John Platania, Joan and I arrive at Heathrow on the morning flight getting us there at approximately 7:30. It took a little bit a time waiting to go through customs as there were a ton of people ..somebody mentioned kids coming back to school, which seems true because there were a ton of kids with their families. After waiting about an hour it finally moved along and we got through and after a waiting a long time for a bus and a trying ride, we got to our great Hilton hotel at Terminal Four. I should say something before that - some kind passenger not only helped me get my guitar on the bus but also paid for our tickets when our currency was deemed unacceptable - what a great thing for us and what a nice guy .. so if he’s reading this I want to say big thanks .. you did something so special for us in a difficult situation - much appreciated!!
We were downstairs at 10:30 ready to order dinner. John and I opted for the Chicken Tikka and Joan had avocado toast.. after some good conversation and good wine we turned in for bed at around 12:30.
After a pretty good decent sleep maybe five or six hours we felt pretty refreshed and ready to go to our first show at Twickenham - The Exchange Theatre. What a wonderful little theater… we loved it. We were met by our very nice host whose name was Becky... she would take care of us at every turn throughout the night.. thanks Becky!
After a good sound check with Richard and lighting by Leslie and overall stage set up by Lysette... we went immediately to our hotel which was right across the street.. very nice very clean place that had a little dining area downstairs ..where we would grab a bite to eat before the second set.
When we first checked in I saw my old friends Jacqueline and Liam.. Jackie was in charge of the Troggs fan club for many many many years… Just a great person and I have seen her over time... she and Liam had a difficult drive to get to the show tonight as Liam was having problems and he couldn’t drive the car so they took a couple of trains a couple of buses and walked a lot.
We were on the stage at 7:45. The show was divided into two sets. We started with a look back at the 70s with the song The Real Thing which took me back to making music with rebellious sort of guys like John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. Gram Parsons and others who were changing the face of country music back in those days. From there we went into the Whiskey Salesman story and played the song and spoke about it winning the film award in California at the New Media Film Festival.
Took a break from the normal to do to tribute to the Troggs fan club president and friend Jacqueline and Liam my dear friends over the years. We played one of the Troggs big hits, my song “Anyway that You Want Me“ The song went on to be a hit several other times including Evie Sands’ version and a soulful rendition by the R&B great singer Walter Jackson.
From there we just another song from Whiskey Salesman called “I like Ridin “which is one of my favorite and it’s dedicated to and inspired by my wife Joan.
Some other of my favorites of the first show were I Love You Today, again dedicated to my wife Joan that the audience seem to love. And at some point we did a fan favorite from Little Prayers Trilogy, Track 224, suggested by Joan who loves to hear the great solos played by John... and John was magic!
I think my favorite part of the show was a tribute to my 2001 album Black and Blue America which is just now for the first time released on Spotify and all the streaming sites. We played Theme for an American Hero, one of my all-time favorites and another song, What a Smile You Had, which back in the day went to #1 on the European country charts and stayed there for seven weeks. I got chills throughout playing both of the songs.
We ended the set with a tribute to Johnny Cash and his great song Big River. I love doing it as I remember playing it on stage when I was just 16 years old and it seems so natural to me, plus the fact that it was what brought Johnny Cash and I closer together as he loved my version so much. We ended the set with a beautiful version of Angel of the Morning and a tribute to the many great singers that sang it. It was an amazing interaction with the audience and the tour had begun in a wonderful manner.. we took a quick break, went across the street and had a bite to eat and we’re back on stage by a little after nine.
The whole beginning of this set and the general feel of it gave me chills... we started out with “Dance With a Hole in Your Shoe” which totally connected with all of us.. then we went to I think the most precious version we’ve ever done of “He’s a Good Guy” The audience seemed to be so into it as well as John and me on stage.. it was special.. we played a very cool little version of the Joan-inspired “A Sip or Two of Good Scotch“ which seemed to have a spark that we all loved. Then it was a tribute to my homeless friend Vaughn in the song “There’s Nothing Coming Out of Me That I Like” .. which sounded so lived in and so warm to me on stage.
Then came a very cool version of the 60s hit by the Hollies and Linda Ronstadt..“I Can’t Let Go.” John Platania was magic… He always is. Then we payed tribute to my grandfather, in a song that was based on a poem my brother Barry, was starting to write about him that I put music to.. which became a featured songs on the 1974 album Last Chance - "Coal Fields of Shickshinny”
After a precious tribute to sisterly love in the song dedicated to a couple of golfing sisters, Brooke and Brittany Henderson,… “I'll Carry For you” .. which seems to strike a chord... we were on to certainly one of the highlights of the night… A tribute to Reg Presley and Jimi Hendrix with a rousing version of “Wild Thing“ - dedicated to Jacqueline and Liam sitting in the first row.
We were going to end the show with I Wasn’t Born in Tennessee.. a spur of the moment selection... but the audience responded in such an over the top way, that we decided to do one more… Everyone joining in the spirit of a beautiful version of “Refugee Children”
What a special night!
Said hi to several at the end of the show... including .. Friends formally from Sweden, Fria , Martin. And very tall son. Pelle.. very good to see you guys again… Such nice memories!
Hi to Paul, Jon and Pat… and Willie… My old friend it was great to see you!… Hi to Andrew (a rather famous DJ)… It was great to hear you and talk about you in the car before we saw you and hi Jan nice to meet you as well... Andrew, thanks for the interesting and kind comments… Hope to see you soon again.
A big hello to Nigel and Andy good to see you boys and Sally… As I said mom would’ve loved those glasses… They look great on you!! .. hi Merrill and Bernie.... Nice talking with you as well
Great to meet Sir Alex Allan.. A very interesting guy with an interesting history.... but most important.. a very big fan of music.. thanks for the kind words Alex… Big hello to Morten... hope to see you soon again!
Willie, my great friend!! It always brings a smile on my face when I see you were there!
Great to know that Alan Jones came to the show… Alan’s brilliant work with Melody maker and Uncut is legendary.. would have liked to have spent some time talking with you... and thanks to Peter O’Brien for coming as well.. whose magazine, Omaha Rainbow, was a legendary music magazine back in the day.
These are two great music lovers who worked their craft for the right reasons ..big thanks to them
Big thanks to our hero Tony Pankhurst... Who is our tour guide and chauffeur for this entire tour and who does it for the total reason of loving the music… Couldn’t be any nicer for us Tony.
One of Tony‘s favorite songs is “ John Tucker’s on the Wagon Again” .. we will be singing that many times for you Tony.
Great to wind up the night at the hotel trading stories and kindness with old friend Bob Paterson who has done such an amazing job booking me over the years - Bob you’re one of a kind!! Hope you have a good day with your brother tomorrow.. with thoughts of mom!
Thanks for the kind words about Heinz that was needed and very nicely said… I appreciate that so much… So would his wife Anna!
Others at this late night gathering were my wife Joan and Tony and a new fella that booked the show here in town originally from Wales… He told me I could just shorten his name to Jerry and so I will... Great talking to you Jerry thanks to all the people that helped bring us to this town… God bless