ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

150 YEARS AGO.

Ok I admit that it hasn’t been THAT long, but it feels like it today, since Glass Tiger last played the U.K.

It would have been on the Roxette tour of I think....1991.....27 years ago!! Boy’o’Boy where does the time go. That tour was a mixture of the Good, the Bad, and the downright ugly.

First of all, Roxette were very, very, good and they deserved all the attention they were getting. Selling millions of albums brought them all the trappings that only a major tour can bring you. Crowds of 20,000 or more each and every night. Huge stage set up, multiple tour buses, selling tons of merch etc They had everything going for them and they themselves, were, and still are, cool people. A Swedish pop-rock duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, they formed in 1986 and their third album, Joyride was a massive success and it was on this tour, we joined them for that ride. “The Look”, Listen To Your Heart”, “It Must Have Been Love”, and of course “Joyride” were to become “classic” hits and put them on the 80’s Greatest lists forever. 

 Come Join The Joyride.  

Come Join The Joyride.  

The bad however came courtesy of their crew. They had Swedish riggers, American sound company & UK truckers who all basically hated each other and we as the “opening act” were constantly caught in the middle of their disdain for each other. It was tough to say the least. 

On one particular occasion, our Soundman left our truck carrying all of our gear, in the wrong spot. I admit it was a stupid mistake and required action immediately, so as not to hamper their loadout. What they did however was drag our truck away to a far corner of the parking lot (understable...maybe) but then they slashed ALL of our tires and left it stranded. Which meant a total nightmare for us to get that sorted out by morning and still make the next venue in the next city miles away.

The ugly came in the form of the catering company, who I am sad to say, were Scottish! The were miserly, rude and miserable and treated us like shit. Totally uncalled for and just downright mean and nasty. It made the tour, one tough grind to say the least but we are consummate pro’s and so we just sucked it up, put smiles on our faces and toured for almost 3 months with them. Rock’n’Roll right?

 Back together again in Montreal.  

Back together again in Montreal.  

Ironically about ten years ago or so, they were touring again and they only spot on their tour where ticket sales were a little “light”, was Canada. Someone in the promoting world decided it would be cool to match us up once again. This resulted in us doing about 7 or 8 shows with them across the country. Circumstances however, were much different this time as Glass Tiger hit the stages in Montreal and Toronto and Vancouver etc to a tremendous “home” reception and we were treated much differently. We met with them briefly for us all to do photo together and it was nice to see Marie & Per again. Truth be told, they never knew of how poorly we were treated behind the scenes back in ‘91, and of course we never made them aware. We would never do that, and so when we caught up with them on the second tour it was all pleasantries as it should have been. 

 Things were different the second time around with Roxette. 

Things were different the second time around with Roxette. 


And so, meanwhile back in London, my best pal from Scotland arrived around 1pm and we met downstairs in the lobby bar. We haven’t seen each other in three years which is the longest gap in the last 30!!! He also had his wife with him and his sweet little daughter, both of whom I was meeting for the first time. They were coming with me to soundcheck and so we all got ready quickly and set off.


A decision had to be made. The first venue they booked here is around the corner from our hotel ....BUT....the venue was changed on us with short notice and the new one, The Boston Music Room was at least 45 mins away by cab. A grind I didn’t want to face in London heavy traffic. And so....... “to the BAT-tube Robin!” And off we set on the underground (subway) which only took about 20 mins.


The gig was in a part of North London called Tufnell Park, in the London Boroughs of Islington and Camden, an area of former farmland last owned by a wealthy branch of the Tufnell family before its development. Luckily The Boston Music Room is located just across the street from the Tufnell Tube Station and so we all gathered together in the club.

 Boston pub and The Boston Music Room in Tufnell. 

Boston pub and The Boston Music Room in Tufnell. 

As happens, soundcheck is a test of “hurry up and wait.” Normally when we are in the groove of a tour, I don’t do them, preferring to save my voice for the actual concert. But when it’s a new gig and especially a special one like this, I do indeed join in. This one however was still about almost 2hrs away as our amazing sound technician, Joe, worked feverishly to get things together. I decided to go for a hot tea and I was joined by a great friend, and photographer over here called Christopher Bissell and my fabulous background vocalist, Carmella. We were not there long before I was recognized by a man who seemed rather excited to see me. He came over, wearing I might add, a Glass Tiger, London, 2018, t-shirt. Hold on though, we don’t have, Glass Tiger, London, 2018, t-shirts!! It turns out his wife made it for him to commemorate our concert that was about to happen and they were both so jazzed for Glass Tiger that they had travelled all the way from Holland. How special. I of course invited them to soundcheck and they were over the moon happy.

