Friday, 10th June 2005 in Rutles Farewell Tour 2005.
Today is Friday so it must be Stourbridge – west of Birmingham. The ride is longer than we think and we have no time to check in at hotel – especially when I take an unexpected half an hour detour – it was the American navigator..honest!!. No, not really Ken, I’m sure I misheard. The gig is on an industrial estate – a huge barn of a place with a high stage and a bar near the door. The set takes ages to get together and Mickey can’t find his keyboard pedals without which the keyboards are unplayable. He phones the 100 club to talk to the sound man who says he put them up on a dustbin to keep them safe while loading. Needless to say they are no longer on the bin. General panic while Mickey phones round hire shops trying to locate another set. It is by now after 6pm when most shops have closed for the night. But somehow Mickey finds one that is open and has the particular pedals Mickey uses. So now it is a question of getting them up from London – a cab is booked and all we can do is wait. By now it is 8.30 and the Rutles are due to go on at 10pm. Only John is convinced they will get there before the gig. Everyone else imagines break downs, traffic jams, wrong turnings etc. Mickey is quietly stressed. The rest have the sound check and the sound is really good – surprising in a big place like this. People are buying CDs T shirts and buttons and realise I have taken too few T-shirts with us. Nothing I can do about it now. Neil + Friends take the stage and do a fantastic set – always best when audience can see them. Hopes of Mickey’s pedals turning up in time are fading. There is a long interval when suddenly at 1 minute to 10 the pedals are rushed through the hall to a stressed out Mickey. He connects them, has a quick run through to check they are OK and The Rutles are introduced. The set was the best yet – probably because of the relief the band felt. They could have just about made it work without Mickey but really he is indispensable. He is ‘the Rutles orchestra’ All those fills and phrases which make all the difference between ordinary and amazing. He also has a great sense of humour and reacts with Neil throughout the set. Great to watch.
In fact have rarely seen the band so animated. They come off after 75 minutes to roars to approval and streams of people queue to say how great it was. A reporter from The Times is making notes – hopefully will give a good write up.
Meanwhile I have been trying to get in touch with the hotel to say we will be late. They tell me there are no bookings under our name. I tell them it has been booked and paid for and we go round in circles until I get them, reluctantly, to give me the names of some of the booked rooms- Simmonds, they said, Halsey etc etc so finally sorted it out. But no-one is tired that night so back at the hotel the night stretches into morning as the guys work on their hangovers aided by jokes and stories from John and Mickey. Memories of the Bonzo days ,staying in theatrical boarding houses with ferocious landladies, one toilet between 8 along an unlit corridor and greasy fried breakfasts. The manic rush to find the best room and then the finding of strange and unnecessary objects under your pillow put there by the others. You were lucky if you could get into your bed at all – the sheets had usually been knotted – we call it apple pie beds over here – cant think why. The hotels and the tours are quite civilised now by comparison.