall with around 50 stalls being broken down and loaded out by the slowest bunch of misfits under the management of someone I wanted to have thrown out of the building. Thankfully the caretaker of the Corn Exchange took control and let everyone in despite the fair still being in place. He too was pissed off with the fair's organiser and was totally sympathetic as to the fans plight.
We were in, people were pulling up chairs in front of the stage. We were already 30 mins behind schedule and there was no way that the crew could set up the rig in time. Despite the danger I decided to address the crowd with my raw voice and rely on my experience to avoid tiring myself out and straining my vocal chords. Clutching a pint of Belhaven's finest I hit the stage and began the "conversation".
I say "conversation" because these convention welcome addresses are just that. I always enjoy them. Nothing is scripted or planned, it's just a free form speech that develops into an intimate dialogue.
There are few things I won't talk about but this year I had a secret which was going to affect what would happen in the coming months. The November tour was being booked and dates were being whispered about on web sites. But I had been approached and had auditioned for "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!" only a few weeks before in London. I was waiting on the result and of course no-one could know that I was a possible contestant. I had thought long and hard about it and nearly everyone I knew including Will Smith and the Marillos, who had been sent the original e mail offer from the production company ( Lucy Jordache is still contacted by radio and tv companies about "the Marillion singer Fish"?) thought it was a great opportunity. They also thought I had a great chance of winning it. I already had a wee bit experience of the jungle when I had gone out into "the sticks" when I was with the army in Brunei and had a friend who worked in Edinburgh zoo who could let me in on some secrets and handle some reptiles if I needed a bit of "acclimatisation". I had psyched myself up and with Tara's blessing had gone down South for the audition. I thought I did pretty well and a pure Fellini moment as I left the ITV studios and ambled down the Southbank got me thinking that this might be happening. (As I entered a tunnel I threw some coins into a busking guitarists flight case and as if on cue he started playing "Horizons" from the 'Foxtrot' album just as I walked by and into the light. I was sure it was a coincidence rather than a comment on my influences! :-D ) So there I was on stage unable to announce anything about the show and at the same time unable to confirm the November tour. As had it I didn't get the role although I was told they were very impressed. It seems the "musician" section was heavily subscribed and they went with another singer. I don't know who it is but I am sure I will be voting for him on many trials as I am sure you, dear reader, would do for me :-D
The chat went well, covering as usual a range of topics including my plans for the coming year. I recognised I was starting to get a bit hoarse and reluctantly called the conversation to a close. I had been on stage for nearly an hour.
A car dash to soundcheck at the church and recorded run throughs of "Favourite Stranger" to provide safeties. News that the wedding had gone according to plan and that everyone was happy with the previous night's gig and the state we had left the church buoyed us and we were ready once again for action.
We played the same set as the night before but added "Raw Meat" as a second encore. We were more relaxed the second night and a lot more confident. After the show Calum announced that the entire gig, song by song, was better than the previous night's and that he had a great recording. I personally felt a lot more comfortable and any vocal strain from the day's activities was negligible. I really enjoy acoustic performances and not having to fight through the on stage volume. It's a lot easier to find and explore the dynamic in the songs and all in all it's generally a lot more manageable from everyone's point of view.
I never thought that I would get off on singing tracks like "The Field" and "Shot the Craw" which I considered destined to be left forever from live shows. But they worked brilliantly on the occasion. Even "Chelsea Monday" found it's own and "Slainthe Mhath" with the girls on whistles and flute parts, entered another dimension. There were some wonderful moments "Just Good Friends", "Tilted Cross" and "Incomplete" with Heather sparkled. Tara's entrance on her song still stole my breath away. "Gentleman's" was exceptional as was "Rites of Passage", once again Angela Gordon's flute playing was perfect accompaniment. The audience reaction was ecstatic at the end and the explosion of noise took us all a bit by surprise as the show itself was so intimate.
There were a few comedy moments on stage. I was back to using my dais for lyric back up as learning an entirely new 2 hour plus set, as we all had done in the space of a couple of weeks, was a tall order and as you well know my lyrics aren't exactly simple affairs. The big difference was my eye sight which has diminished slightly and to the point where I need reading glasses. The lighting didn't help and neither did the jumping around, shaking my head bit in certain sections. The glasses flew off my face a few times during the set and I had to quickly retrieve them from the stage in order to continue. Luckily after the gig there was a fan who was an optician and she dipped into her bag and brought out some tools to fix the loose frame for the second performance. I am considering laser surgery as it got a bit ridiculous and was definitely not rock and roll! :-D
We all said goodbye to the Church with a memorable gig. The elders had been great and really enjoyed the show. It's a fantastic inspiring venue and to take away a magical recording was a fine bonus.
