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Covid 19

Who could have imagined that the world would now be in lockdown, saving ourselves from the horrors of Covid 19? The whole episode has frozen humanity into a state of suspended animation while we adjust to a life of staying still. For some this is nothing new and for yet others the opportunity for exercise is unlimited. Here in The Highlands there is only wide open space, empty apart from the occasional dog walker, cyclist or other person keen to stay in trim. There is a world of gardening, car washing and general maintenance that is often overlooked due to pressure of work. No such pressure exists while this microscopic virus wreaks havoc on our daily life, so a new approach to life has become necessary overnight. The twenty first century has robbed us all of time together and the virus has put it all back for us as we communicate on Zoom or House Party and hold virtual classes, quizzes, karaoke nights, virtual pubs and games that we play together yet separately. Staying in pyjamas and looking at funny videos is a refreshing diversion but has a definite life span. We are all in this together, and that is never more true than when we chance our luck at the supermarket, staying six feet away from other individuals wherever possible and wondering where this little enemy might be lurking. If there was a way of shining a light on the coronavirus and seeing exactly where it was it would transform the way we do things and turn an invisible enemy into a visible one. Humans are very resourceful and, indeed, we have to be in these times because our source of income has dried up and money doesn’t last forever. Initially it all feels like a holiday, and that’s wonderful, but eventually it will be important to restore our working lives and, for myself as a musician, bring escapism back to audiences around the world as we once again connect and share our experiences. Some good will, no doubt, come from all of this and perhaps the chance we have all had to reflect on our busy lives will give us a hunger for the times when we shared more with each other and lived life at a more reasonable pace. During crises we see the better part of humans emerge and there are many examples of compassion and unselfish deeds that we can happily reflect on once this is all over. In optical terminology 20/20 represents excellent vision, so perhaps 2020 is the year in which we start to see clearly exactly where the human race are in terms of spiritual development. Let’s all take a step back and make note of what is real and what is important. The virtual world has served us well but we are not robots and let’s celebrate our humanity.


Roll up, it’s all the fun of the fair, especially here at the non self-isolating Cirkus, home to its fourth Smokie gig. Covid 19 sounds a little like something we recorded many years ago so our fans could quarantine themselves and have a good listen. Are they falling like flies? Well, not yet but viruses do have a habit of going viral. As we hit the stage decisions were still being made about how many people are allowed to gather together in public places and, once the figure hit five hundred, all of our shows were due for cancellation. It was down to all of us to make last night a good one and we did that in a big way. In times of crisis human beings are wonderful and our better natures shine through. We now hit an extended period of uncertainty and, like everyone else on this planet, we can only wait to see when normality will return. I shall miss these wonderful nights with appreciative Smokie audiences and very much look forward to business as usual. Thank you to all our friends and fans for your understanding. Let’s hope that something good arises from this pandemic and its consequences.


On checking my records I see that we only twice played a 29th February gig since 2002, once in South Africa in 2004 and once in Sweden in 2008. For anyone having a birthday on this day you are much younger than you seem to be. A special day deserves a special celebration and, for the audience at Arendal Kulturhus, it was quite special enough. Our capacity crowd gave us the warmest of receptions that contrasted the slushy conditions outside. We now return home for a weekend off that includes my 32nd anniversary of being in Smokie. Cause for celebration? I think so.


Drammen holds a very special place in my memory because it was here that I played one of my first festivals with Smokie, in the summer of ‘89 to a crowd of 10,000, on the back of our No 1 selling album “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. There were some long hot summers in those days and our record company, Polygram, used to treat us to days on the water with almost unlimited beer and shrimps. Don Johnson’s (Miami Vice) boat, The Scarab, was sold to a businessman in Arendal (tomorrow’s city) and we were privileged to rip up the waters in this magnificent craft. As I looked around last night’s audience I wondered just how many people were there at our ‘89 festival. One thing is certain and that is that they were well acquainted with the words to all the songs. Drammen Teater is small, intimate and in four tiers, and it looked as though every available space was filled, making it difficult to move, yet the audience managed it anyway. Tonight we can enjoy a most unusual experience which is to play a gig on 29th February, an opportunity that may only arise every four years.


Just one last look at the lovely Levantine Sea before I hit the skies for Vienna and Oslo. This brief visit to Israel has been a great success, already sparking conversation about our return. Our audience at Haifa Congress Hall did us proud and, once allowed out of their seats by security, properly rose to the occasion. It may be that, on our return, we could be performing shows with an orchestra, and that would be nice, but if it doesn’t happen we know we are well equipped to entertain with our set of hit songs. As we leave the country the air is turning a lot warmer and the shorts that were never needed would become essential. It’s just one more long travel day today and time to hit the northerly latitudes. Meteorological Spring begins on Sunday but the weather is actually turning to Winter. Who knows what season will come next?

Tel Aviv

The one thing I look forward to most when I come to Israel is being right next to the Levantine Sea and watching it crashing into Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv Yafo, in full view from my room at Sheraton Hotel. The moment the sun is up, at around 6:00, I am fully charged and ready to walk up and down the seafront all day. It’s a little chillier than when we usually visit in October but the air is clean, fresh and invigorating. This is Smokie’s sixth time into Israel and our audience seems to be more pleased than ever to see us. There was much good humour with Israel’s top radio disc jockey, Didi Harari, on 103 FM in the afternoon, and a special presentation of two egg shakers went to Steve for use on stage during “I don’t wanna talk about it”. Our crazy tour schedule saw us going from Norway to Israel and back to Norway tomorrow. Business as usual!


There is not always time to look around when we reach the next city on tour. Sometimes it’s necessary to find something to eat that is quick and easy, grab a bit of sleep and get ready for the gig. Because Trondheim in general and Olavshallen in particular are familiar places there is no sense of loss because of shortage of time. Returning to the gig where we were the first band to perform was indeed special, and made even more memorable by the audience’s reaction. These first four Norwegian shows in Smokie’s diary have been a very strong start to the year and, as Terry said on stage, “Last year I had prostate cancer and now I don’t”. 


It wasn’t Storm Dennis but an IT breakdown at Heathrow Airport that made my journey run to 30 hours last Sunday, eventually arriving in Inverness at 13:30 on Monday. Heathrow was full to bursting with stranded travellers and I was just one of them. We have a scary dependence on computers and, without them, we can no longer function on a manual basis. However, I’m back in Norway again after more travel disruption, this time in Amsterdam. It’s always a relief to reach my destination well in time for a gig so I can make necessary preparations. Regardless of the squally conditions in Stavanger I managed a few walks and a chance to capture some of the local scenery (see Twitter). Our audience at Kuppelhallen were on top form, keeping the decibels in the red by singing their hearts out. There’s a huge welcome for us here in Norway, where we are in the early stages of the Scandinavian leg of our 2020 tour. We continue onwards to Trondheim today to play the venue where we recorded the show in 1992, and that is Olavshallen.


The beauty of Norway is never lost on me, and Harstad is one of the most captivating of places on Earth. My world travels give me the privilege of being in places that others pay a lot to see, and there are many more that never see it at all. It’s true that you can travel with your mind alone (I do it regularly) but it’s the memories that add detail to your own imagination. When Smokie first recorded they had no idea how far the music would travel and how many people it would reach. We are always visiting new places and finding that we have very devoted fans who are very pleased to see us. Inside Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus is a lovely theatre that was full to capacity last night with one of our most eager audiences of all time. Outside the hotel the scene was picture perfect with the Aurora waiting to break through cloudy skies. We couldn’t wish for better circumstances and neither should we, for this is touring at its best. We now negotiate our individual journeys home as Storm Dennis batters the UK. Good luck to everyone and stay safe because Norway needs you again next week.


Once again our touring year started on that most important day of love, Valentine’s Day, and we were off to a typical start with a weekend in Norway. On a day when the mercury hit minus six it was great to feel the warm welcome from the audience at Ringerike Kultursenter, a place we had visited in October 2015. The touring year is as busy as ever but we do allow ourselves one weekend off a month to spend time with our families. Today we move on to Harstad, inside The Arctic Circle, where I’m hoping to view the Aurora if it’s not too cloudy. 


What a way to see out the year and even the decade, playing to 17,000 people at Zalgirio Arena in Kaunas! It always promised to be a good one but it exceeded expectations, the audience going large on their appreciation. As the year came to a close I was able to look back on a career that has seen Smokie keep a lot of devoted fans as well as attract many new ones. The legend of Alice never dies and the good humour that goes with it is infectious. 2020 looks to continue in the same way, as evidenced by our tour schedule. This year, instead of chasing the sun in Autumn, we will be touring again with an orchestra, this time in The Czech Republic. There’s also a much overdue visit to South Africa in the Spring, as well as a couple of shows in Israel, sandwiched between weekends in Norway. As usual we will take to the skies many times while reaching our destinations (with apologies for our carbon emissions). During the off periods I plan to work on a piano EP, the artwork for which is complete, created in gunpowder by Frank To, an artist and lecturer at Inverness College. The music is completed in my mind, so now I need to get the notes recorded in Logic, a system that is new to me, so there is a bit of a learning curve involved. I never got to use my kayak last year and that is something I wish to put right in 2020, as well as keep to my usual fitness routine, banishing the worst of the Christmas and New Year excesses before returning to work in February. In the UK we still have to find out exactly how Brexit will play out and how it affects the touring musician. We will soon know. I wish everybody a very Happy New Year, and may the best of your dreams come true. Stay well and keep on coming to see Smokie because you are as good for us as we are for you.

All best wishes



There was anticipation in the air last night, as you may expect so close to the year’s end. Our previous visits to Siauliai have paid off and a very full arena awaited our return to Siauliai Arena. The stage felt huge without the 30-piece orchestra and that gave us even more room to move around. I hardly need to report just how warm was our reception yet I can’t help mentioning what a lovely appreciative audience we were blessed to enjoy. Today we are in Kaunas where we will see in the New Year before making the red eye trip home. I expect there may be a bit of a party that may have to involve champagne.


My most favoured memories of Svyturio Arena have been when we worked with the orchestra, a pleasure that we get to enjoy every two or three years. Of course we have also played our own concerts here, yet there is something special about sharing the stage with new and young talent that makes the evening even more enjoyable. Last night, and for the next two nights, we are sharing top billing with an old friend, Suzi Quatro, with whom we have made many memories, particularly in Germany in the 80’s and 90’s. She needs no introduction, and neither do we, for we are well established in this part of Eastern Europe. Surprisingly there is no snow, or even a hint of snow, to complete the Christmas scene here in Lithuania, but the lights look beautiful and there is still a festive mood that adds a bit of magic to shows at this time of year. Last night’s audience were on great form, the arena looked full and all was well in Smokie’s touring world. Today we move on to Siauliai (pronounced Showlay) for more of the same.


The passage of time is a tricky concept, and we can only guage it in relation to our own experiences. From inside the band three years pass in the blinking of an eye, but if you are a punter, waiting for the band to return in three years, it would seem like an eternity. There was a time that nobody would want to invest long term in Smokie, just in case the bubble burst. This is one bubble that shows no sign of bursting just yet and we are enjoying a wave of popularity that allows us to choose our work with consideration. Our audience responded to the call to get rowdy and show us a memorable last night of the tour at The Regal Theatre. That wraps up a 13-date Aussie tour, thirteen being in no way unlucky for us, and gives us time and space to settle at home, leaving behind the first day of summer and returning to the second day of winter. Thanks to all our Australian fans who have made every night memorable on this most excellent of tours. Our pledge to you is to try returning in less than three years, once we have worked out the logistics of such a plan. Merry Christmas to all here in Australia and I look forward to my next visit. 


A decade ago we would start our Australian Tour on the west coast and now we always start in the east, taking in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria before flying down to Tasmania and making our way back to Perth via either Northern Territory or South Australia. It’s a six-state tour and it includes some old favourites like Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre, where the audience treat the band to a superbly warm reception with singing at top volume. It’s almost as if they’ve been rehearsing for this one performance. Every tour has to come to an end, and this one ends at The Regal, Subiaco tonight where we can expect good things from our Saturday night audience.


Kalgoorlie was another new place for us to visit on our Australian Tour and, like Alice Springs, everything was new to us. We blew in sideways on a Cessna Conquest on Wednesday night and had the whole of Thursday to explore the town. Although Australia’s extreme weather is making the news around the world, we are lucky to have followed the best of conditions on this great continent. Our sellout show at Goldfields Art Centre put us in touch with a very enthusiastic audience, a large number of whom were eager to meet us after the show to tell us how happy they were that their town was on our schedule. We were happy about that too and can now look forward to two shows that are both on familiar territory.

Alice Springs

Wow, that was a hot wind that hit as we touched down in Alice Springs. It was like opening an oven door. There are lots of river names here but no actual rivers, the terrain being as dry as tinder. Flies relentlessly search for any moisture, including up your nose and in your mouth and ears. I should be used to this by now, having spent so much time in the town of Dunolly, Victoria. My day was spent mostly walking in and out of Alice as well as exploring Olive Pink’s Botanic Gardens, a charming oasis set in 95 acres and celebrating those enormously hardy plants and trees that survive in this punishing heat. The real cherry on the cake was our sell out appearance at The Araluen Arts Centre, where an audience, hungry for Smokie songs, gathered for chance to sing Alice in Alice. For the band it was the fulfilment of an ambition and for the audience it was the one off opportunity of a lifetime to knock out the words to all those songs that defined their early years. We now set off on a journey that includes two scheduled and one charter flight to reach Kalgoorlie this evening. From tonight we will remain on Perth’s time zone until flying home on Sunday.


Hobart appears to be the party capital of Tasmania, at least that is certainly how it looked at Wrest Point last night. This was one Aussie crowd that was keen to get up on their feet and stay there until the end. A great night in Hobart rounded off our tourist view of the coast en route and left us with the impression that Hobart is one city that will gladly welcome us back whenever we are ready to return. We now fulfil an ambition, which is to play in Alice Springs and, if we can find someone called Alice, perhaps we can sing Alice to Alice in Alice.


Travelling south of Melbourne is very like travelling north of London. The further away you get the cooler is the air for much of the year and the length of the day also varies. It was a cool wind that whistled round Princess Theatre but a warm reception inside. There are many now familiar faces here in Launceston and it seems more than likely that we will be seeing those faces again in two or three years. We’ve never seen much of beautiful Tasmania during our visits down under so our plan today is to leave the highway and take the scenic route to Hobart.


Nine years was just too long to be away from Melbourne, our last show here being at The Regent Theatre in November 2010. Now Smokie are firmly established with regular tours here in Australia I think it’s fair to say that Melbourne, in general, and The Crown Casino in particular, will be on every tour schedule from now on. The Palms sold out several weeks ago, thanks to the venue’s very efficient advertising. We flew into Melbourne on the day the weather changed from cool to very hot, giving us an opportunity to bask in conditions that often escape this city. Not only did the audience give us a rousing response, but we also got one of the biggest surprises of our lives, for in the front row was Alan Silson, now a resident of Adelaide. There was a lot of catching up to do since we hadn’t seen him since the 1990’s. Personally I also spent time with my Aussie family and am now enjoying the only day off on this tour, and a chance to see how the city has changed since I first came here twenty nine years ago. Nostalgia is definitely on the menu, and in large doses.


There’s been a six year gap since we last played Sydney and it seemed like it was just too long for our eager audience at The Metro Theatre. Situated on the doorstep of Chinatown, it is in the perfect location for all that delicious Chinese food. The theatre has a proper rock and roll vibe and, although seated, it was home to a very lively audience last night. The tour is now at its halfway stage and, with seven more shows to go in eleven days, the pace is due to pick up as sure as is the temperature.


One enduring memory of The Empire Theatre in Toowoomba is the biscuits, lovingly baked by Friends of the Theatre. Glancing at the Guest Book, I see that I’m not the only one who appreciates this kindness - Jimmy Barnes also pays tribute to the wonderful warm hospitality of Empire staff. The evening was made more perfect for Smokie by the great vocal reaction of our Toowoomba audience; the “Hasta la vista’s” were the loudest so far on this Australian tour. We are now due to leave Queensland and head south for Sydney. There are many more adventures to enjoy before we head back home on December 1st. Check out this YouTube clip to see the reaction of our Brizzy audience:


Walking along the South Bank of the Brisbane River, I am reminded of how we have always played the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, or QPAC, on these Smokie tours of Australia. This time it was different because the venue was unable to offer us dates. Tivoli, on the other hand, was able to give us a date so that’s where we played last night. It’s a standing only venue that was packed to the rafters and the atmosphere was electric. It’s refreshing to play such a venue because the crowd can really relax without fear of being asked to move because of blocking someone’s view. One steamy hot day led to an equally steamy hot evening and my clothes were sticking to me after the gig. Last night’s success led us to conclude that Tivoli would have to be included on our 2022 Australian Tour, which is already under discussion.


Smokie are now on our fourth tour of Australia, since we decided to be our own promoters, and Rockhampton has been one town that we have visited on every one of those tours, The Pilbeam Theatre being our venue of choice. Over the years we have built a strong relationship with our audience and that was more than evident last night. After a very steamy day it was good to bring the party indoors. Our Rocky audience showed their appreciation and turned up in large numbers after the show to meet with the band. In planning our 2022 Australian Tour I have to say that Rockhampton will most likely be on the schedule. Today we move on to Brizzy where, personally, I have an appointment with a washing machine.


Last time we were in this neck of the woods the Civic Theatre was still operating. Closing down in February 2016, it meant that we gave Cairns a miss on our 2016 tour of Australia. Now open as a brand new facility, The Cairns Performing Arts Centre is an impressive multi room complex that provides a lot more than just theatrical space. To fill it to capacity is a feather in our caps as well as an upbeat start to our own tour of Australia. Missing out Darwin this time, this is the furthest north we are due to visit on this tour. It goes without saying that the weather is extremely favourable here in Queensland and certainly a lot warmer than we will experience once we hit the southerly latitudes. Last night’s audience gave us a rousing reception and were full of praise after the show when we met for autograph signing. Today we move on to Rockhampton where we have a show tomorrow night.

Airlie Beach

There’s no better way to start an Australian Tour than guesting at a festival in a less familiar part of this great continent. Just to get the feel of the place I donned a wetsuit and went snorkelling on part of The Great Barrier Reef on one of the hottest days so far this year. On returning to Airlie Beach it was apparent that the festival (now in its seventh year) was in full swing. Music was played in every corner and any room that was big enough to accommodate a band, a sole artist or a duo and their audience. The venues included pubs, restaurants, pizzerias, shops, lobbies, car parks and public spaces and there was much enthusiasm for this annual opportunity to make music the single most important event. It’s no surprise that the final day attracted the biggest audience on the main stage as punters gathered to hear the international band, Smokie, who have provided the soundtrack to their youth and their early memories and who, up until now, had not appeared in this part of Australia. We received a wonderful warm welcome from an audience who were fired up to join in with the songs they knew so well. It was a strong start to a tour that sees several venues selling out. We now move on to Cairns in readiness for our show tomorrow. As I write this I am seeing reports of the many devastating bush fires in Queensland. My heart goes out to all those people who are affected by this and to the firefighters in their relentless battle against the flames. I hope this will soon be under control so people may return to their homes and their lives.


Monaghan is a place I haven’t seen for many years. It was the late 1990’s when I was last here, and there have been big changes at Hillgrove Hotel, the venue for last night’s show. One of the enduring memories is the first time the world saw Riverdance, which made its first appearance in the break before the voting in The Eurovision Song Contest. The hotel blossomed, with the aid of EU grants, into the magnificent building it is today, with its leisure centre and massive function room, a room that was completely full last night for Smokie’s performance. Sellout shows are now an integral part of touring in Ireland and, in fact, oversold is the new watch word. In the 1980’s the fire officer used to follow us around, suspicious of the number of people who were crammed, unsafely, into our gigs. Last night there were barely enough extra seats to fulfil the demand, so conditions have reverted to how they were all those years ago. I now get to enjoy a couple of weeks at home before hitting the trail from Highlands to Great Barrier Reef, with the added bonus of an extra hour of rest as the clocks go back next Sunday.


The old formula of putting a large number of bands from a particular era into an arena continues to work well on this side of Europe, as it has for many years in other countries where we tour. The Oldies Shows in Germany spring to mind, as well as the Danish Glam Rock Festivals and the Baltic Rock Festivals. Ticket payers get a feast of entertainment from a fully loaded buffet of entertainers. It’s not the first time that Smokie have been on stage with Alphaville, East 17, Vengaboys and Maggie Reilly, but this 80’s festival also teamed us up with Irish group B*Witched, amongst others. Being from the 1970’s we can, of course, appear on 80’s, 90’s or any other bill they can put together. The ‘f’ version of Alice originated here in 1993, and is now an integral part of any Irish celebration. I would even take a guess that, while we performed it at 3Arena last night it was simultaneously being performed in bars over Ireland, as normal. The 10,000 crowd made the appropriate noises and confetti cannons, pyros and lasers helped to keep the excitement going as the word perfect audience reminisced over this precious era of their lives. Today we come back down to Earth for a Smokie only show in Monaghan, an old stomping ground of ours, before going home to prepare for Australia.


One sure way of knowing that a gig went well is when the promoter rebooks us for the following year. In many cases this is exactly what happens to us, although we are sometimes too booked out to make the gig available so soon, meaning that our diary starts to get filled two years in advance. It’s no challenge to take the party to an Irish audience because they arrive in party mood, whatever day of the week. At Seagoe last night they were on top form, making thunderous audience noises down the ambience mikes that almost drowned out the music. If we give them what they want they return it with interest, and that’s what makes a great gig. Tonight it’s the 3 Arena in Dublin where we join a line up of 80’s acts to entertain the post-rugby revellers who are hoping that Ireland beat New Zealand this morning. 


The Spiegeltent is back in town, as part of its tour of bits of the globe, and it was Smokie’s third visit to this successful touring venue. It appears, like The Tardis, in Wexford at this time of year, and competition for tickets is fierce. Like any pop up venue it doesn’t take up space for long but, when it does, it attracts audiences from places other than the locality, perhaps because they are aware of its existence and maybe they like to follow its progress. There are a few spiegeltents on tour, so this one is not completely unique. It’s sort of like a travelling circus that attracts interest on its own, as well as being a temporary venue for popular artists. Last night’s audience reminded me of my early tours of Ireland when every venue was packed to the rafters and we all left the stage sweating like horses after a race. The organisers had originally asked us to play two nights but we were not available, so it had to be one night only, and a very successful one at that. With the Wexford Festival in full swing there was even an early appearance Christmas Tree on display at Whites Hotel. The Irish are in full party mode and there’s lots more to come. 


It’s not often I have to write that Smokie didn’t make it to a gig, but yesterday was one such fateful day. Circumstances conspired against us to make it impossible to arrive in Yekaterinburg at anything like a reasonable time to put on a show. The closure of the airport at Yekaterinburg, due to a bad landing by a military Antonov, meant mass delays and cancellations. As time ticked away we remained at Moscow Sheremetyevo, patiently waiting for news of our new flight time. Once it became obvious that there was no chance to reach our destination in time we put our efforts into working on the complex problem of getting eight people home to various geographically spread destinations, a puzzle that occupies our management on a weekly basis. With apologies to our audience, who are the most important people in this whole scenario, we are willing to return at a later date to put on the show they were expecting last night. As I write this I am also informed that the flight that would have taken us from Moscow to Amsterdam today is also cancelled so, as it happens, both our outward and our return flights have suffered from cancellations. Travel is most of what we do, and we have to accept the consequences of disruption, but it’s always our hope that such disruption will not impact on the audience. In this case it has but we will do our utmost to make it up to them.


Crocus City Hall is an old friend of ours, having played it several times at mostly the same time of year, namely February. October is a whole different deal; the first snow of autumn is just round the corner and Red Square is still teeming with tourists, albeit a little chilly and well wrapped up against the cold wind. In this pre-gritting period the pavements are spotlessly clean, as are the statues and monuments. In the upper atmosphere strong winds buffet the planes around as the Polar Jet Stream deals with temperature differences between the north and the south. The temperature inside Crocus City Hall was entirely different, filled with a very animated audience who, by their reaction, you might believe hadn’t seen us for a very long time, such was their enthusiasm.It was like playing a home gig, except we are very far from home and amongst people whose first language is not English, although you would never know from listening to their complete grasp of Smokie songs. It was something of a special night and one to remember next time we pass this way. Now we move on to Yekaterinburg in the Urals, another two hours ahead of BST, and to another familiar venue, CCH Cosmos.


This weekend has been all about journeys, partly because of my long trek from Inverness to Bognor but also regarding the musical journey that brought me to this point. Around sixty years ago, as a three year old, I was introduced to a holiday camp on The Isle of Wight where I had a wonderful time that will stay in my memory long after I’ve forgotten day to day details. Amongst my memories was the experience of conducting the orchestra, which I did with enthusiasm and a glimmer of ability. I was bitten by the entertainment bug and ensured that, whenever possible, I hit the stage in whatever capacity was available. I enjoyed the appreciation of the parents as I opened my mouth and invited everyone to “put their thumbs up”. This happy attitude has stayed with me through life and served me well as an entertainer. There is nowhere that this is more relevant than at Butlins, where the cheery mood lasts all weekend and resumes again the moment the next guests check in for a themed weekend. Entertainment is all about putting the bigger issues aside, and there are many of them, and getting down to party. As one of the remaining bands that aren’t a tribute act, Smokie bring something special to the party, and that was well appreciated last night in the Red Room at Butlins Bognor Regis. With clear skies and some final warm weather before autumn arrives, the night was destined to find people at their best. After so many years in the business, I know most of the entertainers who are due to appear at this 70’s weekend and I can guarantee that the guests are likely to have a great weekend of classic music. Now I begin my twelve hour journey home, happy in the knowledge that Smokie made an impact on people’s lives for an hour last night.


We seem to be on a 7-year cycle for several of the gigs we have played recently, the answer to the question about when we last played here being 2012, and last night was one of these gigs, Tollboden in Moss. What most people remembered about it is that the dressing room is in the same building as Peppes Pizza, a fact that comes in very handy after the gig when pizza is almost always available backstage. Early warnings about thunderstorms were heeded and umbrellas were on hand, although unnecessary in the end. Black clouds could not spoil this, our final gig of the summer of 2019, and the audience, dressed appropriately, put on a great show of singing along with us. Singing alongside others in public is very good for health and, that being said, we must have seen a lot of people go home feeling the benefit. Now we get to feel the benefit, after 51 very successful gigs, of a five week break before resuming in the UK. In customary fashion we part company in Oslo and Amsterdam and spread ourselves around different parts of the world. For me it is my home in The Highlands and a chance to work a little on my forthcoming piano EP that I shall upload to iTunes early next year. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far on the Smokie journey, and I can promise many more appearances in future, perhaps in your own neighbourhood.


The waterfront in Tonsberg could not have been more picturesque and idyllic yesterday as the sun shone on the harbour full of boats, including the Viking excursion vessels. Every restaurant was full, the businesses making the most of this final couple of weeks before the end of the summer holidays. Invisible from the water’s edge, Foynhagen is a venue that can pull on a temporary roof in the event that low pressure takes over, as it has this morning, but yesterday there was no such threat. The venue was packed and the audience loud, at times making it hard for the band to hear ourselves. They did what we asked of them, which was to sing their hearts out. There were a large number of young people, doing what their parents did before them, which was to listen to the music enjoyed by their own parents. The new generations keep coming here in Norway, maintaining the band’s popularity through the ages and ensuring years of touring to come. Today we move on to Moss where the weather has something else in store for us on this, the last night of our summer tour. Umbrellas at the ready!


The grounds in Ghazaq were full to bursting before we even began our slow journey in a stretch Hummer and limousine, supported by many motorcyclists. Crowds waved and cheered as we made gradual progress through the streets, some of which seemed too narrow for such long vehicles to negotiate. This is how things were also done last time we were here, seven years to the day, and it’s how it will be done on our return which, incidentally, could be as early as next year. Yes, Malta loves Smokie music and they want more of it. The temperature was roasting, the sweat starting to pour before we struck a single note. DJs wound the crowd up to a frenzy before it was our turn. What a reaction and what a memorable night! No photos can do justice to this memory. I have a feeling we won’t have to wait long for a return visit and I’m happy to sweat my way through another fabulous event on this enchanting island of Malta. 


In this week of “interesting” gigs we had the option of commuting by gondola to the island of Wotschofsca, a forty five minute punt from our hotel. Sadly this didn’t happen and a journey on one of the worst roads imaginable took us to this packed and popular venue. The audience buy tickets without knowing who will be playing, and this format has worked well for the promoter for years. Last night the reaction was magnificent, sealing our decision to put this one in the diary again and, next time, travel by canal. We now part company, some going home and some straight to Malta. For my part I would like two nights in my own bed, so I am trusting KLM to get me home, hopefully on my original route rather than just “somewhere in Scotland”, as has happened during this worst time of the year for travel disruption.


Ancient buildings come with certain limitations and St Nocolai Ruin is subject to an 80dB noise limitation, which would safely allow for one singer with an acoustic guitar and no amplification. That doesn’t describe Smokie, as you may well know. We play hard and loud and no twelfth century structure was built with this in mind. Many battles have been fought for control of this strategic island of Gotland in The Baltic Sea, but last night there was only peace, set against a backdrop of loud music, naturally. With an opening to the heavens St Nicolai Ruin is a gem of a location for a concert. Smokie were originally asked to do two shows in one day but this proved to be too much so we are booked to return next year on a Swedish summer tour that is in the planning. Our visit to Visby (quite similar to York in England) has been a memorable one and has left a strong imprint of a church ruin filled to capacity with Smokie fans who were more than happy to break eclesiastical rules by swearing in God’s house. I think we had special permission to do just that and somehow I don’t think it will be brought up on the Day of Judgement, unless in anecdotal form. 


This year Sweden has been particularly good to us, accounting for thirty nine percent of our shows of which fourteen were indoors and four outdoors. There is yet one more to perform in this country before we bid farewell, and there have been many happy memories made in this beautiful land. Last night’s setting was in a folk park, Tydingesjons Camping Festplats, placed right next to a lake. With such a great location and a packed audience area we were assured of a great night, and that is exactly what occurred. The Swedes know our songs well, joining in as if they’d known them from birth, which many probably have. We now take a short break, and one in which I shall be visiting Nice in the South of France. The words “don’t you get tired of flying?” spring to mind yet, I have to say, flying is still its own adventure and, rather like chocolate, I can make room for lots of it in my life. 


My thoughts have never turned to camping during the summer months, or at any other time of the year. Although I am very much an outdoor person I draw the line at sleeping under canvas. I have much respect for those who can sleep in the great outdoors, and particularly for those who keep the party going, such as the good folk at Lunedets Camping last night. Some were clearly bedded in with their foldaway chairs and food supplies, and others were going more free style in readiness for a bit of movement. Whatever their agenda, they made a great audience who showed their appreciation and joined the party. In Scandinavia, as in The Highlands, there is not much holiday left before the schools return, so the celebrations are some of the last ones before packing up the holiday gear and getting serious again. That great ball of fire in the sky is making plenty of appearances just now and that really helps to keep everyone in a good mood. Today we move on to another camping area within a Swedish folk park, but I shall be pleased to see a bed for a few hours before starting a very long journey home that finds my own airport closed due to industrial action by air traffic controllers, another seasonal joy that is familiar to anyone who needs to travel at this time of year.


I have always thought that every town in Sweden has a folkpark and, in the 1980’s, this may have been true. However, there has been a huge decline in the number of these venues and now it is up to the owners to make them pay by thinking up money making events, other than just live music, to keep the places open. Gone are the days when a band could do one hundred and twenty gigs from May to August and then live off the income. It’s a level playing field for all of us, international bands included, and now we integrate with a popular Swedish band, such as the Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute Band, with whom we are currently working, to make a successful night for the folkpark and maintain its reputation as a place to visit. We want the folkparks to succeed as much as any Swedish bands want them to succeed, so it’s a pleasure to see how Saterdalen has made its mark as one of the folkparks that looks like it is here to stay, at least as long as its owners keep on a good business head. The audience have only to turn up to have a good night; their part is easy, as they ably demonstrated last night during Smokie’s set. It’s easy to become very comfortable with this type of gig and repeat the same every weekend of the summer, however, this summer has thrown some unseasonal weather in our direction and some of those squally showers may have put promoters off from booking future dates in June. We are all wondering what the weather has in store and, indeed, whether there is any point in taking a risk on outdoor gigs in June. There’s one thing that never changes and that is that you can never put people off having a good time to the songs that mean so much to them, come rain or shine, and that is the secret of what’s behind the turnout of large numbers of people during the unpredictable summer months. We have more shows to play here in Sweden but first we must honour that most sacred of airlines, KLM, with our presence for another round of return flights.


At this time of year you might start to entertain thoughts of getting out in the garden to do some essential jobs that have been waiting for you. Last night we had an audience waiting for us in a garden by the name of Hembygdsgarden, and they knew what they were supposed to do on this special occasion. Fully prepared with foldaway chairs and refreshments, they looked comfortable in this most scenic of settings, as well as ready for a show that would put all wildlife on alert. The sky was good to us and it was a dream of an outdoor summer show, finishing on a high as we took the only route available to us to the dressing room, which was straight through the audience. There were plenty of high fives as we made our way back through the crowd. It’s nice to have an orderly garden and last night all was in top shape.


When the audience use the torches on their mobile phones the effect can be beautiful, but not here in the north of Norway where daylight rules. Even the sun refuses to shine until after 10 p.m., when it is low enough in the sky to dip below the clouds. Audience and band alike keep their coats on to take the edge off a cold wind that blows in from the sea. But the beauty of the surroundings makes all of this insignificant, along with the fact that the audience was having such a great time singing along to songs that have become so much a part of their culture that they may as well have been sung in Norwegian. The crowd got what they came for and the band travelled far to deliver it. Once again a three hour trip, that includes two ferries, returns us to Alesund’s Vigra Airport, where we board our first flight that returns us home a shade before midnight. It’s playing venues like this that confirmed our popularity around the whole of Norway, whilst allowing us to see more of this country than most Norwegians. We are truly blessed.

Otepaa Puhajarve

Ask yourself what you were doing twenty two years ago. Two things I know for sure, one is that we recorded “Wild Horses” in Nashville and the other is that we played Otepaa Puhajarve in Estonia. We were there again last night playing to a massive crowd, just as we did in 1997. The same promoter welcomed us back and it was just as if time had stood still. Our festival set was received with enormous enthusiasm by the eager crowd and stage time seemed to just pass too quickly. Festival season, short as it is, is going very well indeed and, so far, the weather is being kind to us. Now it’s a fifteen hour journey home to prepare for the next weekend that finds us in Norway. Perhaps I can leave the sunscreen behind.


Summertime is here and we get to experience some very scenic locations, including last night’s water’s edge stage at Naunhofer See, near Leipzig. Our German audience were well prepared for a night of Smokie hits on a pleasantly warm evening that gave some relief after the heat of the day. From the stage the view was stunning, the lighting giving an extra dimension as the light started to fade. This year we are due to play less outdoor venues than usual, having invested so much time earlier in the year to the indoor ones, so it is a pleasure to bring our full set to a German audience in such agreeable conditions. Today we move on to Estonia where another festival crowd awaits. 


What better place to sing “Whiskey in the jar” than Cork Opera House? The song belongs to this part of Ireland and the audience was mad for it last night. Also we heard possibly the best ever singing to “I don’t wanna talk about it” in a show that was itself our best ever at this venue. This puts the lid on three excellent shows that have reaffirmed Smokie’s contribution to Irish culture. We are due to return to Ireland for an 80’s festival in October but, for now, we take another break before going to Germany and Estonia at the end of this month. 


Our largest audience to date at INEC came ready to party. They knew all the words and all the moves and put the ambient mikes to test with their top volume singing. This is the type of crowd who would be very handy if we were to forget the words to any of the songs. A brief reprieve from the wind and the rain put everyone in a much better mood, ready to party like there’s no tomorrow and with heads full of Smokie lyrics. It felt like a religious event where we were merely performing songs that belonged to the nation. I thank my lucky stars for songs about girls. Tonight we’ll be popping in Cork. 


A new venue to add to our list of places we have played in The Irish Republic, Amber Springs was buzzing with anticipation as we hit the stage. Had there been a decibel metre it would surely have been in the red for most of the evening, and mostly due to the crowd reaction. Now that Mexican Girl is established as being almost as big as Alice it is the “Hasta la vistas” that set the benchmark for audience response, and last night’s was right on 10. It may be a cold, wet June at these latitudes but it’s plenty hot enough indoors, playing to the world’s best party nation. We now move on to the venue that didn’t even exist during my early touring days, and that is INEC in Killarney, where a large crowd awaits and, to cap it all, it’s Saturday night. 


What sort of people go to Iceland for just thirty seven hours? Most people I meet are either working or whale watching. In the dizzy world of rock and roll there is little time to spare for sightseeing unless, like me, you can forfeit sleep in return for walking time. I really don’t want to miss a thing and, although I’ve been here several times before, I always find something new to discover. As our audience at Harpa greeted us with loud cheering, I wondered how many of those were there in the 1980’s when the only gig available was Hotel Iceland, a venue that was also packed to bursting in those days. One thing is clear, and that is Smokie’s popularity in this country. The original plan was for us to play two nights, but we declined the second night and scheduled it for 15th May next year. So we can look forward to another great show here and our hosts have asked if we want to stay an extra day and, guess what, watch whales. I shall brush up on my whale calls in readiness. 


It’s not often we travel east of Jutland while in Denmark. The island has hosted most of the shows we have ever played in this country, with occasional visits across the bridge to Odense. Copenhagen, however, has mostly eluded is on the never ending tour, with just one show at Parken back in 2014. With this in mind, it was great to play to a packed house at Docken, a venue that split the audience into half seated and half standing, side by side so that nobody had their view restricted. The atmosphere, after this sunny day alongside the harbour, was truly great. Our association with Denmark, chiefly because of all the recordings we have made here, is strong and it shows in the loyalty of the Danish fans. It’s now twenty four years ago, in 1995, that we reaffirmed our relationship with Denmark in the making of “The World and Elsewhere”, and then in 1996 with “Light a candle”, both recorded in this country. This tour now finishes, giving us the opportunity to spend three days at home before resuming in Reykjavik.


I couldn’t begin to estimate how many times I’ve been to Aalborg in the last thirty one years, but I can say that I’ve never been to this part before. It’s like they’ve been hiding this part of the city from us, only to discover it now. We’re only a short walk down river from our usual hotel and it’s in this location that we find Skraaen, last night’s venue. With an estimated audience of 1,300 it was again, like Esbjerg, packed and hot. This weekend the Arctic air flow will give way to some warmer, spring-like weather but, for now, it’s best to stay indoors and stay warm on Smokie’s tour of Denmark. With just one more show to perform, we are on our way to Hellerup, near Copenhagen. 


To remember our last gig at Tobakken in May 2004 takes a memory of Herculean capacity, so it goes without saying that we were hard pressed to recall our last visit to this club. The most important thing is, not that we remember how things were, but that we remember how they are, and that is just peachy. The venue was full to bursting and as sweaty as can be, with an atmosphere that would grace any football match that you care to name. When a large venue is full to capacity it becomes an intimate gig, mainly because the audience, however large, feel close and friendly. Esbjerg has clearly missed Smokie since our last appearance in 2010 and the audience made it clear that they were really happy to see us. Once again Luke stood in while Terry had some tests that revealed that he is now back in good health. Today Terry is back with us as we travel to Aalborg. 


May the fourth, as well as being Star Wars Day, was also the day, twenty four years ago, that we were joined by singer Mike Craft. We went on to record the hit album “The World and Elsewhere” in PUK Studio in Denmark, recording a song that is still an important part of today’s set, namely “Have you ever seen the rain?”. That song has seen us through foul and fair weather, at times being the cue for heavy rain at outdoor festivals, but always being an integral part of a Smokie show. It was not originally our song but we made it ours, just as we did with “Whiskey in the jar” and “Will you still love me tomorrow?”. Our audience has grown up associating us with these songs, and none more than in Denmark, a country we could nearly call home. The audience at Kulturcenter Limfjord certainly made us feel like we were at home, warming to us from the first note to the last. It was an occasion that forever sealed our relationship with our Danish public, and one that made us keen to be back soon. We don’t have to wait too long because the Danish Tour continues in Esbjerg on Thursday. Meanwhile it’s time to rack up some of those all important KLM frequent flyer points. 


Our Danish audience were more than happy to stay inside and warm up with some Smokie songs as Spring turned to Winter outside. Musikteatret was packed to bursting as we took to the seated auditorium, the larger of the two venues at this impressive complex in Holstebro. In Denmark they don’t need an excuse to party but we had one anyway. Today we move on to Skive to see whether the audience are even louder there. Cue the decibel metre.


This year’s Danish tour has begun with the last two gigs from the 2018 tour, the first being Pavillonen in Grenaa, a stand up venue in the middle of the countryside that was packed both last year and this year. Our Danish audience were on fine Thursday form, giving us a strong start to this mini tour. Our shows in this country are unusually in the spring rather than the summer and they are indoors instead of festivals. Perhaps we’re in the best place considering the approaching Arctic blast. Today we move on to Holstebro.


Today marks the end of not just the Legends Tour but also of a sustained period of work that took in two weeks in Ireland, one in Norway and five weeks in Sweden that led immediately into this tour that saw us sharing the stage with David Essex, Suzi Quatro and Les McKeown. With no time to stand and wonder, there may be a lot that happened around me but I didn’t notice. The weekly habit of washing the same clothes and putting them back in the same case has felt like a sleepwalking enterprise. That’s my best way of describing it, for anyone who doesn’t know how it is in the entertainment business. That said, it also marks the end of a sustained period of excellence in performance that helps to establish Smokie as the go to party band, the one not to miss when others are raving about what a good night they had. If I had to pick a show on the Legends Tour with the best audience reaction I have to say it was last night at Bournemouth BIC. It felt like we all pulled out all the stops to make it a good one, and the audience were of the same mind. As we now take a two week break, and those freezing cold winds subside to give way to warmer weather, I shall take the opportunity to notice the colours of Spring, the faces of passers by and a whole range of experiences to enjoy when there is time to spare. Until we meet again in Denmark this is me signing off to take that 11-hour train journey home to Scotland and enjoy some beautiful scenery on the way. 


Being in the home city of The Beatles is an inspiration in itself but facing a massive, animated Liverpudlian crowd at M&S Bank Arena puts the icing on the cake because “all you need is love”, and they had it in spades. They came ready to party and they delivered, just as we delivered in our stripped down set in which there was no need to “carry that weight”. It was enough to set a “paperback writer” to work. Right from the first note, I have to say “I feel fine” and by the end there was no way we were “gonna lose that girl” because she (Alice) is the main attraction. Of course I’m not here long, merely a “day tripper” and it’s time to move along, although there’s no need to “drive my car” as I shall be on the train to Bournemouth, and I don’t “get back” home until tomorrow. 


So, it’s “Goodbye Wembley”, and the next pin in our touring map showed we were in Birmingham at the enormous NEC/Genting/Resorts World Complex that appears to have more car parking space than the entire acreage of Vatican City. Last time we were here it was called the LG Arena, and I’m wondering whether re-branding will cause a further name change on our return. Our early set seemed to just hit the sweet spot with our Brummie audience who warmed to us from the first note to the last. Next we are just up the road in Liverpool, from where the origins and inspirations for a lot of the music played tonight can be traced. It might be worth thinking about that before hitting the stage.


If you’re going to say “Hello Wembley” then make sure you’re actually at Wembley. This iconic venue has been the dream of many a touring musician, and we made our repeat visit here after a gap of seven years. The “family” are all getting on extremely well and the waistlines are expanding due to the excellent catering. So far the distances between gigs have been reasonable and logical. An excited crowd gave us a warm reaction inside the arena and the whole show moved along at a pace. I can say that the tour is behaving like a well oiled machine. My part is easy because I just board the train to the next city. Today it’s Birmingham. What it is to be amongst the legends!


Another advantage to not flying is that you don’t unpack your toiletries to find that they have exploded in the wash bag due to the changes in pressure inflight. Sticky wash bags are the bane of the frequent flyer and explosions of conditioner mixed with after shave make an unhappy mixture. The only explosion we needed to consider last night at Nottingham Motorpoint Arena was that of the audience’s reaction to our punchy 30-minute show, and that was something to behold. Since less is more we delivered less (by one song) while achieving more of a reaction. The crowd realised they weren’t having us for long so they made the best of our brief time together. Our set is a mini variety show of contrasting songs that give the audience no time to register the rapid changes in mood, but take them on a speedy fly through of a bijou collection of Smokie hits. This taster menu is going down extremely well on this Legends Tour. Tonight we hit the stage at the venue that helped to coin the cliche “Hello Wembley”, and that’s something that a lot of musicians would like to say they repeated for real. 


It’s always great to be amongst friends, and I think it’s fair to say that we have plenty of friends, old and new, on this Legends Tour. It’s a refreshing thing to play in our own country and it has its advantages, e.g. we don’t have to fly and we can choose our own hotels and travel arrangements. In the afternoon we converge on the arena to soundcheck and have a leisurely hot meal (something that is missing from a lot of tours) and put on a show for thirty minutes in the early evening. There are no 4:00 a.m. alarm calls and there’s no need to rush anywhere as long as the train is the chosen option. Sounds like a perfect arrangement? Well, I could easily get used to this life, but it doesn’t fully represent what we do and what we have to offer. Compromises being made, we are part of a show that really packs a punch and gives great value for the ticket money. With five more to do we can really settle back and enjoy the ride, happy in the knowledge that there are still many territories that count Smokie as one of their favourite bands. Perhaps we are the luckiest men alive. 


