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Chris Goulding - UK

After playing at prestigious places such as Wembley Stadium, Warwick Castle and Hyde Park, the announcement that Hull was the long awaited UK gig venue ermmmmm didn't have the same appeal somehow. Visions of a fish stinking ferry port initially caused revulsion but what the heck - so tickets were rapidly bought and plans for the front row attack put into place.

Hull is many long boring motorway miles from my home but thankfully the journey was void of any major delays. Motorway systems are notoriously bad in the UK - someone only has to get a puncture and the whole network comes to a grinding halt!!

El and I arrived in the late evening, threw our bags into the hotel, grabbed Paula and headed into the throngs of night-clubbers to find the others well inebriated and jolly in the Pizza Hut. After the traditional group photo (well several actually as everyone wanted a shot on their camera - my face ached from a constant 'say cheese' grin) we headed back to our respective hotels full of anticipation for the next days events.

Sleep, however, was not on the cards. The hotel was packed with revellers and the clubbers who decided to serenade/yell/scream/laugh/shout at Hull under our bedroom window. 2 am flowed into 3am and 3am into 4 and still no sleep was possible. Well, if you can't beat them join them, so dragging my leadened legs out of bed we pulled on clothes and headed off into the fresh morning air to the stadium. After going in totally the wrong direction for a while (well what do you expect at 5am with no breakfast, sleep or a dam clue what way is up, down, North or South!) we eventually found the right route. The stadium is huge and can't be missed so I suppose that aided location! In complete contrast to the rest of Hull the stadium was a really impressive place - clean, tidy and an overall nice venue (never seen so many Portaloos in my life before - almost one each!!)

Security wasn't allowing queuing at the gates at such a stupid early hour so they set up a line away from the people and machinery that were still trying desperately to set up the stage.

Jess & Co were already sprawled out on the pavement when we arrived, along with a few others. It was a case of déjà vu as us same bunch had queued early at Bristol too - only this time it wasn't blowing a gale and p*ssing it down ---yet.

So there we sat for the next 12 hours - some on the pavement, some in chairs and even some softees in tents!! About 1pm security lead us like sheep (bah bah) to our respective gates ready for entry later in the day. With much chatting, pleading and feminine guile they were persuaded to let us 25 early bird nutters in one minute before the rest of the throng. WOW a whole one minute!! So we limbered up to beat the 4 minute mile!

Anticipation grew along with the rain clouds. By the time the golden hour of 5pm came we were all frothing at the mouth with excitement. Then the doors opened and we were OFF OFF OFF running like the wind. But what was this!!??? The front row was rapidly filling - dam security had opened the wrong doors that minute early. Peeps that had only been queuing a few hours were rapidly filling the barrier! Dam and blast! We slammed into the barrier - totally on the wrong side for Keith - but what the heck, we had made it!!!

Just as the support acts started so did the rain. It got heavier and heavier with roadies sweeping water off the stage by the bucket load. By the time BA & Co came onto the stage we all looked like drowned rats. But as soon as the first note was struck you were oblivious to the rain dribbling down you neck or the wet soggy pants.

The Dudes looked in fine fettle, Keith with a hair cut so short it looked like he'd had argument with his barber! It didn't take long for the crowd to warm up and we were all soon clapping, stamping and swaying as much as you can in a bin liner, plastic bag or clutching an umbrella. The rain got heavier as the shows progressed with gallons pouring onto the stage. Then came Keiths pièce de résistance!! Bouncing round the stage like Tigger, he came running over to our side of the stage - well when I say running he was bunny hopping! Then he slipped - real banana skin slip it was with both feet leaving the ground together WHOOOOOPSSS! He landed heavily on his back/bum and stayed there playing away as if this was quite normal to be playing 18 til I die flat on his back. God he must have been so embarrassed. Up he got, checking the back of his trousers which must have been soaked right through. But beware Keith, it's been caught on camera and video so I don't think you're going be to allowed to forget the incident in a hurry!!

