UK 2005

2005-04-20, Cambridge - Man On The Man

Well, we are off on tour in the uk once again, another trip around the sometimes amazingly beautiful country that is the place of my birth. I think that everyone who knows me or knows of me is in no doubt that I LOVE being on the road and the ups and downs of a UK tour are something that has been a part of me ever since I formed my first band way back in 1975.

Abdou first played in Cambridge in November 2000. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, many line-up changes, many tours, many hangovers. But what has really changed, you may ask? Cambridge itself doesn't seem to have changed that much at all, it still has the same perplexing one-way system, the old Univesity buildings still look old and impressive. The Man In The Moon (tonight's venue, not the guy that winks at you on a clear night) has had a bit of a face-lift and now looks more like a proper venue.

One of the things that has changed for Abdou, is that the last time we were here the band was new and unproved. The punters that came to that gig were there out of curiosity, to see what Fruity from Carter was like by himself. This time more or less the same people came to the gig, the main difference being that now I know most of them by name! The 'abdou massive', isn't massive at all, but we are a close-knit and only semi-didfunctional family.

The venue was pleasingly full tonight, Steve and Oz had done a fantastic job promoting the gig and the attendance was proof that a little extra hard work from the band and promoters can make a big difference.

First on tonight were The Barnum Effect who I thought were pretty good.

Main support was from the amazing Ciccone, good friends and the best North London band of the noughties by far. They stormed through their set like a knife through hot butter. The crowd were very impressed and were raving about the band after they had come off stage. CD sales were brisk!

Then is was our turn to impress and I think that we managed it quite well. We interspersed old faves with songs from the new EP and even added a 'not played for ages' Loser's Walk.

After the gig we went back to party at Steve places and ended up sardining the night away in the living room.

Well I had a great night.

2005-04-21, Manchester - Night & Day

Believe it or not, in our 7 years of existence Abdou have never played Manchester before, we had been close but not actually made it to the big Northern smoke.

I had quite high hopes of this gig as I have had many emails asking and complaining about us playing in Manc. i was pretty sure that we'd get a good turn out.

Unfortunatley I was wrong :( I'll give you a few ideas of how the night progressed.

First band on were an acoustic act whose set seemed to consist of the singer sampling his voice and then joining in with himself. In theory, this sounds interesting but in practice it was quite tedious.

Second on were Laeka who started off sounding quite promising but soon discended into meandering atmospheric nonesense. I can imagine them going down really well in a big field at a festival maybe Sunday afternoon. But they were the Lapsan Suchong of the music world and left me with a screwed up face. They also ran spectacularily over time, which in my mind is great crime and should of got them shot.

It was during their set that it dawned on me that we were going to be going on stage very late and that half of the very few people that had actually came to see Abdou were going to be leaving before we even started our first song.

Next on were PTA, who were actually very good, they also were kind enough to drop a few of their songs to tighten up the stage times, so thanks for that guys.

We eventually went onstage very late to a much depleted crowd. We played a good set and the brave folk that stayed to watch us were very appreciative, but really...will we ever play Manc again?

Here are a few pointers for promoters - things to take into consideration when putting on Abdou.

1. The Abdou crowd generally are late 20 - 30 somethings with Jobs, kids. If you put the band on after all publuc transport stops, you are asking for a poorly attended gig.

2. If you are booking support bands, it might be wise to have bands that are compatible so that each bands crowd can stand some chance of actually liking the other bands music.

3. Please note: Manchester is not a 24 hour party town, it shuts down at 11pm

Thanks to people that did get off their bums and came to the gig, all we nned is another 3000 popele like you and we would be huge! :)

2005-04-22, Barrow In Furness - The Cross Bar

The last time I was in Barrow In Furness was back in the eighties, when me and Mr Bob were in Wimp Rock band Jamie Wednesday. We played at a place called the Bluebird Club, which is literally across the football playing field to the Cross Bar. Being part of the Barrow football ground (called the Holker Stadium) I'm sure I'm not the first to announce that Abdou are now officially a Stadium band!