There is a saying that “all good things must come to an end”. Somehow this is consistently inapplicable to we lucky fellows in Smokie due to our longevity that, in turn, owes much to a certain girl whose name begins with A. Of course, this particular Swedish tour can come to an end but it joins up, almost seamlessly, with the next tour that is elsewhere on the planet and, before we have a chance to stop and wonder, we will be back in Sweden. It’s rather like going through wormholes in space, where the space time continuum is shorted circuited. There was no problem getting last night’s audience on their feet because it was a standing gig, held in the lovely Folkets Hus in Trollhattan. Thanks were given to both the Swedish and UK technicians for their great work in making the gigs happen, as well as to Luke Bullard for keeping Terry’s seat warm in his absence. It’s been a very special tour that has put a flag in our long term relationship with the Swedish people, as well as guaranteeing that our return to Sweden will be soon and often. Thank you to all our fans. You remain in our hearts wherever we find ourselves in the world.


There is nothing more convenient than when a theatre is attached to the hotel, and Falkopings Stadsteater is one such building. To not have to decide and agree on “when to leave for the gig” is an absolute gift. You can even wander across in your slippers if you feel so inclined. It’s a great facility to have in a small town like Falkoping, and it gets a lot of use both by domestic and international acts. We were faced with a full house of people who were keen to get up on their feet, and that is something that is a little unusual in this part of the world. It’s as if they all got together before the gig and decided that it’s what they would all do together. It was a rousing reaction from a capacity crowd. Now we put the lid on the Swedish tour with a final show in Trollhattan before rushing home to pack another case for the UK Arena Tour. 


We have probably played more venues in Gothenburg than in any other city where we tour, these including Konserthuset, Storan, Rondo, Liseburg, Tradgardsforeningen and Lorenbergsteatern, where we played last night. Conditions could not have been more congenial, with a wave of spring weather that made even London and Amsterdam look chilly. This was Terry’s first show this year, after his spell of medical treatment, and he was really made to feel welcome after thanking the band for keeping the show on the road in his absence. It was business as usual for Smokie with a rousing reaction from a happy crowd, the perfect end to the day that saw the return of the regular band line up. This has really been a very successful tour that has underlined the popularity of Smokie in this country. There are just two more shows to play in this round of Swedish dates but that doesn’t conclude business in Sweden for 2019 because we will be back in July and August. Let’s be ready with the suntan lotion!


All the elements coincided yesterday to make our show at Karlstad CCC the perfect gig. With a full house and some very agreeable weather conditions, the audience were ripe and ready. This was due to be the last show with Luke as our bass player and we made the most of this final opportunity. Celebrations continued until early this morning with an impromptu visit to The Rock Club and a chance to enjoy some farewell drinks. The lost hour of sleep made little difference since we were burning the candle at both ends regardless. It would have made a great end to this Swedish tour but it’s not over yet, there being one more week of shows here before we start on our UK Arena Tour. As we part company to fly to our home airports there are a lot of happy faces.


Where do people go to let off steam? Lokomotivet’s not a bad start, especially when it’s full of Smokie fans. Shaped like Kings Lynn’s Corn Exchange, with a steeply sloping auditorium, it gives more of the audience a better view of the stage regardless of whether they are seated or standing. Of course, our gig is all about getting people standing and moving to the music, and that was something that rolled along like a well oiled machine. With the band in charge of all the points changes we were all set to go in the right direction, heading towards our final destination, a famous song about a girl. This line up has delivered some very punchy performances and it is very likely time to say goodbye to Luke tonight after twenty excellent shows. News of Terry is good and we expect him back next week if his recovery is on track. Today we move on to Karlstad for the last show before those clocks change and borrow an hour’s sleep from each of us. 


Everything changes once Spring arrives. It’s not just the Equinox, it’s the arrival of the days when the sun finally shines brightly enough for you to leave your jacket at home, and yesterday was one of those days, even here in these northerly latitudes. Drivers were more considerate, pedestrians were more polite and even the wildlife seemed to respect the change in mood caused by the return of the sun. Outdoor cafes were packed and there was a persistent chatter on the streets. Consider this backdrop and then imagine the effect it has on a Smokie gig at Konsert and Kongress in Linkoping. The mood was light and the audience were hungry for those hits. Summer days are not far away and we can look forward to taking our shows outdoors again. In the meantime there are many more shows to perform on the indoor tours. Today we move on to Eskilstuna to play a venue we haven’t visited before, Lokomotivet. Let’s see how much steam our audience can give vent to in that location.


To receive a welcome like the one we experienced last night at Oslo Konserthus is to realise just how much the people of Oslo have taken Smokie music to their hearts. Nobody could believe, when I told them, that our last appearance at this venue was thirteen years ago. It probably seems like five to most people, and that is just how fast time goes in this jet set business. The end of the year merges seamlessly into the beginning of the next year and the whole process begins again. It’s a good process, of course, because it constantly puts us in touch with people who want to have a good time, and that’s the best part. Fundamentally this is a Swedish tour that ventured, for one night only, into Norway for a sellout concert. It was great to be back in a city that has celebrated our music for the full forty four years and where successive generations of Norwegians have been exposed to and have taken a liking to our music. In time honoured fashion I now return to base for some clean clothes and a chance to see what’s changed at home in my absence.


Another old favourite that we last visited on the 2012 Swedish tour is Halmstads Teater. Friday night always promises to be a good night in our touring week and last night was no exception. The audience was well up to the task and, at times, possibly slightly ahead of us. Memories of past performances on the beach at Hotel Tylosand were stirred and it seemed like many of our audience members were also present during those shows. This little neck of the woods houses some hardened Smokie fans, and they were determined to sing until they were hoarse. Now we cross the border into Norway for a show at a favourite venue, Oslo Konserthus. It’s all play and no work in this business!


On this, our third week in Sweden, we found ourselves on the east coast, overlooking the island of Borgholm in The Baltic Sea, in the city of Kalmar. We have not been regular visitors to this lovely place but I think that could change after last night’s performance at Kalmarsalen. The venue itself gave little opportunity for getting up and dancing, but it was clear that much of the audience were itching to do just that. We delivered a relaxed performance, with songs running a tad slower than usual, and it was partly this pace that marked last night’s show out as being the best we have played to date. Now we are past the Spring Equinox there’s a definite change in mood that translates well in a musical setting. I took the opportunity, seeing as I am in the locality, to visit the impressive Kalmar Slott, with it’s beautiful view overlooking the sea. Now we move across to the west coast and the city of Halmstad.


You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. The Irish are more than happy to share their celebration with every nation of the world should they choose to honour the green. The Irish people did us two very big favours; they taught the world to party and then they introduced the amended version of Alice. Yesterday we travelled nearly the whole width of Sweden to bring an early show to our audience at Vasteras Konserthuset on this celebratory Sunday. The earliness of the show allowed plenty of time for the audience to source a decent Guinness and for us to travel to Stockholm to be in place for a Monday morning red eye flight. Now we go home for one day before returning on Wednesday to Amsterdam, in transit for our return to Sweden and a resumption of this Swedish tour in Kalmar. 


Boras is a very special city with a strong identity. It is defined by it’s art, notably it’s street art. I remember, on our last visit two years ago, being amused by the enormous statue of Pinocchio. Yesterday I witnessed some of the more surprising artwork that celebrates diversity of appearance. Even the venue, Ahaga, is one of our more interesting ones, being a converted steam engine shed complete with engine that stands behind the bar. Boras is a place to remember, as well as a city that knows how to celebrate. Last night Smokie were greeted by a crowd that seemed born to enjoy our music. Our set flowed effortlessly on a sea of bold appreciation, punctuated with loud applause and laudable singing. What a great Saturday night to precede St Patrick’s Day. Let’s see how things progress now we have reached the greenest day of the year. 


I saw the first evidence yesterday that Sweden is becoming a cashless country as my cash was refused, in favour of plastic, at a restaurant. For touring musicians the daily allowance, or Per Diem, is handed out in cash so we may feed ourselves. In most places this works well but not in parts of Scandinavia where refusal is now the norm. There was one place where refusal was definitely not on the agenda, and that was at Vaxjo Konserthuset, where the audience were up for everything we served and happy to add a tip to the bill. Our seven year absence from this charming city appears to have caused many hearts to grow fonder, and our brace of girls (Alice and the Mexican one) are getting the biggest ever support. This Swedish tour is attracting big audiences and their reactions are magnificent. Today we retrace our steps to travel back to Boras. By the end of the tour we should know every service station on the highways, particularly those that accept cash.


Rounding off my anniversary weekend at Loui de Geer in Norrkoping was a fine way to complete this first weekend in Sweden. There was a little confusion at the beginning as memories were jogged over the appearance of the venue. This was cleared up when I explained that we had always played the venue next door, known as Flygeln, but this time we were in the main theatre. Our Saturday crowd had their party hats on and ramped up the volume for an enthusiastic “Hasta la vista”. Eleven years’ absence is just too long and I think we’ll be seeing this venue on our tour schedule again before long. For now it’s time to get the washing machine on and the same case repacked and ready for our return on Thursday. 


The beginning of the weekend sparks a burst of energy in those whom can celebrate its arrival. I can’t say it has the same effect on me as it does on weekly workers but it still heralds the start of a party mood that is not so pronounced during the week. Radio 2 always announce the beginning of the weekend and that announcement results in a change of feeling and an anticipation that the audience will be a little looser and more carefree. Not having to go to work on a Saturday must be a good feeling yet it’s not one that I usually get to experience. A crowd that is ready to party any day of the week, now that is entirely within the realms of my own experience, and even a regularly occurring event in this crazy business. Last night’s audience at Gavle Konserthus were on fine form, enjoying the return of Smokie to this lovely venue after a 7-year gap. We are just refreshing our association with our Swedish fans in a move that will most likely see us coming back on tour more regularly in this part of Scandinavia. 


It’s a change of scenery, a change of country, currency and weather yet, apart from that, everything else is the same. That pretty much sums up touring. Yesterday I woke up to my thirty first anniversary of being in Smokie and took the opportunity to look back over this glittering career. Having toured the world so hard for so long, I am seeing many familiar places and playing several venues that have hosted Smokie on many previous occasions. What was different last night at Jonkoping’s Konserthuset was the strength of the reaction from our Swedish audience. They went for it with some enthusiasm and, when asked to save their biggest applause for Luke Bullard, were unstoppable. We will see a lot of Sweden over these next five weeks, on the longest Swedish tour we have done for many years, and it will be good to catch up with so many of the fans who have kept our music alive in this beautiful country.


TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar has now expanded to a capacity of two thousand, and there looked to be no empty seats at all last night. Wind back eight years to December 2011, and that was when we failed to reach Castlebar due to deep snow, instead spending an unscheduled night off in Belfast. Last night was a very different story and there was nothing that could come between Smokie and our eager audience. Once again we’ve had a run of three gigs that have climaxed on the last night, leaving everyone completely happy with the results of our Irish adventures. We now move on to colder climes and several weeks in the best of the Swedish theatres, also frequently trodden by ourselves. The party continues. 


At Limerick University Concert Hall the audience need no educating. Primed and ready to go, and with the aid of some very fine acoustics, they were with us every step of the way, soaking up all the songs and rising to their feet at every opportunity. The set bounded along and it felt like time had passed way too quickly. All good things have to end before they re-emerge on a regular cycle, and everyone knows how a Smokie set ends. Perhaps it has something to do with a certain girl. That girl may have left but she did the band the biggest favour ever, evidenced by our forty four years on the road. Neither time nor Smokie stand still, which is great news for my daily step count. Are we moving on today? Is the sea comprised of water?


If I had to pick a place in Ireland that has the most memories it is Mullingar. In 1988 I was the fortunate winner of the first Smokie Classic Golf Competition. After the event there was a most memorable jam night at the clubhouse the likes of which have never been repeated. The Greville Arms was our most regular venue and it was there that we prepared for our most important and historic tour, the 1991 tour of Russia. With so much going on in the back of my mind it was impossible not to feel inextricably linked to this part of County Westmeath. The Mullingar Park Hotel may well be a new venue for us but there was nothing new about being in this part of The Emerald Isle. The new part was our performance and, with Luke Bullard killing it on bass, it was one to be remembered. The audience showed their appreciation for our sparkly performance and waited patiently to shower Luke with praise after the show. For the rest of the band it was business as usual but for Luke it was a special place in a very bright spotlight.


Kongsvinger is around fifty eight kilometres to the east of Gardermoen. We last played here at the summer festival of August 2002. The refurbished Radhusteatret, built in the 1960’s, was our venue for the evening. The Norwegians were busy celebrating gold medals in skiing while we were keeping an eye on The Six Nations Rugby scores. An early show gave everyone the chance to continue the celebrations without burning the candle too low. There was plenty of enthusiasm for Smokie music on this chilly night when snow was still lying on the ground. Scanning the audience, I noticed that many were of our own generation and were fully acquainted with all the hits. We became of big part of Norwegian popular music in the 1970’s and the legacy goes on. 


I’m glad that someone else is keeping records because I couldn’t have told you that it was all of twenty seven years since we last played Grieghallen. That means that Luke, our current bass player, was not even alive last time we were here. My stage shoes were a mere two years old at that point, and now need regular TLC to keep them viable. There has not only been a lot of water under the bridge since then but there are also many bridges that weren’t even in existence twenty seven years ago. Time certainly flies, no more so than when we’re onstage. The hits fly by, the audience grow in volume and, once again it’s time to pay respect to our old friend Alice. I think it won’t be long before we return to Grieghallen.


Vicar Street is simply the icing on the cake, the crowning glory of these three fabulous shows in Ireland. The band has taken on a new lease of life in a well established territory and put a very distinct line underneath the name of each of the three last venues, all of which will be witnesses to our return. The welcome was mighty and the performance took the band to a new level. It would be well nigh impossible not to have a great night in Dublin yet there appears to be a new yardstick by which we may judge the audience’s reaction. Somewhere as familiar as Vicar Street always promises a great party and now the bar is set way higher than we may have imagined. Let’s hope our return visit provokes as good a night as this one we have just experienced.


There are so many reasons to love Ireland and the Irish people. They are as reliable as anyone could wish when it comes to partying, singing, dancing on the tables etc. Letterkenny has always been a good town for Smokie but last night was very special. The atmosphere at an Irish gig has to be experienced to fully understand the method behind the mayhem. Our association with Letterkenny was well established through the 80’s when The Mount Errigal Hotel was so much less than it is today. Now The Clanree is the popular venue for Smokie gigs and it is always a pleasure to be here. The audience reaction last night was mighty and almost too great to be measured in decibels. Everyone is everyone’s friend here and it is a long walk from stage to bedroom as the audience members wait for photos, chats and simply to compliment the band on a great performance. Now we move on to Dublin’s premier club, Vicar Street, where we also have a long established tradition of raising the roof Irish style.


Tradition has it that the Smokie touring year begins in Ireland, as it so often also ends, and The Waterfront in Belfast is usually where the whole business kicks off. Last night kept entirely with tradition right down to the big welcome we received from the audience, who were in very good voice. Christmas now seems like a distant memory, the daffodils are poking their heads through and all is good in the Smokie calendar. Once again we will be in many countries this year, keeping in touch with so many of the people who always return for a Smokie party. With energy recharged we’re all set for a 2019 that will see us in twelve countries (at last count) with several return visits to some of those countries. It’s been three years since the last tour, so we will be back in Australia at the end of the year. There’s much to look forward to so, without further deliberation, let’s get down to the happy business of entertainment, but not before we enjoy a day off in the hospitable city of Belfast.


“Alice” belongs to the Irish, or that’s how it feels. Thanks to them we have now been performing the “f” version for the last twenty five years. The wildest nights of the year always occur on this little island to the west of our homes, and last night was no exception. My memories go back a long way but they can be a little hazy in the 1988 to 1992 era when drink was a personal friend of mine. Apparently our last appearance at a very different looking St Enda’s GAA Omagh was in 1991, and I have to take that as being true. The party spirit was in full flow as we hit the stage and a super excited audience made their enthusiasm known from the first note to the last. It was a very strong end to our busiest year in a decade, with a grand total of ninety three gigs. Now it’s recovery time and a chance to celebrate again with the family, this time at the world famous Edinburgh Hogmanay. I wish to thank everyone who bought a ticket to see Smokie in 2018 as well as everyone who downloaded, streamed or otherwise obtained a copy of any of our songs. Clearly the legacy will last for many years to come and the band will continue to play as long as you wish to see us. Have a very Happy New Year and we will see you again, energy recharged, in 2019. 


I can’t look at Millennium Forum without thinking about the year the roof blew off. In a sense we took the roof off again last night, but only in a theatrical sense. With the mince pies and Christmas pudding fully digested and the cracker jokes just a fading memory, we returned to the epicentre of entertainment, and that is Ireland. Our regular return to Derry is testimony to the love the Irish have for Smokie music. Whatever Christmas celebrations might have demanded of the audience they had plenty of energy and enthusiasm left for a party. The music had scarcely died away before there was talk of next year’s visit. It feels like we were only here last year but in fact our last visit was in 2015. On that occasion the heel broke off one of my stage boots and an emergency repair was necessary. Today we move on to Omagh for our last show of the year.


A busy and successful year like 2018 really needed a big finish leading up to Christmas, and that’s exactly what happened. We are no strangers either to Riga or the arena, so it felt very familiar as we entered the venue and were shepherded to our usual dressing room area. We had to make a fresh start with the newly acquainted St Petersburg Symphonic Orchestra, but they quickly warmed to our methods and this immaculately dressed collection of musicians became the perfect complement to Smokie’s music, enhancing the sound with arrangements that are now completely familiar to us. The audience were clearly moved by what they saw and heard and the party was on. It was a great show on which to finish and we now have twelve days to get everything in order for our family Christmases. I wish everyone the best of all things in their celebrations and some good times with the people who mean most to them. Let’s sing and dance and have fun, tell silly jokes and generally lark about during the season of good will, and also remember to keep doing that for the whole of 2019 just for good practice. 2018 is not quite over yet, and nor is touring because we’ll be back in Ireland on 28th December. More about that later. Merry Christmas!


There was a lot of love in the room last night. “Room” doesn’t really cover it, seeing as we were at Tipsport Arena in Prague, but I can truly say that last night’s show was the best of the tour. It’s sad to bid farewell to the orchestra that has provided us with the most excellent symphonic backing to our songs. Our show moved up to the next level with this presentation. Those who saw it, including fans from outside Czech Republic, were very impressed. But it’s not over yet, because we fly home for a day, winds permitting, before returning to Riga to play one last symphonic show, this time with an orchestra from St Petersburg.


Friday night is party night in Pardubice, or so it seems if our audience’s reaction at CSOB Pojistovna Arena is any measure of partiness. Before the first chord was struck it was clear that the show was going to go down really well. The orchestra played with gusto and the band fired out those hits like there’s no tomorrow. The show has matured since last week and communication between the band and orchestra is at its best. There is anticipation of a big climax to this run of shows tonight in Prague, where we will see many familiar faces from various countries. An exciting night is definitely on the cards. 


After a couple of days of being a tourist in Prague it was good to be back on tour with Obudai Danubia Zenekar Orchestra. We have got to know these lovely people so well that it was like getting the family back together. The interplay between band and orchestra is now very strong and well established that we can all just relax and enjoy the show, keeping things very lighthearted and convivial. The audience at Home Monitoring Arena in the beer brewing city of Plzen were on great form, following every move and every lyric and lighting up the arena with their phones. The arena was freezing cold, so everyone kept their coats on, but it did nothing to spoil the warmth of the reception we received. After the show we returned to Prague from where we commute to our next venue in Pardubice.


It would be unlikely to find a noisier or more enthusiastic audience than the one at last night’s gig at Ostravar Arena. They excelled themselves with their singing and extra noisy “Hasta La Vista” and really got into the spirit of this musical extravaganza. An arena crowd has the capacity to be louder than the music, and they used this to good effect. This symphonic tour is really inspiring to audiences and it is a great pleasure to be part of it. Now we have two days to explore Prague before resuming the tour on Thursday.


There is something in the air, and it’s not just the sound of Smokie plus an orchestra. No, it’s suddenly warmed up everywhere, the snow turning to rain and the grass looking like it could start growing again. My preparations for Arctic conditions were in vain, as I pack away those extra layers and toasty warm gloves. Santa must be roasting in that red suit! Inside Hala Euronics it was bound to be warm, thanks to a large turnout of extra enthusiastic punters. The band and orchestra were on top form and everything was just peachy. Another short journey takes us to Ostrava on this well planned tour that gives plenty of rest time between shows.


The city of Brno is sort of familiar to Smokie in as much as we do perform here, at the quirky dome-shaped Sono Centrum, yet we haven’t so far ventured into the heart of the city. This time things couldn’t have been more different because we were right in the centre of Brno with a welcome night off. Like the Red Arrows we shoot off in different directions to discover the things that most interest each of us, and mine is usually sushi. The various squares around the city were festooned with Christmas decorations, trees, stalls and nativity scenes. Just to add to the glamour we enjoyed a powdering of snow yesterday morning, a brief spell of what’s coming later in much larger quantities. DRFG Arena was the venue for another winning show that stole the hearts of many people here in Brno. It’s impossible not to be moved by the spectacle onstage, impressive as it is with the inclusion of the orchestra and the video screens, or to be unaffected by the arrangements that add a wonderful extra dimension to already popular songs. Needless to say, the audience were on their feet and full of enthusiasm for what we were offering. We now move on to Zlin.


Continuing our well-planned and logical arena tour, we crossed the border into Slovakia for our show at the National Tennis Centre Arena in Bratislava last night. Clear skies mean cold conditions but also wonderful views as we approached the city. After the previous night’s opener there was an expectation that the show would be a success, and there were no disappointments. The video screens behind the 35-piece orchestra help to chart the changes in the band’s looks over time and they also display artistic images to support the themes behind songs. There is much to grab the audience’s attention as they enjoy songs they have known for over forty years. Ours is an energetic show and it encourages similar energy from the audience, who are happy to oblige. That concludes our brief spell in Slovakia and now we cross into The Czech Republic where we now remain until briefly going home on 9th December. Tonight is a night off and a chance to wander around in beautiful Brno.


What I saw on the faces of our audience at Laszlo Papp Arena was pure joy. It was like looking back at a child who was enjoying Christmas surprises. It seemed like they didn’t know where to focus their gaze because there was so much to observe on our packed stage. The orchestra has come up with a top class arrangement of Smokie songs and they play it with much feeling. For the band it is business as usual but there is an extra dimension with the orchestra that turns the whole show into a spectacle as well as a treat for the ears. Facebook was buzzing with compliments after this, our first show of the tour, and the comments backstage were wholly appreciative as well as delighted that the band had been able to encourage this type of crowd reaction. It’s a departure from our usual show and one that requires a huge amount of forward planning and promotion to make it work, but the results speak for themselves and the reaction has to be seen to be believed. Today we move on to Slovakia where we play the NTC Arena in Bratislava.


Christmas starts early in Norway. In Skien last night the dining tables were festooned with decorations and seasonal napkins, the trees were decorated and turkey was on the menu. With one month still to go it is hard to feel enthusiasm for such a distant celebration. It’s rather like celebrating mid-summer a month in advance. However, in this northerly country with its extra helping of darkness, the lights do a lot to keep things cheery. There was no effort involved in making last night’s audience cheery at Ibsenhuset as they arrived in that state. Perhaps it was a mixture of pre-Christmas celebrations and the fact that they were really pleased to see us, but there was an audible roar as we hit the stage, a sound that is unusual to hear in a theatre. We now leave Scandinavia for more southerly climes, but it has been a very successful and memorable part of our 2018 tour. Now we can look forward to the orchestral bit.


As soon as the word “Olympic” is used there is anticipation of something big, and we were not disappointed. Fjellhallen is only the biggest cave in the world in public use and it houses an ice hockey stadium, a music venue and many metres of corridor that were blasted out from the rocks. It is also surprisingly warm inside (except on the ice) and is a welcome escape from the current sub zero temperatures. The venue was sold out last night, leaving little room for the dancing members of the audience to move. The full moon can have a tendency to heighten certain behaviour, but I think the audience needed no encouragement in this area. I would like to see this venue on our tour schedule again one day and I imagine that is not too unlikely a request. 


We’re getting to see a lot of the northerly latitudes at present. They are not the easiest of places to reach as there are always three flights involved, but the journey is well worth making. Our last appearance in Bodo was in the 1990’s, so there was a good reason to come to this expanding city and to play Stormen, a venue that has only been open four years. The show was early, as is usually the case in the far north where daylight only lasts a few hours, and it left the band and audience with plenty of time to hit the town after the show. The audience, as usual, gave us a big welcome and left no doubt about how much they enjoyed the show.This was the first of a series of three shows in Norway before we join the orchestra in Budapest. For now I am just enjoying the Christmas lights and the great view of the harbour from the fourteenth floor of Scandic Havet. An SAS flight takes us to Oslo where we head out to the Olympic Arena in Gjovik, an area very familiar to us because we had a couple of Smokie skiing holidays nearby during our hit record era. 


There are enthusiastic crowds and then there is last night’s crowd at the popular Pitea Havsbad. They positively rushed the stage as we broke into “I’ll meet you at midnight” and, charged with plenty of giggle juice, broke out into a display of free form, air guitar, dad dancing and any form of movement that fit the mood. To say that they were happy to see us is an understatement. This is resort entertainment Swedish style, a sort of Scandinavian Butlins. There was much hilarity, a few accidents and several breakages so, all in all, a great night was had. Outside the Aurora was passing unnoticed, the Leonid meteor shower completely ignored as the party hit fever pitch. Those sort of sights are taken for granted round here but a night with Smokie is something to be savoured. We now bid farewell to Sweden until March but will shortly be just the other side of the border on Wednesday, but not before getting the laundry done. 


After a nine-day stay at home the band was refreshed to resume touring, this time in the north of Sweden. The city of Umea is rarely on Smokie’s radar, the last time being a festival in July 2006, so it made a welcome change to perform at the Folkets Hus, just across the road from our hotel. Winter clothes are not essential since Umea is currently basking in a high of seven degrees with a sky that is clear for stargazing. The audience needed no warming up for they had their party hats on prior to the show, an early one starting at 19:30, so plenty of time after to continue the celebration. There were even punters from neighbouring Finland, asking when we will next be in Vaasa. Scandinavia is booking Smokie on such a regular basis that the whole territory is starting to be a second home for us. Today we continue hugging the east coast alongside Bothnian Bay to return to the much more familiar venue of Pitea Havsbad.


If there are two words that fill a musician with pride they are “Sold out”. These two words are becoming a recurring and very welcome theme in Smokie’s touring life. Our most recent appearances in Tromso were in 2006 and 2010, so the locals were a little more than ready for a Smokie celebration. This time we were on the east side of the island at the very popular Clarion Hotel The Edge where business was booming in every quarter. There was a real buzz in this area on our arrival and the atmosphere peaked as we hit the stage to rapturous applause. It was like being amongst old friends and catching up with each other after a period apart. By no means have we yet finished with Norway this year, in fact we’ll be back in three weeks just prior to the symphonic tour. I’m always hopeful of a clear sky and a chance to see the Aurora, and maybe that will still happen as we reach late November in these very northerly latitudes. Now we return home for our first break since starting in September - a much needed nine days at home to resume our other lives outside touring and remind us of how home looks, and mine changes rapidly and dramatically. I expect there will be many and varied workmen requiring teas, coffees and anything else that’s going. I do remind them that I am much better as a musician than a waiter. The tour resumes on 16th November in Umea, Sweden.


There’s nothing quite so comforting as the sight of lights twinkling and making an otherwise dark place look inviting. Now the clocks have changed there is plenty of darkness to go round yet here in Scandinavia it is to be celebrated. It may be a couple of degrees chillier at these latitudes but there was a very warm welcome from our Stavanger audience. We have clearly been greatly missed around these parts, our last appearance being in November 2002. Time surely flies and the sights of Stavanger seem as familiar to me as if we were here only last year. Our 2018 set, now on its seventy sixth performance, went down extremely well. There is more to do in Norway, before we head for Hungary, starting with a show tonight in the far north city of Tromso. I feel sure that we are in for another great night. 


LKA Longhorn, where have you been all our lives? The list of bands that have played at this venue is enormous, their posters covering every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space. Last night it was our turn to make our debut at this extremely popular club. Being the last night of The Greatest Hits Tour, it was a special occasion made even more special by the atmosphere of the venue and the reaction of the crowd. Our past association with Stuttgart was mainly in connection with the very popular oldie shows, but this time we were back with our own show, and the audience loved it. Now I return home for a couple of busy days before trekking out again to Norway on Thursday. I think I shall be seeing snow very soon. 


Weil Am Rhein is an educational cultural melting pot, situated alongside the Swiss and the French borders. Also, it was an ideal location for our hop across the Swiss border to Z7 in Pratteln, a gig we last played over twenty years ago. I’ve often commented on just how good the audiences are in Switzerland and last night they did themselves proud. There was much to celebrate, including Halloween, if that’s what floats your boat, and the end of Summer Time when our clocks go back again and we retrieve the hour we lost in March. We all know that, in reality, all that actually happens is that our bodies wake us up at the usual time but the clock tells us that it is an hour earlier than we would like it to be. My 5:30 start, therefore, will likely be 04:30 this morning but at least I can temporarily enjoy a bit more light. Whereas Sunday would usually find us on the red eye flight home, we have one last show to perform to wrap up the Greatest Hits Tour of Germany, so we head for Stuttgart and an early show at LKA Longhorn. 


Dancing in the aisles is absolutely acceptable, in fact it’s expected at Smokie gigs where there is seating. There was plenty of aisle space at kultBOX, and the audience made the best use of it. We enjoyed what was probably the last of the warm weather for this part of the Northern Hemisphere prior to the show, and I expect that helped to put the crowd in a very agreeable mood before the performance. Before we began we received a very unusual award which was a cowbell with the date of the show and an inscription that acknowledges our sellout show. It’s a most unexpected and original type of award and I believe there may be a very special opportunity to use it at Christmas, loud as it is. Rarely do we have any material recognition of sellout shows, of which there are many, so it was a surprise and a delight. It is very heavy, as cowbells tend to be, but I have room in my case to get it home. Now we’re all ready for a day off on our travels in the direction of Switzerland. Plenty of cowbells there!


Spectrum has a Tardis-like quality in as much as the dimensions outside are deceptive of the dimensions inside. Only the backstage area is particularly of Borrower proportions with only room for the smallest of pizzas after the show. The venue was packed to bursting and the heat was already at desert scale as we hit the stage. No matter, for I love a good sweaty gig and a receptive audience, and Augsburg did not let us down on either counts. There were some familiar faces in the audience, as there were last night, of people who have followed the band for the best part of forty three years. We are growing older together (gracefully, I hope) and I hope to see these people as long as I am still touring with Smokie. Did someone mention retirement? I have no idea what they mean!


Last night we resumed the Greatest Hits Tour of Germany with a show at Hirsch in Nuremberg. Although many of us didn’t recognise the gig it was no surprise to discover that we were here in September 2007. A return performance was well overdue and the audience were hungry for Smokie music, devouring every song that came along as if there had been a musical famine. We are now on the club part of the tour, on a circuit that would be familiar to many performers. The audience last night was very close and packed into this rock venue with its long history of named acts. We move on to Augsburg today to play the Spectrum, another venue that is in this golden circle of club venues. 


The sight of hundreds of mobile phones shining in the dark is one of which I never tire. The modern equivalent of cigarette lighters, they look like fireflies hovering in the night sky. Our second celebration at the mighty Olavshallen was an unqualified success. Our history with this venue seemed to make the party even more special. A member of another band, who saw our first show at this venue in 1989, returned for another photo with us to post to Facebook alongside the photo that he took (not on a mobile phone) twenty nine years ago. There were many nostalgic comments about Smokie’s connection with Norway in general and Trondheim in particular. Now we make a brief visit home before returning to Germany tomorrow to resume the Greatest Hits Tour.


Getting from Taormina in Sicily to Kristiansand in Norway takes some preparation yet it is completely possible when our Danish friends from North Flying have a private plane waiting on the tarmac at Munich Airport. This year’s Dark Season Festival was held in the big tent in the City Hall Square pending the refurbishment of Caledonien Hotel, although it seems that the tent, which will now be part of the Oktoberfest celebrations, could become a regular feature for Norwegian festivals at this time of year. Last night it was full to bursting with punters who were ripe for partying. The afternoon’s sunshine gave the lie to the fact that it is Autumn and we are slightly more than two months away from Christmas. Smokie celebrations are not dependent on weather, season or daylight, therefore it is possible to be entirely unaffected by natural conditions. Any time is a good time to party, so let’s go and do another one in Trondheim tonight. 


Once again the Spiegeltent made its appearance at The Wexford Festival and tickets were sold out for last night’s show weeks in advance. There was a request for Smokie to play two nights but we couldn’t squeeze any more shows into our busy October schedule. Fortunately the high winds, that had been a feature of the day’s weather, had subsided and much calmer conditions presided over the evening’s show. Inside it was very steamy, the condensation running down the walls in a way that is a familiar sight here in Ireland. Coming off stage soaking wet is a recurring experience in this country as well as a sign of a really good gig. There was no mistaking the audience’s enthusiasm for they celebrated at volume, in competition with the PA. I now return home, for a rare Saturday night in my own bed, before flying to Italy on Wednesday to celebrate a 50th birthday. Let’s keep those air miles going!


We’re back on familiar territory, Olavshallen, where we have a very special relationship since we were the first band to play here in 1989, and then went on to visit regularly and record this performance in 1992: I reminded Steve that it was here that he jumped off the PA stack, breaking his leg but still performing another six shows in Sweden before visiting hospital. The stage is massive, designed as it was for full orchestral concerts, and the auditorium has the best acoustics of anywhere we perform. Last night’s show was the first of two sellout shows this month, the next one being in nine days, after we’ve been to Ireland and Italy. Our 2018 set went down particularly well in this setting, with “Whiskey in the jar” a firm favourite. We always did say that Norway is the Ireland of the north. Once again the skies beckon us so it’s time to hit the KLM trail to Dublin for a night off in The Emerald Isle. I may just have to see how the Guinness is tasting. 


Yesterday I saw snow for the first time since Spring. Small clumps on the side of the road gave testimony to the fact that the north of Sweden had already had an early fall that may signal a long winter to come. In contrast to the outside temperature there was a lot of warmth for us from our audience in the intimate setting of the Hotel Lappland Theatre. Taking advantage of last year’s full house, we enjoyed the same this year with a crowd that was equally fired up right from the start. This could easily be an annual event, and I expect it would be if it weren’t for the fact that next year’s diary is starting to look fairly full already. However, I expect a two-year gap will do no harm at all, especially as our Swedish audience were so pleased to see us. We have a short break at home now before returning to Scandinavia again for the first of two shows at Trondheim’s Olavshallen, the place where Smokie has the distinction of being the first band to perform there. Last night we left the stage and immediately got back in the bus for the trip to Umea’s airport and an early flight, the first of three to get us home. That’s life on the road!


Continuous widespread touring makes everywhere feel like home. Arriving at Lulea Airport at midnight, after a 14- hour journey, I saw all the familiar sights and checked into the customary hotel opposite our regular venue. I don’t get too many surprises at this end of my Smokie career but I do enjoy the feeling of familiarity in so many of the places to which we return. The same must be true for our audience who are totally familiar with our material and greet us with the enthusiasm of old friends. Wearing a shirt that celebrates vinyl records, I talk to the young support band and inform them that Smokie have released two albums on vinyl after a twenty eight year gap dominated by CDs and downloads. Since they are all less than twenty eight they can only imagine what it’s like to be considering something that they naturally do themselves. I wonder what they will be doing after forty three years, the length of time between our first hit and the current day. Last night Lulea Kulturens Hus reverberated to the sound of Smokie music, as I’m sure it will again, and the process will be repeated as long as it is possible. 


This week I excel myself, in a stunning display of loyalty to Schipol, by being there four days out of five. This glorious display of to-ing and fro-ing owes it all to my packed schedule and, in turn, my packed and re-packed suitcases. This may seem crazy but, when the band gets this busy, the occasional night at home is to be savoured. My frenetic travelling was entirely worthwhile, as it turned out, for a full house awaited in Neunkirchen at the impressive Geblasehalle. To fill a venue and impress an audience on a Tuesday is worth a mention. Perhaps part of the success of the ticket sales was to do with the bank holiday in Germany today, so people don’t have to rush to work. Whatever the reason, it was a great night on this, our eighth show on the Greatest Hits German Tour. We now take a break from Germany to travel to the north of Sweden, but not before another one of those rare nights at home. 


It is some time since we passed this way, in fact it’s eleven years almost to the day. Kulturfabrik looks exactly the same, stuck as it is in a timewarp that serves Smokie extremely well. I have mentioned a few times how loud the “hasta la vistas” are getting, but last night took the prize. The house was full, the air was hot and it was a proper rock ‘n roll gig. Now I hit the road at 04:30 to travel home overnight for fresh clothing before leaving again tomorrow for Frankfurt and another show in Germany. 


Burgerhaus surprised me, set as it is in a residential area. It doesn’t seem as though there could possibly be a venue in the street but there it is, complete with its own Greek restaurant. Location isn’t everything in this case, but reputation is far more important. It may be Butzbach’s best kept secret, although I doubt that the residents of this small and attractive town could keep quiet about such a jewel in the crown. They certainly didn’t keep quiet as we took to the stage last night, doing us proud as have all of our German audiences to date. Wolfgang and Elke, the local promoters, are very proud of what they have achieved in making Burgerhaus so popular. Happy to host our show, they are already talking about our next visit. Funnily enough, I was thinking the same thing. 


Last night’s crowd were the most vocal on the tour to date. They seemed especially pleased to see us at Mannheim’s Capitol and raised the decibel level quite a few notches. The sunny day, perhaps the last warm one this year, helped to put everyone in a good mood. To be this warm at the end of September is a real treat and makes me feel that, however cold it gets from now on, at least we have seen a good amount of sunny weather. The temperature inside Capitol soared as the crowd reached their most enthusiastic. It was like playing a home town gig in Germany. The tour is already one week old and today, after performing sixty shows already this year, we move on to Butzbach, where I expect we may find a similar crowd.


There have been some memorable gigs in Berlin over the years, including an atmospheric New Year show close to the Brandenburg Gate. Last night was equally special as we hit the stage at Huxley’s Neue Welt. Memories of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” were stirred from my reading of the book and, although there was no direct relevance, it started me thinking about how society is changing. Huxley defines a world in which our status is pre-defined from conception which, incidentally, takes place in a laboratory. I know that my own status as a musician was clearly hinted to me from a very early age when I started knocking out tunes on a piano before anyone tried to teach me how to do it correctly. If there was anything pre-ordained last night it was that our Berlin audience would arrive ready for a very special night with the band. Putting aside our history of appearing only at Oldies Festivals, it was a breath of fresh air for both the band and the audience to be able to present a full show to a satisfied crowd. The night rounded off a run of four very successful shows in Germany that point to a very good touring future here. Today we board the ICE train for a 600km journey to Mannheim before continuing the tour tomorrow night.


It would have been unthinkable twenty years ago for Smokie to perform our own show in Germany, regardless of the fact that we sold millions of records here in the 1970’s. The Oldies Shows in the following decades were such an important part of the musical culture that anything other than a variety show of entertainers was unlikely to succeed unless it was an act that was charting at the time. Things have changed and the German audience are ready to hear all that we have to offer. The band line up has remained the same for twenty two years, so our young audience only know Smokie as the five individuals who stand onstage today. There was no mistaking the raw enthusiasm from our audience at Alte Oper last night. A loud cheer is heard at the end of our opening number, “I’ll meet you at midnight”, and that cheer sets the tone for the whole show. The audience couldn’t do more to let us know how much they are enjoying themselves. I conclude that Smokie are back in a big way and a fresh way here in Germany, and it’s a great feeling. We move to Berlin today for a night off, a tour dinner and a chance to reflect on the reaction to the shows so far.


I am fairly sure I have never been to Hoyerswerda before as it is not a name I would easily forget. Because Smokie have visited all corners of Germany, and some many times over, it is tempting to think that we have been everywhere. Last night we were in less than familiar territory but with an audience that was completely familiar with our music. On this second night of the German Tour we were given a very warm and vocal response. It was like being amongst old friends. The set is now so well honed that it flows effortlessly and with great effect. Tonight we will be in Erfurt for an earlier performance in a sellout venue.


Last night we continued a plan that began in April 2015, namely to tour Germany with our own show rather than be part of an Oldies celebration. For a long time we have felt that our German audience would like to see a show that enables us to embrace four decades of music instead of just one. At Steintor Variete in Halle our audience rewarded us with a reception that confirmed that there is a demand for the band to entertain for a whole evening, thereby including songs that would otherwise have escaped their attention. It was a very strong start to our autumn tour that begins in Germany in September and returns again in October. With 39 dates to complete before the end of the year, we are going to be busy travelling and playing. Summer weather in Halle soon changed to autumn, just as the equinox is about to take place, and I think I might be glad I brought the fleece that seemed so superfluous in yesterday’s 28 degrees. Today we move on to Hoyerswerda. 


It’s not unusual for me to find myself up a mountain, but it’s a little rarer for my colleagues in Smokie. In Norway almost anywhere can be a festival venue, so it’s perfectly normal to perch at over 1,000 feet and crank up the volume. Who will possibly complain about the noise level? Looking back to the beginning of our touring year, at The Annette Fox Charity Dinner, it seems a very long time ago in this, our busiest year since 2008. Business is booming for us and shows are selling out on a regular basis. Gausdalfestivalen is in its first year and yet it still pulled a very large audience for our show. Now it’s time to break for the summer and recharge a little in readiness for a busy autumn schedule. This year I am actually taking a holiday, a mini break in Venice for four days. I went straight from stage last night to Oslo Airport to wait for security to open so I could board the 06:30 flight to Amsterdam and onwards to Inverness. Later this afternoon I shall drive to Edinburgh to be close to the airport for my early Monday morning flight to Venice. Even when I am not travelling to work I still travel for pleasure. It seems like the sky is my real home. Talking of the sky, I really hope this year to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, something I miss every year due to cloud cover or light pollution. My thanks go to all those people who have bought a Smokie ticket this year and enjoyed our show. We’ll see you again next time we’re in your neighbourhood or somewhere near. Now it’s time for me to board another flight. I should have been born with wings.


For the second year in a row Smokie find ourselves playing at an Irish racecourse, this time at Leopardstown. Conditions were rather different to last year’s Punchestown appearance and this time there was a little more at stake in the form of a race named after the band. A €50 stake was provided to place a bet which, if won, would provide money for a charity of our choice. Of course we chose our Annette Fox Leukaemia Charity and Steve picked the horse that won the race, Innamorare. There followed a round of photographs and a televised interview before we took to the stage in front of a crowd of 6,500, the largest they have seen during this series of Bulmers Live at Leopardstown. Our Irish audience proved once and for all why they are the best in the world, bringing the party to the band and taking no prisoners. The decibel metre was greatly challenged as the volume of the audience competed with the volume of the PA. Our first visit to Leopardstown will surely not be our last. Today we move on to Oslo to get in place for our final show of the summer.


Once again jackets and rainwear were the order of the day in Valsoya, only days after the temperature had topped out at 33 degrees. Hestholmen is home to an adventure park that features tree top walks and zip wires, as well as playing host to the Retrofestivalen. We hit the stage at 10.00 p.m., just as the light was beginning to fade. Behind the crowd was the familiar Norwegian  vista of trees, lake and mountains. Holidaymakers and thrill seekers were celebrating their last but one weekend of their Scandinavian holidays, and they were in excellent voice. Our near word perfect youngsters are able to enjoy some of the music that inspired their parents, and I hope they will be able to do this for many years to come. 


Over the years I have seen festivals grow from a small enterprise to a large undertaking. Treungenfestival is one such event that has now grown so large that it’s hard to recognise the site on which it is built. When I talk to bands who are playing it for the first time I feel like a veteran which, in many ways, I am. The reception last night for “the veterans” was magnificent. There was a notable change in conditions, compared to our previous visits, when we huddled round the fire for warmth after the show. This time there was no fire due to strict controls during the drought. I think the air will be a little fresher once we reach Trondheim this morning.


Not a lot of people can squeeze over 2,000 people plus a full production into their garden. Our host in Svangsta managed it last night with room to spare. My day consisted of driving to Stockholm, flying to Copenhagen then driving back into Karlshamn in Sweden. Even the security guards in Malmo were surprised when I told them the plan. Heat was again on the menu as the mercury hit 33 while we melted on stage. We need a new word to describe just how sweaty I had become. Clearly the audience were well into the show, and determined to show us that not even the heat could interfere with their celebrations. It was an extraordinary and memorable night, set in an impressive location with a delightful audience. What more could you hope for in a garden party?

On Hedesund

Scandinavian holidays are in full swing, hence it is possible to fill a venue on a Tuesday, the last one in July. Everything is made more palatable by the agreeably hot weather that brings people outdoors as sure as it causes an increase in barbecue sales. Now we’re all so used to being outside we don’t wish to go in again, and that is good news for summer festivals that are experiencing record crowds. Last night we played in On (Hedesund), and so we went on in On on time. Set in a forest surrounded by lakes, it was a beautiful setting in which to celebrate our 50th show this year, and there are another 44 to go before we put the lid on 2018. If there was a metre that measured happiness I think it would have been touching overload, if last night’s audience were any gauge. Add to that the general comedy of being constantly bombarded by flying insects and we had a truly memorable night. Now we fly to Denmark in order to travel backwards into Sweden. Who can honestly say they did that out of choice?


