tilbrook's 1994 tour diary part 3
A site for sore ears. After a hearty seafood breakfast and a massage, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze was just about ready to face the Glastonbury Festival ‘94. Here’s what he saw.......
30 June, 1994
Finished rehearsing with Squeeze in London at 7.00pm on Thursday, packed my guitars and got ready for my first Glastonbury since 1971 (Edgar Broughton Band, Quintessence, the Pink Fairies, Melanie, David Bowie - crowd pleasers all).
Suzanne, Pete, Barry, Martin and I travelled down together. After a few necessary stops- cashpoint, off-licence, petrol station, off-licence - we set off under one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen and made rapid progress, at least until we were a couple of miles short of the festival site. In the next hour and a half we moved, by my estimate, 20 feet. Eventually we turned back and tried a different approach and, hey presto, a mere two and a half hours later, we were on site. Barry, Pete and Martin pitched the tents while Suzanne and I did the hard bit - holding the torch and handing out the pegs. Tired and drained, we all needed a good night’s sleep, but saw no reason to let that interfere with our plans and headed to the backstage bar of the Acoustic tent.
You can only marvel at the scale and ambition of Glastonbury: five music stages, a cabaret marquee, a Big Top circus, two theatre marquees, outdoor and indoor cinemas, permaculture, healing, astrology, tarot, the mysteries of sacred space... In the morning, after breakfasting on a spot of seafood gumbo, I headed straight for the massage area.
I found a small, very quiet massage marquee. The six people waiting their turn didn’t stir at all when I walked in, at which point I lost my nerve and went outside for a cigarette. Chastising myself for being so feeble, I returned to assert my right to queue, in the face of no obstacles at all. I was keeping my shorts on, though. The massage took place on some towels, lasted an hour and was wonderful. After that it was easier to adopt the festival pace, which is about half normal walking speed.
The first music I caught was in the Acoustic tent, where Sharon Shannon played a blinder. We ambled to the main stage, via the Cider tent, to see World Party. The sun was out, there was access to top-class cider, “Put the Message in the Box” was floating across the field ...I was having a good time.
The rumour that Ireland’s World Cup games against Mexico would be shown on the giant screen beside the pyramid stage turned out to be unfounded, but we did discover that there was a telly in the backstage bar at the Cabaret tent. I bumped into Steve Bowditch from the Greatest Show on Legs who wangled some passes. The bar only served cocktails so we ended up drinking our weight in margueritas. Via the Acoustic stage bar to bed.
Personal cleanliness is , famously, the great Glastonbury problem. Intermittent would be the word to describe the showers the next morning. Barry said he was left covered in shampoo and soap just long enough to be worrying what his next move might be should the water not reappear at all. Fortunately it did, albeit at a temperature and velocity which had bypassed the controls.
Spent much of Saturday morning feel hung-over and grumpy and filming with Channel 4 for their Glastonbury coverage. Afterwards, picking among all the experiences on offer, I opted for sleep and drifted off to the strains of Dwight Yoakam. I was due on stage in the Acoustic tent at 8.00pm. This was the largest show I’ve done on my own and I toyed with writing out a set-list beforehand, but eventually decided to wing it as usual, with pleasing results. Professional engagements now completed, I renounced showering and shaving from here on.
At Glastonbury you are forever setting off to see something but getting waylaid by something else and missing it. Thus I set off to see Bjork but was distracted along the way by the Bootleg Beatles. I did make it for Elvis Costello and the Attractions, though. Just because they’re old pals doesn’t mean I can’t turn the cold glare of critical appraisal on them, but even so I have to declare their set was a barnstormer of the highest order - manic energy, aggression, control and those songs. And so to bed, via the Acoustic stage bar.
On Sunday I got off to a late start and then friends and lunch meant I had to forgo Credit to the Nation, Jackson Browne and Johnny Cash. But I did complete my Glastonbury with the wonderful Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
Leaving on Monday, we tuned to Radio Avalon, the festival station, where someone was talking about their political party, which took as its manifesto the words of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. The idea was to establish a nationwide electronic voting system by which the people could decide anything and everything about their country. And I caught myself thinking, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.
Contributed by Yvonne Cubitt
Goodbye Lewisham, and hello Cincinnati. The solo tour over, our man is back with the band
7 July, 1994
I have a theory that the Meat Marketing Board employs undercover people to make life unedifying for vegetarians. It explains why there are so many bogus health-food shops and, on a personal level, why on my flight to Cincinnati I'd have done better eating the in-flight magazine.
It's usual for the Squeeze personnel to change each tour. For this acoustic jaunt we have no drummer. But we do have Paul Carrack switching between piano and snare drum, and as well as the usuals (me, Chris Difford, Keith Wilkinson) there's Aimee Mann. This is a hard concept for journalists to grasp. Yes, we'll play each other's songs. No, Aimee's not joining the band, we're touring together for fun. Well, fun once we've got shot of rehearsals.
The next day we do some fine-tuning. After eight hours, we almost convince ourselves we're ready for tomorrow's show. Knackered, we eat and head up the wooden hills.
Two stories dominate the media here: OJ Simpson and Prince Charles. We played Bogart's on the day Charles and Diana tied the knot -- watching it after the show. Paul remarked he'd never expected to be back to see the thing out.
