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The Flavour is in the Hole!!! Jan 18 2003. Kieth Stodart’s Diary

Ok, you’ve got the albums, you re-bought them on CD and you’ve even got a few bootlegs but nothing can have prepared you for what you’ve just witnessed. Been there, done that and got the f****** T-shirt to prove it, has never rang as true. “I was there!!!”

Anyone who has had the privilege to witness this FC tour will remember it for the rest of his or her life. Hell they me even tell their grandchildren about it. People may complain about the sound quality, complain about crowd reactions and slag of the new songs but who cares, it’s the ambience of the whole event. It’s about putting the face to names of people you have previously only e-mailed, it’s about meeting other people who are passionate about Love, its about rubbing shoulders with the celebrities that go to these gigs, but the main thing is that it’s about enjoying yourself and celebrating the phenomenon that is Arthur Lee.

From the moment I stepped on the 11.30 train from Darlington to Kings Cross I knew I was going to witness something really special. Took aboard the train a couple of cans, purely for medicinal problems. Alcohol thins the blood and with all this DVT going around you can’t be too careful (Oh, that’s for traveling by plane, never mind it’s the thought that counts)

Got on the train and went to sit down when there was a tug on my shirt, it was Lizzy B. and her hubby Chris who were sitting directly opposite me, behind them was another couple of lads going to the gig and we had a good old chat on the way down to London, although I have to say Lizzy was a mass of concentration as she finished the embroidery on her now infamous Forever Changes jacket. I have to say other than the group nothing else got talked about or photographed more than that jacket. It is a work of art

Got to Kings Cross headed across town to Waterloo and checked into my hotel that was next to the London Eye, then headed straight for the Kings Arms in Roupell Street. Took a bit of finding but well worth the visit, it was an old traditional pub with a coal fire and a really good atmosphere.I knew I would be meeting some fans in there but didn’t know what they would look like all I knew was that I would be making a prat of myself by asking ” are you Dukie ” etc.etc.

I met Mike “Dukie” Anderson and had a long chat with him also a guy who wore a simple badge that said Mike Di Masco sponsor of the Castle, they were really great guys and so passionate about Love.There were many fans in the pub even a guy whose name eludes me (sorry) who had flown in from Australia the day before just to see the gig (that is the passion I’m talking about) for the record he was drinking with Ainslie.

Headed down the RFH at about 6.30 because although I had bought tickets Mike Randle told me he had put me on the guest list so I wanted to make sure my name was on the list so I could sell my tickets. Not only was my name on the list, but there was also a pass for the after show Mojo party, what a result!! (Mike I can’t thank you enough for this)

Ended up selling the tickets outside to some touts, which is against my principles but there was simply no one around at that time wanting tickets, quite the opposite actually as there seemed to be quite a few people trying to flog tickets.

Anyway cash in hands from the tickets headed off to the Hungerford bar for a few more pre-gig refreshments, didn’t get very far though as I bumped into Dukie again who introduced me to David Housden who produces the Castle Magazine, yet another guy passionate about Arthur Lee. After a bit of a chat and a few photos headed to the bar to meet up with Lizzy her hubby and a long lost friend from 30 years ago. By this time it’s about 7.15 and the beer is flowing well my mate Pete from work who traveled down with me was trashed already, in fact rumour has it he may have been trying to, make some advances with Lizzy’s friend, alas to no avail though.

Lizzy’s jacket was getting a lot of attention, justifiably so, and people kept drooling over it and taking photos (Lizzy, well worth all your time and effort). At one point Mark Ellen, (I think) former editor of MOJO magazine and presenter of Old Grey Whistle Test (to name but a few) came across and passed comment. I think at this point the beer was starting to kick in as I originally thought it was Neil Morrissey (when his back was to us I may add)

Popped down stairs to the main bar to meet Natasha and her friend who had driven down from Manchester for the gig and had a brief chat with them (sorry I didn’t see you after the gig but will see you in Manchester) then back upstairs for the main event.

I have to confess I didn’t watch the support band as I was too busy socializing but I did have a chat with the singer, Brent, after the gig and I will certainly watch them at some of the other gigs I am going to.