After a day of dodging thunderstorms I ended up alongside Lake Hallwil in the sumptuous Seerose Resort and Spa with its scenic views. From the safety of this ultra clean environment I read of the chaos back in the UK, feeling very lucky that I was here in Switzerland. Sportplatz Bez Fahrwangen was geared up for a big festival crowd and there was nothing to stand in the way of a really good night. The previous evening’s lunar eclipse and blood moon provided an intriguing spectacle as I descended into Zurich Airport. In keeping with the reputation of the Swiss, everything ran like clockwork and the town of Fahrwangen celebrated like there is no tomorrow. Luckily for me there is a tomorrow because I shall leave home once again, having only just arrived, to set off for Sweden and Norway. This is Smokie at its busiest, so we make hay while the sun shines. Let’s see where it is shining today!

Faroe Islands

After the way the crowd were jumping up and down last night, at the open air concert in Torshavn, it’s a wonder that Faroe Islands haven’t shifted a couple of inches. The audience met every song with elation, culminating in a football style response to Alice. Neither the cold nor the drizzling rain could divert their attention away from the intense and focused hour of singing along with us. We have been to this country many times but have never seen a better reaction from a Faroese crowd. The night just put the cap on a trio of excellent shows this week that have all attracted big enthusiastic audiences. We left some folks still in party spirit as we got up for the red eye flight from Vagar, the first of three to get me home today. Next stop is Switzerland, but not until after I have joined my family for celebrations in the lovely city of Edinburgh. 


Another Folk Park was buzzing last night, this time in Trelleborg, the southerly Swedish port that serves Germany, Poland and Denmark. There was a marked difference in the appearance of this venue in comparison with the previous night’s retro theme, for it looked to be a fairly recent construction, if the condition of the dance floor is any guide. A full house is still a full house by any standards and this outdoor venue was jammed to capacity on one of the best evenings this summer has to offer. The half moon offered extra light as the sun went down and kept our lively audience visible from our perspective. As is the current trend, the audience and the weather are making this year’s festival season very special. Now we leave summer behind to visit Faeroe Islands for an outdoor festival in rather different conditions that may come as a bit of a shock to the system. All I need to do is remember that I brought a jacket for this exact occasion.


I instinctively know if I’ve been somewhere before, even without looking at my long list of data stretching back many years. We can’t be expected to remember everything, but there is something very special about Tyrolen that would make it impossible to mistake. Built in 1962, it has remained in a curious timewarp, and one that has found it fame. This ancient folk park is a museum of 60’s culture that has recently reopened to massive appeal, making it a bit of an enigma in the general folk park scene. It’s a bit like the very first Hard Rock Cafe in as much as it would be given greater value than its successors. Even our support band, Flamingos, were little changed from their 60’s lineup, so the stage was set for a properly retro evening. History has never been more popular than it is now and it draws wide eyed youngsters in with its educational appeal and the experience of being in the same space as people who were actually there during a period of special interest. As we took to the small but adequate stage we were faced with a huge crowd that had answered the call of this very special place. People love singing familiar songs and that’s what they do at a Smokie concert. As usual there was a great spread of ages at Tyrolen and the younger generation appeared just as enthusiastic as the older folk. I would love to return to this venue again some time in my career and, if it is long enough, there may be a good chance that it happens.


Moving people and equipment around different countries during the busy summer months is not without its risks. With the very best of intentions and careful planning there is still the possibility that not all of your valuable pieces will make it to your destination. Never mind because equipment can be hired or borrowed and the show continues as nearly normal. With this mindset in place Smokie were prepared to perform at Wels Music Festival entirely without any of our guitars. You might think that guitars are all alike, but ask any player and their response may be different. However, the show goes on and the audience is largely unaware of any problems. We put our audience first, so their reaction to what they see and hear is all that matters on the night. Kaiser-Josef-Platz was full to bursting when we finally hit the stage after our lengthy journey from Bergen. The people and press of Wels had been looking forward to this night and they made that abundantly clear to the band. It was a big night with a big reaction and it’s left our audience in a happy state of celebration, clearly wanting to hear more from us. 


Last night at Tysnesfest we may well have heard the loudest “Hasta La Vista” ever. It seemed like the audience drew in breath together and braced themselves for a cacophony. Their best volume then became the norm for the rest of the show as they joined in with every word of the Smokie set. A predominantly young audience had been well versed in our material and were in good party spirit aided, of course, by the obligatory beer or two. Festival season is in full swing and there was a general holiday atmosphere in and around the venue and the assorted jetties lined with power boats, all full of revellers. There were more than a few invitations to join the boat owners and their passengers for beer and selfies, but we had other obligations, including two flights to Vienna this morning. If a rolling stone gathers no moss then we can be sure not to find any growing on our shoes.


Last night we were in the hands of Rebels - at least that was the name of the organisation, based at Musikk-Kjellern in the pretty town of Gran, who brought us to this part of Norway to celebrate their summer party. Like a cake mix, we had all the ingredients needed for a good time, like a Norwegian audience, great location and Smokie, a mix that can’t fail during this remarkable summer of 2018. Of course it had nothing to do with England taking our football skills to the next level, although that helped to put extra spring in the Smokie step. I felt like I was working but in a holiday type of way. Now I return to The Highlands on my 62nd birthday and get ready for some more touring, there being another twelve shows before the summer break. Who needs a holiday?


From the rolling hills of Grassington to the mountainous landscape of Kvinesdal, it’s been a scenic four days in the Smokie calendar. The walk to the stage couldn’t have been much more different, there being a fifteen hundred feet variation in elevation between the two. I am no stranger to mountain walking for it’s what I do regularly in The Highlands, and there is something about looking out from a high viewpoint and seeing a destination that makes me want to walk there without delay. I hardly need to point out that the weather was perfect because that is a repeating daily pattern during this surprising summer of 2018. What struck me was the large percentage of young people in the audience, much like it was thirty years ago in 1988. It seems like there is yet another new generation that enjoys Smokie music in this quarter of Scandinavia. Perhaps our reputation for having the biggest selling album of all time has prompted the young ones to check us out, or perhaps they are listening to their parents’ music. Whatever the reason, it was clear that they, along with other age groups at last night’s gig, were well into our show. There was no midnight sun, for we are too far south, but the late night semi darkness allowed for a few atmospheric lighting effects to enhance the finale to a ripping show. Now I return home, on three flights, to prepare for another Norwegian visit next week, after which I travel home on my birthday. 


Two things are occupying British minds at present - the current heatwave and football. Both have had a profound effect on many people and caused a lightening of the mood and a tendency to celebrate. Smokie know a lot about celebration for it is what we do every time we hit the stage. When the audience arrive with their party heads on we have only to stir things up a little bit to get the energy flowing, and last night at The Grassington Festival it flowed like Niagara Falls. The sheer volume of the crowd gave testimony to their enthusiasm and the compliments after the show came in quantity. We finally made it to a UK summer festival, and that, in itself, is an achievement. After a great night there is always talk of a return visit, and I would not be too surprised to see this date in our diary again some time in the next decade. Perhaps the sun will shine for us again and our England team repeat their impressive performance to date. I can now enjoy a day off in Grassington and the chance to see how tonight’s football match plays out. 


My first time in Liechtenstein was just three years ago when we played up a mountain in Malbun. Our promoter loved the show that night and made sure to bring us back one day, and the rest, as they say, is history. Last night’s show was altogether closer to ground level at Grossabunt in Gamprin, where the sunshine attracted a capacity crowd to the venue with its lakeside position and breathtaking views of the mountains. A day of leisure was followed by an evening of alternative leisure in an idyllic location, and what more could you wish for? This was summer at its best and an audience that was ready for a party. I can well imagine that our promoter is already making plans for our next visit, and that is exactly how Smokie’s world spins. We now take a very welcome break before resuming in Grassington on 27th June.


My weekend began early with a flight on Thursday evening to Prague, where I stayed in the arty Prague 3 district prior to my day of promotion for the forthcoming symphonic tour in November and December. The day consisted of a press conference followed by numerous interviews by journalists from Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, whose focus was why Smokie are undertaking a tour with an orchestra. It’s not our first symphonic tour and I’m sure it won’t be our last, and we left the journalists with a taste for the excitement of putting on shows that have a greater dimension and attraction than solely a band performance. To get excited about pre-Christmas events takes some doing during a hot and sultry June, when winter is the last thing on anyone’s mind. 

With a successful day of speech and photos concluded, we ventured to our hotel for two nights, the beautiful Zamek Dobris. This castle’s accommodation and restaurant area is of the finest quality and urges the customer to interact, enjoy and give a little less attention to the gadgets we hold so dear. The sky drew black as the day progressed and I saw the first rain I had witnessed in weeks. The ferocity of the thunderstorm quickly created deep puddles around Letni Kino but the audience was prepared. Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for the evening and they gave us a rapturous welcome. This is our last appearance in Czech Republic until the symphonic tour and, if initial sales are anything to go by, it promises to be a very successful tour. 


Junge Garde is an outdoor amphitheatre, reminiscent of Waldbuhne in Berlin. Last night we struck lucky and there was no need for a single waterproof or umbrella. Being mindful of the need to observe the strict 22:00 curfew, we hit the audience with a punchy seventy minute set that had them dancing on the concrete tiers. Our two-show German weekend was an unqualified success and a chance to really catch up with our friends in Sweet. For my part I am returning to the sunny and dry Highlands to recharge before journeying to The Czech Republic to promote the end of year symphonic tour. 


The weather has dominated our German shows so far, and continues to do so. Some people spent a lot longer in Amsterdam than they would otherwise wish, while in Hamburg the sun was cracking the pavement. Could we rely on it to stay calm until after the show? The venue at Stadtpark was packed with people who came prepared for the predicted storm, and their expectations were met just before we broke in to “Have you ever seen the rain?”. Our German audience gave us a great reaction throughout and stayed until the last minute when lightning heralded a slightly early end to the show. At least we finished on Alice, so Alles gut (as they say here). Today we start early on our 500 km journey to Dresden where we can expect more of the same. 


Last night festival season kicked off in style with a crowd of several thousand flocking to Jurmala Beach for our show at this year’s town festival. After a baking hot day we witnessed a perfectly blue sky fade to crimson as the sun went down over a warmer than usual Baltic Sea. Several stages had been pumping out disco music since mid-day, creating a non stop party atmosphere in this popular part of Latvia. The celebrations went late into the night with music coming from every direction and the beach and streets were still crowded. The town festival has attracted people from many countries and the Latvian people are fully prepared for their visitors to this beautiful region. Smokie’s show went down very well, prompting a big reaction from the crowd who were very happy to see us. We now move on to Kiev where there is a private function that needs our attention.

Portadown, Ballybofey and Carrickmacross

The words “We know you can sing, now let’s see if you can dance” are enough to initiate an eruption of movement here in Ireland. It’s as if someone flicked the euphoria switch and everyone came alive. Had there been tables they would have been props on which to dance, but the floor was good enough for last night’s audience at Seagoe Hotel. We can always count on the Irish audience to have a good time, and that’s something they do to perfection. So began our weekend of Irish hotels, a trio of unusual gigs for Smokie since we hit the theatre circuit but, nonetheless, a run of sellout shows to the nation of people who took their party spirit to every corner of The Earth. We continue tonight, on this Royal Wedding Day, in Ballybofey where another party will surely accompany all our familiar melodies. Let’s get the tables ready.


May 19th was always going to be a day full of excitement, with so much happening and sunny weather to make it all the more enjoyable. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that Harry and Meghan joined in with the chorus of “Who the f**k is Alice?” last night, just as I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that maybe Man Utd were consoling themselves with beer and and an alternative lyric of “Who the f**k are Chelsea?”. The song plays everywhere but there was only one place on Earth where it was played by Smokie, and that was at Jacksons Hotel, Leisure and Conference Centre in Ballybofey. I hardly need to say that the audience were on fine form because that is a given. With extra care taken to get the butt shaking just right during Dianne Warren’s “And the night stood still”, we were treated to a show of our own as the girls in the front row took the invitation literally. It was a great end to a great day, and one that will be remembered by so many people for so many reasons. But for us we yet have to do it all again tonight.


This was almost like I remembered Carrickmacross, except Treacys looks brand new. There is still evidence of the old hotel once you get inside but otherwise it’s a totally different look for a different era. Some things can never change, of course, and that includes the extreme heat onstage and the wild reaction of the crowd. My earliest memories of my time with Smokie include recollections of playing to more than capacity audiences while several hundred people were left outside without a ticket. It was the earliest manifestation of Smokie mania and it seems to be emerging once again. Where else in the world can you meet a party crowd on a Sunday night? That concludes my springtime Irish adventure and I now return to recharge, replenish and refresh before taking to the skies again on Friday.


On MS Cinderella it’s not just the audience that sways. By the time we get onstage the ship is already crossing The Sea of Aaland, so there is invariably a bit of movement, enough to swing the PA and make you feel a little off balance. It’s all part of the fun on this, our eighth booze cruise with Viking Lines. The one hour set whizzes past so fast that it seems we have no sooner started than it’s time to waive goodbye. For my own part I was off the stage and running, given that I only had five hours before the alarm and the need to transfer from Cinderella to Rosella and travel back to Stockholm Arlanda, there being only one flight option to get me home. It’s a rare pleasure to make it home on a Friday night, in time for a weekend celebration. As it happens I am returning to an unusual visitor - a baby hare that was abandoned and in a sorry state in my garden. The little creature is doing very well with lots of love, feeding and nurturing and will eventually return to the wild where she belongs. I hope she remembers us, stays somewhere close and brings up her own family one day. That is part of the pleasure of living in the wonderful Highlands. 


It’s a steep climb up the hill to Sodra Berget Hotell and Resort, but the view is tremendous from this altitude. There was even a chance to see the Aurora if it wasn’t for the fact that the sky clouded over late in the evening. Arriving at the hotel, we met with a huge number of people who were there for one reason only - to party with Smokie. By now we are totally accustomed to seeing sold out venues, so it came as no surprise that the room was full to bursting, and the audience completely prepared to join in with every song. We are coming to the end of the current wave of Scandinavian shows, but not before we make another visit to MS Cinderella on Thursday. I return to Scotland for the Spring Bank Holiday and a chance to spend two days on the ground before taking to the air again. I should really have been born with wings. 


A frozen lake is a sight to behold at the beginning of May. Many piles of snow, blackened by car exhaust emissions, stand six foot high and show little sign of melting, even when the sun is shining high in the sky. Ostersund has properly woken up, as evidenced by the vast number of people now enjoying outdoor living, but the seasons are a little confused. Everything here is about a month late, including the ice on the river and the luxuriant snow on the hills. There was nothing late or cold about our audience at OSD Folkets Hus Congress Centre, for they packed out the venue and were ready on time to join in with every word and every nuance of our now very popular set. It was like looking in the mirror as the crowd expertly demonstrated just how accustomed they were to Smokie songs. This is Smokie revival, or maybe Smokie awakening and, whatever it is that is driving audiences around the world to support us, it is a great pleasure to repeatedly feel the love from so many people in so many places. Today we move on to Sundsvall where the very familiar Hotell Sodra Berget is waiting to vibrate to our tunes. I feel another successful night coming on. 


Our trio of shows here in Norway was rounded off with a repeat visit to Askoy Forum, where a large crowd were making the most of the extra daylight on a sunny April evening. I have been coming to Norway several times a year for the last thirty years and I know that a Norwegian audience like to fill the hall only once the band have started. The intros I have composed over the years serve to announce the band’s arrival onstage and give everyone a chance to get in the mood for a bit of rock and roll, and our audience was definitely in the mood. Once again the inclusion of “Whiskey in the jar” and “I don’t wanna talk about it” was rewarded with the crowd singing every word. Our visit to the island was greeted with great enthusiasm and we were pressed to make a promise that we would return to this area, outlying an expanding Bergen with its new airport. Now I’m homeward bound for a second breakfast in my home village of Drumnadrochit. Next stop is Sweden.


Memories are so important to us; how would we be without them? From our memories of last year’s show at Festiviteten to our recollections of all the streets we visited and every boat that went past during that time, we are just a multitude of stored memories waiting to be triggered. Even the staff at Brasserie Brakstad treated us as if we were only here last week. From the moment I arrived in Haugesund I felt like I was in very familiar territory with a comfortingly familiar routine. How easy it was to settle into the show at Festiviteten, playing to a packed house of people who were as familiar with our songs as we are ourselves. It made for an effortless yet energetic evening of entertainment that felt tailor made for that one audience. They made their appreciation very evident and topped the decibel range with their singing and responses. Should we be billed to return next year I have no doubt that our experience will be just the same, reliable as ever, familiar and enormously enjoyable.


Over the years Smokie has visited every corner of Norway, and some places several times. We have experienced more of this country than the majority of Norwegians, it is true to say. When I took a look at my records I was surprised to see that there was only one entry for Sandnes, Norway’s eighth largest city, and that was fourteen years ago. At that time we were spending all of our summer months in Scandinavia and were not yet engaging with Norwegian theatres on any regular basis, apart from Trondheim’s Olavshallen, with which we have a special relationship. Now we have established a new relationship with our Norwegian fans that could see us filling our spring dates with shows in this country. It’s a successful venture, as last night proved, and allows us to perform an earlier show to an audience that is less likely to turn out to a summer festival. Sandnes Kulturhus looks fairly new, so perhaps it wasn’t here last time we visited. I can’t be sure about that because most information is in Norwegian and my knowledge of the language is sketchy at best. In contrast, the Norwegians’ knowledge of Smokie music is absolute, after we had the bestselling album of all time in this country. Even in the late 1980’s we were selling platinum over here. It’s no surprise then that our audience were with us every step of the way last night and they partied like it was a Friday night. Somehow I don’t see it being another fourteen years before we return to this little corner of Norway and I shall be delighted to appear again at this lovely venue.


The warm air kicked in as we hit Holstebro and those double figure temperatures finally became a reality. On the subject of “kicking in”, I was reminded of our visit in 2002, during the World Cup, when we watched the England v Denmark game at Hotel Schaumberg. I do remember the score, but it’s not polite to mention it here. Earlier in that year we were in South Korea, where we were made football ambassadors as well as honorary citizens of The Gyeonggi Province. But we weren’t here last night to talk football. There was a more serious matter on the table which was the final night of this excellent Danish Tour 2018. Our single set, delivered to a capacity standing audience, was a winner in all respects. With absolutely no own goals scored, every song hit the back of the net. With no half time to slow things down the pace was mighty and we all, audience and band alike, ended up in clean, although sweaty, outfits. It was fair play and a fitting end to a thoroughly successful Danish tour. Now watch out for those re-bookings when next season comes round because we will most likely repeat a lot of those fixtures in April 2019. 


We’re as far to the east as we can go here on Jutland. There is nothing but sea between us and Sweden and, if my school geography serves me well, it’s The Kattegat. Our last appearance in Grenaa was in August 2010 when we played an outdoor festival. Last night was very different as we played to a standing audience at Pavillonen, a venue that reminded us all of The Ironworks in Inverness. We performed the last of our two sets to a highly responsive audience who were well versed in Smokie songs. Their appreciation was palpable and they were ready to make the sort of noises we like to hear from an audience. We met the owner after the show and he was very keen to get us rebooked, so I’m guessing that we’ll be seeing more of Grenaa round about next April. Tonight marks our final show in Denmark this year, but I believe the pattern next year could be a little different once the summer festivals are booked. We’ll leave it to our Scandinavian promoters to fight over the dates and just enjoy the ride.


“This show was sold out over a month ago and we didn’t even have to advertise in the papers”, was what I was told last evening at AKKC in Aalborg. I scoured the backstage walls for evidence of our previous visits and discovered that we were here in 1995, 1996 and 1997. I well remember the 1995 visit because we were promoting the newly recorded “World and Elsewhere” album ( a title I borrowed from the movie “This is Spinal Tap”), and we were obliged to charter a plane from London’s Gatwick Airport and attempt to land in rough weather. The pilot had told us that he may have to land elsewhere and we explained that he had no choice but to bring us to Aalborg, which is why we chartered the plane in the first instance. Our relationship with the Danish people was already well established by that time and last night confirmed that our music still has a special place in their hearts. Once again the double set was greeted with firm approval and the urge to get up and dance was too strong for the audience to resist. It’s at times like this that serious discussions take place about Smokie’s diary for next year. By now our promoters are aware that they have to book early in order to secure the dates they require. My impression is that there is much negotiating with all our Scandinavian promoters regarding who gets which dates. It’s a great situation in which to find ourselves and it promises that 2019 will also be a good year. 


To pull a crowd on a Sunday night is one thing, but to pull a crowd who are willing to party like it’s a Friday is a real feather in the cap. Because our hotel was joined to Vejle Musikteater, and the associated restaurant was just across the road, the preliminaries involved being around several members of the audience who we met and conversed with before the show. What a friendly lot they are here in the lovely city of Vejle. The audience’s reaction to our double set was something to make us proud. We presented music from four decades and every song was known to the audience. Continuing where we left off on the UK Tour, “Whiskey in the jar” was received with great enthusiasm, the crowd enjoying it as if we were all on The Emerald Isle. I was even dreaming of a Guinness after the show, although the range of Danish beers was enough to satisfy even the choosiest of ale drinkers. These first three shows in Denmark have been a total success and have paved the way for more fun as we return on Wednesday. Meanwhile it’s a quick visit home and a chance to freshen up the clothes in preparation for the next round. Even the weather has started to turn here and there is little need to carry a jacket in these conditions. Spring has finally arrived and people are starting to feel more energetic, and that’s a quality that goes down well in the entertainment business.

Nykobing Mors

Once again the smell of sea air filled my nostrils. This time I wasn’t arriving on a train or booking my own hotel. The place is, nonetheless, familiar for it is Nykobing Mors (pronounced New Shoping) where we last played Jyske Bank Arena three years ago with Sweet and Slade. Now it’s just us and our very enthusiastic and vocal audience. There are no more attempts at whispering “Hasta la vista”, but it’s now more like the full on roar of a crowd at a football match. Mexican Girl newly equals Alice in folklore and is likely to gain in popularity amongst holidaymakers. It’s as if Smokie are now the new go to party band, a bit like Black Lace but with more attitude. The party continues (while we turn over from Side A to Side B) in Vejle tonight, where the audience will be treated to the double set. Let’s see how this goes down.


Last time we were in this vicinity we were about to prepare for the 2012 UK Arena Tour with Hot Chocolate, Leo Sayer and David Cassidy. In typical Smokie style I left the family to continue celebrating the remainder of Easter while I chanced a Schipol Airport that was very troubled by flight delays and cancellations. It all ended well with an on time arrival in Billund on Thursday and an easy journey to Viborg. There were many reminders in Tinghallen of our various visits to this part of Denmark and the audience helped things along beautifully with a very warm response in a very hot hall. All our Danish shows for this year are invested in these six nights of our tour so we will be making the most of our time together for a proper catch up with Danish friends and fans during this time. We move on to Nykobing Mors for a continuation of the never ending Smokie party.


Butlins has a great formula that works very well. A large number of people get together for a theme weekend, live at close quarters to each other and have a thoroughly good time. There is nothing missing here because there is food and entertainment to suit most tastes. Couple that with being next to the sea and you have a winning combination. In a way it is very much like being onboard a ship except that the sea is an option rather than a necessity. From an entertainer’s point of view it means being close to the audience at all times, and that can be fun. From Smokie’s angle it is a chance to play to a sector of the UK population that we don’t reach on our own tour. In this quarter of our island the people are just happy that we made it to their lovely county. I did wonder how much energy would be left in our audience at the end of a boozy weekend but they well and truly rose to the challenge, leaving us in no doubt that the Brits have an appetite for a party and plenty of staying power to last until the end - also known as Alice. The reaction from every generation to this song is equally inspired, and it is no less than our theme tune. That’s all for the UK until The Grassington Festival in June. KLM must now keep my seat warm as I prepare for the start of a very long flying season. Perhaps I should have become a pilot during this last thirty years.


There’s no doubt that York has earned its new status as the most desirable place to live in the UK.  Everywhere you look there is great architecture, and history itself looks you in the eye. I should have been prepared, but I wasn’t, for my experience at The Bar Convent in Blossom Street. Little did I know that I had booked into York’s latest attraction, a real working convent. Was I at the mercy of the nuns? Would they only like The Sound of Music? What would they think of the way Alice is sung? None of this matters for The Bar Convent is a very acceptable hotel that runs alongside everything that goes with worship, including the clock that chimes every fifteen minutes just outside my bedroom. Needless to say I was on my best behaviour while staying at this historic hostelry. I couldn’t help noticing that there is a bit of a traffic problem in this city and it seems quicker to walk than to take the car. My three visits to The Barbican Centre yesterday certainly ramped up my step count for the day, putting me into the category of “serious and dedicated walker”. Last night marked the end of the UK Tour 2018 and it felt like we were all coming home to party with the folks of Yorkshire. Our welcome to the stage was with great enthusiasm and our appreciative audience kept the mood going throughout. The inclusion of “Whiskey in the jar” came as a surprise to our most dedicated fans as well as a delight to all. This most anticipated tour has been a tremendous success and it lays the groundwork for future UK tours. Usually we would all go home at this point and prepare to board a plane for an overseas show but there is still one more UK booking to honour, and that is Butlins in Minehead tomorrow night. So it’s back to the train for me and a continuation of my train miles that have moved me around successfully and painlessly round this beautiful island of Great Britain. Until we all meet again I wish you all a great year and a good summer.


There are facelifts and there are complete refurbishments, and the process at the old Civic Theatre fits into the second category. Reborn as The Hippodrome, it is a stylish theatre that deserves to pull in a crowd every night of the week and, incidentally, this is exactly what is happening at present. It may seem like not very long ago that Smokie last played here but I can confirm that it was on 11th April 2012. We all know how quickly time passes, particularly in this music business. It’s not just years, it’s decades that pass with such ease that we hardly notice them. And on that subject, I often hear that our live show passes too quickly. You know what they say - time passes quickly when you’re enjoying yourself. The audience clearly enjoyed themselves last night and they couldn’t wait to tell us in the lobby after the show. Again we were held to make a promise about our return in the future and I can say, from my own point of view, that an early return to The Hippodrome to play for our friendly audience from the north east can never happen too soon. Tonight marks the end of our UK Tour in the lovely city of York. 


The icy wind that blows directly off The Irish Sea was enough to bring me back to full consciousness after a tricky day that began with a Virgin train struggling to get up the hill coming out of Inverness. As the minutes ticked past I was considering my other options for getting to Southport in time for the show. All ended well and I made it to the Theatre and Convention Centre with five minutes to spare. Again I have to thank that very fresh breeze (and a temperature well below that of Inverness) for keeping me keen and focused. These lungs are used to breathing fresh air and what I enjoyed yesterday fell well within that category. I think the audience must have benefitted in a similar way because they were lively and full of song. The now legendary “Hasta la vista” has turned into a noisy chant that enables everyone with a ticket to test their own decibel range. Clearly there are some very strong voices out there in the auditorium and they get a second chance to demonstrate their range as we launch into “I don’t wanna talk about it”. Our mid-week show in this westerly seaside town was an unqualified success and one that people will talk about for some time to come. Will there be a 2019 UK Tour? There is certainly a demand.


I’ve often wondered what the inside of The SEC’s Armadillo looks like. My curiosity was satisfied as Smokie finally took the opportunity to play here on a day that firmly belonged to the Irish, for it was St Patrick’s Day as well as a day to celebrate their Six Nations win against England; a heady mixture before the start of the show but a guarantee that the combination of nostalgia and euphoria would summon up some pretty wild responses. Our audience inside the auditorium, sealed off from the wintry showers outside, showed us enough warmth to heat Florida. Even the occasional loss of the lights, that plunged the stage into darkness, seemed a minor inconvenience when there is serious partying to be done. There were visitors from Spain and Iceland as well as a fair few Irish amongst our Scottish crowd. If you have ever been to Glasgow you will know just how friendly people can be in this corner of The UK. I feel that Scotland has really done us proud on this northerly leg of the UK Tour. Now we split for a couple of days to replenish the cases with clean clothes and prepare for the final week of playing “just down the road”, in other words not having to board a plane to get to work. 


It’s Friday, it must be Inverness. This was quite deliberate after our sellout show on a Thursday night last year and a plea from several people to “please make it a Friday night”. So today would be a day to recover from the euphoria (to say nothing of the booze) from last night’s terrific show at The Ironworks. It would be, except that it is St Patrick’s Day and we’re off to Glasgow SECC to entertain a crowd that may partly consist of the Irish. As I look around my train carriage I see a lot of my colleagues. It’s a bit like when we are on a plane together. Evidently the 10:45 to Glasgow from Inverness is the popular choice today. We all look like we are recovering from the best party of the year, and that is pretty much what it was last night in my home city of Inverness. The band and audience made me proud and our return is assured. So, to all our Irish friends, have a great St Patrick’s Day and stay green, but in a good way.


Another year, another full house at Tivoli Theatre. Our Aberdonian audience gave us the benefit of their voices at full throttle to create the party spirit that is usually associated with a Friday night. There was no mistaking the fact that they were here for a good time and a thorough revision of their own Smokie repertoire. There was the usual smattering of first timers, introduced to our music by friends and family, who vowed to return next time the band are in town. Our return seems guaranteed, so I am sure we will be seeing most of our audience again. Now I board the train to end up teasingly close to my home although not quite because it’s another hotel night for me as we take the party to Inverness’s Ironworks. I have a feeling there will also be some very enthusiastic revellers in the house tonight.


Victoria Theatre is as familiar to me as I am to Smokie fans. I feel like I know every cobble of the street that leads to the Stage Door. I’ve probably slipped on a few in the past. The audience loved every reference to us being “back home” and gave us the benefit of their voices at full throttle. For my part I feel at home in Yorkshire because this is where I lived for many years and where my Smokie journey began just over thirty years ago. There will always be a welcome in this very special part of the UK, and I believe that our Yorkshire fans will continue to do everything in their power to make sure that Smokie remain on the road for as long as possible. Our UK Tour continues in Scotland next week and that is when I shall be able to really be on home territory. In the meantime it’s the train for me and a chance to catch up on some of my favourite TV programs.

Kings Lynn

How did Smokie’s association with Kings Lynn begin? It is, after all, well outside of Yorkshire and yet we are given a response that is more usually reserved for a home team. In the late 1990’s we visited Beijing and made the documentary “Smokie in China”. The documentary aired on Yorkshire TV but was picked up in Norfolk, resulting in a new enthusiasm for Smokie in this part of East Anglia. That enthusiasm was again evident at The Corn Exchange last night where our audience were keen to join in with the songs. We were ably supported by Shira and her fellow Leeds Music College students who put together a great set that properly demonstrated their skills as musicians. Our Kings Lynn audience were full of praise at the end of the evening, pressing us for details of our return. Perhaps we had better start thinking about next year’s UK Tour right now.


I was taking no chances yesterday, so my journey to Llandudno started on Monday, just in case the recent snowfall made another appearance. Smokie’s absence from North Wales for twelve years appears to have made many hearts grow fonder for the band. Llandudno, or Chlandidno ( as it is pronounced locally) looked splendiferous in the spring sunshine and Venue Cymru was as welcoming as ever. This was the start of our UK Tour and it was a heartwarming beginning to our catalogue of journeys in our home territory. With many miles to go we can look forward to scenic and climate changes during the month of March, as well as that wonderful weekend when we put our clocks forward. For all reports keep an eye on my blog where I share my thoughts and perspectives on a career that has engaged me for exactly thirty years today. 


Drammens Teater is notable for its bijou charm. Also its surrounding area is a pleasure to walk and investigate. Time was a little short yesterday because I went from stage to train station in order to connect with Gardermoen for my early flight this morning. Talk backstage was about how everyone would get home during this ultra snowy period. In Norway, however, everything was normal and the huge mounds of snow in the street were mostly ignored by people who are used to seeing them. Every seat in the theatre was occupied, indicating that there were no apologies for absence and, happily, there was no shortage of enthusiasm from our very vocal theatre crowd. Norwegian theatre goers show a lot of consideration for each other and, when it’s time to get up on their feet, they do so together. Smokie’s history in Norway has carved a position in this country’s hall of fame, so our regular return here is guaranteed. Our date sheet is peppered with Norwegian bookings, so expect to hear a lot more about our adventures in this part of the world, in all seasons and all times of year. 


If we all remember 2018 for one thing it will be the comically named Beast from The East. Talking about the weather is a popular pass time in The UK. Here in Norway, however, there is no need to mention it at all because all services run as normal. The only thing that isn’t running this morning is the river because it is frozen solid at minus seventeen degrees. During my time with Smokie I have been to some of the coldest places on Earth, as well as some of the warmest. When we are dressed for the weather all is OK. Some of us remember our last show at Lillestrom’s Kulturhus, when there were similar travel issues to yesterday and some crew members never made it to the show at all. At least everyone got here in time for the show last night, albeit that it was only twenty five minutes before the start. The venue was full and the audience were ready to listen to the hits that made Smokie the top selling artist of all time here in Norway. Not even the theatre seating could stop our crowd from getting up and dancing. I imagine there’s a certain amount of relief in moving around, particularly as it is so chilly outside. The talk backstage was about how many shows we will be performing in Norway this year and how many more we could do if we were available. Smokie are riding the crest of a wave of popularity at present and we could, if we wish, be even busier this year. However, we all need a few days between shows just to recover so we may return looking energetic and, on that issue, we will be properly tested this year.


“Don’t leave it so long before coming back again”. How many times have I heard these words? In the case of TLT Theatre our last visit was on 17th December 2010 and there was snow on the ground. Poor weather caused the cancellation of our gig in Castlebar the following evening so we journeyed to Belfast where the Christmas market looked resplendent. These and other memories were shared in the bar at Boyne Valley Hotel last night over a couple of pints of Guinness. No matter how extensive our tour we will always leave a little unfulfilled demand yet, for the most part, we get to catch up with a lot of fans who have followed us for much or all of our career. Last night we blew the roof off TLT, with a lot of help from the audience. Our six-day Irish Tour ended on a high, leaving our fans with happy memories of excellent shows. This is touring at its best. Now I return home for a brief turnaround and then fly to Oslo on Tuesday to make a return visit to Lillestrom Theatre where we are unlikely to hear those often repeated words (see above). If you think The Beast from The East is causing you problems just consider how much colder we will be feeling 48 hours from now.


A sellout show at University Concert Hall in Limerick is a rare event and, knowing this, we were always guaranteed a great reception at this venue. Once again the party started effortlessly and with full vocal support from the crowd. The enthusiasm for Mexican Girl is starting to match that of Alice as the audience give us their loudest retorts. Our show full of hits is just the ticket for an Irish audience, perhaps because it doesn’t ever introduce songs that are not known to them. In return we get their participation one hundred percent of the time. To play to full houses everywhere is a dream come true and to get the sort of reaction we are enjoying is just the icing on a very generous cake. It’s all good over here and long may it continue. Today we move on to Drogheda to play a venue we last visited in December 2010. 


Lyrath Estate, in the heart of Kilkenny countryside, is a 5-star spa resort hotel. A great place for a thorough pampering followed by a party with Smokie. A day of walking, massage and pounding with spa jets naturally requires a good finish, and that is why a good sing and dance are completely necessary to restore the balance. There was plenty of balance last night in the resort’s function room where the audience were keen to prove that folks from Kilkenny sing louder than anyone else in Ireland. They are up against stiff competition, as mentioned in my earlier reports, but they put in a good bid. Thursday night is no excuse in this part of the world because every opportunity to let the hair down is embraced with enthusiasm. Today we move on to the poetic city of Limerick where our audience at The University Concert Hall get the chance to out sing their fellow nationals on this Friday night. Is it any wonder our hearing is deteriorating?


Expectations for last night’s gig at Vicar Street ran high and there were no disappointments. The audience were well up for it from the first note to the last. Our relationship with the Irish is so strong that I feel like an honorary Irishman, and where better to put that to the test than in Dublin? It is well known that Guinness tastes best in its home town, horse drawn from the brewery just yards away. There was a smile on the barman’s face as I ordered my first drink of the day after the show and he happily pulled a pint of “mother’s milk” for my general health and well being. But it’s not all about the booze here on The Emerald Isle; music is an essential part of Irish culture and Smokie have our place in that culture. After three excellent shows we have every reason to feel very welcome indeed in our neighbouring country. Now I have a brief return to The Highlands before returning on Thursday for more merriment. Does the fun ever end? I really hope not.


Once again the function room at Clanree Hotel was full to bursting as we hit the stage last night. Smokie were given a mighty welcome as we launched into “I’ll meet you at midnight”. It felt like our audience would never let us go. The foundations of this solid hotel fairly rocked as the crowd swayed along to the music. I wondered if they knew about the volume of our previous audience in Belfast because it seemed like they were trying to outdo them for sheer gusto. I am reminded of my early gigs in the 1980’s when the rooms were always over full and the fire officer used to try to keep a check on the numbers for safety. Every space was occupied and every face was smiling. A reception for the band simply does not get better than this. I feel that we have set the bar so high with these first two gigs that, rather than try to vault over it, it would be much easier to limbo under it. Smokie mania is back and it feels good - really good. Without any intention to top these last two performances at Vicar Street, I would be more than happy if it is equal in intensity and, somehow, I think it will be.


Few nations around the world are as vocal as the Irish at Smokie concerts. At Belfast Waterfront last night we bore witness to the loudest ever “Hasta la vista” during our rendition of Mexican Girl. Even if you had your fingers in both ears it would be impossible to miss the thunderous response from our eager crowd. With a record number of people attending the concert we had the ideal recipe for an extremely good show in this busiest city in Ireland’s north. Steve even resurrected the “Ole, ole, ole ole”, to the delight of the audience who quickly responded. It was a mighty start to our Irish tour dates this month and sets the band on a high note for our busiest year since 2010. We move on to Letterkenny today where we have an equally big following and high expectations that we will party like we did last year. If the show is even half as good it will be a winner. 


It doesn’t seem like fifteen years since we last played in Varna but, sure enough, my records show that we were last here in July 2003. It’s fair to say that our Bulgarian audience were more than ready for a little Smokie music last night at Palace of Sport and Culture. Our day was divided between time spent at Varna’s prime seafood restaurant, sound checking to start rehearsals for our new songs and spending time with the venue’s manager who kindly gifted each of us a gold commemorative coin. A large crowd filled the ample stadium and our audience were on top form. It was simply one of the best ever first gigs of the year. The short break has helped to recharge energies for our very busy year ahead. It was also nice to feel a tiny bit of heat in the sun a full month ahead of our own experience in the UK. But chilly nights are on the cards for a while yet because we will be in Norway at the end of this month. Now there is a full week at home before we resume our tour in Belfast. 


New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly the biggest universal celebration across the globe, marked by most humans on the planet, even if their own new year falls on a different date. I love the serial nature of the celebrations, starting with New Zealand and working its way around the globe like a massive Mexican wave. As I write this I am aware that some of our neighbours out west have yet to ring in 2018. For my part I am already on my way home after a brief encounter with the bed during which I mostly responded to greetings from friends, family and fans. The venue from last night’s Sylvester 2018, being King’s Casino, was still buzzing this morning with gamblers, drinkers and the associated staff who keep service going for twenty four hours. The lights never go out in this corner of Earth, and that’s a great metaphor for Smokie because, as we wished each other well for our January break, we were already discussing our plans for our return for what will be our busiest year since 2010. Yes, 2018 will see us running ourselves ragged to fulfil an increasing demand for Smokie music played by the bona fide band. In two months’ time I shall be marking three decades in this band as the rail companies transport me from Llandudno to Kings Lynn. In these last thirty years I have trodden a well worn path around the world and undertaken many repeat invitations to make someone’s party night a success. Last night’s audience looked as if they just wanted to be as close to the band as possible and to make their own individual celebrations more personal. The fondness for the band was overwhelming and it just seemed like there was so much love in the room. Smokie are all about love and what you give is what you receive. Our career is pure escapism, and there is much from which to escape. Remember this - if worldly matters start to weigh a little heavily on you, just put on a little Smokie music to relieve the burden. We are to you what the fool was to the king - a bit of light relief bound up with a delicious serving of philosophy. With that in mind, I wish everybody the best 2018 they can imagine and I hope to be somewhere near you during the next twelve months. Like Santa Claus, we have a lot of ground to cover but, luckily, we don’t have to do it all in one night.


It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The streets of Brasov were festooned with attractive decorations, the tree in City Square a joy to behold. It looked like the whole city’s population had taken to the streets on this chilly night. Not the most comfortable of conditions, with a windchill of minus three and thoroughly frozen fingers, but a great atmosphere in which to celebrate. Our promoter is still enthusing about our 2008 tour and, needless to say, is already putting in offers for next year. The audience, meanwhile, gave us a rousing welcome. It’s certainly one of my favourite ever cold gigs. The great thing about being so cold is the warming up afterwards, and that we did in style in a comfortable bistro where the food and drink just kept coming. It was a great night for all. Now I am on my way to Torun in Poland where I shall help a company to celebrate their 25th Anniversary, in Smokie style, before returning to prepare for a family Christmas.

St Petersburg

Did I say we would have fun in St Petersburg? Well, that was a bit of an understatement because it turned out to be the party to end all parties. When a bunch of musicians, who are friends, get together to deliver the briefest of performances to the largest of audiences we tend to have a bit of spare time on our hands - time to party with each other. We were just really making up for all the times we have been on the same bill yet never met up. The craic was mighty and the after party was without end, unless you hit the deck. My own party was cut short with the first of three flights home, so it was a 04:30 checkout for me. It’s a short stay in The Highlands before flying to Romania on Tuesday, then onwards to Poland for a private function. Our year is ending on a high, just the way I wish it to be. Soon I shall take the opportunity to prepare for Christmas but, for now, Smokie’s diary takes priority. 


Last night was the first of the two Avto Radio 80’s shows, this time in The Moscow Olympic Stadium. The roar of the 29,000 crowd was deafening as we hit the stage. Memories of our five shows at this stadium in 1991 were rekindled and the nostalgic storytelling began. Our set comprised “Needles and pins”, “What can I do?” and “Living next door to Alice”. A round of interviews ensued after our brief appearance and the paparrazi had a field day with our antics, including a comedy dance to “Kalinka” by myself and Steve. The fun continues in St Petersburg on Friday. 


The passage of time has dimmed the memory concerning exactly how Kharkov looked on my last visit. Suffice to say that there have been changes yet some things, like Hotel Kharkov, appear to have altered very little. The main venue is The National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, and that’s where Smokie put the finishing touches to our tour of Eastern Europe. Despite being so far from Ukraine’s capital the crowd’s reaction was indistinguishable from that of our Kiev audience. The support for the band and its music is uniform across this country and the excitement at Smokie’s appearance in this southerly quarter was palpable. It’s an honour that we get to perform on a stage that has been trodden by so many talented artists from different genres of entertainment as well as a pleasure to present the music that has inspired the people of Ukraine for the last forty two years. As I look back over the twenty nine years during which I have been Smokie’s keyboard player I just marvel at the enormous reach of our music across thirty five known territories (and a few as yet undiscovered ones). As 2017 begins to draw to a close I still feel like one of the luckiest men alive, looking ahead to a packed 2018 and wondering if the pace of this adventure will ever slow. I’m happy just as things are and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Arriving in Kiev the day before the gig, I had a chance to take a look around part of the city. Ukraine Hotel overlooks Independence Square, so I couldn’t have been better positioned to take in the atmosphere, sombre and respectful as it was on the day of remembrance of all those who died in the recent conflict in this city. As I entered the October Palace (also known as International Centre for Culture and Arts) I learned that our gig was due to be streamed on YouTube. I don’t know how well this worked out but I can say the reaction from our Ukrainian crowd was fantastic. It was a very powerful feeling to rock a crowd like this so close to the area where the vigil took place and where tourists from around the world gather to try to empathise with their fellow human beings and understand a little of what has happened in this impressive city. Our relationship with Ukraine goes back a long way and my own personal relationship with it started in 1991 when Smokie first appeared live in this part of the world. Prior to that our recordings were listened to on a grand scale and instantly recognised by most Ukrainians. Today we return to a venue that we last played in March 2003, and that is Kharkov Theatre. The journey takes us 480 kilometres south, so it is all day travel followed by an early show. I may well notice an improvement in the roads in the last fourteen years.


Our fans in Belarus, like so many of our fans around the world, have been with us right from the start, our music being a part of their culture. It’s almost as if Smokie wrote the folk songs for this country. Somehow the lyrics say what the people want to say and the music stirs them into action. It’s an unusual opportunity for people to let go of their inhibitions and just have fun, and that’s what they did at The Palace of The Republic last night. The people of Belarus have noted and accepted changes within the band just as we have come to terms with the changes in this country since my first visit in 1991. The buildings look clean, fresh and architecturally fascinating and the parks and sidewalks are so tidy that you couldn’t improve them with a vacuum cleaner. This visit to The Palace of The Republic contrasts with the one in February 2003 in so many ways that we could almost be in a different country entirely. If success is measured in an audience’s reaction then we have been completely successful here. Long may it continue and long may Smokie be able to return to this country to keep alive the part of their culture that includes our music.


