AUSTRALIA 1999

1999-03-05, Melbourne - Starshaped

Well, this is not exactly a gig as such, although professional DJs would probably argue on that point. After a few beers with some friends in a local bar, Ben and I went searching for the club. We found the door locked, but we had been told that we could get in via the Mexican restaurant. The thought of wolfing down Bean Burritos and some Tequilla did cross my mind as we passed through the crowded room, but we had a job to do.

The first job to do was to get the equipment working, only half of the PA was working, but it didn't take me long to find a few loose wires and kick the system into action. After introducing ourselves to Paul, David, Stephanie and the rest of the Starshaped crew, we made the confession that we didn't have an awful lot of experience with DJ mixing desks before and asked for a crash course on the wheels of steel. The next hitch was that this was a CD only affair, so we had to learn to work the CD players too!

We were told to choose whatever we wanted to play and told that the best time to go on was around 12:30 when most people usually arrived. I was a bit scared that it was going to be empty when the doors first opened as the only people to come in were my friends from the bar.

But by midnight the place was pretty full and we started our session with a few obscure tracks from These Animal Men and Supergrass. The dance floor cleared in 3 seconds flat so we decided to forget originality and go for a crowd pleasing, classic UK indie tack. This worked a treat: Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Wonderstuff, you name it, we played it. After being badgered for about an hour we even had to give in and play an Oasis song. I apologised to the gods of taste and put on 'Supersonic'.

We even played 'Three Lions' for christ's sake!

The dancefloor was heaving, everyone had big smiles on their faces, especially me and Ben. After about two hours or so we let the professionals regain control of the decks and socialised with some new friends. I quite like this DJ'ing lark, it's fun!

We got back into Richmand at about 4am in a bit of a state but happy. I crashed on the sofa. The next thing I knew I was being woken by Nikki, it was time to get up and go to the qualifying for the Grand Prix.

I had a hangover, and formula one cars are bloody loud.



1999-03-11, Adelaide - The Holdfast

Introducing Abdoujaparov, Aussie style.

Fruitbat - Vocals / Guitar
Ben - Drums
Jason - Bass and BVs
Richard - Lead Guitar / BVs

After three days of rehearsing, the Australian Abdoujaparov is sounding fuckin' great. We have learnt all of the songs that we played in the UK plus a cover version of a song from Jason's band The Moonies.

We turned up at the Holdfast after a day of tour shoping, radio interviews and Birthday partying (it's Richard's birthday today), to a pretty healthily full room. As we loaded in, the first band, Cheeseworld were on-stage and getting ready to play their set. I rather liked them actually, poppy jangly guitars, cute shared lead vocals and good songs, well worth a listen if you get the chance.

By the time that we had got our gear together by the side of the bar, it was our turn to take to the stage. After a quick line-check (a sort of sound check without any songs) we started with There's Nobody Less Rock n' Roll Than Me and then went straight into Punk Confetti.

I could tell straight away that the lyrics, and perhaps my accent, were amusing the people in the front row. This gave me a bit of confidence as I was feeling a little shy at first. After the second song something broke on the drums and I had to try and think of something funny to say whilst Ben and Richard thumbled around trying to find the problem. I found something to say, but I don't think that it was very funny, any road, I don't remember it now.

Once things were fixed we set off to play the rest of the set with Ben struggling with a bass drum that was rapidly heading towards the front of the stage. We played I Don't Know and then Aren't We All before we had to have a bit of a tune up prior to playing the quieter songs. You can play loud songs totally out of tune without much grief, but the slow melodic ones need some tenderness and in-tune guitars. I think that the crowd were quite glad of the gap so that they could catch up on the local gossip and discuss the last song or two.

Rose and Birthday went OK, Loser's Walk was a bit ropey. Maria's Umbrella raised a lot of smiles in the gently swaying front few rows. Murder On Dalberg Rd got them rockin in the isles, Queen Bitch confused both us and them Baby Food was a rock monster. The Abdoujaparov Theme lodged the name of the band in their heads and the Moonies cover Too Old For Rock And Roll may have been a bit too AC/DC for the some of the folk in the venue. I buggered it up a bit as I'd lost the lyrics and had to make some up on the spot.

All of a sudden it was the end of the set and we had to climb down to make way for the headlining band, The Packets. Whilst listening to and thoroughly enjoying the band, I met and had a nice chat with some very lovely people who bought me drinks, flattered me and have also promised to come to tomorrow's gig. All I can say is I love you all, you are lovely, lovely people.

Eventually we were carefully and politely nudged from the venue and made our way back to Jason's for a post gig chill out. I returned to the comfort of my little sleeping bag (thanks for the loan Brian, it's very cozy indeed!)



1999-03-12, Adelaide - The Royal

We drove over to the Royal which was to be the venue for tonight's gig. It's rather a big venue and it was perhaps a bit ambitious to expect that we could fill somewhere of that capacity. The atmosphere at the venue was a bit chaotic, Jason had tld me earlier that there was some doubt about whether the gig would actually happen at one point. There have been some money troubles at the venue and he was a little worried about it. We checked out the lovely big stage and P.A., decided that we didn't need a sound check and walked back through the park into town and a fairly trendy coffee bar.

The crowded cafés and bars and the promenading folk in their Friday best reminded me very much of Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The young and the beautiful strolled past us on their way to the many bars, clubs ad venues of Adelaide. I wondered how any would come to the gig and decided from their dress sense, not many.

We got back to venue, tuned up guitars and drums and waited for the first band of the night 'Alien Dave' to stroll up and impress. They actually were pretty impressive. The way the band were playing they could, maybe should have been playing to a packed out crowd. However the 'crowd' was a bit thin on the ground which was a shame as they definitely put their all into it.

By the time The Gels got onstage the venue was looking a little more comfortable, although to say that it was a ram full, sold out show would have a been a bit of an exagerration ;-)

The Gels were great, I had listened to one of their singles earlier on in the day and I love the late 70's Stooges, punk rock feel. They played a great set and got the ever growing crowd up on their feet and tapping those toes.

It was about 1am before it was time for us to go on-stage and I had to thank the coffee for my continuing consciousnes. As it was a in-town home gig Jason and Richard's friends were there en masse.

It was a great gig and crowd were great too. There was quite a lot of moshing and even an attempted but pretty lame stage dive. We were a bit wobbly at first butthe songstightened up as we went along. I remembered most of the words and made up the ones that I didn't.

I think that this was definitely my favourite Abdou gig so far. People were there to have fun and so were we. And fun we had.

After the gig we had a good bonding session with the Gels and Jason's mates.

It was 4am before we were back at Jason's place pretty fucked up, but happy.

Unfortunately, we had to leave for Melbourne at 7am.

AAAAAARGHHH!



1999-03-13, Melbourne - The Corner Hotel

We arrived in Melbourne in nine and half hours, which was pretty good time appparently and I must say that the journey did go pretty quickly.

We were all pretty exhausted though, it had been a long day so far.

When we got to The Corner Hotel there was an all ages punk rock gig going on and the place was full of teenagers with 70's style mohawks and face paint verging on 'new romantic'. They seemed to be having fun though.

We went over to Catherine and Maggie's inRichmond to dump our bags and have a rest. After a couple of cups of strong coffee we went back to The Corner to do the sound check. Roger the monitor man was very helpful and we set up most of the stuff on the very ample stage. We couldn't do the sound check though until one of the support bands Muzzy Pep turned up and we could borrow one of their speaker boxes. Then we had to wait for the other band's soundman, Mike to turn up for he was to mix us tonight. The check was OK, if a little weird to using a full PA after such little systems in the other venues. It almost sounded too good.

After the soundcheck we were very exhausted and decided to gog back to Maggie's again to see if we could get some rest. When we arrived though, Nikki's birthday party was in full swing and folk were dancing and talking at the top of their voices. I had a few beers and sneaked into Catherine's bedroom and had an hour's kip in spite of the noise. I was desperately tired, I must be getting old, oh yeah, that's right, I AM getting old ;-)

When I woke up the party was steaming and everyone was ripped apart from Ben, Richard and Jason. Maggie was infull voice singing along to Luscious Jackson. I wondered whether all of these people would actually make it to the gig or not.

We got back to the venue to see Muzzy Pep playing their last three or so songs which included a very neat version of the Beatle's 'All My Loving'.

We had comletely missed Moneypenny which was a shame as I had heard that they were really good.

It was soon time to go onstage and what followed was a happy, sloppy comedy of errors. We made a LOT of mistakes, I broke two strings and Richard broke one too. This is a bit tricky when there are no roadies to rush on-stage and pass your spare guitar. I don't even have a spare guitar with me!

Luckily though, Muzzy Pep guitarist Errol came to the rescue and lent me his lovely Gibson SG, which had almost the same sound as my Les Paul but was only half the weight. He also was a top sausage geezer and put on a new string for me. This happened again later in the set.

We played all of our songs in the set so we didn't have any songs for an encore, so we didn't do one. Even though we were a bit ropey due to exhaustion, I actually enjoyedthe gig and so did the crowd although, admittedly I did know most of them personally ;-)

After the gig I caught up with some old friends that I hadn't seen since the last time I was in Melbourne in 1993. I also met up with some of the guys that I have been emailing over the last yearor so nad it was good to put faces to names. We did the band bond thing with Muzzie Pep and decided that it might be possible to play their home town Newcastle (no Angus, not THAT one).

We eventually got kicked out so me and Nikki went to THeSwan pub for a beer and to see if we could catch a glimpse of Nikki's favouriteAussie Rules footballer. Indeed, she wasn't dissapointed, there were Wayne Campbell and Nick ???, surrounded by girls and looking as though they were having a great time!

We felt guity after a while though as the party was still going at Maggie's and we thought that we should make an appearence. However when we got back to the house all of the lights were out and everyone was in bed. What a bunch of lightweights!



1999-03-17, Melbourne - Punters

When we arrived at The Punters, there wasn't much happening so we sloped off to the nearest cafe for coffee and a lovely greek salad.

I missed the first band but watched Muzzy Pep who were great. Scott lent me his speaker cab and Errol said that he would lend me his guitar if I had another string breaking frenzy as at The Corner gig.

Met long time penpal and local heroine, Jane Gazzo and had a short chat. It was good to see her and I promised to give her a ring when we return to Melbourne next week.

Went on-stage had a great time made crap jokes. I didn't break a single string and everything went a little too smoothly. It's very nice to be so close to the crowd, it means that you can have nice little conversations with people to make the set seem longer.

Note to myself - 'Must write some more songs, can't get away with this forever'

Got encore, played Too Old For Rock n Roll.

Had a nice time after the gig, chatting to folk. Said farewells to Nikki Catherine and Maggie. Got a free shirt from Muzzy Pep. It's pant blue though, you know the kind of blue you get when your mum hot-washes your white pants and socks with that new blue top;-) I'll have to try it on.

Ben drove the Tarago the 3 and half hours to Wadonga where we are staying at the Blazing Stump a motel, just out of town.

It was 5 in the morning, I went straight to bed.



1999-03-18, Sydney - The Globe

It took us eight and a half hours to get to Sydney, but it went fairly quickly. We played a game called 'Stop The Bus' which is a very good game and played on many a tour bus.

I still haven't seen a live kangeroo, but I know that they are around as the roadkill count goes up and up.

We arrived in Sydney and had a good drive around trying to find the venue. The venue is in a district called Newtown which kind of reminded me of Harlesden back home.

Ben's friend Jim, was waiting for us outside the venue, Ben was very happy to see a familiar face.

We didn't bother to do a sound check as we have decided that it doesn't make any difference to what we sound like and takes up valuable eating, drinking , sleeping time.

I was suprised to see a familiar face myself. It took me a while but I finally realised that the singer from ???Inc. played with us (well Carter really) before, with his old band Caligula. We arranged to borrow a couple of speaker boxes, thanks to Ash and Anton for the loan.

I watched them soundcheck and then went out to find some food as I was filppin' 'ungry.

I watched both support bands and they were both very entertaining, incorporating lots of influences from early nineties UK indie, which was quite refreshing. I could spots bit of EMF and the Poppies all over the place.

I had a nice chat with my email biuddes prior to going on, it was good to meet some of the folk that I've been emailing pen-pal -ing for a while. We ended going on early as we were ready to go and couldn't be bothered hanging twiddling our thumbs.

We kind of strolled on-stage and I greated the crowd saying it was great to be in ....er.....Sydney.

The first 6 songs went as smooth as honey, but then I broke a string and it all went pear-shaped for a bit. Jason had to do his complete repertoire of crap jokes before my stubby little fingers had managed the hugely complicated task of putting a string on (well it is for me anyway).

We then played a great smoldering version of 'Losers Walk' followed by a rousing version of 'Maria's Umbrella'. Oh dear, I manged to break another string. But it didn't matter, I didn't need that one for the rest of the set ;-)

The last song we played was 'The Abdoujaparov Theme Song' which went down very well. We left the stage sweaty but happy to be brought back on again for an encore.

We played 'Too Old For Rock n Roll', the Moonies cover. It sounded bloody marvellous, I swear we could form an AC/DC cover band and clean up back home.

After the gig I had a very healthy queue waiting to buy CDs and after a few minutes I had completely sold out. I wish I could have brought some more with me now, but that's it, the first single has virtually sold out.

I managed to have brief chats with Niina, Staci, Rose, Kid Mute and Matt B and have promised to give them all a call so we can have a proper getogether whilst I'm here in Sydney.

After we had taken the stuff back to Redfern, where we are staying thanks to the hosptailty of Jason's friends Samantha and Daniel, we headed to the Cleveland Bar, which is a gay bar in Sunny Hill. After a few beers though, we decided that we were exhausted and went home to bed.



1999-03-26, Brisbane - The Alliance Hotel

Had an early soundcheck so went to the venue around 4:30. Met Simon from Sedikan who had been largely repsponsible for putting the gig on. He and the rest of Sedikan are a lovely bunch of fellows and helped us out with borrowing eqiupment etc.

Soundcheck was a bit worrying at first but it came together eventually. I think that I prefer the gigs when there isn't a soundcheck though.

After the check, me and Jason went off to do an interview at 4ZZZ with Cane, who was very friendly and asked lots of good questions to which I gave some pretty resonable answers.

Tonights' venue is in the downstairs room of a big pub called The Alliance. It's a pretty small room but big enough for us and the small but perfectly formed crowd that squeezed into the venue later on.

I did a nice interview with Shane from Smokin' Dog Press magazine, managing to turn off the power to the whole venue in an attempt to turn on the dressing room jukebox.

Watched Nice Wig Ted, who were dead good and then Sedikan who were superb. They had a few technical hitches, but the songs shone through beautfully.

I had a lovely time talking to Tim from Screamfeeder and Angela and Cameron who I'd been emailing for a whle and had never met.

We were next to go onstage and played very eratically, but with the new found easy-going haphazard style that people will grow to love I'm sure. I forgot quite a lot of the words, and all of us forgot some bits and pieces of the songs, but the audience forgave us and had a lovely time dancing and even body-popping to the mess which we call Abdoujaparov.

After the gig we had a lovely drinking session which moved on to Ric's club and ended in a drunken stagger home and eventually to tomorrow's hangover.



1999-03-27, Brisbane - Beerstock

Woke up feeling very shit, this one definitely qualifies for the best hangover of the tour so far. It's a doozey.

After touring the record shops of Brisbane, we decided to do a bit of a tourist thing today and visit the Botanical Gardens. The garden are superb with loads of trees, shrubs, plants, creatures that you definitly wouldn't see back home. My favourites were the huge bamboo trees and and the Water Dragons, which are a like gigantic beautiful amphibious liazards. We were acompanied by our hosts Mark and Joanne who were the perfect guides.

We also went to the top of mount ??? where there is a wonderful scenic view of Brisbane. We spent a while trying to work out which direction were facing and trying to spot recognisable landmarks. I also had a chance to take some snaps with the disposable camera that I had bought that very morning.

After that bit of tourism it was time to hurry over to the other side of town to do the final gig of our Australian tour. When we first arrived in Brisbane there was a message waiting for us asking for our presence at the the annual Beerstock festival, which is an all day benefit gig for 4ZZZ, the radio station where I had an interview yesterday.

We arrived at the venue and carried all of our gear upstairs with the help from the guys from Sekidan. We were the first band to play that day and had to spend some time getting things to work and waiting for the sound engineer to get things together. As a result we ended up going on-stage about 10 minutes late which lead to a very short set of about 6 songs. It was a bit of a shame that it was so short as it was our final Oz gig, but we made up for the brevity with a hectic and hazardous set.

The crowd seemed to love it though and loads of folk came up to us afterwards and asked where we would be playing next. I went over to thank the sound engineer after the gig and she confessed that it was her first ever time behind a mixing desk. aseveryone had a good time I guess that she must be a natural !

After our performance we worked out that we just had enough time to grab some food before watching Sedikan's set. We went to a local Indian restuarant where the food was bleeding marvellous.

I only managed to catch the last four or five songs Sedikan but they sounded great, even when Simon's mike stopped working and Seja had to do all of the vocals by herself.

We then went downstairs to other stage area and watched The Lamos who were great. I haven't seen so much enthusiasm from people playing music as I saw today in Brisbane, it almost restores my faith.

I then went for a piss only to be stopped on the stairs by Adie and Gill. It was a huge suprise as I hadn'rt seen them since they had immigrated to Oz about 4 years ago and had quite forgotten that they had settled in Brissie. It was wonderful to see them again, they are looking very well and are a great advert for all of us Brits who have been thinking of moving to sunnier climbs.

I then got fairly drunk and eventually we all piled back to Mark's place for some wine and an early night.