News Update: January 2004

“Over here in India, we are reading that some of your band members are turning into ladies…..”

So asked a female journalist from one of the Bombay newspapers in an interview three weeks ago. “Well,” I replied, “take a good look at the guys here and if anything doesn’t look quite right, let me know immediately. I need to be the first to know.”

She was, of course, referring to the recent spate of self-generated publicity by one ex-Tullie David Palmer, now Dee Palmer, with passport to match.

The Indian journos are a jolly bunch to work with. They love a whiff of scandal, bitchiness, corruption, success, failure or the occasional sex-change. They also love the joining of cultures involving musicians such as the great Indian Classical flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia with whom we played in the last part of the shows there and in Dubai.

After a three year period of discussion, a brief meeting and occasional e-mails, we finally got to play with the great man and Indian promoter Farhad K. Wadia put together the minor expedition to our ex-colony. Of course, as I tell the awfully nice Indians, the shoes are now for wearing on the opposite feet. The UK as a whole, and Wembley, North London, in particular, is now a far-flung outpost of the new Indian Empire. And probably all the better for it too. The Indians have breathed life back into the corner shop. Open all hours and ready for business. Dubai is full of them too. Call centres in Bangalore are manned by them. Miss World is usually one. Even Andrew Lloyd Webber has become an honorary one. Their music delights the senses and Bollywood is cool.

But we are on a UK tour at present and re-acquainting ourselves with Northern Lung, a tragic condition which manifests itself in the soiling of pavements, often in the vicinity of railway stations, with evacuations of the mucous sort in unsightly and viscous stains ready to ensnare the rolling luggage of yours-truly. My rapidly swerving slalom course through the urban mire often unseats unwary riders from horses, trips old ladies and sends bicyclists and skateboarders to an early grave. Projectile vomiting is a popular sport here and the entrances to pubs and dodgy hotel bars are streaked with the tiger stripes of excess. But for all that, the natives are friendly, loyal and generous – especially with humour, adjectives and the coin of friendship. Take a trip to Newcastle, Leeds or Birmingham. But don’t wear your best shoes.

Sarf America (as Cockney-Tom the merchman calls it) is next up on the agenda. Brazil, Argentina and Chile are in the next month followed by Mexico City for a couple of shows. Visas are proving a pain in the arse but that’s what you get these days for being a travelling man. Have suitcase – will whinge and grumble.

Sadly, my shows in April with Leslie Mandoki and various Soulmates have been cancelled due to difficulties with the schedules of one or two of the musicians. At least, that’s the politically sanitized version…….

Several festival dates in Europe are being finalized in the next days so look out for Tull in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and France. Canada and some US dates are being set for November.

We are talking to the Moody Blues about some US summer dates together next year. What do you think? Sound like a good mix? I always wanted to play “Nights In White Satin”.

Martin Barre has been opening the show with “friends” including Willy Porter. An assortment of Martin’s solo work and a couple of Willy P’s songs are delighting the audience. And me, as I get to play on two of the songs every night.

Oh, well – better get back to the e-mail avalanche which occurs with the melting of the alpine snows and the start of the festival season pre-production fun and games.

Rock on, Plymouth, Brighton and Bournemouth.