This year's trip is made more special for me by having my girlfriend Crissi along. I have been trying to get her to come over here for a good few years. I want to show her the place that I love. I promised her a respite from the British winter, said it would be hot and sunny. Of course we arrived in Sydney to be welcomed by a thunder storm!
We were ferried from the airport by Taxi driver Nicholas (Charlie) Brown, who was as friendly as hell, as Oz cab drivers always are. He more or less told us his life story during the short journey to Glebe and the hotel that was to be our home for a few days.
It was only when Richy patted his pockets that he realised that he had left his mobile on the back seat. When we got into the hotel reception he phoned himself and Charlie Brown answered and offered to bring the phone back after his shift.
He was as good as his word and turned up in his non-taxi car and asked us all to the pub for a drink. It was only three in the afternoon, but we thought, why not! It turned out that Charlie had a reason to ask us out for a drink. He had gotten into trouble after a fracas with another cab driver and wrongly accused of bashing up the other guy. He was due to be in court on the day of our third Sydney gig and would really appreciate if we could phone his cab company to tell them how great he is. Eight hours later we were thrown out of the Ancient Briton after I had fallen asleep on my bar stool which is apparently frowned on in these parts.
Spent a few days in the usual hopeless jet lag daze, catching up with friends etc.
Then we hopped on a plane to Melbourne to catch up with more friends and to see the Grand Prix, as usual. The race was a bit boring to be honest, but the result was a welcome change - Fischicella for Renault!
Next stop is Brisbane when we will meet up with the new Abdou members and start rehearsing!
8th, 9th, 10th March
Brisbane! Hoorah, finally some proper Aussie weather for Crissi. We are almost over our lag now and really settling in to things. Our good friends Jo and Mark are putting us up as usual, gawd bless 'em.
Me and Richy had a little duo gig at a place called the Troubadour. Everyone there was very friendly, but the audience was a little sparse, mainly the other acts playing that night :) We ran through some acoustic versions of Abdou songs, but were a little ropey as we a bit pissed by the time we went on.
We put that one down as a good practice for the following night which is also an acoustic show at Rics, out fave Brissie hang out.
After a great practice with the full band line-up, we headed over to Ric's. Lots more people for this one and we were pretty good I reckon.
Next up is the first gig with the proper Oz 2005 line-up. This gig is a terrific line-up of some our Brisbane fave bands. Sekiden, Dick Nasty, Eat Laser Scumbag. The place is rammed and the crowd and bands are great.
Abdou Oz 2005 (Version 27 ) ROCK! The new boys are on fire!
We hung out at the Jubilee until we got thrown out and then headed down to Ric's for several more Coopers and a wobbly journey home.
We had a few days off so that Crissi can do some shopping and we can also take her to see some rain forest.
I do love Brissie.
15th, 16th, 17th March
After spending a day in Byron we climbed into the Tarago and headed toward Sydney. Not a bad little drive at all.
Had to get up early the next morning so I could go to Triple J to do an interview with my mate Lindsay and his radio partner Jay, who are doing the JJJ Brekkie show this year and from what I've heard they are doing an amazing job. Despite the fact that I was a bit knackered, i think we did a half-decent job pushing the show.
First gig in Sydney is in the Hopetoun, where the Oz Abdou 2000 played on our second tour. It was nice to be back there. Didn't bother with a soundcheck, but instead decided to test out some of the venue's very own food. I had fish 'n' chips, which was very nice indeed.
First up for tonight's entertainment was Andy Depressant - sometimes known as Andrew Calvert from the GiveGoods, tonight a great acoustic performer, with some brilliant songs. Next up was electro duo The Head. I really loved this lot, they had a bunch of old keyboards and an iPod and a rock'n'roll instinct onstage. Great songs too!
Then it was our turn to wow the very small audience with our new brand of Abdou rock'n'roll madness. We did pretty well I reckon, and sold a few CDs and shirts too.
Next up a two night residency at the Excelsior.
Excelsior Night One : The first band on, Dubwyseup, were actually onstage soon after we arrived at the venue. They were a pretty good version of roots reggae, although I did find it a tad disconcerting that the whole band were white Australian and singing about rastafari, strictly roots etc.
We were next on and did a good job playing to the Abdou faithful who were basically the only people there. We didn't mind too much though, these extra gigs give us a chance of honing the tunes to perfection. it was nice to see some friendly faces from our previous excursions to Sydney.
Next up were Morning who have amongst them a lovely fella called Raymond from Lalatoa (who were meant to be the headline band originally) Their set was a little prog rock for my liking, but it wasn't bad at all.
After a few beers at the bar (thanks to Sue for those) I was a bit wobbly, so Crissi took me home to Surry Hills where we were staying with our great mates Nikki, Paul and Chris. Richy, Chris and Cuffy went out drinking with Raymond and stayed at the venue for the night.