After a lovlely drive over from Manchester and taling in the scenery of the Lake District, we arrived at the club to be greated by Peter, who is the promoter around theses parts. We were warmly greeted by all and immediately felt welcome. The bar manager started plying us with drink as soon as we got through the door, but I was gasping for a cuppa and she very kindly agreed to make me one.

Soundcheck and PA set-up were somewhat chaotic, but eventually the gig started with opening band Unusual Suspects who lead us through some Beasties/Rage Against The Machine type metal hip hop. I would give them a great review but they stayed on for way too long and begun to make the whole gig run late. Naughty boys, a slap on the wrist for you.

Next up were Silvertone who had a great bunch of songs that were slightly marred by the fact that half of the PA wasn't working. The sound-guy, who was standing in front of the speakers that weren't working hadn't actually noticed, so went over and made him put his head to the speaker to prove that nowt was coming owt :)

Various discussions followed during the next two bands and the PA continued to be a bit mono one-sided and left vocals for all band virtually unheard. Next on were the Shite Stripes, who made an uncannyly accurate rendition of The White Stripes, even down to cothes and inter-song banter. There weren't shite at all.

Next up were Legohair, who were actually pretty amazing. This was the band that a great deal of the crowd were waiting for and I could see why. Inventive, catchy tunes and rythms and a great front man. I just wish I could of heard some of the lyrics. Anyway the crowd went mad and this really set the scene for abdou to come on stage.

Miraculously, by the time we got on-stage another bit of PA had appeared and we not only had a working PA but a really good set of stage monitors too.

I was a bit apprehensive about the reaction from the crowd as none of them has seen us before. but slowly and steadily enthusiam increased until we hit Every Fallen In Love (featuring the angellic voice of Richy Crocky) then it was man-overboard-ladies-children and wookies first.....chaos. I've not seen a crowd like it since the early days of Carter, there was blood, puke, glass, beer and godknows everywhere. Crowd participation was brought to new levels with singalongs to the easy bits and just plain shouting for the other bits.

We left the stage exhausted, but elated.

After the gig we had to buy ourselves some beer as all of our rider had been appropriated by the other bands and their hangers-on. Our fault completely, we should have guarded them better :)

Then we walked over to our hosts Neil and Laura were we had chips and more beer well into the early hours.

A GREAT night, thanks to you all. FB xxxx

2005-04-23, Birmingham - Jug Of Ale

Birmingham, Birmingham, so much to answer for. Oh no, that's the wrong town innit?

I'm actually rather fond of Brum, I have had some pretty good times there over the years and I always find Brummies to be generous and charming, although the accent still causes involuntary chuckles from time to time. I think the new Bullring is ace too.

We had a lovely day, stopping by Lake Windemere for a cuppa tea, a toasted scone and some ice cream. It was like a Summer's day and the first time I have ever been to the lakes without the heavens opening up and reducing the amazing views into a murky blur (I'm sure there's an Indie Pop joke there somewhere).

Thus refreshed, we headed down the motorway to the west Midlands and Birmingham, where thanks to drummer Ben's local knowledge, we found the Jug Of Ale without a hitch.

We lugged the gear up the stairs to the live room and set up for the gig. Soundman Rob arrived very soon after and we had a great sound-check. The PA at the Jug is great. After we had finished local band Baxter arrived and had a sound-check of their own. I liked the sounds, so I hung around for a bit, before heading downstairs to get a drink and meet up with the Abdou massive. It was Bryan (one of the massive) Malcolm's birthday, so celebrations started early, the Northants crowd joined in and things were rosy in the garden of Jug.

It soon came time for Baxter to play their set and I must say I really enjoyed it, it was all very charming and energetic. Little was I to know that the main Baxter show was to come later :)

I was a bit disappointed with the turn out tonight, it really was the Abdou hardcore and not many more. I find it difficult to take that we finally play Birmingham after much haranguing and no one bothers to come. In fact, I could probably count the Brum abdou fans in attendance on two fingers, everyone else was either with the support or from out of town.

