News Update: May 2004

Oh, what a lot of office work since we finished the UK tour. Concert tours to set up and confirm and promo to do.

But I managed a quick trip to Slovenia to play a few songs with the Slovenian Rock/pop singer/flautist, Tinkara. The fact that she is a girl, attractive and a nice person had nothing to do with it. But I had visited Ljubljana four years ago, and was impressed with the way the city and country had rejuvenated after the “troubles” and the traumatic separation from the Yugoslavian nightmare. Tinkara’s songs are interesting with many diverse influences and she plays flute too. Her boyfriend Andrea, producer, is a fine fellow. Good food in Slovenia. Good place to visit and now in the EU as of Saturday last. Tinkara will join Tull in nearby Zagreb on the 25th May to play a couple of songs and wiggle her shapely behind. Doane Perry, cover your eyes, ya hear?

And then the South American tour with Mexico City dates as well.

We landed in Rio after an overnight flight and a scary time with visas only acquired at the last minute. Checked into a swanky beach hotel miles from anywhere beyond Ipanema but en route to the venue way to the South and West of town in a smart suburb. There was a convention at our hotel so we had a boisterous lobby and restaurant experience. Sao Paulo is more my kind of town since, if you are going up to the big city, it might as well be BIG. Should have played two shows there but time did not permit. Brazilian people awfully nice chaps. Stayed in a swanky hotel out of town in a smart suburb, miles from anywhere (which means an Indian Restaurant).

On to Porto Alegre, where we stayed downtown in a seedy old hotel yards from the red light ladies (so I was told by the younger and more innocent Tristan, stage manager, who ventured out to walk a couple blocks, light a few cigarettes and give directions to a few lost girls with unlit cigarettes). Lady-boys bounce off Tristan like rubber balls on concrete as he can spot them an inch away.

Downtown Buenos Aires next, and Doane was suffering from a lack of curry. No chance as the only Indian restaurants were out of town in a smart suburb. Three shows there and a chance to prepare some additional songs for the Mexican shows where we had agreed to do a substantially different set on the second night.

Santiago, Chile, is one of my favourite Latin American destinations and is bustling and on the up, if the endless luxury car showrooms and designer shops in the swanky suburbs are anything to go by. We were invited to a fine evening out at the home of a banker fan. Much Sushi and Chilean wine. Doane ate well as befits a drummer of his ever-increasing size. The other band members stayed at the hotel, feeling not as sociable as Doane and me. We ate for all of them. Nice family. Nice daughter. James may have got her phone number; not sure.

Mexico is a long way from Chile. Like LA to London. Shagged out by the time we got there. Straight to bed. Swanky suburb?  Not really, but not exactly tourist heaven. Except for the welcome Starbucks right next to the hotel. Pain in the arse exit from Mexico City Airport due to visa and exit permits but we escaped in the end to the warm and seductive clutches of BA flight get-me-out-of-here. Having travelled many other airlines in the last few months, I have to say that good old BA still is the one to go for. But that’s easy for me to say as I slump into the cozy Business Class lounge with yesterday’s Times and a warm white wine.

All in all, the shows were really good with affectionate and loyal audiences who are the reason we go back to the far-away Latin American countries. So European in many ways but with a flavour of their own. But sadly, not Vindaloo, Madras or Biriani.

Mid April and back to Germany for the primetime Saturday TV special, 50 Years Of Rock. I played in the Soulmates “house band” and fluted with Uncle Eric Burdon on House Of The Rising Sun. Jon Lord on Smoke On The Water and Peter Frampton on Baby I love Your Ways. Gary Brooker did Whiter Pade Of  Shale, as Hungarian-born pianist Laszlo Bencker called it. The original Comets (minus Bill Haley) appeared as well as Bill Wyman, Peter Gabriel, Status Quo and many others. Bobby Kimball, Leslie Mandoki, Chris Thompson, Masha joined on vocals for many songs including Locomotive Breath. Michael Gorbachev was on the show and we breakfasted in the late morning to hear his solid and powerful views on the environment and the political state of the planet. Good man Mr. G. We owe him a lot. Reviled in his own country, he is a hero to many of us in the West. Particularly in Germany where he is seen by many as the saviour of the Cold War era and the usher of peace on earth. Well, apart from the tricky problem of Iraq and a few other little hiccups along the way. I tried him out on a couple of controversial issues regarding current policies in the world-at-large but I am much too much of a gentleman to reveal the drift of his responses.

Go to http://www.greencrossinternational.net/GreenCrossFamily/index.html for the low-down on Gorbachev’s influence in the world today. http://www.gfna.net/index.php is the site of the Gorbachev Foundation in North America.

Mid May looms large and we are off to Eastern Europe to welcome Poland, Czech and Slovak Republics and Hungary to the New Europe. Well, not exactly. We are after their money, let’s face it. But they don’t have much to offer, which is why certain Tull band members will still be no closer paying off their credit card bills in June…….  Actually, the money is so bad, that Jethro Tull should be a registered charity in some of the places we play. Only the road crew and the bus company win. We, the proud players, just do it for the fun, the glory and the smell of the road. Travelling minstrels on a mission of peace, love and understanding and desparate to find the only Indian restaurant in town. Not much f*****g chance in Bratislava, one might conjecture….

I.A.

May 2004.