 

 My “second family” from Scotland at soundcheck. The lad, far left, is “Flip” all the way from Holland.  

My “second family” from Scotland at soundcheck. The lad, far left, is “Flip” all the way from Holland.  

We killed time having tea before returning to the club only to find Joe still wasn’t quite ready and that the lads, including my Scottish mate, were next door, in the pub, having a pint!! Go figure. Really? I joined them, tea in hand, for a chat, only to find out that a gentleman and his wife had travelled from Bristol to see us, Glass Tiger albums in hand, and he, a huge fan, was in the bar, hoping I would come in. He was so thrilled and........of course I invited them to soundcheck. Lol


Finally around 5pm soundcheck happened. It went fairly flawlessly but the clock had now become our enemy. It was around 6:15 pm when it finished and we of course were still at least a 45 min car ride away from our hotel and our stage clothes. And so..... “to the BAT-tube Robin!” How crazy! This is certainly a first. We chugged back on the train reaching our hotel around 6:50pm knowing that we had to be back in the club by 8:30pm onstage at 9:10.


To say getting ready quickly is an understatement is of course, an understatement!! Within about 20 mins we were ready, a world record for our only girl in the band, Carm, and so.... “to the BAT-tube Robin!” and like yo-yo’s we were off again. Holy shit Batman! I can honestly say I have never rushed to my gig on the subway and can honestly say I never will again!! Truth be told though, it was a new experience and now look, I have a memory and a story to tell.

 Carmella, Sam and I deciding what train we have to catch, 

Carmella, Sam and I deciding what train we have to catch, 

The club and the crowd were small but that’s never a deterrent for a band that’s eager to play and for a crowd eager to enjoy. From the very first note we were all into it together; opening as we do with ANIMAL HEART right into I’M STILL SEARCHING, we ALL rocked together, band and audience. People often ask me how we can play the same tunes over and over for 30 odd years and STILL enjoy it? Well the answer is simple. The audience. You guys! Without you we are nothing. And without you those songs would quickly grow stale and cumbersome. Each audience is different. Always! And each audience keeps us alive and hopefully fresh. So thanks you LONDON! You were brilliant. From the first note to the loud and raucous encore you have to us I thank you. Thanks to AT THE SUN for taking the stage before us. You ROCKED!


 You ROCKED London!!! Thank you so much.  

You ROCKED London!!! Thank you so much.  

After the show I went up to meet some of the fans and take a few photo’s and sign a few autographs. What was truly amazing was we had people who had travelled from Florence, Italy, from just outside of Paris, France and from Munich in Germany. We even had a father, daughter, combo all the way from sunny Glasgow in Scotland! My people!!! 😉 We DO NOT take that lightly. It probably means more to us now at this stage in our career than it did back in the day. Hard-working people, taking their hard-earned money, purchasing plane tickets and hotels to come from the likes of Italy to a wee club in Tufnell, North London, all because they love Glass Tiger and our music. What an honour. Thank you.


And so it ended. It was time to head back to the hotel. And we all know what that meant right? It was time for the BAT-tu......NO! fuck that Robin, it was time to grab a taxi and travel back in comfort and at our leisure. No madness. No rushing.


Had a quiet Guinness with the gang and then headed to bed. Tomorrow I have the day off.


Tickets, as we all know, can be important and meaningful. Train tickets. Plane tickets. Concert tickets, all of them a big deal. I have THIS ticket, which is my train ticket to Nottingham on Sunday. But for now THESE tickets are TOP SHELF!!!!

 Big game tomorrow. 

Big game tomorrow. 

Football tomorrow, to see my other favourite “blues”....CHELSEA vs the mighty reds of Manchester. Should be a good’n’.


 “Ssssh, don’t tell him.” 

“Ssssh, don’t tell him.” 

Goodnight London.