2004-02-12, Getting Used To The Heat & Humidity
Once again we have a change of line-up for this year's tour. We have three Brits making the journey from the UK. Me (of course), Richie and new Abdou recruit Ben (Narco) Gray. Our first gig in Brisbane will also be Ben's first ever Abdou gig, so there's a lot of pressure on him. And he's only 22...ahh.
There were a few fun incidents en-route to Oz. I managed to leave my backpack (with Laptop, passport, basically everything) in customs and had to walk back through the restricted zone to retrieve it much to the amusement of all of the armed guards who at first looked very nervous to see someone coming through the wrong way. By the way, I am well known for losing things in Oz, I reckon the police have a file on me.
Ben will now also have a file on him, as he was almost arrested in Singapore for trying to fix a loose thread from his shoe by setting fire to it. Of course, he was questioned quite closely and his shoe was examined by experts who thought that he might be the next shoe-bomber.
Richie had a deaf German guy sitting next to him, at least he said he was deaf could've been a spy. Richie had to teach him how to play the onboard trivia game, he decided to call us Jeff and Crocky.
The first thing for us to do was to get a few bottles of Cooper's down our necks. Then we settled into three days of intensive rehearsal. By the end of that we had 17 songs up and running and also sounding pretty damn fine.
2004-02-13, Brisbane - Rics
The first day or so of Brisbane is very hazy, apart from rehearsals, we eat slept and drank in no particular or sensible order. I woke up early and went to 4zzz to do a short interview with a lovely girl called Peta (pronounced Peter). She asked some good questions and even gave me a word association test, which I didn't do too bad on.
Mark n Jo's apartment is the haven it always is and the guys treated us like family as always, cheers to those lovely people.
Did another radio show later on that day with Chris and Pat from Dollar Bar who we were to be playing with that evening.
It soon came time for the sound-check and then maybe some food and a small kip. The small kip turned out to be quite a big one and I had a lot of trouble waking up Ben so we could do the gig.
Got back in time to catch Dollar Bar who were superb. I wish they would come over to the UK so I could show them off.
The gig was great, we played 14 of our songs to a very healthy Ric's crowd, in cluding some songs that get played quite rarely in the UK such as Innocent Like Vincent and Innes. We all made a few mistakes but that's to be expected from a band suffering from heat exhaustion and jet-lag. All-in-all though, for a first gig it was really tight and energetic.
Afterwards we stayed up drinking until stupid o'clock.
2004-02-16, Journey From Bris - Byron - Sydney
14th, 15th, 16th Feb 2004
Had ourselves a short road-trip taking in a visit to Byron Bay and Nikki who showed us all a good time (in a non-saucy way). Unfortunately, young Ben was a bit crook and had to spend most of the Sunday in bed trying not to throw up.
Nikki, Rich and I went off to visit Nimbin, the dope capital of NSW, very funny really as non of us even smoke fags, let alone ganga. It's a nice hippy place though, I know a few people who would absolutely be in heaven :)
After Nimbin we found an old disused quarry with a fantastic, crystal clear water hole. We had a lovely swim around in the welcomingly cool waters. Then it was back to shelter in our full air-conditioned car for the trip back to Byron Bay.
The next day we had the long drive to Sydney, around 11 hours on the road. It went without much event though, apart from the World's worse cup of coffee in Kelsey (the home of Slim Dusty)
Met up with our hosts Sarah and Arun in Sydney, had a beer and then went to bed. Totally knackered.
2004-02-19, Bunbury - Prince Of Wales
We had a nice day off in Sydney. Rich and Ben went to the beach to do some bogie boarding and I got my kicks at the local internet cafe. We also had a killer indian meal in Surrey Hills. There had just been race riots in neighbouring Redfren but we did see any evidence in our travels. Apparently the developers want to take Redfern up market, which means kicking out the Aborigines. I don't actually know that much about it, so I won't comment for the time being.
The next day we flew through a crazy thunder storm to Perth, it was a real roller-coaster ride and no one seemed that scared. I thought it was brilliant.The lovely Leonie came to pick us up from the airport and was very kind to us jet lagged boys, cooked us a pizza and gave us some beer (local beer Roger's, very nice).
