Thursday, August 17, 2006
Slade in Holstebro, August 12, 2006
With my daughter Tea I set out for the Slade-gig in Holstebro from Odense at 10.30 a.m. That is, the train didn't go anywhere until half an hour later because a passenger was ill and we had to wait for the ambulance. The train was further delayed on the way so we didn't reach the hotel until 2.30 p.m., 1½ hours late. A quick call to Hanne and an hour later we met up with her and some Danish friends at Slade's hotel.
The boyz were still making their way from Frankfurt in Germany to Holstebro in Denmark and somewhere along the line their luggage had disappeared! When the guys finally arrived, only Mal and crewmember Tim had their suitcases. The rest had nothing. Luckily Hanne had been told before leaving home, so she brought stage clothes and the old white gum shield for Don as well as T-shirts and other necessities (pink underwear with frills, Don?) for the rest of the guys. But still, what a bummer! No stage clothes, Don's drum pedal was missing, no tools, nothing! The guys had hardly had any sleep either, as they had had to get up at four to reach Holstebro in time. As Don told me he was almost asleep when showering that morning. He couldn't even bother to check if the water was hot or cold!
We sat in the lobby and I chatted with Don and sound technician Robin when Tea suddenly said, "Look!" We looked out of the window and it was raining cats and dogs! Oh, sh*t! And Slade were to play an open-air festival!
Well, John went out shopping for some clothes and the rest of the guys headed for their rooms to freshen up and change into the T-shirts. The rest of us stayed in the lobby with Slade's manager Len Tuckey who had come along for the ride. He entertained us with anecdotes from Russia and with commenting on everything and anybody.
At six o'clock we left the hotel and Tea and I drove to the festival with Hanne and Don in the pouring rain. The festival grounds were extremely muddy and wet, but nevertheless the festival was sold out and all 4,000 had a great time, rain or not. I met up with hard-core Slade-fans Per and Kirsten, who'd been there for a couple of hours. They said that the rain was actually Smokie's fault. Smokie had been playing "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" and just then the rain had started! Smokie had even apologised for the choice of song!
I then said hello to festival president Kristian Andersen and after that I was stopped by a very inquisitive guy who demanded to know who I was, what was I doing backstage etc. etc. I thought, what's this, is he going to kick me out or what? Then he suddenly said, "Now I need your picture. I'll just go get Don." It turned out that this guy was the festival photographer, John Andresen from a-star-is-born.dk, so he had Don lined up with Tea and me to take our pic for the festival website gallery! He later let me use some of his photos. Thanks for that, John!
Tea and I had a bit to eat and then Tea was off. I had brought along flyers promoting the remastered CDs and Tea was handing them out among the audience. Slade's merchandise booth got some as well and so did Per and Kirsten and theatre director Mikael Helmuth who had showed up for the concert. Then it was time for the guys to change and Tea was dumbfounded when she saw Don's gum shield. She had never seen the old white one before so she just gaped at him! Especially when he sent her a big BRIGHT smile!
Tea's special friend Dave then came and said hello to her. He had been on the outlook for hats to wear on stage. Per and Kirsten always bring along a couple of Christmas hats for Slade concerts so Dave could borrow Kirsten's for MXE. Another Danish friend then provided him with another hat that he could use for the rest of the show. That hat looked like something out of "Crocodile Dundee"!
Slade were supposed to be on at 8.45 p.m., but of course it ran a bit late. It always does. Don went to do the sound check and then things were more or less ready. The stage was situated in such a way that Don couldn't get on stage from behind the drums, so when he had finished his sound check he just crouched down behind his kit, so the audience couldn't see him. From the stage side it looked funny, having him hide there behind the drums!
Well, finally the guys were on. The set list was:
We'll Bring The House Down
Take Me Bak 'Ome
Lock Up Your Daughters
Far Far Away
Look Wot You Dun
'Coz I Luv You
My Oh My
Hear Ya Callin'
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Get Down And Get With It
and the encores:
Cum On Feel The Noize
Merry Xmas Everybody
It was one heck of a concert! Next to the Nordborg-gig in June this was probably the best I've seen them do in the present line-up. There seems to be an extra energy when the guys haven't slept properly the night before and are running purely on adrenaline!
The rain was hard, though, so already during Take Me Bak 'Ome John had Tim move the mike-stands a couple of feet back to avoid the rain. But Dave didn't seem to mind the water. He even danced around on stage with an umbrella during Everyday! Everyday also saw Don lose his crash cymbal. It simply fell off!
John's violin playing on CILY and Run Runaway had improved further although there's still a bit to go before he reaches the virtuosity of Jim. Mal on the other hand displayed some fancy footwork on Run Runaway. Eat your heart out, river dancers! Dave brought a girl on stage for a quick dance during My Oh My and when it was time to do Hear Ya Callin', Dave - tongue in cheek - played a few bars of Hear Me Calling. And then Dave's hat came into the limelight during Hear Ya Callin'. Tim had been holding up a sign with the words "Crocodile Dave", so Mal introduced Dave as "Crocodile Hill on guitar"!
What really had us rolling with laughter was another idea of Tim's. No one in the audience had noticed that John and Dave didn't wear their usual stage clothes, but when it came to Mama Weer All Crazee Now where they usually change into something else, there was nothing else to change into! Tim then stopped a security guy and a young girl from the festival crew and ripped them for some garments. So John went on stage in the security guy's bright yellow waistcoat with the word KONTROL (control) printed on it, and Dave came on in the girl's red waistcoat, that said CREW. When Don saw them he laughed so hard behind the drums! He just couldn't stop. It really DID look hilarious!
After the concert the guys were handed red roses on stage. John later gave his to Tea and Kirsten got Don's along with Dave's autograph in her Christmas hat as a thank you for helping out.
When the guys had changed we drove back to the hotel with Don and Hanne. Don really needed some sleep, so we didn't stay long. The guys had to leave already at 6.30 a.m. the next morning in order to catch their flight to Poland. Hopefully they reunited with their luggage during transit in Copenhagen!
When it was time to say goodbye Don not only kissed Tea's hand but also gave her a small peck on the mouth. Usually he only kisses her hand, which always makes her so proud, so that peck almost made her faint!
Tea and I went back to our hotel and a good nights sleep. The next morning we met up with Per and Kirsten for a small chat before their train left. Thanks, Per, for letting me use some of your pics, by the way!
Our train left an hour later, this time with no delays. When we reached Odense it was pouring down with rain again, so I arrived home with muddy clothes, soaked shoes and cystitis! Well, despite everything it had once again been a great Slade-experience and I hope to see the band in concert again soon!
Monday, August 07, 2006
Review of the first 4 remastered Slade CDs
As most of you probably know, Slade's full back catalogue is being reissued. I've just listened through the first 4 CDs, and what can I say? Wow, they're amazing! Tim Turan has done a marvellous job remastering the tracks. The sound is just so clean, clear and superb! It's really nice after years with crackling LPs and less superior remasterings. Fantastic!
The first CD contains both Beginnings and Play It Loud, the second is Slayed?, the third Old New Borrowed and Blue and the fourth is a live anthology double-CD with Slade Alive!, Slade Alive vol. Two, Slade on Stage and a compilation of Live At Reading '80/Xmas Ear Bender. All CDs contain bonus tracks.Full track listings can be found here.
The bonus tracks are a mix of single-hits and B-sides spiced with the Slade talk to Melanie and to 19. It's great finally getting the B-sides in CD-quality, but I must admit that the selection of bonus-tracks puzzles me a bit. I fully understand the wish for including both hit-singles and B-sides, but it seems odd that when hits like Get Down And Get With It and The Bangin' Man are included, musts like CILY and MXE are missing. The same goes for the B-sides. Of course all the hits and the B-sides will be out on respectively the upcoming Anthology Box Set and the B-sides double-CD, but still the selection of bonus tracks is a bit of a mystery to me. Well, I shouldn't complain as my own personal all-time B-side favourite Kill 'Em At The Hot Club Tonite is there!
The live anthology double-CD is probably the masterpiece of the four re-releases. Especially SOS and the Reading tracks have never sounded better. It's a pleasure listening to and the only thing that disturbs me is, that Okey Cokey is included. This version originally stems from the Xmas Ear Bender-EP, but has nothing what so ever to do with Reading, it is not even live! When that is said, I must admit that all four remasters are really worth listening to and I fully recommend them.
As for the artwork of the CDs, it's wonderful. A lot of great photos spiced with images of the singles and a pretty precise account of Slade's career in Dave Ling's continuous biography of the band in the full coloured booklets. However, I'm a little startled at the total lack of acknowledgement of Don's contribution to the early songs, lyrics-wise. Ling even credits the lyrics of Know Who You Are and other Powell-penned songs directly to Nod! Also the very harsh representation of Don's account of Johnny Howells' departure from The 'N Betweens seems odd.
Anyway, the new remasters have fully met my expectations and more. These are wonderful CDs, whether you're an old hard-core fan or just coming into Slade. I for one can hardly wait for the new Anthology Box Set and the Crackers remaster, which will both surface in September.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Slade has just received a Golden Award for more than 100,000 copies sold of the double CD/DVD "The Very Best of Slade". Congratulations, guys, and thanks a lot for the support to all of the fans out there, who bought the CD and DVD.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The new re-releases
Union Square Music just sent me copies of the first four albums of the re-releases along with their press kit. While I'm busy listening to the albums and writing a review you can listen to some clips from the audio press kit. Here's a short one with Noddy promoting the albums in an interview conducted by Phil Smith at Wired on June 21, 2006, and another which is called "Slow Songs Mix". Enjoy and I'll get back with a review ASAP!