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Gigs 1998

I have been keeping this list of gigs I have attended and often written reviews for friends. It might interest someone so I have decided to put it online. I have tried to go to a lot of gigs in recent times as that is the only enjoyment worth aggravating my ME for but I am afraid it still affects the reviews.

UFO - Norwich UEA 7th February 98

I heard about this gig with only a week before when I got a flyer for another venue. I have always found UFO to be fairly good but not great LP wise. If I am desperate for a new CD they would be a good band to catch up on. Since there was a new CD out I thought I had better get it so that I know more of the set. It is a bit of an odd CD as it contains 8 tracks from 1995 plus 2 classics remade and 3 bonus tracks from MSG, Moog/Way and the Phil Raymond Project. The new UFO Stuff is very good though.

I was concerned about the gig as it meant I would need to stand (not something I find easy to do for more than 2 minutes) and I did not know what the set would be like. At the start of the gig there was a lot of stuff I did not know but I still found it really enjoyable (most unusual for me). Then we got a couple of numbers of Walk On Water and then we moved into the closing of the set with all the well known Classics like Rock Bottom, Lights out and Doctor Doctor. Some of these were done over two Encores with fairly long gaps between.

The Drummer was different from the album Steve young I think and he is apparently Ex-AC/DC. Phil Moog on Vocals was much as I remembered him. He was mixed a bit to low though. I am not sure I have seen Michael Schenker before and he was incredible cool and rooted to the spot. He seemed to be the "Stereotypical German" type character. He was played great guitar thought just how I liked it. Phil Raymond moved around a fair bit. Well between his Keyboards and I assume Rhythm guitar anyway. Much more than Moog and Schenker. Then there was Pete Way. This guy is a real character. I don’t think he was in UFO when I saw them before either. He certainly gave the audience something to watch with his Bass on an Extremely long strap. He did all the tricks. You know behind his head through his legs. Laid on the floor and constantly running around and seemingly trying to get in Schenker's eyes sight.

It was a great gig and I would recommend any go and for that matter get the new album.

Yes - London Hammersmith Apollo - 5th March 1998

This was my first Yes gig and I was not really sure how I would feel about it. I only decided to go because my friend and I had attended a few gigs at the end of 97 and we had run out of concerts to go to and we thought we might as well take a look Yes.

The day before the gig I developed a Sore throat and general Head cold and that combined with my ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome meant I was in a terrible state for the gig itself. Not a good Omen I thought. But luckily overall the gig was very enjoyable, not outstanding, but as good as I could hope for really.

I am glad I was positioned on the Left hand side of the theatre. I think the band need to rearrange their positions on the stage. All the Main Solo/Leads were on the Left. I.e. Igor, Steve and Jon Anderson. This was great from my Position but I think I would have been annoyed if I was on the Right of the Theatre.

Billy Sherwood was given very little to do. And what he was doing was incredibly difficult to hear from my position. His backing vocals and ever his Guitar solo in Starship Trooper were all very low in the Mix. Perhaps they were all coming out of the Right Speaker banks.

Alan White played Drums much the way I expected I have to say I think I prefer Brufords sound but I have no problem with Alan.

Chris Squire seemed to Enjoy Hamming it up when it came to doing his solo spots etc. I could see what someone meant when they said he was intimidating.

Jon Anderson seemed in good form and was clear in the Mix.

Steve Howe completely dominates the show. Everything seemed based around him. I could not understand why he did not Share some of his parts with Billy Sherwood. But then again what I could of Sherwood’s solo on Starship Trooper made me think he sounds a bit Modern (Fast runs with little feeling) so maybe that was for the best.

I am a Rick Wakeman fan more than a Yes fan so Igor was always going to get a tough time from me. I thought some of the reviews of him stating that he was just pleased to be in the band seemed harsh. He seemed very much to have his own style of doing things. And it was interesting to me that even he did not get very good sounds from his keyboard sets up’s either. There were Moog like sounds but I was not convinced it was a Moog he was playing and I think perhaps it should be. Judging from the free format stuff he played he seemed more Jazz(?) influenced and perhaps more like Moraz in style. Since I don’t like that sort of style it was not easy for me to judge. Despite this I thought he did very well. He was certainly more essential to the night than Billy Sherwood IMO.

The Set list was I guess much as the American leg of the Tour. There was no Mind Drive though and we had Wondrous Stories and From the Balcony which I was not expecting. I probably just have a faulty memory though.

I enjoyed the night and I am now considering going to a date in the second leg of the Tour in April.

