#2write: A Review of Graeme Clark and Dean Johnson’s Gig at Thornton Hough Village Hall, Wirral.

My regular blog readers will know that I’m a huge Wet Wet Wet fan and have loved the band right from the beginning back in 1987 as a 15 year old! I don’t want to repeat myself from what I’ve written from previous reviews but their music is a very big part of my life.   Music is always on at home, whether it’s on in the kitchen when I’m cooking or baking. It helps me get through the ironing or the cleaning. I also have music on in the background when working at my sewing machine. Music is always on my iPod when I go out running or in my car driving to work. A lot of the time it’s a Wet Wet Wet album or one of Graeme Clark’s solo CDs.  Of course I do listen to other music but it’s always the Wets’ music which I go back to. It cheers me up if I’ve had a long day, helps me to relax or even listening to a song just calls up a special memory in life. More recently I have been listening to Graeme Clark’s latest album The Thought Collector a lot.  Just after it was released I had it on my Ipad when we went on holiday to Canada. I woke up in the middle of the night jet lagged but I put the music on through my headphones to drown out Mr SmartCookieSam’s loud snoring and the soothing music soon relaxed me and got me back to sleep again!

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I went to see Graeme Clark (also known as Wet Wet Wet’s bass player) play in a solo gig in Siempre Bicycle Cafe in Glasgow’s West End. This gig was on a beautiful sunny  Sunday evening last June and was a runaway success. More about that night here:

https://theyorkshirebakery.com/2016/06/17/graeme-clarks-gig-at-siempre-bicycle-cafe-glasgow-a-review

We were absolutely over the moon last month when Graeme announced on his Facebook page that he was going to play a unique and special gig  with his friend Dean Johnson who he has collaborated with in the past.

So, last Saturday myself and my three lovely friends Julie, Dot and Cindy (AKA the Yorkshire Wetties) headed over the Pennines) to the Wirral. We had met up only a few weeks ago for a girlie weekend in York and were saying it would be fantastic to get together again soon. Graeme must have been eavesdropping as we now had a perfect excuse to get together a few weeks later over in Cheshire! 

We set off at midday, heading first to collect Cindy after Dot and Julie met up at my house. I was still seething as Mr SmartCookieSam had let me drive his car but was watching me like a hawk reversing out of our drive. He’s the one who crashed into our neighbours’ van when he wasn’t looking! I shouted at him out of the window to stop looking at me! Anyway, once Dot, Julie and I were on our way!  The traffic on the M62 around Manchester was a nightmare and we got stuck in a huge jam. Don’t tell Mr SmartCookieSam that someone nearly cut me up trying to get in front Fortunately once we’d refuelled ourselves we weren’t that far away from the Wirral and the pretty village of Thornton Hough. I don’t really know this part of the UK very well, although I went to a wedding at the church in Port Sunlight many years ago followed by the reception at a hotel near Bebington. Thornton Hough was a beautiful picture postcard village with half timbered style houses. We chose to go and find the venue first in the light before we checked into our hotel. Luckily it was easy to find in the village and was next door to a pub with a car park.

When we got parked up and found the Village Hall the manager of the Village Hall, a great friendly guy called Neil came out and chatted to us. He very kindly took a photo of the four of us in front of the Village Hall although the poor man nearly got run over trying to cross the road to get a decent shot on Dot’s phone camera!  Thank you, Neil and you made us feel most welcome.

Later on we got to the Village Hall which was a real gem of a building.  Inside it had high ceilings and original wooden beams with another room and a bar attached to it.  A perfect place for an intimate gig. The seating was arranged around tables and it looked like a full house once everyone was in and sat down. We got our table organised and eagerly waited for the evening to start.  It didn’t disappoint us.  We first were entertained by Steve   with his acoustic guitar. His music warmed up the show, which we really enjoyed.  Then it was time for Graeme and Dean.  Dean started off their part of the show with a couple of songs of his own.  Graeme appeared from behind a large curtain at the side of the stage to join Dean playing one of his songs.  Dean then left the stage so that Graeme could perform some of his own songs.  He started off with his “Kiss Of Life” a song I’ve always loved from his Mr Understanding album, closely followed by “Heart Of Stone”  Heart of Stone also had an excerpt of “A Hard Day’s Night” with it. Graeme then followed this with a newbie from the fabulous “Thought Collector” album: “Summer Rain” which we first heard him perform back in June in Glasgow.

Then it was time for the part of the show which made this into the unique experience it was. Dean and Graeme had been thinking of some themes for the song which they were going to write together live in front of us with possible contributions from us, the audience! I had been wondering what the theme for the song would be about. Would it be a love song? Or about the cities which both Graeme and Dean both grew up in?  Or would it be a political song or about musical heroes of theirs? It was going to be an intriguing experience.  In the end both Graeme and Dean came up with the idea of “The Politician and The Poet” as Donald Trump had just been elected President of the USA and Leonard Cohen had sadly died. 

 We were also invited to contribute some lyrics. I didn’t offer any suggestions as I am totally the opposite of Dean.  If I have to write something it takes me ages to do with constant drafting and redrafting. Thinking of something off the top of my head is a real struggle for me even though it happens a lot in my job. Now if I’d been asked to go away and come back 1/2 hour later with some ideas, I would have been fine. I was happy to sit back and watch it unfold.  Anyway they had worked out the guitar chord progression they wanted to use and it was amazing to see Dean scribbling away all the lyrics in his notebook.  He got it all to fit in and a song began to emerge in front of our eyes.  Even Marti Pellow got in on the act and had recorded a voice message with a line for the song. This appeared on Graeme’s phone which was a funny moment in the show. 

 It wasn’t long before the song was finished and it was going to be videoed for Dean’s website and YouTube. Graeme asked the audience if anyone would like to come up and be backing dancers!  I don’t know what came over me but I stood up and walked behind Graeme on the stage.  It was an amazing feeling to be stood behind someone I’ve admired for nearly 30 years but I enjoyed every minute.  After the song was complete, Graeme performed Goodnight Girl and Love Is All Around for us. Finally, we were invited to get up and dance along to Roll Over Beethoven followed by Status Quo’s Sweet Caroline! I love a good dance so any excuse to get up and strut my stuff is fine by me. 

All too soon an incredible evening was over and we all said what a fantastic show it was. Thankyou so much to Graeme and Dean for putting it on, what an original and unique idea to write a song on stage in front of an audience.  As Graeme explained when he first met Dean that Dean said he was “a twenty a day man,” which Graeme thought meant how many ciggies he smoked but really meant how many songs he could write!  What a unique talent. I hope that Graeme and Dean put on another show like this in the future, it was a massive success.  To hear the song and see the video I have seen it on Facebook but am not sure how to share it here.

