Forever Young Finale…
Well here we are again, at the end of another wonderful adventure. This trip has fulfilled every expectation, it’s been enlightening, entertaining and educational to tour in unison with another organization and I think I can certainly say that the two crews have worked very well together. We have made many new friends and witnessed the inner workings of a very different setup to our own. It has been really heartening to see Bob relish having Mark alongside him on the stage for at least a few songs in his set as we all know how much Mark has admired and respected Bob throughout his career. It was a little disconcerting at first that there is little acknowledgement from Bob when Mark leaves his stage each night but then we don’t really know Bob, no-one apart from Mark on our side has even met Bob. This may seem a little strange and well frankly, it is. Nevertheless, Bob and Mark chat every day before the gig, sometimes for an hour or so, they get on very well.
As usual, the home leg of any tour is hectic and so I’ve decided to combine the last two shows into one diary entry. It’s fitting that we should end the tour here at the Odeon Hammersmith as it’s geographically the closest venue to British Grove Studios which is where we head tomorrow morning to continue recording for Mark’s album. A triple whammy in that there’s no travel, no post-tour decompression (there’s always a bit of glumness at the end of any tour) and we are all fired up as a band and ready to record.
The two shows we’ve played here so far on this three show run have been spectacular and if anything, the Sunday show was better than the Saturday night and Monday was the best of all. Once you get used to the backstage stairs and the possibility of getting completely lost, it really is a joy to play here. I discovered a ‘secret’ balcony on the first night. It’s actually a platform above the monitor desk on stage left and the view onto the stage is fabulous. I was surprised to see no-one watching from there on the Saturday but I mentioned it to the guys and last night (Monday) most of us used it at some point during Bob’s set, including Mark. It was a great vantage point and another unique way to watch Bob and his band and in particular to see how they communicate on stage. Since it is backstage, you can hardly hear the PA at all and so you could hear the actual stage sound, great because most of the time out in the auditorium, it’s almost impossible to pick out Donny Herron or Charley and Stu’s guitar work..it’s all Bob. It’s fascinating to see how Bob and his band give each other signals during the show and from this new viewpoint it’s clear to see that all important eye contact as only Bob knows when each song will draw to an end. Great too to be able to hear Donny’s fabulous work, Stu’s rocking rhythms and lead work, Charley’s clever little parts, Tony’s solid and funky bass foundation and George’s incredible wrist action. He’s a drummer we all love to watch; a truly great band and what a lovely bunch of guys too.
Mark, Tim Myer and me…
The last show was quite something. Inevitably there were many hugs and fond farewells throughout the evening from band and crew. My son Max and his friend James came and saw the show for the first time. Max has been a Bob fan for many years and performs his own versions of many of Bob’s tunes so it was a special evening for him. Our sound check was probably the most enjoyable sound check of the tour, I’m not sure why, maybe it was the sound of the room, the in-ears sounded fantastic..we played Speedway, Marbletown and What it Is in their entirety. I’m not sure we’ve ever done that before in a sound-check. When the stage was set for the final show, I took Max and James to catering where we sat with some of Bob’s crew and band. Max seemed determined to meet Bob but I kept telling him not to think about it as it ain’t gonna happen. We wandered back from catering (which was in a separate building outside the venue) to the stage door and Max was saying I’m gonna meet him and say hi…we walked into the building, turned to go up the first flight of stairs and who should be coming down? Bob. All three of us froze, Bob looked away and glided past us and not a word was spoken.
I joined the rest of the band in the dressing room for the final warm up of the tour. We took to the stage once more at exactly 7:30PM and as per sound-check, the sound was fabulous. Dave Dixon really seemed to have the room ‘dialed in’, thus illustrating once again that the front of house sound really does affect the sound of the in-ears. Mark was on tip top form and the band were steaming. This was probably the nicest sounding show of the tour and some parts of it were blissful. But the most blissful part of the evening was yet to come.
Bob and Mark had agreed during sound-check to do an encore together. ‘Forever young’ as a duet. Bob had left the stage during sound-check so Mark ran it with Bob’s band. When the time came, Bob had finished ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and Mark walked back onto the stage the audience went bananas. They started the song and Bob took the first verse. Then Mark approached the mic and started verse two, the crowd went even more crazy but after a beautiful guitar solo from Mark, in the third verse Mark sang the line “And may your song always be sung” whilst gesturing to Bob, I thought the roof was about to be lifted off the Odeon. Most of us were watching all this from the secret balcony so had a wonderful view of the eye contact between the two maestros. It was the perfect end to the tour and there must have been the odd tear in the house. The band then took their bows to the audience and Bob led them off the stage. Mark and Bob exchanged hugs and had a little chat witnessed by all on our balcony and then Bob was gone.
We had our usual London after-show party in which we welcomed all our guests and indeed most of Bob’s band too. Then for some of us, the party continued in the hotel bar. There were endless warm hugs, smiles and laughter. I think that’s what has contributed to yet another great trip, the laughter. I recall some of Bob’s crew saying that when we showed up at the venues, the mood in the building changed, that’s probably due to the fact that it was difficult not to hear the spontaneous bursts from the MK band dressing room. It’s the place to be.
There are a lot of people to thank but I’ll simplify by just saying thanks to everyone involved in the tour. A special thanks though to Tim Myer, our keyboard tech who established a 100% record on the tour. By that I simply mean that everything worked, EVERY night. Not even a murmur of a glitch or a bad connection. Quite a feat when you consider the amount of setting up and breaking down each night. Also a special thanks to Pete Mackay, Paul Crockford and Tim Hook for making sure everything ran smoothly every day. As for Glenn, Richard, Ian, Jim, John and Mike….you babes are the heaviest!
There is however one man who shone brightest. His friendship, musicianship and generosity are treasured. We all feel very lucky to have him in command. A great friend and a great man. Thanks again Mark.
Thanks of course to all who have read, followed and commented on the
diary in my forum. It’s always good to hear from you. May it long
continue….’till next time….