Rick Wakeman - Stalham Baptist Church - April 10 1998

There were flood warnings for most rivers in my Area so Mum (my Driver) and I decided we had better go early. As it turned out we had no delays and no trouble finding Stalham Baptist Church which is 66 miles from Ipswich and I assume more of a village than a Town. We ended up being an hour early and surprisingly 3 or 4 other cars all turned up at a similar time. The Road crew was also just entering the Church for the finale sound check before the doors opened about 6.45.

We were all requested to be seated by 7.15 for a 7.30 start and that was a good move as they had sold out and it seems, sold too many seats, as they had to fill the isles with buckets seats. I assume no one from fire safety was in the audience! Apparently until two weeks before the gig they had been wondering if they had made a Mistake in getting Rick back as tickets sales had been very slow. And then everyone bought them. Clearly Concert promotion is not for the faint hearted.

The church was about 20 people wide by 10 rows and had 3 or 4 rows in a circle upstairs. Rick had played the church on the last Piano tour so it was going to be interesting to see how much variation there would be in the stories etc.

The Tour it seems was originally going to be called the 40 days and 40 nights tour but ended up as "Words and Music". I preferred the original title given it was Good Friday but "Words and Music" is very descriptive.

Paul Field came on at 7.30 and while he held little interest to me I was not praying for him to end or anything. Rick it seems had encouraged him to tell a joke and his general in between song chat was interesting.

Of course my main interest of the night was Rick and he I guess came on around 8.30. Unusually he went straight into a chat. He re-told the Countdown stories from the last Theatre tour but as Gill mentioned updated it to say that he had just recorded some more shows.

He then played Gone But not forgotten on the pretend Piano. IE The Keyboard set up and dresses to look like a mini Piano. As Rick sat down someone in the Audience suggested he was "Close to the Edge" which amused Rick enough

to repeat it into the mic.

Rick then told a story about how stubborn his family are and in this case his Grandmother. She had decided she was going to see him do Journey but the promoter had forgotten to hold back Tickets for Rick. So Rick had to buy them from a Ticket tout at 6 times value. He had given some to Peter Sellers and his Wife but they were not together and it turned out Ricks Grandma was sat between them and refused to move. He also then told the Story of Morning has Broken and how he never got paid and there never told anyone how to play it.

He of course then played Morning has broken

Rick then told the Story of the Recording of Jane Seymour from the last Theatre tour. IE How the Vicar did not charge for the facilities of his church but kept dropping subtle hints that he was short of funds for a new roof etc.

Rick then played Jane Seymour and that was again the highlight of my night. I love the deep tones and that and I am a real sucker for Organ pieces. It is a shame Rick did not let Rip on the Church Organ which was situated on a balcony above but it is of course understandable that he didn't

Next up was the Story about him Doing Breakfast TV when it first started here in the UK. This was last told on the What's on TV Tonight tour so although I had heard it before it was quite fresh to most people. Basically Rick had been due to do a TV appearance the same Morning as Two Monty Python stars one of whom was dressed as a Parrot. That Morning as the program went on Air news of Gandhi's assassination came through so the Programs presenter told Rick the whole program would be dedicated to the news and it would not be appropriate to use Rick. The Python in the Parrot suite then asked if the same applied to them.

Rick then said he was doing Merlin the Magician but he needed a volunteer as it was not possible to play it by himself. Since he needed some chords holding as he went to the mini Piano for the last section. He therefore grabbed a lady from the audience and did it as a "duet". Of course not quite as the pre-song run through had suggested as when he got to the Piano a roadie bought him a letter to read.

Next up was the Story of Rick's mum liking the Piano concerts but not the full blown Rock concerts. She decided she was take 12 people from an old Folks home to the premiere of the 1984 tour thinking it was a piano concert. And When Rick said it was not she told him he would have to change it. Of course he did not and the old people went to the gig and some even enjoyed it which impressed Rick and told him not to Pigeon hole people into stereotypes.

Rick then played the 1984 Overture and Hymn. This again was done on the last Theatre tour but not the Church tour. And since Adam was not singing in this one I enjoyed it a lot more.

We then got the standard intro to the Nursery Rhyme concerto. And of course the piece itself

Then the potentially long chat of Ricks conversion. I was most curious to see what he did here. And basically it was a brief over view of his beliefs but a big expansion on how Nina had been converted. I don't think the main part had been told on the church tour before but it is conceivable that I had heard the story before at sometime (thinking about it, I guess it was in "Say Yes").

Rick then played Help. This being appropriate as Rick had needed a Mortgage to help pay a large tax bill.

Rick then said the next song would be Eleanor Rigby and did the standard intro but then he moved on to tell the "That's by Dog" story from the Wot's on Tv Tonight tour. I can't think how to summarise it briefly so I won't :-)

And that was the end of the set. Except Rick did not bother leaving the stage before the Encore as he thinks it is a stupid tradition.

