Blue Heeler/The Raphaels gig reviews

  1. Borderline - London, 31st May 1998.
  2. Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee USA, 18th June 1998.
  3. Dingwalls - Camden, London, 15th May 2001.
  4. Academy - Birmingham, 16th May 2001.

Borderline - London, 31st May 1998

Oliver Hunter writes:

Well, after coming back to parents house in Reading from a wedding in Devon on Sunday afternoon/evening I thought "why not" and drove up to London. All was going well until the 2-lane section near the end of the M4 which was quite heavily congested. After having 'zoomed' round central London (trying to read the A-Z at the same time) I reached Soho Square which was my intended parking spot at about 8.55pm. I had to drive round a couple of times but luckily I found a space. After I had parked up I ran, yes RAN to the Borderline, payed the entrance fee and could hear Stuart doing some introductions as I made my way downstairs for about 9.05pm.

The stairs come out right next to the stage and Stuart and Marcus were just tuning up. I spotted Mike Lynd and went to say hello as they started playing. He motioned to me that he was recording the gig so I didn't shout anything else but went to the bar to get a coke. I made my way back to the front of the small crowd (about 50 or so people) and enjoyed the new songs washing over me. Mark Brzezicki was playing bongos; Stuart played guitar; and Marcus played a mixture of guitars, keyboards and harmonica. They played the following songs:

Old Country Country
Simple Man
Toujour Aimez
Private Battlefield
Stand Up
Too Many Ghosts
Blue Rose
The Travellers
Life Is A Church
Learn To Row
Shattered Cross
- - * * * * - -
In A Big Country

I really liked all the songs which don't sound at all 'country' to me. I am far from being an expert in all the different country styles: when I think of country, I think of Tammy Wynette & Dolly Parton etc. This is more what I'd clumsily call Celtic-acoustic-folk-rock... The audience (mostly BC fans) were very responsive throughout the gig but The Travellers and In A Big Country were especially warmly welcomed.

Before they playing IABC, Stuart said that because we were in the UK he got to choose the encore, although we should applaud Marcus for being "No. 1 in the US". Marcus thanked the crowd and responded by saying they were going to play something that had been No. 1 all round the world... The song was played more slowly than normal with some nice harmonies between Stuart and Marcus. Towards the end of the song they upped the tempo and power to nearly that of normal and the crowd joined in briefly before the tempo and volume dropped for a really mellow ending.

The whole gig was very low-key with Stuart & Markus tuning their own guitars and Mark packing his own gear afterwards. Stuart and Marcus took turns on lead vocals from song to song and compliment each other perfectly. They also clearly enjoy playing together immensely and had great fun throughout the night. All too quickly it seemed the gig was over and I went to speak to Mike while we waited for the lads to come back out. I spotted Ian Grant and thanked him for the Barrow gig and he said he wanted to talk to me later...

You'll never guess who we met next! ...... Callum Adamson!!! Having finished his exams in Scotland he was touring with Stuart and the band. He was at Barrow but said he had been tired and was probably in the bus when we all arrived backstage. He was selling copies of Marcus's CD "The Sound Of One Fan Clapping" for 10 UKP which he was getting signed by Marcus, Stuart and Mark. I chatted to him quite a bit and took several photos of him and the band and a couple of him with Stuart which are at the developers right now.

I also met Neel Gandhi last night who has been travelling in India and signed my guestbook a while back. He was wearing a T-shirt that he had had embroidered while in India - really cool. We showed it to Stuart and Ian who also liked it and expressed an interest in getting some more done.

I suggested to Ian that they release a video of single videos a la "Through a Big Country" and he said it was already in the pipeline! On the bad side he didn't seem to really understand about how the Mailing List works - he seemed to think it was attached to a web site or something; I did try to explain... He dropped a few clues about the new label BC will sign to and said the person was so big that he was surprised that no-one had guessed. Mike guessed at Paul McCartney and Ian made some cryptic comment about it being one of his cousins....

I said goodbye to everyone and wished them luck for Brighton tonight, before shooting off back up through London to the M1 and home to Northampton.

Borderline - London, 31st May 1998

Mike Lynd writes:

Stuart and Marcus appeared about 9.10, with Mark on a set of four bongos plus cymbals. About 50-60 people present so very intimate atmosphere. Both Stuart and Marcus were playing acoustic guitars. It was a relatively short set - about one hour in length with one encore only.

