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Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Concert Diary 2007

Die Taphuisj, Grahamstown - 31 August

Linda Simpson writes - OK - well to make sense of this we really have to start on Tuesday the 28th when Matt arrived in the UK.

We had called the airline several times to get weights and measurements down to the last detail because we needed to make sure we got this right. It would be so nice if every airline had the same allowance so that we didn't have to get in this panic every time. But hey - I guess that's part of it.

We changed cases around - we packed an outfit each in another case (having once been left in only the clothes I stood in, for three days, in Italy, in the middle of summer, has taught me to ensure that things are mixed around to avoid such disasters if possible), we weighed the cases, we sat on them to close them and eventually we were pretty certain that all would be OK.

Chris went to his Mum's and then on to Grantham to leave Harvey with his friends there (that's the bit I really hate - I won't see him now until the 14th of December), Matt popped 'round to The Clarendon to say goodbye and we didn't get the early night we intended to get - do we ever?

I set the alarm for some ridiculous time (3:45 am to be exact) and when it went off I could not work out where I was or why this awful noise was lifting me from my bed when all I really wanted was to keep my eyes tight shut and turn over again. Realisation kicked in, I groaned and dragged myself off to the shower before taking a cup of tea to the other two.

Cuddles (Darrell) turned up just before 5am and, still in a fairly catatonic state we loaded our cases and instruments into the van - there was no one to wave goodbye to - they were all sensibly still in the land of nod.

Manchester airport - 3 hours before the flight - furry tongues, copious cups of tea, yawns at dawn, a trip around the bookshop to get some reading matter and three weary little bunnies made their way to the gate.

Etihad Airlines - we'd never heard of them before but they were fantastic - it all smacked of quality, the food was great, the staff were kind and considerate, the entertainment was great - we could not have asked for more. I'm not sure how awake the guys were but I slept on and off through most of the flight to Abu Dhabi where we got off for a 4 hour wait. We had promised Matt the smell of the desert but I have to admit that it was mostly aviation fuel and diesel to start with….. he did get the smell of the hot sand as we left on the next leg.

Matt and Chris at Abu Dhabi airport

In the airport we had a wander around, the boys were playful, we marvelled at the amount of gold on display - in England it would be behind security glass - not so here.

Chris and I worked in Abu Dhabi for several years and were keen to find out if there was any chance of getting into the town on our way home. We fancied going to a place where we used to spend far too much time and money in pursuit of the amazing 'Wonder Stone' a cocktail without par. We made enquiries and to our dismay found out that Ramadan was looming and would certainly be upon us before we came back this way. We were crestfallen. In our time in Abu Dhabi, Ramadan meant no alcohol was sold. We can get a pass out of the airport though so now we're trying to find out if things have changed - in which case we might get the cocktail after all - I'll keep you informed.

The 4 hours passed quickly enough and we were soon on the next flight to SA. The good thing here is that there is very little time difference between the UK and SA so we got onto the plane and tried to sleep again. We all managed it to some extent even though sleeping on planes is not the most restful experience. We had a strange breakfast and then we were at last on the way down. We filled in the forms and went through to collect our baggage. There was no sign of Arlyn on the other side but we busied ourselves sorting out sim cards for the duration and all that sort of thing. Arlyn arrived and we took all the cases outside. That's when it hit me - I'm in South Africa at last!!!!

All the stories, all the photographs all the missed chances - all meant nothing now - I was here. A song dropped into my head (I know that sounds daft but it did) I was full of it and ready to go - or drop - I wasn't quite sure which.

Arlyn drove us back to his family home - what a great place - full of love and so homely. We met his brother and sister Luel and Lalena but his Mum and Dad, Paul and Lorna would be away until we got back from the first three gigs.

We were very kindly offered Arlyn's room to sleep in and immediately made it look like a bad charity shop by throwing our clothes and belongings everywhere. We were getting a flight to East London the following morning and so had to repack - we did our best but the place truly was an awful mess (still is).

Our first meal just had to be a Braai (BBQ to us) - a warm night with new friends and delicious food - no contest!

Then came the bad news - the flight was at 6:30 am - we had to be at the airport at 5:30 am and would have to set off at 4:45 to get there on time. Hadn't we just been down this road?