He then said he was going to finish with "The Day Thou gavest lord has ended" (Anne Boleyn) which is the song he played before going to bed.

I guess the total set was only 90 mins (instead of 2hrs of the theatre tour) this time due to the support act but not having Adam and Frazor singing meant it is far more Enjoyable for me than the last tour.

I look forward to the next tour of any kind and am very grateful to Rick for Touring England so much :-)

Yes - Brighton Dome - 21 April 98

The venue for this gig was really nice. Being a Dome even though I was Two rows from the Back and in seat 74 I was still almost in line with the Right Speaker Bank. And being in the Balcony I had a really good view of the Keyboards and every thing. The Seats are very raised for each row to. So basically I loved the venue.

As for Yes they disappointingly did the same set as the last leg of the tour. This was disappointing only because the band had talked of making some changes. Actually Steve Howe changed his last Solo song to "Clap" but I don’t enjoy his stuff anyway.

I went to Brighton in the morning arriving at my brother Mikes at mid-day so in theory I had time to recover but not in practise. Most of I new I was in bad shape as we head off to the gig and my memory is very blurred of it but I enjoyed it and it was good to see Mike’s house at last.

Fish - The Oval - 2 May 98

A Good gig. Not as long as the previous one but still very enjoyable. Actually there was less gaps between songs so it flowed better.

Rick Wakeman - The Philharmonic Hall Liverpool - 31 May 98

Well I did not know weather to make the effort for this gig or not. Liverpool is a six hour train ride away and if I sitting for more than 3 hours a day I am guaranteed to be uncomfortable and "out of it" at the time and suffer for it for a few days after. I decided I would go for it though as the Risk of missing playing any thing with an Orchestra was to great. I did not expect Rick to do anything with them and in fact I suspected it would only do about 20 minutes of stuff. As it turned out it was as I expected but I still enjoyed the night and if I had been a local to the venue would have thought it extremely good value. The ticket price was 14 UKP. It was in aid of the Clatterbridge Cancer Research trust. The Event started at 7.30, had a 15 minute interval and finished at 11.00. So it Rick was only on 20 minutes what was the rest of the show?

Well it started with Rick introducing the Merseyside Youth Orchestra. (He would introduce all the acts). They did a few Film Fanfares, The Waltz from the Orient Express and then Theme From Star Wars. I have never seen a full orchestra before and I was very impressed. I have to say they did not make as much noise as I expected but it was still really good. I was about 10 rows back and in the centre of the hall. In my Estimation exactly the Right place for such a wide presentation. And the Acoustics for the hall seemed very good.

Next was a Pianist Glenys Carroll who I have to say did not really interest me. The music she played stuck me as more Lounge Lizard stuff (Mind you I am a hard Rocker at 32 was one of the youngest in the very old and Grey audience). They were "I Won’t send Roses" , "Bilitis", "On My Own", "Chaplin Medley".

Next up was a Local Comedian who’s name I have forgotten. I has or will be on Live At Jongulers and he was fairly reasonable.

The we had the Flint Male Voice Choir. They did "Entrance and March of the Peers", "Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi", "Sound and Alarm" and "Bryn Myrddin". They were very good and conjured up images of Coal miners and Slaver working.

Then we had some one from the WWF with an Exotic Species, According to Rick. It was a Comedian with Sid the Venezuelan Flocking Parrot. This was great stuff in a very similar vein to a Monty Python or Two Ronnies Sketch.

Finally Rick Adam and Frazor closed the first half with Eleanor Rigby.

Rick then Start the 2nd Half with Nursery Rhyme Concerto and then Adam returned to help our on Jane Seymour. This was good but did not impress me as much as at the Church tour I last saw it on. I like the Church version because it was really in Stereo. This did not seem to be the case as much here. Mind you I had forgotten what Adam part in it was and had to look up my records to see if he had played on it when I saw them on the last 3 piece tour. (He did)

The Flint Male Voice Choir then did some more songs I could list but won’t.

Then Bobby Davro a Comedian/Impressionist did a fairly length section. He is a bit to much of a Variety Act for me but Rick and the Support technicians etc really enjoyed him and Rick got him to do a bit more.

Finally the Orchestra and Choir did Pomp and Circumstance March No .1 (i.e. Land of Hope and Glory) and Jerusalem. Rick and the other acts did appear in the Corner to help sing Jerusalem but I slightly disappoint Rick did not help out on Keyboard. It was good stuff no the less. I would certainly consider to see an Orchestra doing Popular Classics again.

It was a good night out and a very interesting challenge for my body :-).