Basically, Stuart and Marcus took it in turns to sing songs of their own composition, though at one point Stuart played the instrumental: The Travellers. The encore was a wistful slow version of IABC - not heard it like that before but very effective. IMHO the best songs were Stuart's Simple Man and Private Battlefield - both classic SA/BC ballads, though Stuart's Learn to Row was also another pleasant slower number (he said it was about his father who became a deep sea fisherman to avoid going down the mine). I thought Marcus' songs were pleasant enough in a singer/songwriter sort of way but nowhere near as good as the aforementioned two SA songs.

Marcus said that it was really good to be play in a place where the audience could understand what Stuart was saying!

Oliver, my attempt to tape the gig failed pitifully! The recorder took it into it's head to record only the first three tracks properly and then decided before giving up the ghost altogether to record most of the rest at a slow and horribly variable pitch! (which means that they sound more like classical Chinese opera than anything else!) I could make MP3s of the first three and put them on the site of some generous soul (Jeroen?) and if anyone out there has the time and technology to "remaster" the rest then they are very welcome to a copy of the tape. I must warn you however that as they stand the remainder of the songs are wholly unlistenable to.

Ian Grant was there as was Stuart's son Callum (who was going round selling Marcus' US CD (apparently now No. 1 in some U.S. chart)). Callum also plays and has a band of his own.

Ian said that the new BC album won't be out until next year, it taking as long again to do the production as it takes to make the recordings. On the question of the identity of the new label's owner, he remained tantalisingly cryptic but dropped a few more hints. He is a "member of one of Britain's most famous bands" and Ian is amazed that no-one has yet sussed it out. I suggested Paul McCartney and Ian said "No, it's his cousin!" By this I take him to mean a band as well-known as the Beatles. Could it be a member of the Rolling Stones? After all, they did tour together.

Ian wants the official web site to run a sort of on-line fanzine and asked Oliver if he wanted the task! We said that there would be no shortage of volunteers on the list. (On the question of the list, Ian seemed disappointingly ignorant - he confessed that he is more or less computer-illiterate, leaving the web stuff to the sons.)

Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 18th June 1998

Kimberly Hansing writes:

Well, what can I say? It was great meeting Mary-Kate and Bryana (hope I spelled that right!), Johnny Key (hubba hubba!), the Gottleibs, Howard Bryan et al. I like to have faces to put with names.

In addition, as suspected, Stuart and Marcus' show rocked big time. The play list was same as last time except for one new one. Unfortunately, I am not the song-name remembering type. Maybe one of the other attendees can help me here?

The set kicked major butt. I think Howard Bryan has it taped. I took a whole roll of film. Stuart remembered me and called me by name, which I found interesting considering how he had said at the WDCN interview that he was very bad with that. ("Doncha remember? Met you in Pig Testicles, Iowa!" was his quote. I threw it back on him tonight when he called me by name, it seemed to amuse him...*grin*) Stuart and Marcus stayed out after and spoke to and posed for photos and signed autographs with/for any and everyone who wanted them.

Those of you whose photos I took, e me your snail addresses so I can send you photos. Assuming they turn out (I *am* only an amateur...*grin*) Other photos I will send by snail (pay for the reprint) or e if anyone wants them... let me know!

Can't wait for the whole enchilada! BC *must* come to Nashville or the area...


Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 18th June 1998

Barry Wilhelm writes:

Here's my thoughts on Stuart and Marcus's June 18 show. Sorry I didn't meet more of the list members that were there (my social skills need work), but I did enjoy meeting Howard Bryan and Ken Cohen (got to share a table with Ken, in fact).

I believe Stuart and Marcus performed the same set as reported by Oliver Hunter when he saw them in London last month. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Old Country
Simple Man
Private Battlefield
Stand Up
Too Many Ghosts
Blue Rose
The Travellers
Life Is A Church
Learn To Row
Shattered Cross
One of These Days (Marcus's #1 hit for Tim McGraw)
In A Big Country
The evening opened up with a 4-song performance by an aspiring country music singer whose name completely escapes me - (I don't see her going anywhere - she brought neither energy nor an exceptional voice to the stage, even on a song Marcus had written and performed with her). She was done by 8:30, and Stuart and Marcus were onstage by 9:00. I thought nothing of the delay between shows at the time, but during the show Marcus apologized for getting a slightly late start. Now, Stuart had walked in from the front of the club around 8:50. Turned out he had a difficult time finding a place to park (this he mentioned during the show). Interesting to think that someone who has enjoyed fame to the degree Stuart has would have this problem. I believe it makes him all the more human and approachable -- that is, he experiences the same little problems in life that most of us do.

