It’s always nice to combine work and play, and last week was no exception, as I flew to Leeds to rehearse and perform with Christie. We’d been invited to headline and close the J fest at The Carriageworks theatre complex in Leeds city centre, and it gave me a chance to catch up with guys who aren’t just band mates, but good mates: Jeff, Simon and Fos. Add into the mix our old mate from our 80’s band Tubeless Hearts, Trevor Midgley, who popped into the rehearsals on Wednesday and it was full-blown nostalgia! I also got a chance to see my son Corey, currently assisting at Chairworks Studios near Leeds, and my daughter Hollie and grandson Cohen, so I was well-pleased everything came together in such a timely fashion.
The Christie set rarely alters down the years, it’s a tried and tested formula that surrounds the hits with ‘complimentary’ pieces that are either of the same style, the same era, or both, and for the most part it works well enough around the world. This night though, Thursday June 6th, as well as being the birthday of my late Mum (never mind the anniversary of D-Day!) was an anniversary that impacted upon the gig. As we prepared to launch into the famous upbeat riff of Jeff’s multi-million selling worldwide number one, he announced to the crowd that it was exactly 43 years ago to the day that ‘Yellow River’ had topped the UK singles chart. Unbelievable. The crowd went mental, and as we brought the night to a close with a 100 mph version of Johnny B Goode, the crowd gave us a standing ovation, which was in no small part an acknowledgment of a local boy made good, returning home, 4 decades after taking a Leeds band to the top of the charts for the very first time. Although we’ve been with Jeff for a mere 24 years (!) – It was nice to be part of that last week.
Still on a bit of a nostalgia trip, I suggested to the lads as we left the venue, that we take a trip down memory lane and head for Redbeck’s transport cafe just outside Wakefield, where, back in the 80’s we would regularly meet up with other working bands and compare gigs and have a laugh. Those days are long gone, but Redbeck’s amazingly, is still there, and still serving the same all-night/all-day breakfasts that you could live on for a week! Good times.
…this weekend saw CHRISTIE re-convene alongside The Manfreds and The Searchers at The Beat Beat Beat Festival in Offenbach, near Frankfurt.
My own journey began in Turre, Southern Spain, and involved negotiating an Autovia that had collapsed in two places due to the catastrophic floods of the previous week in order to get to Alicante airport, where I took a flight first to Palma, Majorca, and kicked my heels for a couple of hours before I was Frankfurt bound.
Upon arrival, I received a message from Jeff. “There’s a bad road accident that’s prevented your driver from picking you up – get a taxi!” almost without breaking stride, I swiped my bag from the carousel. slung my bass over my shoulder and walked outside to hail one.
I was soon heading out of Frankfurt towards Offenbach and the driver, with instructions to take me to the Stadthalle, turned and asked me what street it was on….I mean, it’s the Stadthalle! It’s big, there are signs! How hard could it be? Thankfully when we arrived in the town, he decided to ask a taxi-driver (go figure) and we arrived safely.
I’d already missed the sound check, Jeff, Fos and Simon having arrived from the UK on an earlier flight, and Jeff was already back at the hotel. But the fun didn’t stop there….Rolf, the promoter came rushing in to say that the opening act, Racey, apparently had ‘the wrong sort of keyboard’, and a search was underway to find one. Meanwhile, could Christie open the show, around an hour and twenty minutes ahead of schedule?
“Oooh…” I said, “You’ll have to ask Jeff about that. ” I dialled him up and handed my phone to Rolf. With masterful Germanic efficiency and directness he said “Hi Jeff, it’s Rolf, you have to go on now”
Cue action stations, and as Jeff was whisked back to the gig in short order, we got ready, the ink barely dry on my boarding card, and hit the stage. The crowd were superb, behind us from the first number, and we locked into a groove we’ve been honing together for nigh-on 25 years.
After the show, we were hustled out into the meet n greet where we were signing everything under the sun, Jeff’s new album ‘No Turn Unstoned’ and my solo CD, Blue Odyssey, and amazing books published by Christie fans, with fantastic articles, photos, and scans of record labels of the entire discography in them, true labours of love.
A nice dinner courtesy of backstage catering followed, where I was introduced to the delights of the ‘mini-cheeseburger’. Not sure what the idea behind that is, except perhaps that you can get a few in your mouth in one go. Then it was time to catch some of the Manfreds show from the side of the stage. What an amazing catalogue of hits they have to draw upon, and with not one but TWO original vocalists upfront, in the shape of Mike D’Abo and Paul Jones, the audience were treated to those classic songs as they were meant to sound. A word about Tom McGuiness, who should have been there but was injured in a fall the day before and couldn’t make it. Get well soon, Tom! If you also factor in Mike Hugg, and legendary Family drummer Rob Townsend, ably aided and abetted by Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie, you have some talent up there on that stage. Rob in particular, has played on three of my favourite songs of all time:
“In my own Time”, “Burlesque”, and “My friend the Sun”. Days like this, you gotta love going to work!
We had a great time back at the hotel bar following the show, reminiscent of the multiple-bill shows we did back in the 90’s in Germany, and met up with some of our loyal fan base again as has become the custom on our German trips.
A leisurely Sunday breakfast followed, where Mike D’Abo shared his secret of black coffee with honey, though the search for the latter proved fruitless… I said my goodbyes to Jeff, Simon and Fos and headed home to Spain. That’s another one under the belt!