For us Yorkshire Wetties the night was still young.  We walked into the Village Hall bar to have another drink before we went back to the hotel and heard there was a Wet Wet Wet Greatest Hits CD playing on the stereo. We were on a real high after the gig and started singing along to the songs, our impromptu Wets karaoke session.  Unfortunately I had taken full advantage of not being the designated driver for once and had had far too much Prosecco. I don’t normally drink much on nights out but I wasn’t the only one, though! By this time I was drinking fizzy water and diet coke  but it didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves, including me completely forgetting I was hopeless at playing the violin and trying to play along to the string section in Angeleyes without a bow! I played for a year at secondary school and I sounded like a cat being strangled. Thank God there wasn’t a bow with the violin, we would have been barred for life!

  Finally it was time for us to go back to the hotel but we were full of what amazing night it had been.  Thankyou once again to Graeme and to Dean.

For more information about Graeme:

Graeme’s Website: www.graemeclark.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GraemeClarkOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/graemeclark1

For more information about Dean:

http://www.deanjohnsonmusic.co.uk/index.html

Wet Wet Wet Live At Scarborough Open Air Theatre- July 30th 2016.

The end of July for me and for millions of other Wet Wet Wet fans was an exciting time for us. It was a few weeks ago now, how did that happen? But as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I don’t always keep on top of my blogging. Earlier on this year the band had gone on their amazing The Big Picture Tour but we have been well and truly spoilt with extra live shows recently. The Wets added four extra dates to their Summer 2016 schedule.  We were lucky enough to go to their show in London at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea back in June.  Then the guys flew over to The Netherlands to play at Night At The Park in The Hague.

Finally back in May, they announced they were going to be playing at Tatton Park in Cheshire, followed by Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre at the end of July.

I was so excited to hear about the Wets coming to Scarborough.  Scarborough, for me is quite a special place.  I’ve been going there since I was a baby. Starting with my great grandparents, then my grandparents and then onto my Dad, we had a holiday flat on the South Cliff.  Many happy memories of childhood holidays have been spent in Scarborough.  Until going abroad and better weather was the attraction.  I’ve always loved the North Bay end of Scarborough and although lots of changes have happened such as losing the outdoor pool and all the new development where the Corner Cafe used to be, it is great to see that some childhood favourites have stayed the same.  Peasholm Park is just as I remember it and generations of my family have loved going on the miniature railway, on the pedal boats and watching the Naval Warfare battles with remote control boats (do they still have that on?) Northstead Manor Park has been improved and renovated a lot. I hope they do reopen the cable car in the future though!

I’ve always wanted them to come to Scarborough Open Air Theatre (OAT) as it is such a great venue.  I’d not been to a show there but my Mum and Dad remember the original theatre with stone steps to sit on and the stage across a lake with a building which reminded them of a castle.  I’m sure there is a photo somewhere of my Mum aged about 20 sat on the steps when she and my Dad were going out. Or maybe it was a photo of my Nana when she was the same age. I don’t remember any shows at the original theatre but I remember it being overgrown and wishing it could be opened up again.  My Grandad once told me, “I dare you to go over there and stand in the tower and let down your hair like Rapunzel!” Now forgive me if I’m wrong but there was a great big lake in the way and I nearly fell in it once after my little brother capsized the pedal boat we were in at the time!  It was fantastic news to hear the OAT was being renovated and reopened with new, plastic  seating.  One thing I was happy to realise is that the venue organisers put decking down over the lake when concerts are on so that you aren’t far away from the stage. Lots of famous acts have played there, including Elton John.

Saturday 30th July was thankfully a gorgeous and sunny day.  So it would be Sunny Scarborough after all! Though being cold and wet wouldn’t have bothered us or put us off. But in Wet Wet Wet’s nearly 30 year history, the rain always stays away! I was looking forward not only to seeing the band, but to also catch up with my lovely group of friends affectionately known as my Wettie mates.  Sadly though we would be without one of our gang, the lovely Julie who was on holiday. I was on driving duty and my car gets nicknamed the WetsWagon. It’s definitely put a few miles on the clock this year but I only live about 50 miles away from Scarborough, this was a local gig to me!  First I was off to pick up my friend Dot, then over to pick up my other friend Michelle who both live in York.  Dot had told me the day before about avoiding the A64, it’s a right pain especially around York and where it isn’t dual carriageway. From past experiences I’ve always been stuck behind an old fart, dozens of caravans or just everyone heading to the coast on a glorious summer Saturday.  We drove cross country to Helmsley and over the North Yorkshire Moors via Pickering, which was much quicker.  In perfect time to find a picnic spot and to meet up with all our Wettie friends.  We had a fantastic time catching up with everyone who had travelled far and wide.We didn’t stop laughing all afternoon.

Paddy who does the Breakfast Show on Yorkshire Coast Radio was going around doing his promotional bit.  He introduced both Ben Montague and the Wets and did a few announcements. I found this pic with us in the background on the Yorkshire Post FB page the following day!
Waiting for the show to start. A couple of friends took photos of us sitting down before everything got started. The sun was right in our eyes, just look at us with our bags!
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Another getting ready for the show to start, some of us can’t wait for it to get going!  Many thanks to Caroline Creese for this photo.

Finally, it was time to get into the park and to find our seats. We weren’t as close to the stage as we had been before, but we still got an amazing view.  I was over the moon that Ben Montague was back to support the Wets and he also had supported them at Tatton Park the night before. We had seen him play last year when the Wets played at Koko, in London for a one off concert in aid of the Nordoff Robbins Charity.  He was fab and got the crowd dancing and singing along. The same happened tonight at Scarborough.  After his set we went down to see if we could buy a copy of Ben’s CD and he also very kindly let us have selfies with him.

Ben Montague introducing one of his songs. Thanks to Cindy Brewer for the photo.

 

Ben Montague played a fantastic set.  I would love to go to another of his shows one day. Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.
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A cheeky selfie with Ben Montague after his set.  He had to take the selfie on my friend Dot’s phone as my battery was about to go dead!  Thanks Dot! x

Then, after a short while what we were waiting for happened!  Out came the Wets to lots of screaming and applause.  They opened with their East Of The River, one of their popular tracks from their first album Popped In Souled Out. Then onto Wishing I Was Lucky, their first single.  As I listened to the music and watched the guys performing I thought there are going to be loads of Scarborough residents not at the gig wishing they were there right at this very moment. I was stood up and dancing, along with most of us around us.  The guy sat behind me wasn’t too happy though, well I’m sorry I go to a gig to dance along to the music.  If you don’t like me standing up, get a seat right at the back or don’t come!

Then the guys slowed the tempo down with their 1989 hit Sweet Surrender.  This is the song I have as my ring tone for Mr SmartCookieSam (“One look, was all it took!, hahahaha!) Unfortunately Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t share my love of the Wets.