The next morning we had to pick up our hire car (a Mitsubishi Magna Wagon), we arrived at ACE car hire only to find that Rich had left his licence back at Mount Pleasant. Leonie was already on her way home but volunteered to pick up the licence and bring it back. In the meantime, after explaining to the nice ladies in the office that we were stupid poms we found ourselves a nice little cafe behind a newsagent and got some brekkie.
We finally picked up the car and then Danny, who had just arrived in Perth from Melbourne. We have to hire a few its and bobs for the part of the tour so we picked up some amps n drum bits from Backline hire.
The journey to Bunbury was a bit boring to be honest although it was perked up by playing Dexy's Midnight Runners on the iPod in the car. You can't beat a rousing chorus of 'Come On Eileen' to lift any occasion.
We arrived in Bunbury way too early so we decided to grab some food to line our stomachs before tonight's inevitable alcohol deluge. We got pizza which was pretty non descript, I'm afraid.
Last year we played with a band called Local Pricks who have now transformed themselves effortlessly into Sin City. After a lot of hugs and cuddles they set off to sound check whilst us boys went upstairs to check out our accommodation for the night. It was pretty sweet, nice tidy, clean rooms and plenty of beds to choose from. As Rich said, why can't venues be like this in the UK?
By the time we were washed and changed it was 9:30 and time for Sin City to take the stage. They were great and had a mosh going from the very first song. I thought that were good last year but with the name change and another year's worth of playing they took command of the stage like a Class A act. Great stuff. My favourite moment was when Danny Abdou was treated to a lapdance by Tasha, the crazy, sexy singer. This was followed by Danny, making like a roadie and tuning guitars.
It was going to be very hard to follow that, but we did our best. We hammered our stuff from Nobody Less Rock n Roll, through to Fish Face with as much gusto as we could manage, some of it was great some not so great. Nobody's fault, we were just a tad ropey. Highlights of the set for me were Baby Food and Innes. Thanks too, to the crazy dancers, I don't know who you are but you made my night!
Afterwards much beer was drunk. We lost Ben for a few hours, he was down the road at a phone booth trying to get his phone back online after being cut off after running up huge bills phoning his girlfriend.
After all of that we slept like logs.
See you tomorrow xx
2004-02-20, Perth - Amplifier
When we were in Perth last year, we visited this club and loved it. We were very determined to come back and play a gig.
So here we were a year later and still very impressed with the venue. It's undergoing a bit of renovation at the moment so it wasn't a classy as it's gonna be but, even in this state you can tell it's a top venue.
Didn't bother with a soundcheck, they are for girls! Instead, we went of to find a pub and to sink a few Coopers, returning in time to see the second band The Fuzz coming onstage. Hey they were fantastic, a real ROCK band, very Motorhead in places but with tough female vocals. Really great entertainment and oh so tight.
It seemed like a very short while before it was our turn to play. For the first time this tour I actually felt wide awake and was totally up for showing Perth what the Abdou crew can do.
I had jiggled around the set list to adjust the pace for a rockier crowd and I think it went down very well, we had quite a few moshers and big applause after every song. Top sausage.
Next on were Sin City in their rightful place as headliners. This was their farewell to Perth show as they are re-locating to Victoria to break the rest of Oz and then the World.
The band were spot-on, all of the set-pieces were executed with panache and the slight tongue-in-cheek that makes Sin City such great value for money. These guys and gals are true pros, it's a great pleasure to share the stage with them.
After the gig we just carried on partying and got very drunk. In fact I had to wab out at around 3am and slide off to sleep in the car. I think we got home around 5am. Great night!
2004-02-21, Margaret River - Settlers Tavern
It was pretty hard to get up today, but we eventually got our shit together for the 4 hour drive from Perth to Margaret River. The journey was uneventful really, apart from an ill-advised visit to a road-side service station for some grub. Ben loved his burger so much he ordered another. This was to prove his downfall as he got himself a big of a wobbly tummy.
