On 6 July 2001 at the HITS in Morecambe The Boys played their first UK date since 1981. Steve Metcalfe gives his account of the historic occasion with photos supplied by Backstage Passers Henrik Bech Poulsen and Jalle Jardland.
The Boys Take Morecambe By Storm
do I start with such a memorable once in a lifetime weekend?
From then on things gathered at an alarming pace….I met Mariano Ash from Argentina, Matt Dangerfield invited me to interview The Boys and then I was asked to run The Boys Website. Was I dreaming!!
The Boys then agreed to play Spain in September 2000 and best of all they even invited me along to their rehearsal, which was an unbelievable experience, and one I shall never forget. Unfortunately I was unable to make it to Spain but there was a glimmer of hope that one day I may be able to see The Boys live again.
Then came the news that all Boys fans were waiting to hear….The Boys were to play the UK. From that point on it was very difficult for me to contain my excitement. I kept trying to put it to the back of my mind but then someone would phone me up or send me an email and the anticipation would return.
In the last few months leading up to the gig I was concerned about Jack who was clearly struggling with his back and elbows and was frantically trying everything possible to ensure he would be fit enough to play at least one number on The Boys historic UK return. As the gig grew closer Jack became more down as he began to realise that there was no way he was going to be fit enough to play. I tried to console him with the fact that he would be there and that the fans would understand and all they wanted was to meet him and share a beer or two with him.
Duncan and Honest John
last week came along and I wondered how I was ever gonna get through
it especially when Graeme Aitken kept phoning me and emailing Backstage
Pass telling us all how much he was looking forward to it. Graeme’s
enthusiasm was fantastic and highly infectious….Well done Graeme.
Around lunchtime on Wednesday 4 July I received a phone call from Jack who informed me that he wasn’t going to Morecambe. He couldn’t face not being fit enough to play and felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders. He asked me to let Matt and John know. I listened in stunned disbelief. I implored him to rethink and told him I would call him back in the next hour or so when I had had time to think things over.
I immediately called John and Cas who were equally shocked and both said they would call Jack in an attempt to persuade him to go along. Unfortunately for reasons best known to Jack he switched off his mobile and was uncontactable so no one was able to speak to him about the matter. He had made his decision.
I also received a phone call from Paul Davies who was sick as a parrot as he was unable to go to Morecambe as he had to work on Friday and Saturday….What could I say?
On Thursday I was putting Nick Mess up at my home so I called him to see where he was. "I’ve just arrived in Warrington" he said so I went to the station to pick him up. We went back to my house where I played him the Hollywood Killers video, which he really liked. We then went down the local pub for a couple of pints before retiring for the night. One day to go.
First thing Friday morning I dropped my kids off and drove to Morecambe with the 11 tracks I had from Nick and Brina’s outstanding Boys/Brats Tribute album blasting out of the speakers. We arrived in Morecambe bang on time and I checked into my hotel. I then phoned Honest John as I was due to interview Vom for the website. He sounded a little worse for wear and I asked him what time he was getting up, "Five minutes before we are due on" he responded as quick as a flash. Christ I thought are they going to be able to play. "How are the others?" I asked. "Duncan’s flying" replied John. He then laughed and told me not to worry, he was only joking
Nick and I then made our way to the Tern Bay Hotel and I almost crashed
the car as Nick screamed out of the window "KID, KID, KID". A startled
Duncan Reid waved at Nick and smiled as Nick threw open the car door
and excitedly jumped out before I’d even managed to bring the car
to a halt!
Matt, Casino and Duncan
Nick Barolo and Brina Francavilla then came into the bar and introduced themselves to me. This was followed by a frantic call from Graeme who had been looking for the bus station for almost two hours as he was picking up Mariano and Henrik. He was then due to come to the hotel for Nick Mess’ bags as Nick was staying in a caravan with Graeme, Mariano and Henrik. Graeme was desperate to meet The Boys and Vom in particular as he was such a fan of his having seen him with Dr & The Medics, B Bang Cider and Die Toten Hosen.
A few minutes later and another frantic phone call from Graeme. He couldn’t find the Tern Bay, he’s certainly never been on an orienteering course! "I’m at the Battery but I can’t find the Tern Bay" he said so I walked outside and up to the Battery and spotted his car. I recognised Mariano but he wasn’t so sure about me with my brand new severe haircut and no suit! It was great to see Mariano again, so much as happened in the two years since I first met him. I said hello to Graeme and was also introduced to Henrik from Denmark.
We went back to the Tern Bay as Graeme wanted some autographs but unfortunately The Boys by this time were in their rooms running through an acoustic rehearsal of the evening’s gig. I was told by Vic, manager of the Tern Bay Hotel that The Boys had been filmed that morning. It was due to be shown by the BBC on their "North West Tonight" programme at 1.30pm and 6.30pm. I made a few phone calls home to try and ensure that I had a video recording of the show. Vic also told me that he had really enjoyed hosting The Boys and their fans. He liked them so much he even bought three of their albums!
I then went back to my hotel to chill out a little and prepare myself for the evening’s events. I needed a lie down and a sleep as I knew it would be a late night and I wanted to conserve my energies. Unfortunately I had numerous phone calls including another frantic one from Graeme as he had locked himself out of his caravan and one from Nick Mess asking me how he was to get to Graeme’s caravan. I was beginning to get the feeling that I was arranging everyone else’s domestics….But what the hell we were all excited.
