Tour Diaries

The Stranglers. The Hits And heroes UK Tour, 1999.

Reading 13th

Its always a problem, 'first night' and this certainly was not an exception! Technical problems abound and we managed to iron it all out by show time - a great crew - to bash through our 'new set'. As you can imagine that is enough in itself, after all rehearsal is one thing, but stepping out on stage is another. Needless to say a rather nervous start but hey you have to start somewhere!
Did an interview with Meridian TV whose interviewer was told JJ was the bands flautist and was under that illusion 'til he met him ......great research!

London Blackheath 14th

This feels like home......maybe its because I'm a Londoner.....or maybe its because there are no seats in this venue but everything started to slip into place. Moved the set around slightly and I'm sure it won't be the last time great show great audience and a BBC interview for a forthcoming documentary on the digital channel Choice.

Folkestone 15th

Clive & Mike are looking good according to Clive, tho' I'm getting increasingly worried about our two hunky security 'men'?......
Well it was great start to the day, England 101 Tonga 10!, now you don't get to say that too often.... anyway I don't know what it is but I just love this gig- maybe it's because it's by the sea or cos it's embedded in a rock. Arrived in enough time to go down to secret second hand bookshop J.E and I keep to ourselves, and to get a football - keep fit purposes only of course - in time to get to the gig and take the pre Euro 2000 Eng-Scot warm up challenge game between the support band and us (well not all of the band!)
The set was tweeked slightly once again and 'normal' service is almost resumed. Also one pair of 36DD plastic breasts was kindly recieved midway through the show - thanks for that - after all we have been 3 days on the road (see cabin fever)!

Norwich UEA 16th

It's Saturday it's the quiz of the week it's another set change! I arrive to find my conga decorated with a large pair of plastic boobs! Never mind Woody doesn't know yet about the garden gnome outfit!!!! For the uninitiated Woody is 'my little helper' look out for him at a venue near you. It is also quite weird doing this gig so early on the tour as we mostly do it nearer the end of a tour.......
......this was as always a great night but rumours are abounding that I appeared totally naked but for a skimpy apron and a large pair of breasts whilst the guest band were performing. Me????? NAH, shurly shome mishtake!

Guildford 17th

The entertainments mag welcomed us 'home'. Mmm, strange then that over 20 years ago they kicked 'them' out (effectively)! Never mind. We got on with the business of reminding them exactly why they may have had a point then. A particularly loud show with plenty of stage diving etc., and an almost raucous audience made for a fitting end to the first leg of the tour. Dave continuing to throw me during 'Change'this time with some poetry! If only I could reach him.......
Home for a well deserved rest and to finish that last track on the album! It has been 13 days now including rehearsals.

Bristol 19th

Well its back to the 'Cold stone hole' for another seated gig, but hey, no, maybe - like the Olympia theatre in Dublin - something I may have said or done has paid off......there are at least 15 rows of seats missing! Amazing! The trouble is that the mentality seems to remain. This is not to say of course that the audience did not enjoy themselves, far from it. You should always remember that we all don't express ourselves in the same way - see Japan - but I always have a great time here and tonight was no exception....and yes I did - by some coincidence - have the same t-shirt on as last time.....but the set was different!
The biggest laugh of the day by far was the sight and sound of JJ being attacked by..............a mouse!!!!!! No not me!...........Me and Jet were chilling out before the gig when we heard JJ's cries, apparently the terrified mouse leapt out of his bag and then legged it off into a corner where we spotted it's tail peeking out from his hiding place... no we never touched it, I wasn't hungry & Dave was keeping watch! Maybe it was retaliation as I know JJ loves to catch the little critters at home........

Wolves 20th

Started the day with no breakfast but drove to Clifdens best working mans cafe for the traditional bacon sarnie's and tea! Excellent. It also looks like the venue has been moved, so, for all those who thought they would be sat down, I apologise. This was the gig we did last year as well, although we used to do the Civic Hall. It doesn't really matter, though, it's always a great night out for us, and tonight was no exception.......sold out!
As for the guy who was screaming his head off at the front with the question 'where's the new stuff, are you ashamed of it?'......no I'm not. I'm very proud of it and I myself think there should be more of it in the set. Oh and thanks for the 'flare abuse' you know I love it!

Ipswich 21st

Started the day with a bit of work on the final track of the Faith? CD. Picked up JE and then spent the rest of the afternoon in several traffic jams until we finally arrived at the surprise gig so far........
I understand this was the Ipswich Gaumont until I don't know when but I do know that the last time the Stranglers played here a lot of seats found they're way onto the stage where they were piled neatly until the next time! Well they were all back in place but not to the detriment of the show, fortunately, and after yet another set change!!! We enjoyed the best 'party'night of the tour. Highlights included an amazing solo from JE which I have to say reduced me to tears so much so that I had to stop singing to get over it ...love ya Jon! And after an odd running joke between Jon and a fan about his hair (he was holding up posters referring to a haircut - every night!) JE had a little poster made up which he unfurled at the end of one number which read in plain simple English 'FUCK OFF'! Nice one Jon! It should also be noted that Dave appeared in full battledress and almost took two of the crew out when removing his sword at the climax of the gig..... a great night all round..... on to London.

Shepherds Bush Empire 22nd

Picked up my CD singles today so all you who ordered.......
There's always tension in the air at a London show , why I do not know, it's just one of those things. JJ & myself did an interview with a new cable music channel and the BBC are completing their documentary filming at the show, and, we have an old friend of ours doing a 'spot'. His name is Jim Tavare, some of you may have heard of him already as he has had a TV show on C5 recently. We worked together in the Falklands last March, he is a very funny man...well 'live' we thought so anyway, but I'm writing this just before he goes on so I'll report back...........
AHHHHHHH, thats better! Well, Jim went down a storm and the gig was ab fab Dave stealing the show with his ace Genetix and the dark ages gear! Did anyone notice the horse???????

Tonbridge Wells 23rd

Started the day with a student ....well they do say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Always received well here and tonight was no exception. We had our friends from France over but sadly only for the one show. They took some interviews for Strangulation and will be doing a piece on the "Faith?" CD in the next issue.
When you are on a long tight tour like this one the trickiest shows can be right after a top night like last night, but you have to start again, and with a great audience like this its not too difficult! A very good night indeed.

Kings Lynn 24th

'A hungry man is an angry man'. It's Sunday and it means Sunday dinner....but we are an hour late and emergency curry is going to have to do, needless to say, at one good meal a day to work on a 3 PM curry is crap!! And I'm pissed off...
...Got to the gig to watch everybody finishing their SUNDAY BLOODY DINNER and it looked gorgeous. A seated venue, this lives up to that slightly muted experience one has in such a hall, but as I've said before people are totally entitled to do what they like...as long as they are having a good crack!....and, not including the wine bottle coming in after a bit of banter by yours truly. The audience seemed to love every minute of the gig and showed they're appreciation by standing for the last encores. I had a great night....again?
Yes. Now for a well earned day off.

Hemel Hempstead 26th

Leg 3! Well this started with a bang, we set off the fire alarm (apparently) and had to be evacuated from the gig, for real! We all stood on the pavement whilst the fire brigade arrived, and I'm glad to say it was our brilliant chef Giles who caused the mayhem.
It truly was the most "punk" gig tonight. it started loud and hot and finished ******* loud and ******* hot. I think the audience was trying to outdo Shepherds Bush.
I still don't know what the sweet and sour prawns were doing onstage, but hey, the crew said they tasted yum!

Northampton 27th

Seats, seats glorious seats. All I can say is that for me this was possibly the most fun I've had so far, the audience were brilliant and today's dinner was ace! And you finally got one of my shoes, you b*st*rds!!! Still, I suppose it's fitting (ooh) as it is the home of England's cobblers!?!

Nottingham Concert Hall 28th

Well this was interesting, we had the whole place to ourselves, us and 400 others. A thoroughly entertaining party was had by all and sundry, but there was some awful singing - no not by me, by you. Well, not all of you, still, all efforts are appreciated (or are they?).
And the reason we played here and not Rock City - which we absolutely love playing - was simply because that was the gig we were given, but, hopefully next time it'll be different - sorry to have missed some of you.

Warrington 29th

Started perfectly - fruit, a midday wake-up call! Today was also deemed "punk hairdo day!" by the crew - cheers for the sticky stuff Richard!
It always amazes me how many real young people we get here, it's always a noisy reception, always non-stop dancing and always an exhausting gig, The gig itself is very warm and close, which we love, unlike most of the others, and very pretty - unlike the front row. Oh, and who was the little girl in front of me and the bloke with the blue hair? (Dunno - C.i.B.)

Liverpool 30th

Fab city (no pun intended) and first thigs first, go down to Slater Street market and buy some clothes, then dinner - then Dave Mason, a truly brilliant bloke. Last (and the first) time here was magical, so........here goes, and I sincerely hope that the screaming lady from last year is still in the front row. Anyway, I'll be back.....
Phew! Okay, firstly - thanks, it was fucking brilliant, and neither of the kids was mine! However, I wish one of those lovely girls was, mmm mmm, sorry, anyway, this is better by far than that hideous Royal Court - no offence. It just is not great to speak and contact the audience. See you next time.

Carlisle 31st

Six out of seven down, and all the talk is how this is the weakest show on the tour (on audience figures)! I'd like to put the record straight on that one - the place was steaming - anyway...
Left the noisiest coldest most hideous hotel I've ever been to in Liverpool and skirted the Lake District - my bolthole - and arrived just in time for, not a Sunday dinner, but a halloween tea complete with Vampires Blood Soup. The caterers, Holly and Giles, did a fab job, and supplied us with a mega-pumpkin, which I hauled on stage for the encores.
Well we started the show, and not eight bars into the opener and.....yes, 2 pints of SHITE "LAGER" bring the show to an abrupt halt. The next thing I know is that JJ is in the "pit" trying to find the culprit! Anyway...
We picked up and take off and everything goes very well from there, until after the show when the police arrive to question us about "someone stealing a fan's gold chain" and of course we sent them away after30 minutes - no problems. But it's ironic that someone can fuck up your show, and then try to accuse one of your colleagues of stealing! So, if you read this, mate - you are truly a C**T!
On to Blackpool - the "big one" (the big dipper in Blackpool Pleasure Beach - C.i.B.), and the beautiful but crazy Grand.....

Blackpool 1st

This is a very memorable place - a quaint theatre in the middle of the "Golden Mile". The last time we played here, we didn't know what to expect and the whole place - sold out - just erupted, and after two numbers in, we had our "20 stitches in the head" stagediver, who's parents were too busy having their pics taken with the band to care about their son's state! But the day started out badly - our hotel isn't ready, and we aren't happy - then we can't do our own catering, so we have to put up with someone elses cooking (I hope everyone liked it - please bring back Giles and Holly!!!)
I'm sure Woody will have to sign a few more autographs (yes, it started in Liverpool!).
The one good thing about today is the sea, and we're planning one of our classic fireworks "beach parties" for our day off.
On to the show.
Well, I can remember last time at the "exit" point being shown the theatre floor bouncing up and down and the tour manager saying, "if the lights come on, leave the stage, 'cause otherwise you'll disappear through it!" So this time, there is a barrier up!
Highlight tonight is John Ellis appearing in a "Royal Box" doing his solo - I won't say which song - and JJ cavorting around in front of the P.A. stack!Yet again, an excellent night - what a job! - I hope we come back, but for now a day off, and we need one - everyone, including all of you, but especially our crew - thanks lads and Holly, you are fantastic!

