Sunshine On A Rainy Day

As it was in Colchester two years ago. Considering six weeks before this photo was taken, I was persona non grata and blocked from the SM FB page – I never imaged a photo like this EVER happening! Or that Jim would ever be that warm with me ever again.

Either he’s a fabulous actor and missed his true calling, or … he had genuinely forgiven me and it WAS all water under the bridge.

Now I am not so sure where things stand at all. But I know I miss the gigs and the fun and the travel and all the nerves and jitteriness and … the joy of being right at the front watching the most wonderful band in the world and the most beautiful man in the world. I miss him. I miss properly being in awe of him for the thing he does best…being the frontman that has an audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

I love this band so much. They are, literally, sunshine on a rainy day. My little universe.

View From The Kit

Not bad, huh? (see below)

It took a little while to get into it but as soon as I had the lesson with Cherisse, it lit the touch paper and got me hungry again.

She has me learning new stuff and at first it seems like I’ll just never get it. I try the beat and I have to keep reading the notes over and over and it never seems like it’ll go in and then all of a sudden…THERE IT IS!

Since Thursday I have been putting in solid practice. 45 mins to an hour a minimum of twice a day. Thrice on Saturday and Sunday.

And to answer your question, Scott? Yep. Today I got back into playing along to songs and being reminded just how LITTLE rhythm I have on the hi-hat. My hi-hat playing truly SUCKS FUCKING ARSE! Honestly. But I have to believe it’ll come. I CAN get rhythm! I HAVE rhythm!

On Sunday I was sitting at the kit and, when I fuck up, I look at those photos on the wall. I look at Jim and just think “I want to be better! I want to be able to play, for you. For myself foremost but…”

You know if there was ever a time (like it would happen!) , just for fun in which he said to me “play me something” – to think I could sit at the kit and just, play a little something. Even just 8 or 16 bars, and it sound like I can hold a note and have rhythm and just…sound okay. You know? Not…knock his socks off. I mean, fuck, that would be fab but it ain’t gonna happen in a month of Sundays! But if he just thought “not bad”. Didn’t laugh at me, or I thought I was shit and said “give up! Now!” Then I’d be happy.

Having those photos there inspires me. Spurs me on! I honestly thought they’d intimidate me (like he tends to do when I am standing near him – as much as I adore him, I kind of fear him too…because I feel an inept and stupid idiot in front of him – all the time – EVERY TIME) or, more predictably, DISTRACT me. But they honestly don’t. They drive me on. Motivate me to do better. To keep going.

I’d like to think he’d be there thinking “Come on, girl. You’ve got this!” when I constantly fuck up. Lol

Can’t help but think what I’d be like playing now had I been able to start learning when I was a kid like I wanted to,

Oh, well…never too late, eh?

The Little Drummer Girl In Lockdown

The kit is fab! I contacted Cherisse a few days back to see about having a lesson. She got back to me on Wednesday afternoon saying she had had a late cancellation for the following day (yesterday) if I wanted it.

HELL YES! was my reply. The lesson was, as always, great. She fills me with so much confidence and makes me believe that I can actually do it. All it takes is – practice, practice, practice. Even if for just 30 mins every other day, as long as it’s consistent with a structure to it, then…it’ll come.

She reminded me yesterday that I couldn’t even do the basic 4/4 repertoire when I first started, so I HAVE progressed even though I fell I haven’t progressed that much. I have!

The girl is good! I love her to bits! Thanks, Cherisse! Looking forward to the next one.

There is the odd plus side to lockdown…

To The Drum…

Had a Facetime lesson with Cherisse yesterday – which is pretty daft, seeing as all I have are drum sticks and sod all else. BUT…what it did do is remind me how much I actually love it, when I am not caught up in getting terse with myself and wanting to run before I can walk.

And I don’t know whether she was just being kind but she said to me yesterday that I really do have it in me to do it, which was great to hear because I just feel like I just don’t have the coordination and I know my hi-hat playing SUCKS ARSE. Lol. But I KNOW it sucks arse – so…I gotta work on it. All of it.

Yesterday’s lesson just highlighted how much I missed it! And I was ssoooo dedicated last year. Having my weekly practice at Mill Hill – walking to and back from Luton Parkway station every Saturday, then going and practicing for one or (usually) two hours. It was my whole Saturday, basically.

I miss it! I have room for a kit here. In the house. In my bedroom. In the garage. There’s ample room.

I just need to get it. I WILL GET A KIT. I WILL GET A KIT. I WILL GET A KIT!

And, as soon as this lockdown thing is over and there is some sort of return to normality – Scott, if you’re reading this – we HAVE to have a jam session over in the southside.

Simple Minds -Vega, Copenhagen: 7pm & 10pm – 10/03/2020

With the escalating cases of Covid-19 and the Danish government advising the curbing of public gatherings of 1000+ people, it was looking unlikely that the Simple Minds gig in Copenhagen was going to go ahead.

It was a concern to travel already. Both of us were well but who knows what others were like and if they were travelling responsibly? We contemplated not travelling at all if the SM gigs were in doubt.

We decided … why not? We may not get to travel for some time after this. Neither of us had ever been to Copenhagen. And it had been a VERY long time since we’d been overseas together (last time was a trip back to Oz in 2002 – the year I had whooping cough!)

To get round the restrictions on public gatherings, it was touted that the Minds do two shows. It would be amazing if they did, but I didn’t hold my hopes up. Two 25 song sets in one night? They’d all be frigging knackered to fuck!

Then there was official word. Yes – Simple Minds would perform TWO SHOWS IN ONE NIGHT for the Danes in Copenhagen. One show at 7pm and one at 10pm. To achieve this, the soundcheck and VIP fan experiences were called off. Damn!

As it happened, I had two tickets for the show. I originally bought myself a regular standing ticket. But then a couple of days later decided to upgrade and go to a soundcheck experience for the gig.

Email notifications came in from Ticketmaster Denmark. The first showing a refund for the soundcheck experience. The second, the issue of a replacement standard ticket. I still had two tickets. But BOTH had been allocated the 7pm show! What to do…

Come gig day, the weather was yuck. I booked a hotel not far from the venue, just a 10 minute walk away. I decided to head on down around lunchtime to see what was what. Maybe talk to a member of staff to see if there was a way to use one of the tickets I had to get into the second gig. There wasn’t really any venue staff around. There was band crew around though. I saw Del and asked if he was going to be singing the night. Charlie’s guitar tech (Mike?) was wandering about. And I saw GG (the FOH soundman). We had a hug, “no kisses!” he said. Lol. And a brief chat. He’s such a lovely man.

There wasn’t any sign of the band so best thought it would be good to go back to the hotel. I mean, if I AM going to chance getting in for both gigs, I better stay off my feet! We’d been out looking around the city the previous day and had walked MILES!

I was going to chance it. There was nothing on these tickets to say they were time specific. And if I could show a completely separate unused ticket for the other show, why would I not be able able to get in?

I got back down to the venue about 6.15pm. Those who had begun to lineup outside had already been let in. After dropping my jacket into the cloakroom, I went through with my first ticket. There was already a pretty full barrier of fans at the front. No room left in front of Jim. But there was a space left at the far end of Charlie’s (the left) side. I had a fairly clear view of everything but after a while realised I couldn’t see Berenice at all from that angle. Never mind. Hopefully I’ll get in a different position if I get through the next time.

Hearing all the mixtape of music that gets played before the show starts always heightens my anticipation of what’s about to happen. A wry smile spread across my face as they started to play Pop Muzik. But you know it’s all just about to kick off when they start playing Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker’s version of Gloria.

