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Witch Cross • BC Sweet • Gonads • Christie

Christie back in Leeds!

Fos, Trev, Me, Jeff, Simon

Fos, Trev, Me, Jeff, Simon

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.



Simon ponders whether the kit will disintegrate beneath him (it happens a lot)

Simon ponders whether the kit will disintegrate beneath him (it happens a lot)

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.

Two idiots enjoying the Leeds sunshine...

Two idiots enjoying the Leeds sunshine…

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.

Fos and Simon outside Redbecks, as we headed for a post-gig breakfast!

Fos and Simon outside Redbecks, as we headed for a post-gig breakfast!

Kev Moore

June 11, 2013 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Christie – The First Time in Estonia

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.

Jeff finds something suspicious in Simon's goulash as we while away the hours in Munich airport....Fos is amused. (Simon, Soup and Fos have a long history)

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.)

Simon prepares to board the flight to Tallinn

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.

Christie land in Estonia

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.

Tallinn - The Old Town

The beautiful Old Town Hall - built by The Germans

One of the many churches - clearly Russian in origin. Many Estonians wanted this demolished, but politics aside, it is a beautiful building.

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.

Jeff waxes lyrical to Estonian TV (apologies for rubbish photo!)

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.

Backstage in Tartu

Live in Tartu

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.

Fos and Jeff soundchecking at The Rock Cafe in Tallinn

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.

View over Tallinn and the port on the Gulf of Finland

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.

Jeff and Fos kill time in Frankfurt

"It's not Wayne's coffee, it's mine...."

Kev Moore

November 24, 2011 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 flights, 3 days, 2 cars, one dead bass player……..

Hopefully a big dressing room, then...

It started off simply enough. Leaving the house at 9am on Friday morning,  I made my way to Alicante airport (with a brief stop in IKEA Murcia to pick up some picture frames).

My first flight was to take me West, to the Spanish capital, Madrid, where I would have a 3 hour layover awaiting a connection, improbably, to Blibao on the Northern Coast.  Kicking my heels in Madrid, I had my fingers crossed that the Bilbao flight would be on time, as I only had 45 minutes with which to connect with my final flight of the day to Frankfurt. Nobody can say our promoter doesn’t have a sense of humour.

View from my second hotel room window in Plauen

Nice 'n' cosy - and barely slept in....

Luckily, that plan seemed to come together, and I arrived in Frankfurt around 10 o’clock at night, with the other guys flying in from the UK  around a half an hour later. Had we arrived at our destination? Well, not really. A 3 hour drive awaited us, which rapidly turned into a 4 hour drive due to autobahn closures. The hotel didnt have 24 hour reception, and luckily our driver had had the presence of mind to check in advance, and asked them to leave a key outside. It would have been amusing if it hadn’t been so late, as we stumbled about in the dark, once we’d enetered the hotel, trying to find the other keys, after having failed to find the light switch. My head hit the pillow around 2.30 am – and left it again around 9 as we had to get up for breakfast and move to another , admittedly more opulent, hotel for the second night.

Jeff discovers we get a free drink on check-in

Salvation was at hand in the form of a whirlpool and sauna in the basement, which the management kindly opened up for our exclusive use. Time that perhaps would have been more prudently spent running through the numbers was instead spent wallowing in the waters!

Environmentally-friendly town, then.

Plauen's busy tram terminus

From my halting German, this seems to mark the site of the first workers protest against the DDR. Hooray!

We also managed to spend an hour or two out in the town of Plauen, a charming, well kept place with trams running through it, and some nice sidewalk cafes – full of Germans braving the autumnal chill. Although it was pleasantly sunny, my defences are low after having lived in Spain for so long, and I persuaded the lads that we should take our coffees behind protective glass!

I know it looks lovely, but it was too bloody cold to sit out!

Simon Kay, Drums, Fos Foster, Guitars. Instruments not included.