It's difficult to categorize their sound. Oliver used the phrase "Celtic-acoustic-folk-rock", which is as good as any I might could think of. To me, it's pretty much what I'd expect from a collaboration between Stuart and someone who writes country music songs. It was all very enjoyable stuff, but I must disagree with some other comments I've seen about having enjoyed the songs Marcus sang lead on the most. My favorite was "Simple Man", on which Stuart sang lead, and which could have easily been a Big Country song. In fact I asked Stuart about whether or not this was a Big Country song after the show. He stated no, that it was simply something he himself had written for them to perform. "Toujour" was also noteworthy. It had a funny little lyric which went something like "Toujour amay, what the hell's she trying to say" (forgive me, I don't know French, but the lyric rhymed perfectly). And their (well, mostly Stuart's) performance of "The Travellers" was especially energetic and a real crowd pleaser.

And IF I understood correctly, they have already recorded an album of this material, and just need a name for themselves before it can be released. If anyone has ideas, I bet Stuart would appreciate hearing it.

I also had the opportunity to meet Stuart for the first time after the show, and I was extremely impressed. We got to chat for a couple of minutes and he smiled and laughed with me. I was holding a camera at the time, and he asked if I would like to have a picture taken together before I did. In that span of a couple minutes, he shook my hand some four times. This sounds to me like someone who truly appreciates the support of his fans and wants to make sure they know it. I don't mind telling you that I was so excited about meeting him and about how gracious he was that I had trouble falling asleep that night.

Hero worship? Maybe, and if so, I'll plead guilty. I'm 32 years old, have been listening to Big Country since The Crossing in 1983, and have never had the chance to see Stuart or the band perform before (let's hope BC tours the US in '99). I was pretty pumped just to see the show, and then getting to meet Stuart (when he was under no obligation to stick around) really made the night a memorable one for me. I hope I get to meet him again some day (and since I live in Nashville, here's hoping the odds are with me).

Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 18th June 1998

Mary-Kate Grover writes:

I thought the show was great. I am a really bad reviewer, probably because I have no musical experience at all (except singing at the top of my lungs in my car with all the windows up) but I was really thrilled with the way it sounded. I wonder if the new BC stuff will sound like what Stuart is doing now.

After the show, I went up to Stuart to say thank you, and I have never been that close to any of them before. Almost once, but I had to be taken home, I was too drunk to know anything was going on. My daughter and I had been driving all day from Washington DC to see this and we were both very tired. So I went up to Stuart and shook his hand and said thank you. Then I pointed out that we had been driving all day, and indicated my daughter, sitting at a table a few feet away. He said, "Really?" and headed straight for her. She saw him coming and grinned and ducked under the table. He got down on the floor and looked for her. But all you could see of her was butt and shoes. She finally came out with the promise of a picture, which Kimberley took. Then all the way home she kept asking to hear him sing some more, but she just wanted to hear Stuart by himself.Oh well. I had at least one song that he did alone.

He and Marcus were both very nice. Marcus' kids and wife were there too. The younger one looked like he had given up by the end of the show. The opening act was a run-of-the-mill country singer (I love country but she was just average) but she was just as sweet and gracious as she could be. My daughter recognized one of the songs she performed and wanted to meet her afterwards. All in all a very pleasant way to end a very long day. I was really pleased to meet everyone that showed up. I won't remember you next time, so please remind me.

Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 18th June 1998

Howard Bryan writes:

I will make this short, I am in the midst of typing a big paper!! I am glad to have met everyone, except for Ed Clark, sorry but ya left before I could meet you.

My tape came out o.k., I will say o.k., it is not great, I missed the first two songs! I will make a copy, but I need either a blank tape + $2.00 for shipping, for those in United States or $5.00 total..two people sitting near me at the show have already requested them, so I will make those first! NOW HOW DID THIS MUSIC EVER GET DESCRIBED AS COUNTRY!!!! IT IS NOT!! It is WAAAAY more like BC and even Runrig than fact, I can tell no difference between Shattered Cross, Simple Man and Too Many Ghosts being Stuart/Hummon songs than Big Country songs!!