The guys played a few favourites from their multi million selling album, the fabulous “Picture This” from 1995, including Julia Says, Morning, She’s All On My Mind and Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now. All classics which everyone never tires of hearing.  But for me, my all time favourite which they played for me at my leaving assembly from my last job, the beautiful Somewhere Somehow. We were also treated to a little bit of The Commodores’ Brick House, a song I love. I hope the guys play this again at a gig as it sounded brilliant!

Marti Pellow entertaining the crowds at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.  Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.
Graeme Clark rocking his bass. Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.
Marti’s friendly banter on stage with the other band members and to the audience. Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.

Playing as the sun went down and it got dark. Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.
I had to ask my friend Cindy if she had any nice photos with Tommy on as my phone camera was rubbish, especially when it got dark.  She got this lovely one of him, thanks Cindy!
No idea which song Marti was singing here, but whatever it was it would have been fantastic. Photo copyright of Cindy Brewer.
Graeme Duffin on guitar with Neil on keyboards in the background. Again I had to ask my friends to see who had a nice photo with Neil on as my phone camera wouldn’t do the business. Copyright Cindy Brewer.

Last year the Wets got to record some new material in the South of France. Hopefully we’ll get to hear some more of this new stuff in the future but they played their new and fantastic Love Worz which went down very well with the audience.

No Wets gig is the same without their classics Angeleyes and Sweet Little Mystery.  Even though we have known these songs for nearly 30 years,they still remain as fresh today as the day I first listened to them aged 15!

We were also treated to the full version of Temptation, which no Wets gig would be the same without.

Then to I Can Give You Everything, another favourite and popular track from the band’s early days.

There was a variation on the set that the guys played at Chelsea.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t play All I Want, which is usually one that does come up regularly at their shows and also they didn’t play an acoustic set this time.  I don’t know how they decide which songs to include or to leave out of the set when they have so many great songs to choose from.

All too soon it was time for the show to end.  The encore was Lip Service though it was funny to hear Marti Pellow singing “the roof is on fire,” when there wasn’t one!  Such an amazing, feel good song which never fails to get you up and dancing. Finally to the ending “Love Is All Around” which was a perfect end to a perfect night.  As I stood there singing with my arms round my two friends Dot and Cindy and swaying in time to the music, it clearly showed that indeed Love Is All Around.

It went so quickly and  yet the show lasted nearly two hours.  They say time flies when you’re having fun which is what you always get at a Wet Wet Wet concert. But, as we left the show and drove home we all said to one another how lucky we were.  I’ve met some lovely friends who I would never have known if it wasn’t for Wet Wet Wet. Not only have they made our lives special with their music but our lives have been enriched by meeting wonderful people.

Love Sam xx

Flying With IcelandAir

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Flying with IcelandAir on our first ever visit to Canada to see my brother and his family.

Normally I love writing about cooking and baking but recently I’ve been keen to try writing about other interests.  One of my passions is travelling and exploring new places (time and finances are always a constraint, though!) so what better excuse than to write about them?

I like writing reviews and talking about times when myself and my family have had a great experience with a product or a service, so I felt that I had to write about our family’s fantastic experience flying with IcelandAir. Usually, our family holidays fit a pattern. We have a UK based holiday in May and a week abroad somewhere in August. The week abroad is usually somewhere we can fly to from Leeds Bradford, which is our nearest airport. Sometimes if we can fit it in I go away with Mr SmartCookieSam for a couple of days. This hasn’t happened for a couple of years, though as we have both been too busy with work and family commitments. This year was different.  My brother emigrated to Canada two years ago and had recently got married. Although we couldn’t make the real ceremony due to work commitments and my son’s GCSEs, we wanted to go over and celebrate the wedding.me doing. My mum was also going over to Canada a couple of weeks earlier and staying a bit longer so she was also on the flight search mission.

 My husband gets annoyed with the lack of flights from the north of England, it always seems to be that everything goes from Heathrow or Gatwick. To be fair we aren’t far from Manchester airport but we do worry about getting stuck in traffic on the M62 and then missing our flight. He didn’t want a long drive home after no sleep feeling jetlagged or struggling on an expensive train ride feeling shattered.  My mum then found a gem of an idea! She found that you could fly to Canada and the US via Reykjavik with IcelandAir and that there were flights going from Manchester.  We thought this was perfect so my husband started investigating.  Instead of getting worried about being stuck on the M62 we would get the direct train from York. He then found out that if you wanted to break the journey and have a stopover in Reykjavik for up to seven nights, the cost of the flight would be the same.

This made me so excited.  Last year I was really envious of my son going on a GCSE Geography field trip to Iceland.  He swam in the Blue Lagoon and saw beautiful waterfalls, lakes, lava fields and the Geysers. Every photo he showed us made me more and more determined to go there. I had seen pictures of this stunning country and both Mr SmartCookieSam have always wanted to visit. My son loved the place and knew that we would too.  Every time I had got a near chance to go to Iceland, the flights wouldn’t fit in around the time we had.  So when my husband thought that we could combine a few days in Iceland and then go onto Edmonton to visit my brother and his family, I at last thought all my dreams were coming true.  In the end we booked four days in Reykjavik and we loved it so much.  We are definitely going back as Iceland has so much more to offer and plan to go for a week and tour round the country instead of just staying in Reykjavik.

IcelandAir offers three different booking classes Economy, Economy Comfort and Saga Class (Saga instantly made me think of OAPs on holiday, but it is their equivalent of Business class!) As we had four people and four flights to pay for, the only option to us was Economy.  My husband being over 6 feet tall was worried about the lack of leg room, especially on long haul flights. We needn’t have worried, my husband felt there was much more leg room than on other airlines, like Jet2 which we have flown with a lot recently.

Our first flight with IcelandAir was on 1st July and we flew from Manchester Terminal 1 to Keflavik Airport.  Check in time was quick and easy and the staff on the check in desk were efficient and friendly.  The same went for the ground crew at the departure gate and thankfully we didn’t get the hassle of getting on and off a shuttle bus.  Using an air bridge made it so much easier for families with young children, of which there were a few on the flight.

Each plane in the IcelandAir fleet is named after an Icelandic volcano or landmark and there are about 28 aircraft in total. They are mainly Boeing 757s which are narrow body aircraft and have a long enough range to fly to North America and Europe from Iceland. One of the fleet, which is easily the most beautiful aircraft I have ever seen has been named  Hekla Aurora.  This aircraft was given a special Aurora Borealis livery to advertise IcelandAir’s #MyStopOver campaign. The inside of the cabin also lights up with LED mood lighting and provides a restful and peaceful setting. More about Hekla Aurora later on in the post.

Most of the IcelandicAir planes are fitted with WiFi and also have impressive onboard entertainment systems. There are films, music and lots of TV programmes you can watch. While we were on the plane I got to watch Deadpool and Eddie The Eagle.  I didn’t really listen to the music but there was a broad selection of music including some Icelandic music. Some of this was playing in the cabin when we were boarding and leaving the aircraft. The music gave a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere to the whole experience, especially as it is at a time when I feel apprehensive about flying. The only plane we went on which didn’t have all these facilities was the one which flew us back from Reykjavik to Manchester.  Instead, the cabin crew gave out individual tablets to watch films on if you wanted.

We flew with IcelandAir on four flights and were very impressed. The staff were polite, kind, courteous and couldn’t do enough to help you.  They spoke impeccable English which puts a lot of British people to shame when they go overseas.

As we were in Economy class we had to pay for all alcoholic drinks and food but it was great that water, soft drinks and tea and coffee were complimentary. On the longer flights to and from Edmonton we did have wine and a tapas snack box, but felt we didn’t need anything other than a drink on the shorter flights.

IcelandAir plane Grimsvotn, just arrived at Manchester airport. 
Loved the inflight entertainment system but kept going back to look at the flight updates from time to time!
Arrival at a sunny, but cold and windy Keflavik airport.
Not an IcelandAir problem, more to do with whoever deals with baggage handling at either Manchester or Keflavik airports.  I don’t like the way they throw the luggage about like balls! That’s why I always buy cheap luggage, there’s no way I’m buying fancy stuff if that’s how it gets treated!
Sat and ready for pushback at Keflavik.  Canada and Edmonton, here we come!
Somewhere over the North Atlantic on the way to Canada.
Reaching the coast of Greenland. Easily the nicest flight I have been on, in terms of comfort, seating position and also a stunning view!
Snow covering Greenland at about 35,000 feet enroute from Keflavik to Edmonton.

First view of Canada before cloud cover nearer Edmonton.
We got to fly on the HeklaAurora on our return flight to Iceland from Edmonton.

After our fantastic stay in Edmonton, we flew back home to the UK via Iceland again. This time we transferred straight onto a flight to Manchester instead of another stopover. We would have loved to have stopped over again but we had to fly home due to work commitments! When we were waiting in the departure lounge at the gate it was a lovely surprise to find we were going to be flying on the HeklaAurora!  I think this is easily the prettiest livery I’ve ever seen on a plane and it looks even better sparkling in the sunshine.  As we were staying in Iceland at completely the wrong time of year to see the real Northern Lights, this was the next best thing!  Also the cabin’s interior lighting was gorgeous- different hues of green and blue to match the real thing.

We had been offered an upgrade to sit in the emergency exit seats which was a massive help for my husband.  At least we had more room to stretch out. Although it was an overnight flight none of us sleep well on aeroplanes.  I closed my eyes for a bit but I don’t think I slept, even with a pillow and a blanket wrapped around me.  My family didn’t sleep either. We were still comfortable though as best as you can be on a long haul flight in cattle class! The flight passed very quickly and it felt strange as it never got dark. Before we knew it we were descending into Keflavik airport on a breezy morning at 6.30am.

 It definitely blew the cobwebs away realising you had to get off the plane and go on a shuttle bus to the terminal building.

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The tail end of the HeklaAurora as it had just landed at Keflavik airport  early on a cold, but sunny July morning after its overnight flight from Edmonton.

Panic began to set in as we had an hour and twenty minutes before our flight took off to Manchester. Luckily we didn’t have to check our bags through again and we didn’t have to go through security again.  We weren’t sure what to do as in the past when I have done connecting flights I’ve not had to recheck the bags in but I’ve had to go through security again. This, to be fair was at Dublin airport flying from Birmingham through to Boston. Also, my mum had had a recent bad experience with a connecting flight at Toronto, where she completely missed her flight.  We didn’t want this to happen to us. We needn’t have worried. Although the airport was heaving with people all off on flights here, there and everywhere, we got to our gate in plenty of time.  We found out we had to go on yet another shuttle bus which delayed things.  The plane looked like it was parked the furthest away from the terminal and near to the runway!

By this time I was just desperate to get home.  The plane was full and I couldn’t wait for it to take off.  It seemed ages before we got going but I never once felt unsafe or rushed on an IcelandAir flight.  I don’t like landing in planes and found two out of the four landings a bit scary for me.  The first when we arrived at Keflavik it was very windy and the plane seemed to move from side to side. The final landing at Manchester frightened the life out of me as the wheels came down with such a massive bump, I thought we were going to crash.  I don’t know why I don’t like landing so much but I’ve had a couple of nasty landings at Leeds Bradford in crosswinds.  The last nasty landing back into Leeds Bradford frightened me so much as the plane lurched forward, I really thought that was the end!

 I have had a fantastic experience flying with IcelandAir.  I hope to go back to Iceland on holiday in the next couple of years as there was so much we didn’t get to see. Also there will be future trips to Canada to see my family.  It is such a great idea to combine a holiday in Iceland if you are travelling further afield and the flight cost was so much cheaper than say if we had flown direct to Edmonton from Heathrow.  Also, if you fly to the USA, IcelandAir offer regular flights to various US cities, such as Boston and Los Angeles.

Please note I have written this review purely to share what a great experience I had flying with IcelandAir and haven’t been paid for this post.

Love Sam xx

 

 

Our Visit To The Blue Lagoon-Iceland.

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The Blue Lagoon in Iceland: top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember!

Iceland has always been one of those places to visit on my bucket list. I saw photos of the stunning scenery, the mountains and the clear blue lakes and just knew one day I had to go. Both my husband and I felt the same.  We got close to going a couple of times, including when we wanted to go somewhere to celebrate my 40th birthday but the flights never fitted in around our schedule.  I’m not complaining though, I did get to go to the Italian Lakes and Venice which was also on my bucket list!

Last year my son had the chance to go on a school trip to Iceland as part of his Geography GCSE course.  He just HAD to go although the rest of us in our family were wishing we could go too!  One of the things he got to do was to go to the Blue Lagoon, somewhere we wanted to go to when we were there.  Every time I saw pictures of it on the Internet I felt more and more determined to go.  Although it would mean the other tourists and local Icelandic folk seeing me in my swimming costume- ugh! My son loved the Blue Lagoon and when he came back from his trip I noticed something miraculous. He has always suffered from bad eczema but it had virtually cleared up after his spell in the Blue Lagoon.  I also think the lovely, natural healing water in Iceland also has something to do with it, though! The water in the Blue Lagoon is rich in minerals like silica and sulphur (a downside is that it smells like eggy farts!).  The water is delightful and warm where the temperature is usually between 37-39oC.

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Outside the entrance to the Blue Lagoon.

