BLOG 89 5th May 2014
So it’s been four months since my last Blog and website update and no excuses for taking so long although if I were to offer one up it would only be same as the last except even busier if that’s possible. 2013 seemed to fly by and I need to read my previous Blogs to remind myself what I’ve done and where I’ve been.
In January I headed off to Australia for three weeks of business but over there it’s always a pleasure too. On the way there Sue and I called into Singapore for a couple of days and then on to Bali for the first time. Quite and amazing place to visit and our good buddies Arthur and Dorothy surprised us by arriving unexpectedly and we spent six relaxing and fun days together before heading off to the wonderful Australia. We stayed with my sister Jane in her beautiful house on Palm Beach in North Sydney (where Home & Away is filmed).
As you’ll know I manage the incredibly talented Ciaran Gribbin, the singer with Aussie legends INXS, and we got to spend quality time together as we both move forward into 2014 and what promises to be another year of great progress. His ability and work ethic never ceases to amaze me and are just a couple of the many reasons why I’ve been happy and privileged to manage him for well over a decade now.
While in Australia Sue and I flew up to Uluru (Ayers Rock). It was our first time there and it should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list if they’re lucky enough to get there. I see William and Kate recently stayed in the same beautiful ‘resort’ as us Longtitude 131 ...more Quite magical….
My sister Jane had a great Sunday party one day (one of several…) and a whole bunch of us spend a long day and into the evening having fun. Alan and Dayle Lancaster, Ciaran and Donna Gribbin, Andrew and Marlina Farriss, Oz legends Angry Anderson and Paul Christie and others all came along (I’ve just put a few photos up from the day).
So just two weeks back home from my travels and it was into rehearsals for the next Quo Frantic Four Reunion Tour that myself and many others been really looking forward to. For four months leading up to the tour I had been working together with the Adrian Cross on the new designs for the F4 tour merchandise and tour programme and the final results seem to have gone down well with everybody most importantly with the fans. I have to say I’m very pleased with it and happy to have been asked and trusted to do put it all together. Alan flew over from his home in Sydney a week before rehearsals to get himself de-jet-lagged and stayed with Francis. On March 4th we all arrived at Shepperton Studios for the first day of the two weeks allocated before the first show in Berlin and it was a day of blowing off the cobwebs and playing a few things and seeing how it all felt. There were a few things that eventually didn’t get into the final set list that had been discussed previously such as Paper Plane and Shy Fly. There are so many great Quo songs from that period that could have worked perfectly but at the end of the day decisions had to be made and I feel the set as it ended up really did work well.
And so on March 17th after a straight run through beginning to end of the set we all climbed aboard our tour busses for the long overnight drive to Berlin. Two busses for the Quo crew, one for Francis, Rick, band PA Lyane and Rick PA Paul and another for Alan, John and myself. Dayle Lancaster and Gillie Coghlan came out on all of the shows and my wife Sue came along to quite a few of them too. It was good to finally get out on the road and once the first show was over and done the rest of the tour gradually got into a certain rhythm of it’s own and the Quo bubble quickly took shape and the audiences from Berlin on were outstanding in their response to the band. The road crew too were amazing and deserve a very special mention and enjoyed the whole Reunion experience. The catering team and the amazing food they served up every day was totally five-star. Too soon the last European show of the tour ended in Paris and it was back across (or under) the water to the first of three shows at the Hammersmith Apollo and an audience reception even louder and more enthusiastic than 2013’s first Reunion Tour (if that was at all possible). Wilko Johnson proved to be a great choice of support. The crowd gave him a well deserved excellent reception and on the third night he heard the news that his new album had gone into the chart at Number Three. www.wilkojohnson.com
He’s just undergone surgery to remover a pancreatic tumour and lets all wish him a speedy recovery. On the opening night I’m told that Bobby Gillespie, the singer with one of my favourite bands Primal Scream, was in the audience. I met Bobby at my friend Jason Starkey’s wedding a couple of years back and we got on really well and he told me then how he always plays some Quo when he does his DJ gigs. Also on a couple of other shows the support was the excellent Toseland who are definitely worth checking out. James Toseland is really nice guy and was the twice World Superbike champion and is married to Katie Melua. http://www.toselandmusic.com/
And after the Hammersmith gigs we rolled on into the rest of the UK tour and every night for most of us seemed like it couldn’t get much better. Francis, Alan, Rick and John were all right on it and for me the pleasure of playing harmonica again on Railroad and Roadhouse Blues was really something special. The last night in the 9000 capacity sold out Dublin O2 Arena was so good and I’m glad it was filmed for DVD and posterity and looking forward to seeing the end result soon.
My Liverpool mates who run the hugely successful Cavern Club business bought a load of tickets for one of the Manchester show and loaded up their Magical Mystery Tour bus with plenty of beer and drove over for a night of Quo and Beer, the perfect combination for a good night out. The Cavern Club and Pub are now selling the new Piledriver beer that recently came out and is doing fantastic business. It tastes great and it’s already showing signs of becoming a huge success.
It was good to meet so many of the fans old and new. Some faces I haven’t seen for many years and all with big smiles and appreciative of the fact that the original band had got back together one more time. Was it the last Frantics tour? Who knows…. I’d know like to think that we’ll all be back for the last time again.
Danny Clifford once again came out on a few shows as the bands official photographer and you’ll see the results soon in the new Frantic Four book currently being put together which will be quite special.
It’s good to be back in touch with Brian “Shep’ Shepherd who was responsible for signing Quo to the Vertigo record label when Pye Records could see no future in the band back in 1971 especially after releasing the ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’ album which as it eventually proved was quite a turning point in the direction and future of Quo.
The first album release on Vertigo was ‘Piledriver’ which would make everyone sit up and take notice and was the start of a succession of multi-million selling records over the next few decades. Songs on Piledriver would become the foundation of the Live shows from then and until this day. ‘Don’t Waste My Time’, ‘Big Fat Mama’, ‘Oh Baby’, ‘Paper Plane’, Roadhouse Blues’ are all now recognised as Quo classics. I love too ‘Unspoken Words’ and still hope the band will one day re-record this. The ‘Piledriver’ Deluxe Edition album which has just been released is an excellent package and worth having in any fans collection.
Grandsons Alfie and Leo Barnes are growing bigger and lovelier by the day as the new photos show.
John and Gillie Coghlans BBC Radio Oxford series of programmes called ‘Rockers Rolling’ are excellent so please do check them out if you haven’t already. They’re doing a brilliant job with great music and guests. I reckon this radio show will run and run. I know some of the future guests they have lined up so keep listening….
Time to finish this Blog and thank you all for checking in and also to Jurgen who has been patiently waiting for me to get everything together my website update. Still just like the Frantics… better late than never :-)