Welcome to Paul's 2011 tour blog, in which Paul will be detailing what daily life is like whilst touring with Monica and The Explosion.
In his blog, you will find descriptions of venues, support bands, and of the various people that Paul meets along the way.
Paul will also share various photos from his travels
The first entry for this month is at the foot of the page, with the latest entry at the top!
KEEP CHECKING THIS PAGE...
February 5th (Part 2) - Perth
We found a nice little apartment in Adelaide Terrace, a short walk from the Swan River and ten minutes from the city centre. After five days in Perth we were really beginning to like the place. The area between the river and the CBD became a favourite haunt, especially once we discovered the “Lucky Shag” pub which was situated close to Perth’s “Bell Tower”, which houses the Swan Bells.
These are a set of eighteen bells, hanging in a specially built 82.5 metres (271 ft)-high copper and glass campanile. Taking their name from the Swan River, which their tower overlooks, and forming a sixteen-bell peal with two extra chromatic notes, they are one of the largest sets of change ringing bells in the world.
Twelve of the set are historic bells from St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square in London; six others cast in recent times by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, round off the set. The St Martin-in-the-Fields bells were donated to the State of Western Australia as part of the 1988 Australian bicentenary celebrations; the additional bells were cast with a subsequent donation of metals mined in WA. The six newer bells include five which were presented to the University of Western Australia, the City of Perth and to the people of Western Australia from the City of London, the City of Westminster and a consortium of British and Australian mining companies, and one bell commissioned by the Western Australian Government.
I can’t remember how much they wanted to charge to take a look inside, but I do remember thinking, “Pull the other one - it’s got bells of its own.”
The “Lucky Shag” was a great place to hang out and spend the children’s inheritance, and at seven quid a pint their future was looking less rosy with each visit.
This being Australia, along the riverfront there were various exercise machines available for pubic use. Monica became particularly fond of the “hip swing” and I became fond of watching her use it.
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February 5th - Perth and the weather...
I forgot to mention that whilst we were staying at Nick and Vicki’s place, Perth was being threatened by ‘Cyclone Bianca’ which was hanging around just off the coast. In the event it just missed us and made landfall further south near Bunbury. And by the time it came ashore it had been downgraded to a severe storm. I know it’s wrong but I was a little disappointed…
In fact the whole time we were in Australia there was something going on weather-wise. When we were in Sydney they were suffering floods in Brisbane just 450 miles up the road. When we were in Adelaide there was widespread flooding in the state of Victoria a couple of hundred miles north. Shortly after we left Melbourne the city was flooded. Then we left Sydney the second time, just before they suffered a record breaking heat wave. By the time we got to Perth, ‘Cyclone Yasi’ was tearing up North Queensland. And whilst in Perth we witnessed several bushfires… which can only bring you to the conclusion that God sure does love Australians.
On the day ‘Cyclone Bianca’ was threatening, we went to Floreat Beach and whilst there we witnessed an extraordinary cloud. I wanted to photograph it but it was moving so quickly that by the time we got the camera out of the bag it had passed over us. I’ve since found this on YouTube, I believe this is what we saw...
...it was a bit unnerving to say the least so we took shelter, from the high winds and driving rain that accompanied it, in a beach side café.
Fifteen minutes later and the skies had cleared sufficiently for us to take a walk along the beach where we came across a small Pufferfish (at least that’s what a think it was). It might look cute, in a “Finding Nemo” sort of way, but these fish contain tetrodotoxin which, as far as humans are concerned, is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. Stepping on one won’t do you any real harm as you can only be poisoned by eating one. Amazingly, the meat of some Pufferfish is considered a delicacy. Called fugu in Japan, it is extremely expensive and only prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer. In fact, many such deaths occur annually. I only mention this as a caution in case you find yourself in a chip shop in Tokyo wondering what to have…
February 1st - Perth
Whilst out walking the other day Monica asked me if I missed England. It was an interesting question. Sure I missed friends and above all my kids but did I miss England itself? The answer is yes I guess - I do a bit. I miss it because I feel part of it and part of Europe. It’s somewhere where we both feel grounded.
It’s hard to put your finger on what it is that is slightly unsatisfying about Australia. There’s so much to admire and enjoy about the place like the weather (although somewhat unpredictable of late), the beaches and the easy laidback lifestyle but there’s a lack of history, a lack of complexity and cultural heritage that Europe possesses. It’s as if the whole place has been designed by Disney. Maybe the “real” Australia lies outside of the main cities and in the smaller towns or in the outback (although I’ve no real desire to go there – it’s full of shit that can kill you). And in truth we’ve stuck to the cities because we’re here to work. Everything is so new here that when you see a building that has a sign that says “Constructed 1858”, you wonder if they mean two minutes to seven last night.
We landed in Perth around 11pm after a five hour, 2000 mile flight from Sydney. There’s a three hour time difference between the two cities and as we’d taken off around 9pm it was by our body clocks 2am in the morning. Even at this late hour, when we stepped out of the air-conditioned terminal, we were greeted by a blast of tropical-like heat.
We were being met at the airport by Nick Sheppard. He and his lovely wife Vicki had offered to put us up for the first five nights of our stay in Perth. Nick played guitar for late seventies Bristol-based punk band the Cortinas then later, in 1983, replaced Mick Jones when he was sacked by the Clash. Now living in Perth he fronts The Domnicks a hugely watchable no nonsense Aussie garage rock band.
Nick and Vicki proved to be the prefect hosts, even giving us the use of their daughter’s car which allowed us all the freedom we needed to get around Perth. This was especially useful for getting to and from shows as a lot of the buses here stop running very early in the evening. So I’d like to take the opportunity here to thank them once again for their kindness and hospitality. They also run a successful clothing company called Elroy which I’m more than happy to plug here or you can find them on Facebook HERE
One other thing...
We also arrived at their place around about the same time as Alfie the French Bulldog pup. Don’t let the doe eyes fool you - This thing is a monster!… All I can say is if I behaved the same way as this pocket punk did I’d have been thrown out and told never to return… I can honestly say I've never taken a crap on someone's carpet and not been asked to leave...
Our first gig in WA was in Fremantle, about a 25 minute drive from Perth. Freo, as it’s known locally, is home to Western Australia’s oldest remaining building, The Round House, which was, needless to say, originally built as a gaol in 1830. When the first 75 convicts arrived from Britain in 1850 to support the colony's dwindling population, it became apparent that the Round House was inadequate to house them. The convicts built a new gaol, which was completed in the 1850s and continued to be used as Fremantle's prison until 1991.
We played at the Railway Hotel the first of three gigs organised by the Applebite Beggars on Acid, a three piece grunge band from Perth fronted by Welshman Justin Powell. Cool dudes with some great tunes, hopefully they can make a deserved impact on the Perth music scene.
Min “the Minx” Stokes (more on Min later) and Colin Sid Stevens turned up to watch. Old school punk rockers and U.K. Subs fans, it was good to see them both there amongst a small but appreciative crowd.
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- MONICA AND THE EXPLOSION CD TO PURCHASE:
Click the CD cover photo to purchase the totally fabulous Monica and The Explosion CD, with Paul Slack on bass. You will be taken to the secure Time & Matter Recordings Big Cartel site.
THIS IS THE ONLY U.K. OUTLET FOR THE CD, WITH A SMALL DONATION ALSO GOING TO CHARLIE'S CHARITABLE CAUSE.
Go on - you know it makes sense - give yourself a real new musical treat!