We were so excited when we finally got to visit Iceland last month. We combined our four day trip with a visit to Canada. This took advantage of IcelandAir’s #mystopover campaign where you can break your journey for up to 7 days without an extra charge. So at long last I would get to visit the Blue Lagoon! Pre-booking is essential or advised. I didn’t know this until I looked on the website the day before to find out how much it would cost to get in.  It was a good thing I looked: on that day the Blue Lagoon was fully booked up. Luckily the following day they had a space at 4pm.  There were different packages, we chose the second cheapest, called the Comfort. For the time we went this cost us about 65 euros each.

 

The Blue Lagoon first came about in 1976 after a pool formed on the site from the waste water of the geothermal power plant that had just been built there.  In the early 1980’s people started to bathe in the pool after they found it might have healing powers.  By 1992 The Blue Lagoon company had been formed and turned into a bathing facility for the public. There is a strict hygiene code and you must shower before and after bathing in the Blue Lagoon.

When it was our time slot to go into the lagoon we were given an electronic tag which was on a wristband rather like a Fitbit. You use these to activate your locker and to record any drink purchases. We then went off to our respective changing rooms which were clean and spacious.  There were communal areas and private cubicles for changing into your swimwear.   Everyone before going in the Lagoon needs to shower carefully.  

At the poolside entrance there were racks where you could put your towels and robes. I just had a towel with me.  Even though I didn’t have my flip flops with me, I wish I had because some areas did look slippy, especially when walking down some steps.  I had left them in the locker in the changing room.  Even though there were a lot of people in the Lagoon, it didn’t feel crowded and I felt like I could swim around rather than just paddling! 

As part of our package we got a free drink included and two face masks.  It was hilarious when my son wanted a Slush Puppy drink but it was called Krap!  I didn’t feel  like asking “Can I have a Krap?” but the drinks were lovely.  I had a blueberry smoothie made with Skyr (Icelandic yoghurt). The face masks were an algae one and a silica gel one. The algae one  made me look like Shrek for about 5 minutes but my face felt lovely and smooth after.  In fact after a few days spent in Iceland, my skin felt wonderful.

We spent  over an hour in the Blue Lagoon and it definitely lived up to my expectations. We would love to go back to Iceland as there’s so much to see and do but it would be worth it just to go back to the Blue Lagoon!

Love Sam xx

Wet Wet Wet Live At Royal Hospital, Chelsea- A Review.

 

 

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Me and my lovely Wettie mates.
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A Wet Wet Wet gig is always a great occasion to catch up with all these lovely ladies. Picture copyright of Joyce Williams.
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It was an honour to talk to and have my photo taken with Arthur, this lovely Chelsea Pensioner.

Just a few photos of our Wets Weekend staying in London. From champagne, cupcakes, party bags and wearing our Wet Wet Wet PJs to funny happenings in a local cafe and Lilian getting a new boyfriend! Only the conversation was very one sided! A fantastic weekend from start to finish. Oh and the rare honour of being allowed to be let loose in my husband’s car, nicknamed the Posh Wets Wagon! All these photos are by both Dot Liddell and Michelle Parker Swallow.

As regular readers of my blog or as followers of my Twitter feed, you won’t have missed that I’m a huge Wet Wet Wet fan. I’ve loved them ever since they released their first single “Wishing I Was Lucky” back in 1987. Their music has seen me through the ups and downs of life for nearly 30 years (doesn’t that sound a long time?) but it feels like only 5 minutes ago since I first bought that single in HMV! Since then I’ve been on many shopping trips buying Wet Wet Wet records over the years and I can remember exactly where and when I bought each one of them. Each song conjures up a special place in time and brings back fantastic memories,  maybe of a relationship, a certain job or even a special place. For example when I think of Picture This, the Wets’ multi million selling album which has just been re-released after 20 years, I think of a time where there was a massive change in my life. I was a newly qualified teacher who was living away from home and trying to settle into a new job in a strange town where I didn’t know anyone. I used to play the CD at home in the evenings while trying to get my marking and planning done and the music which filled the room instantly cheered me up. A few weeks later I decided to move back up to Yorkshire and got a new job where I was a lot happier. It was a good job I did as I ended up meeting the man who was to become my husband and I’m sure listening to the feel good and uplifting, yet comforting music of the Wets helped me through the tricky times.

So when Wet Wet Wet announced they were going to be playing in a special show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, I just had to go. It was early on in February this year and we had already got The Big Picture Tour to look forward to I was going along  to two dates in Leeds and Newcastle, the gigs closest to where I live. My husband was thinking  “oh no, not more trips to see Wet Wet Wet!” but in the end he gave in and gave me the money for the ticket as a birthday present. We were all even more excited when my friend Dot booked the tickets and managed to get us on the second row from the stage. I’ve never been that close to the stage before. So, any excuse to get together with my Wettie mates (my lovely friends who I have made through following the band). Instead of driving down to London and back in a day or relying on the trains we decided to get a hotel for the whole weekend and I would drive us down there from Yorkshire.

As we had such a fantastic time in London, I first wanted to share some highlights of our weekend away seeing the Wets. Many thanks to my friends Dot, Michelle and Julie for sharing these photos with me as I can’t take good photos on my phone camera. I had such a giggle looking through the pictures and will treasure the memories of this weekend seeing Wet Wet Wet in Chelsea for the rest of my life.

Now for the actual reason why we were in London in the first place! We had got down to London the night before after a very long, slow and nightmarish journey. None of us had slept well. Our apartment was meant to sleep 4 people but the double bed and the double sofa bed would have been comfortable for 4 birds, not 4 adults! Anyway after a breakfast in a local cafe where we were made to feel very uncomfortable by the locals, we got ready and off in a taxi over to Chelsea.  Everyone was excited and it was fantastic to meet up with all our Wettie friends from all over the country and to catch up on everyone’s news.  As we waited outside the gates we met and chatted to a lovely and friendly lady who had been out for lunch with her Chelsea Pensioner Uncle. He happily posed for photos with us and even knew who Wet Wet Wet were!

Finally at 5pm the gates were opened into the hospital grounds. It didn’t feel like we were going to a gig, more like going to a food fair or a garden party at first.  There were several stalls selling upmarket street type food and drink like Pimms and Gin.  We bagged a big picnic table and got ourselves sorted with food and drink. I sloped off to the gin stall and bought myself a double gin and tonic. The price was eyewatering- £9 but that’s London for you.  A few of us went over to the merchandise stand and I saw the new Wet Wet Wet t-shirt for Summer 2016, a grey one. I bought one, but I didn’t wear it there and then as it was far too cold.

At long last exactly what we had been waiting for. We listened to Tim Arnold warming up and his rendition of Life On Mars was a highlight as a great tribute to  David Bowie. At 8.30pm the excitement escalated as a Chelsea pensioner came on to the stage and announced the band. He was very funny and entertaining, even telling us some jokes!