Forty -one years ago, the people of Estonia, a Baltic state then trapped behind the Iron Curtain, witnessed something very strange indeed via Polish television. They saw their first ever long-haired Western pop group in the shape of Christie, at the Sopot festival. And last week, for the first time ever, Christie played two live shows in Estonia – in Tartu, and the capital Tallinn. Over the decades, a host of Estonian bands have covered Jeff Christie’s songs, as evidenced by the reception all of the singles received when we played them, Iron Horse almost on a par with Yellow River.
Getting there was interesting, involving flights from Alicante for me, bound for Leeds-Bradford, but diverted to Manchester due to fog! -then we all flew from Manchester to Tallinn via Munich (where we had a five hour layover) – and a mere 2 and a half hour layover in Frankfurt on our return. (although we were in danger of having to stay in Germany overnight as we very nearly fell foul of their noise restriction curfew.)
Our promoters in Estonia looked after us splendidly, with the ever-helpful Laurie making sure everything ran smoothly. It was fascinating to visit a new territory as always, and we were actually very lucky with the weather. Mid-November, Estonia is usually blanketed with snow, but we had clear blue skies for the most part, and cool, thought not bone-chilling temperatures.
We explored the old town of Tallinn, which was a mixture of Russian and German architecture, and quite beautiful. Some of the buildings dated back as far as the Fourteenth century, and the architecture alone silently told the story of Estonia’s chequered history as an occupied people.
On the morning after our arrival, Jeff was interviewed in the lobby of the hotel by Estonian television, such was the interest in all things Christie, and in particular what we are discovering is the increasingly significant landmark televison appearance in 1970.
The first show entailed a three hour drive through the heart of the country to Tartu, where we played in the town concert hall to a wonderfully appreciative crowd.
It was a long day, as we had to drive back to our hotel in Tallinn that night. The following night saw us headline at The Rock Cafe in Tallinn – a great gig and a great crowd. There was already talk of us going back in the summer to perhaps play a festival, and we really look forward to that. A great country, and great people.
We still had some time on the final day for another wander around Tallinn, and Jeff and I along with another guy introduced to us by Laurie – I believe his name was Andre – apologies if I have it wrong – gave us an interesting insight into the Estonian mindset, culture and history.
We left the hotel around 3pm, fairly civilized compared to our usual touring standards – which often entail us leaving at 3 am! But it was still a long day ahead, stopping off in Frankfurt for a three hour layover as it turned out, just escaping the noise restriction deadline and being grounded in Germany for the night. But it was certainly worth all the effort, and we hope to return to Estonia in the Summer.
I’ve been all over the place this weekend – starting with a visit to The Bay Radio Studios in Javea on Friday to record an interview for that evening’s Sunset Strip with Noelle, and then leaving Miki’s parents apartment in Benidorm at 4.30 am to catch a flight from Alicante to Benidorm to connect with my flight to Berlin. There, I was driven two and a half hours south to Dresden, where I had time to say hi to a few fellow musicians- Graham Oliver from T Rex, Bill Hurd from The Rubettes, and Eric Faulkner from the Bay City Rollers etc, before grabbing a quick shower and then heading off to the gig, where I was performing with Christie.
After the show, I was really feeling ill, the lack of sleep and dehyrdation catching up with me. I went straight to bed, and left the hotel at 3.30am with the guys from Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich. They were dropped at Berlin Tegel, and I at Berlin Schoenenfeld airport, where I awaited my 8.30am flight to London Gatwick.
Landing around 10am, I took the train up to Croydon, where BC Sweet guitarist Mike picked me up, and we headed across country to Brean Sands, ready to appear later that night with a number of bands including The Boomtown Rats at the Yesterday Once More 70’s festival.
I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon, and we hit the stage after the Rats at 11.30pm. Amazingly, given my constant state of exhaustion, both the Christie and BC Sweet gigs were great, and I was reminded why I do this job. I just love it.
I flew home from Birmingham the following afternoon, ready to recharge my batteries for the Estonia tour with Christie, which begins next Sunday when I head to the UK for rehearsals.
It always gets a bit hectic around this time of year, and I end up to-ing and fro-ing hither and thither, whether it be the UK, Germany, Belgium or wherever, in order to fulfill various band commitments. But I don’t mind the plane-hopping, the driving or the endless hotels. It means the band, whether it be BC Sweet or Christie, is fulfilling its raison d’etre. It helps draw us together, and makes us a better band. It gives us the strength and conviction to move forward in our desire to perform and create, and it’s a good feeling. In our business, agents are often cast in the role of sharks, but perhaps on closer inspection, it is the band that is better suited to this analogy. After all, a shark has to keep moving to survive.
Now available on Jamendo to download ABSOLUTELY FREE is my ‘new’ album, The Songwriter Diaries. I put ‘new’ in inverted commas because, there’s very little new about it really, and I wouldn’t even call it an album as such, more like a peek inside an artist’s sketchbook, a glance at pieces worked on, nearly finished, unfinished, polished and rough, but essentially, what the artist is about. I’ve purposely avoided messing with these songs and instrumentals, I wanted to give a snapshot of some of the work that, for one reason or another has ‘fallen through the cracks’ or not been generally heard before. The result is eclectic to say the least – download it by clicking on the image below and see what you think!
All Music & Lyrics © Kev Moore – 2009, 2010, 2011
In 2003, a Dutch TV station aired a documentary in the mould of the ‘Classic Album’ series, documenting the history behind Jeff Christie’s worldwide Number 1 hit phenomenon. I feel privileged to be part of the “Christory” – and look forward to shows with Jeff throughout Europe again this year!
Watch the documentary here: