Diary of the U.K. Tour....

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Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by Frank Marino »

Well, we're home, and I just want to say how much we enjoyed ourselves.

We arrived on the morning of the 26th, met Dale, Jay, Ronnie and Simon. What a great bunch of guys. As a matter of fact, every single person we met was a pleasure. Steven (the promoter of some of the gigs) was also a fine person. I could go on and on about all of them.

This time in England, I have to say that even the food was good. Last time, on the Legends tour, I didn't eat so well. But that was my own fault... I didn't really get around to look for stuff like I did this time.

We were all a bit on edge because of the recent troubles in the London subway. Nobody wanted to stay in London proper, so we went to an out-of-the-way hotel in Milton-Keynes. What an amazing place that was! It was like something out of Harry Potter. Imagine being amid 32 acres of countryside, where rabbits and peacocks walked around the grounds... a beautiful old stone manor, with a great staff and great food, clean air... the works. The whole band loved it, as did my kids. But I want to apologize profusely to Mak, who went to great lengths to get us into his brother's hotel in London and had to cancel it at the last minute. I know it caused him great problems. I wish to also apologize to his brother... I do hope he understands that it was only due to the circumstances and our own ignorance of the relative safety of the situation. We see, now, that we could have stayed in London, as the authorities there had things well under control.

London - The Mean Fiddler

I would call this one a good "first gig". There was a respectably-sized crowd, who were very appreciative. We had a few minor technical problems, but we worked through them and played our proper set. This was really our very first full-length gig with the new lineup. Dave was absolutely great on the drums and he, Avi, and Peter blended perfectly. I knew then that this was going to be quite OK for all of the gigs. The groove and the power were there again... something I felt was a bit lacking in the past at times.

And I would be remiss in not mentioning the great job that Mike Haley did on background vocals. Our voices blended perfectly. Alot of people haven't noticed Mike yet, because he was singing from the off-stage position. We're working on something right now that will hopefully allow him to be on-stage all of the time... perhaps playing an instrument. We really want to make use of his great voice in alot of other songs. Having someone with this kind of talent makes me want to structure things so that we can use it much more.

After sound-check, I got to meet Mak, Saran and Saran's sister, Inny. And what a pleasure that turned out to be, not only because they are wonderful people and great friends, but because they presented me with an absolutely stunning gift! I had once mentioned, a very long time ago, that I was enamoured of an Indian instrument I had played a bit as a kid... it's called a Dilruba. It's a type of "small sitar", but it's played with a bow. Well, these folks gave me one! I hadn't even seen one for 30 some-odd years and there I was looking at one that was to be mine! I freaked out, really... total surprise! I couldn't even play it... hell, I couldn't even put rosin on the bow! That's how nervous I was. I got Avi to come in and play it for me a bit, cuz he's used to a bow. But I want to tell Saran and Mak that I have now played it, and I'm getting quite used to it. So, expect to hear something as soon as I feel comfortable enough to record it.

So, we did the gig and had a great time, in spite of the fact that my fingers were developing blisters (very painful, but that's what happens when you don't play alot). The crowd was wonderful to us, though, and no one seemd to notice my sometimes hesitant manner when it came to bending and sliding up and down! After the show, we met as many people as possible, but we had to get out of the building due to local curfews. We stood around outside for a bit, wondering where to eat, but it turned out that there was no place at that time so we said our goodbyes to our friends and headed back to Milton-Keynes. What a great way to open a tour!

Southampton - The Brook

This room was much smaller, but very nice and cozy. The crowd was smaller as well, but no less appreciative. By now we had built enough confidence from the first gig to feel like we could stretch into some different things. I'll tell you, this is always made more easy by an appreciative crowd... and that they were. We jammed on a bunch of stuff (don't ever ask me what we played or in what order... I never remember that, even right after the gig!) The blisters were beginning to become a problem by now, but I just tried to ignore the pain and hoped for the best. Avi began to come out of the shell this day, and played great stuff! We did alot together, and Mike sang great too. Pete and Dave were really beginning to pump out the pulse... I couldn't have felt more comfortable. The dressing room in this place was amazing... like a full apartment, with an outside balcony, with pictures of many great artists who had played there. My friends, Lis and Jacqui, showed up and we had a grand old time. They run some things for Joe Lynn Turner. We had met on the Legends tour and had kept in touch. It was great to see them. Lis plays a bit of guitar, and I actually talked her into getting an SG! She loves it!