GOWAN - Colchester, Oliver Twist - 22 June 1998

Well this was one of the most unusual gigs I have ever been too. Gowan is an Artist that has sold 8 Platinum albums and had 4 number one singles in Canada. On at the Weekend he is playing the Diana Memorial Concert at Althorpe park to around 25,000 people. Tonight he played to a 6 people! This was I Discovered always likely to be the case because England were playing (and losing) in the World Cup. In Hard Roxx Magazine it said that Gowan is just enjoying places new and seeing how he goes down in a country where he is unknown. I guess this is a good thing. He certainly did not let it put him off the gig. He was going to do two sets but decided given the audience that he would take requests and questions and just play through. This he did. We got a 2 hour set complete with two new tracks and 2 he said he had not performed live before. The audience got a big boost when another fan arrived after the game had finished. Gowan was in the unusual position have having met all the audience up to that point. Interestingly there were two magazines there to report on the gig and me with my DAT machine so maybe a few more will hear the set or about it. Anyway as Gowan was coming off stage he spotted the new guy and said something that prompted the guy to say he has missed "Guns and God" earlier. Gowan therefore decided he would play it again and this time just with his twelve string acoustic (no power) on a stool where the crowd should be. Provided my film works I have a picture of the crowd (minis me of course) as they watched.

It was mainly Gowan and his keyboard (a single line of keys). On one song he also played Harmonica and of course he also used the 12 string acoustic. He played most of the tracks from the "Homefield" album released. And of course Criminal Mind. I read in Hard Roxx that this song needs to be seen for full effect (I thought it was great anyway). And I could see what they meant. Gowan really seems to enjoy putting himself in to the twisted mind of a criminal. This I am sure will be lost to people in a big crowd unless there is a video screen. Hopefully the BBC or whoever shows the Memorial Concert will Criminal Mind.

I really good night out and all for five pounds. The fools don't know what they missed!

Ipswich Evening Star 4th July 1998

Lawrence Gowan, The Twist Music Venue, Colchester

TALENTED musician that he is, Canada's Lawrence Gowan was in the area last week promoting his first UK album release, HomeField. He has already achieved platinum status with eight of his albums in his home country and four number one singles.

HomeField comprises Lawrence's better-known work plus many tracks off his previous two albums; it proves a brilliant taster for any new listener.

Last Saturday, Lawrence was privileged to perform at the Diana Princess of Wales Tribute Concert at Althorp Park alongside Chris de Burgh, Wet Wet Wet and Lesley Garrett among others.

His show in Colchester, a bit smaller in audience numbers than Althorp, was simply chock-full of first class melodies.

The rhythmic opener Innocent followed by the excellent Good Catches Up served as perfect indications of Lawrence Gowan's velvet voice and spot-on piano playing.

Throughout the show Lawrence maintained a familiar banter with the some what intimate audience, eagerly accepting and performing any track requests, some of which were the first time he had played there live. A Criminal Mind, the track for which Gowan is most notably known is superb live - his haunting vocals send shivers up the spine

The Quality of his performance was outstanding, featuring some passionate balladry in the form of Make It Alone and Holding This Rage. It is no surprise that Lawrence Gowan has been so successful. I have no doubt that he will be repeating that success here in Britain.

NIKKI SHARIAT (also writes for Hard Roxx Magazine)

Deep Purple - Wembley 15 October 1998

I have very mixed feelings about this gig. The Set list I saw earlier this year looked very poor on paper. I therefore decided not to look at what was being played recently. I was very disappointed by the Abandon album it is very mediocre and to even for my tastes. Certainly not a patch on Perpendicular which really excited me. I seemed to recall the set list I read said the band started with Hush which I was looking forward to seeing but we got Ted The Mechanic for an opener and no hush at all. I thought it a good opener and for several songs I thought this was really great. The band looked so happy and I liked the fact Strange Kind of Woman had a Drum and Guitar interplay instead of the normal Gillan Guitar one. Then we got to the middle part of the set with the Abandon tracks and while they were OK that is all. I liked Steve Morse's guitar Solo and I have to say he didn't seem so obsessed with throwing in the boring fast guitar runs. He seem a bit more rounded. Maybe I was just enjoying the live thrill of it more and did not notice. Gillan I have to say was in cracking form. I have not seen him in such good voice before. At Cambridge last time the scream were almost in audible he get taking the mic away to much but this time he was great.

After the gig I saw a friend and he to was very disappointed by the set list and the Abandon tracks. After the gig on the last tour he was so impressed in went out and bought Perpendicular not this time though. He also thought there were too many solos and not enough tracks. I think I disagree here though.

I think in summary I gig had the potential to be one of my best gigs ever but a disappointing selection of old material and weak current album slightly knocked the shine of for me.

Motorhead - Norwich UEA 18 October 1998

Not a lot to say about this gig. We booked it because we had no gigs coming up and we were bored! Little did we know it would end up in a heavy patch for me. Deep Purple was loud the other day but this felt Louder. My DAT machine seems to disagree that it was louder though. We got about 90 mins plus two songs in an encore. It was OK. Lemmy was a little low in the Mix(noise?). I am not a great Motorhead fan so I think I will leave it at that. Oh there were two support bands. Radiator who were OK but had a Tape on for the Lead Guitar and another band whose name I did not catch and did not like anyway. (They were Groop Dogdrill)

Uriah Heep/Dio - The Forum, Kentish Town, London - 22 October 1998

Well I was very impressed with Uriah Heep and left cold by Dio. I have never seen either band before but I have Video of Bernie and the band in 87. When they took to the stage I was surprised to see that Bernie looked much like he did on the video. I was surprised because the shot of him in Sonic Origami makes him look a lot fatter. I was pretty much expecting a greatest hits set with 3 or 4 Sonic tracks. Boy was I surprised. I don't know the older tracks but the set was something like this

Between Two Worlds
I Hear Voices
Universal Wheels
Down At The Edge Of The Rainbow(?)
Only The Young
Feels Like
No Idea
Heartless Land
Everything In Life
Easy Living


Bird Of Prey

I really enjoyed the set. I thought when Question started that it was going to be the Golden Palace but I think that is a false memory. Shame. The sound at the Forum was terrible IMO and Bernie kept indicating he wanted turning up. Mick lost power on his guitar I think during Universal Wheels but I am prepared to be corrected. This caused amusement amongst the band. And they all seemed extremely happy to be playing for us.

Next up was Dio at just after ten. I needed to catch a train so I did not see the whole set. He left me cold when he was not annoying me with his mannerisms and emphasis in his singing. I Like a fair amount of Dio in the studio (well the Rainbow and Sabbath stuff) but live he just does not work for me. We were given Heaven and Hell and Children of the Sea and Rainbows Stargazer but these were so disappointing especially Stargazer. I was extremely tired from standing by this set so perhaps my mood was not good but I could not wait until it was time to go. A shame I was not a 2hr solo set from Heep. Dio fans did not seem over keen on Heep. Especially when they got out the acoustic guitar for Heartless Land.

Praying Mantis - Bears Epsom 24 Oct 1998

I don't think l have ever gone to a gig so on edge. I have no logical explanation for it. But l guess 17 years without ever having seen them play live builds up a lot of desire (Let's face it l have also got to be slightly of my head to have decided I will be attempting the Japanese what with the expense and my ill health) I have of course seen the Captured Alive In Tokyo City video and in my view that was great. But tonight's gig is the first of four UK warm up gigs and I have no real idea of what the venue will be like. l expect it to be small hopefully with a little stage but who knows? As for the Audience I again find it hard to imagine. A couple of fans have said they will be going but will their be a local turn out or just friends and family of the band? I doubt there will have been much publicity.

I am also curious to see how Tino and Dennis will mess around when there is unlikely to be any room or point to them dashing about in there usual style.

I will find out in six hours I guess

- - - - -

Well What a cracker!

Bears in Epsom is a typical UK pub that has bands in. I suspect the most it will hold is 100-150 in the corner is a triangular stage area about 4 Metres by 4 Metres. As is to be expected there are six members of the band tonight. The addition for the tour being Leon Lawson on keyboards. As the band were settling up they must have blown the circuit about 10 times.

This created a slightly tense atmosphere and people were wondering if they would get chance to play at all. It was eventually worked out that Leon's keyboard rig was the problem and he was therefore reduced to one keyboard for the night. Never mind it still sounded good to me.

There were about 50-70 people in the place. Some locals but mainly friends of the band and two people from the internet Ger Lemmens from Holland and Derrick Sheldon who discovered the gig was happening two days before.

With the problems setting up the band had to adjust the balance and volume as they went along. The volume overall was really too loud for a pub but it was good for the band to get out and play to some real people.

I don't intend telling you the set list but I will say it is probably as you would expect. We did not get a full set so I don't know what is being dropped from the last tour.

Having just interviewed Bernie Shaw and hearing all his comments about Tino "Dripping charisma" and doing any thing for a performance it came as no real surprise to me that Tino was the putting his all into it even if it meant bouncing up and down on the spot due to lack of room. This in turn rubbed of on Chris. I was really amazed at how much concentration Bruce puts into his playing. It was clearly visible on his face throughout . I mentioned this to him and this was apparently because he was trying to play quietly. Tony sang really well but neither he or Dennis were in Tino's arena performance mode. There approach was what you would expect with the lack of space in a little pub.

