RIP Dave Greenfield

Today we “WaltzInBlack” for the keyboard legend that is The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield, who sadly passed away last night having contracted Covid-19.

Laid back and unassuming, Dave was an absolute master of his craft. He will be very sadly missed. Taken from us far too soon.

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There he is…being his unassuming best at the back of the stage – photo taken at Aix-Les-Bains in July, 2018

Will It Be? Can It Be?

Well…it’s a theory…

I had to ask. Anyway…my passport is ready. And the money will soon follow…

My passport photo STILL sucks! Lol. Can we see supermodel passport photos? I mean, if even Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell’s passport photos look shit then I won’t feel so bad. I mean…geez I know I’m no stunner and I’ve got only slightly less blubber than a minke dolphin – but I can scrub up okay if I make an effort (or get a TV make up artist to do me up)…so why ARE passport photos so shit?!

If anyone is willing to say I look 35 (or younger!) in my passport photo than 48, you’re on my Christmas card list. Lol

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

What’s To Come – The Gig For The Second Half Of The Year

Things have been pretty quiet gigwise since The Stranglers and Stewart Copeland gigs at the end of March.

I had wanted to see Michael Rother in London, but it was too soon after the previous two gigs mentioned for me to go. Too skint too. Had to knock trying to get to Mott The Hoople on the head. I tried selling my Barras ticket on to get to Shepherds Bush Empire, but it didn’t happen and gave the Barras ticket away.

Could have gone to a free gig last week at The Lexington but again was just too skint to afford to fare into London.

But tomorrow night, I’m in Greenwich to see Ruts DC again. This time they are doing one of their little acoustic affairs, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Babylon’s Burning. Should be a goodun.

After that will be the next BIGGY! Up to Glasgow to see Trevor Horn (and GUESTS – she dreams!) on July 27th.

August will be pretty quiet. No big old music festival in the Brecon Beacons to go to this year.

September is my first ever drum show in Manchester. Cherisse is taking part, so I thought I might as well pop along and see what’s what. That’s on September 21st. Before that is a bit of a special homegrown treat. You Am I are coming over for a short tour of Europe and hit London on September 12th. Last time I saw them was when they were over here in 2016, so I am looking forward to that.

The next one after that will be another BIGGY. Alice Cooper at the O2 in London on October 10th. NEVER seen him before. Not been to the O2, either. Obviously should have gone to see Simple Minds there in November, 2015, but ended up out in Oz instead. And well…who is on the guest bill for Alice? The band I SHOULD have been seeing at the Simple Minds gig. The same band I didn’t see much of back at the end of March. The Stranglers.

I then get to see the band recommended to me by Olivier Gerard when they return to London. Whispering Sons are heading back across the pond and play The Moth Club in Hackney on October 25th. A slightly early birthday present. The ticket was £11! I mean, can’t argue with that, can I?! I couldn’t see them when they were here last, their gig was on the same night as the Stewart Copeland gig. Nothing clashing this time (as far as I know at this point), so I grabbed a ticket this evening.

Finally…I am MEANT to be going to Hamburg in early December to see The Stranglers yet again. But with things as they currently stand…I really don’t see much of a chance of it happening right now. I can’t see myself having the funds to renew my passport until, well…until such time as it is either essential that I travel and I borrow funds or…the miracle occurs.

In the meantime, there’s a bit of live music there to keep me occupied. Not exactly as it was last year…but the way things is going…thank FUCK Simple Minds are having touring down time this year. I would be frigging crying my eyes out if they were touring and I couldn’t go to gigs. It was how 2014 and 2015 were. When I first became uber fan, I didn’t see them. I couldn’t afford a gig. My first gig was Cambridge in April, 2015. I wanted to go to more. I eyed off De Montfort Hall in Leicester, The Hexagon in Reading, whatever the venue was in Oxford (can’t remember it off hand) and whatever London was? But I couldn’t stretch to any of them. Boomerang at Hickstead was the only other thing I could book…and I didn’t book it until after Cambridge because I just wanted to see them again so, SSSOOOO much!

I have been very, VERY lucky to have gone to as many SM gigs as I have since then…and to some of the places I’ve been too…travelling to Dublin, Paris and Aix-Les-Bains – and being at the absolute holy of holies and being at Barrowland. So, yep…I am very thankful this downtime is happening while I am skint to absolute buggery.

But there’s the odd gig to enjoy in the interim. Keeps the juices flowing, eh?

The Stranglers – O2 Academy, Bristol – 28th March, 2019

It was quite a hike from Luton to Bristol. First a trip to London, then on from there to Bristol. I arrived at 3.45pm and met up with a friend shortly after.