Nevertheless Abdou had a great little set that ended up with the PA man turning off the sound as we had run quite badly over time. This didn't deter birthday boy Mr Malcolm, he launched into an acapella version of the Abdou Theme, which we all joined in with.

The Abdou mood was quite boisterous when we returned to the dressing room, but the Baxter atmosphere was filled with tension as insults were throw, then drinks, then punches, kicks and just about everything else. Before we knew it two girls were having a full-on cat fight...It was great! I just stood to one side, sipped on my beer and enjoyed.

The only thing left to do after that was to visit the local curryhouse for a well earned Balti.

Not the best attended gig, but a hoot all the same.

Bring it on.

2005-04-27, Sheffield - Boardwalk

Onto Sheff, a place where we had recently had some pretty good gigs, I was hoping that we would pull a good crowd there, but again, i was sorely mistaken.

The support bands were young enthusiastic, but ultimately a little dodgy. They had reasonable crowds though, so I can't really judge them. I spent most of their sets worrying that we had yet to find somewhere to stay.

Most of the other band's fans had left by the time we walked on, so we ended up playing to the smallest crowd yet. We did our best to entertain though and the goodly folk that had turned up cheered very loudly to make up for the lack of numbers. Again, Abdou played a great little set, we are really sounding great on this tour and it breaks my heart to have us playing to empty rooms.

Thanks heavens for Richy's mate James who had agreed to put us up right there on the spot. Had some great chats to the faithfuls who to the man/woman, stayed behind afterwards to wish us well. Richy rolled out the wheelie suitcase with the merch in and managed to sell something to everyone in the room.

We had a lovely time at James & Jo's place, playing stupid drinking games and generally annoying his neighbours.

2005-04-28, Brighton - The Engine Room

Felt a bit rough this morning, although I did have a lovely night's sleep on the most comfortable couch ever. Had tea and toast before heading south towards Brighton. We decided to take the scenic route, through some amazing countryside.

As Danny is reading Watership Down, we decided to make a detour to (was it) Orton, the area where the book was based. We searched high and low for the rabbits and sang 'Bright Eyes' quite a lot before giving up and getting ourselves some dinner in a great little cafe called Scooby's.

We arrived in Brighton and after having a bit of trub finding the venue, we loaded in the gear and started to set up.

This gig was a little out of the ordinary, the doors didn't open until 10pm as it was more of a club than anything. I was a bit concerned about this as the Abdou crowd tend to like to get their beauty sleep and a lot of folk that were gonna come down from London to the gig decided that it was too late for them. I explained this to neil, the promoter, but he seemed convinced that the place would be rammed come 11pm.

We made ourselves a nice little dressing room in a little cubby-booth type bit and sat and waiting to see if anyone would come. People did start filtering in after a while and it was what we would call a 'steady flow' (check out Jim's book for definitions) . I couldn't stand the tension and decided that a short trip to a local pub was in order.

Tonight's support wasn't a band at all, but a troupe of burlesque dancers called the Suicide Girls. Now I'm not sure if this is some kind of franchise, but the Suicide Girls that I had met before were deffo from the US. These girls seemed decidedly home grown.

We got back from the pub just in time for the show to start. The theme was of the dance of the seven veils and one by one the girls came on, took of some clothes and danced a bit. It was a strange mix between performance art, soft porn and a tattoo/piercing parlour. Wasn't quite sure what to make of it and most of the people with me seemed equally perplexed.

Then it was time for us to take the stage, I almost introduced ourselves as 'the second bunch of tits to perform tonight' but I thought better of it. The place was still reasonably full and the crowd seemed to like what we were doing, but I felt we were a bit off-par that night, it all seemed a bit sluggish and tired. A shame really, as the last time we played Brighton was at the Joe Strummer Benefit gig where we were bloody crap.

Anyway, I felt a bit down after the gig and couldn't wait to get home.

Ok, that's enough moaning and depression, the next gig will be great. I know it will!

2005-05-04, Leicester - The Charlotte

Ah, the Charlotte, scene of many a shenanigan over the many years that I have played there and a place where I have had many a good gig.