The music was every thing l hoped it would be and I let myself get into. Roll on next Sunday at the Kings Head Putney!

One further thing the band were very tolerant and allowed Ger and me flash away on our cameras they even posed for us. Gers photos should be better than mine as he was moving round to get his. I will no doubt be adding some to the pages before I go to Japan. They also patiently signed all our CD sleeves.

Praying Mantis - Kings Head Putney 1 Nov 1998

Chris had indicated this would be a better gig for people to attend. From that I figured the venue would probably be a dedicated Band room and that it might hold several hundred. When I got to the venue (1hr later than I intended due to traffic) I was pleased to see the band had a proper stage set up including monitors. I had been told by the venue the band might go on and play around 8.30pm. Since I got there at 9pm I was pleased they did not go on until 9.30.

It also gave me a bit of time to meet the fans I know through the net. Yoko Kayumi had traveled over from New York as I expected but when I met her she introduced me to Ko Yamada. He had come over from Tokyo just for this gig. He has been quite a good contact for me in Japan helping to keep me up to date with news articles and TV appearances. I had no idea he was coming over so I was absolutely gobsmacked to meet him. Derrick Sheldon had made the gig again this time bringing his daughter along. Rick Gillyon from Tyne & Wear and also made with gig with his brother. This therefore made an interesting start to the evening for me. The audience overall I would guess was only 50 but I saw no sign of any advertising and I don't think the band had as many people along this time.

Right now for the music. Well I was extremely happy to have seen the band at Epsom but this gig was so much better. Everyone was a lot more relaxed and confident about the sound. I think I will work left to right. Leon Lawson had his full keyboard set up tonight. And the Venue had a dry ice machine which was behind him and kept making Dennis and Leon disappear. I have to say I did not really notice what he was playing so much tonight. I was just enjoying the overall presentation. Dennis was a lot more relaxed and into it tonight and did not let a broken guitar string during the first number put him off. The band did have to take five to give him time to sort it out. Tony have some effects on his voice tonight and he really let rip. I thought he was having to hold back a lot at Epsom because of the sound and volume problems and this proved it. There was still no room for running around on stage etc. so it is still difficult to see exactly what Tony's stage manner is going to be like. He was certainly a lot more expressive with the Mic stand and his hands tonight though. Bruce still looked very concentrated. And I have to confess I did not pay much attention to him tonight either. Chris seemed to be a lot more up for this gig from the start and at first I thought Tino seemed a little subdued but I think I was probably just remembering how up for it he was towards the end of Epsom. IE it was just a problem with my preception. I sat probably 10m back from the band this time. At Epsom it was probably 1m. It is surprising how even that sort of distance changes affects perception. I think that is why I was watching the band more as an overall entity and not so much as individuals.

The band played much the same set as they had at Epsom. The did do two numbers different both of the last album and nothing of Time Tells No Lies. Tony dedicated three songs tonight. One each to Yoko and Ko and one to a friend that sadly died before last Saturday before making it to a gig that I know he was looking forward too. I was very moved that they should do this for him. I am sure he would have been very happy.

Dean Swift Aldgate London - 3rd Nov 1998

This is apparently Dennis's local pub and from the posters he plays here in a band called the Clangers most Sundays. I was expecting I will find it hard to find things to say about each gig but each gig so far has had a completely different character.

The swift is a very small pub. Basically the room is an oblong with a squarish bar section in the centre of the long side and a slight raised area on the other length. I guess at most it was 2-3m deep so the band were spaced out along its length. I was sat at the side of the room so I could not really see Tino or Chris. It was back to a basic pub set up again so there was no echo on Tony. Leon did get to use all his keyboards though. Since I was sat right behind him I got a very good view of what he had to play which was nice. Being Dennis's local the crowd was very receptive and seemed to contain a lot more Rocker/Biker types. Dennis's also bought his son Jack along. He also did more of the between song chat and seemed happy. Tony seems to be getting more relaxed and again was able to scream without fear of being too loud. Bruce was facing in Chris's direction so I could not see how much fun he was having and from the little I could see of Tino and Chris they were having a good time as you would expect. This was defiantly the most photographed gig. The crowd of I guess 70 really enjoyed it. At one point even an old guy went up front and had a drunken dance around.

The band have now a rough idea of the running order of the set and we were treated to two more songs not played so far this time. One thing is for sure I don't think anyone will guess the set list. It has certainly surprised me. It is excellent just surprising. It is beginning to look like this tour should be sub-named the "Bruce wrote this" tour as that is becoming the standard joke :-)

Praying Mantis - Royal Standard 4 Nov 1998

This was a very good venue for the last warm up gig. The Standard was the biggest venue they had played and is what I would call a rock house. I reckon the place could hold 400-500 people and tonight must have had 200-300. The venue had a good set of PA equipment, lights and monitors. It also had some room on stage so tonight we experienced Tino's first run down to Dennis's position.