Too Many Ghosts and Shattered Cross are AWESOME!!

IABC is breathtaking!

p.s. IF you are really into sound quality, then I would not order a tape from me, actually you probably will want to wait for the cd!! However,those that want, I can make a tape for ya.

p.p.s. I got a PROMO for my radio show from Stuart Adamson

Caffe Milano - Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 18th June 1998

Ed Clark writes:

It is June 18, 1998, and I am spending the day at work as hoppy as a bunny on crack. It feels like I’m waiting for the bell to ring in sixth period on the last day of high school. If only Father Time would get his A$$ in gear and start moving towards 4:30!

It is now 4:28. Father Time apparently heard that last comment and intentionally decided to slow down the day. Nevertheless, I have persevered. It is now 4:28; Nashvegas here I come!

Traffic is light most of the way. At first I listen to Peace in Our Time, which I haven’t heard in months. “Thousand Yard Stare”, “In This Place,” and “I Could Be Happy Here” are great songs. I wish they would play “I Could Be Happy Here” in concert. I wonder if the riffs for it were composed during the Restless Natives period. It sounds compatible with the soundtrack. I also listen to a taped interview with Stuart. He says his favorite song to listen to while driving is “Atlantic City” by the Boss. He also likes Del Amitri.

I arrive in Nashville at about 7 p.m. their time. The city is in the midst of country music Fan Fest, and the sidewalks are streaming with people. I find the Caffe and park in the structure across the street. My friend, Bill, has already arrived, and we have seats by the stage on the far right. Erika had to work in the hospital and could not join me. I know that there are other Big Country fans around, but I don’t mingle much because I feel some responsibility to chat with Bill, who I haven’t seen in about a year. We catch up on old times a bit and are shortly joined Chris and Donna, my faithful friend in fanland.

Gibson Guitars has bought the Caffe Milano since last time we were here, and what they don’t know about pasta is quite a lot. No one at my table is impressed by what they order. I was so excited, however, that it was crazy for me to even try to eat. If they perform here in the future, I’ll probably just order dessert. (By the way, the meal, ticket, and parking for the night cost me about $35.)

At about 8 p.m., a blond chanteuse named Cary Evans takes the stage at about 8 p.m. backed by two guitarists, a keyboardist, and a backup singer. Marcus performs third guitar on a couple of songs. Carrie sings tough and sexy; she’s no Rusty Miller! (who is still singing “So free, so free, so free, so free, so free,” somewhere) The song Marcus wrote for her is fantastic. It’s lighthearted and made me laugh in parts, but then I had more nervous energy than I could handle in any socially appropriate manner. Carrie made some genuine, sweet comments about her friends in audience. She also spoke of her day job and struggles to make it. If she finds life a struggle with her looks and talent, I’m glad she doesn’t wear my shoes!

She leaves, and then the great wait begins. Marcus, the boys, and Andrea set up, but there are no Stuart sightings. So we wait. I see Ian Grant sitting at a table with his wife. It is clear that he has finished eating, so I approach him and tell him how happy we are with the official web site. He clearly doesn’t know me from Adam, and asks, “Have I met you?” I tell him we met at the Douglas Corner Cafe, complement him again on the web site, and then scurry back to my seat. He was pleasant enough, once he saw me edging back to my seat. Ian probably is a nice chap with his old friends, but there’s no denying that he’s skeptical bear. Too bad he wasn’t a little more skeptical about that accountant!

The wait for Stuart continues as the natives grow restless. Finally, at about 9:30, I see a man in black making a brisk bee line towards us through the audience. Heads are turning. As Stuart brushes by our table towards the stage door he fumes, “no parking!” Foiled and flummoxed by Fan Fest!

Now I’m really bouncing off the walls, but by the time they take the stage, it’s clear I’m not the only one! Without comment, John Mach, John Gardner, Mark Prentice, and Andrea Zahn break into “Old Country, Country.” The energy level is really high; maybe the wait did them good. Tonight it seems like we are watching a band and not just Stuart and Marcus with some back-up guys. Only bassist Mark Prentice seems out of place up there. The volume and sound of his bass are out of control for the first third of the concert. I sit near his speaker, so it probably bothers me more than others. Mark apparently has problems with his mike as well, and on several songs he wanders awkwardly across a crowded stage to sing back-up with Stuart. His style of play is also somewhat disconcerting. From the facial expressions he makes, you’d think he was picking a blister and not a guitar. Stuart, Marcus, Dr. Scholl’s!

