history - la folie part 2: A fan's tour diary
21st January 2012
Less than two months after the first part of the La Folie tour finished, the band were back out on the road around the country, buoyed by the success of the album and with Golden Brown riding high in the charts.
Intrepid gig-goer Phil Coxon (right) was up to his usual adventures travelling around Britain seeing the band.
Sadly, due to a lack of time off work, Phil 'only' managed eight gigs on the tour so the diary for this tour is supplemented by Phil's old touring buddy Mark Senior (left) from Sheffield.
Mark attended most of the gigs that Phil missed and has filled in most of the gaps in the diary.
Here's their joint diary...
Phil: It's only 7 weeks since the final date of La Folie part one and the first date of part two is already on us. It's a very busy time being a Stranglers fan at the moment
and a consequence of that is not having enough holidays to attend as many gigs as you'd like. So, having used the bulk of my holidays on part one, it looks like I'm
restricted to possibly half the tour. But don't get me wrong I'm not complaining there were just so many gigs!
January 21st Sheffield Polytechnic
Phil: I'm unable to attend tonight due to work commitments, but Dean goes and he meets up with Greg and Mark (who's on home ground). I speak to Dean the next day and he tells me it's business as usual--the MIB are on top form and, even better, the opener is Down In The Sewer which is great news. I can't wait to get on the road...
Mark: The big day! The tour starts here and with my home town gig! Set off into town and met familiar faces Gary Bainbridge from Newcastle and Greg Herman from Wolverhampton at the venue. We headed over to the nearby Howard hotel for a few beers. Being the Sheffield gig I admit to having a skinful and the concert passed in a bit of a haze, albeit a very enjoyable haze.Afterwards I went back to the Grosvenor House hotel and fortunately bumped into John (JJ) wandering the corridors and he got me into the aftershow party.Staggered home in the early hours resolving to stay relatively sober for the next gig.
January 22nd Aberystwyth University
P: The four of us, deciding it's too long a trip and too awkward to get to by train, miss this gig--not a very good start.
January 23rd Leicester University
P: At last we're on the train! Just a short trip away, we get to Leicester early evening and go to The Hind pub and meet Mark and his mate Tiny. Greg is helping out S.I.S with the merchandise. We also see Krista and Lyndsey who had been on part one.
The venue is a decent size and it's great to hear the now familiar Waltzinblack which obviously means it's nearly showtime. As usual The Stranglers are superb. The set list is very similar to part one with a few changes and kicks off with Sewer which is my all time favourite Stranglers' track. After the gig, we're all able to get home and have a sleep in our own beds in readiness for the week ahead.
M: After working at the bakery for my old man from 4am I set straight off for Leicester on the 1 o'clock train, met Linsey and Krista (two girls who then regularly followed the band) on arrival at the University. A superb gig tonight and I was able to remember it unlike the previous one! After the gig Dave (Greenfield) put me on the guest list for Guildford. A friend of Krista's put us all up for the night. We came from all over the UK and most of our mums got used to the house being taken over by about ten people dressed in black when the tour hit town!
January 24th Day Off
January 25th Brighton Top Rank
P: Myself, Dean, Mark and Greg have all taken the week off work to travel from gig to gig. We arrange to meet on the train down to London and then change for Brighton.
We get to the venue early afternoon and see the band before the soundcheck which is a good start to the day's proceedings. The Top Rank is on the sea front and the wind
is howling in and it's pretty cold. As it's a nightclub, the gig doesn't start 'til about 22.00.
I've taken along my stereo radio cassette player so we can listen to some music while we're travelling around. Look what I've found in my bag - it's a blank cassette! Well it would be rude not to, wouldn't it? So I stand on some steps towards the back with the said cassette player sort of hidden in my jacket trying not to block the mic.and just hope no one sees me.
Phil's Brighton view
Away we go, what a great gig starting with Sewer. How I love this track as it gradually builds and builds to it's classic finale with JJ
absolutely steaming in and Dave's superb run, ending with them all at full throttle--brilliant!
JLNOE sees Hugh doing a great job with the vocals--the title of this song to me describes The Stranglers to perfection. Next up is Second Coming followed by Non Stop and then it's over to JJ for The Man They Love To Hate. It's a typical JJ track superbly delivered and the bass very effective. Then it's Who Wants The World? quickly followed by the ever brilliant Baroque Bordello and it's back to the latest album with Golden Brown, which was sitting at no.16 in the charts at the time. Then comes
How To Find True Love And Happiness... with Hugh playing with the vocals a little. Is it 'happiness' or 'a penis'? JJ chuckles away... Great keys from Dave. Thrown Away is followed by the ever powerful Tank (sheer class), Tramp and straight into The Raven. I dont think I need to say any more do I ? Off they go as Dave's synths swirl away and they're back out after a couple of minutes. It's like a football match with all the chanting, it's a fantastic crowd. Hugh has a bit of a chat about some compilation album
that they contributed to for CND, introducing Nuclear Device which ran straight into Genetix with, as ever, the wonderful bass from JJ. That's it, what a great gig.