I suspect the crowd were mainly neutral rock fans and while they seemed to enjoy it but I thought the crowd at the Dean Swift piped them overall on volume. The set list was the some as the previous night with one exception they came back and played Smoke on the water as a final, final encore. They did not start playing until 9.40 so I was very surprised when the decided to break the set into two halves again. That meant the and 2nd set did not start until around 11pm and I am sure the crowd had thinned down a bit (perhaps because they have work to go to etc? I struggle to believe it would be because of the music but I was interested to hear not all Mantis fans like Tony's vocals. I think the majority do though). The ones that remained however were really into it. I noticed a lot of the same faces from the Dean Swift and Dennis had bought Jack again. He and a friend of Dennis's had been head banging all night and during the last number of the official set list Dennis tried to get Jack to join him on Stage. Jack was to shy so a couple of Dennis's mates worked on him for a few minutes and he finally went up. The crowd had really warmed up by end of the encores and still wanted more hence for a laugh they did a totally unrehearsed Smoke. Bruce had actually started going into the audience before he realised another encore was required. There was a good 20 people up the front head banging and dancing to this.

There were rumours Gary Barden and Phil Moog might attend I don't know if they did but some one who was in the crowd was Dave Potts. He was happy to give me his phone number so when I recover from Japan I will interview him. Overall it was a cracking gig and now it is Japan's turn!

Sendai - 10 Nov 1998

Wow this place is small I would be surprised if it is bigger than the Dean Swift after the bar area is removed. Mind you there is a lot of equipment. I reckon 70-100 lights. The stage I think is about the size of Walthamstow. I went into the gig about 10 minutes before the start and was amazed at how full the place was. It was packed.

The place holds 200 and 150 tickets were pre-sold so I guess 200 were there . And very enthusiastic they were to. They were singing and arm waving all night. It was great to see how different Mantis were to such a friendly crowd. From the moment they stepped out on the stage they were a different band to the one in the UK. Dennis and Tony in particular but Tino and Chris too. Even Leon was able to look up from his keyboards more. I again forgot to look to see how Bruce was looking.

Banana Hall - Osaka - 11 Nov 1998

This was a nice venue maybe 50m x 20m. The front 10m was standing only. Then there was some normal height seating and then further back higher stools. The crowd initially looked a little disappointing I believe about 220 tickets were pre-sold. But by 7pm and show time the Audience looked more evenly spaced. I believe there was still only 300 there though. I was expecting the gigs in Japan to be about 1000 a show but never mind the show set up was a lot more professional than in the UK so the venue size did not effect the show. Ticket prices seem incredibly expensive at 6300 yen and a couple of fans I spoke to before the show were complaining of this and wondering why Sendai had been 500 yen cheaper

The stage here was full size so everyone was on radio leads and fully mobile. At one point Tino even decided to go and play behind Bruce. The crowd were keen but I suspect the Sendai atmosphere was better. It was difficult for me to gauge though as I could not see anywhere suitable to sit in the main hall. I therefore decide to watch the main set from the spotlight rigging about 10m in front of the stage and in the ceiling. This made for a good view and I was able to observe Leon and Bruce a lot more easily. I stupidly forgot to take my painkillers to the gig so by the end of the main set my back was killing me and I decided to go and stand for the encores that's when the change in the crowd from earlier grabbed my attention. It is getting hard to comment on the bands overall performance now as I enjoy them so much. I therefore won't try.

I clearly meet Masami Mizutani after the show as I took her card but it doesn't have an E-mail address and I did not take a photo so I need reminding as to why I got the card.

Bottom Line Nagoya 11 Nov 1998

This gig was a very hard one for me to enjoy from my personal health level as I had decided to rest from the extra painkillers I was taking while in Japan. I was getting very fatigued by this gig so there was not enough adrenaline flowing through my body until Tony, half way through the show, complained no one upstairs was singing. Upstairs was closed to the public so I was the only fan up there. This effectively personal comment had a remarkable effect on increasing my enjoyment from that point on.

The hall was much the same size and shape as Banana Hall except the stage was length ways. The audience was not as big as it could have been. Nagoya is apparently a tough city to play for a lot of bands. For some reason the fans there aren't as keen on hard rock as in other places. The band did not let a little thing like a disappointing crowd put them off though.