Excelsior Night Two: All of a sudden it's Crissi's last day with us and I had to get up early to take her to the airport and make sure that she got off okay. I hope that she enjoyed her first time in Oz, I certainly enjoyed watching her experience it.
Tonight's gig is a benefit for a campaign aiming to shut down the Baxter Detention Centre, where political refugees amongst others, are being held in terrible conditions, without even a view of the outside world.
The venue is very full for this gig, it's nice to leave Sydney with a great full show.
First up is Bruno from Peabody who is bloody great, beautiful voice and great songs.
Next is new tour van iPod favourite The Self Righteous Brothers, who are totally wonderful and funny as hell.
Then along come last year's WA tour buddies Sin City, who bring a good little crowd and rock the joint loose of a few nuts and bolts with their punk shock sonic attack.
We are the last band on tonight and have a tough job on our hands to follow that lot. Thankfully, my boys do me proud and we play our best show so far.
We had a brilliant night. Thanks to everyone at the venue and to all of the bans who helped us out with equipment and accommodation.
Next up Melbourne!
2005-03-23, Melbourne - The Tote
And here we are...back in Melbourne and back at the Tote, steeped in rock n roll, smelling of wee wee, ancient band sweat and stale beer. Actually, it doesn't smell that bad, I think that was just my t-shirt after the gig :)
Got to the gig nice and early, met up with the guys from Fangs, who very kindly, would be lending us gear for the gig and providing very welcome support.
The Fangs have to go on way too early and end up playing to a very sparse crowd. Those there though were very impressed with the songs and the sounds. Great stuff fellas, looking forward to watching again on Friday.
Next up were Melbourne band The Spoils, kinda misplaced in tonight's bill, but I did rather like their stuff. There was a fair amount of Nick Cave & Co. in there which is never a bad thing, they also had vibes and a double bass, two of my favourite instruments.
I was slightly squiffy when Abdou's turn came along. The crowd was still a little on the small size, but I think we gave 'em all something to smile about. Tonight was one of those comedy gigs, lots of silly comments and drinking between songs. I'm beginning to think that Abdou should be the official opening band for the Melbourne Comedy Festival. That would be a nice little earner, as Arthur Daley would say.
We played just about every song that we have practiced, will try and add the others for the gig on Friday.
After the gig we got chucked out, so we headed off to a bar called The Tankerville and played pool on a neon lit table. We played drummers versus guitarist. Cuffy Abdou and Rob Fangs on one team and me and Richy on the other. Of course, my team won, we rock!
Next up The Green Room this Good Friday!
Ta ta, Fruity xxxx
2005-03-25, Melbourne - The Green Room
The next day was a bit of a strange one. Rich and I were sitting in the living room watching crap TV, when we heard some crackling and some smashing glass. At first I thought that someone was having a bonfire and then I thought something must be being demolished. Didn't think much of it until I stepped outside into the garden to chase the cat and saw a fireman on the end of one of those huge extending ladder platform thingys. His mighty hose was directed at a three story building two doors down which had flames and smoke pouring from every window.
I went out the front of the house to be greeted by what seemed like hundreds of fire crew and trucks. Here's a pic taken on Richy's handy phonecam. The whole road was closed off and our Tarago van was sitting in a river of water and charred wood!
Now it did occur to me that one one the firemen could have knocked on our door to let us know that we might be in danger, but I guess they hand their hands full putting out the blaze.
There were a bunch of TV crews there reporting the blaze, so I got to see it all again on the evening news, when I was told that the third floor of the building was full of knickers and bras and they are what made the blaze go out of control!
I stayed in that night as I was knackered and needed an evening of vegging out.
The next day I had a hangover, which is just plain NOT FAIR as I didn't 't touch a drop the night before!
We arrived at the Green Room nice and early. Chris our merchman, driver and all around good egg, set himself up at the door. We got a few pots of Coopers and settled down to watch first band Reagan, an almost all-girl rock band who started off a tad ropey but ended up playing a great little set which included a Fruity-pleasing cover of Ballroom Blitz (originally a Sweet song. Coincidentally I was wearing a Sweet t-shirt, so synchronicity rules) and also Rocket Queen (a Gunners song)
Next up were Fangs, who weren't quite as good as the last show at the Tote, but still held the attention of most of the crowd. They are top sausage geezers though and once again lent us their gear.
Then it was us!
I think we played a blinder, the band have really locked together now and we powered through the set at top speed, full kilter. I was exhausted when we stepped off stage after a chaotic version of the Abdou Theme. I will leave it to gig attendees to review us, but I'm pretty confident.
Next on were Winterun, who played a rock set to their faithful as we packed up and left. Sorry to be rude, but we were shattered and knew we had to get up at the crack of dawn to leave for Adelaide.