Obligatory arty-farty shot

Far from being a typical DDR 'clone-town', Plauen had some lovely architecture

A young German fan is delighted to get Jeff's autograph

A frowning, inanimate object (the one on the right)


Plauen had its share of interesting buildings and monuments, and I was glad I’d brought my camera along.  5 o’clock saw us heading for soundcheck. We were opening the show, and were therefore the last band to check, which was perfect, all the settings would remain as we left them! I was debuting my Dan Electro semi-acoustic bass with Christie, and was running it through my Hartke bass attack pedal, so I was reasonably confident of maintaining my signature sound.  So often, these multiple bills with hired backline prove to be more an exercise of battling against the odds than anything else, but tonight was a dream, crystal clear monitoring, a sweet bass sound, and a great onstage mix. The crowd must’ve sensed we were enjoying ourselves, too, as we really seemed to storm the show! As this is probably the last Christie show of the 2010 season, it was great to go out on a high.

Jeff's Stratocaster relaxes backstage.....

Simon sorts his kit out at the sound check

Eric Faulkner's Rollers take the stage

BC Sweet's Pete Phipps on extra-curricular drumming duties with The Rollers

Jeff chats backstage with one of our loyal fans

After our performance, we relaxed backstage and had dinner, courtesy of some excellent catering, and swapped stories with our mates who were waiting to perform. Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Sailor’s Grant, Henry, Phil and Nick, and Eric Faulkner of the Bay City Rollers. It was also quite funny to see Pete from my other band BC Sweet – he was standing in for Eric’s drummer, and did a great job, with no rehearsals!  I’ll be seeing Pete again in a couple of weeks for a BC Sweet show in the UK.  One of our fans, going by the name of sweetyglitter(!) who follows all the glam rock era bands, offered to film our set, so hopefully I’ll have a clip up from the show in a couple of weeks.

Photos by me, in case you were wondering!

We were ferried back to the hotel following the show, with only The Dozys left onstage, and continued our conversations in the hotel bar.  We were set to leave the hotel at 3 am, so sleep seemed a little pointless. I relaxed a little in the room and then had a shower to try and boost my energy!

Simon looks pensive......

Heading off into the night along the autobahn to Frankfurt, we braced ourselves for a long drive. The other lads needed to fly at 8 am. Although I was with them, my flight didn’t leave until midday, so I had the prospect of four hours alone in Frankfurt airport!   It’s amazing how things change though……….45 kilometers from Frankfurt, the hire car started to misbehave and our driver became a little restless. Eventually, with smoke pouring from the bonnet, we pulled over onto the hard shoulder as one of the con rods exploded through the side of the engine onto the ground. Our shiny new Renault had died. It would ‘va-va-va-voom’ no more.

...while Fos sees the funny side

Standing in the freezing cold at the side of the autobahn at 7 in the morning, wearing a hi-vis jacket and erecting a little plastic triangle 50 meteres up the road to stop a truck from ploughing into us, I pondered on the glamour of our profession……………….

I'm not sure what it does, but I'm fairly certain it's supposed to be INSIDE the engine.

Jeff, inspired by Fos, also sees the funny side. Simon contemplates suicide.

Needless to say, the lads missed their flight. A breakdown truck came and dropped us at a nearby depot, from where a taxi charged us (well, our promoter) a small fortune to ferry us to the airport. As luck would have it, we’d all been booked with Lufthansa instead of one of these cheapie ‘we take no responsibility whatsover for yo’ ass’ airlines.  As they have done in the past, Lufthansa came through with flying colours, and without question, bumped the lads up to the next flight to Manchester at midday. Needless to say, the promoter was happy, and we didn’t hesitate to point out what a good idea it is to fly Lufthansa for just such eventualities!