As the show progressed it just got better and better. The rock version of Heaven never fails to bring goose bumps - Keith's solo bits are just so tear jerking - wish it was on CD somewhere. It was great to see Norm having his own mic next to Keith. The two of them fooled around quite a bit and I'm real curious as to why Keith gave the limp wrist action to Gary once with Mickey killing himself laughing. So there was poor BA playing his heart out with the boys larking about behind - real cool!! It was real nice to watch them obviously enjoying the great atmosphere that spread right around the stadium.

Rain was still falling and pouring off the stage roof in a constant stream. Spotting this Keith stood under it like he was having a shower. Shame he didn't have some soap! He must have been drenched.

Of all the gigs I've done that one was up there with the best and it was sad when the lights went up and it was all over. It's the worse part of the day when you join the throng leaving the litter strewn stadium. It's all so final. But we had another gig in Stoke to go to so there was a spring in our very tired steps as we headed back to the car and onto yet another motorway.


Arrived in Stoke at about 3am. Decided to follow one the BA trucks to the stadium but he got more hopelessly lost than us so we left him completing his third circuit of a roundabout and headed off into town for directions. It's not easy to find anyone around to ask at that time of night but we eventually found our way and parked up at the hotel we were due to stay at the next night. Our mate, who was going to put us up for what remained of the rest of the night, couldn't so we tried to get some sleep in the car - not an east feat with 4 peeps and luggage !!

After 10 minutes we gave up and decided to go for a walk around the stadium. These places are really weird and scary with no one around - full of echoes and hollowness. We then decided that the best plan was for 2 to go back to the car and at least try and get some sleep while Jess and I braved the elements of a cold and damp Stoke dawn sitting in the stadium concrete concourse.

I hadn't had any sleep for 2 nights but was surprisingly wide awake. I understand I looked terrible but what the heck, nothing new there then! We were both dying for a nice cuppa and something to eat but there was nothing we could do but sit it out.

At about 6am gradually peeps started to arrive and before we knew it the place was a hive of activity. Security was great and showed us the best gate out of 15(!!!) that was more likely to get us front row. The rest of the day was spent walking round and round the stadium trying hard to keep alert as I could feel my faculties ebbing away. But adrenaline soon jumped in --- the sky suddenly blackened and the rain came down so fast it pounced back a few feet. Everyone tried to run for shelter but there was none to be had. Luckily someone had a large sheet of plastic and we all (about 10 of us) managed to hang onto it for dear life as the wind tried to take it into orbit. Then as soon as it had started it stopped leaving in its wake many sodden people. The t shirt stall then did a roaring trade as they all sought dry clothing. Apparently the stage lost part of its roof during the storm, narrowly missing the sound desk of the support act.

But this didn't dampen our spirits (groan -pun) and we eagerly awaited the gates to open. This they did with an almighty clank and poor old jess in her rush to get in hanged her nose on the turnstile. Heck, I've never seen so many people rushing for that front line!! They were running from 15 different gates all determined to get 'that' spot. Security were shouting to stop running but I turned conveniently deaf (must be the lack of sleep LOL) and flew past them. But no 'Keith' spot again - in fact ended up in exact same place as the day before at Hull !

We experienced a really great gig with Kman in tremendous form. He was dancing (the twist and some other hip swinging jig that only he knows the name of !) and doing some unmentionable things with his guitar and a mic stand! Ermmm the words dog, on and heat come to mind !! Just love that arm twirling he does,like Pete Townshend of The Who !!

The whole show was a bundle of fun and it was a shame for it to end. We dashed outside to find the Dudes had already fled so we staggered off to bed with happy memories to stash away.

I hope the dudes enjoyed the UK as much as we all enjoyed having them. Looking forward to the grand tour in the Autumn - OMG more queuing!
bed with happy memories to stash away.