2005-03-26, Adelaide - The Jade Monkey
We got up nice and early, very bleary and wobbly. Loaded up the Tarago and set off on the 9 hour drive to Adelaide. Nothing much to report on the trip, apart from the Giant Koala, the Jeep On A Stick and a short stop in a town called Keith for some food.
We rocked up at Pange's place (where we are being put up) to be greeted by a slap-up barbeque. What a fantastic welcome to WA. After some great nosh, we headed into town and to The Jade Monkey, which is hidden away on Twin Street slap bang in the centre of town.
We were greeted by old friends from the Avant Gardeners and introduced to some new ones too. Didn't bother with a soundcheck, instead we headed into town and had a few beers at the Austral.
It quickly became time to get back to the venue to see the first band on The Big Band, who started off shambolically and seemed to have trouble remembering the songs. I wasn't sure if this was a part of the act though as singer Nigel was also telling the audience what the chords to the songs were too :) The big surprise from their set was a rather rousing version of an old Carter song, Lean On Me (I Won't Fall Over) which brought a huge grin to most folk in the room. Apperently they were really nervous about playing the song, but they needn't have been, it rocked!
Next it was Abdou. I think we played even better than the previous night, nice n tight. Beer Scooter and Pop Pop Pop were probably the best ever. Loads of power, tons of bollox! We played a short set, saving a few songs for tomorrow's gig at the Crown & Anchor.
After Abdou we went out into the beer garden to cool down a bit. When we heard the Avant Gardeners start up their set, we rushed back in to see them. 9 musicians on stage, interchanging instruments from song to song
2005-03-27, Adelaide - The Crown And Anchor
I was quite sure that we had done this gig before, but I had got it mixed up with the Crown & Sceptre. We arrived at the venue nice and early and met up with the girls from Legless, who were already in full make-up and costume, in preparation for their gig and for recording their video clip for the new single "Scratch My Itch'. They are a dead friendly bunch and asked if some of the Abdou boys would join in with the video. Richy, John and Cuffy posed as the famous band Abpoujropov who are attacked by Legless and thrown off stage before the girls burst into song using the boys gear.
As soon as the girls finish their acting, they launched straight into their set proper. I thought they were great, very entertaining and scary/funny. My fave was a song called 'Freddy and Jason Are Fighting Over Me'
Next up were our old mates The Gels, who gave us their fab brand of punky, rocky energy. They even dedicated their set stormer "I Wanna Be A Ramone' to us Abdou boys. Nice.
Then it was time for the last gig for this year with Cuffy and John. That fact made it kinda sad when we stepped on stage, but it didn't stop us from pulling a king-sized rabbit from our collective bowler hats (sorry, we've been wacthing too much Alan Partridge) and playing the best set of the tour so far. In fact, I'd go as far to say that it was one of my bestest gigs ever.
When I have got some pics sorted, I will add them to the diary, so you'll get a better idea of the chaos :)
2005-04-01, Perth - The Swan Basement
After very fond farwells to John and Cuffy, it was time to get on another plane and head over to Perth WA for my mate Sam & Kelly's Wedding, a few rehearsals with the new band and the final gig of the Oz tour.
Met up with Denis, Pete and Ben, the latest recruits to the Abdou family. This line-up is a tad different in that there are three guitars, bass and drums. Boy, is it a big sound indeed. Practice went really well, the boys had really done their homework and the Coopers flowed cheerily!
The next day was Sam & Kelly's wedding during which Kelly Taylor became Kelly Carter, another member of the Carter Clan.
Sam & Kelly first came over to Oz a couple of years ago and fell in love with the place. When they decided to get married, it was quite obvious that it just had to be in Perth, so they brought over the whole family for the shindig.
Thanks to Kelly's Auntie Irene and Uncle ?? for hosting the aftershow party!
It was a great wedding, plenty of good food, good beer and friendly relatives! Congrats to the newly weds!
The next day, hungover as hell, we had another practice with the boys, prior to heading off to Fremantle and the Swan Basement for the gig.
First on were the amazing Burgers Of Beef. They played with us last year too and were even better this time around. Next up were a great band called...erm...damn...it's on the tip of my tongue...no...it's gone . Someone please remind me :) They were rock n roll and very energetic to boot.
Then it was Abdou 28's turn to blast away the remaining cobwebs with our three guitar sonic attack! I really want to play more with this line-up, one gig just wasn't enough as it was bloody great! The boys did an excellent job, the backing vocals were something to behold!
Well that's it for another year I guess, just a few more days in Sydney before the flight to Tokyo and Abdou 1st Japanese gig.
Thanks to everyone who lent us gear, put us up, organised gigsparties, meals, weddings for us, you are all God and Godesses! Cheers too, to all the bands that played with us this year. Cheers to Chris for being MerchMan extrodinaire. See you all next year.