It’s been an eventful year for me. As I’m writing this end-of-year review I’m listening to an album I recorded over 20 years ago with Carl, Ray and Les from Failsafe. Les’s untimely death on 28 December 2021, aged just 56, was a wake-up call, a timely reminder how precious life is and how we should embrace today, not tomorrow. But his passing has rebuilt bridges and rediscovered lost friendships, so Failsafe are reforming with guest musicians to perform his songs from our eponymous album on 28 December 2022, celebrating his life and raising money for charity, along with other bands.
Looking back, 2022 has definitely been the year of working harder. But it’s also been one of having a lot of fun, making new friends and playing some awesome music.
The bedrock of my year is always The Live Karaoke Band. Established in August 2008 to the exclamation “it will never work”, it is very much the teenager now in its 14th year and continues to perform all over the country. It owes a lot of it’s continued success to the family of talented musicians that make each unique show happen: Liz, Kirsty, Fi, Rich, Ollie, Swanny, Chris, Harry, Neil, Stu, Kyle, Sean, Dom, Mark and Amanda. It’s always a fun band to play in, never the same set twice and always keeps you on your musical tippy-toes.
Of course, the added bonus of The Live Karaoke Band is that you end up with a very large repertoire of songs and that has led me to depping with some great bands and great people this year, such as standing in for Warren in Miss-Chief and The Makers (still one of my favourite band names) with Claire, Lewis and Aaron - I’m gutted a diary malfunction stopped me playing with them again a couple of weeks ago. Playing with these guys introduced me to Tara and Nigel who, in turn, introduced me to Captain’s Big Band with Zac and Garry - such a riot in April and the ringing in the ears has finally stopped eight months later!
I was also lucky to play with Two Doors Down on several occasions during the summer: James, James, Ben - always a pleasure and, without doubt, the best bandwiches ever! Peter James - an absolute legend - playing with the Blurb and The Kaiser Thiefs tributes at numerous summer festivals. Talking of tributes…
The first highlight of the year for me was teaming up with DURAN again, this time on Guernsey to perform on the balcony at Cobo Bay Hotel, overlooking the sandy beaches and 3,000 people playing some of the best pop bass lines of the 80s. With a bonus warm-up show the night before (sprinkled with some “magic fairy dust” by the inept sound engineer… like… WTF?), the weekend shows with Pete, Cal, Luke and Darran were simply a lot of fun. I even got to meet Prince Edward. As you do.
The second highlight was meeting Seth, Jack and Joe and Cloneplay. What was, at first, a one-off dep gig in Exeter has spiralled joyfully into many more wonderful memories, playing at various festivals around the country be it Chepstow Castle, Llanelli Racecourse or Wesley. It’s fitting that my final show of the year on New Year’s Eve is with these guys as the time we share off-stage is as enjoyable as the time we spend on-stage. A time to celebrate their friendship.
The third highlight, without doubt, has been joining UK Fleetwood Mac with Matt, Molly, Amy, Jason, Marcus and Dave - six wonderful people and incredibly talented musicians who, despite me fluffing The Chain in my audition (honestly… note to self… never stop concentrating!), asked me to be their new John McVie. This band, quite simply, is pure joy. Everyone is on top of their game, enjoying the music and playing with each other to sold-out theatres, massive smiles on their faces, massive smiles on the audience’s faces and I’ve missed them over the last few weeks during our winter break. Very much looking forward to our first show of 2023 in January.
My fourth highlight (like, how many can I have?!) has been steadily working on the Muse tribute with Dan and Kyle. From a simple “how difficult can it be?” comment in 2021 we’ve been preparing our new show throughout 2022 for launch in 2023. The website is done, the audio demo is (almost!) done and the launch show is (almost!) booked featuring a state-of-the-art laser show courtesy of Paul Gregory and his team of highly trained sharks. We teased the show in October, probably one of the most difficult gigs I’ve ever played technically but therefore one of the most rewarding. We smashed it out over The Solent guys :)
My fifth and final highlight (OK, one more then!) has to be becoming endorsed by The Bass Centre UK as one of their Elites Artists, something that is truly humbling being featured on the same page as two of my bass heroes, Guy Pratt and Norman Watt-Roy. Playing all these shows in 2022 with my sweaty mitts means I get through a lot of strings and the Elites help me keep a twang in my fingers. Thank you Barry.
Finally, there are two bands missing from this year’s roll of honour which, fingers crossed, will both make an appearance in 2023: Cosmograf (with Robin, Lee and Kyle) already have a couple of shows booked which I’m already looking forward to. And I’m very much hoping Pink Floyd Legacy featuring the wonderful Durga, Mick, Mike, Graeme, Calum, Adam, Olya and Alex will finally reunite after three long years following the hiatus brought about by Covid and the war in Ukraine - I really miss these guys.
So that’s me, signing off on 2022. Thank you to everyone I’ve met on stage this year and sorry if I didn’t mention you, it would’ve been a verrrrrrry long post, but I do hope we all meet up and play together again in 2023.