And now the really dangerous bit! A party in the Corn Exchange where I had to sing with members of my first ever band from 1981. The 'Border Boogie Band' or as they were back then, 'Blewitt', were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their inception so it seemed apt for them to play the party and for me to join them on-stage for a couple of numbers. Frank has been continuing to play with them over the years when he isn't on duty with me so he was in the line up as was drummer Donald Little aka 'Dottle', the other only remaining member of the original band. Dave Haswell was on percussion for them so there were three of us fresh off stage from the church. Andy Keddy had taken over from me back in 81 (my last gig was supporting Alexis Korner and Colin Hodgkinson on December 13th 1980 at the Waverley Castle Hotel in Melrose. I was living with Diz Minnitt in a rented house at Hawkshaws, Ettrickbridge at the time and Diz was at the gig. We had just agreed to join 'Marillion' and would arrive in Aston Clinton near Aylesbury 20 days later!). Andy's a great singer and frontman and someone I always admired when he would sometimes join us on stage back in those halcyon days. He was fronting on that night and the band were easily winning over some nodding heads and tapping feet as they rolled through their repertoire. I was called up in their second set and belted out "Boston Tea Party", "Roadhouse Blues" and for the first time since 1980 a version of Steely Dan's "Night by Night". It was great fun and I deliberately forgot I had a gig to sing the next night.
The girls joined us on stage and we ran through "Superstition" before I exited, a huge smile on my face and big hugs all round.
The party had been a huge success and combined with the excellent Church show made for a perfect day. Sunday. Electric Show and a full schedule in the afternoon.
Home Gregor and don't spare the wine :-D!
A bit bleary next morning and once again the breakfast feast had arrived thanks to an ever smiling Gregor. The residential block had been rocking till around 5am so there were a few casualties arriving at the studio. I had dipped into dreamland around 2 so I was not too bad.
A call from Elspeth who had been working miracles and impressing everyone she met, told me that I had to get down to the Plough as "The Sun" wanted an interview and photos including a couple by the camp site.
The acoustic gigs at the Tyneside and the Plough were nearly finished. They had gone down well apart from Jo McCafferty who broke down in tears when a local decided to wind her up by walking up to her mid performance and telling her to shut up as it was Sunday and he wanted to sleep. It was a badly timed joke and it wound her up so much it ruined her remaining set. Stuart Mitchell did a great job marshalling the acts between the pubs and my friend Phil Grieve got asked back to the Tyneside for his own show a few weeks later. A result.
Anne Marie Helder was taking the stage at the Corn Exchange as I arrived. She had done a great job on the acoustic sets and as I knew from her support slot on my tour she would have a viby time in front of the Company that afternoon. I was interviewed by "The Sun" in front of the Corn Exchange while sitting by the fountain with a recently arrived Will Smith. The atmosphere was brilliant!
Photos by the tent city which I saw for the first time and then back to the Corn Exchange and the introduction for Will. As expected Anne Marie had gone down well and everyone was ready for one of the funniest live comedy shows I had seen for years.
I had forgotten just how good Will was and also just how the content of his show was so relative to the day. The hall started to collapse with laughter from the opening video show. I must admit I cringed at a couple of gags as I thought there might be someone in the audience who just may take exception to some of the fan references :-D In particular the crazy German fan character Will created who buys everything including the Jersey bootleg with the "f##k" signature. How many people went home from the convention and checked their collections? :-D
It was hilarious and a great kick seeing so many people laughing away in their own private worlds at some of the very "in" humour that was totally perfect for the convention.
Will was ecstatic after the gig and had a great time overall hanging about with the fans. He was gutted he couldn't make the Electric gig as he had a show that night and had already missed the acoustic shows for the same reasons. Big hugs and farewells and then the Jersey Jester was off into the sun.
The only person who wasn't laughing was Elspeth who stalked up and down at the back of the hall wearing her Anne Robinson outfit (actually the long black jacket with the acres of buttons I wore on the "Lady Let it Lie" video and the 'Suits' photo shoots) nervous as hell and swallowing a few wee wines to fortify her confidence. It was her big moment and boy did she take it well!
I knew she could do it as I had seen her hold court in the "Tyneside" for years before she started to work for me. She took the stage as a different person and I had never seen her so happy and confident as she was during the show. I can't remember much as I was laughing so hard throughout. I remember shamefully forgetting my Father's birthday for one of the questions and the look my daughter gave me from the front rows (slightly worse than Mark Wilkinson getting "What colour is Vermillion?" wrong!). I think we were all pretty drunk on beer and the occasion and managed about 4 correct answers from the quiz sheet that Jim Wilson had spent days putting together. It wasn't as if we didn't know them, just that we couldn't think because we were laughing so much at each others total ineptitude. Elspeth was brilliant in her role and shone throughout. I was glad to get voted off so I could take in the proceedings from the audience who were lapping the comedy up!
Andreas won in the end thanks to a prompt from Tara. After the downer on Friday night at the beach it was apt he should take away the trophy!
The look on Elspeth's face after the show was one between relief, ecstasy, exhilaration and exhaustion as the adrenalin dissolved. She had been full on all weekend and I knew she was hurting from being on her feet all the time. I was so proud of her as she had walked into a very difficult and demanding role and dealt with it all admirably and professionally. And so rock and roll :-D She more than held herself against the wind ups and bar banter and managed to sink quite a few wee bevvies and get up in the morning, more than can be said for some band members :-D
She exited the stage to a much deserved ovation.
