Chris Difford's 1998 U.K.Tour Diary  

The following entries were written during the 1998 Domino tour of the UK. Entries are in chronological order. 

 

    Diffys Daft Domino Dispatches.

    Warm up 1.

    Playing North of Norwich on my birthday was never in my master plan of life, but then with Squeeze you come to expect the absurd. Up here dead people come to say goodbye to the world and look out on the Wash from their nursing homes. It¹s a town where I saw no one on the streets before or after the show. And the show went well, we tightly played through the new two hour set and in the end the crowd seemed warmed up enough to dance a little, just a little. The drive home saw me in bed by three a.m. birthday over.

    Warm up 2.

    The smoky old pub atmosphere still exists and it never changes, the heat and the smell of your clothes the next day, its work to like it. But like it I do and the set goes well to some of the old faces, although the heat and the tour hour set did seem to wilt even the ardent of squeeze fans. For me it dragged a little but I had to admire the playing and the tightness we seem to constantly show. We sold 82 new albums, hold the Bentley.

    Belfast.

    The big old Ulster Hall was almost filled by the time we came on stage, and for almost all of the show arses were stuck to seats. Mouths mouthed the words, and feet tapped, smiles were prized from faces and by the end of the evening they were all up and dancing. I kept thinking of my Mum and Dad, of how they once met here in Belfast and fell in love, and then came the family and the family way. I remember the ferry coming in to dock at 5 in the morning, black steam high above the funnel. This was a world away after a long night crossing the Irish Sea; this was my mother's motherland. A nostalgic night that made me feel very peaceful.

    Dublin 1.

    In Dublin fair city we played well although we all seemed a little nervous, but as usual by the end of the show everyone was up on their feet dancing and singing. We still need to work on the set, some changes need to be made so that the flow is a more even, we need Labelled With Love. Vicar Street is a new venue and its like playing on the set of a tv show, its very dry sounding and this can make it hard for us to whip up the atmposhere. We survived.

    Shopping can be a problem in Dublin, its knowing where to stop that baffles me. Domino is on the shelves so I'm told, I don't have top buy one of those at least.

    But I do buy a pen and a new computer case, sad.

    Dublin 2.

    What a contrast from the night before, a completely different night as the audience seemed more relaxed and so did we. The set seemed good to us too. Vicar Street is a lovely place to play and we have had two great nights here.

    From Dublin and a plush room in the Morgan Hotel we travelled across the sea on one of those new fast ferry things. Then we drove up to where I am today, Middlesborough. My room is small, I had to decide between having either two chairs and my suitcase, or no suitcase and two chairs. So I placed one chair outside in the hall. This morning its back in, this time in the bathroom, where I have to nudge past it to have a pee. But its home for now and our day off.

    Middlesborough.

    The new set seems to work well tonight as we sail through the first half in calm waters, everything was just fine. The crowd seemed tired by the end of the night, yet we were all buzzing with a successful night on the boards. Back stage there is the option to have a massage, I took this up and my feet felt like marsh mellows on stage, a treat for any old feet who have to bear the load of one stocky chap. Outside in the gloom and rain geezers built like garden sheds and hardly dressed women cued up for the club next door. It was cold out there as young girls clutched their breasts in line trying to keep warm. There really are tough up here. It was all going to end in a fight or a shag against the wall, or both. I was going to bed in my broom cupboard and watch t.v.

    Birmingham.

    This new hall is beautiful inside and very well equipped for shows of any nature, it's a treat to spread out in the dressing room and know that you wont see one rat anywhere about the place. Maybe because it is so neat the audience took a long time to get into the show. it was a game of two halves, they got up right near the end and loved it when they did. Because of the big stage we were spread out too much and the vibe as it were was sometimes distant. I communicated with Hilaire with smoke signals for example.

    Reading.

    Another show of two halves. Listened to my mini disc player and a compilation of music for some sanity in the dressing room. Sanity, that's all I need, apart from serenity. Thanks Lisa.

    Hemel Hempstead.

    A great night, the best so far I would say, not least because a girl got up on stage and kissed me, I was red faced and very jolly from the experience. I moved like a seal on ice for the rest of the set grooving like a puppy with a ball of wool. And apart from that, yes it was the best night so far, we all played so well it is a treat to be stage buddies with such great people.

    Guildford.

    Not the show I was hoping for, a let down after last night in fact, but no own goals and no real second half to talk of. A draw. Nice to see some fans from America in the front row, thank you for coming.

    Bristol.

    Bristol always reminds me of when Elton got up and played with us and how much fun that was, the crowd loved it. Tonight was just as good but without Sir Elton by our side, we were top notch as Glenn would say. I like Bristol a lot.

    Hanley Stoke on Trent.

    Many years ago we played here supporting Climax Blues Band, I recall wanting to never be that old and still playing gigs, but here I am and here we are none the worse for it. Ash's Mum and Dad were in the building and it was good to meet them, we all look so cool in our suits these days, an advert for nice e chocolates. Another good show, my best night on the fret board so far this tour.

    Blackburn.

    There are so many holes in Blackburn Lancashire but how many I do not know. A great night was had by all even though I played like a complete plonker. Before the show I had a long and soothing massage from our travailing crew of girls, its relaxing to the point of bliss. For a show that was having poor ticket sales it turned out nice again in Blackburn. Some of the old faces turned out to see us and that always makes you feel good inside. Ash went out on the town with his mates and the town seemed to be buzzing as we left for our hotel 25 miles away listening to radio 3 and Saturday night jazz. We know how to live.

    Wolverhapton.

    It's a big old hall and it's full tonight with people up for it, and the two hour set drip feeds all the good stuff, the new stuff and more into the souls of the Squeeze like people there.