Arrived at the Settlers Tavern in time for more food, which the venue supplied for half price. Very nice it was too. Ben didn't eat as he was still suffering and didn't know if he was going to be sick.
The Settlers is a Country style venue/bar/restaurant with Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves on the juke box. We did a deal with Sin City so that we could be on first as we thought that as they had played down there before they would stand more chance of getting the crowd going.
We had a good piece of advice from the sound engineer Panther. He said "if people don't leave, you have done very well." Or something like that anyway. After about 5 songs of our set we didn't manage to make about 50 people leave or at least move further from the stage and closer to the bar, but a fair proportion of the sizable crowd stayed and applauded politely at the end of every song. This was an occasion where we could have done with knowing a few crowd pleasing covers as this was a holiday crowd not used to the ways of Abdou. If fact, when we played "Ever Fallen In Love' there was a mass invasion of the dance floor and they stayed for a good 5 or 6 songs.
Sin City completely won them over thought, they rocked!Even though singer Tash had a sore throat and was worried about loosing her voice, she sang like a good 'un and the band were a fast and tight as ever.
After the gig, we had a good chat with a guy called Dale who is from Kentucky, a very nice chap.
We were staying at a big house along with Sin City and the giuys from the venue. It looked as though it was quite recently a lovely family home but a succession of dirty bands had made the place a litle shabby. My bed was very comfotable though and Islept like a baby whilst everone else partied on into the night.
2004-02-22, Fremantle - Swan Basement
And so on to our final WA show for this year. Back at the Swan Basement, this time with ZXSpecky and Burgers Of Beef.
ZXSpecky were on first and whizzed through a set of superb two minute punk rock songs, with much comedy both deliberate and unintentional. I loved the way that they had little conversations between songs to discuss whether they had played the previous song too fast. The drummer was very entertaining. Can't wait to get more recordings so I can play them on my radio show.
Burger Of Beef were up next. I have heard their songs before, but the live version was so much more quirky. They really reminded me of The June Brides who used to be on the same Pink Label as Jamie Wednesday. Younger people would probably go for a comparison with Belle & Sebastian although they have a harder edge. They played a splendid set, loved it to death.
We were on next, fairly early as it was Sunday. I think we were pretty good, we seemed to be doing all the right bits in the right places. The very small 'crowd' clapped enthusiastically and before we knew it, the gig was over.
Big shocker for this gig was that Richie broke a string, the first for about two years. He borrowed Rory's Les Paul junior though so it was ok. The other big shock was that I have equalled my best ever record of going through 5 gigs without breaking a string. So, if I get through Sydney with all strings intact, it will be a World record!
Big thanks to the Burgers and Speckys for the use of their drums and amps.
After the show we all went to a great party at Rory's gaff. We were treated to great music, loads of Coopers and a lucky dip of free cds.
Had a lovely time.
2004-02-27, Sydney - Excelsior
Had a couple of relaxing days in Sydney. We visited the aquarium which was amazing, highly recommended (Richie has some very cool pics of sharks). My faves were the jelly fish and an alien prawn.
The weather was a bit stormy so poor Richie couldn't go and perform his usual stunts on the bogey boards. Instead we got very `british' and practiced the noble art of drinking in Coogee bay. We were joined also by Daddy Crockford, who despite intense jet-lag managed to keep up with us all and, in fact surpassed us all in his ability to stay upright.
They day of the gig was a little hectic as I had to organise hired amps and drum bits for the show and thanks to my bad navigating we ended up in the wrong on of town and were kidnapped by a vietnamese gang and fed ice cream until we admitted that maybe Jenson Button wouldn't be World Champion. Ok, so I bent the truth a little there, but driving around Sydney picking up musical equipment isn't very interesting.
We loaded the stuff into the gig, met up with Chris, our Sydney merch man. I stayed at the venue while the other boys and girls headed back home for showers etc.
