Limahl was delighted to join the glittering line-up for this tour with 'Living in a box' 'Bucks Fizz' 'Nik Kershaw' 'Berlinda Carlisle' 'Kim Wilde' & 'Midge Ure' (Ultravox)
I have a tendency to worry about getting throat infections or flu when I have a string of important shows coming up, especially after one year (I think it was 1996) when I had to call the same promoter Tony Denton on the morning of the show and cancel, my tonsils had flared up like golf balls in my throat..I could hardly speak, let alone sing.
Having said that, I did smoke back in those days, albeit infrequently (usually socially) and that is definitely NOT good for a singer's throat......actually now I mention it, I don't think my throat has let me down at all since I totally quit smoking in 2001. It's strange but I completely lost interest in it for no apparent reason, although I'd thought about quitting for years and tried hard but when I did actually stop, it almost came naturally, no nicotine patches, no hypnotism, no therapy.
Needless to say, that single cancelled gig sometimes nags away in the back of mind cause in my line of work, a lost gig is lost income BUT it also means I must let a lot of pople down, the venue, the fans, the band or dancers, etc etc. Anyway I needn't have worried because my voice and general health were on top form for the tour, which I had been anticipating for several months as the contracts were signed back in April 2004.
In my heart, I felt ready for these big venues again, I have been performing regularly since the 80's revival started in 1997 and it's like anything, the more practice you get, the better you become and I certainly feel that like a vintage wine or indeed antique jewellery, I have gotten better with age (he says to himself reassuringly).
Without sounding complacent or cocky, I do feel I've learned the 'ropes' (as it were) and believe I can now connect well with a crowd in a 'live' situation, so I just took all my previous experience on to the bigger concert stages that the 'Here And Now' tour presented and thankfully it worked.
I can honestly say that all the audience responses were very warm even though I was the opening 'act' !! At first, this had worried me but after giving it some thought, I saw it as a challenge and perhaps even a compliment......I think Tony (the promoter) wanted a strong opening for the show so I rose to the occasion and hopefully didn't disappoint. I certainly got some great feedback via emails (it's always nice when people actually go to the trouble of writing to say how much they enjoyed it).
Opening night was Sheffield Arena which was good to get out the way in the sense of, it was the test for me to see if I could feel comfortable up there, connect with the audience and make sure the songs worked ok with the band. After my performance, I put on a hat and crept into the side of the venue to watch the rest of the show, and I have to say, I absolutely loved it. The reunited original Bucks Fizz particularly excited me cause I used to be in a band with Mike Nolan (before Bucks Fizz and before Kajagoogoo) so I had paid particular attention to their career because it was my old mate doing well. Mike used to give me a lift home in his car after our rehearsals, I was 18 years old and had no car ;--(
Manchester Evening News Arena was fun, my mum and older brother Tony came over from my home town of Wigan but you'll never guess what......mum was late and missed half of the first song......and boy did I wind her up about it (ha ha). She blamed it on the box office staff who she said had kept them waiting......apparently the guest list's were not ready. Anyway we all met for drinks at the hotel bar after the show, it was a nice evening. Mum is understandably very proud of her boy, and when I'm up there on stage, I can say unequivocally that she's up there with me, mouthing every word, scrutinising every action and gesture, she loves it. Actually she wanted to be on stage performing and her own mother had sent her to ballet school at a young age but alas that was brought to an abrupt end with a little thing called pregnancy at 17 years old......oops. Well she says, "we didn't have computers and games back in those days, there was nothing else to do" (you have to hear that said in her northern accent - very funny).
Plymouth Pavilion was nice too for nostalgic reasons......I had worked in theatre at Plymouth when I was a wee lad of 19 years old (all say 'aah') and spent three months there playing the part of 'Benjamin' the youngest brother in 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'. It was exciting to travel to new places when I was that young (it still is), it just seemed like a fantastic adventure to be working as a singer (which I had always dreamed about) and actually be paid too......this to me was the real coup. I spent some of my salary from the theatre work on demos and there was a small recording studio in Torquay (the next town) so off I went in my clapped out, old Ford Cortina to record some of the songs I had been writing (more to come on this period later). Two of my followers, Dani & Flower came all the way over from Germany to this show......now there's dedication.
Brighton Arena was great too cause I absolutely adore Brighton. I've been there socially so many times and it's a fabulous town, stunning to look at, eclectic, vibrant and still close enough to London, actually some people call it 'London by the sea' (I just read that Jimmy Somerville of Communards is now living there). I had some friends in who enjoyed the show, my photographer Mike Prior and his lovely wife Leslie, plus more dedicated German visitors, Betty, Katja and gang who run the Official German Limahl Fan Club. We all got drunk at the hotel after the show because at midnight it was my birthday and I had tons of cards, so I opened them all and placed them on a table in the packed bar......everyone was reading them.
Of course the Wembley Arena show was a milestone for me with a 10, 0000 strong crowd of, up for it, 80's party people......my sister Caroline and some friends came to cheer me on. Over the years I've seen soooooooo many concerts at this venue, it felt a real privilege and honour to be on that same stage as so many other previous artist's, I loved every minute of it. There was a nice after show party at the venue too.
Of all the 80's 'Here And Now' line-up's, in my unbiased opinion, this was the best (well I would say that wouldn't I)......but seriously though, Living in a box is an awesome track, and especially that ballad 'Room in your heart' with Richard Derbyshire's lovely gravely voice......a 'not played enough' gem. Bucks Fizz as I have already said, were fab for me (their producer/songwriter Andy Hill also went on to write a rather large worldwide hit called 'Think Twice' for the then relatively new Canadian artist, a certain Ms Celine Dion , I also once wrote a song with Andy Hill in about 1986 but it was never released. Nik Kershaw for me is tops, I bought every album, I was a huge fan, I was nervous to even talk to him on tour for fear of saying something inane or clumsy......and boy did he still have his talent. He played that guitar like fluid, worked the crowd with some wicked dry humour.
Berlinda Carlisle was a great crowd pleaser as was the adorable Kim Wilde (who pinched my bottom on stage after one show because I had made a naughty gesture about the shape of the microphone as were singing 'Do they know it's Xmas' at the finale. She looked fab in that all black leather outfit with long matching gloves......I think I wanted to borrow it, hey hey. Midge Ure was professional, charming and another consummate professional......I was listening to his voice one night back stage, it was so fiercely strong, belting out a constant top 'A' note on the chorus of 'Dancing with tears in my eyes' (well it felt like a top A cause I tried it - top A is a piano term) it was at that moment I realised why he was probably as successful as he was, I also thought he had real charisma on stage which together with that delightful Scottish accent, would win over any crowd.
All in all, I had a great tour......I enjoyed little moments with each artist that were nice, a chit chat here, cup of tea there or on stage at the finale. The crew were all smashing (the crews always have to work the hardest in my opinion). Bob the stage manager had been on tour with me four years ago in the theatre show 'What a feeling' so it was nice to catch up again. The lovely catering staff were obliging to the vegetarians amongst us, big respect to all of them for working so hard behind the scenes.
Last but not least, a big shout out to the promoter Tony at TDP and the zany Mel & all the team at 'Impressive PR'.
If you are one of the thousands who came to see the show, I sincerely hope you enjoyed my humble efforts AND if you actually put your hand in your pocket and bought one of my personalised framed photographs which I had put together especially for this tour (they sold quite a few), I hope it now has a very proud place on your mantelpiece......hey hey ;--))
Happy 2005, lets hope it's a good n' (I suppose world peace is outta the question) !!
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