While the show was not quite up to the previous two nights for me Tino commented after Tokyo he thought he had played better at the previous night so it could well have been a better gig music wise. The sound was definitely better though. Leon's keyboards have been struggling in the mix at times (IMO) but tonight I could hear what he was playing. During Can't See The Angles Tony surprised everyone, me included, by disappearing from the stage (still singing) and reappearing upstairs. While everyone one was looking for him the band switched the chorus to "Can't see Tony from here". At the end of the encore Bruce got to wear Chris's bass guitar so he decided to give us a 'solo' in true Bruce style.

Original version was

This was a very disappointing gig audience wise I bet there was only 200 - 250 there. The place was similar to the Banana Hall except the stage is on the long side. There was also an upper tear but that wasn't opened since there weren't really enough to fill downstairs. I decided the best place for me to sit was upstarts. And I stayed there all night so the last time I saw the Audience in full was with about 20 minutes to go. The place seemed so empty I was quite lacking enthusiasm for the gig (my body also showing severe wear and tear) luckily the band hit the stage with the same enthusiasm as the other Japanese gigs.

It was a good show but not quite up to the previous two nights for me (Tino commented after Tokyo he thought he has played better at the previous night so it could well have been a better gig music wise. I did not ask anyone who had been to both).

Mind you the sound was better. Leon's keyboards having been struggling in the mix at times (IMO) but tonight I could hear what he was playing. During Can't See The Angles Tony surprised everyone, me included, by disappearing from the stage and reappearing upstairs. While everyone one was looking for him the band switched the chorus to "Can't see Tony from here". At the end of the encore Bruce got to wear Chris's bass guitar so he decided to give us a 'solo' in true Bruce style.

Tokyo -Club Citta -12 Nov 98

Being the Final gig of the tour and by far the biggest I was very much looking forward to this and I think the band were too. Anyone having seen the Captured video or the TV special from an earlier tour will have seen the size of Club Citta. I guess it is about 50m wide by 100M and holds just Over 1000 people. I believe there were 600-700 in tonight but from the stage it looked full. The lights to me were the best of the tour but apparently not as good as previous tours. Again the signs of the economy in Japan. It is probably a good place to mention that the band were very unhappy with ticket prices. At most gigs they seemed to be one of the most expensive on the forthcoming events posters. The band have stated in an interview that next time they would like to reduce their costs and therefore ticket prices. This assumes though that the costs the band can effect are significant in the final ticket price. And I am not sure they are.

The gig was being filmed so that it might be possible to show an MTV gig review quality recorded song on Masa Itto's TV show. I have to confess I am slow writing this gig up (it's the 16th today) so I am struggling to remember the differences between this gig and previous ones. Looking at my photos I think one was that at the start of one song Dennis and Tino decided to sit on the drum riser to do their quite intro. Tony also decided to sit on the floor for "Remember My Name" and on a Monitor for a latter song. There was a 1m gap between the stage and the audience and on a couple of occasions Tony jumped into the gap. The 2nd time walking from end to end shaking hands. The band enjoyed Bruce's bass solo the previous night so they got him to do it again. There was also a professional photographer at work for this gig. That is something I have found really strange about the Japanese gigs. In England Photos aren't allowed and cameras are often searched for but people still use flash cameras during gigs. In Japan the same rules apply and yet I never saw one flash (except my own). Does that mean people never take photos here or just that they wisely keep their flash turned off to avoid attracting attention? Given Japan's reputation for bootlegging I am sure Japanese fans can't be completely law abiding.

I got to meet a 3 more of my e-mail contacts after this gig which was nice. I have of course become aware of a lot more fans during my trip and hopefully I will get to chat with a few by email. Some it has to be said a far more dedicated than me waiting around for hours just to see the band for a signature at a train station or Hotel etc. It amazes me how well the fans discover the bands movements.

I have heard that one of the UK venues was interested in having Mantis play again soon so I might not have to wait for a new album to see the play again. This is the first time the feedback in the UK has been so positive. A good sign for the future I hope. The band have certainly been extremely happy and relaxed on this tour and really want to get on with a new album to solidify what they consider to be there strongest and hopefully most stable unit to date.

Squeeze - Ipswich Regent - 1 December 98

I was not bothered about seeing these but since they were in town and I have an album which I like I thought I would go. The Album is Cool For Cats and I guess it was there first but there music seems to have slowed down since then. I therefore found the whole night a baffling experience. Actually I liked the guitar breaks as they were very old fashioned and clean but there was no excitement in the show and I did not really understand how others were getting there enjoyment. There was a lot of woman there and they seemed to like bopping with there partners. There was a bloke in front of me and he was a real "Dad" type dancer. I found him really funny.

© 2008 Jon Hinchliffe. E-mails welcome!