I don’t remember the exact order of the play list. I know that Marcus sang “Old Country, Country,” “Supernatural,” “Stand Up,” “Blue Rose,” and “One of these Days” as an encore. New to me at this concert was “Tojour Aimer,” which he co-wrote with Stuart. This song is fluffier than cotton candy whipped with helium, but I fell for it completely.

"Tojour Aimer Just what the hell’s she trying to say? Alright? Okay? My life was going nowhere anyway."

Stuart plays a groovy guitar lick that lifts Marcus’ great voice. I can’t believe the man behind Steeltown could play a song like this and pull it off, but I guess the muse doesn’t always have to lead to dark corners. I hope they play it again in the future.

Stuart played “Shattered Cross,” “Simple Man,” “Learn to Row,” “The Travelers,” “Too Many Ghosts,” and “Private Battlefield.” My friend Bill, who tends to be negative and critical, and who doesn’t need a friend like that, said he had a good time and that “Private Battlefield” was a song that he found particularly deep. “Private Battlefield” addresses the damage that lovers inflict upon each other, and it’s not pretty. On previous hearings, the instrumentation of the song softened the hard lyrics. This arrangement leaves the wounds bare. No trite conclusions, no deeper truths salvaged from the experience, just the thing itself, followed by a prayer for peace. When he finished, Stuart turned to Marcus and said in an audible aside, “It took a lot of life to write that one, Marcus.” I was both awed and saddened.

The high point of the evening for me, personally, occurred during “Learn to Row,” when Stuart saw me singing along and didn’t look away, but let me sing with him for a couple of lines. I felt like he was allowing me to enjoy the song as much as he does. If you knew how self-conscious I am, which I’m glad you don’t, you would appreciate what a nice moment this was for me, leaving behind all that anxiety and finding some freedom in the music.

The show ended with “In a big Country.” Wow. Before he started playing, I realized that there were people in the back and beside me who were even more psyched about this night than I was! Someone shouted “Stuart!” He yelled back, “What?” and then, “Who said my name?” And then a different voice yelled, “Play Wonderland.” Stuart, who is normally very quick, except at parking, seemed stumped to reply to this, so he started playing “In a Big Country.” It must be awesome for the band to play this song behind Stuart. I’m sure they’ve never encountered an audience that responds to anything they have played so intensely, and to have it all in front of them must be a blast.

I left after the show and didn’t get to talk to Stuart. I also left the camera in the car. Being there with friends and absorbing the music was enough for me on this night. I hope there will be future shows, and that Marcus will play “American Lullaby,” “Back to Me and You,” and “Bless the Broken Road.” I prefer them to “Life is a Church” and “One of these Days,” although I guess he has to play it now that Tim McGraw took it to Number 1. I hope that Stuart will play “Come Back to Me” sometime.

I hope to see you all at the next show, and apologize for not being more a part of things at this one. I did ask about for you, Howard, and I was sorry to miss you.

Dingwalls - Camden, London, 15th May 2001

Oliver Hunter writes:

Let me tell you about a great gig last night:

Picking mine & Emily's tickets up on the door and having a brief chat with Ian Grant we wandered in to see Tony Greco and catch the last few minutes of "Los Pistoleros" (come on we had to get some dinner!). What we heard sounded pretty good with Bobby Valentino providing lead vocals (as well as fiddling)!

Whilst Dingwalls was not filled to capacity (like for the filming of "Eclectic") there was still a respectable crowd in attendance. In-between sets we met up with Neel Gandhi, Mike Lynd & Sylvie, and Jeroen Zuiderhoek and his girlfriend (not going to attempt pronounciation let alone spelling!). We also saw Stuart heading backstage. I feel I should warn you about his hair - he has had it dyed red with a huge blonde patch on top/part of one side. It looked quite... um... er... striking! :) Photos will appear in good time.

