AUTHOR: PAM HENDERSON
PUBLISH DATE: 23 July 2006 (sorry again Pam!)

 CHRIS' "HUNGARY FOR THE BLUES - 1/2 CENTURY" TOUR


We hadn't seen
Chris & the Norman Beaker Band for a little while, so when we saw the UK tour dates on the website we decided we would go to four of the gigs: 

Alexander's, Chester, Thursday 4th May 
This is a favourite venue of ours. John & I arrived in
Chester in the afternoon, collected our tickets from Alexander's, met up with
Norman & Lenni and went for a drink before they did their sound check. 
During this tour the band members varied depending on who was available. Tonight we saw Lenni on sax,
Dave Baldwin on keyboard, the bass player was Brian Bethall who had been recommended by Mark Feltham from Nine Below Zero, Paul Burgess on drums and, it goes without saying (but I will be in trouble if I don't mention him!) superb guitar & vocals from Norman. 
Alexander's always attracts a truly enthusiastic audience and tonight was no exception. The next day we travelled up to the Lake District and spent two glorious days in Ambleside, then on the Sunday we drove to Fleetwood.

Marine Hall, Fleetwood, Sunday 7th May.  
As always we arrived at the venue early. When Chris came into the foyer he was complaining about the rain and John suggested he should have worn his 'Fleetwood Mac'!  
Kyla Brox and guitarist Danny Blomeley did an excellent first set.  After the break Norman with, as he said, his latest entourage, performed 'Option On You Baby'. Chris came on stage and sang 'I'll Sing The Blues For You' followed by 'Ain't No Big Deal' and 'In Your Loving Arms'. During his self-penned 'I Don't Want To Sing The Blues No More' he changed the words slightly and sang "Gary Glitter sings the blues from the bars of his prison cell!" Before the next song Chris picked up a piece of paper from the stage which he thought was a request but he couldn't read it without his glasses. He passed it to Dave who read out M62 to which Kyla called out it was directions to get to Fleetwood and her set list which caused a laugh. Before singing 'Handbags & Gladrags' Chris told us his was the definitive version written for him by Mike d'Abo. This was followed by a favourite of mine 'The Guitar Don't Lie', and Norman's superb guitar solo received rapturous applause. Chris then included an upbeat Ray Charles number in the set entitled 'Peace Of Mind', which is a fairly recent addition to his live repertoire.  After 'Tough On Me, Tough On You' Chris introduced the band. The only change from Alexander's was Damian on sax who then gave us a fabulous sax intro to 'Blues As Blues Can Get'. When Chris sings 'Stormy Monday' he always includes the town name he is performing at - "I searched Fleetwood all over, no women I could find, I must be f***ing blind!" On this tour there is a topical change - "find me a part time love affair like John Prescott!" 
Before singing '
Out Of Time' Chris reminded us that England won the World Cup when 'Out Of Time' was No.1 in the charts. He says if England win this year perhaps he will re-release it! After loud applause from another enthusiastic audience Chris & the band came back for an encore of
Feargal Sharkey's 'Miss You Fever'.  We came home on Monday and the next evening it was a fairly local venue for us. 

Huntingdon Hall, Worcester, Tuesday 9th May
This splendid Grade II listed building was built as a chapel in 1773; a unique venue for a unique singer and fabulous band. We have seen Chris & Norman at Huntingdon Hall several times. Chris likes the venue and has also appeared here with
Colosseum and Van Morrison

Cox's Yard, Stratford-upon-Avon, Friday 26th May 
John & I travel all round the UK to Chris & Norman's gigs but this venue is only 7 miles from where we live! 
We met up with Chris, Norman & Dave in the Lounge Bar which opens onto a patio on the banks of the
River Avon. While they did the sound check we chatted to other fans until we could go upstairs to the venue.
Steve Gibson was on drums tonight and whenever we see him he always remembers seeing me with our good friend Adrian at the front of the audience in the TOTP2 Studio three years ago. 
Chris & the band did two sets and during the interval Chris sold his CDs and signed fans memorabilia. During the evening Chris told us that Damian had been listening to Radio 2 while driving to the gig and DJ
Chris Evans had asked listeners to ring in to say what they were doing this evening. One listener rang to say he was on his way to see Chris Farlowe; Chris Evans then played 'Out Of Time'. A man in the audience called out "it was me" and Chris shook his hand and thanked him. 
The rapport between the band and the audience was terrific with plenty of good natured banter. These performers always go down a storm with all audiences, but this particular venue had one of the most appreciative audiences we have experienced. 
John & I have thoroughly enjoyed these gigs and had a fantastic time, so on that note I will finish with the title of one of Norman's songs '
Here's To The Next Time'.