The hall cleared and we began soundcheck where we had to run through 3D with Bryan Josh from 'Mostly Autumn'. Bruce Watson had taken a rain check due to his own gigs and Zal and Chris from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band were a disappointing no show after announcing they would come along a month or so before. I'd heard nothing from them on the month running up to the convention and had already considered them doubtful - especially as I took the call from them when they were in a bar in Nice with my old mucker Piers Hernu.
To be honest we didn't need anyone else as the set was already entering history books even before we had played it!
I had a chance for a quiet moment up at the house and then it was back to the Corn Exchange and get 'Odin Dragonfly' on stage. They played a solid set and went down well. The Church gigs had obviously raised their confidence levels and they were more assured than ever in front of the crowd who were now getting heated as we lined up for the stage.
We hit the front with "Faithhealer" and "Big Wedge" and it was so obvious everyone in the venue was up for it. The place was packed, more than I could remember from previous conventions. It had been a long day for all but it didn't show as the Corny rocked for the next two and a half hours. A brooding "Targets" and a rocking "52" we were pushing it out and getting it all back from an assembly superheating in front of us. Temperatures were rising in all aspects and I was squeezing 500 mil bottles of water down my throat at every chance I got.
Bryan Josh did a superb guitar hero impression on "3D" and pushed Frank and Andy around while I took a more than welcome breather back stage. Thank God for long guitar solos :-D
Heather came up for "Just Good Friends", electric vibe, and joined us at the end for the swinging outro choruses on "Fugazi" together with Angela and Anne Marie.
But before that there had been a full on gig and a momentous reception to the opening strain of the "Misplaced" performance. I couldn't remember a reception like that for a long time if ever. This was more a celebration and a communion that a rock gig. On "Lavender" I just held out the mike and it belted back at me from the crowd. Every section of the album was previewed with a roar of approval and we delivered one of our best renditions of the two year tour.
We left the stage after "Feather" and collapsed back stage in sweaty, dripping heaps, everyone desperate for water and air.
Steve was showing signs of distress and was complaining of pains in his arms. On stage and into the sprint for the line with "Market Square" and "Incommunicado", just what we didn't need in our physical state. Everyone was loving it and the Corn Exchange was bouncing to heaven.
We fell down the steps again and into the backstage area where Steve was in trouble. He was breathing heavily and didn't want to go back on for "Fugazi". I insisted we had to play it, the last number, one more and then "wine o' clock". He crawled onto stage. We weren't far behind him in every sense.
My one memory from the convention as a whole was summed up by the huge inflatable penguin bouncing around the crowd with a spotlight chasing it. Chris Brown the lighting op told me it was the most bizarre spot call he had ever made and collapsed in tears when he did it! "Pick up the penguin!" :-D
It kept drifting dangerously to stage and we kept kicking it back. I realised as did a couple of other people that the "feet" were a bit heavy and did actually deal a dunt when you connected with them, especially with your head! But the bouncing penguins kept bouncing, the fans kept singing and we kept playing right through to the end and that brutal realisation that it was over! It was as if someone pulled out my plug!
Backstage was all hugs and kisses and that unspoken silence that surrounds a great show. But we had a problem.
Steve was going into heavy cramps and was complaining of chest pains. We tried to get water into him and called a medic. He thought he was having a heart attack. An ambulance was called and arrived about 20 mins later. They diagnosed an anxiety attack brought on from dehydration and the oppressive heat on stage. They took him into the vehicle and checked him out and then drove him up to the Farm where he was staying in the residential block with his partner Helen and his son Calvin. His dad went in the ambulance with him.
It certainly dampened the celebrations and we all deserted the backstage area and drifted to the farm genuinely concerned about Steve's condition. I felt especially bad forcing him on for the second encore!
Back at the farm Steve was visibly shaken and still trying to recover. In the residential block everyone was in a slight state of shock at what had happened. In the Studio however a party had started although a bit restrained. I went over to the block a couple of times and when Steve wasn't getting any better had to call another ambulance to get him into the Royal infirmary for a complete check up. We knew that he needed reassurance that it was just dehydration and anxiety as much for himself as for his family.
We trailed into the night chasing wine and laughter but to be honest I was exhausted.
Next day I had decided to hold a garden party at the Studio for the band and crew and all the people who had helped us out. A few fans who were hanging around were invited up and we kicked off in the garden around 2pm with the 'Border Boogie Band' on stage on the decking at 4! It was a great day and even Steve crawled out of his bed to take in a few gin and tonics and a gallon of water :-D
I was up singing with a voice heavily strained from the weekend and the after show. The girls jumped at the chance and were chanting away with the Boogies who were over the moon at having a chance to have BV's on stage with them!
The party went on till around 6am when I eventually threw some sleeping Norwegians into a taxi and emptied the house. Tomorrow would be a hangover indeed!
In fact it took me over a week to get everything back in some sort of order. I'm still finding plastic glasses in the garden.
It had been a truly brilliant weekend and the most successful convention ever.
I will take some great memories from it. To see all the smiles and friendly faces makes the whole thing worthwhile.
I had a whale of a time! :-D
To all of you who made the effort to come to Haddington and make this such a special event - I thank you from my heart!
You are all special people.
Until next year
lots of love
Email October 22nd 2006