As the guys came on to the stage we noticed people from the rows behind us trying to get to the front of the stage. Bugger that I thought and we legged it into the front row so we could be closer to the front. It was fantastic and the atmosphere was electric.  As the opening to “Wishing I Was Lucky” started up, I felt I really was lucky to be in such beautiful surroundings and to have such an incredible view of the stage.

Wet Wet Wet treated us to all their favourite classics from throughout their long musical career. The set contained the same songs that they performed on their tour but in a slightly different order. It was lovely to hear Somewhere Somehow, my all time favourite Wets song. We also got to hear Love Wars again, which is one of the new songs the band recorded last year. I do hope it gets onto a new album in the future, it’s a fantastic song which had the audience clapping and dancing along. Other highlights for me is always hearing Temptation which this time was a full version of the song and not part of a medley as it was on the tour. I always mean to time how long Marti holds the note for in the song,  it totally amazes me how he does it! Other treats were to hear other classic favourites like Sweet Little Mystery and I Can Give You Everything. I also loved hearing She’s All On My Mind and Morning from the Picture This album. Just beautiful songs which stir the emotions.

As with the tour the Wets had an acoustic section in their set but this time it was only two songs long instead of three. There was a funny moment where Graeme Clark realised his microphone and stand were a bit too far away from Marti’s and he moved it over towards Marti’s spot centre  stage. Then the audience laughed when Graeme put his own microphone right in front of Marti’s. Having seen and really enjoyed  Graeme’s solo performances before, maybe he should have a go at a solo spot! Tonight though, Marti and the two Graemes performed Roll Um Easy and their own Gypsy Girl.  It is always funny to listen to the cheeky banter between the band. Marti looked across at Graeme C’s white suit and said it was like Don Johnson/ Miami Vice. Graeme responded by rolling up his jacket sleeves!  Graeme Duffin was wearing a stripy grandad shirt and Marti said he was Eddie Shoestring! Marti himself wore the same black jacket he wore on the tour and didn’t take his sunglasses off all evening despite it getting dark!

The atmosphere at the concert was just out of this world and it was so wonderful to see the clear sky with a full moon shining. I forgot about being cold and just sang and danced my way through the show. The guys were on stage for nearly two hours and all too soon they were doing their encore; Lip Service and their classic Love Is All Around. Such a fitting end to a perfect evening which went all too quick.

Marti Pellow wowed us with yet another sterling performance.
Tommy from behind his drums. He also made an announcement talking about Chelsea and the role of the Chelsea pensioners, thanking them and for what they had done fighting for our country. It was also great to see some Chelsea Pensioners enjoying the show!
A close up of Neil on his keyboards, it was difficult to see him at the back but this lovely photo of him was taken by Michelle Parker Swallow.
Both Graeme C and Graeme D playing together.
A close up of Graeme Duffin
Marti kept his sunglasses on all night!
Another photo of Graeme C, this time copyright of Dot Liddell.

When the show was over we reluctantly started to walk towards the entrance to the grounds. We had a laugh and a giggle at a Chelsea Pensioner calling out of a window at us shouting “Goodnight Girls, are you coming back tomorrow?” Then as we were walking past we spotted Tommy stood having a ciggie and had a quick chat with him. He introduced us to his parents and to his wife. It was lovely to have a quick chat with them although I need always feel guilty as you don’t want to take up their time. Tommy kindly let us have photos with him which we all really appreciated.

Here’s my photo taken with Tommy from Wet Wet Wet after the Chelsea show. Photo by Michelle Parker Swallow.

Back to our hotel we went after waiting for our taxi to turn up at the outside gates. It took us ages to get back to our hotel and we were on a real high although we were really tired. A mixture of not much sleep the night before and our long but  exciting day had worn us out. We all agreed what a fabulous night it was coupled with a great weekend where we didn’t stop laughing. We can’t wait to do it again but luckily we are off to see the band play again this time at the Open Air Theatre in Scarborough at the end of July!

Graeme Clark’s Gig at Siempre Bicycle Cafe, Glasgow- A Review. 

 I know my blog is usually about my love of cooking and baking but I occasionally like to write about other things as well. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a huge Wet Wet Wet fan. Their music has been a big part of my life and has seen me from studying for my GCSEs, right through to the present day as a forty something wife and mum of two teenagers!  More recently I have been able to see them live on several occasions which is always a fantastic experience, leaving you with on a massive high for days afterwards.

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Graeme Clark, Wet Wet Wet’s bass player performing in his recent solo gig at Siempre Cafe, Glasgow. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

The same happens when I go to one of Graeme Clark’s gigs. Graeme Clark is better known as Wet Wet Wet’s bass guitarist but he is also very adept on an acoustic guitar and can sing. He has been working on solo projects for the past four years or so now in between working with the Wets. His music style overlaps a little with that of the Wets mainly because he contributes heavily to their music writing.

In 2014 I was lucky enough to see Graeme play live in two venues near to me in North Yorkshire. He played to a packed Selby Town Hall in May of that year and two months later as I had enjoyed the gig so much I went up to Stockton on a very hot summer’s evening to see his show at the ARC.

So, it was exciting when Graeme announced on his Facebook page that he was going to be performing a solo gig at Siempre Bicycle Cafe in Glasgow. It was part of the line up for the West End Festival which takes place in June. Being as it was a Sunday night and I wasn’t working the next day, I was determined to go and asked my friends if they were up for it.  You bet they were! Now as I’ve mentioned before in my gig review posts about the band, I have a fabulous group of friends who I have made over the past couple of years. They are affectionately known as my Wettie mates and we have a great laugh on our #wetsroadtrips as they get called on Twitter . I’m the driver usually as I don’t mind driving on motorways or doing long distances.  My car has now been nicknamed the Wets Wagon and it is going to be on another trip this weekend to London to see the band play at Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Last Sunday lunchtime my friend Dot and I set off  from York, picking up our friends Julie and Laura from Teeside on our way up to Glasgow. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and just the perfect day for driving up to Scotland. I wasn’t nervous about driving there as I have driven to Glasgow a few times before over the years. I was more worried about the long 225 mile trip home after the gig. Still, the adrenaline and lots of caffeine would keep me going! I had my iPod playing on the car stereo with a GC playlist which featured all his songs from his first album Mr Understanding and his two EPs Catching Fire and Dry Land. On the way back we would have an extra treat! Graeme’s brand new album The Thought Collector would be available to buy at the gig.

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Graeme’s playlist playing on my car stereo on our way up to Glasgow. Photo by Dot Liddell.