Anway, the whole atmosphere for the Raphaels set was very relaxed despite the recording and filming (for CD, Video & DVD apparently) which I look forward to seeing/hearing the result of. Apart from Stuart & Marcus there were: Mark Brzezicki on drums, ?? on bass (I thought he said Lorri? - can anyone provide?), and John Mock on whistle/mandolin.

After a quick tune-up Stuart strummed a few slow chords whilst the band got themselves ready. After a couple of strums it was recognisable as a very slow "Fields of Fire". A few cheers prompted Stuart to say "You recognise that 'ey?".

Set list:
1) Old Country Country
2) Shattered Cross
3) Supernatural
4) Private Battlefield
5) Ready To Run
6) Too Many Ghosts
7) Blue Rose
8) My Only Crime
9) Toujour Aimez
10) Simple Man
11) Life Is A Church
12) Learning To Row
13) Mexican Trout

14) Stand Up
15) In A Big Country (slow)

and finally:
16) Supernatural

It was the first BC type gig that my girlfriend Emily had been to and she thoroughly enjoyed herself - another convert!! :)

Mike Lynd wanted me to state for the record that there was one (and possibly two or three) people present that were (probably) older than he is! However, (Mike), unless they are members of this list it will be difficult to confirm ages so I think you will still have to remain the 'offical' oldest fan. (Tee hee!) :^)

I bought Supernatural (having been unable to buy it in the shops) and got it signed by Marcus & Stuart before saying farewell to everyone and heading back up the M1 to Northampton.

Anyone going to Birmingham tonight or Manchester tomorrow - have a great time!!! Everyone else will have to wait for the official release.

I'll let the others report on banter etc.

Dingwalls - Camden, London, 15th May 2001

Jeroen Zuiderhoek writes:

What can I add to Olivers report ? It was indeed very nice to meet a couple of you guys ! We had a great time and re-assured that BC fans are actually very nice people :-)

About my girlfriend: Is it so hard to just say 'Ineke' ? I guess so....

We were a bit early (didn't want to take the risk to miss anything of the show), so I was checking the entrance for people over, say 45, to catch up with Mike. After asking a couple of 'old' men (I guess three is accurate) if they were Mike, I gave up and took position at a strategic place (near the toilet entry). And with success! And Mike knew Oliver, so meeting him was easier.

It wasn't FOF, Oliver! In fact it was the beginning of a Skids song! (Sorry, don't know the title from my head.) Someone in the audience said "That's twenty years old!", to which Stuart replied: "Twenty years? Nooo, it cannot be that long!"

The setlist was already kindly provided by Oliver, so I won't go into that. After all I must say that it was a very intimite concert and Stuart seems a lot more happier than during the Final Fling concerts, in spite of his illness. It was great to finally see The Raphaels. It was well worth the money and I suggest that all of you who get the chance go and see them.

One final note: After the show I asked Stuart what happened to the songs he wrote over the last years for his 'solo album'. He said he used them all for Big Country during the preparation of DTD, so I guess those are the songs on the Internet-only releases. (Birmingham etc.) He hadn't been able to find someone "to cut the songs" :-(

I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction when I asked him to sign my copy of Supernatural: "Ah, so YOU are that Jeroen from Holland !". I am getting legendary :-)

Thanks to Oliver, Emily, Mike and Silvy for an unforgettable night!

Take care,


Academy - Birmingham, 16th May 2001

Brian Mawbe writes:

I really don't know how to put into words about tonight's performance or even if I should be writing about it. I am quite shell-shocked.

I really hope this was a one-off and judging by the comments from last night, I am sure it must be.

Stuart was in a really bad way i.e. he was very drunk. He could hardly stand up and was staggering about most of the time.

He wasn't playing his guitar most of the time and when he tried to sing he was miles away from his mike or he would knock his head into it. In the end they cut the set down and finished early. The rest of the band did come out to play a couple more numbers minus Stuart.

It has to be the saddest sight I have ever witnessed, and it has me really worried for Stuart. He received a lot of heckling from some of the mindless idiots there, but it really was so sad to see my personal hero in such a state.

I am not going to say any more, but if anyone else went to the gig knows anything more, please give me some hope.

I bought the album today and thought it was superb. I just hope I get the chance again to see Stuart perform how we know he can.


PS Mark is on Radio2 at the moment with Marcus Hummon and he has stated that BC are hoping to do a one off gig next year possibly at the Albert Hall - What a dream if this comes off.