It was obvious from song one we were going to have something a little different go on. An altered set(s) to accommodate the two shows. I was expecting a trimming of songs. There had to be. There is no way they could perform 50 songs in one night!!

The set started with Theme For Great Cities. An absolutely stonking version! And it was a chance for (the usual shy and retiring) Gordy Goudie to strut his stuff at centre stage. Then as we near the end of the track, Jim and Sarah arrive on stage to much cheering and we plough straight on into Waterfront and She’s A River.

A minute or two to catch his breath, Jim is on one of his little stand up routines. Lol. (I’m taking the pish! He’s beautiful. He could stand on that stage, literally just saying, “blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah” and I’d be transfixed. Lol) talking about when SM started out how they’d never believe they’d play in places like Copenhagen, and that there’s no way it would be happening 40 years later. But to then be doing TWO SHOWS IN ONE NIGHT?! No way! And more incredible still, that as Scots, they’d do two shows in one night and only get paid FOR ONE?! Lol And on we go to Let There Be Love.

Then my favourite part of the set…a block of early 80’s gems – I Travel, Love Song, Glittering Prize, and The American….before things calmed for a spine-tingling Belfast Child.

The reigns go to Sarah as Jim takes a short break and she performs Book Of Brilliant Things. In all honesty, this song has been a bane for such a long time with me. I LOOOOOOOOVE the studio version on Sparkle In The Rain but it became a completely reworked song a couple of years later, and never went back to its original state. It has taken me a really, REALLY long time to….accept the change in the song. Sarah’s performance of it on Tuesday night, both times – and even BETTER on the second performance were just incredible. You just cannot not (oxymoron I know!) be swept up in her selling of the song. She’s just brilliant. And so emotive and so uplifting. She turns it into a gospel song. Jim said a long time ago, in an interview with Billy Sloan, that the song is like a child’s ode. Well…not now. It is the modern day’s Mahalia Jackson’s gospel delivery. Hallelujah! Amazing!

Then after that, Jim returns for the beautiful Someone, Somewhere In Summertime. And can I dream on the footage that I shared via FB Live that at one point he was singing to me?! Pffft! Of course not! As if he would!

A lovely version of See The Lights follows. Every time he sings the line “I’m too proud to cry”, I’m thinking “I’m not, Jim! I bloody love you to the moon and back and you make me cry buckets.”

In show one, it’s Dolphins that follows (after the Banging On The Door intro) and it’s always gorgeous. In show two, it was the ever-sensual and ephemeral Hunter And The Hunted. Some say Someone Somewhere In Summertime is the ultimate Simple Minds song, others say Speed Your Love To Me. Others again say Waterfront. But for a multitude of things….even though I always have Boys From Brazil and Wonderful In Young Life as my top personal faves…for the overall summing of a song that embodies everything that Simple Minds is, was, ever will be – it has to be Hunter And The Hunted! The ambiguity of the lyrics, that somehow manage to be sexy, sensual, romantic, mystical, haunting, eerie and menacing all at the same time. That thing Jim described as “romance mixed with the poison of real life”. Hunter And The Hunted is the epitome of that. Musically funky, sensual and haunting too. The song has everything. I was in heaven once again hearing it live. Ecstasy.

And the ecstasy continued as “the siren” wailed in for New Gold Dream. Some Simple Minds songs just never, ever, ever get old (the one performed before it – that shall remain nameless does get a bit old for me…but I still dutifully sing-along to the 8 minutes of “la la las” that ensue) and NGD is one of them. It’s a call-to-arms for me. We have one life…let’s make the most of it! Eureka!

Then we are at quite possibly the highlight of the night for me…both times…(though…HATH…BOBT…both amazing…Belfast Child too…HE DID IT TWICE! Hats off to you, Sir Kerr!) Berenice Scott and Sarah Brown performing Speed Your Love To Me. Berenice…a voice so wonderfully suited to it. Just…fragile and tender and beautiful. Wow!

Mainstay encores of Alive And Kicking and Sanctify Yourself and…that was it. Two of the most amazing Simple Minds shows I’ve seen yet.

Second show I was almost dead centre stage, in front of Jim…nowhere else in the world I want to be. In my dreams during the shows I believed I had him poke his tongue out at me and give me a wink…but I’m just a silly dreamer, and I’m sure it was meant for some stunning size 6 brunette behind me.

Everyone else was on top form. I had quite a bit of interaction with Charlie during show one. And Cherisse saw me and smiled and nodded and I gave her a wave at show two. She’s always so wonderful to me. They all played so amazing. And at the end of show two, you’d have never believed that’d just performed 36 songs over 4 hours! Incredible!

It was the most amazing night. And one I felt was rare enough for me to have my phone out for longer than I normally would. I was at two shows to be fair – exceptional circumstances, and I was as close to Jim as I was ever going to be while he was performing on stage…so I snapped away. NOT ALL NIGHT – as someone accused me but for around 20 minutes across both gigs. I filmed two songs from show one to Facebook Live – and filmed two more on video from shows two. Took hardly any photos from show one. But snapped away some more for show two. I could explain further as to why…but I don’t have to justify myself to anyone. Suffice it to say, it was kosher. And if Jim had been pissed off about it, I’m sure he’d have let me know!

And so, here is a smorgasbord of photos from Tuesday night. ENJOY! (And some video too!)

Simple Minds 40 Years Tour Program

Wow! It is looking GORGEOUS! And…I’m no expert (but by now I pretty much SHOULD be…) but I am certain some of Virginia’s photos have been used in it – she did tell me she was approached and was hoping some would be used.

VIOLA! (Well, I am awaiting confirmation, but I think I know her stuff well enough these days to detect it.)
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Oh, but there are lovely images from Laurie Evans and Richard Coward in there besides.

The book looks STUNNING! (Just like the main man featured inside. OMG…Jim Kerr, you are sssooo frigging beautiful!)

What A Night, Old Fruity

Well, I was freaking out that I wasn’t going to make it for the 6pm arrival time as I was still at the house waiting for a taxi to come collect me at 5.40pm. It’s Saturday night in Glasgow… traffic will be heaving! But it was mercifully fine. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact we are as far (or as close… depending on your perspective) from the city centre of Glasgow as we were in our old house from Luton Town centre. My taxi fare into the city was £6. We were at the Old Fruit Market in 10 mins.

I arrived and spotted one Mr Ronald Gurr at the bar. I sidled up and said hello. We chatted a bit. He asked me after a while “do you know where you’re seated?” “Nope. I have no idea.” “You could be seated with them”, he says to me. “Pfffft! I doubt that!” “Well… you never know”, he says.

As it was, I was seated at a table with Ronnie himself.

There wasn’t much of a view from my seat to be honest. £150 paid to see f*** all – it was starting well.

A couple of hours in Ronnie says to me “they’ll be on at midnight”. Whaaaa???! It wasn’t even 8pm!

I was also kept company by Rita and Nicolle. It was great to be with fellow SM fans.

A pit stop to the ladies halfway through the night and I walked by a table that some of the band was seated at. I waved to Cherisse on my way by and she stood up and stopped me to say hello. We chatted briefly and I chatted to Ged briefly also. It was so lovely of Cherisse to stop me and say hello. Much too kind.

Rita, Nicolle and I were just wishing the hours away until they received their award and would be performing.

Finally… after many awards handed out and quite a few auctioned off items for the Nordoff-Robbins charity, the final award of the night was given out.

Jim was gracious in his acceptance speech and then handed the mic over, rather unexpectedly, to Charlie. “I haven’t got anything to say. No one understands me anyway!” Lol. Bless him. Poor Charlie.

They then went straight into performing three songs – Waterfront, Love Song and Don’t You (Forget About Me). The crowd were loving it, and Jim had everyone (some ladies at the front in particular) eating out of the palm of his hand as usual (nothing ever changes).