Our intro tape then was "Land of Hope and Glory". This time it's from "Both Sides of Bruce" by Bruce Forsyth. A "Generation Game" medley segues into the "Sunday Night at the Palladium" theme, and then into a drum roll. The MC says: "Ladies and gentlemen, the London Palladium proudly presents an evening with..." Here we have crudely inserted "Squeeze and Aimee Mann" -- and the orchestra come in with "Just in Time", and we stroll on, waving and winking. It is undoubtedly the highlight. In our post-mortem we conclude we haven't got the balance of the set right. Well, Lewisham wasn't built in a day.
Our driver, Hoot, played drums with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, as well as on sessions by Jimmy Reed that were released as the first 33rpm album. He's been driving tour buses for 41 years, and recently picked up an award for clocking 3 million miles. On one tour, with Bobby Brown, the bodyguards sported AK47s. Hoot makes do with a Colt .45.
A mere 111 miles toward the fourth million and we're in Indianapolis. Chris prunes the set, and we are more relaxed. Aimee throws in a surprise number and is wonderful. In this game of two halves, we're keeping our cues firmly on the wicket.
Via Crown point, Indiana, to Chicago for the Fourth of July Taste of
Chicago festival. We arrive too early to check in, but as Ireland vs. Holland
is on in the hotel bar and that's not so bad. Resignation soon hangs in
the air. Oh dear. The gig, pleasantly early at 3 pm, is the best yet. Later,
to the Bucket o' Suds bar where Joe Danno, 78-year-old jazz fan and dude,
opens just for us. Us and Joe go back a reasonably long way. He makes his
own spirits, and so, over a few Lucifer's Elixyrs, I see out 4 July.
How Late It Was. Luggage disasters, heavy metal hell and spooky goings on as Squeeze travel America. And what's that Labour MP doing in the audience?
14 July, 1994
The last thing I did before leaving the Bucket o' Suds was to secure a bottle of Lucifer's Elixyr for home enjoyment. We checked out of our hotel at 2am and piled on to the bus for our drive to New Haven -- a journey sufficiently long enough for me to finish James Kelman's "How Late it Was, How Late". We finally arrived at 9 pm and when I got up to my room I discovered that the aforementioned bottle had spread throughout my suitbag. I instantaneously sprang into action -- zipping it up so I didn't have to deal with it just yet.
Martyn Lewis would be pleased to know that the next day's gig, at Toads Place, was nothing but good news. A cheering, sold-out crowd loved everything we did, but -- and here's the rub -- it's not very interesting to report. So we'll skip that and travel a further 24 hours, not to Tulsa but to Baltimore.
The routing of this tour would have been particularly hilarious if we hadn't been obliged to travel it ourselves. We talked about changing our agent a while ago and perhaps we were thinking on the right lines. The last couple of times we were in Baltimore we played at the Senator, a beautiful art deco cinema where John Walters had previewed his last three films. Fantastic gigs, a very special atmosphere. So where better to play this time around with Aimee Mann than in Hammerjacks -- Baltimore's premiere heavy metal club.
I read a magazine called something like "Metal Muthers" which had been lying around in the bus and came across an interview with Rob Halford from Judas Priest and his new hard-rockin' band. When they played at Hammerjacks the crowd had been open-mouthed, eager to catch the sweat coming from Rob. As I sweat so much that if pushed I could probably refine enough salt to supply several Third World countries, I was looking forward to emulating this fine piece of performance art. I jest, of course. You either do that or get sad. We did have a good show, but not one enhanced by the environment.
The Labour MP Tony Banks happens to be a huge Aimee Mann fan. As he was over on business anyway he'd come to see us, and joined us for drinks afterwards. Conversation turned to freebies and the taking of them, and Aimee, Spider (Aimee's road person, percussionist and pal) and Tony were dead set against the idea. Tony had paid for his own flight out here and would never consider doing it any other way. Aimee, rather more curiously, would rather buy the record of a band she liked than get it for free. Fine principle, but in an industry where best selling acts get only 19 or 20 percent of the selling price of a record, I am inclined to claw back, however small the opportunity.
From Hammerjacks things could only get better. Unfortunately we were booked to play the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, so we had only a fighting chance. When we arrived I saw the worst economic bombshell I'd ever seen. Asbury Park had once been a thriving coastal holiday destination for many Americans but it has become a ghetto and all the money, and most of the whites, had moved out. The beach was deserted although it was swelteringly hot day, industrial and sewage pollution having long rendered it obsolete. Peeling facades of long-closed down amusement arcades and restaurants gave this place a "Twilight Zone" feel.
Then we checked into the hotel. The Berkely Cataret is worth a stay if you are a fan of "The Shining". In a huge reception area we could find only one person, after a time. It used to be a hospital for wounded soldiers in the Second World War. Chris was going up to New York after the show and so didn't book a room. Bunny, our most hospitable sound guy, was going to be at the gig all afternoon and so let Chris use his room to hang out in for a few hours until after soundcheck. When we got on the bus to go to the gig at showtime, Bunny had a very strange tale to tell. He'd gone back to his room after Chris had vacated, and there was a chair leant up behind the door. He thought that Chris had played a joke on him and thought nothing of it, putting the chair back underneath the table where the phone was. After using the phone he went to have a shower and when he came out the chair was leant up against the table where the phone was, on top of the phone cord. We skedaddled. In a unanimous vote before the gig, we vowed never to return.
Contributed by Lily Giordano