Now it's time to find somewhere to sleep. The station didn't look very accomodating so myself and Dean end up in a car park. it's cold, very cold so not a very good nights sleep.
January 26th Guildford Civic Hall
P: We're up early so decide to stop off at Gatwick and loiter at the airport to kill some time. Before long we get sent on our way by the police so we get the train to Guildford and meet Mark and Greg at the venue. We all have a listen to the tape from Brighton last night and it sounds pretty good. As it's a Tuesday, it's chart day and, as I said, Golden Brown had been at no.16 so we listen to the new chart eagerly. It's stormed into the top 5 at no.4. Brilliant news! We all agree that Golden Brown is not one of our favourite tracks on the album but it's in the top 5 in the charts!!!
The band arrive soon after, obviously in great spirits, and we have no trouble getting on the list tonight.
It's another great show as the band return to their Surrey hometown.
We're faced with a major problem. Tomorrow's gig is at St. Austell, a very long journey and, to cap it all, the train drivers are staging a one day strike!! Thank you ASLEF, you
bastards! So, we decide to get to Victoria bus station to get the coach. It's the early hours and it is fucking freezing! There's no waiting room at the bus station so we
have to sleep on benches in the open and it's about minus 3.
Before long we are approached by a rather well spoken middle aged chap who asks what we are doing and offers us to stay at his place which obviously appeals. Then, all of a sudden, he looks at Mark and says how much he likes blondes!! We quickly decide that a night spent with ice forming on the end of your nose was the safest option and Mark sends him on his way with a few well selected words.
M: Set off early by coach via London. The usual lads were all present, Gary, Greg, Phil and Dean from Derby. A good bunch of lads who I had great times with on tour. This was the first time I'd seen the band in their home town and it had been worth the wait, another cracking gig, the crowd were going mental. To save time the next day we decided to head back into London and dossed in Victoria coach station to get an early coach to St.Austell. During the night an aging homosexual in a camel hair coat who, with hindsight, bore a strong resemblance to Des Lynham, tried to pick me up. "I love blondes" he said (I had bleached hair at the time). I told him to "Get the f##k out of it" and a lot more besides.Needless to say Messrs Coxon and Herman thought the whole episode was hilarious and spent the rest of the tour telling me how much they loved blondes!
January 27th St Austell Colliseum
P: We get the National Express down to Exeter about 8.00am. We're all very cold and very tired but soon warm up on the coach and get a bit of sleep. Then, not far from Exeter, the coach breaks down. Shit! This is not good, we're getting worried that we won't make the gig as we still have to get a connection at Exeter. Luckily we're soon on our way again and manage to get our next bus and make it to St Austell.
The venue is right next to the beach and it's still a bit of a walk, we just make it in time to see the gig. It's not a great venue and the sound isn't brilliant. We're cold, tired and we haven't eaten all day so we aren't very enthusiastic tonight... But, as ever, the MIB put on a good show and fair play to them for coming here again.
We have to walk back to the bus station to sleep, at least there's a waiting room this time!!! It's about a 3 mile walk and we get a fair bit of abuse from the local yobs but get there safely and looking forward to a decent sleep.
Waiting for the coach to get fixed, near Exeter
M: The trip to Cornwall took over ten hours as the coach broke down on the motorway. We passed an enjoyable couple of hours waiting for a replacement bus drinking cans of lager and cider sitting in the sun on the crash barrier. On arrival Greg found out that S.I.S. had left his bag in Guildford which led to some strong words between him and Julian as you may imagine. The venue (Cornwall Coliseum) is a huge, horrible, cavernous place and made the large crowd look quite small. We'd already had the usual reception from the inbred locals, gobbing and chucking stones from their cars at anything that looked like an out of towner and didn't have webbed feet, cross eyes and extra fingers or toes. It was always a bit iffy down there, very Farmer Palmer and "Get orf muy laaand". The gig went well however and we reached the bus station alive and kipped there for the night.
Pages from Mark's '82 diary
January 28th Hemel Hempstead Pavilion
P: Yesterday was a very, very long day and possibly one of my least enjoyable on any Stranglers' tour but we've had a decent sleep and are ready for today. Unfortunately Dean and Greg decide to head for home. Mark and myself have another long trek ahead of us but at least the trains are again running today.
