1994 tour diary part 5
"When Did Your Father Last See You?"
To Ireland for some more solo shows. The response to the ones I had done earlier in the year seemed to merit a speedy return, so why not?
Well, here's one reason: familiarity breeds contempt, or worse, plain indifference. But I've been the object of indifference before. I can live with this risk. I think open hostility is the most difficult thing to deal with, such as the time Squeeze played at a veterinary college. Discerning, rightly enough, that we weren't a punk band, the audience failed to take a shine to us and started throwing things, which we manfully ignored. Only when we got off did we discover what they had been pelting us with. I suppose they have access to those sort of things at a veterinary college. Let's just say, even if I hadn't been a vegetarian, I would probably have been dis-chuffed.
At the Roxy in Waterford, I though perhaps I had overplayed my hand. It had been packed the last time and now it wasn't. But within 20 minutes the place was heaving and jolly and one particularly enthusiastic couple was working the crowd. I only hoped they weren't saying anything too embarrassing as almost everyone in the audience had been accosted by my dad and my step-mum Liz by the end of the show.
My dad is about as likely to forward-plan as Michael Portillo is to spend Christmas with the Heseltines. He'd mentioned on the phone that he and Liz might be coming over and I'd heard no more until they turned up. Still, there we were, chatting in the warm glow of post-gig relaxation, when a woman who was much closer to my dad's age than mine came up to me and said how much she had enjoyed the show. She went to kiss me on the cheek but in a move of alarming dexterity swerved her face around at the last moment and managed to insert her tounge in my mouth. The earth moved for me. Rapidly. I ran back to the dressing-room.
In Galway, at the Warwick Hotetl, my mood wasn't right. The quiet between the songs was too darn respectful for my liking and I wished the crowd would lighten up a bit -- though I was talking to them like a Radio 2 announcer. I put it down to tiredness and went to bed.
I had a chance to redeem myself at the same venue the next night. Someone asked me to do an Irish song, and as I couldn't convincingly bluff my way through anything by U2, Sinead O'Connor or the Cranberries, and as I wasn't about to risk my neck with "The Wild Rover", I was left with one option only. "Olay Olay Olay Olay" it was. Dad was overcome with emotion and Guinness in equal measures and, for the second time, made a short speech at the end of the show, silly old sausage that he is.
The last show of this tour is at Whelans in Dublin, and when I start playing "I'm a Believer", a bunch of people begin dancing like the Sixties cartoon characters the Archies, so I stop and ask them if they'd care to join me on the stage. One guy, whose name is Johnny, is up to the task and maintains a level of energy and intensity, as well as a sense of humour, that is incredible to behold.
Afterwards, waiting for an encore at the side of the stage, I see a
familiar figure approaching, looking overcome with equal measures of emotion
The Final Frontier
The last time that I went on tour, I finished on an up not -- triumphant gig, crowd going mad, Glenn very pleased with himself. The ending of this one could be summarised in even shorter terms -- gig, crowd going, Glenn very mad.
Squeeze in mianland Europe have never been big news. There was a spate of cancelled tours in the early Eighties that besmirched our reputation for reliability, and the invitations have been thin on the ground ever since. So when asked if we would play the Langeland Festival '94 in Denmark, our response was, "You betcha". We had been to Denmark only twice before, to play one-off gigs, so this one, we hoped, could be third time lucky.
The alarm bells should have rung when we agreed to play with no sound check and rented equipment, which is a bit like agreeing to go on a job interview in a borrowed suit that you don't know the size of and haven't seen before. But you know -- put your best foot forward and all that. Anyway, we had nothing to lose: we have the same sort of profile in Denmark that the Lars Lilhold band (playing in prime position at the festival on Friday night) enjoys in Britain.
The coach that had picked us up from the airport deposited us at our hotel early on Friday night, just enough time for a quick wash and brush-up before going down to the restaurant for supper. It was some time later that I noticed the tape they were playing at subliminal restaurant volume.
I say some time later with authority. Half an hour after sitting down, without being handed a menu, I thought I'd go up and ask for one. The restaurant manager looked at me as if I'd asked him to sing "The Lambeth Walk", and simply said "Why?" I mentioned, in a not at all impolite way, about being humgry, the half-hour delay and that we'd not even been offered a drink. His reply was simple and effective. He told me, in the manner of a headmaster dealing with a persistant and irksome troublemaker, to go and sit down and the waitress would bring us one.
Which I did. It was only about half an hour after that -- drink-free and menuless, naturally -- that me ears fell upon the aforementioned music: the sound of Roger Whittaker's "Greatest Hits". This was followed by Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Greatest Hits". By a quirky twist of fate, these were the very two records that Chris Difford and I had exchanged in a particularly hostile round of present giving on Christmas. Truly a night to remember.
The next night we were on the stage at 5:30pm, with one and a half hours to prove ourselves. The sound onstage was bad and stayed bad. "Manya tac" -- phonetic Danish for "thanks very much" -- is what I say to the crowd after the first song, and it's about as animated as I get. There's a whole list of things to say which I've written out on cue sheets, but most of them remain unused. Having done enough gigs to recognise a dog when I hear one, I realise I should just ride it out and not try anything too drastic.
So why was I reminded of that moment in "2001 - a Space Odyssey" when a bone is thrown up into the air and seems to hover motionless in space? Because at the end of the last song, I threw my guitar up into the air, seaching for one redeeming moment of rock 'n' roll abandon. And I looked up at it, awestruck, as it hung motionless above me at the apex of its flight. But then it started on its return journey, in slow motion but gathering speed, and aiming straight for my head...
Still, if you're ever in Denmark playing in a band and are stuck for
something to say at the end of you show, I can offer you this off one of
my cue cards: E ha veir ut fantastishka taag for dee. I kell
heura poor us, ve air (insert your name here). Tak four e aften.
It should go down a treat.
Contributed by Lily Giordano