 The traffic was fine getting along the A66 and onto the M6 and then the M74. I was so relieved there wasn’t too much traffic and I began to feel less anxious about getting us all there in good time. We had time to stop for half an hour at Annandale Water. It made me feel as if I was going on holiday when we stopped there, it’s usually where I stop on our way to holidays on the Isle of Arran or Mull! Only this time I was having something to eat and a good catch up with my Wettie mates instead of moaning at my teenage son for buying Krispy Kreme doughnuts, then feeling sick later!

The obligatory Welcome To Scotland road sign . I had to move over into the slow lane and slow down to 60mph so Dot could take the picture. Photo by Dot Liddell.

 We got to the venue at about 6pm. It was on a busy road in Glasgow’s West End. I didn’t know the area but as we drove there I recognised round by the Botanical Gardens and Great Western Road where I stayed when I was a student on my travels. It was bustling with people out enjoying themselves and the sunny weather. It’s what it should be about. If only we had more days like that.

When we found Siempre Cafe we had to walk round to the side entrance which was next to the subway station.  As we got there we heard music playing and a familiar voice coming from inside the cafe. It was Graeme doing his sound check!  Later on, when he had finished he realised there was a queue of people waiting outside and he came outside to say hello to all of us.  We then went in and got ourselves sat down ready for the gig to start. We felt very lucky as we were given a free glass of wine! As I was driving I could only have a couple of sips so I had to stick to my diet coke!

 

Me and my lovely Wettie mates on the front row. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.
Graeme was joined on stage with Iain Duff .

To open up the show we watched contemporary folk duo Fiona Cuthill and Stevie Lawrence. I loved their music with Fiona on the fiddle and Stevie playing a guitar or a bouzouki. Watching a fiddle player in action is mesmerizing, and I was envious. I had violin lessons at school but was so rubbish I gave up after a year and stuck with playing the piano instead!

Graeme is very entertaining and chatty towards his audience between songs. He talks about how his songs come about , all with a great sense of humour added to them. Unlike some famous people whose egos and self importance could fill a room, this is not the case with Graeme. He seems a very genuine, natural and down to earth bloke.

In the past Graeme has played solo gigs with fellow Wet Wet Wet guitarist Graeme Duffin joining him with his acoustic guitar and also with Iain Duff who plays keyboards and the accordion. Today though it was just Graeme himself and Iain, who compliment each other really well on stage.

For a few of the songs in Graeme’s set, he was joined by Fiona Cuthill and Stevie Lawrence.
Graeme tuning his guitar.
Fiona and Stevie accompanied Graeme and Iain on some songs.
Graeme played a mixture of Wet Wet Wet songs and his solo material.

Graeme’s set included a few Wet Wet Wet songs, such as Goodnight Girl and Love Is All Around. Fiona and Steve added another dimension to the performance with their instruments. Graeme also played Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now as well as a few of old favourite solo songs from Dry Land,  Catching Fire and Mr Understanding. I loved hearing Kiss Of Life and Lost At Sea again. Graeme also introduced us to some new material from his brand new album The Thought Collector. We heard Summer Rain which was a beautiful song and captures the feeling you have when you want to escape from it all! I wondered if it had been written last summer as it did nothing but rain all summer in the UK! But for me, the absolute highlight of the evening was the very catchy Do Those Things To Me which provided a fantastic finale/ encore to the evening with Fiona and Stevie joining Graeme and Iain back on stage.  We were all joining in with the chorus and clapping in time to the music.

Towards the end of the show a bit fell off Iain’s accordion! I don’t know anything about accordions but a piece of it just fell on the ground! He picked it up and stuck it on with duct tape. Thankfully he was able to carry on playing it, the show must go on as they say!

Graeme very kindly let me have a photo taken with him.

Tonight’s show was also an opportunity to get a copy of the first edition of Graeme’s latest CD The Thought Collector. There were only fifty copies available of the album, each numbered and signed by the man himself.  We were all eagerly wanting to hear this new album as Graeme has introduced certain snippets from a couple of the songs over the past year by posting videos on YouTube, etc.

My Wettie Mates with Graeme on a group photo. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

Off we set off  for the long drive back home.  I was desperate for a coffee or something to keep me awake. We were also hungry as we hadn’t eaten any dinner. We turned up at the first services going south on the M74 to find only Starbucks open with four packs of manky sandwiches left! We ended up with me just getting a massive bucket sized coffee to wake me up. Finally at about 1am we were eating MaccyD’s back at Annandale Water several hours after we had been there on the way to Glasgow!

As we drove along we had Graeme’s new album playing on my car stereo and agreed it was amazing. It got the big thumbs up from us!
It was getting light as we got towards Scotch Corner which was a surreal experience and even stranger to be putting diesel in my car at 3.30am after we had dropped Julie off. Round over to Laura’s and then on the A19 back towards my house.  It was 4.30am and Dot got in at 5am. None of us got much sleep that night but we all raved about what an amazing time it had  been. We wouldn’t have missed the gig for the world. Now as we speak we are all excited to see Graeme again, but this time with the rest of the Wets at Chelsea!

Graeme’s new album The Thought Collector was playing in my car on the way home from the gig. Wrong album artwork though, must have come off the Ipod! Photo by Dot Liddell.

 Many thanks to my friend Dot for some of the photos, my phone takes rubbish pics!

For more information go to www.graemeclark.co.uk

On Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/GraemeClarkOfficial/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/graemeclark1

Wet Wet Wet at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena Review- March 11th 2016.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Wet Wet Wet and their show at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on March 4th, I am a huge Wets fan and have been right since they first hit the charts back in 1987.  Since then their music has been a massive part of my life and seen me through thick and thin.  I can remember exactly where and when I bought each new Wet Wet Wet album and the excitement I felt when I finally got home and was able to play them.  Buying “Holding Back The River” back in 1989 was particularly memorable as my Dad had bought our first CD player. It was a six disc stacking one with a cartridge and he let me and my brother choose a CD each to play on it.  I can’t remember what my brother chose but I chose “Holding Back The River”.  That CD has now worn out and I’ve replaced it but the feelings from hearing that music have definitely not worn out.

A week after watching Wet Wet Wet play live at Leeds First Direct Arena I was back with my friends for a second helping of “The Big Picture Tour” but this time in Newcastle.  Once is never enough and we were ready for our #wetsroadtrip part 2!  .

So it was a massive shock to us to find messages on social media two days before the Newcastle show that the Cardiff show had had to be cancelled due to Marti Pellow being ill.  He had gone down with a nasty chest infection. As anyone knows when you have a chest infection it completely wipes you out, not only with the lack of energy but you lose your voice.  I know this from first hand experience being a teacher, when your voice goes you can’t do your job properly. You have to be one hundred percent on top form.  We weren’t sure whether the gig at Newcastle would go ahead, would Marti be well enough to perform?