We had a bite to eat at the Boston Tea Party at the top of Park Street. A nice place. Looks deceptively small on the outside, but has plenty of seating upstairs. I needed to fuel up before the gig, so had a chai latte, a veggie burger and chips.

We queue outside that venue around 6pm. We were met with a few other fans after…and the queue got progressively longer. Another friend us in the queue around 6.40 and we were let in a few minutes before 7pm.

Support act was Dr Feelgood. A curious support in that there is not a single original member of the band within the group. But they were great all the same. Great musicianship. The singer was quite a showman but at least he was animated and not standing about looking like he’d prefer to be elsewhere.

The only two Dr Feelgood songs I know are Milk And Alcohol and Roxette and they performed those. The only thing I’d say as a negative was, although the overall sound level was great, the singer was lost in the mix. He was too low. Couldn’t much hear him either singing or playing the harmonica. Other than that, the set was great and I really enjoyed them.

All good. Everything going well.

Just a short break and then out come the boys. We were in a prime position, right in front of JJ. I filmed a bit here and there and have one complete song of them performing set opener Tank.

All was going good. The following day was Dave Greenfield’s 70th birthday, and my friend, Ruth, had made a special celebratory banner for him. After a few songs, Ruth produced the banner from her pocket and we held it up against the barrier. JJ noticed it and nodded approval, then he went over and got Dave’s attention and pointed it out to him. A short while later, Baz noticed it too and asked Ruth to throw it up on the stage to him. Baz then clipped it to the front of Dave’s keyboard stand and it stayed there for the rest of the gig.

About half way through the set I was starting to feel unwell. Light headed and just…not sure of myself. A little overheated, but it was so cramped in there, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my jumper off.

I sat down and would have probably revived myself had I been allowed to stay there a few mins, but security guard came over and told Ruth I needed to stand back up, that it was too dangerous for me to sit at the barrier. I stood back up and I was not too bad initially. JJ checked with me that I was okay and I had mouthed to him I was fine and gave him a thumbs up. I was just trying to keep calm and ride the feeling out…but it didn’t work and after a few minutes I was out for the count. I shared the footage on the blog of what ensued.

I could feel myself being pulled over the barrier and feel being carted off. I was conscious again and saying “Guys! I’m okay!” Lol. Obviously NOT okay, but at least conscious again. They took me out a side exit and sat me on the ground for a few mins. They then got me a chair and I sat there for a few more mins. I was allowed to go back in but had missed a few songs. It was so crowded, I was right at the back and I wasn’t going to risk trying to get to the front and get reunited with my friends.

I didn’t stay in the venue again for too long. There was a bar out the front and some seating, so I just sat and waited until the gig was done.

The Stranglers are ALWAYS top class. They are never anything else. Set was great, I mean the actual stage set…the set list of songs were too. Some songs as a fan but not “uber” fan I was unfamiliar with. And there were a couple of new tracks played and I caught a bit of one of them.

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They’re a stellar act. The venue is small, intimate, and on a personal level, could do with a bit of ventilation. Great otherwise though.

I’ve seen them at least once every year now since 2016 and this year I may end up seeing them twice, all things boding well!

You’ll NEVER be disappointed at a Stranglers gig…even if you do find yourself fainting in the middle of it.

I Need Some Rejuvenation!

Well, the packaging looks amazing. I will invest ASAP.

As for last night’s Stranglers gig? I suffered yet ANOTHER fainting spell. I felt unwell about 30 mins into their set. I sat down for a few mins, but was told to get back up for fear I’d be crushed. Bless his cotton socks! JJ saw me resurface and asked me if I was okay.

I mouthed back at him “yeah, I’m okay.” But I wasn’t. I fresh wave hit me a few minutes later and I was out for the count and hurled over the barrier and taken outside to recover.

More on this in my rather hampered review of the gig on Sunday.

In the meantime, I managed to capture photographic evidence that JJ does indeed smile sometimes!

Review – Musilac Festival – Aix-Les-Bains, France – Day One, July 12th, 2018

There is so much to cover with such a Festival. I have never been to such a HUGE event. The local paper in Aix-Les-Bains the following morning reported a crowd of 25,000 people there for day one of the festival. A big old crowd! And I think I can safely say it’s the biggest (and most remote!) festival I have ever been to, and am ever likely to go to.

There were three stages at the festival. A small stage close to the entrance point of the site called “scène le korner”, and then at the far end of the venue, running along the esplanade of the lake, two stages side by side “scène lac” and “scène montagne”.

“Scène Lac”: Albert Hammond Jr

He seemed familiar to me. I said to my companion, Françoise, that I was sure he had been in a band before. Perhaps The Strokes, I thought? Seeing a photo of him in the local paper the next morning with it referencing The Strokes had confirmed my reason for his familiarity to me.