Blackpool 2nd

I wouldn't normally talk about my days off, but I just had to mention the "big day out" in Blackpool. Those who were up for it crawled out of our pits at 1 P.M. and wereon our tram by 1:15! By 7:30 we were back on a tram going to Harry Ramsden's where three of our party not only survived the "challenge" of a gigantic meal, but also did it faster than the waitress had ever seen it done. Along with our sideshows we did 22 rides, that's 8 Grand Nationals, 2 Big Ones ( one at night, cool!!), a Wild Mouse, 2 Revolutions, 2 Avalanches, 1 Big Dipper, 1 Black Hole, 1 VR Beast, 1 Derby, 1 Dodgem and 2 Playstations - WICKED ;o)
We also won 3 giant cuddly tours which all went to Gary Knighton, out Tour Manager's new baby, Georgie! What a bunch we looked.

Bradford 3rd

I think it's been 5 years since we played this beautiful hall, and despite the management leaving all the free standing chairs in the hall, the crowd were ecstatic, what a great welcome!
Definite highlights were..... Christmas dinner - yes, 'cause our crew are very close to us we had to have our crimble lunch early - which was absolutely ace.
On to the show, and somehow someone appeared on stage from balcony number two! I nearly dumped the front row with a mic stand and Dave gave his most fancy version of Genetix..... and thanks again to all of you who were there. Can't wait to get back.

York 4th

Started the day perfectly..... breakfast at John's caravan, just outside the hotel, in fact breakfast in a bap, mmm, a Yorkshire speciality.
On to the gig, and, well, I guess it's fair to say that our shows get a little weirder as we get deeper into a tour. JJ wanted to disco dance, as did John, Dave threw his glass somewhere else, the band decided to fuck up the intro to Tank, and John ended up wearing a pink curly wig that Harpo Marx would have been proud of (oh, and Leeds won 3-0). JJ disappeared during the encores and although disappointingly, the audience was slightly less than the year before, as usual everyone had a stonking night.
On to Teeside...

Middlesbrough 5th

Well this is the "we haven't been here for ages" bit of the tour, along with Bradford and Glasgow, and I think the last time we were here was five years ago as well. So, looking forward to a raucous night - in fact, at the last gig an over enthusiastic fan pulled our lighting rig down halfway through the set, nearly killing JE! What is it we do to you all!?!
"Big Day Out" photos going to print....YES!!!
Feeling a bit sad we're going to finish tomorrow, and won't see some of my friends for a while - still that's the way it goes. Looking forward to seeing my folks and family though, and finishing my work for the 12th (my CD release!).
As it's bonfire night we had "Bangers and Mash" for tea, and our 3rd - industrial - fireworks display.
First surprise of the night - A 6 inch black vibrator replaced my beater for "Ice Queen" and reaching to the riser I picked up my "beater" which made me jump like a scared child - thanks to the crew for that and, ironically, it's the sound and feel I've needed all tour. Never mind.
No sign of the lkighting monster, but what a vibey night, one set surprise and a bundle for the singer/security man and front row.....
Woody getting more bizzarre every night. Tonight he appears as Michael Crawford (Phantom Of The Opera) - on to Glasgow.

Barrowlands 6th

They put the big match back a day, well you can't have 2 major events in one day! This really was the best gig on an altogether brilliant tour, the atmosphere here tonight was incredible, it really is a tragedy that we're not here regularly (we do ask but are told what's available to us). The fact that for once it was the last night made it that bit more special of course and the roar that greeted us you just don't hear anywhere else. The whole band were really on a high tonight and we all agree it was the best tour for a while......
...Well, thats it, I hope you all enjoyed the tour (and the diary was fun) and I hope to see some of you on the next one or indeed at my solo shows......

Paul.

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