PUBLISH DATE: 26th November 2003


With three shows in less than 40 hours, Chris Farlowe's Belgian tour was short but hectic.

Belgian Chris Farlowe shows are a rare species. After an appearance at Jazz Bilzen in 1969 or 1970, Chris took topped the bill of two blues festivals: Handzame Blues in 1989 and Harelbeke R&B in 2000. Regretfully, interest in his most recent visit to Belgium was low. 

The Borderline, 3 May: A Double Encore
Wanting to secure a front stage place we arrived much too early - only to find out that
The Borderline very much looks like your average American blues shack alongside Route XX where front stage actually equals bar stool. Due to a complete and incomprehensible lack of publicity ("No posters, the management didn't send us any"), only some 50 fans attended. Chris somewhat ironically referred to the Albert Hall shows he'd just done with Van Morrison and then simply did what a professional does: give the fans a real good time. I can't help but loving his unique blend of powerful, intense, passionate and yet plainly professional approach. The sound balance was right and Norman Beaker's band is just what Chris needs: super professionals who know their Soul and R&B catalogue by heart, yet are always in for a joke. The audience loved it, danced to several songs and shouted for more when Out of Time closed the show. Two young ladies requested Handbags and Gladrags, to which Chris consented. With 'As Easy As That', we were even rewarded with a second encore! 
(see set list)

The Spirit of 66, 4 May: Shittin' Seagulls
A short night, a full day's work and a two-hours-plus-trip by train later, we arrived at
The Spirit of 66 in Verviers the next evening. Notwithstanding the 3,000+ copies of The Spirit's direct mail magazine, not more than a hundred people were present. Chris soon succeeded in making us dance and sing, but also in making us laugh. Referring to the German fans in the audience (Verviers is close to the border), Stormy Monday suddenly featured an 'Adler' (German for 'eagle'). Continuing his improvisation, Stormy Monday now also included "seagulls shitting on my head" and a gun to "shoot them motherfuckers dead". 
A really hilarious time was had by all
when Chris pictured Norman as an underdog living in town comparable to post-war Berlin ("the short man from Stockport") requesting the audience not to applaud for him nor for the sax player who'd just done a solo. When the audience joined the game by support Norman and Chris eventually begged for help - in German - some fans responded by handing over their change to Chris, which inspired him to meander on foreign currency and the 1,000 East German Marks that bought Norman a brand-new plectrum. With each member of the band clearly having big fun, they delivered another balanced, driving and impeccable set including 'Cry to Me'. (see set list).


TITLE Diest 3 May Verviers 4 May 
A Little Hollywood (1)* (1)* 
Don't Wanna Sing the Blues No More (2)  (2) 
Lonesome Road  (3) (3) 
Stormy Monday (4) (5) 
Tough On Me, Tough On You (5) 
All or Nothing (6) (4)
(Standing on) Shaky Ground (7) (7) 
Love Me Baby (8)* (8)* 
Blues as Blues Can Get (9) (9) 
Cry To Me (10) 
The Guitar Don't Lie (10) (11) 
My Foundation  (11) (6) 
Loving Arms (12) (13) 
Out Of Time  (13) (14) 
Handbags and Gladrags  (14) 
As Easy As That (15) (12) 
 Miss You Fever (15)

(*) intro of first and second set: lead vocals by Norman Beaker
3 May, 'The Borderline', Diest
4 May, 'The Spirit of 66', Verviers

Norman Beaker
: lead guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on (1) and (8)
Dave Lewis: saxophone
Paul Burgess: drums
John Price: bass
Dave Baldwin: keyboards