So we left Frankfurt around the same time, albeit to different destinations. I landed in Madrid around 2pm, and braced myself to spend a further 5 hours in that airport.  By the time I had caught my next flight and was coming into land in Alicante at around 8pm, I was unravelling. A mild headache had blossomed into a full-blown migraine and I was fighting extreme nausea and exhaustion. I could barely get into the courtesy bus to take me to my car. A woman from a family who shared the bus with me, greeted me, and I must have looked like a drug addict or an alcoholic or something, because I could barely mumble a reply, so scared I was of offering projectile vomiting as an alternative form of greeting, which, even in the age of Reality television, is unlikely to catch on.

I stumbled out of the bus at the car park, alternatively looking for a) somewhere to throw up and b) some way to function.  After getting my key and transferring my luggage, I sat in the car wondering what to do. Speaking to Miki at home, she forbade me to drive back and insisted I find a hotel. I seemed to remember that the services near the airport had a hotel attached, and prayed I was right.  Driving the kilometer or so to it proved very hard indeed, and I was constantly speeding up, in order to get there quicker, and slowing down, ready to jump out and throw up.  I must have been driving like a schizophrenic.

Finally, I made it. There was indeed a hotel, and the look of gratitude on my face that followed the sallow and resolute death mask of a man determined not to toss his cookies, must have convinced the concierge that I’d escaped from the local nuthouse. To his lasting credit, he allowed me to have a key and I trudged up to my room.  I managed to send some kind of nondescript text to Miki to tell her to call, and I lay on the bed with the phone balanced on the side of my head, I couldn’t even hold it in my hand. When she called me, I think she was convinced I was dying!

Another day, another headache, another hotel room.....sweet respite in Alicante

I slept for about four hours before I had the strength to look for the two precious aspirin that I knew were somewhere in my bag, and then I slept for another six hours after that.

Even the following morning, as I drove the two and a half hours home, my headache was threatening to return.  These trips, all for a mere 40 minutes onstage, are a killer.

They say that a man who repeatedly does the same thing expecting a different outcome is clinically insane.

Will I do it again?  Yes.

So colour me crazy!

Kev Moore

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Golden Years in Antwerp

The three giant video screens that form the backdrop to the Golden years stage

The penultimate gig on the Christie 2009 Tour took us to the huge Sports Stadium in Antwerp, where we performed the two biggest Christie hits “San Bernadino” and “Yellow River” to a packed house of 12,500 partying Belgians.  It’s the third time we’ve played this prestigious event, and it never loses its lustre. This year the bill featured Slade and 10cc, and it was particularly great to see 10cc, creators of such classic pop, fronted by Graham Gouldman, who is surely one of the UK’s leading songwriters, with a lineage you can trace back beyond 10cc to classic 60’s hits such as “For your Love”, “No Milk Today“, and “Bus Stop”.

The Rubettes play to the crowd

....and Alan, their lead singer, finishes with a flourish

With the bands all billeted in the Crowne Plaza hotel, and top class back stage catering in our own restaurant, there was plenty of time to chew the fat with fellow musicians. I reminded Paul Burgess, drummer with 10cc since the days of “The things we do for love”, that the last time I’d chatted backstage with them was a mind-blowing 29 years ago, when they were playing the cavernous Drammenshallen near Oslo, and we were also touring Norway.

I exchanged the usual banter with the guys from Sailor, who, as our drummer Simon pointed out, could all audition for the role of Doctor Who and be confident of getting the part!  (Incidentally, one of the highlights of the evening was taking the stage for the finale with all the other bands and being led in an impromptu tango across the stage by Sailor’s keyboardist, Henry!)

Graham Gouldman - Master Songsmith

A band's eye view of the Finale

All’n’all, a wonderful time was had, and as I wearily headed home, arriving in Turre just shy of midnight on the Sunday, I reflected on how crazy a business I’m in that caused me to take four flights in 24 hours to perform a total of 6 minutes on stage to 12,500 people. Statistics Schmatistics – it’s rock’n’roll!

With seemingly indecent haste, the huge arena empties, and the crew de-rig the stage

Kev Moore

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments