Tao Be Or Not Tao Be…

That is the question.

It is many a SM fan’s holy grail, to go to Taormina for a stay at Villa Angela.

I was mulling over the idea again tonight. Looking at what’s available at the hotel and checking plane fares from Luton to Catania around my birthday.

The idea of spending my 49th birthday there is mildly alluring. I’d rather much go for my 49th than make a hoo-ha about my 50th.

OH MY GOD! I AM TURNING 50 next year! I can’t! I’ve wasted too much of my life being an absolute useless waste of oxygen! And now I am going to be 50. WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE?! Absolutely fuck all is the answer for the vast majority of it!

I dunno. I don’t know if the place really appeals. I mean…Sicily looks lovely. The views of Mount Etna from Tao in general look stunning. But as for VA itself? I don’t feel the pull to it that others do. I feel more like I am being coerced into the notion of it, you know?

“REAL FANS” go to Villa Angela. Well, Kerr can blow it out his arse if that is something he actually thinks. I’d actually rather visit Toryglen in all honesty. See the humble beginnings rather than what the success has bought Mr Basil Fawlty.

But would I? Am I rebelling for the sake of rebellion? Am I kidding myself I don’t want to go? I certainly don’t want to go in the hight of summer! I have no desire to go in July or August. I’m not even sure I’d want to see a SM gig at the Teatro Greco.

MY “holy grail” of places to see Simple Minds perform is in Oz. Sydney highest of all, but Melbourne and Adelaide also would be wonderful to see.

And probably still a pipe dream, for who knows when they’ll be out there next? Other that? The other place to see them play that I really wanted was Barras and that’s been ticked off the list 🙂

Maybe I’ll do VA next April. The only months that appeal to me for going there are either April or October.

We’ll see.

I was never sure I wanted to shatter the myth of the dream of meeting Jim and now…well, it’s been several encounters now (I bet he’s absolutely sick of the sight of me…stupid bint that I am). I kinda feel the same about VA.

New Date For The Anchoress – Still Can’t Go!

UPDATE: I’ve pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the past 24 hours. Booked a ticket for the gig. Cancelled the Manchester accommodation the night before the Drum Show and booked the train to take me to Manchester on Saturday morning…and staying the night in a hostel near Euston station instead.

So, The Anchoress in London IS ON!!

The Anchoress has added a new date to her album launch shows.

London on September 20th has been added. The day before her Cardiff date.

I can’t go to Cardiff because it’s the day of the Drum Show in Manchester. And because it starts early, I decided it would be best to travel to Manchester the day before.

So now…that rules out London as well! Yay ☹️☹️☹️
It would have been so bloody handy to get to as well. Fuck it!

Well…I can only hope for other dates. Never mind. It is what it is, eh…

You can get tickets for the show HERE

16 Years – Gigs In Scotland 1974-1990 – Crowdfunding Publishing Appeal

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A fantastic book filled with photos and stories of gigs featuring many bands that have played in Scotland over the peak period of 1974 to 1990 – including many local bands like Johnny and the Self Abusers and Simple Minds – could be published – with your help!

A crowdfund has been set up to get the funds needed for publishing the book and there is only a few days left for it to reach its target. Below is a clip of Chris explaining more about it.

Please pledge to the crowdfund if you can. It would be so great to get this book published. If you’d like to pledge, please click the LINK HERE – but be quick! Time is running out! The crowdfund needs to reach its target by August 8th.

It’s Oh So Quiet

I have to say…things is quiet on the SM front, and I do miss Mr Kerr.

I hope things are okay. One can’t help but worry. I guess it isn’t our place to be concerned.

It’s one year to the day since the opening Grandslam gig at Maidstone in Kent. Mixed feelings still of the gig, only having been allowed back on to SMO the week prior. The cynic in me can never help but think it was just tactics (having my block from SMO revoked). I wish for more than anything in the world that it wasn’t.

My lasting memory of the day will be of meeting my beautiful friend, Ally, and us in an embrace singing along to Someone Somewhere In Summertime together. A magic memory. ❤️❤️❤️

I obviously didn’t film it at Maidstone. I was swept up enjoying the moment with Ally, but I recorded them doing it at Leeds the following weekend.

Glasgow Weekender – Trevor Horn Gig – Saturday, July 27th – Part One

It was going to be a long day. I had set out from home at the ungodly time of 4.30am. Plenty of time to get myself to Luton station for the 5.08 train to St Pancras. That was the theory. The practice was different!

I arrived at Luton station around 4.45am. I looked to the screen for the timetable and see which platform my train was leaving from. In a rather tired state from such an early start it took a moment or two to register what I was seeing on the screen. All the trains going to London up til 5.40am (all that the screen was showing at that point) were cancelled. I stood there rather dumbstruck initially. And then the panic set in! It’s ticking towards 5.00am and I had to be at Euston station by 6.30 at the latest for my 6.36am train to Glasgow Central. WHAT THE HELL WAS I GOING TO DO?! It flashed through my mind “Well, short of getting a taxi into London that may or may not even get me there in time – AND cost me a small fortune – I’m pretty screwed. In fact, I’m probably not going!” I wanted to cry!

The thought of that…the thought of not going was breaking my heart. The only thing I could feasibly think of doing was getting in a taxi…but I knew it wouldn’t be cheap. I rang my partner and told her what was happening. “What do I do?” “Well…there isn’t much choice left. Take a taxi.” The first cab couldn’t take me as he wasn’t able to take card payments but thankfully the second driver could. “We will make it, won’t we?”, I say to him. “I’m sure we will. I will do my best.” As I’m settled in and we’re making our way to the M1 motorway he says to me “You know, you could have just flown to Glasgow.” Lol. I could have throttled him at that point. But I went on to explain that I booked the train because my passport had expired and although Luton to Glasgow is an internal domestic flight, I believed that a passport was still required. I subsequently learned that only photo ID is required and that even an expired passport (up to five years from expiration) is sufficient for internal domestic travel. Damn!

To my huge relief the motorway was largely clear of traffic and the rain wasn’t too heavy so the driver was able to go as fast as his traditional Hackney cab would allow. He dropped me at Euston at 5.49am. We made it in under an hour. I was stunned and relieved – and rather sad to be paying a £90 taxi fare! BUT…I had made it to Euston and in plenty of time before the train was due to depart.

The rest of the journey was relaxing and I arrived at Glasgow Central right on schedule at 11.59am. Approximately 10 minutes later, I found myself in Tantrum Doughnuts ordering two of them – a limited edition hazelnut blondie and the signature pistachio and hibiscus one. I also had a reviving latte.

The weather was a bit miserable when I arrived – dreich, as the locals are known to describe it. I wandered about a bit. Tried to keep dry. Then eventually made my way up to my accommodation for the night, hoping I’d be able to check in a little early and maybe get an hour’s sleep before the gig later on.

I head back down to the city centre at around 6pm, stopped in for a coffee at a cafe nearby the RCH, then went into the venue around 7pm.

I was starting to get quite excited by then. I know Mick had told me on FB that, of the Minds, only he would be there…but I couldn’t help but hope that maybe Jim had wanted to surprise even Mick by showing up at the last minute…either on his own or with Charlie.

I had a great view from my seat and the stage looked quite full so there was going to be quite a few people on the stage performing! The show started promptly at 7.45. Trevor arrives on stage to a warm and rousing round of applause. Once at the mic he says, “I’m 70 years old and this is my first solo headline tour.”

Musically, the show started with the biggest bang – an amazing version of Two Tribes, sung by “Roberto” (as Trevor kept introducing him through the night as) aka Kalon Rae. I don’t really watch TV these days so was unaware of him and his appearance on The Voice UK last year. He certainly nailed it! It was one heck of an opener that’s for sure and it set a standard for the rest of the night. Second song in was Trevor’s own Buggles composition of Video Killed The Radio Star. The next song – a Godley & Creme composition, Cry, came with the dawning realisation that the short man on guitar standing next to Trevor on his right was indeed Lol Creme himself! Kalon sang Cry but Lol himself sang the next number, a fab version of 10CC’s Rubber Bullets (Lol having written and performed it as part of the 10CC lineup, of course).

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And the hits just kept on a-coming. A photo of the setlist above. The wonderful Steve Hogarth sang It’s Different For Girls and Ashes To Ashes. A pair of wonderful female singers sang the “t.a.T.u” number All The Things She Said. One of them took the lead on Slave To The Rhythm.

It was back to Kalon for another Frankie tune – The Power Of Love, then Trevor himself sang the lead for Living In The Plastic Age, and Steve Hogarth again for I’m Not In Love – Lol Creme on piano for it – and Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

There was an interval of 15 minutes.

When the gig resumes, Trevor is delayed in his return. It becomes immediately obvious as to what the delay was when he comes striding back out in a sparkly jacket and A KILT. He is welcomed back out to cheers and a number of wolf whistles. Lol. He places his hands on the sporran at the centre of the kilt and says, “I have always wondered what these things were for…but now I know.” He opens it up and reaches in then holds his hand aloft. “Picks!”, he says, with a pick between his thumb and fingers. On we go into a fab version of Owner Of A Lonely Heart sung by Trevor.

Then the moment arrives. “While we are on a Scottish theme”, says Trevor, “I started visiting Scotland more in 1988. That’s when I started working with Simple Minds. I’d already been working with so many bands and artists by that point but I can say that working with Simple Minds, it was the first time I felt like I wasn’t working with a bunch of arseholes. They are great guys.” And then it becomes a little bit of a blur what else he said because I know Mick is about to appear on the stage, but I still remained hopeful that at the very last minute that Jim and Charlie would be there too. Sadly that didn’t happen, but I gave the loudest cheer as Mick walked on stage. To be there to see him play was all I needed to make my night.

I feel terrible that I didn’t catch the singer’s name but he was very good. And seeing Mick play was so very special. I recorded Brothers In Arms live on FB but stopped filming when Rhythm Of My Heart started. I just wanted to take it in properly and enjoy watching Mick perform. Kalon provided the vocals this time, and he was wonderful again.

A lovely understated female vocal ballad version of Dancing In The Dark was next. Not before Trevor relayed the story of his dealings with The Boss and how he’d asked permission to do Born To Run…bossa nova style. Lol

Another major guest performer in the shape of Argent’s Russ Ballard. Crowd sing-a-longs to Since You’ve Been Gone and God Gave Rock N Roll To You left the hordes on a high.

Great renditions of Girls On Film by the female vocalists, then it was Steve Hogarth again for Kiss From A Rose and Blue Monday, before a final Kalon led amazing crowd up-off-our-seats, clapping and dancing version of Relax.

A final encore of Money For Nothing and that was it. An amazing night was had by the vast majority of patrons in attendance. I certainly enjoyed it! It is a strong contender for “gig of the year” for me. Perhaps only being slightly pipped by Massive Attack at The Hydro back in January and Stewart Copeland at the Festival Hall in March.

As soon as I was back out on the street, I propped myself up by the stage doors. The only person waiting there initially. But then Phil Palmer and the man providing the vocals on Brothers In Arms and Money For Nothing came out for a cigarette and that got one or two people stopping, congratulating and thanking them for the gig. After about 15 mins, there was six other people waiting with me. About 45 minutes of waiting and Mick walks out through the stage doors. I get his attention “Hi, Mick.” When it registers with him who I am he says to me “THERE YOU ARE! I’ve been looking for you all night.” Aaww! What an utterly sweet thing to say! “So, you made it then?” A bag of nerves, I just said “Yes I did.” But in hindsight I’d say “Of course I did! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!” We chatted briefly and then I asked him if he would be so kind as to sign my Life In A Day 7” picture sleeve and an original vintage print I have of Mick taken in Brussels in 1983 by Stefan De Batselier. He signed them both for me. We hugged and then he was on his way.

Oh no! I didn’t even get a photo with him! Mercifully one of the other people waiting had stopped him and asked if they could have their photo with him so that gave me the opportunity to ask. I tried to be Miss Appalling Selfie Taker (and was succeeding!) when the man with Mick said “I can take it if you like?” YES PLEASE! Lol. Save me from my selfie doom. Lol. And he really couldn’t have taken a more wonderful photo. It is just so, so lovely.

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It was a wonderful night.

I will discuss Sunday’s day of exploration tomorrow.

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

Ruts DC – Pelton Arms, Greenwich – June 28th, 2019

Jumped on the tickets when it was first announced. At £10 a throw, they were not to be sneezed at.

I thought Greenwich might be a bit of a pain to get to…but hey, the gig would be great so we’d cross that bridge on the day. Well, as it happened, we could get a train direct to Greenwich from Luton. I had NO IDEA this was even possible. That made logistics nice and easy.

 

We got the train to the stop after Greenwich, Maze Hill, so we could our bearings to the pub. It wasn’t far from Maze Hill station. After we cased the joint, we took a meander along the Thames and headed back towards Greenwich. There was a bit of time to kill to peruse and look about. We ended up at the Royal Observatory. ****PUN ALERT**** I had a “mean time” straddling the meridian. I was getting myself quite muddled about this the other day when I was there…being quite a thicky. Lol! I can be the biggest dumbass sometimes. I’d never been to Greenwich before and didn’t realise just quite what a viewpoint of the rest of London you have from the observatory.

Looking ahead I think this train journey will cut out a lot of faffing getting to the Alice Cooper gig at the O2 in October.

But let’s get back to the gig and Ruts DC.

While we were at the observatory having a mooch about, the boys were back at the Pelton Arms going through soundcheck. From the little clip I saw on Facebook, it was sounding fantastic. I didn’t have much doubt of it.

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A quick pitstop back in the main bit of town for a bite to eat then back to the pub in time for the gig.

Leigh was about in the pub. I ended up seated next to him. I had taken along my copy of the South Of Babylon photobook with Virginia’s photos in. I asked Leigh if he’d sign it for me. “I’m not in it though”, he says to me. “I know, but you’re part of the band now and I’d like you to sign it.” He seemed to think the other guys would be a bit funny about it. He said “If you ask Segs and he says it’s okay, then maybe I will.”

After a short while, my ears tune in to a song playing over the sound system. I think I am hearing the opening strains to something VERY familiar…and then I hear the unmistakable drum and bass combo of McGee and Forbes and YES! Theme For Great Cities was playing in the pub. This pub was now officially the coolest pub in London!

About 10 mins before showtime, Segs and Ruffy arrive at the pub. I take my chance while Segs hasn’t been flanked on both sides by peeps. I sidle up to him, book in one hand, Sharpie in the other. “Hi Segs, could I please have you sign this for me?” “Is this the book? I haven’t seen it yet”, and he has a flick through it. “This is brilliant.” Of course he signs it but then keeps hold of it and carries it around showing peeps. He showed the guy manning their merch stall and then the promotor (I’m assuming?) of the gig. He then goes over to Leigh and shows him. “Hey, have a look at this. Isn’t it fab?” It’s my cue to say “I asked Leigh if he’d sign it earlier on but he said I to ask your permission first. So, will you give him permission to sign it?” “Leigh! You can sign it. I’ll get Dave to sign it for you and all.” Ruffy had gone to a back room to get into his gig clothes. So when he comes out, Segs is on the case. He’s still carrying the book around. He’s got it open on a page of close up portraits of the guys so he can show Ruffy his portrait. “Look at this – it’s that book”, he says to him, putting the book on the table. “Will you sign this for this lady?” With the book all signed, I left them to get themselves ready for the stage.

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The stage was right in the corner of the pub. Acoustic levels were great. Clear views were awkward, esp. if you’re on the shorter side of height, obv. Not much space for dancing…but the couple of ladies in front of us were determined. From my place in the crowd, I could see Leigh but not much of Ruffy and Segs only from time to time.

The crowd kept jostling and moving about. People continuously moving, making their way back to the bar and the back again to try and get back to their spot. About halfway through the set, things were getting a bit steamy. I was getting ready to alert the OH about maybe getting out of the crowd and sitting back down when she says to me “I need to get out of here and sit down. I don’t feel so good.” We’re as bad as each other. Lol. She has Meniere’s so standing venues are not great for her anyway.

Sat back down, we were both okay. Obviously couldn’t see a thing but could still hear things great. Couldn’t fault them for sound levels. They were spot on.

It was a fairly short set. They played for just over an hour. Babylon’s Burning being the close of the set, with a single song encore. Others in the set included Music Must Destroy, In A Rut, Staring At The Rude Boys, Love In Vain, West One, Kill The Pain and Psychic Attack.

Enjoyed the set. Crowd was good. Nothing kicked off. Everyone pretty respectful and stuff. Pub was great. Acoustics inside were great. I do actually prefer acoustic sets. As much as I love the full rock experience, you tend to get a better clarity at the acoustic gigs. There’s no distortion of sound. You can actually HEAR things, you know? The venue location was good too. Easy to get to. All good.

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I went and thanked Segs for a fab set, asked for a snap together and we were off back home.

Not sure when my next opportunity to see them will be. I would LOOOOVE it to be Hamburg in December (where they are supporting The Stranglers)…but things are a bit too up-in-the-air for that to be a definite at the moment. Only time will tell.