He was very good. I enjoyed his set. He was a very good showman. Had lots of energy. Interacted well with the crowd. His band were tight. I’d definitely seek out his music and give it a listen.

“Scène Montagne”: Feu! Chatterton

A French act, so, lyrically, things were hard for me to grasp. Their frontman, Arthur Teboul, certainly has an unforgettable stage presence. Although I couldn’t appreciate the full context of the expression of the music due to the language barrier, I certainly appreciated the musicality of them, and of Arthur’s way of emoting the poetry within the music. Françoise tried to give me some help in understanding their sound, likening the way Teboul was expressing the music as with poetry. She likened him to Jaques Brel…but, for me, I suppose the only performer I can liken him to, in terms of the poetic romanticism of him, would be to liken him to Jim Morrison. But with the music being more a jazz/electronic twist to it, rather than blues and rock.

I really enjoyed them. And Teboul is one of the more mesmerising frontmen I’ve seen in some time. Very captivating.

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“Scène Lac”: Lomepal

Another French act. This time a rapper/hip hop artist. I can’t really pass judgement on him, as….well, this kind of genre of music does little for me. But he went down very well with the crowd, particularly the younger festival goers. There was a near riot breaking out towards the end of his set. I thought security was going to have to go in and sort the crowd out. But things calmed and it was all good.

“Scène Montagne”: The Stranglers

This was my third time seeing The Stranglers, and I was ssooo ready for them! I can’t recall rightly what they started their setlist with…I think it might have been 5 Minutes, from memory. Certainly 5 Minutes was played early on. We were treated to greats like Grip, Golden Brown, Always The Sun, Peaches, No More Heroes…and as seen by the clip I recorded, a fab version of Nice n’ Sleazy. They did Walk On By as well (that was tough to hear, without a little personal sting to it) – as well as OMG, the most cracking version of All Day And All Of The Night. Wow! I was singing my bloody heart out with that one.

The band were, as always, fabulously tight. JJ and Baz were up for fun. I think JJ even smiled a few times! Lol. Dave is just…Dave – more chilled than a bag of ice in an igloo. No Jet Black…but the fabulous Jim Macaulay was on drums. And I very, very nearly caught one of his sticks that he threw out to the crowd. It was flying towards me…I tried to grab it…but it fell in front of the barrier. The security guy teased me and two blokes to my left with it. He then handed it to the bloke next to me. Thanks dude :-/ I can’t tell you how much I’d have loved that stick.

For the time they were on stage, I forgot things. My woes, how much my body already ached, how tired and thirsty I was, how many more hours I’d be on my feet…how I was going to feel seeing Jim later. It was just me and the music and the boys. They are just too fabulous. Seriously…next time I see them (and there WILL be a next time!), I run the risk of making a stage invasion, just so I can plant a big old kiss on that lovely bald head of Baz’s. Lol. I already told him I love him in Sydney (have never even shouted that out to Jim!)…I just think he’s the best.

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“Scène Lac”: Depeche Mode

Without doubt, the headline act of the night, and the act the vast majority of punters had travelled far and wide to see. I’m not sure what I can say, really. I don’t need to sell them. Everyone who has ever experienced a Depeche Mode concert knows what a spectacle it is. I am not overly familiar with modern DM tracks…but there were certainly older “crowd pleasers” on offer like Personal Jesus (had a bit of a sting to it…after the old “messiah” comment…”someone to hear your prayers / someone who cares” well, I deluded myself they did, for sure), Everything Counts, Enjoy The Silence (the song was hard to digest…it had a very personal ring to it on Thursday night…and it just stung…and the tears stung my eyes when singing along silently “words are very unnecessary / they can only do harm”). Martin Gore’s vocal on his composition “Somebody” was just breathtaking, and heartbreaking. If I say any more on it, I won’t able to finish this review.

An encore of Just Can’t Get Enough. As if Dave didn’t already have all 25,000 revellers eating out of the palm of this hand. It was a fabulous song to end on. Ending on a high…as much as I was enjoying it…it was the signal to remind me what was coming next. I didn’t feel ready!

Depeche Mode definitely live up to the reputation that precedes them. If you, like me before Thursday, have never seen them live before…it is an experience you need to have, at least just once.

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“Scène Montagne”: Simple Minds

The last thing I needed was a countdown clock. But between sets and the swapping of stages, the next act on would have a five minute countdown. The countdown to Simple Minds was giving me such mixed emotions. Françoise and I had taken up that position at the front of the barrier at around 4pm. Except for one brief loo trip (myself only), we had kept our position for over 7 hours.

I was hoping for a little breathing space. When Depeche Mode started, things got a little crammed at the barrier. I thought after their set was done, that there would be some dispersion of the crowd, that some revellers would start to leave. If that happened, I didn’t sense it or feel it. We remained jammed in.

