MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY TOUR 2004
ARRIVES IN COLCHESTER
Report by Ilpo Bister. Helsinki
Slade II had wider UK Xmas tour in November-December 2004 than for years. Also two Norwegians from Haugesund and one Finn from Helsinki witnessed the Xmas party at Croydon on Friday 17th December, on Saturday (at daytime) two great vikings Lars Ove and John Kristen stayed in London, while I headed towards Colchester for another Xmas party.
After arriving in Colchester I checked in the first hotel that I saw on my way from railway station to the Centrum. From old Riverside hotel up the big North Hill for a short look at the old, very nice centrum of Colchester with lots of Xmas shops and markets and folks.
Xmas greetings to Don Powell
Back to the hotel, where I got a lift to Colchester Leisure World. A £19.50 ticket for Merry Xmas Everybody tour 2004 with Slade II, T’Rextacy and Dr & Medics and into the big Charter Hall. After some waiting and looking around without seeing Slade II members I asked from one of their roadies, if I could meet Don Powell to give some Xmas greetings to him.
”Could I see Don Powell?”, this familiar looking UK road manager said and took me behind the stage. Not ”Would you like to see also Noddy Holder?” at this time like he asked at Romsey in the summer of 2003. He went into the dressing room and in a minute came back with Don Powell. We shaked hands and I gave SladeMoni’s Xmas greetings and the first Finnish book about Slade (”Slade – the amazing rock’n’roll syndrome”) to Don. ”The best drummer in the world” wrote his Xmas greetings to SladeMoni (www.poprocknews.com), and made one webmaster in Oberlausitz very happy.
Warm-up getting hot
Before the main act Slade II on stage got first Dr & Medics and T’Rextacy. They got very good reactions from the audience (about 1000 ?) and Xmas celebrants moving.
For me Dr & Medics best moments were ”Rock’n’Roll Part I or II” in the intro and the intro for ”White Christmas”; ”the second best Christmas song ever” – no doubt about the finest Xmas song. Dr & Medics aim was to be fun with their theatric performance, looong between-song ”jokes” and all the properties their ”funny boy” carried on stage, but all this seemed more like ridiculous for me. Musically not so bad, and quite wild guitarists.
T’Rextacy – sharp sounds, but what about the melodies The next band T’Rextacy showed again nice happy glam spirit as they did the previous night at Croydon. Following the band from further away I found their sound loud and lots of sharp guitar walls. T’Rextacy played well and there’s lots of electricity in their songs that got many dancing. The weak point with their set were the songs. Nice trying in the melodies, but still missing that something that makes ”nice” songs great.
Most inspiring song in T’Rextacy’s set was the Undertones (with Noddy Holder’s ”little-cousin Feargal Sharkey as vocalist) mini-classic ”Teenage Kicks”, which has the same missing elements with the T’Rex melodies. T’Rextacy got in a couple of songs people very wild, and their sound also felt bigger than the main act’s that got on stage as the last band.
Slade II in Charter Hall 2004 – lots of broken drum-sticks Soon after 10pm Slade II got on stage with the ”Thunderbird” intro and then the most familiar beats of ”Cum On Feel The Noize” followed in the spirit of the evening ”Cum On Let’s Party”. The show was very great and fun as almost always and the audience had great fun in their silver and glitter. Still I was wishing a little wilder Xmas party time from the Xmas tour audience. There was a faint impression that T’Rextacy put more movement in the celebrants and the volume sounded little weaker during Slade II, but maybe it was only because I was closer to the stage.
I have always felt big respect towards Dave Hill at his stage performance. At Colchester he was showing the great showman’s marks and spirit once again, though one who has seen the band many times during the last years can see the signs of 12 years of hard work on the road. There was though also some new elements in the show in terms of ”playin’ and fightin’” with the bassist John Berry, and those old gimmicks with Steve Whalley, the singer and guitarist.
Don Powell HITS the drums
Slade II maybe ”lost” in volume and sounds (?) to T’Rextacy, but Don Powell, drums, was certainly in stronger hit than for many gigs that I remember. The road manager, who took me to Don before the show, was sitting besides Don during the whole set and holding all the time a new drum-stick ready for Don. It looked little funny holding a new drum-stick for an hour, but there certainly was reason on this show, must have been really many broken drum-sticks.
Classic after classic
Slade II played the same set of Lea-Holder classics than on the previous night in Croydon plus ”Red Hot”:
· Cum On Feel The Noize
· Cum On Let’s Party (Slade II song)
· Far, Far Away
· Red Hot
· Coz I Luv You
· Run Runaway
· Gudbuy T’Jane
· Mama Weer All Crazee Now
· Get Down With It (Marchan)
· My Oh My
· Merry Xmas Evrybody
Having seen the band soon 30 times during the last 10 years I would of course wish a little more changes in the song list, but there are sure many absolute stage killers that they just can’t leave out. ”Run Runaway” and ”Look Wot You Dun” have got such a magic touch, rhythm and happy spirit that there’s no better. On the other hand I miss a little more hard guitar work like some moments in ”Red Hot” and ”Gudbuy T’Jane” (also in ”Coz I Luv You” unlike the studio version).
All in all the Merry Xmas Everybody show 2004 in Colchester was great and fun ending with ”Merry Xmas Everybody”, which always arises in your chest a great, cheerful feeling of this classic being ”our song” – and very proud of it.