No news was good news so I set off first to collect my friend Dot and then headed north to pick up our other friend Julie.  We love our #wetsroadtrips and my iPod was ready loaded up with my Wets, Marti Pellow and Graeme Clark playlists to play on the car stereo. We had booked to stay overnight in a hotel on the riverside but when we checked in I realised I’d booked us in the wrong hotel. There are two Jurys Inns in Newcastle and I’d chosen the wrong one, typical!  The one we were in was near the SAGE, not the Metro Arena so we would have a long walk along the quayside. Still, it was a beautiful day and perfect for a walk even in my beloved heels!

A selfie of me and my lovely Wettie mates Dot and Julie on the Gateshead Millenium Bridge . Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

 Later on, back at the arena we went and took selfies to post on Twitter using the #wetsfans hashtag hoping that they might end up behind the band on the big screen again like we did before in Leeds.  Sadly as I’d booked separately from my friends I wasn’t sat with them and the view I had wasn’t as good as the one I had had in Leeds. I was on the same row, Row D but the people stood in front of me were so tall! I’m so glad I was in heels, if not I couldn’t see over the top of the people in front of me!

Even though I knew what was to come having seen the gig in Leeds before the excitement was still the same.  I remember my Mum saying to me “Why are you going to see them twice? It’s the same show!” Oh Mum, you don’t understand there are aspects to a show that are the same but even sitting in a different place gives you a different perspective on the show. As with all live shows nothing is the same twice and performers react differently to  different audiences . The butterflies were still going in my tummy!

Graeme Clark playing bass.  Graeme showcases his talent on the bass and also on an acoustic guitar throughout the show.  He comes into his own with his bass solos in “I Can Give You Everything” and also in “Lip Service”.

The Wets opened with their upbeat track “East Of The River” from their debut album “Popped In Souled Out” which is always a popular addition to their set and the audience were already in the mood for dancing and singing along. Marti’s voice sounded as great as ever and we were soon able to help him out with a mini singalong session through a medley of their hits, “Goodnight Girl”, “Angeleyes”, “Temptation” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Even though Marti had been suffering, he was ever the professional. Though we were more than happy to help him out. As with the Leeds gig I went to, we got to shout out the four letter word that comes in one version of “Temptation”.  It felt very liberating shouting out the f word, though I would have been embarrassed doing it if my Mum had been next to me in the audience!

My phone camera takes rubbish photos but I managed a couple of long distance shots.  Here is Graeme Duffin showing his amazing skills on guitar.

Other favourites included the Roy Orbison inspired “All I Want” from 2004 and their upbeat “Run” from their “Timeless” album.  These are always popular with the crowds and get people singing and dancing along.

It was great to hear “Love Wars”, one of the new songs that had been recorded last summer in the South of France.  Even though it would be unfamiliar to people who had not been to any of the other dates on the tour, people were soon dancing and clapping along in time to the music.

With the tour coinciding with the 20th anniversary  of “Picture This”, Wet Wet Wet’s multi million selling album it was very fitting that the set included tour favourites “Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now”, “Julia Says” and “Somewhere, Somehow”.  It was fantastic to hear “She’s All On My Mind” which highlights the amazing saxophone solo introduction from Leo Green and also “Morning,”

The show opened with East Of The River.

 There is always a lot of cheerful banter at a Wets gig between Marti and the audience. At some gigs I’ve been to in the past Marti has been known to shout out “You’re such a lovely audience, I’d like to take you home with me!” Of course there’s lots of cheering comments like “Yes please!” Tonight at Newcastle though, I heard a woman shout out “Marti, get your kit off!”  Maybe something to do with the amount of alcohol being sold.  I couldn’t believe there was someone selling wine by the bottle like an ice cream seller at the theatre.  I like a drink but not enough to spoil the show for others with my behaviour.  I like to cheer and scream but it’s to show appreciation for the band, not to be rude and cheeky or embarrassing.

Despite suffering with his chest infection, Marti Pellow coped fantastically well and still managed to sing perfectly as well as flashing that trademark smile of his.  Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

Another part of the show is a three song acoustic set where Marti is joined by Graeme Clark and Graeme Duffin with their guitars.  They played the brilliant “Roll ‘Um Easy” which came along with a hilarious anecdote about being filmed in a rowing boat on Loch Lomond for a documentary.  It was referred to as Loch Lomondo by the American producer and Marti and Graeme C were filmed singing and playing “Roll ‘Um Easy” in a rowing boat in the middle of the loch.  They had mega hangovers and were wearing Versace suits.  Nowadays with Health and Safety gone mad they would probably be seen wearing high-visability life jackets! The second song of the acoustic set was “Gypsy Girl” from “Picture This” which is always popular with the audience who join in with the la la las in the chorus.  Finally the trio played “May You Never” a song I hadn’t heard the Wets play in a long while.

The atmosphere in the arena was electric.  The brass players Leo, Matt and Neil S added a fantastic dimension to the live show and it was great to see them moving to the front of the stage instead of being stuck at the back. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

  Highlights for me at a Wets gig are when they play “Somewhere Somehow” and “I Can Give You Everything”.  The latter song never fails to make me want to dance. It ends up on my housework playlist at home so I feel in the mood for doing chores.

 We were over the moon again to be featured three times on the big screen behind the band as they played “She’s All On My Mind” when our #wetsfans tweets appeared!

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My tweet sums it all up “The best band in the whole world,” It ended up on the big screen behind Graeme Clark as seen here during “She’s All On My Mind” being played.  Photo copyright of Joyce Williams.
Spotted on the big screen played during “Somewhere Somehow”behind Neil on the keyboards with my lovely Wettie mates. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.

   As they say all good things have to come to an end and the encore came in the form of “Lip Service.”  As Marti sang about the roof being on fire, I felt along with others as if it really was on fire, the atmosphere in that arena was electric, just like it had been the previous week in Leeds.  The Wets finished off with their mega hit “Love Is All Around”.  I love “Love Is All Around” but it’s not my favourite Wets song.  But if they didn’t include it in their show, it wouldn’t seem right somehow.  It has been a part of the band’s history. The reception that the audience gave once again showed that love really is all around for these guys who have brought such happiness and amazing memories to us for the past 30 years.

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The obligatory end of show bow.  Fantastic to get a photo with the lovely Tommy on it as it’s not always easy to take photos with him being at the back of the stage on his drums.  He sounded fantastic though. Photo copyright of Dot Liddell.
A Wets gig is always a great time to get together “with a little help from my friends” anf to share some wonderful memories of special times. This lovely group shot is copyright of Joyce Williams.

 Lots of us Wets fans are looking forward to a trip down to London in June when Wet Wet Wet will be playing at The Royal Hospital in Chelsea.  Another #wetsroadtrip to look forward to and to create lots more memories. We are all on countdown!

Once again I would love to thank my friends Dot and Joyce who always take lovely pictures of the guys in the band whereas I am no photographer.  I’d better get some practice in!