Phil Hanson arrived at the hotel we were staying in around 3.30pm and half an hour later we started the long walk to the Tern Bay. Casino Steel had given me an armful of his brilliant new album "VSOP" to sell and as we were walking along the sea front I became a street trader selling the album to anyone I could! Honest John later told me that I could sell sand to the Arabs!!
Duncan & Honest John
the way we bumped into John and Dave Nixon who were two of the few fans
who had managed to track down some Boys T-shirts….Why weren’t there any
official shirts on sale, everyone wanted one!
In the Tern Bay Hotel again and a couple of beers before the gig. I met up with Nicke, Jalle, Adam and Gyp who like Nick and Brina were also lucky enough to be staying in the Tern Bay Hotel along with The Boys. Honest John asked me to look after his guitar for a while as he went off somewhere. Eventually Matt, Cas and John were in the bar waiting with the fans until it was time to go to the venue for the gig. Duncan was pacing up and down outside with all his nervous energy ready to explode on stage. You’ll not find Duncan in a bar before a gig.
then time to go so The Boys all piled into the mini bus with Nick
Mess and myself and John drove the short distance to the gig with
the Tribute album, which all The Boys are very impressed with, playing
through the speakers.
Ten minutes to go before The Boys were due to go on stage and I could barely contain my excitement. I went to the dressing room, wished them all the best and then went down to the front of the stage to prepare for a moment I never dreamed I’d experience again. All the Backstage Passers were there at the front eagerly awaiting The Boys historic appearance.
We all met Murat, whose band Relix had fortunately finished in time for him to make it to the Market Arena in time for the Boys appearance. Mind you he looked exhausted having just played himself and then run all the way over to the Market Arena. Murat looked so young I think it’s unbelievable that here was someone who wasn’t even born the last time I had seen The Boys play live yet he was a fan just like the rest of us.
I looked around at the crowd and I must admit it brought a tear to my eye to see all the Backstage Passers and other Boys fans who had travelled from all corners of the globe to see the historic homecoming of this band we all love.
Suddenly The Boys were on stage and launched straight into a super fast version of "TCP" with Duncan bouncing around the stage with so much energy it was unbelieveable. The energy, power and strength of their material was there for all to witness as they breezed through all their classics taking the crowd with them on an incredible wave of energy and emotion. After a few numbers it was evident that The Boys were on top form and they were clearly thoroughly enjoying the gig themselves. Matt was moving a lot more than he did in Spain and it was just like the old days.
We all screamed the chorus of "Brickfield Nights" back at Matt and the whole crowd chanted along "Oh oh oh" with "First Time". I had waited 20 years for this and it all flew by so quickly. Before I knew what was happening it was all over. The Boys encored with another great version of "Boys" and unbelievably that was it. I was exhausted and looked around me to see the smiles of delight on everyone else’s face. Mariano turned to me in total disbelief and told me it had been the best gig he’d ever seen in his life. He’d paid over $1,000 to fly over from Argentina to see The Boys and it had been worth every cent to him. You could see that the other fans who had travelled from overseas felt exactly the same. I felt sweat drenched as if I’d had a shower with my clothes on. Emotions were running very high and we were all hugging and congratulating each other on the success of the gig. I felt ecstatic.
I went backstage to congratulate The Boys and they were all buoyant too. Mark Brennan came into the dressing room to congratulate them on playing such a great gig and numerous other punk celebrities also came in to congratulate them on their performance.
I then assisted John in taking The Boys equipment back to the Tern Bay when Paul Davies, clearly gutted about missing the gig phoned me to ask how it had gone. I felt dreadfully sorry about him missing such an unbelievable experience and tried my best to console him but I can tell you it was bloody difficult….Sorry Paul.
Back to the venue with John and the beers were flowing backstage. TV Smith and Gaye Advert spent a bit of time in the dressing room having a few beers with The Boys. Gaye still looks incredibly young, I don’t think anyone would believe she’s in her forties!
I remember just before Stiff Little Fingers went on Jake Burns came in and was telling John how much he liked The Boys and that he’d bought their first few singles. I was very quiet at this point, just soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a few beers. I kept pinching myself to see if I was dreaming. I could see by the grin on Nick Mess’ face that he was feeling exactly the same.
Back to the Tern Bay Hotel with all the fans and what a night we all had. The Boys were there, the beer was flowing and I just didn’t want the night to end. Once again there were so many highlights it’s difficult to recall them all. Vom is so funny, he had everyone in hysterics. At one serious moment Vom was telling me how much he loved The Boys and really hoped that they would play many more gigs.
I don’t know what more to say and I’ll leave it to all the other fans to fill in the many blanks I’ve left out. I’m sure it’s a night that everyone lucky enough to have been there will remember for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and I finally went to bed at 4 am.
I’d like to thank The Boys for allowing me the privilege of being there and for playing such a blinding gig. I’d also like to thank all you fantastic Boys fans for making it a once in a lifetime experience for me. It was great to meet up with you all, I just wish we could have spent more time together.
Long live The Boys and long live all you Backstage Passers and Boys fans. I love you all.
Thanks for the time of my life!!!!!!!!!
Let’s do it again soon….Please!