We travel to Hemel Hempstead via London but we arrive quite late and the gig is sold out. Luckily we bump into JJ and tour manager Bill Tuckey, who is a really sound bloke, and we're in the gig. It's a decent venue, absolutely packed and a far better show than last night.
The intro to Golden Brown starts when suddenly a couple of girls up on the balcony
start screaming like teeny boppers! This of course brings a smile to JJ's face and he comments how he likes to hear the girls scream. Excellent show tonight.
The train to London isn't 'til about 04.30am so we find the band's hotel and sit in the foyer with the roadies while they partake in some 'recreational activities' if you know what I mean. They proceed to play a few pranks on the night porter who is easily wound up and, before we know it, it's time to head for the station for the train back to London and then home to Derby.
M: I have this down as a decent gig but with a few to many stage invaders, I still have the concert poster that I bought for a quid in the foyer. The crew were having a party at the hotel which we left in the early hours.
January 29th Hanley Victoria Halls
P: Went home for a quick change and then meet up with Mark again. Dean is with us again today, as is a good friend Steve, and we're all on the train to Stoke. We also see Greg again and everyone's feeling a bit better today after a couple of long, tiring days. It's a smaller venue tonight, the floor slopes towards the stage so it's a good view all round.
There's no chance of a train back tonight but luckily my mum's from Stoke and her brothers and sisters still live in the area so myself, Dean and Steve spend the night at my aunt's.
M: We had breakfast in a greasy spoon in Derby before going on to Hanley, the only time I've ever been there! Met Linsey and Krista again and we hung around ( I had to get that in ) the venue until after the soundcheck then headed for a pub.The gig was one of the best of the tour, the band on top form, getting better as the tour went on. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and chatted to Dave and John in the bar. Julian of SIS somehow organised a room between six of us which was more than welcome! Tiny slept in the bath and told us all how comfy it was. We waited until he was asleep and turned the taps on.
January 30th Swindon Oasis
P: We all fail to attend today--I'm stuck as I need to be back early the next day.
January 31st Poole Arts Centre
P: Another gig missed by Dean and Myself but Mark made the long trip to Poole...
M: I gave Swindon a miss as I fancied a rest before the trip to Poole which I got to on the coach via London and Bournemouth. Over the years I saw the band several times at Poole arts centre and it was always a top gig. This one was no exception and we left the venue absolutely high on the atmosphere. After a beer or two in the hotel the staff lobbed us out and we dossed in some public toilets in the town centre. At some stage an old bloke walked in and got chatting, he told us his nephew was a member of the band Supertramp. Probably cobblers but who knows!?
February 1st Bristol Locarno
P: Dean and Myself both get the day off for this one. As I said earlier, my holidays were virtually all gone but we can get back home tonight to still make work tomorrow. Meet up with Mark, who's got the coach up from Poole, and have a few beers then off to the Locarno. It's quite a small venue but it's packed once again and the atmosphere is brilliant.
Afterwards, we make the walk back to Temple Meads station and there's always a few fans to chat to before we get our trains to various parts.
M: Another city which invariably produced good Stranglers gigs was Bristol. There were some great clubs too, I well remember "The dugout". I was on the list tonight but didn't need to be as I helped the S.I.S. lads cart their merchandise into the venue and set things up. Then I just stayed inside until the gig. The crowd were going mental and the sprung floor was taking a real hammering from the pogoing masses. Absolutely shagged out at the end of the gig. No partying tonight as Phil, Dean and I headed for Temple Meads and the late train north.
February 2nd Day Off
Golden Brown goes up one place to no.3
February 3rd Derby Assembly Rooms
P: The one I've been waiting for-my home town gig! It's the first time I've seen them in Derby but it's the band's third visit here. The first was in 1976, at a rockers club called Cleopatras, and the next was on The Raven tour in '79 when unfortunately I was in hospital and couldn't make the gig.
I've used my last holiday today so this is my final gig of the tour and I want to make the most of the day. Get to the venue early to meet up with Dean, Krista and
Lyndsey are also there. We manage to see the band and have a good chat especially with JJ. Mark arrives with Tiny and we make our way to the Bell Hotel, a
mecca for Punks, Skins and Mods, and have a couple of pints. Tiny decides to do a bit of mooning and we all get kicked out so we go to the venue and meet up
with all my mates who have been touring partners in the past.
I see support band 'Boys In Darkness' for one last time and wait for The MIB. I get right down to the front and end up virtually on the stage by the speakers right next to JJ. I've got a brilliant view so start working with the camera. As ever on this tour, they start with Sewer and Tiny leaps on stage, struts about for a few minutes until his trousers are down and he's mooning again!! It gives the crowd a good laugh. It's a great gig with quite a few stage invaders towards the end. After the encore JJ says in my ear "See you at the Midland hotel". The Midland hotel indeed-very posh! So, after the gig, quite a few of us make our way to the Midland, which is possibly the poshest hotel in Derby but the doormen aren't going to let a bunch of young punks like us in so we decide to make our way home.