Bruce Findlay was also there last night. He had earlier in the evening handed out the “Living Legends” Award to the Incredible String Band – one of his all time favourite bands.

He stayed on and was watching SM perform. And I could see Jim acknowledging Bruce during their set. It was a lovely moment to see.

I have no footage or photos. My phone stayed firmly in my bag all night.

There is some official photos around. Reports of the evening in the media, etc. I just wanted to just take it in and enjoy it.

It’s been a tough old week but this was lovely.

A little less of a feeling I am persona non grata once again by a few would be nice… but, you cannae have everything I guess.

UK Drum Show – September 21st, 2019 – Manchester

It was a bit of a palaver getting in to the venue. People had lined up promptly. I arrived there about 9.25am for the 9.30am start. The queue hardly moved in 30 mins. There was an appearance by Matt Garstka on the main stage due for 10am and many people who had paid to see it were still queued up outside at 9.55am. They were being filtered through by this point but they probably weren’t going to make it in. I hope Matt delayed things so people got in.

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I had booked to have a free drum lesson at the Trinity College booth for 10.15 and I just about made it in there. It was my first experience of an electronic kit. We were on Roland kits (can’t remember the model – lovely kit though) and had just a bit of basic tuition. We played along to Queen’s We Will Rock You and then to James Brown’s Hot Pants before going on to Blur’s Song 2 which did me in. Lol. It seems like it would be really straight forward, Song 2, but heck, there’s a whole lot of patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy stuff going on with that. Lol

I walked about a bit checking things out. Then I saw Emily Dolan-Davies and had a great chat with her and another man whose name I didn’t catch, but he was one of Nathan Shingler’s tutors. We had a good talk and he offered me some great pearls of wisdom in terms of how I get on with my own learning and stuff. I briefly met Nathan’s parents too.

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I went out for a bite to eat and then met up with fellow Minds fan Dave Kelly. We had a good chinwag and then went in to see Cherisse’s masterclass.

A fab masterclass it was too. We learned about Cherisse’s career. How she started out, who she’s drummed for professionally, as well as her performing demonstration medleys showcasing music from the acts she’s worked with.

Below are some vid from the masterclass of her talking about working with Mika and then talking about her time with Bryan Ferry and Paloma Faith and now her time with SM and showcasing a medley of Minds stuff (the observant amongst you will hear a little bit more of LITCoA ahead of its October 4th release).

She put on a great show and a really strong showcase of her immense talent. Jim’s tag of referring to her as “a little dynamo” is WHOLLY justified. For someone so petite, she has such power behind her! But also the subtlety when required.

 

She was doing a signing after the masterclass and I queued up just to say hi and to badger her for more lessons. Lol. Hopefully I’ll get to have a few in the weeks ahead.

As for kit that took my eye? Well, it needs to be about the sound and feel, but I was far too scared to test anything out. I have no real knowledge of what I want or need and a show like this isn’t really much of a buying experience for a complete beginner. Well, I don’t think anyway. So I was just looking at the aesthetics if kits. There was a beautiful looking Natal kit. The bass drums on the Natal’s are HUGE! I love the look of Rusty drums and there was a beautiful bass skin on display on their stall.

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But for looks and affordability, there was a lovely looking Gretsch there for £625. I know Dave Ruffy of Ruts DC plays on Gretsch kits and he always sounds awesome.

But Cherisse’s Tama kit looks and sounds amazing too. And I have been having most of my lessons on Pearl kits, so…how will I ever make my mind up?! Lol

After the brief chat with Cherisse and goodbyes with Dave, there was just time enough for another scoot about and a coffee over the road at the Costa before getting the coach back to London and onwards to home.

All in all, a fab day. I’d do it again.

Live In The City Of…Angels – Out October 4th

Well, here is the news!

And here also, from the album, is Love Song – sounding overdubbed (Jim’s voice, at least) to buggery.

Look…I hate to criticise, I really do. BUT…if you are going to release a live album…have the bloody courage of your convictions! If you want to keep that reputation of being one of the best live bands in the world…WHY overdub “live” albums?

Okay, I am basing this purely on the sound of Love Song. I’ve not heard anything else from the album, and I wasn’t at that gig…but Jim did write a post after the tour about how run-down and full of lurgy he was feeling during the tour. No one I knew who went to the gigs heard anything up with his voice.

I’m sorry, but to me, overdubs feel deceptive.

And he’ll be pissed off with me for my preliminary critique. But it is how I feel. And I am NOT going to lie. It’s just my first impression over what I’ve heard.

Sorry, Sir. But if I can’t be honest with you, then I might as well just…do as Annie Mitchell suggested and go and “step off the planet”.

But it’s a first impression, based on one song from it. I’ll no doubt invest in it, listen to it and give it a full and fair critique on release date.

Available to pre-order…details can be found on Simple Minds’ social media platforms.

Gigging Update – Gigs Added

Well, Saturday’s Trevor Horn gig is almost upon us – and I have amazing news…which I assume I am allowed to share publicly, seeing as he did tell me publicly on my Facebook timeline – Mick MacNeil will be at the show!!! Performing! Only for Brothers In Arms…but, still. For me this is monumental! I have never seen Mick perform in any capacity before. And even if it is only for one song, I cannot tell you how much I am bubbling with excitement about this!

After this gig, August is still quiet. There’ll be things to sort out on the home front in August.

In September things get going. On the 12th, a bit of home music with You Am I at The Garage in London. A newly added gig now – Kelly Jones in Oxford on the 18th. I missed the first lot of dates, so when Cherisse revealed through her social media that there was a smattering of new dates I went and had a look to see what was nearest (geographically) and Oxford was it. And just a few days before the drum show in Manchester. Cherisse will be sick of the sight of me! Lol

A few weeks break again…and then a little spell of gigs in October. Alice Cooper (with The Stranglers!) at the O2 London on the 10th. Then a trip down to Bristol for a new gig on the list – Toyah at The Fleece on the 20th. A gig with Birdy. Our time at The Stranglers gig in March was…erm…something and there hasn’t been much of a chance for us to have been out gigging together since. I dragged her along to John Grant (not TOTALLY unwillingly, mind…but she’s not as much of a fan of Love Is Magic – which he was showcasing on the tour – than previous material), so it is only fair I make amends. I’ve never seen Toyah. Can’t say I am a big fan…not because I don’t like her…just, she hasn’t been much on my music radar, that’s all. But I am looking forward to it.

We complete October by me going to see Belgian band Whispering Sons at The Moth Club in Hackney on the 25th.

The final extra gig is yet ANOTHER Stranglers gig. Ruth and I are making a little German holiday of it. First port of call is Hamburg on Dec 6th, then on we go to BERLIN!! (A many, MANY years “bucket list” destination for me…some reasons will be rather obvious…and we may just try and take in a tour of Hansa Studios, if we can…there’s a major clue as to why Berlin has been on the bucket list for so long) for the next gig on the 8th. Speaking of people getting sick of the sight of me. Lol. I think JJ and Baz may end up like that too!

This will make the number of times I have seen The Stranglers only surpassed by the number I’ve seen Simple Minds. I’m trying to get a quick tally in my head…I think by Berlin it’ll be 8 times.

So, that’s it, for now.

July 27th Trevor Horn – Glasgow

Sept. 12th You Am I – London
Sept. 18th Kelly Jones – Oxford
Sept. 21st UK Drum Show – Manchester

Oct. 10th Alice Cooper – London
Oct. 20th Toyah – Bristol
Oct. 25th Whispering Sons – London

Dec. 6th The Stranglers – Hamburg
Dec. 8th The Stranglers – Berlin