I decided to record their entrance to the stage, although I knew press photographers would make things difficult, as there were plenty there for every act for the first few songs.

Opened with The Signal And The Noise followed by Waterfront. It remains a dramatic and fantastic set opener, having the two songs play back to back. A curious thing this “stage grouping” of the band as the final strains of The Signal And The Noise plays out. I preferred the way it ended at the Feb dates, and at Wentworth, with Cherisse giving it full welly for the song to just…cease. Abruptly. Severance. There’s a relevant word.

I can’t remember the strict running order of the setlist but we had Let There Be Love, Mandela Day, Once Upon A Time, Summer, She’s A River, See The Lights, Dolphins, Let The Day Begin, Don’t You, Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself. There might be one I’ve missed, but I think that was pretty much it. And…the order may not be strictly correct.

Let There Be Love was hard to digest on a personal level. It was performed wonderfully, of course. Likewise…See The Lights was…painful. And I think Jim slightly altered the line “forgive me, love – I’m too proud to cry” – as highlighted on my Minds Music Monday post.

Dolphins…I couldn’t even watch Catherine perform it.

This is a personal blog from a Simple Minds fan. I’ve never pushed it as a professionally run, unofficial fan page – just…a fan page. One fan, and my own slant on things. My love for the band, the music…him.

I couldn’t watch Catherine perform Dolphins…the subject matter of the lyrics…how I was feeling. It was all I could do to hold it together.

I went to the front because I still wanted to show just how wholly supportive of the band I am. My love for the band dynamic and the live performance was never in doubt or in question. The irony of it all is…to be feeling ostracised for expressing something, for speaking out about something you felt could be making other fans excluded…I can’t even describe it.

I have never felt so…far removed from all that I cherish being at a Simple Minds concert. The sheer joy I have always experienced. The adrenalin rush. The love. The positivity. It was disappearing. Slipping through my hands.

I had hoped I would feel able to look at Jim. Somehow gesture to him that I was sorry and that I loved him and…

But…I just couldn’t. I couldn’t look at him. Not as an act of defiance…and I fear it might be how he interpreted it…but it was more…I felt unwelcome…truly unwelcome at a gig for the first time, ever…and a look to him…it may have just compounded things. So, better not to look. Avoid eye contact. Pretend it was still okay for me to be there. Try to pretend I was still welcome.

And so when I say that “the feeling was gone”….it was THAT particular feeling. The feeling that I was there to show support and love the music…and watch an amazing man that can hold an audience quite unlike anyone else can. And feel…welcomed. Feel that love in return. Mutual appreciation. Something I had nearly always felt from him.

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When the set ended, Françoise asked me if I was okay…and I broke down in tears.

I sobbed openly on Françoise’s shoulder. This beautiful lady who I have known on Facebook only a couple years and only got to meet for the first time very briefly at the Paris gig in February, was an angel to me.

To be made to feel welcomed when I first started interacting on SMO. To have your feedback in the form of comments left and questions read and replied to esp. by the man whose music it is, is everything. To have your art appreciated…REQUESTED, even, by that same man…It transcends it from making it mere musical experience to an emotional investment that is all encompassing. That interactivity is priceless. And I never tried to take it for granted. But perhaps in the end I did. And I regret that.

All there is now is…a void.

Simple Minds were amazing. They always will be. They truly are one of the best live bands in the world.

And that is another thing Jim Kerr gave me…that thirst for the live music experience. Had he not…I’d have never travelled hundreds of miles to experience a festival like this one.

There was one final act on the Scène Lac stage, Zeal and Ardor, but by the time Simple Minds finished, it was 12.35am. Sadly for poor Zeal and Ardor, this is when the mass exodus happened, once Simple Minds finished. Françoise and I were amongst the crowd leaving. I needed to (try to) pull myself together.

I can’t ever regret going. Despite the other things hindering it…what happened with Jim, family health issues, money woes, etc, etc…Musilac Festival, for positives and negatives will be an experience I am unlikely to forget.

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Most photos are of acts appearing on the Scène Montagne stage as it was just too difficult to take pics or film anything going on on the Scène Lac stage.

Musilac – Aix-Les-Bains – July 12th, 2018

Am dying to give a full review, but I am ssoo tired! It’s 7am here in Aix…and I can’t sleep. I can’t switch my mind off and I have to mindful of the amount of data usage I have left on my phone before I get home…

But I HAD to share this clip of the mighty Stranglers for now doing Nice n’ Sleazy.

A very compressed video as I had to upload it over 4G, but one I’m home, I’ll upload it again at full HD.

Enjoy! (I did!)