M: Got the train to Derby at midday, the venue was the Assembly rooms and Greg Herman was already there when I arrived. The band very professionally carry on oblivious to the storm of spit being unleashed from the crowd in the direction of Tiny's backside!
The hotel weren't letting anyone in ( by this time we were getting bloody good at getting into hotels and it was obvious immediately that none of our techniques were going to work at this one), and we slept in various cars, bus and railway stations. Luckily I had the sleeping bag with me.
P: Well that's it for Dean and myself--our tour is over with another five gigs still to go. This is more like half a tour diary as we only managed the eight gigs! Yet again it's been truly memorable with many high points and only one low-the gig at St Austell. Well, not really the gig, more like the day, the travel problems, the sleeping arrangements (or should I say lack of !) and the fun of the night in Victoria bus station which we all laughed about later.
But, as I said on the part one diary "We're on
tour with the best band in the world--so we don't give a shit". Hope you all enjoy reading this folks, yet again it's been a pleasure to share my memories with you and
I'll hand you over to Mark for the remaining gigs......
4th February Warwick University
M: A lot of fannying about to get to today's gig. Coach to Birmingham, another coach to Coventry and a bus to the University. Inside the venue I watched the soundcheck with Greg. Bruce Gooding handed me the bass strings that John used at last nights gig. During the gig John got annoyed with an idiot down the front who was constantly pulling his mic lead and grabbing the stand, after a warning had been ignored a swift kick in the nose cleared that situation up !
A few of us went to the hotel afterwards but the band were having a meeting so we didn't see much of them. We were chucked out at about 3am and I dossed in my sleeping bag under a motorway bridge! Back in those days it wasn't a proper Stranglers tour unless you kipped under at least one motorway bridge, in a phone box, in a bus station or been chased through a few town centres by the local skinheads.
5th February Ipswich Gaumont
M: I woke up freezing under the aforementioned bridge and considered the situation. I'm on the guest list for tonight but don't have enough money left to get a coach back to Sheffield (hitching was never an option for me, I hated it). Anyhow I decided to go and hope Robbo turns up in the car as he said he would.
Luckily Paul "Robbo" Roberts (no, not that one!) arrives and saves the day. Robbo was a top bloke, always up for a laugh. A good thing that I went tonight as in my opinion this was the best gig of the tour. An absolute top drawer performance by the band and we left the venue absolutely buzzing.
We called in at the hotel for an hour and had a quick beer before heading up north. I stopped the night at Robbo's place.
6th February Portsmouth Guildhall
M: I decided it was too far for this gig especially as it was back up Leeds for the next gig. I think the thought of going down to Portsmouth, up to Leeds then down to London then home in such a short space of time was too daunting by that stage of the tour!
The day was memorable only for dyeing my hair and Sheffield United at last getting on Match of the Day and contriving to get thrashed 5-2 at Colchester!
7th February Leeds Tiffanys
M: My old man gave me a lift into town mid morning and after a pint in the Queen's Head I got a coach to Leeds. Got to the venue at 2pm and it is an absolute dump. Waited around for hours until anyone else deigned to turn up, Tiny and the notorious Deano arrived about 6:30 and we headed off to find a pub.
The gig was the worst of the whole tour for me as I had a crap view from the back and the hall acoustics were lousy.
On the plus side, I met an acquaintance from a previous gig in Leeds the lovely "Randy Mandy" from Bramley but we'll swiftly draw a veil over that!
8th February Hammersmith Odeon
M: Called in home for some sleep mid-morning before heading to London and over slept! Luckily I still managed to get down there by 7:45pm.
I didn't have a ticket, tout's prices were horrendous and it was looking too late to get on the list but suddenly Robbo (Bless him!), turned up with a spare ticket for sale, I could have kissed him! A really good end of tour gig, we were drenched in sweat, floating on air and absolutely knackered by the end.
The band had told us where the end of tour party was, The Portobello Hotel as far as I remember. We got there by a combination of tube and taxi, as we arrived so did Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 and he chatted to Gary Bainbridge and I for a while. I remember sitting at the bar between some girl from Record Mirror and a blonde goddess who was one of the dancers from Hot Gossip, lovely!
The gig and the party made this a bloody good night. Gary and I eventually left at about 5am having said our goodbyes including to the hotel cat who I recall was called Titus (the things you remember!).
Before I left I announced that next time I'd do every gig of the tour but that's a story for next time....
Thanks to Phil and Mark for their recollections of those dim and distant times and for use of their memorabilia for this article...