Academy - Birmingham, 16th May 2001

Steve Bullman (compiled from emails) writes:

This was plainly *not* Dingwalls. I've tried getting to London gigs [before], and if there's an alternative, the extra hassle getting thru London always puts me off. Brum was at least dead easy to get to and park up. The gig was not recorded though perhaps they never slated to. If they were, and others who attended will know why they didn't (Phillip?).

The setlist was due to be the same that Oliver detailed for Dingwalls (I pinched a copy, cos I was at the front, about three feet from Marcus and six from Stuart). But we only got abot 60% of it. I'm not going into a proper review here as it would be too painful.

The heckling was only too obvious, and I really felt for Marcus, who was having a devil of a time keeping things going. If it was me, I would have cried. Whaaat? Why so difficult, I hear you ask. What were those Brummy B***ARD fans doing? Some of them were reacting to the state of Mr Adamson, who didn't know where the microphone was, missed a large number of his guitar cues (and whole parts) and was in grave danger of flattening both John Mock (on whistle/mandolin) and the two stalwarts standing in front of him who were trying to give the him vocal support.

It started off humerous, but there was virtually no response from Stuart - as Oliver says, there's usually a sharp put-down - but almost nothing in that way at all. Someone (H) said:

H:"You're wankered"
SA"I'm a wanker?"
H:"No wankered; bladdered; pissed"

Even a dosed up SA would have had a fairly acid rejoinder, even (especailly! when mildly drunk. [The Banter] was mainly arising from some folk taking the stance that they'd paid good money and given good time to come and see a band who plainly weren't operating on a realistic level. There's a strong working class ethic in Brum, which Stuart fully understands on a normal night, and if you could ask him, I doubt he'd feel the heckling was malicious. I think they are the folk who felt that if they'd have been in that position, they'd have rescheduled the gig. There was also a lot of vocal support from the fans at the front, but there was no feeling that Stuart was anything but totally stoned.

It was said (by other fans ater) that Stuart had been on whisky all day. He could hardly stand. I was real anxious that he was going to hurt himself, as every time he stood on a lead, he rocked dangerously from one side to the other. One entanglement around the feet too many and he'd have been on the deck. And it would have been a very painful pratfall. He had a split lip (did he have that at Dingwalls?) and I'm sure a fellow Scot would say he "looked lik pish". Marcus tried his best. He sang a load of his parts. He offered drinks to everyone who would shut up and "leave him alone".

I don't remember any mention [of an illness] in Brum, which I would have expected if that was the basis. I've been doped up to the eyeballs after various illnesses, and you can feel dopey/light-headed/out-of-it - but I've never seen anyone on prescibed medicines like this. Even if you're ill, you can tell if you're singing two feet away from a mike, and you still notice you ain't doing things right - like head-butting a mike all the time. [In the circumstances] I'd expect a band to reschedule or cancel. I was most reminded of Bob Geldof's portaryal of Pink in the film of "The Wall" as they tried to get him out of the hotel room for the gig.

They missed out My Only Crime, Life Is a Church, Learning to Row, Mexican Trout & IABC and left after SA had sang off-mike for nearly all of Stand Up. He was helped off by Mark, who said "I'm still proud". I didn't get any suggestion that Stuart was feeling any unhappiness, or anything less than the stupefied bliss that sometimes comes with being that out-of-it. There was a few "that was a good one" calls after songs - and Stuart said "it was, hey great, it was a great one" - you know as you do when you're soppy-drunk. 'I love you mate - your my best mate - I really really really love you..' - you know how it can be. After *every* song, Stuart went "yow" in a very "cartoon" drunken way, which is how he was throughout. He really didn't know what was going on at all.

After about ten minutes, Marcus came back to do some solo numbers (Supernatutral), and then was joined by Mark (ever the professional, as was shouted loudly by various fans) and the other two. They made a fine noise together, but it wasn't what I came to see. Nor was what happened earlier :-(

I hope he's back to good 'ol Stu [for Manchester]. I'm just really sad that Stuart let himself down so badly, for whatever reasons and whatever circumstances. I was listening to the Rarities II CD in the car on the way home, and thinking that this is the same man who authored "Can You Feel The Winter". There is hope!

I bought the CD's (2BC, 1 Raphaels), and never felt so low for SA at one of his concerts.

Over to you, Manchester.

Steve Bullman

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