Sometimes a show goes even better than I expected. Perhaps the stars are in alignment or maybe the New Moon is playing its part, but it was evident that a little extra magic was in operation last night, both from the audience and the band. I feel very comfortable in Lithuania because I feel that our music is so universally accepted that we can just go onstage and have a load of fun. Of course, the audience pick up on this and they do the same - that is the nature of Smokie gigs. Our previous visit to Siauliai Arena was with an orchestra; the memory of that performance is very strong and I expect there were many people at last night’s show who also saw our symphonic set. Whatever is happening in Lithuania, I like it very much and I look forward to returning in the not-too-distant future. However, an adventure would not be the same without variation, and so we must take a flight down to Belarus to see what sort of reaction we get in Minsk this time. Something tells me we are in for another good one, so keep an eye on this blog to find out.


You couldn’t keep our Klaipeda audience in their seats if you glued them there. Last night our gig at Svyturio Arena felt like a continuation of our previous show, with the audience already fully warmed up and ready to party. The preponderance of young people was evident from around the arena as phone torches were speedily activated during the ballads. I only say that because I have found that it takes the older generation a little longer to make things work on their phones, whereby the young people seem always permanently ready to speedily flick through their device’s features. It is the modern equivalent of the cigarette lighter, and carries zero risk to others. I think we have built a great reputation here in Klaipeda in general and Svyturio Arena in particular. Today we venture south again to another regular stomping ground, Siauliai (pronounced Showlay). It’s all good for Smokie in Lithuania.


My Eastern European adventure began in Vilnius at Compensa Konsertu Sale, although mostly it began when I was trying to decide what clothes to pack into a suitcase. It is unseasonally warm, so the usual wintry garments are excess to requirement, yet I still need them in case the prevailing wind is from the north (or the east). Previous visits to Vilnius have found us in either Siemens Arena or Promogu Arena, so it was a change to play a concert hall in the capital city. There are strong overtones of Christmas here without any hint from the weather that it is just round the corner. Our audience were in fair party mood, belying the fact that it was a Thursday night, and therefore many would be at work this morning, probably still singing Smokie songs. The shows in Lithuania start at 7 p.m., so there is plenty of opportunity to catch a bit of rest once the concert is over, but I wonder how many people actually do that. Today we move on to Klaipeda, a 300 km journey north that takes us to the Lithuanian coastline. I think my own journey will be ably assisted by the wonderful Netflix. 

Busy in 2018

Just check out those tour dates for 2018. It is shaping up to be even busier than this year, and this may well be because Smokie are under new management. Whatever the reason, we will be in more places than ever in the New Year, and the pace is unlikely to slow in 2019. Keep an eye on our diary because changes happen regularly and we may well be performing at a venue near to you. If so, we'll see you there.


The last time I was in Budapest was in 1994 when Smokie made an appearance on The Golden Globe Awards. Considering our popularity here it is surprising that we haven’t visited more often. I would say that, after last night’s show at Budapest Congress Centre, it is guaranteed that we will be back soon. Dates are already appearing in our 2018 schedule, including one in June and another on the symphonic tour in November. It’s as well, then, that I got acquainted with Budapest both by bus and by boat because the skyline may well become a familiar sight in future. As for our audience, well, they were “hungry” for Smokie. It was clear that they were itching to get out of their seats but their conventions made them hesitant to do so. Once up, they were unstoppable and a veritable torrent of pent up energy was released, causing our audience to hit the highs along with the band. It’s a great feeling to get this type of reaction from an audience and to finally appear in a city that has waited so long for Smokie. Now we have reaffirmed our relationship I think there will be many opportunities to explore the city further and enjoy all that Budapest and our Smokie audience have to offer.

Tel Aviv - second performance

Last night’s show at Heichal Hatarbut was originally the first show to go on sale, and consequently it was sold out, allowing for the possibility of a second show, which we performed the night before. The 10km night run, that caused closure of the streets for much of the evening, didn’t seem to impact on the audience’s arrival time. From the stage we looked out at a sea of phones as their owners repeatedly clicked photos; this is normal in Israel and seems to be as regular a practice as in South Korea. The best part is when all the phones are switched over to torch mode, replacing what used to be cigarette lighters, during “If you think you know how to love me”. Our tour of Israel has been an immense pleasure as well as being extremely relaxing. The late taste of sunshine has been an unexpected luxury this close to Christmas, and now I am ready to visit some places that will be considerably cooler. Today I travel to Budapest where Smokie are due to play on Friday night, so there will be time to do a bit of sightseeing before the show. 

Tel Aviv first performance

It’s amusing to hear our audience responding with “Who the f**k is Alice?” in this part of the world.  It seemed particularly incongruous in Jerusalem on Saturday night, but it demonstrated the complete acceptance of our music in this country. The audience does not need to be asked twice to get out of their seats and dance because they seem keen to get up at the earliest opportunity, and their dancing is exemplary. Our return to Haichal Hatarbut, our regular venue here in Tel Aviv, was greeted with great enthusiasm. It was the first of two shows we perform here and tonight we have to fight our way through closed streets because the night marathon is on, starting at 8:00 p.m. in the centre of the city and re-opening the roads around 11. The show is sold out so, one way or another, we all have to make it to Haichal Hatarbut before 9 p.m.


Before last night my only experience with “Jerusalem” was as a church organist. I first visited the city in 1992, twelve years before Smokie made our first appearance in Israel. Little did I know that I would return one day to perform a concert here. The Binyanei HaUma Theatre at The International Conference Centre has supposedly changed little during its existence and, as such, has everything in common with its surroundings. High on the hill, we had a fabulous view of the city under a beautiful half moon. It’s the stuff of dreams, and the show proceeded like one. Now there is a chance to catch my breath with a much needed day off, greatly enhanced by tonight’s extra hour of sleep. I shall be woken only by the sound of the waves lapping against the seashore. Come to think of it, I shall probably just stay awake so I can enjoy that sound a little longer. The tour resumes in Tel Aviv on Monday. 


Last night I was in Haifa, my most visited part of Israel on this, my fifth tour in this country. It’s not always the same venue because sometimes we play The Auditorium and sometimes The International Conference Centre, which is where we were last night. I can always count on the audience at these venues to make us feel very welcome and almost part of the fabric of Israeli musical tastes. Again our history has weaved a permanent place for us in Israeli culture so that our return to this lovely country is more or less guaranteed. That makes me very happy because six days alongside the beach at Tel Aviv Yafo is a glorious place to be. Talking of history, we make our first appearance in Jerusalem tonight, a gig about which everyone is excited. While walking into history perhaps we will make a little bit of our own.

Be’er Sheva

A visit to Israel at this time of year is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face because it’s invariably hot and we get to spend the whole day before the gig alongside the beach. This is actually the closest thing I’ve had to a holiday this year. We set the bar very high last night with our show at the amphitheatre in the oldest city mentioned in The Bible, Be’er Sheva. The staging was magical, with a wishbone of rainbow lights reaching high above the stage. The audience were hungry for Smokie music and seemed well satisfied by the end of the show, joining in with every song and showing their appreciation during every pause. What a great atmosphere and what a stunning venue. If our audience in Haifa are even half as good it will be a great gig, but something tells me that they too will rise to the challenge. We will soon know.


The Opera House in Cork may well be our most played venue in Ireland, having performed here nine times in the last fifteen years. It’s now become an annual fixture and one that I would greatly miss if we didn’t return regularly. My early experiences in Ireland, back in 1988, consisted of month-long tours that took in mostly the country venues that were thronged by great numbers, usually leaving hundreds without a ticket to see the show. The good times are back but this time it is different, for the shows are earlier, the venues are mostly theatres and both the audience and the band are sober. Expectations are higher and, having raised the bar, only the best performances are acceptable. With that in mind, I’m happy to say that our performance has reached a new high, and this is borne out by the enthusiastic reaction of our audience. The people of Cork give us a huge welcome and we reciprocate with a show that delights and excites. Now the Irish leg of our 2017 tour is complete and we pause for a week before resuming in Israel. But first I must provide my fingerprints for the Russian shows, a procedure that sees me going to London and other parts of the south of England to catch up with relatives and friends over the next few days.


If you haven’t heard about the Famous Spiegeltent before, here is a little background. It is twenty six tons of circular marquee, flooring, seating and staging that appears regularly in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as, more recently, adjacent to The London Eye. It provides an alternative venue to The Wexford Opera House and hosts a variety of different genres, including being a really hot rock venue. Last night it was literally hot, being filled to capacity and getting a reaction that our hosts described as the best they have ever seen. There is no doubt that Smokie are enjoying a period of resurgence of interest in our music here in Ireland. The best parties are started right here in this intriguing island and can only best be understood by experiencing them yourself. If you imagine the best time you have ever had and multiply it by ten you will be somewhere near understanding just how good things are in this magnificent country. How can you improve on such a perfect evening? Well, we can always try again to equal the experience, and that chance occurs tonight at The Cork Opera House. Happy days are indeed here to be savoured. 


What a pleasure it is to board just one flight, take a ninety minute road trip and arrive at the venue on the same day. This contrasts with my usual two-flight, twelve-hour journey the day before the show. For those who remember our previous appearance at Radisson Blu in Athlone, we flew in from Germany in mid-summer and it was very warm and sunny here in Ireland. Last night had a very different vibe in this sold out venue. The audience were on top form, giving us the Irish welcome to which we have become so accustomed. As gales blew and rain fell we were completely unaware of the outside world, concentrating only on getting every last ounce of energy from our fired up audience. It was the text book Irish gig, delivering everything you would expect from the nation that taught the world to party. And here’s the best bit - we’re going to do it twice more.


Following on from last week’s show in Lycksele, I have now superglued my heel to the right spat boot and it is good for another few foot-stomping evening of Smokie fun. As I gazed around the packed Granada venue there was one thought that occurred to me - these people are mostly younger than my shoes, which are twenty eight years old. They may be young, but they knew the words and they weren’t shy in singing them. Memories of our early days in Ireland came to the fore because, not only is Granada a country venue but also there was a lot of heat generated by the crowd. A spirited, sweaty Saturday evening in a lovely location is hard to beat. The groundswell of support for Smokie in this country has led to discussions about how many shows we can squeeze in here for 2018, and it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Sweden next year. Good news for the fans and good news for us. There’s no harm in wanting more, unless you are Oliver Twist. For now it’s goodbye to Sweden and hello to Ireland. The tour resumes on Thursday in Athlone.


There can’t be many venues that have a steam engine on the floor next to the entrance. Ahaga is one such venue, and I remember it from our gig on 26th February 2005. Once the audience were all seated the curtains were closed and the engine was no longer in view, but we knew that it was there and its presence makes Ahaga an unusual venue. When I heard the audience singing along to the incidental music before the show I knew we were in for a good night. They brought the party to us, so all we had to do was reciprocate and it all went like a dream. The shows here in Sweden are enjoying a new vitality and interest in the band, and that makes for some very lively and well attended evenings in this beautiful country. Today we move from the populated city of Boras to the rural area of Lonsboda to play to 1,600 people at Granada venue. With a full house, it promises to be a great rocky night. Our Swedish crowds are doing us proud.


North, South, East or West - it makes no difference to Smokie. Our world shrinks to the size of a playground as we board numerous flights to reach all corners of The Earth. I wake up in the beautiful Highlands and end my day in the equally beautiful north of Sweden after taking three flights. The Autumn colours are vivid in this northerly part of Scandinavia. There are no traffic jams because there are barely enough vehicles to form a queue. In keeping with the current trend, half of our equipment is lost in transit, so I have adopted plan B, which means busking my way through the gig here at Hotel Lappland in Lycksele. My 28-year old spats showed signs of wear and tear and the heel of my right boot parted company with its owner as I returned to the stage for the encore. The crowd loved the show and were particularly amused by Steve’s make-shift shaker, made from a take away coffee cup filled with dry rice. With part of our equipment missing we had to improvise, and Steve’s comical performance with the coffee cup won the hearts of the audience. The capacity crowd gave us a huge welcome and we are already booked to return to this venue at least once next year. There’s a real nip in the air and it’s only a matter of weeks until this whole region will be carpeted in snow. Our Swedish adventure continues next week after a three-day break in our homes. With twenty five gigs to perform before the end of the year we are in for a busy time. Would I have it any other way? I don’t think so.


With warmth still in the air, Nienburg was an explosion of festival goers and bargain hunters. Stalls lined the streets and there seemed no good reason to be indoors. Outside my window the noise of the weir drowned out all other sounds. With the memory of last week’s TV appearance still fresh in my mind I was ready for a great crowd and a party atmosphere. There were no disappointments for the audience were in full party mode, filling Kirchplatz to bursting. The show marked the end of the festival season, for this part of the world, and the move to indoor shows (mostly) from next week. 


Nostalgia is so frequently associated with Smokie. Aren’t our memories so important to all of us? When these memories are attached to popular songs they are especially easy to recall. Arriving in Holstebro was like coming home because there are so many familiar and friendly faces. Do I need to say that it rained? Probably not, for that is a notable feature of this part of the world in the summer of 2017. This time last year we were on our way to our second gig in Norway, but today we set off home for a 5-week break. The year so far has been a dream come true and our audiences have shown us a lot of heart. Whatever else is happening in the world, there is so much fun to be had where music is played. The party continues on September 16th when we will be opening the Oktoberfest celebrations on TV in Germany. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has been to and enjoyed our music in this, our 42nd year on the road. We’ll see you again soon.


Travelling these islands in Estonia has been a great experience and has shown me a different and interesting side to Estonia’s culture and history. There are great parallels with Scotland because the islands lie to the west of the country and are home to many secrets from the past. Life runs a little slower here, as it does in The Outer Hebrides. It was no surprise that last night’s show took place in the courtyard of Kuressaare Castle, just yards away from the cannons, moat and drawbridge. To add a little romance to the scene a sizeable moon made its appearance just as we were about to hit the stage. Another large audience was assembled, excited and ready to party. Right in front of the middle of the stage was a tree which, I have no doubt, is an integral part of the courtyard and probably old enough to house a few secrets from past times. The crowd gave us their best and, in return, we gave ours. This Estonian mini tour has been a great success and has sparked conversation about our return visit, perhaps next year if the dates are available. Now I embark on my 17-hour journey home and a chance to re-boot before the final summer show in Denmark on Saturday. Summer is nearly over and I have already composed and designed my Christmas card for this year. Does it sound too early? Not at all because, once touring starts again in September, there’ll be little time to think about anything else apart from touring.


Anyone for a spot of island hopping? That’s what we’re up to at the moment, playing in parts of Estonia where we’ve never previously visited and with names we can barely pronounce. Venturing further east than we have so far been, we ferried across to Hiiumaa. Another sizeable crowd awaited us, this time in a forest in Kardla. Estonia is well stocked with open air venues and Kardla Laululava is an amphitheatre. The audience gave us a familiar rousing reception, a sea of torch lights and a spirited version of “I don’t wanna talk about it”. As the light faded we became fodder for the mosquitos, so it was a relief to get to shelter at the end of a show that had surely set the audience alight. Tonight we can expect more of the same on this Estonian mini tour, and I look forward to that show the way I look forward to every show. In the meantime there is another ferry journey.


Sometimes it can be a little tricky getting to Estonia, and sometimes it is a real challenge. At this time of year there are always extenuating circumstances that help to explain why a simple two-leg journey turns into a logistical nightmare. We all know that “the show must go on”, for the sake of the ticket-buying public, but a 14-hour journey turned into a 36-hour marathon with all the stress and hopefulness of a lunar landing. From Amsterdam there are surely many ways of reaching Tallinn, but it is the height of the tourist season and trying to find five seats on any aircraft is like trying to find a contact lens on the floor of a darkened room. It is easier and quicker to get to Australia than it has been to get to Estonia. However, once inside the country things picked up rapidly and the previous 36 hours were as a fading memory. Lost luggage aside, there was too much fun to be had to dwell on the negatives of the past day and a half. In simple terms, we are back in a country that loves our music and we are playing to big crowds in three cities where we have not so far appeared. Everything is new, apart from the crowd’s reaction, which is familiar and greatly welcoming. I know that we often say that we feel at home in several countries, and this is true because our music has been absorbed and adopted in so many parts of the world. The audience in Kasepaa were a pure joy to whom to perform. Estonia is now establishing itself as a prestige country for summer festivals, and we are lucky enough to be included in some of the shows that are helping to create this accolade. Today we move on to Kardla where another big crowd awaits our appearance. 


It was no race to get to Punchestown Racecourse. In fact I was able to enjoy a leisurely evening with my wife and a friend in the Temple Bar area, sampling a large number of Irish beers and whiskeys. Perhaps a few too many made their way past my lips as I lost track and became engrossed in the friendly Dublin atmosphere. The day of the gig brought some very heavy weather, with rain that bounced off the pavement and caused instant rivulets. The crews had their work cut out to keep the stage dry and the equipment safe and, consequently, our opening set was delayed by fifteen minutes. Amazingly there was a huge audience, of around twenty five thousand people, for the start of the show. Punchestown was Ponchos Town, a sea of colourful waterproofs to protect against the frequent heavy showers. Unlike Glastonbury, the audience were on firm ground so there was no mud to deal with. I couldn’t wish for a more receptive crowd, all of whom seemed well versed in Smokie music. No way would precipitation dampen their enthusiasm for they were in the mood to prove that it’s the Irish that taught the world to party. A great evening of music followed our opening set, concluding with Sir Tom Jones. This second year of The Punchestown Music Festival was an unqualified success and looks to be one where we could see a repeat invitation at some future time.


Once again I get to enjoy some of the magnificent Baltic coastline that lies on the west side of Palanga. This lovely city is teeming with holidaymakers and alive with musical events, sideshows and competitions. The circular Palangos Concert Hall sits in the park alongside the main street, J. Basanaviciaus Gate, and was our venue for last night’s show here in Palanga. We are newcomers to this city, although not to Lithuania. There was a real buzz of excitement from our audience as we took to the stage. The reaction from the crowd is markedly different to how it was when we first visited in 1991, as are the cities and infrastructure. We have since played some of our most successful shows in this part of The Baltics, including our Christmas tours with the orchestra. A return to this part of Lithuania is not only desirable but also extremely likely. In the meantime we are off to our neighbouring country, Ireland, to appear with Tom Jones. If variety is the spice of life, I think we are on a barrow full of jalapenos. 


As I take to the high ground, in the tasteful Semarah Hotel, my overwhelming impression of Jurmala is of a large number of trees. This shouldn’t surprise me because I live in a forest, except the trees seem to continue in orderly avenues for miles, their tops only interrupted by the occasional tall structure that looks a bit like a skyscraper breaking through clouds. Back on the ground there is breathtaking architecture of enormous variety. It’s no coincidence that this neighbourhood is home to many of the embassies, as well as to hotels and restaurants of striking appearance. The main street runs parallel to a beautiful sandy beach that is the playground for Latvians and visitors alike. Under an impressive wooden roof sits Dzintari Concert Hall, where Smokie made a second appearance after our successful visit in June 2015. Amongst our packed audience was a group of gentlemen who had travelled all the way from Ukraine to be at the concert. Our Latvian audience responded enthusiastically to every song, applauding at length at the end of each one to show their appreciation. Clearly they were well acquainted with Smokie’s history, from past to present, and joined in with all songs from four decades. To play to this audience was a pleasure and a privilege, and one that I shall happily repeat again in two years if the invitation is offered. Now we move on to Palanga in Lithuania, a journey of only 240 kilometres, where we are due to appear at Palangos Concert Hall.


Zamecky Amfitheatre was full to bursting last night on this, our third appearance in Buchlovice. Hot weather brought great numbers of people into the park, where I spent a couple of hours during the day to take a look at the impressive range of vegetation and wildlife from around the globe. Our Czech audience were more than ready for us as we  drove into the auditorium and gave us a huge welcome as we took to the stage. With two successful previous appearances in memory it seemed that it was bound to be a good night, and there were no disappointments. We have built a strong connection in this country that may well result in an increase in our invitations to work here next year. For now we are on our way home on a Saturday, which is most unusual. However, there is little time to get my feet under the table as I shall be on my way to Latvia on Wednesday for a series of shows that end in a party weekend in Dublin. 


As we approach Otta, in Norway, one by one the memories of our last visit begin to return. Every village in Norway is unique, even though they share the same beautiful landscape. Once we are north of Oslo the houses become more and more sparse and it feels like the land belongs to everyone for their enjoyment. On entering the camping ground in Sel we see the familiar sight of hundreds of well kept motor homes and caravans, kitted out with everything that could possibly be needed for the home away from home. There appear to be more cowboy hats worn here than in Texas, for country music is as ubiquitous here as fjords. An audience of very cheery people awaited us as we entered the grounds with whatever equipment had made it past Amsterdam which, at this time of year, excludes several pieces of our luggage. The show must go on, and it did with some exuberance. Our last visit to Norway this year (eleven to date) brought back happy memories as well as creating new ones. As we bid farewell to Norway we are merely preparing to say hello, once again, to The Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia and Denmark before we take our own summer break. The party continues, as ever, and seems to just get better and better. Are we the luckiest people on Earth? Along with Nile Rogers and many others in the music business, I would have to say that we are.

Ronneby Brunn

Having never played Ronneby Brunn before, I didn’t know what to expect. On arrival I was aware of the water-based activities going on around me and the guests checking in and receiving their arm tags to indicate that they had clearance for the various slides and pools. So far, so good. However, as much as I would have loved to bomb down some of those slides, I was there to put on a show. With the limited amount of time available the gear was checked and everything was in order for a right royal Smokie evening. As we hit the stage the sun was creeping round the corner to shine directly into our eyes, meaning that shades were advisable. It’s always a little more difficult to make eye contact with the audience while wearing shades because, although we can see their eyes they cannot see ours. So it was a relief when the sun finally ducked down behind the trees and gave me back full vision. A large crowd had assembled in the entertainment area of this leisure complex and they were in party mode. People seemed suitably relaxed after their watery pursuits and got straight into the party spirit. This show marked the end of a very successful weekend of festival shows that celebrate summer in the best possible way. Our summer appearances continue next week with another visit to Norway, this time to Sel. For now we get a few days at home that will, without doubt, result in much outdoor maintenance work on days when there is no rain. In that case, I could be having a very easy time.


Although the Norwegian leg of our never ending tour is nearly over, there is something enduring and permanent in our relationship with this special country. Norwegians took to Smokie music very early in our career and stayed with us for the whole 42 years. I’ve always believed that their outdoor lifestyle and the comparative ease of picking up a guitar and playing a Smokie song have contributed to our success in this region. One thing is undeniable, and that is the intensity of our audience at Kurbadhagen in their determination to make every moment of the show one to savour and enjoy. There could not be a more attentive audience or one that is more devoted to celebrating with Smokie. I felt a real closeness with the audience and a very special attachment as the evening progressed. This was made even more memorable as they, just as our Seljord audience had done, burst into Happy Birthday in my honour. The weather forecast had been wrong in indicating rain and we were happily bathed in sunshine that gave way to a picturesque full moon. A day that had begun perfectly ended in the same way. Now there is just time for a few hours of rest before we take the morning flight to Copenhagen, at a time when most people would be enjoying a Sunday morning lie-in. With an audience waiting for us in Sweden there is no such option, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.


I always feel at home when I get to Norway, particularly when I reach this area that has so much in common with Loch Ness in The Highlands. Seljord has its own monster, Selma, who is nearly as pretty as Nessie and equally hard to spot. Feeling at home also has so much to do with the hospitality of Norwegians, which is legendary. Last night our gig spilled five minutes over into Saturday morning, meaning my birthday had arrived. Our eager crowd joined together to sing Happy Birthday once more (as they had in 2006) and a great night ended on a specially high note for myself. Not even dark skies could divert attention away from our collective aim, which was to party like there’s no tomorrow. Luckily there is a tomorrow because I shall be on my way to Sandefjord soon to do it all again and maybe egg the crowd on once more. Touring is an endless source of fun and, like energy, it never dries up. I’m 61 today and I feel like a teenager.


Keeping a record of where we have played and when has come naturally to me and, because of this, I am always asked the question “Have we played here before, Martin?”. My answer is always specific and precise, perhaps because I enjoy perusing and memorising data. So my answer yesterday was “Yes, the 27th June 2009 - just 8 years ago”. The date itself doesn’t impress people but it’s always how long ago since our last visit. “Was it really 8 years?”, they ask. I’m sure we all feel that time is speeding up and that the gaps between Christmases appear to be getting shorter. Even our onstage 90-minute set seems to whizz past in a breath. Perhaps it is because we squeeze so much into a year that we barely notice the passing of time, but just that new months creep up on us at an alarming rate. At this northerly latitude of 66 degrees we are further disorientated by the lack of darkness, which is so familiar to us during summer in Scandinavia. What do we need to know? Nothing, really, just that we are having a party as usual and so are the audience. In customary Norwegian style, there was not a soul to be seen 5 minutes before our show. Once the intro plays, people throng from all corners and fill the venue in moments and the show is ready to start. There is no such thing as a bad gig, just differing levels of good. Smokie are so much part of Norwegian culture that it would be impossible not to light them up with the songs with which they are so familiar. It’s festival season and we put the lid on the Hemnes Boat and Fjord Festival, finding our audience entirely ready to go wild and close the festival in style. Was it just another great Smokie party? It was one of many, but as individual as DNA. Now we begin a very long journey home, with the smile on our faces that shows that we have had a thoroughly good time. Let’s do it again.

Alba Iulia

Sarbatoarea Muzicii sits in the middle of the town square in Alba Iulia in Romania and is a perfect setting for a gig that can hold around 5,000 people, as it did last night. Our inbound flight from Vienna left little time for preparation, so there was a quick turnaround before hitting the stage during daylight. There was no doubt just how much our audience were ready for some Smokie songs, and a chance to bring their whole families to take part in the town’s celebration. A very hot day gave way to a beautiful and cloudless evening sky as the sun set and made way for some stunning lighting effects on the tasteful buildings. Our show put the final finishing touches on another new festival that will continue for many years and most likely invite Smokie back again to keep the party going. This is surely the best time of our touring year because there are so many great festivals on offer. Also, as it happened, the weather was exceedingly good to us, there being no further incidents of the sort of storms that have disrupted shows around Europe of late. 


Hot and sultry air has been dominating southerly latitudes of late and creating a multitude of thunderstorms that are not the friends of outdoor concerts. Such a succession of storms hit Fohnsdorf from around 8 p.m. and continued through the night, causing a risk to electrical equipment. Consequently, as fork lightning approached the vicinity, it was necessary to call a halt to the show, at Therme Aqualux, around fifteen minutes early for safety. However, we did not leave the stage without singing “Living next door to Alice”, mostly to a very damp and depleted audience of die-hards who refused to respond by vacating the premises, as others had done. The festival, in its fourth year, already has a place for Smokie next year to return and play the full set in, hopefully, drier conditions. I think that, even though the show came to an abrupt halt, there were still many satisfied punters who had enjoyed the show right up to the point when they needed to vacate. Today we move on to Romania, where conditions are forecast to be very similar. Let’s see if we can complete the whole set and not have to run for cover. 


There are few better views from stage than looking out over a fjord full of boats. Many of our audience came directly from their boats to the Holmestrand Kulturfestivalen, ready to party before returning to their vessels to continue through the night. The crowd gave us a huge welcome, as we hit the stage, and kept the energy going from start to finish. Our visit to Holmestrand was very brief as we flew early this morning from Oslo to Frankfurt to appear on ZDF TV Fernsehgarten, so sleep was out of the question. Our three-day tour has taken in three countries so far, and we have yet to get home to make it four. Life in the fast lane is seldom boring. 


It’s time for the summer weather lottery. Earth’s source of heat, that yellow dwarf we call The Sun, has managed to bubble up acres of clouds in characteristic mid-summer style. Consequently, the show that was planned for outdoors, Rock Ved Aaen, was moved indoors to XL Byg Hallerne in Skive. Inside we were all toasty warm and well insulated against the forceful wind that blew tunes on the edge of the building, while we blew our own tunes under cover. It felt like coming home as we entertained so many familiar folk who have followed our story through the decades, including our many recordings here on Danish soil. We could almost be Danish ourselves, except for our inability to master the tricky pronunciations of the language. There is much excitement here for our forthcoming tour in April, when we are due to play some familiar venues. In the meantime, we have one more show to perform here in Holstebro on 12th August before we take our summer/autumn break. 


You won't see more cowboy hats, per head of population, in Texas than here in parts of Norway. American culture has had a great impact over here and the Norwegians like to have all the authentic gear, whether it be clothing, cars, motor bikes or music. Consequently our audience at Lista Airfield were more than happy when our Nashville songs gave them an opportunity to line dance. Young people sang all the words to all the hits, confirming that our songs have become as much a part of youth musical taste as for their parents. We know that Smokie's Greatest Hits is the biggest selling album of all time in this beautiful country, and that provides many opportunities to entertain Norwegians throughout the whole year, and particularly in the summer. Admittedly it is rather cool and wet for the time of year but there is nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of our party crowd. Our show last night followed a dramatic reconstruction of a shootout amongst well-clad cowboys, so there were some impressive outfits on display. Whether they are involved in drama or music, the Norwegians like to put heart and soul into their lives and, thankfully, there has always been a special place for Smokie and, if the trend continues, that may be true for some time. 


I am growing so accustomed to long hours of daylight that it seems a shock to witness darkness at night. From my hub airport of Amsterdam I often travel north at this time of year, enjoying the extra light of Scandinavia. However, this weekend I travelled to Dortmund in Germany, where the air was rather heavy and ripe for a thunderstorm. The storm did occur around 4.00 p.m., and left the atmosphere a lot fresher for the evening show at Kemnade in Flammen. The venue, placed in the middle of a fairground, was buzzing with activity and anticipation from early afternoon. Smokie hit the stage after 9.00 p.m. to a capacity crowd in great spirits and the party began. Our show was recorded by WDR4, as part of their summer roadshow, and is due for broadcast later today. It was a pleasure to connect, once again, with our German audience and to receive such a stunning reaction. Although this was our sole appearance in Germany this year we are scheduled for thirteen shows in this country in 2018. If last night's reception is anything to go by, we could be in for a really rewarding visit to Deutchland. 


It has been a weekend of contrasts, travelling from the chilly north to the warm and sunny south, some ten degrees closer to The Equator. There was no need for onstage heaters last night at Scandic Hotel's City Scene, in fact it was very hot inside the venue. A capacity crowd, fresh from enjoying the day's sunshine, filled every inch of the venue and brought with them their best singing voices. There is one thing that we do get in Fredrikstad and that is darkness, after about 22:45. We have had two contrasting shows and two great yet totally different audiences. Having seen more of Norway than a lot of Norwegians, we are used to the changes as we traverse this long, sparsely populated country. Our date sheet indicates that we will be back here again in two weeks when we perform in Lista. But first we make a much anticipated return to Germany, but not before returning to the UK for a few days of catching up with some of those vital outdoor summer tasks. 


Up here in Bardufoss (latitude 69 degrees) it's rather chilly. With very little Spring in evidence and plenty of lying snow it feels rather wintery. However, it is May, and that's enough of a reason to hold a concert outdoors in the shadow of an impressive waterfall, Malselvfossen. Regardless of the single digit temperatures there were two thousand keen punters, with their camper vans and cowboy hats, waiting for a celebration on this Friday night. Rarely have we soundchecked to so many members of the audience, but there were no barriers and there was no reason not to allow people to get into the mood for a good night. It was a bit like taking a sneaky look at Christmas presents before the big day, and realising that there were many good things to come. How could the night not be a good one? With our audience close and several onstage heaters we launched into "I'll meet you at midnight" in some comfort, enjoying the freshness of the air and a view of snowcapped mountains. For our audience this was the start of a marathon of drinking and dancing that will see them partying for the whole weekend, with no darkness to tell them when to sleep. Perhaps they won't sleep much at all. For us, however, it is the first of two concerts at opposite ends of this country, with radically different climates at present. Our morning flight takes us to Oslo from where we travel onwards to Fredrikstad, where the warmth of the sun can, once again, remind us that we are approaching mid-summer.


Throughout my 29 years in Smokie I have accumulated numerous memories of Ireland, and many have been associated with the lovely County Donegal. In the 1980's it was customary to hit the golf courses before our evening show, a practise that is now only confined to tales of yesteryear. There is one thing that hasn't changed, and that is the reaction of our audiences in this beautiful part of The British Isles. As I look around the auditorium I see many familiar faces from the start of our musical journey; it seems that our audience is enjoying the party as much as ourselves. We've grown up together and, whilst doing that, we have attracted the younger generation to satisfy their curiosity by coming along to see who is the band with that crazy song "Living next door to Alice" (also known as "Who the f**k is Alice?"). When I hit the stage here in Ireland I feel more like I'm playing to a group of friends than to the ticket-buying public. The Irish have a way of making me feel like we are all part of a huge family and that anything goes, as long as we are enjoying ourselves. From the moment we checked in to Jacksons Hotel to the moment we left this morning there was constant contact with members of the audience who had come to Donegal specifically to party with Smokie. As always we were asked when we would be back and I can happily say that March next year will see us back in this part of the world. "Don't you ever get tired of this?", some people ask. Not at all, for how can I tire of great parties with such energetic people? Life is for living, and we are certainly doing that.


History is starting to repeat itself. The venues are filled to over capacity, the temperature indoors is reaching near sauna level, and women are starting to throw their underwear on stage again. It reminds me of Ireland in the 1980's. The build up to our Saturday gig in Prague had suggested it would be a good one, but it exceeded all expectations. After a hot, sunny day in the city it was likely that the audience at Lucerna would be on good form, but their decibel level was off the chart. For everyone the gig ended too soon, not because it was short but because everyone was having such a good time that it seemed a shame to bring it to a close. Prague doesn't sleep and it seems unlikely that I will either, mainly because I shall be up in three hours to catch the red eye flight home. But the excitement of the last three days does not wear off quickly, so I shall just enjoy the happy memories I have made here in Slovakia and The Czech Republic and let KLM take me home in my soporific state. On Friday I shall board Malaysian Airlines for a 12-day break in Australia, my first holiday with Roz for 6 years. On my return I have an extended break before resuming in Ireland around 20th May, before the start of festival season. 
This year has got off to a very strong start, and it shows no sign of easing up. Now we are already starting to plan for 2018, and it is shaping up to be another very good year. Thank you to all our fans for making it so good, and we'll see you soon, wherever you may be. 


What a fantastic reaction from a huge crowd. I'm talking, of course, about our sellout show at Brno's Sono Centrum. This venue has only been running for three years and Smokie have played it twice in that time. Its golf ball dome gives it a unique and very futuristic look, and one that attracts attention. Inside, the three tiers are constructed for excellent acoustics, giving the audience a crystal clear sound. The smiles on peoples' faces indicated that they were hearing every word and every note and enjoying the songs as they were meant to be heard. Our first appearance this year in The Czech Republic was an enormous success and, if this is a sign of how things will be for us in this country, we are in for a great time. Prague, here we come!


Smokie's return to Slovakia's capital was an unqualified success as a huge crowd filled the stylish Hant Arena. Once the audience had unanimously agreed to rise to their feet it was like a tsunami of individuals as they surged forward to join the party. Performing the set that was so popular on our UK tour, we took the audience through a powerful summary of our 42 years on the road. Nostalgia plays a large part, even causing some tears as people recall certain events from many years ago, but happiness and joy are mostly the reaction that I observe. Once we said our final farewells to the audience we were on the road to Brno to be in place for tonight's show here at the familiar Sono Centrum. For my part I shall be taking another good look around this beautiful city before preparing for another night of fun in an intimate environment.


A new road is under construction that will speed up the journey to Bergen but, until that happens, a ferry is the best option. Because ferries are standard transport for many Norwegians we tend to meet some of the people who are on their way to our concert. Inevitably, there are autographs, photos and a bit of friendly banter. As I observed yesterday, the pace is slower around water which means that people have more time for each other. With such a rich history in Norway we have a lot to talk about, and people are more than happy to share their experiences and tales of how they (the younger generation usually) got to know about Smokie. It was a younger crowd that attended Hordabohallen in Bovagen last night, and they were well rehearsed in their favourite songs. Our show turned a quiet rural location into a full on rock venue, and one that will be worth considering again in the future. It was a great ending to this three-day mini Norwegian tour that has left us with some very happy memories. As chance would have it, we now break for a couple of weeks before resuming in Slovakia and The Czech Republic. My own plans involve family and a trip to Edinburgh to visit one of the best sushi restaurants. Just for a change I shall not be flying, but taking the train that became so familiar to me on the recent UK tour. 


There are few places more idyllic than Haugesund. Even the prospect of flying to the west coast to enjoy warmer temperatures than Oslo was highly appealing. Activity around water is always at a gentle and relaxing pace, so it seemed natural to slow down to match the environment. Sunny skies helped to complete the picture, along with another sellout show, this time at Festiviteten. Haugesund is not a big town, so everywhere is within easy walking distance. I feel like I have done everything in slow motion today except, of course, the concert that progressed at its usual enthusiastic pace, rattling the memories of our eager audience and encouraging the recall of all manner of events associated nostalgically with our melodies. Some people were celebrating birthdays, some wedding anniversaries and some the birth of their children (even named Alice) and in this respect they are highly representative of our audiences around the world who have similar stories of family life that has retained a connection to our music. This 2017 world party is turning into a huge gathering of fans who want to see the band and make us promise that we won't retire and stop performing our music. How can we refuse when so many good people make this simple request? As it happens, nothing was further from my mind because I am having the most fun ever in this wonderful Smokie career. If all goes according to my plan there should be many years left in the band yet, so let's keep on doing what we do and take that naughty 'r' word right out of our dictionary.


Chat Noir is a small theatre, with a French name, in the heart of Oslo. Its intimacy is further expanded by the double seats that are part of the decor. It would be hard not to feel somehow connected to your neighbour when your rear ends are occupying the same chair. It all adds to the charm of this surprising venue on a day when we are all thinking about the female of the species, i.e. International Women's Day. Of course, any Smokie gig will mostly contain a majority of women, so the concept doesn't need emphasising too much in our presence. We are just happy to see an audience enjoying themselves, and that's what happened last night. Aker Brygge may well have been buzzing with the activity of those who feel that the meteorological Spring is cause enough to come out of hiding, but Chat Noir was full of people who were ready for a good time and willing to join the party. Our first Norwegian gig of the year was an unparalleled success and makes way for another two shows in this country this week, but not before we take the short trip to Haugesund for a night of leisure. 


There was an old man in a tree
Who was terribly bored by a bee
When they asked "Does it buzz?"
He replied "Yes, it does
But at least there'll be honey for tea"

Sorry, but I just couldn't resist doing that because, after all, I am in Limerick (or Lime Rick, as Mike called it last night).
Also, my apologies to the the late Edward Lear whose verse I played with by changing the ending. Being in Ireland is enough to cause me to wax lyrical, and what better a place to squeeze out a few lines than here in County Limerick? Our audience were similarly in characteristic lyrical mode last night as we took them down memory lane. A great night ended in the bar at Kilmurry Lodge Hotel where we reminisced about all the amusing incidents over the last twenty nine years while partaking, of course, in pints of the black stuff. As usual I needed to be alert again during the hours of darkness to start my trip home to The Highlands, so sleep beckoned briefly before I strode into a darkened restaurant to start the Irish breakfast experience. Talking of experiences, I am on Irish Rail for the first time, thereby avoiding the early morning traffic of the notorious M50.
Partying with the Irish people means having the best party in the world because they more or less invented the word, along with other words that have become an integral part of Alice's story.
I now return home for a most unusual weekend before resuming my travels to Oslo on the day of my twenty ninth Smokie anniversary. It's all happening here, so keep an eye on this blog, on Twitter and on the Smokie Face Book page to keep up-to-date with what's happening in our crazy world.


I feel that I might be repeating myself a little when I say "that's the best reaction we've ever had", but here I go again - at Moscow's Crocus City Hall we enjoyed "the best reaction we have ever had" at this great venue. Not only that, we have also played here every year for the last five years, and next year's appearance is already in the planning. It may be a long way to go for a gig (my journey today takes 19 hours to get me home) but it is entirely worth the trip. Another thing about our trips to Russia is that we have to visit the Russian Visa Agency in London to have our biometric fingerprints taken, and this gives me an annual opportunity to have a night out in the big city and catch a show or a movie whilst amongst the bright lights. So it's not just the show itself but also the preparation that is somehow an enjoyable part of the whole process. Yesterday Moscow was alive with celebrations and demonstrations. It felt like the whole population were on the streets on Sunday morning and there were kiosks, sideshows, fancy dressings, ice sculptures, Christmas trees and the usual tourist attractions in the vicinity of Red Square, ahead of Easter celebrations. There have been many changes in the former Soviet Union since our first appearance here in 1991, and our Russian audience's reaction is now far more similar to that which we encounter in Western Europe. As I leave Moscow on this Monday morning even the chilly conditions have warmed to drizzly rain, in line with the more temperate weather that we experience in the UK. Spring is just around the corner and the Winter coat will make way for the Spring jacket, and the mountain tops will change from white to green. But one thing never changes, and that is Smokie's near constant touring schedule that takes us round the world year in and year out. Long may it continue.


What? A home town gig? Amazing! This was a valuable opportunity to sleep in my own bed after a gig, for a change. But sleep was never a priority and, as I write this, I can say I've had little more than two hours' sleep after the tremendously successful Ironworks show last night. The venue was packed to capacity and the audience were on top form. Even Storm Doris missed us so that we could commute easily from Aberdeen to Inverness without arriving looking like our hair was styled by Boris Johnson's hairdresser. All in all it was the perfect end to a memorable UK tour. The fun continued last night as we shifted from The Ironworks to The Pentahotel, where several of the band and the audience were keeping the mirth and merriment going in the ample bar area. The last music notes may have faded but the conversations about the gig will likely go on for weeks. Suffice to say that we will be back to serve up some more Smokie music to our loyal fans in the lovely Highlands that I call home. Thank you to everyone who has made our UK Tour such a pleasure. Now we continue the international leg of the never ending tour with a trip to Moscow.


What a beautiful venue is the lovely Tivoli Theatre in Aberdeen. It's three-tiered seating gives everyone in the theatre a good view, and what works for them also works for us onstage. The atmosphere was highly charged as our audience stayed with us every step of the way through our four-decade journey through our musical career. An eleven year absence from Aberdeen is just far too long and it's time to put that right and start planning our future returns to Aberdeen and its beautiful Tivoli Theatre with its eager crowd. The two Scottish dates on this UK Tour are sold out and are most likely to remind us just how important a part our music has played in the lives of many Scots. With so much success behind us in our home territory it's time to take stock of the situation and make regular visits to the people that have kept us in their hearts for all these years. I believe that many of our audience will have kept the party going long after the final chord was struck onstage because they, like us, were probably still on a high after what turned out to be a very special night in this great city. 


On 12th January this year I first learnt that our show in Letterkenny was sold out. As I entered The Clanree Hotel yesterday afternoon I was greeted by staff who commented that we should have played here for two nights. Even though that was not possible on this occasion it is fair to say that we could return here again soon to appear for those who were unable to get tickets on this occasion, as well as to be here for those who simply want to have another night with Smokie. The anticipation for this gig was palpable as the queue for the show snaked around a large section of the sizeable hotel. Extra seats were brought in to try to fulfil demand from standby punters. The words "Full House" don't completely describe just how packed the function room was last night, and the audience were on top form.  Our UK set runs like a dream and the addition of "Whiskey in the jar" just helped to localise the program. Here ends an extraordinary week of extreme highs and here begins a week that sees another two sellout shows, this time in Scotland. It just keeps getting better and better all the time. For now I shall return to The Highlands to breathe in some salt sea air on Nairn Beach before resuming preparations for a very busy week that ends in Moscow. Yes, Smokie are very much on the move again, so it is business as usual. 


A thousand people make a lot of noise when they stamp their feet on the floor in appreciation of an artist who they would like to return for an encore. Such was the noise at Victoria Theatre last night that I thought the walls would cave in. Of course, this lovely theatre is made of sterner stuff, as is our Yorkshire audience. I'm sure they would have stayed all night if it was possible. There is always a very warm welcome for Smokie in the city of Halifax, but last night was exceptional. Now the English part of our UK Tour is complete and we resume in Scotland next Wednesday, but not before entertaining a full house in Letterkenny tonight; more about that later. In characteristic form we load our many kilos of baggage on to a flight to Belfast City and take the scenic route to this lovely Donegal town. Really, every day is a new adventure.


How crooked is that church spire? If you've seen it, you'll know what I'm talking about. The most famous landmark in Chesterfield has a variety of tales about its less than symmetrical appearance. I love it, for it oozes character and its age gives it the right to be as quirky as it likes, rather like Smokie. Our return to Chesterfield, after a five year gap, was given a big thumbs up from our eager audience. There was a lot of love in the room tonight and it felt like nobody really wanted to go home. It would have made a good last night of the tour. Sometimes there is a special chemistry that occurs for both the band and the audience and a great event ensues. Such an event cannot be contrived, it can only occur naturally. You may be familiar with the party that is thrown on impulse and ends up being your favourite one of the entire year, in spite of the lack of planning and the fact that nobody was aware that a party was on the cards. Naturally we (Smokie) always have a good time on stage and hope that the audience will enjoy the same. Wild horses couldn't prevent us from having a great time last night at Chesterfield's Winding Wheel, and we have made it our aim to make a return appearance before that spire twists any more. 


We do not pass this way often; some say we do not pass this way often enough. Nobody would have guessed that it has been twelve years since our last appearance at Grimsby Auditorium. Somehow the years seem to tick away at an ever increasing speed and events that seem quite recent turn out to be further in the past than we imagine. Enjoying life is all about living in the moment, and it is this practise that is of prime importance to both musicians and audience alike. Our Grimsby audience were fully engaged and on top form on this Sunday night, as if the only important thing was to enjoy the show. That is living in the moment. There were many familiar faces, including children who have grown up during these past twelve years. Time does indeed pass and many things have changed during this period. It's a great thing, therefore, to be told that Smokie remain the same no matter how much time has elapsed. In some ways we are a link to the past as well as being a band for the present. We can only guess about the future but, if time slips away as unnoticeably as it has to date, we could soon be looking back on 2017 with fond memories of a certain day in February when we played Grimsby Auditorium. 


Until now I had never taken a cross country train from East Anglia to the west coast. There is a first time for everything. My travel schedule allowed for just a few minutes before I was due on air at Coast 1079 with Steve Kaye, along with Terry. Steve was buzzing with questions from four decades of touring yet managed to restrict the interview to thirty minutes to allow us time to get to the soundcheck. Our third appearance at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre was already feeling, even before the first note was struck, that it was going to be our best. Once more we were held to promise that we would tour the UK more regularly. Nobody can predict exactly how the future will shape up for Smokie but, one thing is for sure, there will always be an eager audience for us here on our home territory. Tonight we get a chance to take a breather before our show in Grimsby on Sunday. I can enjoy a night off in Ilkley, a town where I lived for fourteen years and met Terry Uttley and Alan Silson. The rest, as they say, is history.

Kings Lynn

Where better to start a UK Tour than Kings Lynn's Corn Exchange? In this little pocket of East Anglia Smokie music is still very popular and we have no trouble filling this lovely venue. The local terrain may be flat but the crowd's response was anything but flat. A UK Tour often either starts or ends in Kings Lynn, so we are keeping with a well-tried tradition. Our audience needed no warming up, even though conditions outside were freezing. The bulk of our set comes from the very popular Australian running order, with just a couple of local variations. Meanwhile, out on the merchandising stall our album Set in Stone was on sale. Many times I was asked if we would not leave it so long before we come back to Kings Lynn again, and I think this is a wish we can happily grant. It was a great start to this 7-date UK adventure that looks like it will be a great deal of fun for both band and audience alike.

Bognor Regis

There's nothing quite like filling your lungs with salt sea air on a bracing day. England's south coast is chock full of little towns on the seafront, and Bognor Regis is one of them. Butlins has been around for a long time now, as have Smokie, so we are a good match. Our enthusiastic audience left us in no doubt before, during and after the show, that they were very pleased to see us. Slotting in an early evening performance, we were able to spend lots of time with friends and fans after the show to chew the fat and ponder on this year's tour dates. I could only grab a quick breakfast this morning as I was mostly engaged in conversations with people who had seen the show last night and wanted me to know that they thought we were the best band they'd seen this weekend. That's how things are here at Butlins. There is a lot of choice of entertainment and it's nice to know that we feature at the top of the list. Now we are warmed up and ready to go on the UK Tour that takes in seven shows. There is talk of adding some more later in the year, and I think that we will very likely go with that idea. It's good to be back on the road after a break and I feel ready for whatever our tour schedule has to offer.


All good things must come to an end. Why? So they can begin again. The world of music goes in cycles and, like the seasons, has its repeating patterns as well as its surprises. At times it feels like Smokie are still enjoying the same party that began in 1975, yet there have been so many changes around us. Perhaps part of the appeal is that the songs provide some sort of anchor to a past that holds many happy memories for people. Partying with Smokie provides a link with the past as well as a connection with the present. In a year in which we have lost so many well loved musicians there is a feeling that we not only wish to stay alive and healthy but also we want to preserve a vital legacy from an important era in the music business. Looking around at our audience at Pitea Havsbad last night I saw real love in their eyes and a real respect for the band that has brought them so many hit songs. It was a heartwarming show for a crowd that gave every bit as much as they received. In this realisation I recognise a truth in the Christmas message; to give is better than to receive. Many people need support at this time of year and we, the lucky ones, can provide exactly that without any loss to ourselves. Thank you to all our fans. You have joined us on an epic journey that takes us to thirty five countries and connects us with many different members of the human race. When all is said and done we will all have the most amazing life story to relate. 
Merry Christmas to everyone. Be good to each other and continue to do so in 2017. We will see you very soon.


There is so much beauty to be witnessed inside The Arctic Circle. It comes with a cold and, at times, biting wind, but it is worth it to witness, for example, The Aurora Borealis and rainbow clouds. The district of Gallivare has been most noted for its coal mining industry, which is now dormant. Last night, however, new life sprung to Malmberget's Sports Arena in the shape of a Smokie concert. The crowd thronged the arena, filling every space and taking advantage of any opportunity to move with the music. Clearly our audience knew their hit songs and were enthusiastic to join in with the singing. While outside the Aurora continued to shine its green hue over frozen terrain, inside it was red hot with a party crowd. It may be dark at this time of year but there is always plenty of light in the hearts of those who are determined to have a good time. Today I drove south to Pitea, past herds of reindeer struggling through deep drifting snow. It's a real Christmas card view with all the trimmings that go with Christmas in The Northern Hemisphere. There was a surprise, of course, as the bus came to a halt next to a car belonging to the brother of our hostess, Ann Louise. He boarded the bus with a tray of glogg (also known as gluhwein or mulled wine) as well as dried reindeer and cinnamon biscuits. There are few times in the year that alcohol is welcome in the morning, but this was one of those times and I was happy to let my head spin for a while and just enjoy the ride. Throwing caution to the wind is characteristic of Christmas spirit. Bring it on!


Once more our Lithuanian audience stepped up to the plate, giving us a rousing reaction that had our promoters eagerly watching and planning our future visits to this country. Over the course of my Smokie career I have seen this happen many times; there is a real excitement that builds in one particular place and it is a sure sign that there is a demand for more concerts in the future. Last night's concert at Kedainiai Arena confirmed that there is real love for Smokie music and an absolute determination for the audience to get involved in the show. The outside temperature may well be minus eight, but inside there is a toasty warm reception. I now return home briefly to make some Christmas preparations before travelling to the north of Sweden for some wintery shows in picture postcard surroundings that finally set the mood in the run up to family celebrations. I can just about hear the sleigh bells in the distance.


There's something about December and Lithuania that go together perfectly. From the clubs to the arena tours with a full orchestra, it has provided an opportunity to enjoy the run up to Christmas in  ideal snowy surroundings. I have seen many changes in this Baltic State since I first visited in April 1991, and one of those changes was evident last night in the audience's reaction to Smokie's concert at Alytus Sports and Recreation Arena. A normally reserved public, happy to sit and listen, turned into a full on party crowd that would have graced an Aussie gig, let alone one in a breakaway ex-Russian country. That change alone was enough to impress and perhaps it does signal a cultural shift here in Lithuania. Whatever the underlying reason, it was a joy to behold an audience letting go and allowing the music to do its stuff. There's nothing sophisticated about thrilling an audience and nothing complicated about achieving it, yet it is not something to take for granted. With Christmas just around the corner I feel that I am in the right place to spread the joy, and the results are written on people's faces.


"It's the last night and there could be tricks", was the warning from the stage. In fact our final show of the 2016 Australian Tour was relatively trick-free, apart from the trick of turning what used to be quite a reserved audience into a full-on party crowd. Once the announcement was made that this was our last chance to thrill a crowd before boarding the plane to go home, and that the previous eleven audiences had put on an impressive reaction, the pressure was on for our Bunbury audience to be the best. It's a challenge they seized with both hands. They even broke out into a chorus of "Happy Birthday" for Smokie's 41 years on the road, and entirely without any prompting. The precedent has been set, and we now have to finish each Australian tour in Bunbury. The next one? Well, we are discussing February 2019. Some people have already put it as a firm date in their diary. Let's see how things pan out. Today is a day of travel for most of us; some are going home and some are staying a bit longer. I am flying to Melbourne to spend some time with my in-laws before returning to the UK in time for the next round of gigs in Lithuania and Sweden. The Oz tour has been tremendous fun and I wish to thank everyone in our audiences for enjoying and appreciating what Smokie have to offer. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and much happiness in the New Year. 


All corners of The Earth - that's where Smokie play. Often I hear it said that most bands don't make it to some of the places we reach. We have built a career around travelling far and spreading the joy as widely and generously as possible. Albany is one of those places and the ship-like design of its Entertainment Centre is an eye- catching piece of architecture as well as a magnet to culture hunters. Last night it rocked to our Aussie Set and left our audience in a happy frame of mind, eager to get us to agree to a return visit. The penultimate gig on this wonderful tour was a storming success and it now remains for me to return to Perth for a quiet evening before travelling to Bunbury tomorrow for the closing show. 


My Australian adventure since 2006 all began in Perth, a place I had, up to then, never visited. Now it seems so familiar that I can barely remember not knowing the place and, in particular, Regal Theatre, Subiaco. Smokie have a very established audience here that fills the venue to capacity every time we visit. It's like a home town gig, but a long way from home. There was the biggest showing of mobile phone lights last night (the modern equivalent of cigarette lighters) during "If you think you know how to love me", as well as a tour defining reaction to our Aussie Set. Perth did us proud and is in our hearts as well as on our next tour plan for Australia. The most asked question, for once, is not "Who is Alice?", but "when are you coming back?". 


Some things are just perfect as they are, and Her Majesty's fits that description. It's my only hope that the planned refurbishment does not take away the charm of this intimate venue in Adelaide. Even before the audience arrived I had the feeling that we were going to have a really good night, and that is exactly what happened. Blame it on the super moon? I don't think so, although I am happy if our little satellite played its part in bringing out the party spirit in so much of our audience. As with Tasmania, many touring artists do not make it to Adelaide.Smokie, however, always include it and always will, especially after last night's fantastic reaction. I only hope that, by the time we come to book the venue, the refurbishments are complete and that the soul of the venue remains intact.


An audience is most exciting when it moves, dances and generally shows a lot of enthusiasm. Last night's audience at Princess Theatre was in the top league in this respect. They didn't need much encouragement for they behaved like their seats were on fire. In a packed house with little extra space they managed to find even the tiniest gap in which to demonstrate their partying abilities to the full and, like our Hobart crowd, turned out in large numbers to meet with the band after the show. Tasmania has shown us a lot of love and it's been a specially memorable part of this excellent tour of Australia. Today we travel to Adelaide via Melbourne, beginning our final week of the tour which ends this Friday.


The centre of Hobart is in a bowl, with roads rising and radiating in each direction, rather like San Francisco. Being in the south of this great continent, it experiences much cooler temperatures at this time of year, including some very chilly nights. I was drawn to its harbour, a lively hub and tourist attraction with its tall ships and constant activity from ferries and other vessels. Our audience turned out in large numbers at The Derwent Centre and showed us one of the liveliest reactions we have seen so far on this tour. They were keen to get on their feet from early in the show and sang one of the loudest versions of "I don't wanna talk about it" that I have ever heard. Clearly there is a lot of spirit down here in Tas and the occupants of Hobie were keen to put it on show. We now move on for our second show in Tasmania, at Princess Theatre in Launceston. It's Saturday night and my guess is that it will be good and rocky. 


Six years ago I made my first appearance in Darwin on the 2010 tour. Smokie played two nights at Darwin Entertainment Centre and I got to know the area very well, walking miles along the coast and also inland. Darwin had always intrigued me because of its location and the fact that it always appeared to be hot, regardless of the time of year and because of its proximity at twelve degrees south of the equator. What also impressed me was the loudness of the crowd, who appear to be some of the most demonstrative of Australians. Last night I was reminded of that as Smokie hit the stage to loud cheering. The volume remained at maximum throughout and it was clear that we were getting as much back from the crowd as we were giving. Talking to audience members after the show, it was evident that they had missed us on the 2013 tour, when we had been unable to find a free date to book the venue here in Darwin. One thing is for sure, and that is that we will be confirming our Darwin date early on the next Smokie tour, which is most likely to be in another three years from now. Today I am off to Hobart, the other end of this wonderful continent, in readiness for tomorrow night's concert at Derwent Entertainment Centre. 


Frogs and beetles. Last time I was at The Brolga Theatre there was a large number of frogs thronging the back door to The Green Room, and this time it was beetles. You see, it's not just humans that answer the call of "Living next door to Alice". Meanwhile, the humans were doing a pretty good job of singing along to our Aussie set with all its familiar songs. Fresh from my relaxing day off in Caloundra, where I soaked up the sun and flew the kite and the boomerang, I was ready for a final performance in Queensland before moving on to the Northern Territory for one show in Darwin. This is a five-state tour that will be at the half way mark after tonight's show at Darwin Entertainment Centre, before moving on to the milder climate of Tasmania tomorrow. I am really covering some mileage on this tour, most of it by air. There's one thing that remains constant wherever I go in Oz, and that is the enthusiastic reaction to Smokie's music. Nostalgia plays a large part but there is another aspect to our popularity which is in no small way attributable to the 1990's version of Alice. Wherever she is now, she has done us a great favour, as has our loyal audience here in Oz. It's a bonza tour with absolutely "no worries". Onwards and upwards.


Four days into the tour and it was time for a road trip, the A1 Bruce Highway being our route from Rockhampton to Mackay. No need for GPS on this occasion as there is only one road and you're either on it or you're not. There was a huge crowd waiting for us at MECC, including folks from Townsville and other far flung places. The audience was well rehearsed in their responses and appreciative of the variation in our set from last time we were here. The local radio station, SEA FM, gave us some good promotion, including announcements on the news of our arrival in Mackay, and the audience turned up in big numbers. We've had four really great shows here so far in Australia and now we take a short break in Caloundra, one of the country's finest holiday spots on the east coast. With temperatures already in the red zone we can be sure to bring home a healthy tan. Now I just need to remind myself how to properly throw a boomerang for a bit of fun on the beach. 


Three steps to having a good night in Rockhampton: 1. Turn up  2. Play 3. Enjoy. Even the name Rockhampton suggests a place where a gig ought to be a success. Known as "Rocky" in Australia (a lot of names end up having a 'y' or an 'ie' added at the end in this part of the world) it is four degrees further north than Brisbane and getting pretty hot already at this time of year. Clearly the audience like a bit of country music, so the Nashville songs went down very well. Also there are many diehard Smokie fans, with their original vinyl albums, who know our material very well. I think we have a very discerning audience in Rockhampton, people who know what they like and recognise when they hear it. I believe that, if we were not pleasing the audience they would let us know in no uncertain terms. That's why it's a pleasure to say that we got the best response anyone could get here in Rocky and we left it with our audience that we would be back again some time, most likely in about three years, to continue the party that never ends.


Coming back to Empire Theatre is like visiting family. There are homemade biscuits, courtesy of Friends of Empire Theatre, and flowers in every dressing room. Clearly it's the little personal touches that mean a lot to the bighearted people at this lovely Toowomba venue. Similarly, folks from Yorkshire treat everyone like a long term friend, and this may be part of Smokie's appeal. Conversation flows freely and it feels like only yesterday that we were here. In fact it was 14th November 2013 since I last chomped on the lovingly baked biscuits in this hospitable place. So, it was a great start and it continued that way all evening after we first set eyes on the sizeable audience that was waiting for us. Again, there was a big roar of appreciation as we hit the stage and the crowd was with us every step of the way. The show continued with good humour and, by the end, I had the feeling that I knew the people in the audience. After each show on this Australian Tour we meet with those who like to have autographs, and that is when we get a real chance to find out more about the people who come to watch our show. There is a big age range here, just as there is in other parts of the world. Young people are still discovering our music, forty one years into our career. Is it any wonder that there seems to be no end in sight for one of the busiest international touring bands? Talking of busy, I hit the pillow at 01:00 this morning and grabbed a few hours' sleep before getting up at 05:00 in readiness for my radio interview with Jay and Dave on their SEA FM breakfast show in Mackay. The sun broke through at 06:02 here in Brizzy and I was raring to go. Today I fly to Rockhampton to entertain our equally enthusiastic audience at Pilbeam Theatre. Is there any better job than mine? 


What a great start to the Australian Tour! Of course, it was aided by the day's continuous sunshine and the near capacity crowd that thronged QPAC. Fresh from their horse-betting day, the audience were ready for a bit more celebration Smokie-style. We set the bar pretty high with this opening show and aim to keep it there for the next eleven. Returning after a three-year gap, both ourselves and our audience were ready to let it all hang loose for the night. There were a few surprises in a pacy set that ran very smoothly, with many opportunities for the audience to participate in the singing.The nostalgic element in the songs prompted the crowd to join in even without thinking about it. It turns out that we are the goto party band with a string of hits that keeps the show on a high throughout. This is a show I would happily take anywhere in the world and I am keen to see how our Toowomba audience will react tonight.


Three shows in three days, and all winners. That was the overwhelming feeling after our final Irish gig at Belfast's Waterfront. The audience has really taken to our latest set that features songs we haven't played for a while as well as one song that, although somehow associated with us, was not originally recorded by this band. I don't wish to name the songs because they are due to be part of the set in Australia and, because of that, I don't wish to spoil the element of surprise for any Australian who may be reading my blog. With only nine days to go before we strike our first chord in Brisbane we are well prepared. I can't pretend that it's not a perfect time to visit The Southern Hemisphere in general and Australia in particular because we will enjoy more daylight and higher temperatures. Meanwhile our Irish audience has, as ever, given us unparalleled support and a true heartfelt reaction at all three venues, and it's felt like a massive continuous party since we arrived in the country, beginning with our appearance on The Nolan Show. Just as the Irish have taken us to their hearts, so we take them to ours. Live performance is a two-way street - we all need each other for it to work, and there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that it has really worked and, more than that, it points to a very strong future here on The Emerald Isle.


Now, I could start my report by gushing about how fantastic the gig was at Dublin's Vicar Street and how wonderful the audience were, and that would be absolutely accurate. The truth is I am short of superlatives with which to express just how good the gig was. In living memory, it was possibly the best gig ever in Dublin. Even that does not say it all. The thing about such a good gig is that it unsettles and causes me to want to keep the party going all night; there's no point during the evening at which I am prepared to say that it is all over. Only exhaustion and the inevitable onset of sleep can interrupt this euphoric mood. Can I pay greater respect to the Dublin audience than to say "You are the best"? The bar is set very high indeed now and we must take our final Irish show to our Belfast audience at The Waterfront. Also known for their very warm reception, this is going to be a very interesting final show in The Northern Hemisphere before we unleash it on our Antipodean audience. I shall say this, it is great fun to play and it has a clearly visible effect on our audience. In the words of The Hangover Song from "Take a minute", "Let's do it again".


After a greatly relaxing time at the historic Tullylagan House Hotel with its numerous walks and fascinating museum pieces, it was time to turn our attention to the first of the three shows here in Ireland that feature new material chosen for the forthcoming Australian Tour. A sellout at Lanyon Hall meant a large receptive crowd who were into the show from the first note. With plenty of opportunities to join the singing, the audience gave their approval of a set that features many familiar songs. Our recent appearance on The Nolan Show and airing at 3:15 yesterday afternoon of our interview on Ulster Radio with Gerry Kelly helped to familiarise our audience and give the show a very personal feel. We can now look forward to another very busy night, this time at Dublin's Vicar Street where the crowd will most likely be well warmed up before we hit the stage. 

Faroe Islands

Our relationship with Faroe Islands was firmly established in the early 1990's, a period when we visited each January to provide some post-Christmas entertainment. Many of the people who attended Hollin a Halsi last night were in their teens during that era so they were revisiting their early happy memories associated with our music. There was a strong feeling that we were in the company of people from a country that has adopted our music and absorbed it into their culture. Our sixth appearance in this friendly country was a complete success from start to finish. As is usual in Scandinavian countries, there were plenty of young people in the audience. It was five years since our last appearance here but I don't think it will be as long as five years before we make our return visit. The Faroese people look very happy this morning, filled with the memory of one very great party here in Torshavn. Where there's a party, Smokie are never too far away.


Our nights on Cinderella seem to get better and better. There is always a huge crowd onboard for us and the reaction is positively wild. It is only seven months since our last appearance and Viking Lines will be happy to welcome us back again soon. For me it is a very comfortable gig in very agreeable surroundings. Being a lover of the water I find the pace very relaxing, especially because Cinderella covers a relatively short distance in the 21 hours of its schedule. I have been on this ship during more turbulent waters but, for now, it is hard to even detect that we are moving at all. The night just seemed too short, our set being only the usual hour in length. It is always the case that, when things are going so well, you just don't want them to end. I'm sure we will be back before long.


It's not often I walk through the doors of a branch of Sparkasse, and even rarer that I would enter with a view to entertaining an audience. The bank has a great idea by putting on shows twice a year to give its customers a chance to see their business space in a different light. The conclusion is that it matters not whether you see desks, chairs and computers because you can have a great time anywhere as long as you can relax enough to forget about the decor. Our audience had no trouble at all doing this and they made our night as good as any that we enjoy in a hall or arena. Today we leave Germany for the last time this year whilst considering that we may have a good opportunity next year to do our own tour. If that is the case I shall be quick to put those dates on this website. Now we leave for Sweden and MS Cinderella.


It's more than eleven years since we set foot inside a Butlins Holiday Camp, so our appearance in Minehead was an unusual experience. Our overseas commitments keep us well and truly tied up all year round yet there is still the occasional opportunity to perform to a holiday crowd in the UK. The function room is very sizeable and capable of holding a couple of thousand or more people, and it looked pretty full last night. The usual assortment of wigs and accessories were on show, creating a frivolous atmosphere. We were given a suitably warm welcome from an audience that was unaccustomed to seeing Smokie on their stage. The classic songs were received with great enthusiasm and the show peaked with the song that everyone had come to hear, and that is "Living next door to Alice". As it happens, Butlins crowds will only have to wait another four months until February to see us again, next time in Bognor. 


The formula worked even better last night in Erfurt, where the crowd showed a special appreciation for Smokie. It was hard to leave the stage because the cheering and clapping didn't slow. What a pleasure to experience this type of response to our performance. It has been a real change for us to share the stage with other notable acts and to take things a little easy on this German mini tour. Now it all starts to get a little more hectic for us with long journeys and tight schedules. As always, there will be prompt reporting of our experiences in this blog, so keep reading and stay up-to-date with my Twitter page for a fly-on-the-wall look at the crazy world of rock and roll.


For the majority of our touring year we are headlining overseas shows or just performing an entire show without support acts. The formula known as "oldies" has been a great success for the past thirty years in Germany, and it is still a popular format. So we find ourselves playing the arenas alongside other acts, some of whom we know very well. The first of two shows was at Leipzig Arena last night, where the audience were hungry for a bit of nostalgia. A forty-minute set really packs a punch and certainly leaves the crowd wanting more. So we fulfil two objectives - one is to catch up with friends in the business and two is to deliver a winning performance. On both counts, last night was a complete success and I look forward to repeating the experience tonight in Erfurt.


I am reminded of how we always used to arrive in Innsbruck by air, helter skeltering down through the mountain ranges (one of the twenty most tricky airports in the world in which to land) and finally coming to rest somewhere in the middle of it all. Now we land in Munich and climb onboard a luxury bus for a comfortable two and a half hour road trip. Our arrival, at 01:30, was greeted by our host and promoter who was very excited to report that there had been an over demand for tickets. From 2:00 p.m. onwards we met and greeted competition winners, recorded radio interviews and signed many autographs for the fans. Clearly there was a lot of anticipation for this visit to Innsbruck on the first day of a five-day festival. The crowd were completely warmed up before we took to the stage and their enthusiasm carried through right to the end of the show. It was an early finish for us and a chance to eat a leisurely dinner at a reasonable time in the evening. Tomorrow finds us travelling to Leipzig in readiness for Friday's show. An evening off in Leipzig could just be welcome at this busy time.


Just when I thought I'd seen the Irish at their best they manage to take it up a notch and turn Cork Opera House into the scene of the biggest party of the year. There was literally no holding them back. Fresh from our appearance on The Late Late Show, and knowing that this gig had sold out over a month ago, it was a surefire recipe for success. As if Christmas had come early, the show was a gift to the band, served up with a mass of raw enthusiasm, nostalgia and absolute warmth and welcome. It was like coming home and playing for all our best friends. I shall soon run out of descriptions so, let it suffice to say that this was one real winner of a gig. The Irish deserve to be proud of their musical heritage and their strong and unwavering taste for real music. It's with some pride that I conclude that Smokie have a permanent place in Ireland's musical history and nowhere is that more obvious than in Cork last night. With the demand for tickets running high it is possible we may squeeze in another show some time next year. If that is the case I shall make it known on this website. Thank you everyone for making it an unforgettable evening. 


Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, at least it did for Galwegians and others at Black Box last night. There was noticeably more seating supplied in the venue than last time we visited in 2009 and the house looked to be at near capacity. The crowd had their party heads on, as did the band, and a happy atmosphere pervaded the scene. The audience included many young people, a sign that our music, once again, is reaching a wide spectrum of age groups. It is the sharing of musical tastes amongst generations that has kept Smokie going for so long and ensured that there will always be new fans who are experiencing the band for the first time. Galway has a rich tradition of live music and it is a huge compliment to be made so welcome in a city that thrives on such high standards in entertainment. Maybe it won't be as long as seven years before we return to this charming city. In the meantime we are off to Dublin to record The Late Late Show.


What used to be the Rica Hotel is now the Scandic in Forde, and we have played here in 2009 and 2012. It's the type of venue that fills every time and we always expect to return here and are always rewarded with another booking and another great audience. The crowd themselves drove the gig along with their unbridled enthusiasm and sang every song like they've known the words all their lives; probably most of them, being so young, have actually learnt the songs in their early years. In the 1980's, when we were achieving platinum sales, it was estimated that one in forty people in Norway had a copy of our albums. A full house plus a band that's on form, fresh from our holiday, equals a great night. Now we can start preparing ourselves for a non-stop round of globetrotting and flitting around the planet at jet speed. It's time someone perfected the means to beam us to another location instantaneously. Just imagine how many gigs we could squeeze into the year if that were to happen!

Holstebro and Sotra

Is there some psychic connection between Smokie and the weather and does it only operate in Denmark? Where once there was an immediate response from the clouds as we launched into "Have you ever seen the rain?" there is now an opposite effect for, as we opened the first few bars of this song the rainclouds, that had soaked the audience for the entire show, parted and allowed a shaft of bright sunlight through in Holstebro during our afternoon performance. Our Danish audience are not there for the weather for they attend regardless of conditions, yet it is noticeable how the smiles on their faces widen as that great ball in the sky makes its rare appearance. There was a record number of people at the show, many more than would usually make their way to a festival at the early hour of mid-day. 
There was little time to spare, once the final bars of the outro had come to an end, and we departed for Karup Airport and our regular summer transport, the Citation jet operated by North Flying. A flight of just under an hour brought us to Bergen and left us plenty of time to relax before the second show at Panorama Hotell and Resort on the island of Sotra. Our promoter, David Genius, reminded us that in 1991 we had caused a bit of a local sensation by flying in by helicopter and playing to 10,000 people at the outdoor festival. This legend had been added to when our next appearance, some years later, involved an arrival by power boat. The Norwegians remembered these last two appearances and arrived in large numbers to hear our concert last night. With such an enormous groundswell of support we couldn't fail to have a fantastic evening on Sotra and a very strong end to our summer schedule.
Now we return to our various homes to recuperate from our busiest summer schedule of all time and recharge our energy reserves for a very hectic round of autumn shows.
Personally I have now taken 108 flights so far this year, a total that would be unthinkable for anyone who actually works in the airline industry, and I still have many more to come.
I extend my thanks to all the fans who have followed Smokie during our 41 years on the road and who continue to find pleasure and happiness in what we have to offer. If the audience response is a good barometer of satisfaction I would say that we will be returning to most of the places we visited at some time in the future. Enjoy the rest of your summer and we will see you again.


Hindsgavl Castle actually lacks a castle (there are ruins nearby) but the buildings that comprise the estate are beautiful. Many acres of fencing keep the deer from straying and there are dozens of walkways, including one that leads to the old bridge. A full day of wandering around the estate kept me busy before the evening. Tickets for the show had sold out within two months so we knew that we had a full house and a very enthusiastic crowd. Our record of six appearances in Rock Under The Bridge has made us very popular in this area, so it was no surprise that the gig felt like coming home. For those who still had energy to spare there was a chance to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, but for most of us, including some audience members, we were preparing for an early start in the morning as we head for our first show of the day in Holstebro.


Now I know what it's like to play a gig in a wind machine. Strong winds yesterday blew our ATR sideways as we landed in Aalborg, and caused some chaos onstage at Jaette Festival in Suldrup in the afternoon. By the time we hit the stage at 11:00 p.m. the wind had eased slightly but was still blowing at above the recommended speed, for safe staging, of 30km per hour. While the audience were well rugged up for the chill there was no protection for ourselves and the temperature onstage with the chill factor was nose-freezingly low. However, we have a collection of songs that are enough to warm even the coldest of hearts, and that's how we keep ourselves from freezing. The crowd were fantastic and not only joined the party but also kept it going until hours after we left the venue. For some it is the last weekend to enjoy a summer festival before schools return while for others there is still one more chance. We will be back in a few days to keep the party going before we also take a break.


The stage at Skansen is on very high ground with a panoramic view across a large part of Stockholm's skyline. Whilst the fairground at Grona Lund is in operation the screams from the daredevil rides are clearly audible, there being no obstacles in the way to mute the sound. As the light faded the stage lights became more effective, creating a colourful backdrop for Smokie's set. Time was tight and a strict curfew was due to be enforced at 11:00 p.m., a custom we were familiar with after having played Grona Lund's main stage in the past. It called for accurate timing and Smokie are renowned for finishing our show right on the button. The audience were with us every step of the way, basking in the enjoyment of a show full of hits. For now our love affair with Stockholm is on hold until October 13th when we will be on the other side of the water, boarding MS Cinderella once again to entertain another ship full of revellers. And now we take a couple of flights to reach Jutland in Denmark for a late appearance at Jaette Rock in Suldrop.


We are no strangers to Mariehamn, although our experience of it is mostly confined to a brief 6:45 a.m. docking on MS Cinderella before it turns round and sails back to Stockholm. This time we were in the town and happily involved in the Rockoff Festival on Aaland Island. From the moment we arrived, on the ferry Rosella, to the moment we left the island was buzzing. At this time of year there is no distinction between day and night. Although the island is Finnish territory in a Finnish time zone, and with the euro as its currency, the language and feel is Swedish. Our audience, with ages spanning three generations, filled every space in the auditorium. In a show that started at 19:30 we were often bathed in sunlight as the clouds parted to reveal a beautiful evening in an idyllic setting. Although I know we will be rushing through Mariehamn later this year to get to Faeroe Islands I feel there is more than a small chance that we will be appearing at Rockoff Festival again in this lifetime.


All the way to Sri Lanka for one show? Yes, why not? After all, we had a sellout house waiting for us at Sri Lanka Exhibition and Conference Centre, so it always promised to be a really good night. There were no disappointments at all, for the assembled crowd showed their appreciation of our rare appearance in this country and even surprised themselves by getting up out of their seats towards the end of the show. In this deeply religious country people are very aware of decorum and correct behaviour, so it was a mindset shift for them to take on the habits of western folk and hang loose for a change. The intense humidity in the venue was positively draining, yet there was no absence of energy either for band or audience. Terry's first gig back after his operation was an inspiration and it was good to see him back on form again. Now we get some extra time in the sun before taking the evening flight to Abu Dhabi and onwards to Manchester. There is little time to spare at home as I shall be on my regular flight to Amsterdam again on Wednesday morning, on my way to Finland. The party continues.

Hasslo and Malung

It's a little broken, but can we fix it? All is not completely as it should be at Mr Site (something involving disk corruption I believe) so there is a temporary suspension to websites while lots of very clever people solve the problem. Meanwhile the crazy world of rock and roll speeds on with some focus and my own particular focus had been to get Slade on my iPhone screen and collect footage that will be used later in the year for a Christmas video in conjunction with The Hairdressing, Beauty and Sports Department at Inverness College. Getting my own friends in front of the camera is a joy and delight because they are naturals at entertaining. I could get used to this and would love to make rockumentaries as I travel the world with many other bands. And the show last night in Hasslo? Well, what other combination than Smokie, Slade and Sweet can produce an evening of non-stop energetic hits to thoroughly entertain the crowd at The Hasslo Festival? We now do this regularly and will be returning for another show in Stockholm on 5th August.
Our journey to Malung involved a flight on Braathens Regional Airways from Ronneby to Stockholm Bromma and onwards to Malung via Sala, where we stopped for dinner. Malung comes alive during the Dansbandsveckan and the population swells from its usual 5,200 to several times that figure as the best of the Swedish dance bands compete for the title. Our appearance at Gronlandsparken in the afternoon was thronged with a massive audience that filled every space in the venue. Shortly after we arrived at Folkets Park Orrskogen for a sound check to prepare for the award ceremony in the evening. The tension and excitement was palpable as we returned to the location for the much awaited award and revelation of the winner which, in this case, was Blender. Smokie performed three songs to an enormous response from the party guests and the evening ended on a high as we celebrated the last of David Levy's performances whilst standing in for Terry Uttley during his recovery from heart surgery. 
The next few weeks have their own challenges as we travel to Sri Lanka for one show then hurry back to get to Finland. The pace never lets up, and why should it as long as we are fit and healthy?


It makes a real change to see darkness at night. Having spent so much time recently in northerly latitudes I have got used to the sun never really going down completely, so it is refreshing to get the full effect of stage lighting as darkness falls. The lights of a thousand phones twinkled like fireflies in the darkness as we struck up the opening notes of "If you think you know how to love me". Even our technicians were dancing in the wings. The assembled crowd at Vasoros Estrada had arrived with their party hats firmly in place and had lived and dreamed this moment for some time. A strong and vibrant energy came from the audience, permeating the stage and spreading to all four corners of the venue, making it impossible to escape the intoxicating effect of the atmosphere. The band and audience were locked into one rhythm, and that was where we stayed for the whole show. Our long journey to Lithuania was strongly rewarded by our eager audience and we have more than just a slight feeling that we will be back here before long. 


There was a certain amount of cheekiness on the Wideroe flight to Mosjoen as we tested the stewardess to see just how much chocolate she was prepared to let us have while onboard. The whole flight was very affable and the mood was set for our visit to one of Norway's friendliest towns on the west coast. From the first moment to the last I have felt like we were in the company of old friends and this feeling intensified as, yet again, I celebrated a landmark birthday whilst in Norway. I remember wondering, at 50, how I would feel at 60 and now I know the answer - exactly the same and just as enthusiastic about playing music to a live audience. There is no real sell by date on Smokie because the next generation, like the last generation of fans continues to listen to and enjoy our music. All we have to do is stay well and keep on getting on those flights to reach all corners of the earth, and I believe that is exactly what I shall be doing for years to come. Thank you everybody for my birthday wishes. I now embark on a long journey to Lithuania so will catch up with my Twitter and Facebook messages later this evening. All good wishes to you all.


Who would have thought that travelling from north to south would have meant being colder and wetter? That was certainly the case yesterday as we left the balmy Arctic Circle behind to venture nine degrees to the south. The heavens opened for 10 c.c., who played before us at Hallingmarken, and the sky cleared again just before we took to the stage. Against a background of    fairground rides in full swing and a multitude of kiosks and sheltering places we sped through an hour of hits to a contented audience. Nesbyen is situated two and a half hours from Oslo Gardermoen by road and, by the time I reached my hotel I had just three hours to rest before risking an overcrowded terminal for my red eye flights home. The turnaround time is not long and I shall be seeing Gardermoen again on Wednesday. This is the busiest time of the year for tourists and we just have to hope that, in our effort to get to work, we make all our essential connections.


Once again there was breathtaking scenery as we took to the stage in Sjovegan. The Millionfisken Festival is in its tenth year and looking stronger than ever. Our interviewers before the show spoke of how the great excitement after our appearance in 2010 had lasted for a very long time and that the festival organisers had been keen to see us back before now but had not found us to be available. The audience's reaction last night was enough to tell us that we don't need to wait six years before being invited back to this beautiful part of Norway. The land of the midnight sun has once again shown us that real magic is not only possible but is almost inevitable when we combine ourselves with an eager crowd. Nobody wanted the show to draw to a close, for it was a feeling to savour and enjoy for every minute. Something very special happened on this occasion and, if sleep seems difficult after the show it will not only be because of the permanent daylight but also as a result of the enormous high that we all felt from the crowd's reaction. I think the smile on everyone's faces will last well into Saturday and I look forward to repeating the experience.


An early show? What a pleasure. The origin of our prompt appearance in Give was the original tour plan that would have seen us leaving the venue straight after the show and flying straight to Norway for an evening performance. But the plan changed, giving most of us the opportunity to fly home last night. The crowd gathered and immediately entered into the spirit of an outdoor summer concert, prepared as they were for whatever the weather would throw at them; and it produced rain, and lots of it. But the Danes are made of stout stuff and nothing could spoil their enjoyment of the festival as they grew wetter. At this time of year the band are offered shows in many countries, and two shows in one day in two countries is not uncommon. We will visit this theme again on August 13th, just before we take our break. It's Sunday, so it must be time for me to start my own journey home to Inverness to start preparing for the Norwegian part of our summer schedule.

Nitrianske Rudno

What's that sound I hear? It's the sound of 10,000 people going nuts at Festival Legendy at Nitrianske Rudno. It's the same sound that footballers hear when they enter the stadium and it is the most inspirational sound for any performer as well as a huge energy booster. On paper it looked like our schedule would really take its toll on all five of us but, in reality, there has been no sign of waning energy or of lacklustre performance. Every one of these last three shows has been a winner, and now we can only hope that our football team can keep a similar pace and score enough goals to take the lead. As we are discovering, age is no barrier when faced with an enthusiastic crowd, and we have certainly met a few of those lately. Now we have a small opportunity to recharge ourselves before the Danish part of our adventure. 

Cluj Napoca

A long travel day brought us to Romania for our second appearance this year, this time at Sala Polivalenta in Cluj Napoca for the "We love Retro Festival". The searing heat and humidity hit as we stepped off the plane and it was clear that last night's show was going to be a hot one. Sharing the bill with Bonny Tyler, we took to the stage around 9 p.m. to deliver a punchy 75-minute set that had the audience jumping from the first note. Our earliest memory of Cluj included the recording of the video for "And the night stood still" in a cellar bar, a clip that may still be viewed on YouTube. Our globetrotting continues today with a flight back to Vienna followed by a 240-kilometre drive back to Nitrianske Rudno in Slovakia. Let's not let the grass grow under our feet. 

Sedmihorske u Turnova

Arriving at the venue shortly before our appearance at Sedmihorske Leto 2016, we walked through and waved to a massive crowd that were assembled and listening to The Cell, a band with whom we have worked before in The Czech Republic and whose music lives on my iTunes collection. The Czech Republic is emerging as a territory with some very good summer festivals with attendances in the 20,000 to 40,000 range, such as The Holysov Festival in which we played last year. The capacity crowd last night gave us a huge noisy welcome as we hit the stage. There was equal appreciation of the old and new songs as we took the crowd through a fly-through of Smokie history. Conditions could hardly have been more perfect for this is mid-summer and the festival spirit is at its best. And now we return to our complex schedule that sees us travelling to Romania before doubling back to return to Slovakia. When the work is offered we take it and then work out the logistics afterwards. It is our accessibility that makes us the darlings of the festival scene and that reputation is what helps us to cover the globe in both an orderly and disorderly fashion. It's all about being there.


"Go west", they said, so we did and I'm very glad. While Stavanger Airport has had a major upgrade there has also been a tunnel project from Stavanger to Tau, due for completion in 2019. In the meantime there is the ferry service, a 40-minute hop across the water. The west coast was enjoying some warm summery weather that helped to bring out a 2,000-strong crowd to Jorpeland last night. The location was picture-perfect, the crowd were on very good form and Euro 2016 nearly delivered the result that our football-loving band members were hoping to hear. A system of sign language from beyond the police station at the harbour shared the news of England's first goal, a piece of news that was immediately shared with the audience. Our show finished at sunset which, at this latitude, is close to sunrise time. By 7.00 a.m. there was considerable warmth in the air to make the return ferry crossing comfortable and enjoyable. After a quick check-in at the newly refurbished airport there was plenty of time for a trip to the beach with its clear blue water and white sand that could have easily been mistaken for Barbados. It's little pleasures like this that help to take the sting out of an 18-hour journey home, and we need all the help we can get because next week throws up some additional travel challenges that would test even the hardiest of frequent flyers.


There are summer festivals and there are summer festivals, depending on what Mother Nature has in store. Apparently this part of the globe didn't get the memo that there are only twelve days left before that great ball in the sky starts its journey south. The biting wind created a bone-chilling freeze on stage that belied the astronomical date. However, there's a lot more to summer festivals than balmy evenings; warmth comes in many guises, chiefly from our happy audience at Mysen Sommerfestival. At least we have the long daylight hours that light up the faces of those who come to see us. Today we journey west to where conditions are slightly more favourable for late night revelry. 


Waldbuhne in Schwarzenberg was true to its memory of six years ago as we approached the auditorium and heard the roar of 12,000 people. Now it feels like summer, not only because the mercury has risen (especially since Greenland) but also because the outdoor summer festivals with the big crowds are underway. Another feature of the "oldies" shows is the limited time allowed for each act. Smokie's thirty five minutes packed a real punch and lifted the audience to a real high at a vital point in the program. It was well worth the journey from Trondheim to feel the energy of a large crowd again and it was a pleasure to shed the warmer clothing in favour of summer wear. Germany has suffered some terrible flooding of late, but we were lucky to only experience a warm, balmy evening that was perfect for a celebration.


Melhus is a picturesque community with a large arena, The Melhus Bank Arena. Inside is a full-size football pitch with artificial turf. Such a facility is a huge asset to this town on the south side of Trondheim as well as a great venue for concerts. After a morning of trying our hands at salmon fishing in the nearby River Gaula (no fish were caught) we took whatever gear had made the journey from Amsterdam to the arena for soundcheck. Despite a slightly chilling wind, summer was in the air and the venue was later teeming with punters from the surrounding districts. Our show began at midnight and ended a little before daybreak. To my delight there was sushi waiting in the dressing room as we left the stage. As well as being a successful festival it was a great opportunity to catch up with an old friend of ours, Johnny Logan. This as the first of a series of Norwegian concerts for Smokie in 2016, our next visit being on 10th and 11th June. Now we make our way to Germany for another late show in Schwarzenberg.

Nuuk again

Sometimes it makes a change to get down and dirty and back to our roots. Such an opportunity presented itself last night at Kristinemut, a western saloon style restaurant on Nuuk's main street. Billed as "guests", we used borrowed gear to carve out a short set for the assembled crowd. The origin of the gig is in the fact that there are no flights on Sunday, so an extra appearance is part of the plan. The band had a lot of fun, as did the audience, and it was a great way to say our farewells to this beautiful country.

Nuuk - second performance

Two gigs in the same place can vary enormously because every single gig has its own special signature, rather like snowflakes. Before the show I met with several members of the audience who were fuelling up for a great party, and that motivation seems to have been shared amongst last night's audience. I also met with our promoter from 1997 who had some recollections that fired up some nostalgia. Now we have become more familiar with Greenland it seems that we will get more invitations to return, and that would be a great privilege. Like South Africans, Greenlanders have adopted our music and absorbed it into their culture, so it is not just likely but it is also essential that we pass this way on a regular basis to keep our fans happy. I shall be more than happy to return to this magical place and I am always happy to look into the faces of people who are having such a good time.


In Greenland at this time of year sleep appears to be an optional extra. Because there is no real darkness there is a tendency towards street football at 4 a.m. as well as late night revelry that merges into breakfast. Smokie hit the stage right on midnight and the crowd appeared to be well prepared. The PA, that had appeared to be perfectly loud enough during the soundcheck, was challenged by the sheer number of bodies soaking up the sound. Everyone had their party heads on and the evening dissolved at great speed. Our fifth appearance in Greenland was received with enormous warmth and enthusiasm. Hotel Hans Egede is our home for a few days as well as the venue for these first two shows. Will Saturday be wilder than Friday? We'll know at midnight.


It was time to brush off a few cobwebs as we embarked on a busy period. Our Romanian adventure was reduced to a single show at Filarmonica Banatul Theatre in Timisoara. The theatre itself oozed charm and gave testimony to its heritage as a rehearsal and performance venue for classical musicians. Last night it allowed itself some breathing space for a bit of rock music with classical overtones. Our Romanian audience demonstrated that they were more than capable of rising to the challenge of partying Smokie-style and the ninety-minute set slipped away in the blinking of an eye. We now begin our geography tour of the globe, darting around from country to country in a not too logical way in order to reach our audiences. The extra daylight and heat from the sun will help to sugar coat our demanding schedule, but probably not until after we have made our return trip to a rather chilly Greenland. Gloves and scarves it shall be. 


A gig at short notice - that's how our Sandra Restaurant booking came into being. We were in Sweden anyway and would have found ways to occupy ourselves, but this was much better. The audience turned up in good numbers and found their form quickly. It has been some time since we were in the beautiful city of Kalmar and it was good to get a chance to take a look around during the day, there being no tight schedule governing our time. We have an early start in just a few hours as we travel from east to west to make it in time for a mid-day arrival at the studio in Gothenburg for the recording of Bingolotto. We even finish in time to fly to Amsterdam before continuing our onward journeys home for the Easter celebrations. 

MS Cinderella

News came to us yesterday morning that not only was the MS Cinderella sold out last night but that Viking Cruises wanted to book us for a second show in the autumn. Such a strong start, coupled with some very sunny spring weather, was a fine morale booster before the show. This was our sixth time on the Stockholm to Mariehamn booze cruise and the appetite for Smokie music doesn't seem to have waned at all. There were very many happy and familiar faces in the audience and those people who were seeing us for the first time were full of compliments. I particularly enjoy this show and the whole day's relaxing that goes with the 24-hour adventure. Being on the water is such a great contrast to our jet-set lifestyle in which speed is necessary to ensure we all reach our destinations. At the speed at which MS Cinderella travels there is all the time in the world to do whatever you like. I've always loved cruising and I shall be delighted to come back later this year, especially if the audience are as hot as last night.


It was great to be back in Denmark again at Park Vendia, where a big crowd were assembled and ready for a Smokie-style party. Just moments before going onstage we decided to give something a little different to the audience in the form of two extra songs from the Wild Horses Nashville album. The response was tremendous and it was evident that there is an appetite for a greater variety of songs than just the biggest hits. With a catalogue of over 300 songs there is plenty to choose from and now we can include songs from the "Boulevard of broken dreams" album amongst the classic hits. There is much to look forward to this year and I am particularly excited about the summer events that find us returning to Denmark some more. It really is like coming home.

Australian Tour

Tickets are now on sale for our Australian Tour that begins in exactly eight months from today. It's a whistle stop 12-date tour that sees us covering a huge number of miles in just eighteen days. 


It's some time since I walked on a frozen stretch of water. The last time was in 2004 on the Sea of Japan at Vladivostok, but today I was on the hard-as-concrete Siljan waterway in Leksand, along with skiiers, skaters, snowmobiles and pedestrians. The clear and sunny blue sky made the snow look even whiter on this perfect of winter days. What a great way to relax before our show at Tegera Arena. We last played Leksand in the summer of 2006, and things looked quite different during that visit. There was plenty of enthusiasm for Smokie music at the arena last night and the audience gave us a very warm reception to thaw us out in this chilly weather. I guess that nostalgia plays a large part but even our Nashville songs from 1997 have become classics in this part of the world. Our mini Swedish tour being over, we make our way back to the UK for a weekend off on Mother's Day, returning to Denmark on 12th March. One week later we will return to Sweden for a few days, commencing with a show on the Cinderella. No doubt we will meet up with some of our most devoted fans on board.


We were joined once more by our friends in Slade and Sweet for a brief 3 S's tour of Sweden, starting in Orebro. The city's Kulturhuset is one of the most familiar sights for us because we once played there three times in one year in the 1990's, and several times since. But last night's show was at a different venue, Conventum Kongress. A packed house greeted us as we hit the stage at 22:30, and the audience was on very good form indeed. They needed little encouragement to join us in singing "I don't want to talk about it" and their vocal renditions continued loud and strong for the rest of the evening. The lights of Orebro twinkled as we left the venue, making the city look very inviting for a post-gig refreshment. After such a great night there was little urge to sleep straight away. Such a night as this cannot be planned, but happens when everything just falls into place effortlessly. What a pleasure and how nice to be back in this very attractive city.


Our fourth appearance at Crocus City Hall seemed to draw something out of the crowd that we hadn't seen before and a highly animated audience got very involved with the music. Their response to "What can I do?" was without parallel, as this most popular song in The Russian Federation stirred their emotions. As always, there is a huge nostalgic element that operates amongst our Russian public, meaning that the original hits have made a very comfortable home over here. So ends our brief visit to Russia for now, but we will be back soon. Details of the next show will be available shortly.

St Petersburg

I really think we started something on 23rd December 2005 when we appeared at Oktyabrskiy Concert Hall with a local 25-piece orchestra. The appreciation we received for this gesture seems to have lived on and Russians have very good memories. It's not hard to love St Petersburg for it is a great city. Smokie's re-appearance at this lovely venue was just as richly rewarded as our first. It has been a very strong start to our touring year and gave us an opportunity to enjoy some time in this magnificent city before our performance. We don't get to spend a long time in The Russian Federation this time round but we are scheduled to return in April. But first we take the Sapsan train to Moscow for a return performance at Crocus City Hall, a venue we have played for the last three years. Last night's show was a special commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Midnight Cafe album. Although much time has elapsed since the making of that album little has changed in the audience's appreciation of the band's music. Long may our special relationship last. Thank you to all those who have followed us through the years.

Date changes

Our date sheet changes daily and there are plenty of dates yet to fill, so maybe we will end up in your neighbourhood some time this year. With energy fully recharged I am looking forward to taking on the world again. See you soon.


The Irish just about own the song "Living next door to Alice". They made it their own in 1993 and they staked their claim to it at Armagh City Hotel last night. There is no better party than one that is celebrated in this hospitable country. They dance on the tables and chairs and they storm the stage at any opportunity. Everybody in the audience wants to be part of the action on stage, just to get a greater connection with the band. I so love coming to Ireland and being amongst it's people. There is no better way to end our touring year than to be in the place that is so close to home and so familiar in its customs. Our 40th Anniversary year is now over and we have visited 22 countries. Now we can embark on the next decade with the knowledge that we have made many friends around the world. The New Year beckons and there is much to look forward to. For my part I shall be on home ground, visiting friends and partaking in the Highland tradition of first footing. Thank you to all our fans and friends for your unwavering support. Have a great New Year celebration and I shall see you once more in 2016. 


Fresh from the Boxing Day showing of "Star Wars - The Force Awakens", I was careful not to get mixed up between The Millennium Falcon and The Millennium Forum. As the wind picked up once again in Derry I was hoping that the roof would hold this time at my favourite venue in this lovely city. During this period between Christmas and New Year (I think it deserves its own name) I usually find myself back in Ireland, and mostly in the North. After waking up yesterday to news of flood devastation in Yorkshire I didn't know how many of my colleagues would be with me last night, but they were all there, as was the eager post-Christmas audience. Our show followed the usual afternoon pantomime that gave me the inspiration to see how a set of bird wings would look on a keyboard player. Maybe I'll try the horse costume next year. I think we are just as likely to be there a year from now as we always get invited back. Watch out, we could become the resident band for December 27th! Today we move on to Armagh to follow another afternoon pantomime and keep the momentum of the festivities going. It's exhausting, all this celebrating. I need a holiday.


The clean crisp snow matched my expectations and made Rovaniemi a beautiful place to behold. Everything seems quieter when the snow lays because traffic drives slowly and people mostly walk around the town centre, their footsteps just making a slight crunching noise that is very peaceful. Inside Lappi Areena it was anything but quiet as our energetic, Christmas-ready crowd rose to the challenge. Santa made a welcome appearance, being careful not to overshadow the evening's musical event. I was promised a visit on Christmas Eve and I, in turn, promised to be good until then. This lovely town keeps the Santa story alive for all and hosts many a festive tourist in search of the dream. Dreams come in all varieties and my own dreams come true as a result of the wonderful effect that music has on its listeners. Smokie have struck their final chord before Christmas and it now remains to begin the long journey home that takes me from Rovaniemi to Helsinki, Amsterdam, Manchester and Inverness. Our 40th Anniversary has really been a year for catching up with so many of our fans and it has been such a pleasure to tour the globe in celebration. I wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and happiness and prosperity in the New Year. Remember to dream big and use some of the magic that is in all of us. In this troubled world there is a real need to stay positive and help others to feel the same. For my part I shall look forward to seeing you all again soon. 


For our final two shows before Christmas it was time to head north; not a little bit north, but a lot north to Finland. In this country, at least, there would be a bit of a chill in the air to remind us just how far away the sun is from our hemisphere. As we fast approach the shortest day there is much darkness yet there is so much light as every building twinkles with extra seasonal illumination. There is magic in the air in this charming country and, even though we are not yet in Lapland, there is anticipation of the postcard-ready scenery that awaits us. Meanwhile at Seinajoki Areena there was a very warm reception for us from an audience that was definitely wearing its party hats. Scandinavians typically go out late and carry on partying until the early hours of the morning. Smokie were lucky to have the audience at the time of night when they really start to warm up. Since we have not overplayed this lovely country there was a very fresh response to our songs and a feeling that we will be welcome to come back a little sooner next time. Now we head further north to inside The Arctic Circle to join our fellow musicians in Slade and Nazareth for a scenic end to this two-day arena tour. I expect that Santa might take a look in, even if it's just to join in the chorus of "Alice" while the elves continue to pack the sledge. Now I'm getting excited.


The lights from hundreds of mobile phones lit up the auditorium in Hala Tivoli as we struck up with "If you think you know how to love me", creating a magical atmosphere like the glow from fireflies. It's not such an unusual sight yet there were more lights than I have yet seen at a concert. The audience were bursting to get out of their seats and took the first opportunity to do so. As Smokie's 40th anniversary draws to a close (five more shows yet) there is an overwhelming feeling that our support around the world has risen exponentially. Firstly, people have taken Smokie music to their hearts and absorbed our songs into their musical culture, and second, they have become accustomed to the names and faces of the band members. Our history is very important to us because, without it we wouldn't be here, but our present days are what define the Smokie of the future, a future that looks very bright indeed if we can continue just as we are. Smokie is a very strong team. We stick together through all conditions and that makes us very hard to break. All too often you hear of teams that are no longer together because someone has had enough and you wonder how things would have been had they stayed together. Well, here we are and we're still playing new places, taking part in new TV shows (Dritseint med Edel) and joining new ventures (Smokieness beer). Watch out 2016, for here we come and we are ready!


Rock against cancer has been the charitable cause, at the heart of last night's celebration, for the last ten years. The tickets for the show, held at Niklas Luhmann Gymnasium in Oerlinghausen, sell out in just three hours. Smokie are just one in a long line of bands who have played there. As with all charity events there was a great atmosphere of hospitality and congeniality, being mindful that the event was so much more than just a gig. The crowd's singing form during "I don't wanna talk about it" was second to none. It was great to face a German audience once more and deliver them a little more than just the hits. Their response was tremendous and the night ended with a charitable signing session and donation from ourselves to the worthy cause. Most of what we are able to do for the charity is in the form of our presence which, of itself, draws the crowd who buy the tickets to support the cause. Music is very strong in this area and it is great to be able to make such a contribution to an issue that may affect most of us at some time in our lives. All in all it was a very happy occasion and a good way to bid farewell to our German audience in the run up to Christmas.

Tel Aviv - Heichal HaTarbut

If Britain had the sort of temperatures in our Summer that Tel Aviv has in its Autumn we would be very happy. The beach was full, the bars and restaurants were full and the sea was busy from sunrise to sunset with bathers and surfers. A lazy day, soaking up the last rays before Sri Lanka in February, was followed by a sellout gig at Heichal HaTarbut. Our mini tour of Israel has been made all the more enjoyable by our lively crowds, keen to see what for most Israelis was their first chance to see us perform. We have certainly formed an unbreakable bond with our Israeli audience over the past three days, and one that should see us returning in 2017 for sure. What a pleasure it has been and I look forward to our return visit.


The lights of dozens of mobiles illuminated the full Haifa Auditorium as the audience swayed to the tune of "If you think you know how to love me". It was like coming home, such is the friendly welcome given by our Israeli audience. Their applause at the end of each song always lasted longer than expected and probably lengthened the show by about five minutes. Our sellout tour ends tonight at The Hall of Culture in Tel Aviv before we are due to leave this lovely part of the world to travel back to Western Europe. I am looking forward to the final show because my instinct tells me it's going to be something special. 

Tel Aviv Hangar 11

Although this was our fifth appearance in Israel it was only our first to an Israeli audience. That may sound odd but our contacts in this part of the world are Russian and they have so far arranged concerts to Russian audiences. Last night was different after the impact of the national advertising campaign took effect. Hangar 11 was full to bursting and the crowd were keen to hear the band that created the soundtrack to their youths. Once more we have uncovered a nation of people who grew up on Smokie music and who waited patiently for us to come and visit their country. The wait was well worth it, as they proved once they started singing. As a bonus the show was transmitted live by Galaiy Zaahal, the Israeli army radio station, so it reached a much wider audience than just the one that was present at the venue. It was a very strong start to our new experience in Israel and set a high standard for the next two shows.

Dritseint med Edel

Henriette Steenstrup was very respectful towards Smokie in her Dritseint med Edel TV show last night. Her colourful language and unkempt appearance make Edel a very popular character in Norway, so we are reaching a young audience once more and keeping Alice alive for another generation. Yesterday was a fine opportunity for a nostalgia trip around Oslo to admire the changes as well as take in the impact that immigration has had on this country. One thing hasn't changed at all and that is the Norwegians' love for Smokie music. How lucky we are!


It has been many years since I was in the area of Fornebu, just outside Oslo. This used to be the home of the international airport until it was moved to Gardermoen. The venue was Telenor Arena and the event was a 60's and 70's party night. Coinciding as it did with Halloween, there were some interesting wigs and accessories on show. The format of the evening was very much in the same mould as the German oldies shows in which many bands perform but each band only has a short set to play. Appearing at the end of the evening we were allocated a 35-minute slot in which to cram as many hits as possible. Our arena set went down extremely well and we were rewarded with long applause as we left the stage after this brief appearance.
Now we will stay in Oslo for a little longer because we are due to record an episode of "Dritseint med Edel" for TV2 on Monday evening. I expect that Henriette Steenstrup will have a lot of fun with Smokie, but we might need an interpreter as I believe the whole show is in Norwegian. Takk Henriette.


Once again we joined the Norwegians for their Dark Season Festival, a celebration that has been going for the last eighteen years. Our second appearance at the festival three years ago saw the biggest crowd in the festival's history and last night equalled that record. It's not hard to thrill a late night audience at the end of a festival with four decades of hits, beginning with the song, "Boulevard of broken dreams", that re-launched our popularity in Norway. As the wind blew the rain hard against the windows of Caledonien Hotel the crowd were oblivious to everything except the music. Being the last festival of its kind until Christmas, it was a chance to let loose and party like crazy, being aware that the prize at the end of the evening was an extra hour of snoozing before the morning coffee. It won't be long before we are back in Norway (about five days) but first we must get to Israel on Wednesday. I think I must put that washing on to Quick Load if I want to be ready in time for the next jaunt.


Just when I think I have been literally everywhere in Norway I discover the quiet little town of Honefoss with its Kultursenter that used to be the cinema until ten years ago. It's not a huge venue but it was certainly full of people tonight. As I scanned the audience I noted that they had probably grown up with us and knew the whole Smokie story from A-Z. An audience like this are so appreciative of what we have brought to their town and they showed their appreciation from beginning to end. As we approach the last day of summer time before the clocks change and restore the hour of sleep that we lost in March, there is a real flavour of Autumn in the air. The nights are cooler and the russet leaves lie in big piles on the pavements and in the parks. It's time to wrap up warm again when we're outside and keep those fires burning when we're indoors. There's something cosy about the welcoming lights in the home that makes me want to hibernate until the sun comes once again. Let's hope that winter isn't too cruel this time.

Timmendorfer Strand

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside, especially when the lobster is this good. Yesterday, however, we had bigger fish to fry when the news came in that neither our equipment nor our technicians would make it to Germany. A technical fault at Leeds Bradford Airport led to a catalogue of disasters that amounted to our crew being too late to travel, so we were in the hands of local crew and hired equipment. To say that this was successful is an understatement indeed for the gig powered along with an excellent sound, thanks to our German colleagues. It is not an experience that I would choose but, having been put in this situation, I have to say that a great sounding gig can be constructed by communicating with unfamiliar yet professional crew. The Kongress Hall was full to bursting with a lively crowd who were informed of our predicament. As we struck the first notes it was clear that there was no harm done at all and, in fact, everyone rose to the challenge to make this one of the best shows of the year. Timmendorfer Strand was alive with visitors all day and, even as I left for Hamburg Airport last night, the party was still in full swing. Nothing could have spoilt the very lively atmosphere of this beautiful seaside setting with its energetic and enthusiastic population. I have always liked the seaside and last night confirmed my beliefs that a good breath of sea air is a magic ingredient for a happy day.

Carnival City - second performance

Sunday marked the end of a holiday period here in South Africa, so it is expected that a lot of people would be preparing to return to work and children to school. However, there was still some celebrating to be done in The Big Top Arena where Smokie played our final show of the tour. South Africans never do things in half measure and their celebratory skills are no exception to the rule. Knowing just how much this nation has adopted Smokie music, it's no surprise that our Sunday welcome was just as big as Saturday night's. 
The tour has been a tremendous success, fitting in just three shows in a year in which we will have visited 22 of the 25 countries in which we regularly appear. As with all big anniversaries there are many people to consider who should be part of our special celebration; getting around the world to visit all those people calls for some pretty intensive travelling, and that's something we do on a very regular basis. We leave South Africa today with very fond memories and a sincere wish that there will be an 11th tour some time in the future.

Carnival City - first performance

Coming to Carnival City is like coming home. Everything is familiar to me - the rooms, the venue, the food and the welcome. I am not much of a gambler, but I can appreciate the draw of this mini Vegas. A full house in The Big Top Arena means a big noisy party, and our audience didn't need asking twice to get it started. It was as if everyone was engrossed in their own special celebration. In a sense we are already high because of the altitude here in the Jo'burg area, so it only takes a tweak to push everyone over the top. After ten appearances in South Africa the message is very clear - South Africans love and have adopted our music. There is no party without Alice and, if we ever find her again, I'm sure that she would love to join in our celebrations (as long as we can tear her away from Sally). 


Doing a mini tour of South Africa means hitting the ground running. Breakfast TV and radio is an essential part of promotion as are late evening media events. We tend to grab food and sleep as and when the opportunity arises, rather like the military. However, our experiences are all positive ones and help to energise us. 
Once the last of the promotional TV shows was aired we were ready to start the tour. In the past few years we have performed at Grand West Casino in Cape Town, but this time we were at Liqui Fruit Amphitheatre, alongside the impressive Taalmonument in Paarl. A steamy hot day, that was reminiscent of our weather in Brakpan, led to a balmy evening at the outdoor amphitheatre. The crowd was on good form and ready to party. It may have helped that the seating was concrete and perhaps it was a relief to stand up. The double set was well received and showed the audience an extra dimension to Smokie's repertoire. 


A 7-hour journey took us from Pilsen in the west to Ostrava in the east of Czech Republic. A short soundcheck confirmed that last night's Gremlins were exorcised and we were good to go at Bonver Arena, a sports hall dedicated to basketball. The arena filled early in the evening and, by the time Smokie took to the stage, the crowd was keyed up for some rousing singing. The vibrancy of Ostrava was evident, as is well represented in the city's logo with the three exclamation marks. Our  support in this country is unquestionable and it is rewarding to find so many Czech citizens who have taken our music to their hearts. This year has seen us performing more often than usual in Czech Republic, and I would personally welcome a situation in which we play here even more regularly. As is ever the case, we respond to our invitation to play in all countries in which we are popular, and that is an ever growing list. It's good to be able to say that in this, our 41st year, we are still attracting new territories, and I don't think we have finished yet.


There was magic in the air last night, as well as a few Gremlins. The people of Pilsen filled the curiously named Kulturni dum Peklo (Culture House of Hell) and joined in the fun. A wave of singing and dancing started at the back and sides and eventually spread all the way to the front, making it impossible not to be drawn in by the atmosphere. Songs old and new were received with equal enthusiasm. This was our fourth show this year in Czech Republic, and each one has been received with unwavering support. An early finish gave way to an early start this morning as we begin our 7-hour journey to Ostrava at 07:30. My guess is that our Saturday audience will be every bit as good as last night's one. It's good to be back in this hospitable country.

Bad Fussing

Starting our Autumn touring in a spa town is a welcome booster. With so much wellness on offer it is hard to resist the temptation to soak up all the remedies. For my part I missed the whole experience as easyJet once again let me down and I had to invest in a new ticket to reach Bad Fussing in time for the show. However, I rolled into town before mid-day and revived myself before preparing for the first show after Smokie's break of six weeks and two days. A mature audience greeted us at Grosses Kurhaus and gave us a suitably warm welcome, rising to the challenge of getting up on their feet towards the end of the show. Whatever remedies they were enjoying would be just as applicable to a band who are celebrating 40 years of performing. Just to test our mettle we are now embarking on some lengthy road trips as we cross the border into Czech Republic for a couple of shows. There's no point easing back into touring when you can run at it and, at the same time, burn a few calories.


How do you execute the perfect plan? Well, you can't really but you can hope it will all happen anyway. Yesterday the perfect plan did come to fruition and it felt like I was gliding through the day with all the ease of a martial arts master practising the first steps. There is always a lot of anticipation when it comes to the final show before the break because we all know that we won't be doing this again for another five weeks, therefore it is both a pressure and a relief. But somehow a big hand appeared from nowhere and gave us all a glimpse at how good things can be without us really having to try. From our arrival at the relaxing Fra Mare Thalasso Spa to our exit from the stage at Haapsalu Piiskopilinnus it was a breeze aided by a following wind. Again there was a huge turnout for this final show in the castle grounds and it was clear that the audience were on great form and 100% ready for a party. In this situation there is no concept of warming up an audience because we can miss out that stage completely and get down to business. Even the low bass rumble at the beginning of the show seemed to be enough to turn on the magic so that all we had to do was to take our eager crowd through our catalogue of hits in order to bring about a frenzy of euphoria. There was humour as we cheekily re-entered the stage for the encore by hiding first behind the drum monitors before re-appearing centre stage to the delight of the crowd. By this time we could have played our national anthem on a kazoo and it would have gone down well. There was a feeling of lightness or effortlessness in the air that made last night's performance very much more than a special event. 
As a I write this I have seen a bed for approximately 2 hours and am already on my way home even before dawn. Such is the life of a rock and roller for we rarely keep normal sociable hours but rather tend to skip between the expected sleeping hours to grab whatever opportunities arise for a brief look at a bed before continuing on the relentless schedule of flights to and from home. I am about to embark on my 100th flight this year before breaking up my 7-hour layover in Amsterdam with a snooze at an airport hotel. I expect the bed will feel particularly inviting at a time when I would normally be fully functioning and busy with the affairs of the day. My feeling on this Monday morning 10th August 2015 is that Smokie have done a wonderful job of celebrating our 40th Anniversary so far this year, taking our music to seventeen countries to date. We have performed in a big variety of places and pleased our audiences with both acoustic and electric presentations of the songs so well known around the world. I have said it before, but it really doesn't get much better than this. It's thanks to all our wonderful fans who share our vision and who feel inspired by our music and the lyrics that mean so much to so many people. Together we make a very powerful combination and a welcome relief from the cares of the world. Music is escapism and we all regularly escape from harsh realities to take a big inward breath and then to breathe out love in its purest form. Many people never experience this so we are indeed the lucky ones. I wish everyone well during these next few weeks and I look forward to resuming this wonderful lifestyle at the end of September once my internal batteries are fully recharged and restored to full power. Whatever you do please try to do it with the same enthusiasm that you feel when you are watching the band. The world will be a better place for it. 


From Villa Margaretha, our charming Art Nouveau hotel in Tahe Street, I had a birds' eye view of Tour of Estonia, the bike race that sees hundreds of cyclists whizzing through the streets of Tartu at breakneck speed. However, I like to get out and about during the day and I walked some 12.3 miles yesterday while reminding myself just how great is the city of Tartu. As the temperature soared it wasn't just the cyclists who relied on frequent drinks of water. We left stormy weather behind to appear at Lauluvaljaku Park in Antsla where conditions were perfect for the show. A massive crowd awaited us and it took some time for our transport to weave its way through to reach the stage. There was an atmosphere of anticipation that erupted as we hit the stage. In common with our first show in Viljandi there were a lot of young people and children in attendance. I know how The Who must have felt at Glastonbury this year, for the respect shown to the band in this, our 41st year, was palpable and the knowledge of our songs was universal. Now we make our way across country to Haapsalu where our final show before the break is likely to be a cracker. Perhaps we should at least wipe off all that health-enhancing mud from the spa before we present ourselves to tonight's eager audience. 


As I ventured south towards Amsterdam yesterday I was reminded what summer can feel like once the clouds have rolled away. Ironically I am now at a similar latitude to Inverness yet the temperature difference is enormous. Hot balmy nights make sleeping difficult but are a welcome condition for festival goers. A large crowd gathered at Laululava in Viljandi and they weren't huddling together to keep warm. As daylight faded a solitary hang glider came into view above the heads of the audience. The low bass rumble that precedes the show prompted the crowd into action and they never lost their pace from beginning to end. Our first show of this Estonian mini tour reminded us that their are a lot of fans in this country and they know the words to the songs, even the young ones who have recently discovered Smokie. Estonia is not very large and its size has enabled us to spend two nights in Tartu and commute to these first two shows before we cross the country to make it to the west coast on Sunday. It is the perfect way to put a cap on our summer touring before we take our big break. With two more shows to go the excitement is building and the effect will, no doubt, be reflected in our live performance which may well get a big final dose of adrenalin. Watch those energy levels soar.


Once again we were put to the test by a travel delay, this time caused by an IT problem at Gardermoen Airport that put a halt to all check-ins for a couple of hours. With a long journey to consider we started to wonder where we would spend Saturday night. On the lucky side we made it all the way to Cluj Napoca, with the help of ground staff at Munich Airport. On the not-so-lucky side our equipment remained in Oslo where the bulky baggage belt had failed to operate. We arrived at our hotel at 4 in the morning. I felt the heat of the sun just a few hours later and realised that it was better to get moving than to roast in my hotel room. The main street in Zalau was alive with activity and anticipation for the show that would attract 40,000 people. At 2 p.m. we met the mayor at a press conference and then gathered at the venue to see what sort of equipment we had managed to borrow and hire for the evening's show. As we took to the stage at 10 p.m. it was clear that the numbers had clearly equalled or exceeded expectations. The daytime temperature of 30 degrees had barely cooled in time for the show. Only 24 hours earlier our promoters had wanted some sort of evidence that Smokie were really going to make it to Romania. On our arrival we were as happy as they were to be in Zalau in time for our concert. The social networks were buzzing, as were the audience who gave us such a rousing welcome that we soon forgot how much we had been tested in our efforts to make the show a success. I think success doesn't completely describe last night's event that surpassed everyone's expectations for it was a happening on a grand scale. We were asked at the press conference what is so special about our Romanian audience and I have to say that their energy is relentless. There is no better reward for our travel adventure than the rapturous response of a big crowd, and we had that in large doses.


The moon came into view shortly after Smokie took to the stage at The Treungen Festival. An impressive sight against a nearly cloudless sky, it was the "blue moon" that had been discussed and explained earlier in the day. It's nearly possible to see it as being blue, although the colour has nothing to do with its name. It was merely the second full moon in the same month, which is rare, hence the expression "once in a blue moon". It's appearance was perfectly timed to accompany our best show in Norway to date. If there's truth in the belief that the moon can raise the level of activity amongst creatures (animals included) there was certainly plenty of evidence from our audience last night who were absolutely fired up and ready to party. A hot day gave way to a chilly evening but there was nothing but heat around the stage. There can be little more exhilarating than feeling the energy of a huge crowd as they link together and gather in excitement. If we could bottle this energy it would surely power a city for a whole year. Free energy anyone? It's only a matter of time!


At this time of year, the first question I ask before a gig is "Is it outdoors?", and the second is "Is it near water?". Those little biting insects are just aching for human blood and, once the stage lights are on, they tend to swarm around our heads. It's very hard to play and swat at the same time, and there is only one (not too successful) solution - to douse myself in insect repellant. It's not the nicest smell you can imagine and it certainly clashes with the Fahrenheit aftershave, but it may just cause some of the small predators to change course and bite someone else. I remember well a show we played at a Swedish Folk Park where I arrived prepared for the biting war, only to discover that the gig was indoors. The heat onstage only served to make the smell of insect repellant even stronger and I nearly had a dressing room to myself. Smokie's return to Dokka Camping Ground was well received by a crowd that had waited until late in the evening in rather damp conditions. There was only one way to keep dry and happy and that was to sing and dance to a succession of hit songs. I feel that we cheered up an audience that were in need of a little boost last night while, at the same time, giving the moths some interesting targets at which to aim. 


For the third time this year we arrived at an airport to discover the words "flight cancelled". No panic, we just queued alongside all the other stranded passengers and awaited our fate. The outcome didn't look good as Austrian Airlines seemed to only be able to get six of us to our destination anywhere near on time. Once Lufthansa came to our aid we were re-routed to Linz, some 90 minutes away from the gig, as opposed to Vienna which is much closer. The final outcome was that we travelled for 13 hours and arrived at the venue just as it was time for us to go onstage. The audience witnessed our arrival and gave us a hero's welcome. Donaubuhne is a floating stage, well, a ship really. It connects to land via a permanent gangplank and there is a shallow water channel between the stage and the audience. On such a hot day this channel came in handy as several of the audience walked in to the water to cool their feet and get closer to the band. The announcement that the band had managed to make it to the gig on one of the busiest and most difficult travel days of the year was greeted with rapturous applause. We could do no wrong and the evening progressed to one of the most memorable of the year. There is nothing like a successful gig at the end of a challenging travel day to make us feel totally satisfied with our efforts. Another tick in the box of life's achievements.  

Bad Durrheim

Because Smokie's tour schedule takes us to such a variety of places we experience wild swings in temperature as we move through different latitudes. It is hard to completely adjust to these variations since we are only in each place for a short time. From being freezing cold at 70 degrees north to being very hot at 48 degrees we have to quickly grow accustomed to the climate. Today has been properly hot (around 34 degrees) and that heat has permeated all the buildings and kept everything warm through the night. It is no surprise that our audience were so ready for the show at Rathausplatz because, at the very least, they were warmed up. No umbrellas tonight, just lots of smiling happy people with suntans. Bad Durrheim has a lot of treatments available for a variety of conditions but Smokie have only one cure for all illnesses and that is music. The crowd were elated, and their mood really carried the show to great heights. A concert is a two-way event for, whilst the audience are watching the band, we are watching the audience. We are both watching a show, in a sense, and the band get to look at thousands of faces while the audience get to look at only five. With or without a treatment, just being in Bad Durrheim has made me feel better. There is definitely something in the air here. 


It was nearly a year ago that I first heard of The Holysov Festival. The news was that it was quite "hard rock" yet they wanted Smokie on the bill. Last night the chance to headline this excellent festival turned to reality. There was no better way to end the hardest week of our touring calendar to date - at a festival for around 25,000 people on a hot evening in a perfect setting. Our hosts at Alfredo Golf and Wellness Hotel made us very welcome and it gave us the chance to recuperate for a couple of hours in beautiful surroundings before making our last trip to the stage until next Friday. 
The whole week has been an adventure that saw me celebrating a birthday, riding a bike the furthest north I have ever had the opportunity to do so, performing four successful concerts and taking to the skies in the salubrious Citation 3. Adventures don't get better than this in fiction. Being truly alive as opposed to just existing is all about experiences with others of the human race, and my unique experiences remind me that I am living extremely well, according to the divine plan. It really couldn't be better. 


For us to successfully reach Riga, according to our original plan, all three flights needed to be on schedule with no delays. That is the perfect world version. As it happened, our plan fell at the first hurdle. Norwegian reported a 40-minute technical delay to flight 321 from Alta to Oslo. An alternative flight needed booking in a hurry and scheduled airlines were not looking favourable. Our old friends North Flying had a Citation 3 available which we gladly met at Gardermoen to connect to Riga. Our flight not only arrived earlier than our original schedule but it was more comfortable and stress-free than the alternative arrangement via Stockholm. With a bit more time available to recuperate I was able to refresh myself before the 115 kilometre drive to Zagare in Lithuania. For the second time this year we had turned a disaster into a success. A capacity crowd awaited us at Regioninis Parkas, umbrellas at the ready. Any type of weather was still better than the freezing conditions in Lakselv. Our announcement onstage regarding our travel adventure was received with enthusiasm and the crowd were with us every step of the way. A very happy outcome for a mid-summer debacle. The travel plan continues today with a flight to Prague and a 120 kilometre drive to Alfredov. I love festival season and wish it lasted longer. 


Holding a festival on the 70th latitude at midnight is little different to holding it at mid-day. There are no sun-up and sun-down times because the sun never leaves the sky. That ought to mean that the evenings are warm, but it didn't work that way at The Midnight Festival in Lakselv. In fact it was near to freezing on stage with the wind chill, an outcome for which the audience were prepared as they were dressed in winter coats. As fingers froze on stage the playing became more of a challenge. It was mostly the warm reaction from the audience that helped us to forget numb digits and proceed as if everything was normal. The daytime temperature had been very favourable and I had hired a bike to get around Lakselv, enjoying the first real sunshine of the summer for this area. We left the audience as they readied themselves for another five hours of music that would last nearly until breakfast. Our priority was to start making progress on the long journey to Lithuania that takes in three flights and a road trip. Only in summer would such a journey be considered, thanks to the long hours of daylight and mostly warmer weather. It pays to make hay while the sun shines.  


In any remote location in Norway lies the potential for a summer festival. As long as there is a flat enough area of land (surrounded, of course, by mountains) there is a chance that a large colony of campers will make up a sufficiently large population to justify a musical event. Add to this ingredient a few stalls selling cowboy hats and clothing and others selling mandatory wigs and other accessories and the stage is set for a real nostalgic celebration. Such a celebration took place in Sel last night at the Dansefestivalen where Smokie took to the stage at 11.00 p.m. In mid-summer Norwegians don't go out until this time, so it is like the start of the evening. With so many people in residence in their caravans and mobile homes we had a captive audience that completely filled the venue. The cooler climate made the inside of the marquee very comfortable and maybe contributed to the energy reserves felt by band and audience alike. Smokie were given a proper Norwegian country welcome that, needless to say, was hospitable to a fault. Prior to the show the loudest noise in the area was the raging river, full to bursting, but once the strains of Boulevard pierced the air there was nothing else on people's minds as they scrambled to fill the dance floor. Our aim was to give these good people a party to remember, and I think we achieved it.


Back to the sober business of touring. Who said my wife is a bad influence on me? Smokie have finally made it to Liechtenstein during our 40th Anniversary. I expect there will still be places where we haven't yet played (including The Moon) and it is always exciting to be somewhere new. However, Liechtenstein does seem very familiar; there is a seamless transformation between Switzerland and Liechtenstein where nothing changes at all. The scenery is the same, the currency is the same and the cattle would look just as good gracing the wrapper of a bar of chocolate. Clean air and high mountains create a refreshing ambience in this beautiful country where the temperature reached a sizzling 36 degrees yesterday (96.8 if you like it in Fahrenheit). Our audience were happy to see us at the high altitude festival in Malbun and ignored the draining effect of the evening's heat to let loose anywhere that there was a bit of floor space. From Boulevard to Alice, they were with us all the way and one question arose in my mind - what took us so long to get to Liechtenstein? The answer may lie in the fact that the country really is very small, so there would not be many opportunities for music festivals. Now we have played one I expect there will be more because one thing remains a constant in our touring lives, and that is the fact that wherever we play we generally get invited back. I guess we must be doing something right and, whatever that thing is, I think we should keep on doing it.

Gothenburg and Helsingborg

It's gone very quiet on my website, and that can only mean one thing - I have been partying with the champagne girls and was too busy to write my blogs. Our party began at Manchester Airport on Thursday night and continued with the standard rock and roll "red eye" flight, alongside the summer-dressed youth on their way to sunnier climes. Our two-day adventure started at Tradgardsforeningen in Gothenburg, where we had previously played on the Status Quo tour on 23rd July 2006. Looking so much like Kew Gardens, this is a fabulous venue with beautiful gardens and plenty of open grassy space. The 3 S's tour had begun for 2015. With only the two dates available from our busy schedule this year, we have had to put two more dates in for February 2016. Gothenburg welcomed us on one of the first sunny days of the summer (for there was no heatwave like in 2006) and an evening of hits was received with great enthusiasm. We then left the fresh and fragrant atmosphere of the gardens for a harbour view alongside the Tivoli in Helsingborg, where the air was slightly cooler and the sea breeze carried a bit of moisture. With or without umbrellas the crowd stayed the distance for a whole evening that ended magically around midnight and left our Swedish fans finding several open bars and clubs and carrying on with the drinking until breakfast time. The sound of the street cleaners came shortly after the last revellers staggered home and the smell of coffee served to wake up the sleepy heads from their all-too-short night's rest. For some the tour was over but for us it's the continuation of the never-ending travel merry-go-round. People come and go throughout our career; sometimes we catch up with fans who haven't seen us for ten years or more, only to demonstrate that nothing really changes in the world of rock music and that our music has so far survived for three generations ( the fourth one is coming soon). Each time I travel home I start to think and plan for the next journey for which I rarely have to wait long. But this weekend I took part of my home life with me as Roz joined me, accompanied by those special friends, the champagne girls. Their experience of my industry has been a good one and they would happily do it all again some day, as I expect they will. I remind them that, no matter how much they enjoy their work, they will never get a round of applause at the end of their day. We are indeed the lucky ones. 


What a beautiful location is Dzintari Concert Hall in Jurmala. The building itself is one of the oldest in the area and the auditorium is open on three sides, allowing a very refreshing breeze on to the stage. This location is a much sought after holiday destination that shows off some very spacious and beautiful properties, thanks to the forward thinking architects. A sea view completed the picture and made the location paradise perfect for a great evening. I hardly need to report that the show was a knock down success as well as a talking point for the locals. Rarely does a venue have such a wow factor that it is just clear from the start that conditions are perfect for a really great celebration. 
Getting home after the show has proved to be a special challenge after Air Baltic cancelled its morning flight to Amsterdam, leaving us all scrambling for alternative routes and myself in particular with a 4-leg 18-hour journey to Inverness.
It's all in a day's work and I wouldn't have missed the beauty of Jurmala for anything. The summer schedule resumes in Gothenburg on Friday where the three S's continue with our evening of non-stop hits. Let's keep the party going!


If I look back 27 years (and a bit) I find myself playing to my first ever German audience in Lubeck. I remember the location, the reaction and the new people I met. Such memories are firmly locked in, unlike the short term ones that require me to, for example, remember whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday when I did my radio interviews for the forthcoming show in Latvia, and whether I started or finished staining the decking on the day in question. Last night Freilichtbuhne was buzzing with the anticipation of a big 40th Anniversary German-style party. The great thing about an amphitheatre is that we can see every single person in the audience, and that makes the gig so much more enjoyable than if we are struggling to make eye contact with our punters. The day had been very hot and had resulted in some stormy weather in the early evening that meant that the crowd were obliged to reach for the rain gear. Furthermore they had a long wait while our technicians bravely put the equipment together after a late arrival from Hamburg. However, the audience were more than ready for us by the time we hit the stage, and they showed their appreciation with great largesse. I was back in Lubeck again and the experience was even better than my first time. I even saw some of the same faces from 27 years ago. Together we have grown and changed yet one thing will never change, and that is our propensity to enjoy ourselves together over a few well-established hit songs. 


I have never seen more motorbikes than last night at Magic Bike in Rudesheim. Come to think of it, I have never seen more trains than the ones that swept past the back of the marquee at roughly 3-minute intervals. Harley Davidson's profits would surely have swollen very substantially after their models became so popular to German enthusiasts. Some of these bikes look like they must surely be ridden by giants with legs like tree trunks. They range from the very brightly coloured variety to the stealth matt black type that resembles something that could easily belong to Batman. So what does this have to do with Smokie? Well, you know that our music crosses many frontiers and, over the years, we have discovered that bikers enjoy what we have to offer. I guess it's the way we put the music across as well as the content. There is attitude in our delivery and we rock a little more than is expected of us, that is if you base your expectations merely on the material from the 1970's. In what has to be the second hottest gig of the year (after Malaysia, of course) we melted in tandem with our audience, yet everyone in the room showed a massive burst of energy throughout the show. It was like a community workout with music thrown into the mix. Because the heatwave had only arrived today nobody was yet acclimatised to the sudden rise in temperature yet we were all happy to see that great ball of fire in the sky and get the skin tingling again. There is nothing like a bit of hot weather to start everyone talking to each other once more after the long winter and extended spring. As we left the venue and the mile-long line of motorbikes I had the feeling that we could all have happily kept the party going longer. I think that there was more than a connection with our audience - it was more like an unbreakable bond. Sometimes it's just hard to say goodbye, so farewell will have to do.  


Was it my imagination or did last night's audience follow us all the way to Wexford? It certainly seemed that way as the crowd linked arms and got the dancing going. There was ostentatious waving of mobiles from the galleries and synchronised swaying from the stalls. Our audience knew the lyrics to songs spanning the full forty years and they were happy to sing them with vigour. There were many references to our last visit to Wexford Opera House on 7th March 2009 (a date that means a lot to me because it is my Smokie anniversary). Once again the audience drove the show along with their energetic response and proved beyond doubt that an Irish crowd are the best in the world. We have a long and involved history with Ireland and its people have played a large part in our popularity around the globe by encouraging the outbreak of spontaneous parties worldwide. It may be a small island in geographical terms but its impact on the international scene is huge. For now we must leave this wonderful country and turn to more frivolous pass times, including a secret appearance in a secret country. Which one?'s a secret.


At the risk of repeating myself I have to say that an Irish audience that is on form is the best audience in the world. They sing louder, they dance sooner and they wave their mobile phones like their life depends on getting attention. A full house is a happy house and there was nowhere happier than Cork Opera House last night, particularly after the announcement that Smokie were supporting ourselves and playing for the whole evening. As the show progressed it felt more and more as if everyone in the room knew each other, such was the closeness brought on by the reaction to our show. To say the evening was special is an understatement; it was one of those rare occasions when everything seems just perfect and nobody wants the evening to end. Now the Irish have been treated to the very best show that we take on tour they have rewarded us with so fine a response that I think we may have set a new standard in this music-loving country that has done so much to keep Smokie popular. Today we return to Wexford Opera House, where we were the first band to grace the stage and turn it into more than just a classical venue. I have a good feeling about our return visit. 


It's a big surprise to find an 8,000-capacity arena in the heart of a small rural community yet that description fits Randaberg Arena. The venue could probably hold every single inhabitant of this area, so it is more than adequate for the needs of the community. Last night a large crowd took their places to be entertained by the very popular Plumbo, followed by Smokie. We are witnessing the same effect that has influenced young listeners in Norway which is that they hear the music that their parents like and then make up their own minds. Yet again we are lucky and this next generation have taken to Smokie music and have come to the concert to hear more of what the band have to offer. "Boulevard of broken dreams" was released 26 years ago, so many of the people in the audience were not alive at the time. Somehow the dramatic opening with this hit song stirred the whole audience into party mood and the celebration was relentless from the first note to the last. So I am glad about two things - one is that Randaberg has such a great venue and the other is that so many turn up to enjoy our show. Although the weather has not quite kicked into Summer mode yet there is a shared anticipation of those lovely outdoor festivals with a bit of heat from the sun; I am fairly sure we will all soon be enjoying these unless our climate has any more tricks up its sleeve. 


After a straight ten shows that featured the double set Smokie were required only to put on one electric set at Stadthalle Schopfheim, and the audience loved it. We now know that any combination of sets can work in any venue, although there is still mainly a preference for the double set to sit-down audiences and the single set to stand-up ones. This tour has been a tremendous success from so many points of view, not least of which was our opportunity to give variety in a show that truly represents the last forty years of our recordings. We have made many happy memories during the last two weeks and made new friends in a country that has been firmly attached to Smokie music right from the beginning. The Gold album helps to bring a bit of Smokie history to the forefront while charting the changes that have made Smokie the band it is today. We have evolved into an international favourite, touring nineteen countries each year and presenting our audiences with much new material while breathing new life into the earlier songs that have become absorbed into the cultures of so many countries. We are truly very lucky men and we know it. Let's see if we can do another ten years. 


After a lengthy spell at customs due to our initial overweight status we finally rolled in to Herisau around 3.30 in the afternoon. The setting up of the gear has now become a finely honed exercise at this advanced stage of the tour and our soundcheck was completed quickly to make way for the audience who completely filled Casino Herisau. There was no doubt, right from the first note, that this audience were ready to enjoy everything that came their way and they soaked up the acoustic set with vigour. By the end of this set we were under the impression that we could have recited poetry and still got a great reaction, such was the positive mood of the crowd. The electric set just put the icing on the cake and a large proportion of the audience stayed back after the show for autographs and photos. Our visits to Switzerland are few and far between and it would be nice to be here more often. Perhaps now we will be - only time will tell. 


There was just time to take in the stunning sights of Regensburg with its old stone bridge and gothic cathedral before setting off for Burglengenfeld's Veranstaltungszentrum. The first strains of the acoustic set drew an instant reaction from the crowd. They were liking what they heard and we were enjoying playing the songs. After an afternoon of casual sauntering it felt like there was no hurry. Just as the acoustic set was laid back so the electric set was full on under the intense heat of the stage lighting. A cool and calm opening set led to a sweaty rock gig, both of which were enjoyed by the audience in equal measures. We only have one more engagement with the double set in Switzerland before returning to the more familiar single one. It's been an adventure and an education for Smokie. I have a strong sense of achievement after these last nine shows and feel that we have done enough to warrant a return to Germany with a similar formula at some time in the future. The audience themselves have made it clear that they like what we have chosen to do on this tour of Germany and that they would like to see us do a similar thing again some time. After the show everybody had a smile on their face so I guess we backed a winning formula. Now we transfer to Munich for a couple of days off before resuming in Herisau.  


On entering Alte Seilerei I was greeted by one of the largest posters I have seen during my Smokie career, second only to the huge building-sized poster that adorned the outside of a venue in Seoul in 2002. Once the band had signed this poster it was destined to be auctioned and the proceeds are to be donated to charity. What a great idea and what an enormous trophy for some lucky bidder. The decor at Alte Seilerei suggested "rock venue" and we had brought our now popular mix of acoustic and electric goodies to Mannheim. The audience could not have been more appreciative, following our every chord with relish. As was the case in Hamburg, the audience drew in very close to the band to create an intimate atmosphere of mutual musical enjoyment. A successful stand-up gig will soon be followed by the same in Burglengenfeld where our Sunday crowd will be treated to the same mix. It's a never-ending party for Smokie and a deep desire from our audience that we repeat the experience some day.


Haus Auensee is the largest venue we have played so far on this "Evening with Smokie" tour. The audience very quickly got in the mood, appreciating and enjoying the acoustic set and even dancing along to the songs, not wishing to stay seated for long. While the acoustic songs ease our audience into the music the electric set takes no prisoners at all, requiring all the energy the audience can muster. The reaction in Leipzig was possibly the best we have seen so far on this tour. I would like to spend a little longer in this lovely city but Mannheim is beckoning us. Today our standing audience will get to enjoy the same show as the seated ones. 


I was informed last night that Smokie's last appearance in Dresden was in 1999. Can it really be that long? Well, things have changed round here and we had a full day to enjoy all the new additions to this beautiful city, along with some very agreeable weather to make the whole experience more memorable. A perfect day ended with a show to light up Dresden's inhabitants at Alter Schlachthof. Perhaps now we can look forward to more regular visits to this highly attractive city and another chance to bring a show with great variety to an eager audience. 


Fabrik is a favourite rock venue in this part of Hamburg. A lot of bands play here. We played here in 1988 on the "Don't worry, be happy" tour. But this is 27 years on and we have greatly refined our act to include acoustic versions of popular songs. Such a presentation is perfect for theatres and concert halls, but how about unashamedly gritty stand-up rock clubs? All I need to answer that question is to recall the look of delight on the faces of our Hamburg audience as we took them through our musical fly-by that represents 40 years of Smokie music. We didn't ask anything of our audience that they found too challenging and their reaction to the double set was a resoundingly positive one. From the band's point of view it was good to be able to have close contact with the crowd during the acoustic set, a feeling we are used to experiencing when we crank up the volume. It's all different when the volume is quieter and, consequently, any sounds from the audience are audible. My observation is that our audience were very happy with what they heard last night and many of them said they would like to see the show again. The cat is out of the bag, and we can continue our intimate shows with confidence. Those fans who have said, for years, that they want to see only Smokie and to hear our new material are having the time of their lives. This tour of Germany is re-defining what a tour needs to be in order to satisfy the wishes of those most important people - those who pay to see us. Now I really believe that they are getting their money's worth. 


Being in the centre of Berlin stirs memories of 1988 when we were obliged to exit the former East via Checkpoint Charlie and cross a busy road during the Berlin Marathon. The road was supposed to be closed to non-runners but we had to reach the other side to get to the airport and fly to Norway. I ran sideways across the road with my suitcase, becoming a great obstacle to the contestants. It was a chaotic attempt that could never be repeated in 2015, but it forms part of my memory of this impressive city that has shown me so much during the last 24 hours.
Bringing "an evening with Smokie" to Friedrichstadtpalast was a master stroke that allowed us to find out just how it would be to play new material to a theatre audience in this capital city. Once again our expectations were greatly exceeded by the enormously positive response of the crowd. After a day in which I joined a gym and rowed 8,000 metres and then walked 8,300 metres around the city I might have felt like my energy was depleted, but not last night. When the audience respond in such a way to the band we find new reserves of energy easily and quickly and there is no evidence of fatigue, even after a long travel day, once the show has started. Our tour continues to Hamburg where we find out just how well the double set works in a standing venue. Are we in for yet another surprise? We'll soon know. 

Halle (Saale)

I feel greatly privileged to be in the home town of Georg Friedrich Handel, with its rich cultural heritage. I fondly remember taking part in many recitals of "The Messiah" in my younger days as a vocalist. In a venue named after the main man Smokie brought a more up-to-date type of recital to Halle (Saale) in the form of the now popular double set. Our audience filled the hall both in numbers and in voice. Together we created a sound that I believe would even have excited Mr Handel had he been around to witness it. I firmly believe that yesteryear's classical composers would have been today's rock and rollers and would revel in the enormous range of sounds we now have at our fingertips. There's a lot that's good about being alive in the 21st century, we should never forget, and one of those things is our ability to enjoy an immaculate sound in a well-designed venue where volume is never lacking. Perhaps Mr Handel would find Smokie to be too loud compared to an un-miked string ensemble, but I expect the sheer vibrancy of the event would inspire him, as it did the audience last night. We now move on to Berlin for a night off before resuming on Monday.


I have often heard fans say that they wanted to hear new songs from Smokie, and we have always been limited both in the length of our set and the format of the show. When we left the UK we had no idea if this "evening with Smokie" would work in Germany. Now we are certain that it not only works but it brings out a fresh and vibrant reaction from our German audience. They seem very happy to listen as well as to get involved in the music. What makes the show so enjoyable for us is seeing people having a really great time and losing themselves in the music, and that is exactly what has happened here at Bruckenforum. If this is a sign of how the next few shows are going to run we are in for a very good time indeed. Because the double set is working so well there is talk already of doing some more similar shows in future. I believe that our German fans deserve to get the same opportunity as other fans around the world to see a show that truly represents our range of material, rather than just concentrating on the original hits. It's a pleasure to present something new and I really look forward to all the rest of the shows here in Germany. 


There was a great deal of excitement regarding this, our first German tour since 1996. How would a seated audience react? Would the new songs be well received? We had no need to wonder any longer because our welcoming audience at Festhalle Harmonie were more than ready to enjoy what Smokie had to offer last night. It's easy to say "if only we'd done this before now", but the Oldies shows have been good to us. However, there are many people who wish to see Smokie do our own tour and they particularly appreciate that we play for the whole night without using a support band. This format works well for the six seated venues on this tour, yet we will have to revert to the single set for the stand up shows. With ten shows to go I expect we will experience a lot of variety on this tour. One thing I can say for sure - it's been a very strong start to what promises to be a wholly engaging tour in this, our 40th Anniversary year.


MS Cinderella set sail against a beautiful blue sky, right on schedule as usual. At first you are unaware that the ship is moving and then there is a gentle sway as the vessel carves its way through the multitude of islands at twelve knots. This celebration followed hot on the heels of Easter yet it drew a large crowd in the newly refurbished ballroom on Deck 8. I much prefer the new setup because the stage is roomier and there is a better view of the whole audience. Our dramatic opening with Boulevard of broken dreams worked beautifully and the show went from strength to strength as the night progressed. Many of our ardent Swedish fans were in attendance and I am sure that we will be meeting again at the end of June. Now we continue our leisurely sailing pace back to port before going rather quicker back home by air to make ready for our first tour of Germany since 1996. Of course we have played there many times since but always with other bands. There are interesting times ahead. 

Nykobing Falster

There was a lot of love in the room tonight, as evidenced by the flashing neon sign at the back of Scandlines Arena which read "Smokie - we love you". Many of the audience mouthed the words to every song, indicating their complete knowledge of our catalogue of hits. Together we partied like it was Saturday night, which it clearly was. As is customary on this weekend at the end of March we issued our reminders to everyone that we forfeit an hour's sleep tonight while welcoming in the start of British Summer Time. One listen to the howling gale outside my window makes me wonder whether it really is time to start shedding clothes in favour of more lightweight gear. Even the daffodils at home have failed to show their heads before Easter. At least those chocolate eggs won't melt due to over-exposure to heat. In fact we may still keep the champagne cool by putting it outside the back door. The family will be home so there is much to celebrate during this short break before Smokie resumes in Stockholm.

Nykobing Mors

Our 40th Anniversary Tour continued into Denmark at Jyske Bank Arena, where a full house waited to greet us. This mini Danish tour is shared with Sweet, so there is much catching up to do on the tour bus. The audience"s reaction last night told us that we still have a very strong and lasting connection in this part of Scandinavia; even our record deals are still sealed in this country, the latest being the digital download contract that sees us releasing a 4-track EP each year. This ensures that there will be plenty of new material for Smokie fans to enjoy over the next possibly five years. Late nights invariably precede early mornings and we are currently making our way across Denmark for the second of these shows. There's something comforting about sitting in a tour bus knowing that we are already in the right country and not having to hope that the weather doesn't cause the cancellation of flights. As I write the sun is streaming through the window and warming the inside of the bus yet it is doing little to warm the outside temperature. One thing is for sure - it will be warm onstage tonight.  


I have it on good authority that Oslo Gardermoen Airport has only been closed three times since its opening in 1998. So yesterday was its third time and it caused a great deal of excitement in Lillestrom where the Kultursenter was ready for a Smokie gig. Never ones to shrink in the face of adversity, our intrepid half of the team who were stuck in Amsterdam stayed focused on the job in hand, namely to get to Oslo whatever obstacles might stand in the way. The determination paid off and our demi colleagues arrived in time for us to be ready with only a twenty three minute delay.

The audience had, themselves, been party to the cancelled buses and planes so they were as experienced as we were in this matter. On seeing that the band were fully prepared and full of energy the crowd responded with a similar burst of enthusiasm to make this Thursday night in Lillestrom one to remember.
I personally love the theatre and have the utmost respect for the staff who made a tricky day feel like a breeze. This was one gig that nearly didn't happen yet, once it did, it was top notch.


As we woke on Saturday morning we witnessed the hurricane force winds that were forecast to ground all aircraft until the afternoon. Our Kiev show had already been rescheduled and it looked like, once again, there was a question mark over its likelihood. My regular airline, FlyBe came to the rescue and delivered us safely to Birmingham from where we continued our epic journey via Manchester. In this business the show must go on, regardless of the events that lead to its occurrence. Our hosts were relieved to see us as we entered the arrivals hall at Kiev's Borispol Airport. The familiar sight of Palace Ukraine waited to greet us; the audience underlined that greeting with a rousing response to our first show here in four years. We are all aware of what is happening here in Ukraine because it is rarely out of the news. But we are musicians, not politicians, and it is music that binds people together in times of crisis and I feel honoured to be able to share an experience with those brave people who face an uncertain future in this part of the world. Whatever happens here it is clear that the music of Smokie can at least put a glow in the hearts of many Ukrainians. 


Harpa Concert and Congress Centre is a building that attracted a lot of criticism due to the timing of its construction when the Iceland banking crisis hit the headlines. It's an impressive facility and one that is a major part of the landscape, and now it is being used to its fullest extent it can be regarded as a great asset for the people of Reykjavik. It was certainly an asset last night as Smokie packed two full houses in one evening to put on a show that the Icelanders had waited twelve years to see. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and there were many hearts bursting with emotion last night. We were given an enormous welcome each time we took to the stage and it was clear that there is a very established place for Smokie's music in this territory. As is often the case when shows go very well, the next visit is already being planned so we don't have to wait another twelve years before our next visit. 

As we began our evening's entertainment last night the news came through that our flight today had been cancelled due to hurricane winds. As I write this the wind is very strong and extremely noisy. Our planned journey to Kiev has taken on a rather different form and we are only hoping to get out of Iceland and back to the UK at some time today, wind permitting. We are in the hands of fate but will try everything to reach Kiev by tomorrow night. The elements are still more powerful than man yet we can always hope that a greater power will see the need for us to make it safely to Ukraine and do what we do best.
I hope that you will be able to read on Monday of our success.

Kuala Lumpur

Here at muddy estuary we have had quite an incredible week. Arriving a week ago, we had the opportunity to listen to many of the local bands, sample any number of different cuisines, and absorb the sun's rays at an average 33 degrees. I even turned tourist for a day to get a closer look at what KL has to offer. The whole week has been a build up to the show last night at Surf Beach, Sunway Lagoon. Coinciding as it did with the anniversary of MH370, the crowd was a little smaller than expected, and that is perfectly understandable. However, as with all crowds at Smokie gigs, it doesn't take many people to make a lot of noise and our Malaysian audience got their message across that they were very pleased to see us. As darkness fell there were a few storms and the dry lagoon became rather damp, causing sauna-like conditions on stage. We have come from the Russian Urals to the tropics and now return to Iceland, so the body has a lot of temperature changes to deal with. It's all part of being an international band and it certainly shrinks the world as we traverse it at great speed. We have one more day in this tropical paradise before joining Etihad Airways and taking the quickest way back to the UK. Several meals and several films later I shall be washing all my clothes in readiness for the next leg of the 40th Anniversary Tour. 

27 years today

I have landed up in some very interesting places on my Smokie anniversary but this is the most exotic. As I look out my window at Sunway Resort I see that the lagoon is being drained to make way for an audience of around 15,000 people. At 4 in the morning the lights are being auditioned for the show of the year. Technicians will meet at 7 and prepare the sound equipment a full day before the big show. Our hosts are taking no chances because they want everything to run smoothly and they have never before undertaken a festival on this scale. Nineteen bands that are used to entertaining around 100 people a night will be facing a huge crowd; for them it is the chance of a lifetime and for Smokie it's business as usual. Frequent thunderstorms halt progress and slow down the traffic. We are in unknown territory as 8th March approaches and only Smokie have the experience on which to draw. It is due to be a very interesting day tomorrow and one that could set new standards for Malaysian music. But today I am looking back as well as forwards. Twenty seven years as Smokie's keyboard player have shown me a most interesting world full of fascinating people. I never take for granted the wonderful opportunities afforded to me via this utterly absorbing career. Every moment is to be cherished and today I shall take in some of Malaysia's cultural heritage while I ponder on the last twenty seven years. 


Ogni Ufi has always been a strange gig for me. The stage has, as its backdrop, a mock-up of castle walls that scream Spinal Tap. However, there were vast improvements this time, including a better sound system and a better stage. It made all the difference to the band and it certainly helped the audience to capture the mood. Before long the whole audience were on their feet and dancing, and that is a sight worth seeing in this part of Russia. Now we have a day off, as a result of the cancellation of the show in Sterlitamak, and a chance to pick songs for the album. Normally I would be out pounding the pavement but it is minus twelve outside with a wind chill of minus eighteen, and I'm not game enough to stay out for long, especially as I shall shortly be in plus thirty in Malaysia.


After last year's concert at Crocus City Hall we were curious to know how ticket sales would go this year in Moscow. The difference in 2014 is that we shared the evening with The Illegal Eagles, an excellent tribute band from the UK. But there appeared to be some confusion last year as people perhaps wondered whether the whole event was performed by tribute acts. This year we had a chance to find out as, once more, we were on our own. The truth is that Smokie still pull a very good crowd without the need to pad the show with other admittedly good artists. Although it can make for a very good evening it is the proliferation of hits from ourselves, an established act, that really lights up a crowd. There are not so many places in the world where you can divert the attention of a large group of people on a Wednesday evening and get then moving like it's a Saturday night. Last night Moscow was one of those places. Whatever may be going on politically at present it is completely forgotten when we make music. What a pleasure to be able to remove folks from their concerns for a while and get lost together in pure enjoyment.


My spare time in Prague was spent a little differently on this visit. I saw the city from another angle and wandered around like a real tourist, taking in the atmosphere. I even had the chance to ride a Segway, something I've always wanted to do since I first saw the machine. The sunshine lent a bit of a Spring ambience to this impressive city, although it was anything but warm.

It was known in advance that our show at Lucerna was sold out, yet the sight that met our eyes as we took to the stage was truly inspirational. Our Czech public were more than ready for us and left us in no doubt that they want more Smokie. It really doesn't get better than this, although I think I've said that before and look what happened. It's true to say that everyone was delighted with the show and the impact it had on all those who attended. We have really started 2015 on a huge high from which no-one will wish to come down. We'll soon be carving our way through the skies to The Southern Hemisphere where one very big crowd is waiting for us. More about that later but, in the meantime, there are domestic affairs to take care of before embarking on the next leg of the 40th Anniversary Tour.


A trip to Brno is greatly enhanced by a visit to Spilberk Castle. My hosts, Karolina and Peter, took me through the whole experience, including the tram ride. I was greatly impressed by how friendly and helpful the locals were in pointing us in the right direction each time we needed assistance. We soon made it up the hill to the castle and were nosing around in the cells and torture chamber, as you would on any normal Friday afternoon. 

I cannot reveal how many people filled Sono Centrum Music Club in the evening because the numbers were far greater than the capacity of the room. Let's just say that there was no space for anyone to dance and most people had to be careful with their elbows. As the Irish would say, there wasn't room to turn a sweet in your mouth. In a room that's so full we could only have a great gig, that was pre-destined. The sound was immaculate and the audience's reaction was ecstatic. We just may have started a little bit of Smokie mania in this country where we have only played a couple of shows in the same number of years. Already we have been made aware that there will be 2,000 people at tonight's show in Prague. The atmosphere is a little like what we experienced in the 1980's in Ireland when there were always many more people than the venue could hold and the fire officer used to follow us around on tour to make sure that we weren't contravening regulations. As if we would! One thing is for sure - we are in for yet another great night here in The Czech Republic.

Smokie album title

Since Sony are releasing the 40th Anniversary album in Germany I have been asked to think of a title for Smokie's new album that is being recorded in the UK so they may refer to it in their advertising. A few ideas came to mind, like "Great Lives and Hard Drives", "Simply Us", "These Five Guys" and "One for the road", but the final vote was for "Just for the record". 

Now we know what it's called we need to get back in the studio and record four more tracks. There are some good songs that came in from Nashville and I'm sure that some of these will end up on "Just for the record". I shall keep you updated once there are gaps in our tour schedule.


There could be a lot of disappointed Valentines in this region because Dublin appears to have saved its love for Smokie, and in Vicar Street of all places. It sounds like a marriage made in heaven. We entered the stage to a rousing reception that never died for the whole ninety minutes. A heady mixture of nostalgia and fresh material kept our audience keen and fired up. This was our second appearance in Dublin in the space of six weeks and there was no evidence that Dubliners had seen enough of us. The news that we were starting our 40th Anniversary celebrations in Ireland was received with great enthusiasm. It's been an inspiring start to what promises to be a highly gratifying year. Now I hit the ground running as I prepare for the next leg in The Czech Republic. 


I'm sure, if I look closely, I would be able to find my own footprints outside The Mount Errigal Hotel. My experiences here in 1988 are still vivid in memory. It looked completely different then, as did I. Our packed house last night was reminiscent of the crowds we always pulled in the 80's, except they, like us, have mostly racked up a few years of experience. Nothing stops the Irish from dancing, even in confined spaces, and they rewarded us with a proper Donegal welcome. The passing of time has failed to fade either the band or the audience and together we turn a concert into a party. We'll do it once more tonight.


Before we hit the Waterfront stage there was a whisper that the audience weren't as animated as last year. I always take this as a challenge and my considered reply was "they haven't seen us yet". The Belfast audience have always given us 100% and last night was no different. They start off warm and rise to nuclear hot by the end of the show. Perhaps we were just creating the mood ahead of Valentine's Day, but there was a whole lot of love out there and we just soaked it all up. We move on to a sellout show in Letterkenny on the actual night when lovers should be celebrating. On this day next month we will be on our way to Kiev. Now there's a place that is desperately short of love!

Derry and Dublin

Sometimes you can be having TOO good a time and important matters (like updating the blog) have to step aside to make way for the continuous celebration. There are two good reasons why I was having such a good time - one is that I was in Ireland, where partying is a way of life, and the other is that my wife, Roz (a notorious life and soul of the party) was with me on this mini tour of The Emerald Isle. My colleagues saw me drinking alcohol for the first time since 31st December 2009 and I got the impression that they were amused by the result. It's not something they will need to get used to but I am really enjoying a break from the healthy lifestyle at present. I'm sure that 2015 will see me getting back to normal. 
Our show at The Millennium Forum was a little bit delayed due to the late finish of the pantomime in the evening. Getting the show together was like starting a horse race after all the other horses had left. Chaos was the order of the day yet, once we hit the stage, our eager audience were with us from beginning to end. I think we were like the Christmas pudding and brandy to their main course - a great way to round off the meal. There has been much anticipation of our presence after our previous planned visit was pulled due to the roof of the venue blowing off in high winds. The only high winds on Sunday were probably provided courtesy of Brussels Sprouts, as we were enjoying calm sunny conditions that gave the lie to the claim that this would be the worst winter for decades. 
Last night we entertained a very warm Irish audience at The Helix, the theatre belonging to Dublin University and situated in the Glasnevin district. Being the last show of the year, since our proposed engagement in Romania for New Year was not confirmed, it had a sort of end of school term feel and everyone put extra gusto into their performance, knowing that we will not now see each other for another six weeks. The audience picked up on the mood and gave it 100% (not 110% as is so often wrongly claimed in Britain's very staged X Factor TV show). It felt like one big party with friends and left us all feeling like we have properly celebrated the end of a terrific 2014.
As we take our break I wish to thank all our fans around the world for making this year so enjoyable for Smokie. We couldn't do it without you and, as long as you are still there, we will keep returning. Happy 2015!  


Our audience at Svyturio Arena couldn't wait to get close to the band. Their early attempts to come to the stage were thwarted by security but, once they were invited by the band to move closer, wild horses couldn't have prevented them from doing so. And "Wild Horses" is what they got because it was in order to join us with some arse-shaking during "And the night stood still" that the main crowd surge occurred. After that point the whole audience joined the party and we had their unbridled attention all the way through to an ecstatic encore and a rapturous and raucous end of the show. That completes our successful tour of The Baltic States and now I start my 17-hour journey home, arriving in time to wish Roz a Happy 23rd wedding anniversary. I then have a whole week to make final preparations for Christmas before the family come home. 


The lights of a thousand cameras twinkled as we launched into "If you think you know how to love me". It set a perfectly romantic scene in an environment that was made for Christmassy feelings - an ice hockey stadium with much of its ice still on show. In fact Zalgirio is much like the other arenas that we play on this Baltic Tour in that it hosts sports as well as music and theatre. Our audience were mostly seated throughout the show yet couldn't resist the temptation to get up and party towards the end; not surprising when you consider that there was only a two-inch board between their feet and a bed of solid ice. Yet it only takes the right music to melt the heart (but not the ice) and Smokie found the right notes to serenade a highly suggestible crowd. Now we make tracks for Klaipeda where we can enjoy a day to wander round Christmas markets before putting on one more show tomorrow. 


There's something quite different about Riga today, compared to previous years - no snow, and not a flake in the sky. We are all quite used to the concept of global warming; we hear enough about it, but the practical outcome is very agreeable for a traveller such as myself. I don't need snow. Even my polar bear friends at Highland Wildlife Park don't see much of it nowadays. Yet winds whip up frequently and make a place feel colder than it appears. That's nothing that can't be remedied with a hat and scarf. 

Riga Arena is a very familiar venue to Smokie. Our last two appearances there featured the symphony orchestra. It seemed a little strange to step onstage without them last night. However, the theme was a little different and our show was sandwiched between instrumental band Zodiac and Thomas Anders. The arena soon heated up with a large audience of Smokie-lovers. Before long you could have just imagined you were in The Bahamas. Music warms the heart and soul and heals sorrows and calms anger. It should really be prescribed by doctors, rather than all those dangerous, untested drugs with their unpleasant side effects. Music is completely safe and I see its wonderful effect on audiences all over the world. It has a magical effect on its listeners. I feel that I am part magician and part musician. Today we cross another border into Lithuania to spread the magic into another territory. 


Our Eastern Bloc Arena Tour kicked off with a performance at Saku Suurhall Arena, most noted for hosting the 2002 Eurovision Song Contest. Fresh from our Indian tour we were dressed for the cold, biting Estonian wind. However, in all other ways the experience was very similar because we were entertaining a large and appreciative crowd. These four shows also feature Thomas Anders of Modern Talking fame. In theory our music is very different but in practice we make a very good combination for an evening's entertainment. Smokie are raw rock musicians while Thomas's brigade serve up a very cool 80's disco sound. Our audience responded very well to the whole package which we now take to Riga, Kaunas and Klaipeda. It's a very agreeable format to occupy us in this pre-Christmas period after which we take a two-week break to be around for the man in the red suit. Meanwhile I am searching for those last minute purchases that put a smile on the face when unwrapped on Christmas Day. I think Amazon may well be hearing from me soon.

Shillong 2

...suggested that we may be back a lot sooner than we thought. I guess that it will take a while for the euphoria to die down after these two successful shows, and I'm sure our promoter will need some rest after this exhausting time, yet the memories we have all made are very powerful inspirations to do it all again. I am reminded of a comment made after our second tour of South Africa that "nobody has toured here three times so don't expect to tour here again". We have now toured South Africa nine times, broken all previous records and literally been adopted by that wonderful country. The feeling in India has been very similar and I am convinced that we have forged a long and happy association with this country.


My Indian adventure has easily been the most exciting experience of 2014. It's been a marathon of travel with a wealth of experiences from beginning to end. It certainly wasn't the opportunity to put on shorts and get a winter tan because I have been at high altitude for the whole of the week. At over 4,000 feet it's been like living up Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain. The scenery is breathtaking and I have witnessed it from the road and from the air. I have walked in roads where there is little or no pavement and taken chances with my safety in order to properly experience being amongst the Indian people. What a great group of people they are; they look out for each other and exercise tolerance on a scale that could be used as a lesson to others in our troubled world. Christians live alongside Hindus and Moslems and they respect each other. Even though the streets are crowded I see no evidence of people getting angry. It can be hard to make solid plans or keep to schedules here, but everything works out well in the end, and I think many of us could benefit from adopting some of the attitudes of the Indians for the sake of our health and for our relationship with each other.

From the police escort and fleet of Royal Enfield motor bikes to the whirring of the chopper blades over scenic mountain ranges, this week has created a veritable biography of memories. The roar of the crowd and the apparent love that these gentle folk have for Smokie music warms and humbles the heart. As I tread the dusty roads people say "Hello, Sir" as we pass. Yes, they have manners. They also have dignity and pride. There appear to be far too many roadside fruit stalls, and it makes me wonder who is buying their produce; but there is no "hard sell" and no attempt to inconvenience you. Everyone here wants a photograph with you. Whole families appear from little hidey holes at the roadside and there begins a long photo session that takes in every permutation of the assembled family with the catchphrase "Just one more". It's impossible to refuse these lovely people and I wouldn't wish to do so. 
As for their behaviour as an audience you only have to see how happy they are that their favourite band, Smokie, finally made it to their area. They were treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the rumours going round at last night's after party in the policemens' mess (contd)


At the press conference that preceded Smokie's appearance at The Hornbill Festival it was clear that people were aware of our last engagement in Assam's Mizoral District in November 2006 and were still talking about it. News travels far and wide in India and there was even some degree of transference between Kohima and Shillong as the public tried to get tickets for one of the shows. At The Indira Ghandi Stadium the tickets had officially sold out but more tickets had been printed to accommodate the demand. One thing was for sure - it was going to take the best efforts of the police, the army and our security outriders to get us past the huge traffic jams and into the performance area in time for the show. There were shades of Mongolia about this wholle experience. An audience of 25,000 people mostly arrived in some sort of vehicle and the roads couldn't cope with the traffic. As for the show, it was an unparalleled success as we took the audience through a potted history of our hits from the beginning to present day. Their roars were those of a massive football crowd and their appreciation was unmistakable. Even the Chief Minister was there and was happy to tell us how much he enjoyed the show by inviting us to breakfast the following morning and showering us with gifts. For a band that just likes to go out and entertain a crowd it is an overwhelming accolade. We are hugely privileged to have made this type of impression on a whole nation such as India. If the current success is anything to go by it will not be as long as another 8 years before we return. In the meantime we have our final engagement to look forward to before we make tracks in the westerly direction.

Wiener Neustadt

What is a party? One definition is "a group of people gathered together for pleasure" and yet another is "a band of people associated temporarily in some activity". Last night saw the coming together of some of the best in the business, i.e., Slade, ELO, T Rex and Smokie, to entertain an enthusiastic crowd at Arena Nova. To call it one of the best gigs of 2014 still doesn't quite do it justice. When a party at the end of November is this good it means the run up to Christmas is likely to be a great highlight of the year. The old advice not to peak too early has no relevance in this instance. My observation here is "peak as much as you like, as often as you like and see what reaction you can illicit". Clearly we wrung out every ounce of enjoyment from our happy audience in this part of Austria, and it makes me think that we will be passing this way again some time in the not-too-distant future. 


It's always fun to surprise people. When the curtain rises the surprise is revealed and we can get on with the business of entertaining. Our hosts were celebrating their wedding anniversary and had invited a large number of people to their hotel in Faaborg to join the party. By the time Smokie hit the stage the guests had already enjoyed 7 hours of eating, drinking and entertainment. It was our pleasure to round off the evening and get them on the dance floor to shake off that post dinner fatigue. The evening ended on a high note with many happy faces. The surprise element had worked and, no doubt, it won't be long before we spring another surprise on a crowd of unsuspecting guests in the future.


History has a way of repeating itself, and no more so than in the music business. Familiarity is no bad thing in the crazy world of rock and roll, and in Kvaers (pronounced Kwares) we are made to feel so at home that we might wonder if our real home is not here in Denmark. Last night's show exceeded expectations as the huge crowd completely filled every square inch of Kvaers Hallen. The energy from the crowd was awesome. We could easily have shot a very excellent DVD from this location last night. After the show we moved on to a "secret location" from where I am writing this blog. It has to remain secret because it's a corporate show with surprise guests. As with all corporate events it is extremely well organised and well timed. More about that later. In the mean time I shall hide away in my room and catch up with downloaded programmes on BBC iPlayer until it is safe to leave the room. It is rather like being Father Christmas without the beard!


The auditorium of The National Palace of Culture, in the heart of Sofia, made a perfect location for the recording of tonight's show. Spacious as it is, there was ample room for a 10-camera recording with full 24-track audio without hindering the view from the audience. Live recordings can sometimes run into difficulties, but this one seemed to go without a hitch. The crowd were well into the mood of the show and gave us a huge response. This was our first appearance in Bulgaria since 7th May 2006. The show will be broadcast in December on Bulgarian National Television. This completes a busy 10 days that has included a Norwegian Tour, a show in Bucharest and one in Sofia, as well as the 12 flights that got us to and from our destinations. One look at our tour dates for December will confirm that we are still one of the busiest international bands on the circuit. And now we get a little more time at home before resuming in Denmark in November. Enrick Studio is missing me, so I'd better go and give it some love.


We have gazed out at this impressive auditorium many times before in different guises - as a sole performer, with an orchestra and as part of an entertainment package (as was the case last night when Bonny Tyler was also on the bill). Never before has the term "bring the house down" been more apt. Smokie appear to have carved a very deep niche in the affections of our Romanian audience. If the critiques are true to the event they can only report that there was a very special reaction to our show at Sala Palatului. The old building felt very familiar as we took our positions on stage. Everything about the evening said that Smokie really belong here. What a great evening for consolidating our performance before the TV recording on Friday. Meanwhile we have time to go and freshen our clothes and enjoy home cooking for a night. Well, it's better than staying on the road without a break. Even the most dedicated of artists needs occasional home comforts to replenish waning energy.


I'm a country dweller myself and I know how much "heart" there is in country people. When they work they work hard and when they celebrate they do so with equal vigour. It's fair to say that last night's audience were the most animated on this short and very enjoyable tour in the south portion of Norway. The Kulturhus is a lovely building and a great asset to the folks in this region. The stage is at floor level, so there is no distinction between the audience's level and that of the band. This means that, when people get up to dance, they are almost touching the microphones at the front of the stage. In spite of this there were no close encounters and no broken teeth, just a large number of people enjoying themselves responsibly. After the show we met one of Norway's Smokie tribute bands, Smokey Sound, who we chatted to for some time. It was a great night and a perfect finale to a very successful tour. 


The sun was shining as we hit the outskirts of Skien (pronounced Sheen, a bit like that household cleaner). It was in contrast to the almost constant rumble of thunder in the vicinity of Gardermoen Airport. It may have been an omen that predicted a very good night at Ibsenhuset. Whatever the case, we had an audience who were ready to get out of their seats, away from their tables, and shake whatever assets to which they were attached. From the dramatic start of Boulevard to the carefree end of Alice they partied like there is no tomorrow. Luckily there is because I am still here. Now we move on to Notteroy for the last in this bijou tour of Norway. Let's see if tonight's audience can top the enthusiasm of their counterparts in other regions. We'll be watching!


Not even the frequent sound of thunder or the overhead planes from Gardermoen could distract from one of the best rock and roll gigs of the year. The Ullensaker Kulturhus looked resplendent and the audience complemented the band with their vigorous responses to our requests to join us in the singing. It was an unusually energetic display for a Thursday night. By the time Alice showed up the crowd were fully experienced professional singers. If the bus was big enough we would take all of them with us to Skien. Thank you to the people of Jessheim and those who travelled far to see the show (one person drove 600 kilometres to be there last night). Tonight we will experiment further with a slight variation in the set list to incorporate another song which may feature in the Bulgarian TV recording.


Drammens Teater was full to bursting with an enthusiastic and mature Smokie audience last night. They were in the mood to rock and had a great repertoire of songs from which to choose. Nestled on the bank of Drammensfjord, the theatre is a very beautiful building after its restoration back in the 1990's. Our set list is growing and changing as we approach the recording of the live DVD in Bulgaria next Friday, so our Norwegian audiences are helping us to test variations in the running order. So far the response is just perfect. These four shows are situated reasonably close geographically and allow us to avoid those long and exhausting travel days that test our mettle. It's good to have this opportunity because we will soon be back on the airlines to keep those air miles looking healthy. Tonight we return to Jessheim where another full house waits to hear how Smokie are sounding. Let's see if we can make enough noise to rattle the foundations at Gardermoen Airport. 


Last night had the feel of an Oktoberfest celebration. In fact it wasn't and had more to do with gardening than raising steins of beer but the overall atmosphere was the same, as was the decor. Smokie returned from holiday briefly to perform this one show in  Germany before resuming with more free time at home since the Malaysian tour was postponed until next year.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of free time, especially during this unseasonably warm September. 
This is a good year for bike riding and fitness in general for me and I hope to continue that trend right up until Christmas. Perhaps a visit to my studio may start a new Smokie project; and there are always new iPad apps that make my task as band orchestrator even easier.
Much to do and never enough days. Such a busy life, but what fun!


A massive crowd, in excess of 40,000, thronged Hauptplatz this evening, celebrating their final summer festival with great enthusiasm. The return of warm weather helped to bring people out on to the streets in great numbers. They were in need of a party, and that's what they got - Smokie style.

There were a great number of young people in the audience and many of them were familiar with our songs. It is heartening to see so many younger people enjoying our music. Long may it continue and keep Smokie on the road for another generation. 
I should mention that the Malaysian shows have been postponed while the country goes into mourning for the victims of flight MH17. It is proposed to delay the shows until March next year when people are once again able to feel ready to move on from the tragic event. 
Now Smokie take a month's break and a chance to spend time with families before once again getting back to gig mode for the autumn and winter. Thanks to all our fans for making touring such fun and giving us such great support in our live shows. There will be much more to come in future. This is a runaway train with no brakes, so stay on the train and we'll just keep on doing what we do.
With love


I managed to take a good look around Kuldiga before the show last night and was very impressed with what I found. The architecture is beautiful and the waterways give the town a real touch of the country. The waterfall is particularly lovely. My scene was set from early in the morning, after a 3.00 a.m. arrival. However, this didn't put me off hitting the pavements for a few ambles round the town to check it out. The venue for Kuldiga LiveFest 2014 is an amphitheatre set in parklands - a great combination. We shared the stage with Brotherhood of Man and Abba Mania, and the whole program went down extremely well. After the show we met the lady mayor who presented us with a commemorative copy of the town's tour book which, weighing in at 2.6 kg is a fairly lengthy read. There is more to Kuldiga than could possibly be gleaned in a day. We have just one more show to go before we take a break, and I feel as fresh as when the year started.


The Irish love a good old sing song, especially when they need to divert their attention away from the cares of the world. In this case it was the arrival of Big Bertha, the remains of the hurricane that is ready to envelope Great Britain in the morning, that was the object of attention. Of course, we were dry and happy inside our marquee at the Rock the Point Festival and were totally engrossed in having a good time. The weather can wait for now. The festival has lasted from 2nd to 10th August and ends with the crowning of the Maiden of Mourne. By the time she has accepted her title we will all be safely back in our homes if Big Bertha will allow. I am just waiting for the hurricane that bears the name of Alice. Perhaps it will disappear, although not after 24 years. 

Fjerritslev and Grebbestad

Smokie's aerial adventures have taken us to three Scandinavian countries today. Our routing took us from Malmo in Sweden to Alborg in Denmark, then from Alborg to Moss Rygge in Norway and onwards to Grebbestad in Sweden. Our Cessna Citation 3 made very short work of the journeys, leaving us with plenty of spare time to relax and take it easy between shows. 

Vesterhavsrock in Fjerritslev was a repeat performance for us as we were there just two years ago. The steamy conditions and early afternoon start made it a very hot gig with a very receptive audience. Getting people to rock early on a sunny afternoon can be a tall order but the crowd had no trouble reciprocating. It was a brief stop-off yet a great show that confirmed our popularity in Denmark.
We left the arena at Fjerritslev at around 3.15 p.m. and headed back to Alborg for our second short flight of the day. There was only time to climb to 26,000 feet before we immediately started our descent for Moss Rygge Airport. An accident on the motorway had involved a horse bolting from its box and resulting in severe damage to a vehicle, but our onwards journey continued without delay. We reached the beautiful Tanumstrand in Grebbestad in the early evening and had a few hours to recover energy before taking to the stage once more. I felt as if this was the first show of the day, not the second. A big crowd greeted us and made us very welcome indeed. Our mini Swedish tour ended on a high with thoughts about what to do next year. These four shows have been enormously successful and we can build on the reputation of the "three S's" in future. For Smokie it's really nice to work with other bands and keep touch with our friends. Rock and roll is not only about playing music, it's also about connecting with other people, as the theme in "The Code Within" depicts.


Our return to Ystad was greeted with great excitement by the enormous crowd. This time it was in fine weather, which is in contrast to the downpour that greeted us in 2006. The audience layout was quite different to last time and took advantage of the courtyard area that made an excellent auditorium. Big crowd, big noise and everything that makes a great gig. After a brief night's rest we are off to Denmark to begin our bi-national double gig. It will be a Citation jet that whisks us away to Denmark and back to Sweden for the evening show. That's what Summer is all about for Smokie.


The castle ruins cut an impressive outline on Borgholm's horizon viewed from the marina. As night falls a huge colony of bats take to the sky. The floodlights complete the scene and Borgholm is ready to rock. Another capacity crowd enjoyed what we have to offer on our mini Swedish Tour for the glorious summer of 2014. What a pleasure it is to be able to make good use of this historic site for the making of music. The castle walls, no doubt, had many stories to tell; tonight, however, belonged to music fans. What a great way to bid farewell to July and welcome in August. There are more castle ruins to come tomorrow night and an even bigger crowd to greet us. Things could hardly be better!


It is nine years (and seventeen days) since Smokie last came to Hotel Tylosand. Those years have passed liked the blinking of an eye and it is always a surprise to find out that events that seem so recent turn out to be longer ago than we imagined. Time goes very quickly when you enjoy yourself and, since enjoyment is our privilege, I have to conclude that time will continue to pass at least as quickly in the future (probably more so). That means that every show is precious and needs to be savoured. It is not too much to expect when we have such eager audiences as the one that filled Solgarden last night. The balmy night air and lovely sea breeze kept everyone alert and responsive and they showed us that they were really enjoying and making the most of every opportunity to join the party. We were living in the moment, and that is what turns a good gig into a great gig. 


The torch flames burned around the fringes of the auditorium in the grounds of Tambacher Schloss. The manicured gardens looked superb against the sunset that followed a hot and steamy day. Our view from the stage was impressive as we looked at a sizeable crowd amongst these historic battlements. In the past these walls were designed to keep out the enemies but last night they served a different purpose.

Castles are meant to be used, enjoyed and paid for (the upkeep is enormous) and what better a way to do so than to put on a festival? As the low rumble of our opening sequence shook cups and plates inside the Great Hall there was anticipation amongst the audience. It would be a pity to miss the opportunity to enjoy a bit of drama in such settings, so we made sure that everyone present was aware that something was about to happen, and happen it did. Smokie brought a show to an area that has great connections with our own royal family because Coburg was the home of Prince Albert who married our Queen Victoria. What inspiration we had for our performance! Rarely does such a scene provoke such feelings of pride and belonging. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be in so tremendous a setting doing exactly what we love to do. Luckily we are alive in 2014 and not 1814 when I think our presence would not have been so welcome.

Polva Intsikurmu

A big crowd lined the approach road as our security escorts led us into the amphitheatre at Polva Intsikurmu. At this point it was clear that the audience would still be arriving at the scheduled time of 21:00 hours. The show was delayed for twenty minutes to allow everyone to get inside the venue. It was clearly worth waiting because the viewing area was full as we took to the stage. A low rumbling bass note preceded the opener, this being a new addition to our latest version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Our Estonian audience were on very good form, giving us the warmest of welcomes and treating us to some very animated applause, cheers and responses. "Hasta la vista" has never sounded better. As the light faded the stage lights started to have real impact as the show approached the climax. Our Estonian promoter described it as the best show he had ever seen; a very great complement indeed and, judging by the audience reaction, I think there were many people who shared his opinion. Our return to Estonia is assured so keep an eye on the date sheet for next year's engagements. 


A sea of sunglasses faced the stage as the audience at Midsundfestival were dazzled by the evening sun, still hot at 9.30 p.m. There was no need to warm up the crowd as they were completely ready for what Smokie had to offer. It was another wonderful night in a watery location with a great number of sailing vessels on show. As chance would have it our previous appearance at this festival was also on Saturday 12th July six years ago. Many people remembered that night and were determined to repeat the experience. The Norwegian part of our summer schedule is now completed and we turn our attention to some of the other Scandinavian territories. If we could be in two places at once we surely would. Perhaps science will have an answer for this wish at some future time.


There was a veritable sea of sun-kissed faces under the Sparkassen rooftop in Papenburg this evening. The full moon completed the effect of adding perfect conditions to an already perfect occasion. The breeze helped to cool an otherwise sweltering evening and kept the energy levels up for both band and audience alike. This Classic Rock night is a tried and tested format that works so well both for ourselves and Sweet. I can't imagine anything that could make the evening more successful, so I'll leave you with that impression and give my good wishes to Germany's football team for the final on Sunday. All of Smokie will be taking notice of the result from our various home turfs.


Radio Nora's first Summer Party attracted an audience of over 8,000 people and took place at Strand Eckernfoerde, overlooking the sea. A great scene for a party and a sure-fire success with the assembled line-up. Earlier thunderstorms cleared in time for Smokie's slot at 10.00 p.m., and the audience were totally prepared for a party by this time. The audience were rocking, the raised VIP area was rocking and the cherry picker swung groups of three people above the stage for an aerial view of the proceedings. Summer is in full swing and there is so much going on around the auditorium, making our view from the stage one of great variety. It was as good as summer shows get, and there are plenty more to come. Next week we return to Germany and Norway for more great summer celebrations. How lucky are we?


It's a big surprise to find a venue the size of Sysco Arena just outside Haugesund in Norway. It would be like having a sports hall in my own village in The Highlands. But it was no mirage and neither were the audience who attended with one sole purpose - to have a really good time. The sun was still bright and hot as we left for the show after 10 p.m., reminding us that we are far north of The Equator in the land of the midnight sun. Not even the World Cup could detract from our show at one of Norway's finest rural venues. With so much summer to enjoy there is much to look forward to, and our travels take us a little further south next week to Eckernfoerde in Germany. And now it's back to matters of the garden, especially if the sun is likely to keep breaking through those clouds and making my corner of Scotland such a perfect holiday destination.


Where is the ideal place to spend the longest day of the year? I suggest The Sankthansfest in Skarnes, Norway. Admittedly the overnight temperature plummeted to a wintery 6 degrees, but that was after all the fun was over. The circular theatre filled to capacity in minutes after we struck up with the now very popular opener "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Nostalgia played its part, of course, but there were very many youngsters who were not born when our 1980's hits were dominating the Norwegian charts. If the trend continues in Norway there could soon be another generation of Smokie fans who are flocking to listen to a group of 70-year olds putting the energy of 20-years olds into their live performance. We are still asked the same question we were asked 10 years ago - "how much longer will Smokie last?" The answer is written in the hearts of our devoted fans. One thing is for sure, after last night's show, and that is that you do not even have to be a Smokie fan to enjoy the atmosphere created by the live show. It's all about human beings connecting with each other, and there can never be too much of that.


Most of the audience at Havnetomta were probably not from Lillesand, which is a favourite holiday destination in this part of Norway. It's as pretty as anywhere you will find in this beautiful country and it's no wonder that it is so popular. When you combine the desire to be in a lovely place with the urge to go and listen to a band that inspires you it sets the scene for a really great night, and that's exactly what we had. The evening cooled down rapidly yet the audience were as warm as you could ever wish and extremely loud in voice. After a show with such a great response I feel absolute contentment.

Tomorrow we board the train to Oslo, a journey I look forward to very much. It's a rare opportunity to take in scenery from a different perspective and a nice change from rattling around on twisty roads.