Tonight's line-up was a four band bill, including, Satan's Little Heartbreakers, Anansarzy, Exist and Abdou. When we arrived at the venue after a pleasant trip from Stevenage, the place was rammed to the rafters with loads of gear. It turned out that most of this gear belonged to Exist, who have recently signed to EMI, who obviously had advanced them a nice bit of wonga to buy new amps and instrument. Good on them, I say, milk them EMI bastards dry :)

Didn't take us long to get soundchecked and rested. We got ourselves a few beers and lounged around in the freshly painted dressing room, chatting to Exists tour-manager, Nigel.

The venue was filling up fairly reasonably by the time that Satan's Little Heartbreakers romped onstage. The Motorhead shirts gave it away, they were gonna be a bit raucous! I think they had a song called 'Why Don't You Want To Fuck Me'. I really enjoyed their set, slightly ragged at the edges, but the energy and enthusiasm made up for it.

Next up Anasarzy. This band has some great songs, they sailed through some great ballads and catchy indie-type rockers. By this time me, Richy, Micky Teaspoon, Brother Teaspoon and Innes were crowded around the merch stall and we all agreed that they had a certain something. We also agreed that the band should really have a better name to reflect their sound.

Next on Birmingham based Exist, who start off sounding worryingly like Oasis, but then reached into a more imaginative vein and start sounding like themselves, as well a many other bands from both the Madchester era and more recently Kasabian etc. The general consensus was positive,with the weight of a major label behind them, they should do well.

Abdou entered the arena to a fabulous reception, we played a great little set, including a hastily rehearsed 'It's About The Oil George', which went down very well on the night before the general election here in the UK.

Apologies for forgetting Anasarzy's name during my onstage thankyous and also sorry for announcing Satan's Little Monkeys (it was funny though).

I had a great night, thanks to everyone who braved the Leicester one-way system to attend. Tomorrow is London. Hmmm,

2005-05-05, London - Islington Bar Academy

First of all, thanks to Richy Abdou for driving us back to London, you are a star! That was the third gig in a row that Richy couldn't gig as he was driving. He deserves a medal.

I have never played at the Bar Islington before and was a little worried as it's a Carling gig and I'm not very happy that so many venues nowadays are run by huge corporate organisations. I had also had a difficult phone call from a very unhelpful promoter, who at first refused to let Ciccone play the gig as they weren't in the original agreement. This was all ironed out eventually and the dream bill of Ciccone, S*M*A*S*H and Abdou was given the go-ahead.

Soundcheck was slightly hampered by the fact that I forgot to load one of Ben Abdou's drums into the van, but good ol' Ben soldiered on sans tom tom and we got things done in good time.

Before long the place was filling up nicely, I had a plastic bottle of Grolsch in my hand (it was the best of a bad bunch of alcoholic choice) and Ciccone were onstage, being brilliant as always. Their set was a little johnny marred by a somewhat dodgy sound, but the sheer genius shone through. Poor Micky Ciccone had had a nasty bang to head from a plate glass door earlier and was still a little shaky, but he managed to get out a lovely little homage to S*MA*S*H during the set. Very touching.

S*MA*S*H are back and better than ever, if you liked them 10 years ago, you'll love 'em now, the songs are more focused, the playing more accurate the whole vibe is great. The old faves were there in the set and I think I detected a few newies too.

So...Abdou back in London...usually a big celebratory, end of tour event. It may have been just me, but the whole thing seemed a bit muted. I think we played really well and the crowd seemed to like what we were doing, but..was there something missing? Maybe is was the venue, which is a kinda high rent upstairs at the Garage. I dunno. As I sat down in my living-room watching the election results come in, I felt deflated somehow.

I'm writing this now on the Monday morning and feel in a much more positive mood. I'm really looking forward to the debut gig for Abdou side-project iDou, when we support Jim Bob on the middle gig of his extravaganza at the Water Rats. I'm also looking forward to a Worcester and Hartlepool, the remaining gigs on this tour, they should be corkers.