The gig started filling up quite early as the other bands on the bill had a good amount of friends and fans to support them. First on were Euphonic who really reminded me of Richie's other band Allergy. The songs were well crafted pop/punk/rock with some great musicianship and bags of enthusiasm. My fave song was called Numb, nice little number that one. If one of the band reads this, I was promised a CD so i could play the stuff on my radio show please? :)
Next up were Dirty Tricks, who had stepped in at the last minute to replace the Fangs, who unfortunately had lost their bass played to a 747 heading for Sweden, compliments of Australian Immigration. Dirty Tricks were great, lots of bits of classic 70's rock, bits of AC/DC, stops and starts, changes of tempo, funny lyrics, basically my kind of band. Once again the enthusiasm was enormous they played like a gang out to mug little old ladies, but who end up giving them $50 each to help with their pension money. What does that mean? Who knows? :) They were great.
We were up next and began our set with a quick soundcheck for the engineer. Before we knew it we were on our way and in the middle of Nobody Less Rock n Roll. To be honest, onstage it all felt a little lack-lustre but the reasonably sized crowd seemed to lap it up so it must've sounded great out front.
Innes sounded really good at this gig, it's really growing into one of my fave Abdou songs, I can actually remember all of the words now too, which helps. Highlights of this gig were that we finally got our first encore of the tour, who says that Sydneyites are aloof and unfriendly, not me, they were a great crowd. Also the fact that we had a large section of the Crystal Palace fanclub at the gig didn't hurt. Hi Neil, Sue, Graham and all!
Chris and Neil helped to move our merch sales beyond the single figures, Neil doing a very passable version of Mr Jon Fat Beast, declaring the the "big shop was open and is wonderful'. I think we actually sold quite a lot, which helps towards my GP ticket.
Thanks Sydney, had a brilliant time. Thanks to Sarah and Arun for putting up with us, making sure we had a roof over our heads. Thanks to Rob and the Fangs for the Bass rig, thanks to Dirty Tricks for the use of their drum kit.
Tomorrow night we fly to Melbourne and my Oz spiritual homeland. See you there
2004-03-05, Melbourne - Green Room
So, here we are back in Melbourne. I have seen Flinders Street train station and feel back at 'home'. Spent some days relaxing and catching up with mates visting our usual haunts. Also got our GP tickets ($165 for all four days - take note Silverstone).
The Green Room is right in the city centre in fact just across the road from last year's venue 9th Ward, which has unfortunately since burnt down. We managed to fit all of our gear in the hire car and found the back door to the venue, loaded in and then went to get something to eat.
The gig started up with a rousing rock n roll performance by Melbourne legends The Surfin' Poobahs, who did the Stooges thang with great skill, gusto and balls. Me and Richie loved it.
Next up were Interstater who gave us a more up to date version of rock n roll. They had some great songs, but I'm too beffuddled to remember the titles.
We decided that we would go on next so that we could keep Narco (Ben) awake long enough to do the gig. We basically did the same set as in Sydney, but thois gig was a little more choatic as Rich and myself had sunk a few Coopers and were up for a bit of fun. Not the tightest gig of the tour, but one of the most fun. Richie attacked Danny and knocked him to the floor, where he valiantly tried to keep playing, but failed miserably. He has a number of bruises to show for that performance, poor fella. It was very funny though and we do have some pics somewhere to prove it. Thanks to Angellica for providing the snaps, they will be up online soon.
After our shambles it was up to the Turnarounds to cap off the evening's entertainment. The band had a Seattle twist, and went for it big style. Unfortunately by that time the crowd had started to dwindle, so people missed out.
Thanks to everyone who showed up on the night, thanks to the bands for the gear loan as always.
What did we do after the gig? Answers on a postcard please :)
2004-03-06, Melbourne - Weekender @ Dream - DJ Spot
After visiting the GP in the daytime, we went to seea a great band, Seconds, who we played with last year and features Iain, who played drums for Abdou a few years back.
After that it was a quick cab ride to Dream where I was to DJ tonight. Lots of familiar faces greeted me as we headed straight for the bar to loosen up my cd-spinning muscles.
I had a great night. When I hit the decks the dance floor was empty and by the time I finshed, it was rammed!
Thanks to Paul Davy for compiling the tracks for me and thanks to Steve for letting me play and for the drink tokens. A lovely end to the trip.