OK into the hall row M centre stage let the battle commence. The band comes on, minus the orchestra and it’s straight into Seven & Seven Is, tremendous now we’re talking. Five other songs follow (check Torben’s site for the full set-list) before the orchestra comes on and they play the Forever Changes album. Everyone is enjoying themselves but as it’s a seated venue there’s no dancing (yet) but lots of feet tapping, head nodding and hand waving. They finish FC to a standing ovation and leave the stage only to re-appear a couple of minutes later to play another 10 songs some with and without orchestral support.

The penultimate song is Singing Cowboy and they are joined on stage by Graham Coxon (ex-Blur) and they proceed to do a rousing version of this, by which time a small section of the audience had made their way to the front and dancing wildly. The concert is finished of with a new song, My Anthem, which is started off by a piper. Everyone appears to have their own view of the song but it doesn’t matter. Did everyone enjoy themselves?? I bloody well think so!!

After the gig it’s backstage for the MOJO after show party, all the guys in the band and the orchestra are there and everyone is on a high. I talk to Mike R. for a while who introduces me to Irish Barry then mingle around talking to the other members of the band (you know I didn’t realize Chapple designed the Henry Rollins web-site), my mate also insists he takes my photograph with one of the Swedish violinists (I wonder why ?). I talk with Brent of DRAW for quite a while a really nice guy, I felt a bit sorry for them as they were all sleeping in a touring van at the side of the RFH. No wonder he was guzzling wine straight from the bottle, anyway told them we were going for a drink somewhere else and they were welcome to come.

Took a few more photos at the party prior to us heading out and onwards to the next watering hole. Mr. Randle, who looked remarkably like Deputy Dog in his new hat, took on the mantle of group leader and we headed towards the Marriott Hotel. Why the Marriott no one knew as we all staying in the Travel Inn but I think he said something about Gene being there.

So there’s the band, the orchestra me , Irish Barry and a few other folks heading for the Marriott Hotel, we meet Lizzy B. and husband and they join us, wagons roll!!

Now were in London, the 24-hour city and guess what, yes the bar in the Marriott is shut (it’s 12.30 am!!) there’s some negotiations taking place and I think they offer to open it for 1 drink. We check the prices and decide to leave and head back to the Travel Inn that has a bar open to 1.30 am. We get back to the Travel Inn 5 minutes later and you’ve guessed it the bars shut, 24-hour city my arse!!

The saviour is a convenience store across the road so we all pile across and buy a selection of food and drink for consumption back in the Hotel, surely they’ll let us sit in the lounge as we’re all residents, No sorry can’t let you do this. F*** Me what kind of country are we living in. By this time Irish Barry is stuffing his face with Salt and vinegar Hula Hoops and raving on about how good they are. Then he comes up with the new slogan for Hula Hoops “The flavour is in the hole”, I can’t stop laughing and this remains a topic of conversation later.

Arthur is walking round the foyer of the hotel looking for Daddyo , naturally we offer him a drink but he wisely refuses and disappears.I offer the services of my room as the back up bar and some of us pile up there for a drink. The Swedes decide the rooms not for them, probably cause my mate Peter’s lying prostrate in his bed and has been so for a couple of hours, however Lizzy B. plus hubby and Irish Barry remain and we start to resolve the world’s problems over a few beers. Mike R. decides to opt out as he is getting up early however he does leave me a message on my mobile and Rusty phones the room later at which point I’m out looking to buy more Hula Hoops. I think these guys might have had their own party going on.

The beers and the Hula Hoops are cracked open and we talk until about 3.00 am by which time Barry sees me nodding off on a chair and decides its bedtime. Not before I say that I think the slogan would be better if it said, “The taste is in the hole”, what is the difference between flavour and taste says Barry, that’s another story methinks.

I wake up at 4.30am fully clothed and freezing on top of my bed so lift back the sheets and slither in. I go down for breakfast in the morning I order the full English breakfast but fail miserably at cleaning my plate. I think I would have been better with a packet of Salt and Vinegar Hula Hoops.

Roll On Sheffield I say.

“Scottish” Keith Stodart

Any omissions to this diary are pure to protect the innocent.