    Northampton.

    I remember sitting on a 747 once and thinking this thing will never get off the ground, and as we slowly rolled down the runway I willed with all my might that it got up into the air. And it did. Tonight I felt like that as I stood on stage too full of catering tuck trying so hard to get into the show, the jumbo of Rye, rolling like a 400 ton jet down the runway into the sky, the encore.

    An old bus station this one, but what a night to ring your bell, the place went nuts and the girls danced all over the hall. Then Glenn gets them all up on the stage, the smell of mixed after shaves and perfume is interesting. It's a family show.

    Brighton.

    The stress of having one's partner at a show can be very great, tonight was just like this for me, and although I played well I felt like I was being watched, and I was. On the way home I got the low down on how the show was from the eagle eye and heart of Heidi. It was a foggy drive home. I will remember it well.

    Folkestone.

    A guest list fit for a king tonight, forty or more local friends from farm and wide came to see the show, and the highlight must have been me playing Some fantastic place completely wrong so we had to stop. Red faced I carried on into the shadows of the stage. Vic Reeves came along for support and made a meal back stage of my jazz arrangements. We laughed aloud, I went home along the coast to mull over the chords once again.

    Poole.

    Another night of bodies on stage and yet more kids and mums to shuffle with, it's odd for me I must say, but Glenn likes it and that's what counts. Squeeze is Glenn and where he leads we all follow.

    Clockwork is the word that springs to mind for tonight's show, good none the less when all said and done. Beats rowing across the sea in a bath tub.

    Torquay.

    And the sun comes out for our arrival in the English Rivera, the town looks so pleased with itself in the winter sunlight. On stage we play to half a house and  I feel the most relaxed I have felt on the whole tour, odd feeling to have. It says that things are running smoothly, it says that auto pilot has locked in. The show ends with another pitch invasion, I broke a string and could not do anything about it as I was surrounded by herberts breathing beer all over me. The dragons then stood on my foot switch and then I gave up and stood at the back. It was good to talk with Jim after the show, one of our sturdy Squeeze fans who has seen it all and heard it all before.

    Portsmouth.

    Another busy night of pulling shapes and looking forward to Christmas.

    Ipswich.

    Another busy night of pulling shapes and looking forward to Christmas.

    Cardiff.

    We played well even though the sound was tough in the hall, some great voices in the room tonight. In the van and drive up to London for some VH1 in the morning. It's all go at the top.

    Manchester.

    The house was full and the vibe was very good throughout the set. Tiredness baked a cake for me tonight as we had just driven up from London to do the show and then we drove right back again after it. Saw some good mates after the show, but all too briefly.

    Cambridge.

    Recording for radio two tonight and as soon as I play the first song I can feel it there in my bones, the ears of radio land about me. So each chord seems like mud fight with my fret board. In general we all came off feeling a little under par.

    Another busy night of pulling shapes and looking forward to Christmas.

    Leeds.

    The best show of the tour by far for us all, the crowd were fantastic and the shopping in town is second to none. What a lovely day. But boy was it loud. I want to grow old to hear my grandchildren cry, or do I, and playing that loud could wreck my chances.

    Halifax.

    Nice dinner before the show back stage with Holly and Duncan. Nice tv work during the day at YTV, and a nice drive to Glasgow after the show. Nice.

    Glasgow.

    Fantastic show, and the only pitch invasion was by Justin Currie from the Dels. It was one of those nights you wished you were in the Beatles and then found out you were. We could of played all night, and almost did. The shopping in Glasgow is fantastic, check out the great book shop down by Princes Gate. And our hotel was fab too, I stole all the soap and shampoo from the bathroom.

    Rod Stewart's band were in the hotel too, on higher pd's I have no doubt.

    Southend.

    Not as good as it normally is for some reason, must be the Christmas thing. Another busy night looking forward to Christmas, and all that pie. Nice to see some fans from America in the front row, thank you for coming.

    London 1.

    A great night in what's known as our home town. The guest list was full and so was the bar afterwards. The crowd were on our side and we had a great time being Squeeze for a night. Got stopped by the police and added three points to my driving licence.

    London 2.

    Joined on stage by Natasha Atlas, belly dancer and singer for Take me, it sounded nervous but fun. Glenn was beaming with joy as her Egyptian vocal nodes reached places only he and I could dream of. Another night of full bar and guest list.

    Crawley.

    Meanwhile back on Mars.

    Liverpool.

    Tonight for one night only, Ian McNabb. It was loud cold and fantastic for some reason. I spent the day at LIPA taking to students about song writing. I was completely shagged out from a drive over night from London with the crew. I like Liverpool, every time I go there I want to live there, then I go home and think again.

    Nottingham.

    Polite, and easy going night after a curry with our road crew. I preferred being on stage to being in my hotel room, but then who wouldn't. Christmas parties are in full swing, hotels are choked with bank managers dancing backwards, till girls flirting with loading staff, and cab drivers looking scared out side the front door. Another busy night looking forward to the new year, and all that future. Glenn got dressed as an indian waiter, and looked very at home.

    Sheffield.

    Not bad, not good, half full, half empty, half a mo the tour is nearly over! Mark Nevin and Helen Boulding got up to sing with us. It was very nice to see them both and to have them on stage.

    Hull.

    It is now.. and a drive back home with that odd feeling of time travel, how quickly it all flew by. Another tour under the belt, another day and another album to look back on. Tired eyes see the road ahead but can never know what lays around the next turn. 

     And then on my return home I received a nomination card for the Golden Globe Awards, a song written for the film Still Crazy. Everyone started calling me, I felt like a rabbit in the car head lights.

    Why me? great news, great rabbit.

    Happy new year.

    Chris "what's up doc" Difford


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