This week 20 SMILER members were invited to be on the guest list for the recording of a popular Dutch TV Show College Tour..Here Colin Baker gives his thoughts on the day..
Having got the wink from Mike that Rod was being interviewed for a Dutch TV station programme called College Tour and it was happening just about 5 miles from where I live I just could not believe my luck. Having got in on the Loose Women programme exactly a month earlier, I guess there were many things you could try and compare and simply find total extremes to.
A month ago you could have received a mail saying your application had been accepted but find unless you were on the fan club list or received a second mail quoting “priority ticket” you would have been unlucky (which I’m still very grateful to Mike for getting me in). At Fairfield you could have been just passing by, nipped in for a cup of tea – found there was free cake and orange juice and still walked in – so no check list, no ID to support your name – just be there.
The show was to take place in the concert hall, which is a reasonable size,but in fact they partitioned the stage area off to set it up – making you think it probably could have been held in the smaller Ashcroft theatre.
No real surprise was the fact that the audience was mainly of young Dutch students who I overheard had travelled by coach for the event. I’m no great judge of numbers, you should realise that by now – not many people that work in banks are! But I would estimate maybe a couple of hundred was the audience size.
One or two familiar Smiler faces had turned up, so “the fan club family” was represented. The 12:30 start time seemed to come and go, we probably did not enter the hall until 12:45 when the compare – Twan Huys talked to us all about how previous shows they had produced would be structured, but all were welcome to ask questions to Rod.
I guess there were a few anxious moments as we were told Rod had not arrived, they made reference to the fact that they were sure he would turn up but suggested he had not showed for other events in the past. There were references to the fact that Mary (Rod’s sister) had come to be part of the audience, and prompted the audience to give examples of what Rod meant to them – a Scottish lass in a Celtic shirt stood up and said she had seen Rod for the first time recently at Hyde Park and loved him (hmmm better not go
to hits shows next summer then because you won’t hear any of the songs sung in Hyde Park!). Another chap stood up and said he had seen Rod with the Faces recently, he had been a fan for 44 years he said, felt that maybe they should not really be attempting to re-create the past, but it was
We were told Rod had arrived, a few seats just away from us were added – which I could not help but notice that one was to be occupied by Rod’s lovely daughter Ruby. We were all prompted to applaud Rod’s entrance and from that moment onwards you knew he was is in another good mood (as with
at Loose Women) – he commented the last time he was in Fairfield Halls was 1969 – and he’s not been back to Croydon since! (Not 100% certain that’s correct though).
The range of questions were best described as quirky but varied from Rod “My mum has been to many of your shows in Holland, but has never got one of the footballs” – So Rod said, “Well you have brought your ball along there,have got a pen? – Throw me the ball, pen” and of course he duly signed it.To my mum loved all your music, sadly she passed away and we played your song “Sailing” at the funeral. Twan asked him do many of his songs get played at funerals? – Rod would say, “I’m not so sure about funerals but Weddings, Forever Young and Have I Told You Lately are two I’m aware of that get played”.
Questions on how could people get breaks in the music industry today? – “A difficult one, the business is no longer the same as it was in my era, you need luck, but you also have to keep the faith in your own talent, he approves of shows like “The voice” but said the downside must be one week your spending a long time given make-ups and are a contender – then all of a sudden your out – you have to trust you talent – I was blessed (although some may not agree) with this great unique voice and it’s served me well
all these years”
He also said, “People don’t buy records, CD’s anymore like they used to,you have to make money by touring – I love touring but I fit it in around my children’s holiday’s now” – The girl in the Celtic shirt asked (without saying it) when did he think he would end his career – “Are you asking - Have you ever thought of retiring?” – Said Rod, “Not at all, all the time people buy my records come to my concerts, I will want to carry on”, he also added “He would love one day to do a tour of “Songbook” numbers” (So if you thought that era had passed us by, think again!).
How easy was it to write music? They showed Sting who had appeared in one of his earlier shows stating he had suffered “Writer’s block for 10 years” – Had Rod experienced the same? – “No not at all, your forgetting that I did the Standards for close on 10 years, there was no requirement to be writing songs.” He was asked about if when writing it represent things that had recently happened in his life, “Not exactly he said, the older you get the more experience you have, I don’t use a rhyming diary, take one of my new songs, Batman, Superman, Spiderman – my youngest (Aiden) asks for me to tell him a story at bedtime, Rod asks what book do you want me to read, no make up a story, what about, anything Batman, Superman, or Spiderman” – which of course he also repeated that in his Uncut interview.
He talked about his upbringing, the fact his family was poor, his two brothers and sisters had to go to work and by the age of 16 his brothers had left home, got married, he was no good at school, just wanted to play football. So left to get a job at 16, these days it’s different. He said
Penny was stricter with his children than him, Alastair had wanted new football boots – he loves the game so much, Penny said he would have to wait until Christmas – but Rod confessed when they were in Brazil recently he did actually buy him two pairs!”.
After a few technical issues, he was shown John Cleese when he did College Tour and John’s comments that his ex-wife cost him 450,000 dollars a month that’s 22 million so far, I wish I could kill her. Twan asked Rod as he lived in California did he suffer a similar cost and if so how much – Rod was none to pleased by this, neither John Cleese’s attitude, or the fact such a personal question had been asked – there had been references to his book and as ever Twan said he had read it – Rod said “Both my marriages that have ended in divorce had pre-nuptual agreements – which if you had read the book thoroughly you would know that”.
A clip of Elton on the Graham Norton show where Elton said – no I would never want to make a Christmas Album, do a Soul Book, or Rock ‘n Roll classics – I will leave all that to Rod Stewart – I prefer to make my own music, but at the present his music is selling better than mine. What did Rod think of that, “Oh that’s Elton for you, but don’t worry I’m on the Graham Norton show on a couple of weeks I will get my own back”.
There was the gentleman who had been to Hurtwood who spoke to Rod again saying what a great concert it was – and he just lived down the road from Kenny, plus he had since the concert gone to doctors and had a prostrate check up. “Well done, Rod said, and yes we will do it again”. So maybe watch this space….
You felt that the show had drifted with little control, Rod had said a few funny things – had given a girl a hug – just because she asked for one,sung I Don’t Wanna Talk About It with her after asking if she could. Plus you felt maybe him and Ruby maybe had somewhere else to be – having said that it must have been a good hour or more they had covered the points being aired.
As the show finished, various photo’s were requested, which again was not that well controlled. But I must add, I was a man on a mission, the great photo I had managed to take of Rod and my wife Alison at his book signing in Piccadilly that was hung beautifully in our hall had been dismantled in hope that I could get Rod to sign it for me – to my immense delight he did,with the normal amusement, “Blimey who’s that he said”, would you mind writing to Alison please Rod, which he obliged, signed and drew a little
arrow back to himself on the photograph.
A lovely touch, and I’m so glad I plucked up the Dutch courage to dismantle a professionally hung photograph to get such a personal note added to two special people in my life.
Review By Colin Baker
photos of Steve Jewitt and Tom Hagger by Rob Jewitt