After the show we met a bunch of people and had a good time. Once again, we headed back to the idyllic countryside at Milton-Keynes.

Pentrich, Derbyshire - The Rock And Blues Festival

This one really brought back memories of the "old days". Large grounds, 30,000 people, tents for the camping, mud everywhere, trailers for the dressing rooms, musicians all over the place, great looking bikes, huge stage, huge crew, amusement-park rides, parachutists, hot-air ballons, motocross bikes flying over ramps doing handstands... man this place was having a good time! Even during our early-afternoon sound-check there were loads of people in the crowd having fun. And, contrary to many other festivals I've done in the past, all these musicians from these bands were super-friendly, getting together, laughing, joking, talking music and stuff, supporting each other... man, I really liked the atmosphere!

And I found out that alot of these musicians were old friends that I'd done gigs with before. It began when I realized that I had known Pete Way (Waysted, UFO) as far back as the mid-seventies when we played Atlanta at Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom. We got together and had a great time reminiscing, talking of our common friends like Uli and stuff. We actually expected Uli to show up (I had invited him) but he couldn't make it in the end. We would have all jammed together. Then the guys from Blackfoot came along, and I found we had some history too... way back to the Marathon tour in the States. I also met up with Pete Gill (formerly the drummer of Saxon and Motorhead) and his lovely wife. We got on great together and had some time to chat about many things. Dave was stoked to meet him... he loves the guy immensely. What a great bunch of guys. And, of course, I saw Kate (Battttttty to some of you!) It was great to see her again... she's looking happier than ever, touring with Waysted and handling their situations. I even spent alot of time playing soccer (football to Europeans) with some kids from one of the other tents. We used a soft ball and put Mike Haley in goal, and proceed to shell him, three on zero! Man, those kids can play, though... not like us old men!

By the time of the gig, we were all in a great mood. Going out to this type of crowd on this type of stage put me into a sort of auto-pilot from the old days' experiences. I only had an hour and ten minutes, though, so I went back to the old days material, from the first live album. About the only disconcerting thing was having to literally watch a clock, and look at a proposed set-list on the floor (Yuchhhh!) I was ambitious in my choices on the set-list. I tried to include stuff from the present as well as the old stuff, but the time alotted to each song left little time to do anything really meaningful with those newer songs. As an example, one of the things I wanted to do was to get Poppy into the set, but by the time we had gotten to the first jam there was only five minutes left for that song and we skipped right to She's Not There for one or two measures and then we needed to end the song! Same sort of thing with Strange Universe, Hall Of Fame, etc.. So, this set looked more like the older set... The Answer, King Bee, Who Do Ya Love... we even ended with Roadhouse Blues, and it was so short it went right from the first verses to the last choruses with hardly any jamming in the middle. I'm just not used to that, and if we ever do this sort of thing again, I think I'd rather just pick one or two songs and play them fully rather than try to squeeze more in, in shortened versions. And, by now, the blisters were really beginning to kill me... to the point that I actually didn't even attempt certain types of bends or licks!

But, all in all, it went down absolutely stupendously. The crowd was giving us a genuine encore, and as I left the stage even the stage manager told me to go back on and go over my time by a bit... but I felt that it would be disrespectful to the other groups to go over my time, even though they wouldn't have minded. If I had thought we would have gotten an encore, I would have ended five minutes sooner, but I had finshed at EXACTLY one hour and ten minutes, on the nose! So, I declined and we went to our dressing rooms.

We hung around all night, chatting and getting together, and left when all was done. We had loaned our Marshall to Blackfoot for their set, and we needed to wait for their set to end, but we would have waited anyway.

All in all, I have to say a good time was had by all. I was also mildly surprised to find out, when we returned to the hotel, that we could actually order pizzas at 2 A.M. So, this I absolutely did! I took my pizza and stole off to my room to gorge myself in tomato, cheese and hot pepperoni... with a Coke of course!

Huddesfield (Holmfirth) - The Picture Drome

This was the one, folks. This time it ALL came together. From the moment we arrived in this very quiet and quaint lttle town, I knew it was going to go well. Just meeting with people before the show, in the hotel parking lot, told me that there was a type of connection here... I don't know why. But, from the moment we started to play, I could feel the "magic". The band was simply great! Pete, Dave, Mike and Avi REALLY gave their all... with lots of emotion and fire.

And the crowd was right there the whole time. I could FEEL that we were feeding off of their energy... and it wasn't a "rah-rah" type of energy... don't get me wrong. It was a musical energy, a connection of sorts. We were jamming, playing, inventing on the spot... doing all the things I love the band to do. And, to my surprise, the blisters still hurt but I said to myself "What the hell, go for it anyway... blow up your damn hand!" And go for it we did. By the end of the night, we were feeling very fulfilled and the crowd would hear nothing of our leaving, even after all the time we'd played. So, we did the normally unusual for us... we did an encore and played Free. What a great gig and what an even greater crowd!

After the show, we hung out and met tons of people, had loads of fun and laughed until the wee hours. My friend and absolute fan, Keith (Juggernaut1 on our site), was there with his lovely wife Adele. It was Keith who, when I did the Legends tour, really boosted me up with his fervour and his faith in what we do. Unfortunately, he and Adele had to get back to Ireland by early morning.

After all of this, we walked over to the hotel afterwards and the guy running the bar was kind enough to let us hang out there and eat until quite late. As usual, I closed out the place and went to bed for a much needed sleep!

Nuneaton - Queen's Hall

By this gig, I was beginning to feel the tiredness of three-hour-plus shows, back-to-back drives, and the like. I'd also realized that I not only had blown up my blisters, but I had blown out my voice as well! Oh well, nothing to do but do it again, right? So we got to Nuneaton and went to Ronnie's music store to check out some instruments while the crew set up the stage. We got back to the sound-check and began to jam. Now, Ronnie (who was driving one of our tour buses) is also a great guitarist in his own right, and Jay (who was driving my tour bus) is also a great drummer in his own band. Well, I couldn't just let that alone, now could I! So Jay got on the drums and Ronnie got on the other guitar, and we had a smack-down groove jam. It was loads of fun, for me as well as for them. After that, we did our check and waited for the gig. Then my good friend Chris Loydall (from the Legends tour) showed up with his daughter, and not too long after Carl Swan showed up with his sister Karen and my old friend Colin (again, from the legends tour). Carl handles Glenn Hughes' touring. We all had a great time reminiscing about the last time I was in England. I had forgotten how much had happened, but they reminded me, believe me!

The show went pretty well... I'd have to say it started a bit more slowly tham the previous one, but it picked up as the night went on. I realized now that my hand was absolutely destroyed... my blisters had opened up and this gave way to immense pain whenever I played anything even remotely agressive. So I tried to adjust as best as I could. Also, my voice was so blown out from shrieking the night before that I had to change the way I sang things on-the-fly. This wasn't helped by the fact that I couldn't hear the monitors. My ears were gone as well.

So this brought back to me a very old and well-learned lesson... always have a day off or two in the first week of playing.... that way the blisters become callouses very quickly and the voice and energy recovers. In the later weeks, I can do ten shows in a row with no problem, but that first week is a real critical one. But, there was nothing to do about it except go for it anyway, even if I did feel a bit crippled! Besides, I have a great band of guys that can carry me when I need the break, and carry me they did. The crowd wasn't huge, but they were vocal and attentive and very much die-hard fans. They also carried us along and it all turned out very well.

After the gig, we hung out again with the fans, this time until very late. By the time that was all done, quite a few people were lit up pretty good and having a grand old time. I said my goodbyes to Carl, Colin, Chris, Karen and Chris's daughter and stayed behind with the fans for a while longer. Actually, I was pretty much the last person to leave, as usual. And, to make things even sweeter, a wonderful girl at the gig (a friend of Ronnie's) actually found a place that sent us late-night pizza (love that pizza!). Once again, I jealously guarded my pizza, ran off to my hotel room, and stuffed myself... with that ever-present Coke as well!

The next morning, Karen came by the hotel to see the kids. They had been asking about her (they hadn't seen her since Legends) and this was the one gig they didn't stay at, but had gone to the hotel. So she was kind enough to come by and say hello to them, and to Denyse, before we left for Heathrow Airport.

And so it ends...

All good things must come to an end, and this was one good thing that I wished would never end. It was all too short, too brief...

I can't begin to express enough gratitude towards all the people who made it happen, to all of the fans who support us and to those who traveled a long way to see us... to all of the fans here who support us just by participating in the message board, who make it all so worth it! I just can't name them all.

I really hope we get to do more stuff... in Europe, America, Canada, the U.K., The Netherlands... everywhere. If I was in control of these things, I'd be at everybody's hometown in a heartbeat. But, alas, I am not. And I can only wait and hope that someone calls and something happens. They ARE telling me it WILL happen, and soon, in ALL of these places. But I will wait patiently until it does.

As for the band, well, I'm pretty happy with the chemistry. I know we may have to replace Peter, so we'll look around. But he came up to me yesterday and told me that he's re-thinking whether or not he wants to continue in the touring scene. He had so much fun that he now wants to keep it going. If some things happen soon enough, I'm pretty certain he'll do it again. But time is of the essence, where this is concerned. If he begins to get busy locally he might again not want to return to the road. I'm hoping we get some news in days, rather than in weeks.

Meanwhile, I wanted to get you all informed about this tour from the band's perspective. I'll be around for a bit now, and I'll get to the questions and the mail as soon as I can.

Once again, thanks to you all for your continued support. I appreciate it, and the whole band appreciates it. Once again, for various reasons, we are a happy band. It's been awhile since I've been able to say that.

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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by parky »


glad you are safely home with all the family and band etc etc.

what a brilliant, brilliant post this is - many thanks indeed for it.

i was at holmfirth and was absolutely blown away - there were 5 of us off the board down the front - keith (juggernaut1), derekicr5, denis (with 2 of his kids - their first gig!!! lucky kids say I!) bolton boy and his mate derek.

we were totally in awe of the show. i did a review on the thread for the picturedrome and i am not the only one who was smoked by the show.

wish i could have hung around after but i had to get away home. i met you in manchester in 2002 though so don't feel i missed out there. there were lots of others able to sharethe after show excitement.

thank you so very much for coming and i do hope your dream to come and play again will be fulfilled - it is certainly a dream of many of your friends that were there and at the other gigs.

take good care, my love as a fellow music fan to you.


parky (rob)
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by It's me! »

Yayyyyyyyyy! Great to see you again and Denyse and the girls, and of course the band!
Have a well-earned rest now!
Hope we'll all meet up again before too long
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by Soupy94 »

Thanks, Frank -- it's nice to hear first hand what it was like in England for you, your family, the band, and your many friends. I'm glad to hear all went well.



PS: ...and thanks to all the fans who saw Frank in Britain for passing along their thoughts and photos.
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by mandrakeroot »

Glad you had a safe journey home Frank. Thank you isn't enough for the pleasure that you brought me and others in the UK. Come back soon.

You made a hippy old man very happy, or is it the other way round!
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by Franksfan24 »

This is all great news!!! Nice to hear the tour went well,I felt like i was there when you spoke of your gigs in the U.K.!!! Must have been some scary moments however with the bombings that happened over there! Nice to hear that your back home safe!!! :P Who has the best pizza? :roll: Canada,the U.S.or the U.K. :?: JIMMY...... 8)

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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by freddy »

Great review, I just wish I could have been there.
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by Bob Nelson »

Thanks for sharing with us Frank, that was the next best thing to being there.
What really stood out for me in your writings was the fact that Pete might just change his mind. That is great news, he is so important to your band.
Also I am glad to see Dave back behind the drums, I saw both him and Josh and I much prefered Dave as your drummer. He is also a good dude, I remember meeting him after the show when you played at the House of Blues in Chicago back in 2000, he went out of his way to meet the fans as we were waiting in line to talk to you in the meet and greet after the show.
It sounds like things are really on the right track for you. I can not wait for you to come back to Chi-Town.
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by juggernaut1 »

Hello Again my Main Man,

Just got home and couldn't wait to hear your reviews on the events... Well all I can say to you thank you with all my heart..... thank you for your talent and putting on as I have said on the thread one of the best ever live shows I have ever seen.

The Band were tight the playing awsome and the style of playing amazing.. But you know Frank all of us at Holmfirth knew we ROCKED the house and you could feel it everywhere in the building, it was electric, when you get a chance to see the threads you will see that we knew who was on stage that night and we will never forget it.... its great to have you back on the board, but please dont leave it so long again!!!!

Love ya man...

Your friend Keith :headbanger

p.s I did try to behave.....lol, but again at the end of the night the words got in the way.....
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re: Diary of the U.K. Tour....

Post by fatherofseven »

It's just not fair. He can play music great, produce it and record it great, and on top of it can write really, really well.

That's a great report. Thanks for keeping us all informed.