We struggled with getting up - all of us feeling that a little more sleep could have been quite a good thing - but it's a rock and roll nightmare sometimes and there's no getting away from it.

We arrived in East London a little jaded but it was a great airport - like something from the 60s and we were soon on with the business of hiring a car.

Arlyn was not allowed to use a debit card - they would only accept a credit card. I went over with my credit card but they would only accept that if I had a driving license - which I don't. Chris hadn't brought his license so it was down to Matt. Matt had the right card but not an international license - luckily they didn't seem to notice so with a huge sigh of relief we collected the car and scarpered as fast as possible before they changed their minds.

We were playing in Grahamstown and Arlyn took the coast road to show us a few things on the way. WOW - wide open spaces, ant hills the size of washing machines, fantastic beaches. Matt and I dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean for the first time - then we decided we were hungry and Arlyn spotted a place he knew from way back - what a place it was too. M & Js Country Kitchen - Chris describes it very well in his write up so I won't say anything - but I hope you'll see the photos of the signs outside and inside the place. I'm not sure how we're going to do it but we'll make more photos available this time - watch this space...

Fully charged up again we set off to find the farm owned by Arlyn's Aunt and Uncle. They had very kindly offered to put us up for the night and so we had to drop in first before going to the venue.

We found it - turned in and the car immediately bottomed on the farm track - it was quite a long track and not exactly suitable for our low slung hire car. With each bump we all cringed until Matt piped up - Hey watch out - it's my car you're trying to damage! After that it was more funny than worrying - although I'm sure the guys that hired it to us would not have been impressed!!

Ann and Cliff are lovely people - they made us so welcome - gave us a little cottage to stay in and instructed us to be careful on the way home as it was possible for wild buck to run into the road at night - not to mention the possibility of elephants and lions too.

It was time to go and play - we bashed the car back down the track - not so many bumps this time - and made our way into Grahamstown.

The place reminded me of a rock club in Holland but everyone was perfectly friendly and nice so we did our sound check and then went to get ready to go on.

At that point I didn't have a bodrhan for 'Long time running' but I had been reading the book 'Excuse me your life is waiting' by Lynn Grabhorn so I had decided to 'spin' one. We walked into the dressing room and found a cymbal case - my heart was in my mouth as that's what I use to keep my bodrhan in - but it was empty. Ah well - 'a near miss' I thought and on we went.

The audience was more than appreciative, there were all age groups and all seemed to be enjoying it equally - magic. Then it came to 'Long Time Running' we announced that normally we used a bodrhan but I would have to use the guitar to drum the part.

Then 'Christian' - a very nice man sitting in the front row shouted out - "I've got one - I'll go and get it for you". You could have knocked me down with a feather - what were the chances of this? He did indeed go and get it for me and let me borrow it for the next two gigs too - then advised me where I could get a cheap one for the rest of the gigs. Amazing - read the book - why don't you? It works!!

The gig was great - Gary the owner looked after us very well, Luke did the sound Chris the lights and Tania did the merchandise.

I started by announcing that we didn't do Lord of the Ages and we hoped that they would enjoy the songs that had been written in the last 28 years since that album. I was so pleased that there was not one complaint and that everyone thought that the new material was every bit as 'Magna' as the old material that they knew so well.

Die Tabhuisj

We finished on Paradise row and someone shouted 'awesome' - I have to admit that despite the fact that we were somewhat weary - we were certainly on the case and enjoyed every minute of it.

I was tempted to try the new song but think I'd better just hang fire until we've had a chance to sound check with it.

We had a chat to some very nice people after the concert - including a very nice forensic psychologist (I hope that's right) - it would be nice to hear from him again but I forgot to ask for his email address. Maybe if he reads this???

It was time to go home - we had played for well over time because we were enjoying ourselves so much! But now we had to go and brave the wildlife - I'm not sure if I was disappointed or relieved but we didn't see anything at all and got back to find that Ann had left us a lovely supper - what an angel!

We fell into bed and slept the sleep of the dead.

Left Arrow Cavern, Liverpool East London, South Africa Right Arrow