The town of Drobak, alongside Oslo Fjord, noted for its year-round Christmas Shop, was well prepared for Smokie last night. It seemed like some of the audience had even been rehearsing the songs before the event. There was no shortage of energy coming back from our keyed up crowd. The challenge was to match their enthusiasm with lots of our own and, of course, we delivered as planned. It's a great feeling when seemingly a whole town gets behind you, including the guests at a wedding who were unable to make it to the gig and yet were still singing "Alice" as we approached our hotel. With the Sun shining and boats carving their way through Norwegian waters it was an idyllic scene of summer celebration. There is more to come, but not next weekend because we have some time off to celebrate Fathers' Day in the UK. That's something I rarely got to do when the children were young. It could end up being more like Parents' Day, and that will be something to really cherish.

Guest Book gone

It is unfortunate, but I have had to remove my Guest Book as a result of abuse from unwanted visitors. Why they chose to use my website I cannot imagine, but there is no way I can reinstate the page at this time. For genuine visitors who wish to leave a comment please use the reply section in my daily blog and I will answer you. As always I shall keep you updated on all Smokie matters and anything to do with Key Note Music.


Summer was in the air in Lindas where the Westland Hotel played host to Smokie. Although the performance area is not large it was filled with an audience who had definitely done their breathing exercises before the show. Nostalgia swept through the crowd as we opened with our now well-tried version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". The hits just kept on coming, leaving the punters on a real high that proved to be a challenge as we tried to exit the stage through the auditorium at the end of the show. Sometimes people just don't want you to leave because it means the end of a great night. There will be many more of those to come but last night shall remain in my memory as one of the best nights in Norway so far. Now let's see some more of that midnight sun.


I am able to confirm, after last night, that a party in a brewery is as near a guaranteed success as is possible. The fact that we were at Maisel's Weiss Brewery and that the weather was perfect made the evening an unmitigated triumph. The temperature soared inside the building, causing us to melt on stage, but in a good way. Hot gigs can be a real pleasure and do, at least, provide some evidence that we have worked last night. The audience kept pace with us from first to last and the evening dissolved  all too quickly. Now the Sun is back in The Northern Hemisphere it's time to really enjoy those outdoor shows and make the most of them before it turns round and heads south again. 

Next stop Norway for the whole of June. I can almost smell the fresh sea air already. Let the adventures begin.


Never before have the words "Hasta la vista" been sung with such gusto as last night at The Retro Festival at Lucerne's Hotel Schweizerhof. That was no whisper, believe me. And the voices behind the response, those of our supercharged audience, continued to bellow out the words to all their favourite Smokie songs for the whole evening. They were with us every step of the way. Not only was this an extremely dynamic evening on stage, but the entertainment continued after the show when Phil Dankner invited us on to a more intimate stage for a special introduction to each band member. Phil had done his homework and knew a lot of interesting facts about everyone. He brought up my website on screen and asked me about "The Code Within" and also played part of "The Healing", which drew a very favourable response from band and audience alike. And then my baby picture came up on the screen. You've seen it if you have looked at the Gallery on this website, but somehow it had the effect of bringing out the parental instincts in those who were gathered. It was a precious moment and I felt honoured to share it with so many people. Our whole experience while in Lucerne has been a very good one and I hope we might return in a couple of years to this same festival. If the comments from after the show are anything to go by I think it's more than likely that we will be back.

"The Code Within" on YouTube

I have put a trailer on YouTube so you may sample the tracks from this newly released album.


Interpack's Trade Fair at Dusseldorf's CCD Stadthalle was a surprising event for me. I cannot recall such an enthusiastic reception by an audience at a corporate event before this occasion. The suited gentlemen and well-dressed ladies were in their best party mood. It seemed like the menu of entertainment was exactly what they needed to let go and have fun. The room was packed to bursting as Smokie hit the stage and every song was greeted with equal vigour. A busy VIP area awaited us as we left the stage and we carried on partying with the crowd once Kool and the Gang got into the groove. I shall never look at packaged goods in quite the same way again for I now know that inside everyone's hearts in the packaging industry there is a frustrated rock and roller or air guitarist. Thank you to all our audience for making the night an unparalleled success.

New dates in the diary

Check out the latest date sheet to see where Smokie will be playing in your neighbourhood. We're even taking bookings for 2015. 

I believe I can fly

Now, here's the good news. My surgeon has given me the all clear to take to the airways once more and I shall not need trains again for my European engagements. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the adventure of going from Inverness to Paris, from Paris to Stuttgart, from Stuttgart to Copenhagen and from Copenhagen to Inverness by train. It was a necessary part of the healing process and showed me an altogether more pedestrian pace of fulfilling my Smokie obligations. FlyBe, here I come!

Metzingen and Copenhagen

I missed my blog yesterday due to my current travel schedule which demands that I leave very early to catch the train to the next gig. The snail's pace is OK for a change but I really do appreciate getting there a lot faster on airplanes. Friday night found us back at Stadthalle in Metzingen, a venue we first played in 2006. The place was heaving and roasting hot. Perfect for a Smokie gig! Stuttgart was enjoying some warm summery weather during the day and an impressive thunderstorm in the evening that helped to keep our audience inside the building. This was our first show in Germany this year and it seemed like the audience were more than ready for us. I couldn't resist the temptation to seed Mike with the idea of "Metzingen Girl". It seemed too good a semantic opportunity to miss.

A late night led to an early morning and a train to Hamburg followed by a train to Copenhagen. I arrived in time to leave for the TV Show "Charlie I Parken", filmed by TV2. The stadium was packed and our live performance of six songs fairly lit up the place. There was an emergency announcement, an hour before we were due to perform, that urged us to vacate the building in a hurry. However, most people didn't hear the call and it turned out to be an error. The show will be screened next Saturday night.
After a day of relaxation in Copenhagen (finally) I start my five-train journey home from Copenhagen to Cologne to Brussels to London to Edinburgh to Inverness. It has been an adventure and I only wish I had looked out the window more often. The advantage of being on a train is that there is scenery to enjoy rather than cloud formations, but I mostly miss what is outside because my head is buried in my iPad. That's the magnetism of technology and all its entertainment. Frequent flyers know how important gadgets are to our lifestyle; they become even more important when we have extra time on our hands. I hope that my surgeon will give me clearance to get back above the clouds on May 11th, otherwise I shall be stopping over in Europe for a week. Experience is a good thing as long as it is not repeated too often.

Out of hospital

I was discharged from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on Saturday after having an emergency vitrectomy. At present there is very little vision in my right eye, but that will improve in the next week or so. I am unable to fly at the moment so I shall be taking trains, taxis and ferries for the next few weeks. At least my vision was saved.

And to think that I fired an AK-47 while having a detached retina! Well, that's my excuse for not being a very good marksman. Back to Easter preparations and lots of consolation chocolate (very important for a convalescing musician).

Finished - "The Code Within"

Just before my visit to Russia I put the finishing touches to "The Code Within". I wanted to live with it for a couple of weeks just to make sure that it all sounded good, and I am really delighted with the results. I hope you are also able to enjoy this relaxing album. It's now on iTunes and I shall also put some clips on YouTube.

In the meantime I have to go to hospital in the morning for an operation on a detached retina. Once I am out and recovered I shall be ready for some more Smokie adventures as well as a chance to celebrate Easter with my family.


An explosive day ended with a happier bang in the form of a fully attended show at Metalurg Concert Hall in Izhevsk. Having learned earlier about the town's reputation as the primary munitions manufacturer it seemed like too good an opportunity to be missed, so I took up arms for a short while and tried my aim at a harmless target. I was surprised by how light the AK-47 was and how little kick back there was on firing the gun. It was an experience to be savoured and one that I am unlikely to repeat. Being more of an archer myself I am not primarily attracted to using firearms, but I am happy to give it a go.

It took no effort to warm up our audience in the evening because they were already well primed for an evening with Smokie. The auditorium looked great under the lights of hundreds of mobile phones during "If you think you know how to love me". Our first appearance in this part of Russia brought out the emotion in many of the people present. We say farewell to Russia and I embark on a four-flight 21-hour journey home. Now I can look forward to spending Easter with the family and feeling the benefit of some more Spring-like weather in contrast to all the snow and ice I have just experienced.
I shall also upload the completed album "The Code Within" to iTunes during this next break.
Happy Easter to everyone.


"What can I do?" is like an anthem in Russia. The audience go in to a frenzy during this particular song; it has been adopted by Russians because of the mistaken reference to vodka. It's like playing "Whiskey in the jar" in Ireland. There is, of course, a natural affinity for songs in minor keys in this part of the world, so "I'll meet you at midnight" similarly goes down a storm; yet it is still "Living next door to Alice" (in a major key) that really lights up the place, as it did at Kosmos Concert Hall last night.

After a day of braving the Siberian winds it was good to get back to playing in a warm venue. I love the contrast between the two and I would never pass up an opportunity to take a walk in my locality to see what's there.
Today is another travel day after which we finish our tour tomorrow in Izhevsk. Let's see what adventures we may have before we hit the final note of the final show. Russia is truly a land of surprises.


Ogni Ufi fairly resounded to the sound of Smokie as its concrete facade sent the melodies back round the room again for a second enjoyment. It's not only for the excellent cuisine that I like this quirky gig but it also captures a special atmosphere that's rather intimate yet, at the same time, expansive. It's like being in Doctor Who's TARDIS. There are parallels with Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge" because of the appearance of the stone-like scenery. The raised stage is very rock and roll. All in all it's a deceptive gig that never fails, even though there are invariably huge technical issues that make putting on a show difficult. However, the end result is very pleasing indeed and no-one needs to know the effort that goes into putting on a show when, in fact, the show turned out very well.

Today we move on to Ekaterinburg where we can enjoy another evening of relaxation before hitting the stage tomorrow.

St Petersburg

Very many memories were stirred by my arrival in St Petersburg on the SAPSAN train from Moscow. Russia always makes me nostalgic; maybe it's because there have been so many experiences as a result of Smokie's adventures in Russia. The one thing that cannot change here is the architecture because all the buildings were built to last and are constructed with a single theme. There are no ugly modern monstrosities in St Petersburg centre, only the traditional style of buildings that ooze great beauty. Of course, as you venture outside of the city there are business retail parks with the same outlets you will find anywhere in the world.

Our venue, DK Lensoveta, cannot change. If we will still be touring in 20 years it will look identical to how it looks today. We, however, will not. Only one thing is for certain about Smokie - you know exactly what you are going to get when you come to one of our concerts. The basic construct of the show cannot alter because the set is built around the 12 hits that made the band famous in the 1970's. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year it is clear where our popularity lies. We can return to the studio on a regular basis and record more songs just to keep the act fresh but, no matter how good those songs, they will never hold up against the classic hits.
Our audience were totally receptive to our hit-packed show that was shortened due to our urgent dash to the airport to catch the midnight plane to Ufa. I feel that we left the punters very satisfied with what they heard last night. I have only one regret and that is that we were unable to share a few moments with our die-hard fans after the show due to our frantic schedule. At least we were there, and so were they. It was another great night in a country that stirs great memories.


We started our Russian Tour this year at Crocus City Hall in Moscow. I was impressed by this building when we first played there in April last year and that feeling has never left me. With a massive stage area there is room for a hundred people on horseback. Smokie fill the room with a rather different vibe, following on, as we do for the next three shows, from The Illegal Eagles. Their mellow presentation sets a calm mood before we take to the stage and take the audience through our catalogue of hits. It's a great combination and they are a fine bunch of guys to work with.

Our time in Russia is rather short, ending next Sunday after only 5 shows. But it's not the quantity but the quality that counts, and I can promise a very good evening of music that will surely rekindle the happiest of memories from our era of music creation.
Tomorrow we move on to St Petersburg and a day off with all the opportunities it entails in such a fabulous city. As always there is much to look forward to and plenty of time to make the best of our free day.


Perched in the middle of Fintona is the Equestrian Centre that was the venue for last night's Shamrock Festival. Because it is Paddy's Weekend there were a lot of green hats on show as well as other green items of clothing. It made a colourful display and was a little like looking out over fields from the stage. The festival hosted six bands, five of them from Ireland and ourselves. As you might predict there was an almighty reaction to Alice - the song that has now become an Irish theme tune. I would say it's as popular as "It's a long way to Tipperary", or "Whiskey in the Jar" on The Emerald Isle. That concludes our Irish adventure for now but we have yet to return late this year to honour the cancelled Derry gig, wind permitting. 

After a short break we resume our 2014 tour in Russia where, no doubt, there will be much to interest us at present. 

The Healing

I am very happy with the final result of this piano piece. It sits very well in "The Code Within" and is thoroughly romantic. It has inspired me to create a whole album of piano pieces once I have finished this project. There are just too many ideas in my head and only precious time within which to complete the recordings. 

As I listen to the final master I realise that it is exactly twenty years ago today that I arrived in Scotland to search for a new home. What a great twenty years it has been. My life has been an adventure, full of exciting experiences and completely fulfilling. There is much more to come yet, of course, and I shall savour the next twenty years. 

Track 8 of "The Code Within"

Since I am not entertaining Swedes today, as I would normally be at this time of year, I took the opportunity to get back in the studio and record the eighth track, titled "The Healing", of the album "The Code Within".

This album has been a most absorbing project, providing me with a blank canvas on which to create moods and melodies. The music is entirely inspirational, relying on my ability to put myself into a creative mode that takes me completely away from thoughts and distractions. That's quite a tall order when there are so many natural distractions in our lives. It is sort of akin to a trance-like state, only a little more in touch with my surroundings.
I feel that the music is not entirely my own composition because it's as if I have received it from outside of myself. I believe strongly in the existence of enlightened beings as well as feeling sure that our own physical bodies are surrounded by a light being that is our own, wiser version of ourselves. When in contact with this light being we become much more knowledgeable and strong. Hence, the melodies are generally grand and moving.
Once I have recorded the ninth track, titled "Connected", I shall upload the whole album to iTunes. Then my project is complete.
You may remember that, at the beginning, it was my idea to break the artwork into 9 pieces, each one representing one track. Later I decided that it was better to reveal the whole picture. I am happy with that decision and hope that you like the final product when it becomes available.

My Smokie Anniversary

How quickly do twenty six years pass? If you don't look closely your children grow up in secret and suddenly turn up as adults. Of course, the opposite is true for me because I am speeding towards my second childhood. At least someone in the family has grown up, even if it's not me. You are familiar with the Peter Pan Syndrome whereby artists appear not to age that much. I honestly believe that the music business can keep you young if you take the required precautions, i.e. going easy on the alcohol and taking all opportunities to sleep as and when they emerge. I can look back over the past twenty six years and say that I have many really happy memories. Music is its own reward - the awards are not necessary, although very flattering. Age is merely a number to which I attach very little significance. In two years' time I shall be sixty, and I expect that I shall be touring just as hard as when I was 50. But for now I shall be ironing my clothes because I am not on tour this weekend by a strange quirk of fate. I think I had better enjoy whatever time my schedule allows me to relax because 2014 is going to be quite busy. Happy Anniversary to me!


The GAA Centre is a very hot place indeed when it is full of people, and last night it was completely jammed. Smokie's absence from Tullamore for nine years has left the audience hungry for our music. The crowd were with us from the first note to the last; a better reaction would be hard to find. Our frequent returns to Ireland are showing us just how much heartfelt support we have amongst the Irish. Now we can look forward to a weekend off before returning once more to play The Shamrock Festival. Thank you to the Irish for always being there for us, even when the disco craze looked like it would do serious damage to the live music scene. I am happy to say that live music is still valued greater than the pre-recorded variety. As long as that is still true Smokie will be in existence.


So many memories were stirred by our appearance at Limerick University's Concert Hall last night. My enduring memory from the 1990's is that the whole gallery was opened so that some of the audience were behind us, resulting in our having to turn round from time to time to acknowledge them. In another sense last night's audience were one hundred percent behind us, even though they were in front. You see, I've only been in Ireland for a day and already the Irish logic comes into play. In clearer terms, it was a fabulous night with a wonderfully rowdy audience that gave us such a warm welcome. I have often said that an Irish audience that is on form is the best audience in the world, and this is still true. The best parties begin and end with the Irish people and they, thankfully, take their party habits with them wherever they go in the world. This small nation makes an unforgettable impression everywhere on Earth. I wonder if I shall meet any Irish people in Papua New Guinea? If not, I shall be disappointed.


Jolly Joker in Ankara is by far the biggest of the jokers in the pack. With bars delicately shaped like guitars and keyboards and a massive dance area it is bigger than the other two put together. That is why filling the venue is such a success, particularly as we only played it in May last year. Our audience were gathered close to the stage right from the first note and they were keen to join in the fun. Even the balcony spilled over with late- night revellers with a good knowledge of Smokie songs. It was a fitting crescendo to our bijou tour of Turkey. Now I am on my 18-hour journey home, having left the stage to go to the airport. I don't know of many airports in the world where you can check in at 2 a.m., so Istanbul takes the crown for that particular claim. Now I can enjoy a Sunday at home before preparing for the Irish dates next week. There's never a dull moment in my calendar.


If you fill a room with as many people as you think it holds and then add a few more you have Jolly Joker in Istanbul. Situated just a few hundred yards from Taksim Square, the scene of so much drama recently, it is a musically themed bar with shades of Hard Rock Cafe. My favourite feature is the lift that brings the band to a balcony overlooking the stage. As the door opens there is a huge response from the audience who are waiting for our performance. Only dramatic music and a cloud of smoke would make it more like a pantomime entrance by Alladin's genie. My only regret about this venue is that the roof of the stage is so low that I cannot stand properly to play the keyboard. However, that's a small detail when compared to the joy that we bring to our Turkish audience, all of whom appeared to be having an absolutely wonderful time. The mood spread from the front to the back of the venue. Outside the yellow taxis swarmed like wasps in the summertime. The streets were heaving with people and the screens monitored football matches. Istanbul is a lively place, but today we move on to the capital, Ankara, which has quite a different feel.

For my own part I shall be leaving from the stage tonight almost directly to the airport for a 04:25 flight. I shall be saving my energy for that all important last Jolly Joker of the week. No matter how exhausted I feel I shall write my blog from somewhere in the world tomorrow because it is for you, the reader, that I create a daily impression of what touring is like with Smokie. Thank you for reading.


It was out with the old and in with the new at Jolly Joker in Antalya. I remember well the first version - I still have the T-shirt. The latest incarnation has all the same decor as well as a special atmosphere that is characteristic of the venues in this chain. Because of its newness it hasn't yet captured the size of audience that we find in other Jolly Jokers but it is still early days. One thing that never fails to impress is the warmth of theTurkish welcome. Our select audience rose to the challenges Smokie put to them, i.e. to sing and dance as requested. That's not too tall an order considering that's what they expected.

The unseasonably warm weather helped to put a glow on the band's faces, causing everyone to look in good health. With two more Jolly Jokers to play on this mini tour I expect to see a lot more Jolly as well as a few Jokers.


There was little time to prepare for our show at Hala Vodova in Brno. From the airport we rushed to the hotel for a quick meal and a shower before returning to a packed venue with no chance for a soundcheck. Those are not the best conditions for gig preparation; however, the show must go on and, with the help of a very excitable crowd, it was a doozy. From the floor to the upper levels of this sports hall, that is home to winning netball teams, the audience rocked with Smokie. I often explain to people that, after travelling all day, our own energy resources are depleted. We therefore rely on the energy of our audience to drive the gig along. It's a two-way transfer that works with great success and keeps the excitement going. Last night was the third show in a row that proved to us that our popularity is as great as it ever was, thanks to our wonderful audiences around the world.

Today we travel all day to Antalya in Turkey. As luck would have it there is no gig tonight but perhaps the rest and the sea air will help to revive flagging energy levels.


Our Irish audience could not have put on a better display of singing and dancing if they'd been paid in Hollywood. You've seen it in films like "Titanic" where the door opens and there is an almighty party going on. Well, that was Vicar Street last night. It was like there was a deep need for everyone to really let go and have a good time, and that's exactly what they did.

To get that type of reaction on the second gig of the year is very precious. There was surely some magic in the air, and it's magic that I would like to see happen again soon. With many gigs to go this year I may see it again and, when I do, I shall report it once more. Onwards and upwards, for it's only February.


After a shaky start to the weekend, that involved the roof of St Columb's Hall, Derry blowing off in a gale, we were given the biggest and heartiest welcome by the people of Belfast at The Waterfront. An unexpected day off in Belfast did no harm at all and enabled me to ease back into the touring routine with no pressure at all. Not only did we play to a full house again but the date for next February is already confirmed, as well as the one for Vicar Street where we are due to play tonight. It's great to know that our popularity in Ireland has remained so constant over the years. The Irish people have always been here for us and they have, as you may know, helped to revive us with the version of "Alice" that has attracted the attention of our younger audience since 1993. I am grateful to the Irish for their loyalty as well as their party spirit. We are due to return to The Emerald Isle a few times this year and I very much look forward to every appearance.

Track 7 of "The Code Within"

I have finally managed to get back in the studio to create the seventh track of "The Code Within". It's called "Breathe" and it revolves around a 3-5 breakdown of a standard 4/4 bar running at a very slow 26 beats per minute. At this speed you can't help but relax. The 3-5 part is aimed at encouraging you to breathe in for 3 beats and out for 5. After a short while it becomes natural to do this as the heart beat prompts you to follow its rhythm. If you fall asleep during this track I wouldn't be too surprised. I often did so during my early attempts at meditation. My aim is to relax you and take you away from all the cares of the world. I shall upload the full version of "The Code Within" later this year.

There's a spider in my soup

Luke and I have been beavering away to create this jazz funk piece, Spider, that I wrote back in 1983 - and a fine job he has done too! 


A long journey to Galati via Bucharest was rewarded many times over by my experiences at the New Year's Eve Street Festival. Firstly we were presented with the key to the city of Galati by the mayor, Marius Stan. He said it was an honour to have Smokie in his city and showered us with other such compliments. After a brief sound check it was clear that it was going to be a very cold night; but nothing warms your heart more than the sight of 20,000 people waiting for your performance. As we drove to the stage Michael Bolton was nearing the end of his show. We all gathered onstage for the arrival of midnight, fireworks and champagne. Our two bands merged into one as we drank in the atmosphere. Lanterns were set free in large numbers and the air was charged with the smell of recently-spent fireworks. The atmosphere was so electric that it seemed like it would be hard to follow the celebration with another performance. But the crowd were ready for us and wanted to keep the party going regardless of the intense cold. It was the perfect way to see in 2014. Watching BBC later, it was clear that there were very many big parties last night, but ours would have to rank as one of the best. Happy New Year!


What a great night at Deakin's Costa Hall, and what a great way to finish this Smokie Australian Tour 2013. The jokes were running thick and fast and each of us found items of amusement as we took to the stage. Steve had a pair of gaffa-taped leeks next to his drums, I had fruit on my rack and Terry's "beer" turned out to be water. It didn't stop there for, as we re-entered for the electric set, there was a totem head on top of a microphone stand. All good stuff, and the audience were in on the jokes. It didn't in any way detract from the performance and the audience were quick to tell us how "awesome" they thought the gig was. Our whole tour has been a success and it's been such a pleasure to be back in Australia.

Now it's time to turn my attention to matters at home and spend some much needed time with my wife, Roz. It's been a long tour but a good one and I have every reason to feel very satisfied with the results of this last 10 weeks in Norway, Denmark, South Africa, Germany and Australia. One thing is for sure - we are very lucky to be so popular in such a varied list of countries. I think we will be busy for many years to come. Now I can really get that Christmas tree up and wait with a shovel for the first snow of winter.


It's been 22 years since we were in the beautiful city of Adelaide. I remember it well because I got married soon after the 1991 Tour. It's good to be back and it was great to hear all the comments from people after the show. There were a lot of vinyl records to sign and a large number of CDs were presented for autographs. Clearly our audience want us back as soon as we can make it. Her Majesty's Theatre fairly resounded to the sound of the audience tonight as they joined in with the singing. It's a truly uplifting experience to have a room full of people singing at the top of their voices. Now there is just one more show to go before we start the long journey home. One day the orbiting aircraft will get us there in an hour and a half but, for now, we'll have to settle for a much more leisurely pace.


As the ticket sales soared, the management at Wrestpoint Casino decided to move the venue to a bigger room which then sold out. There was nowhere bigger for Smokie to play. What a great situation to be in on our first visit to Hobart. Needless to say, our packed out room was filled with very enthusiastic people who had waited a very long time to see Smokie for the first time. It is so refreshing to hear peoples' first impressions of the band, especially as they were so full of complements. Once again they want reassurance that we will be back. I think they can count on us returning since we are the promoters and can make the final decision concerning where we play next time we are in Australia. But everyone has said they want us back, so how do we choose? As usual, there are not enough days in the year to fulfil all of our requests, but at least we can satisfy some of them. 


Not only was this Smokie's first time in Tasmania but, just to add to the excitement of our initial impressions, we were forced to vacate Princess Theatre during soundcheck as the smoke machine had set off the fire alarm. Within moments the sound of sirens echoed around the streets as the fire engines made their way to answer the false alarm. But noise was the order of the day; our first Tasmanian audience were so loud that my in-ear monitors were distorting with their shouts. There was no need to ask whether they had enjoyed the show because they made that very clear. The audience just about wanted it in writing that we will come back. How can we refuse after such a great night? I am loving my first time in Tasmania and I look forward to Hobart tomorrow. 


Last time we were in Bendigo the rain thundered on to the roof of Bendigo Stadium with such intensity that the PA was nearly drowned out. Last night was quite a different story; it was altogether more serene and laid back, yet the audience were just as animated as they were in 2010. The acoustic set showed off their singing abilities, thanks to the two cover songs at the end, and the electric set showed off their dancing abilities. All credit to the two guys who unashamedly shook their butts during "And the night stood still". There was plenty of good humour both on and off stage. Our signing session was, as usual, an absolute delight because we got to hear all the lovely comments people make about the show. We say goodbye to the mainland while we head for Tasmania. I am particularly looking forward to this trip as I have never yet been to this part of Australia. I am hoping to see some of the beautiful scenery that, so far, I have only seen in photographs and films.


We were greeted by our noisiest audience to date and told that people in Albury like to party. They are proud of their position "on the border" and they are not afraid to get out of their seats at a rock concert. Upon recounting that our last visit to Albury was 23 years ago I spoke to a girl who was there, aged 14, sitting on her father's shoulders at The Woolshed. It was good to see a mix of age groups at tonight's show. What has worked so well for us in other parts of the world is that the young generation have picked up on our music. If this happens in Australia we can be assured of many years of touring in future.


A refurbished Enmore Theatre once again welcomed us through its doors. Backstage was altered to great effect and the auditorium looked fresher and roomier. That's good when it comes to getting the audience out of their seats, and our Sydney audience were happy to oblige. The well-honed acoustic set was received with great enthusiasm and the electric set really set the audience in motion. Enmore Theatre was the setting for our final show on the 2010 Tour whereas, this time, we still have six shows left on this 2013 Tour. There's still a lot of excitement to create and fun to be had on stage, as well as quite a few miles to travel as we go from New South Wales to Victoria to Tasmania to South Australia and back to Victoria again. That's how we do Australia because it's a big country. Well, we are used to big countries and air miles. It's all part of being in Smokie.


A huge crowd greeted us as we edged our way towards the merchandise stand at the front of Civic Theatre. "It's been 23 years since our last appearance in Newcastle", I said. "No it hasn't, you were here 7 years ago at Belmont Sixteen Footers", came the reply. "Oh, I didn't realise that Belmont was so closely associated with Newcastle". Well, it is, and it's good to be back in this part of New South Wales - a mere two and a half hour drive away from Coogee Beach. The audience clearly loved what they heard and are up for more of the same as soon as we can arrange it. The story is the same everywhere we play - "please come back soon". Merrell, our radio presenter, was in raptures during the show. After announcing us she took her seat in full view of the band and clearly thoroughly enjoyed the evening. She did admit that she plays a lot of Smokie on her radio show and was really looking forward to hearing the band live. With this kind of support how can we fail to have a really good night in Newcastle? Now the sun is actually shining (no hailstorms today) so I shall make the pilgrimage to Bondi in my "Did Yer Do?" outfit (see YouTube). It could be the ideal day to pack the kite as I have all day to amuse myself, there being no gig tonight. Thank you to the wonderful people of Newcastle!


We blew in to Tamworth on a weather system that gave Sydney a good soaking and pelted it with hailstones the size of tennis balls. Rattles of thunder heralded our arrival at Tamworth Airport. This is the home of Australian Country Music; our motel features a huge gold guitar that clearly indicates the favourite musical genre for this region. It was the perfect night for our Nashville songs - the "Wild Horses" medley and "And the night stood still". Smokie are well represented in the Country stakes and our audience appreciated what we had to offer. Now we transfer back to Sydney for a couple of free nights before our next show on Tuesday. Time to be a beach bum for a while and tread the boardwalk for a few miles. How I love those free days!


Brizzy really turned on the charm today. Not only did it present us with a clear blue sky and blistering heat but also there was a heavily sold gig at QPAC. It's a magnificent venue that was greatly enhanced by our Piccadilly Circus backdrop that, incidentally, covered up the impressive 64 foot organ pipes behind the stage. The audience were ready to party right from the first note, which made our part in the evening a breeze. From burning shoulders to a red hot gig it was a day to remember. Our intention to record the gig was made a little impractical but, had we been able to take the opportunity, tonight's gig would have made a very satisfactory live album for the archives. Perhaps tomorrow we will get another opportunity once we reach Tamworth, the home of Australian Country Music.


A bit of flooding and a few thunderstorms are not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of our Toowomba audience or, for that matter, any other Australians. In a country where fire and flooding are to be expected the people stoically move around as if nothing has happened. I see people patiently waiting for traffic lights to change while dripping water from every part of the body, yet there appears to be no inconvenience caused. That helps to explain why our capacity crowd at Empire Theatre last night rose to the challenge in such a magnanimous way. Many had seen us three years ago and were recounting stories of our last visit. Lots of people agreed that "we were even better this time". It's great to get such comments back from the audience, and that is one of the pleasures of meeting them after the show. Only half of our evening is about entertaining people; the other half is about talking to them afterwards. Some entertainers miss this vital contact with their audience and, I have to say, they are missing out on a veritable pleasure. Tonight we can look forward to another big crowd at QPAC in Brisbane.


Just recently there was a fire at Brolga Theatre that caused an evacuation of the building. There was still some evidence remaining but, otherwise, it was business as usual. Our announcer informed the audience that "there are no fires tonight, but we do have Smokie". This set the tone for what was due to be a great night in Maryborough. There was dancing soon into the acoustic set, and that's something we haven't seen anywhere else in Australia. The audience were in a good mood and they were determined to make this a special night. The compliments ran thick and fast after the show and we were made to promise that we will return. That's not a hard promise to keep because I think we will definitely be back in three years.


We're getting some good hearty laughs on this tour. That's not to say that we are specially playing for laughs yet comments like "Australia, I would die for you - except during the Ashes Cricket Test Match" are going down extremely well. The news that Mick had been issued with a speeding ticket and had then been breathalysed also drew something other than sympathy. The truth is that our audience at The Pilbeam Theatre arrived in a state of high spirits and we just gave them a little shove over the edge. Rockhampton on a Sunday night turned out to be an awesome place to play. I wondered how well they had recovered after the enormous flooding that occurred after our last appearance in 2010; it seems that Australians take fire and flood in their stride; it's part of life over here, as are Smokie. We have really marked our place in the history of Australian popular music and it is making touring very pleasurable. Now we can enjoy a day off in Maryborough. For me that means doing some more laundry and catching up with some paperwork, but I expect I shall also walk several miles as I explore parts of Maryborough that I haven't yet seen.


They came in large numbers, the people from the mining town of Mackay. They knew all the words to the hit songs and they were not shy in joining in, standing up, singing and clapping. Their combined energy drove the band like a nuclear powerplant. A good night? Oh, yes, and once again the people from Townsville said "Why didn't you play in our town?". Perhaps we need to take that request seriously since we had already heard it said in Cairns. Our audience are willing to drive long distances to hear us; they tell us they would have driven twice as far to see Smokie. We are the lucky ones. With thirteen shows to go we are surely on a roll here in Australia. Rockhampton, we are coming to rock you.


The temperature was tropical and the audience were just as hot. Something happened to my keyboards somewhere between Perth and Cairns and I learnt, just an hour before the show, that they weren't responding. Finding an alternative at short notice was a challenge, but it happened and the show proceeded with enormous backing from our enthusiastic audience. They were up on their feet early in the show - a sight that is rare here in Australia since it is generally discouraged in the theatres in case peoples' views are blocked by those who wish to dance. Cairns really rocked, and the answer to their question: "Will you come back?", is an unqualified "Yes". See you next time in this beautiful location.


To play a gig on Melbourne Cup Day is to take a huge chance. The country literally comes to a standstill and everyone has either a television or radio close to them. I was drawn into the excitement that accompanies this world-renowned horse race and fashion parade. I didn't pick a winner and neither did most people (otherwise the bookies would be complaining) but I thoroughly enjoyed the process of checking out the horses and making my decision. Meanwhile, a few hundred people made the decision to come to Queens Park Theatre in Geraldton to continue their celebration with Smokie. During discussions with the audience after the show I discovered that there are some ardent fans living in this part of the world. Several vinyl albums were offered for signing, and it's a pleasure to see these reminders of our early days once more. Loyal fans deserve our attention and it was good to be able to spend some time chatting with them after the show. Our visit to Geraldton may not have drawn the biggest crowd (as mentioned in the beginning of this blog) but it did draw people of great sincerity and integrity. A return to this part of Australia is vital so we may keep in touch with the fans who will undoubtedly buy a ticket as soon as they know that Smokie are in town. Let's party again some time in the future, but let's rest on Melbourne Cup Day.


Before we even struck the first note at The Regal Theatre there was a loud cheer from the audience. They were happy to see us back and ready to rock. Our acoustic set brought out the singing, especially when we launched into "I don't wanna talk about it"; then the crowd continued to sing all the way through "Will you still love me tomorrow?". Their reaction suggested that they were going to be even more vocal once we cranked up the volume for the electric set. Again they cheered as we struck up with "Boulevard of broken dreams" and continued in the same vein for the rest of the show. Playing in Perth was a bit like coming home; the venue is so familiar to us and the audience give us a huge welcome. It was possibly the best reaction of the tour so far, and that's saying a lot because we have had a great welcome at all of the four shows to date. Tomorrow we move on to Geraldton on Melbourne Cup day. My two horses are Foreteller and Voleuse de Coeurs. I shall be keenly watching at mid-day, wherever I happen to be at the time. Good luck to all those who have placed a bet. The whole of Australia will be partying and some of you will also be continuing the celebration with Smokie at Queens Park Theatre. We will see you there.


The prize for the noisiest crowd to date goes to our audience at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre. When we reached the "Hasta la vista" part of Mexican Girl they came back at us like a football crowd after their team has scored a goal. The climax of the show was magnificent and left all of us feeling thoroughly elated. It was one of those nights that you don't want to end. Thank you to our wonderful supporters for joining in the spirit of a Smokie gig and making this day special. Memories like this are very precious and they bind us all together so completely that I can really feel that special bond that connects all human beings. If you only ever experience it once in your life you will be lucky, but to have that chance many times a year is beyond lucky. Music is the drug - it's absolutely addictive and has no unpleasant side effects. I thoroughly recommend it. 


The scribblings on the wall at Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre chart our many appearances at this great venue - 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013. It's becoming a habit, I believe. Matching our own dedication is that of the audience that turned up in large numbers to witness the latest chapter in the Smokie story. They quietly enjoyed the first set then noisily rose to the challenge of rocking with Smokie. In common with the audience in Albany their voices belied the number of people who were in the room. Australians are not shy in sharing their elation. Our second night was a huge success. I am eager to see how things progress from here. Tomorrow we move on to another of our favourite destinations - Mandurah. As we approach the weekend our schedule eases off a bit. Well, it has been a very hectic time of late, so a bit of respite will not go amiss.


That's the way to start an Ozzie Tour - with a packed house and a noisy crowd. Our first time in Albany was a great success. The Entertainment Centre, an interesting piece of architecture itself, was the venue for a great night of celebration in an intimate environment. Inside it was very hot indeed. I was happy to find a laundry room after the show where I could spin dry my clothes so they are not soggy tomorrow night. The hottest nights are some of the best. We couldn't have been given a bigger welcome than we had in Albany, and some of those same people will be at tomorrow night's show. There could be a slight change in material tomorrow so I can say that those people who have already seen us will hear a variation in the programme. It's always good to keep the audience keen and fresh. I hope we may experience a similar reaction in Bunbury as in Albany. Our audience have a lot to live up to. 


Our tour came to a glorious end at Stadthalle in Bremerhaven. It was hugs all round as we bade our farewells to bands, technicians, production agents, catering staff, drivers and all. The final show put a finishing shine on what has been a very successful tour. The audience showed us an enormous welcome as we took to the stage. It has been a pleasure to be part of such a well planned enterprise and also to play a run of shows in Germany, where we haven't played more than a couple of shows at a time for a few years. The Smokie legend is alive and kicking in Germany and we could easily spend half our year there just fulfilling the demand. Now I take a quick break at Manchester Airport before heading off to Sydney via Abu Dhabi in the morning. A bit of downtime won't go amiss as it was impossible to sleep during our very short time at the hotel last night before leaving at 2.00 a.m. At least I shall be able to watch the coming storm from the comfort of my hotel room and just relax for a bit. The next few days will test everyone's resolve.


Friday night always heralds in the traffic jams, or "stau", as they call it in Germany. Sitting in heavy traffic, it was clear that we would have only a very short time once we reached Aurich; yet most of the gear was in place before we arrived. A short sound check was enough to prepare us for a fabulous night at Sparkassen Arena. The audience were warm, the venue was warm and the stage was like a freshly-heated oven. A good recipe, then, for getting everyone in the right mood. As we baked on stage the crowd melted in the auditorium. The hot gigs are some of the best ones. Getting warmed up is what it's all about, and it was a memorably warm night. There is just one more show to go before we have to bid farewell to all those entertainers who have become part of our lives for the last ten days. It's been a proper roadshow with all the laughs and cheeriness that goes with spending all day with old friends. Next we cut loose and do it all on our own, as usual. It will be a while before we share the stage with others again. I have to say it's been a great pleasure and, next time the offer comes our way, it's a "yes" from me.


Pulling up outside Stadthalle in Chemnitz brought back memories of shows we played here many years ago. It's been too long since our last appearance in this city and we were made very welcome indeed by the capacity crowd. Our show has matured to the point that it runs like clockwork and everyone is happy with the results. Tomorrow's journey to Aurich will be even longer than today's, so it is a 6.30 a.m. start for me. Life on the road is, after all, mostly about travel; and then we get to the good bit!


It was show number 6 tonight at Osnabruck Halle and Smokie were still squeezing more out of our performance. We are gearing up for next week's Australian Tour, rehearsing during the afternoons for the acoustic set. This 35-minute Oldie Show helps us to keep the playing tight and the mood upbeat. It's been a great way to ease into a longer set on a longer tour. Now we can look forward to some long drives and packed houses at the weekend. The extra hour in bed on Saturday night will mean little to us as we will be flying at 6.00 a.m. on our way back to the UK for 24 hours. It's all go in this business - at least until December 2nd.


It was an unseasonably warm 21 degrees today and it made Emslandhallen rather hot in the evening. However, our seated audience were more than happy to stand up and join in with the sweating. I felt fresh from my day off in Bremen, having taken in the sights of the city several times yesterday. Tonight marked the first show in a run of five that will see us doing some fairly lengthy journeys towards the back end of the week. Every opportunity to rest needs to be taken, especially as we have a tough schedule once we arrive in Australia next Tuesday night. I take one day at a time and prepare for whatever touring has to throw at me. It's all about survival; and Smokie know a lot about survival.


On the basis that each show has been better than the previous one, this one at Stadeum Kultur und Tagungszentrum was the best so far. The venue was smaller, charming and more intimate. Our audience reacted together as they rose to their feet for "Don't play your rock and roll to me". The connection between band and crowd was almost tangible. It's been a pleasure to be part of a tour that takes in some varied cities, some of which we haven't seen for a long time. Now we have the luxury of a day off (office work and laundry day) so I may catch up with a few important matters outside of touring. A small breather is rather necessary because, after today, there will be little chance to catch my breath until 3rd November. I may even try to start a new video for YouTube. It would be interesting to make it while on the road. Let's see what arises once the sun comes up.


Lokhalle in Gottingen is a big venue with plenty of natural reverb. A soundcheck in such a venue tells us very little because it needs people - lots of people to absorb the reflected sound. And that is exactly what we got - lots of people with their party moods. Our 35-minute set flashed by in an instant and suddenly we were taking our bow at the end of the show. It's clear that everyone wanted more, but the onstage timings during this mini German tour are crucial. The show runs like clockwork now because everyone knows exactly what they have to do. This is one well-oiled machine that churns out hits like hot cakes from a bakery. As with all successful formulae there is talk of the next tour already. Let's stick to the formula and do it all again. I'm happy to do that.


What did I say about weekend crowds? Well, there was no disappointment at all at Stadthalle where the audience were on top form. A longer show gave us the opportunity to really build a set that reached a big climax. The crowd were with us every step of the way. After two shows the sound settings are just right and that inspires confidence for the next 7 shows. All we have to do is go onstage and enjoy ourselves. That works for me!


I was reminded very much of the UK Arena Tour as we took to the stage tonight at Halle 39. Our 35-minute set certainly packs a punch and ends an evening of hits served up by some of the best in the business. It's a winning formula and it looks like being a successful 9-day tour. It's always a pleasure to work with other bands; we spend so much of our year on our own in diverse countries. In Germany the formula is different and it works very well. It's been a strong start to the tour with a Thursday night audience who gave their all. If this is the standard then I can't wait to see what happens at the weekend. Whatever the outcome, I very much look forward to all the rest of the shows. 

Carnival City - 2nd night

Our South African Tour deserved a big finish, and that is exactly what it received. It was destined to be a party night because, win or lose, the South African people had the rugby match against New Zealand on which to focus. The atmosphere was overwhelming around Carnival City. Even the projector screens in the venue showed the game during our soundcheck so that not a moment was lost. I felt as if I was South African for a day. Our audience have made us feel so welcome that it would be hard to get a better response.

With all its dramas this mini tour has been one to remember. From exhaustion to elation on a daily basis to exploring nature and enjoying some chill time, we have had the best that this beautiful country has to offer.
It's always the people who make a tour special, and South Africans have a knack of ramping up the hospitality to the maximum while showing that they are having a really good time. Our final show at Carnival City's Big Top Arena could not have gone better. The talk after the show at the media event was that it was over too soon and they wanted Smokie back as soon as possible. I shall accept their invitation - that is, as long as its OK with our promoter, Frans Swart. 
We now have a couple of days to rest before heading home and preparing for Germany and Australia. There are many phone interviews to do for the Ozzie tour, so it will be a busy few days that will mostly be spent preparing for the next chapter in Smokie's touring diary. But first we must say a proper farewell to our hosts over dinner tomorrow night. There may well be tears, but we will return.

Carnival City - 1st night

It just feels like coming home. Nothing changes around here. Our poster graces the wall of the green room, advertising the Smokie that comprised of Alan Barton, Alan Silson, Terry Uttley, Steve Pinnell and myself. We are now celebrating our 20th anniversary of our first visit to this wonderful country. The show we played tonight varies from the one we played in 2011 in subtle ways that appear to have gained us an even more ecstatic reaction from the audience. Our promoter, Frans Swart, said in his speech that this is the best he has ever seen the band. Something magical happened tonight that elevated the show beyond its usual horizon. Have we peaked too early? Tomorrow is the last night of the tour and it is usual to pull something extra out of the bag on such an occasion. My hope is that the show is at least as good as it was tonight. Only time will tell, and I shall be telling you exactly how it plays out. It's been an exciting tour with many stories to tell. I look forward to the last chapter.

Addo Elephant Back Safari Park

I've never ridden an elephant before, so today was a valuable opportunity not to be missed. Not only did I ride one, but I fed the animal afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Regardless of their huge size they are big softies really (you only have to look at those long eyelashes) and have a natural affinity for human contact. One thing that impressed me is the way that they either avoid the brambles or push them back with their ears so we don't get spiked as we ride through the forest. They have very coarse hairs that are very prickly against my legs, causing a little discomfort during the ride. Also it's important not to sit too far back as their spine protrudes and feels like a broken bedspring. All in all they are wonderful creatures. A great day, a great experience and a great height from which to view the beautiful countryside.

Cape Town and Port Elizabeth

Phew, I can finally sit down and write a blog. Appearing in Cape Town while the Springboks played Australia was always a risky venture, yet it paid off handsomely and the auditorium at Grand West Casino looked very good from the stage. The audience were in high spirits after The Springbok's decisive victory, so it was easy to "push them over the edge" and into celebratory spirits. Sport is a big priority in this country and, as we have discovered, so are Smokie.

We moved onwards to South Africa's "windy city", Port Elizabeth, to play a matinee show yesterday. The pressure was on, after arriving on the morning flight, to get the show together on time. With no time to spare we hit the stage at 15:10 and encouraged the crowd out of their sleepy Sunday afternoon mood to get rocking like it was Saturday night. The formula worked and brought out the best in the audience.
It's been a hectic 4 days and now we take a break, during which time I shall be beachcombing and visiting the Addo Elephant Park. Spring in South Africa can bring some fairly good weather and today the mercury will hit 21 degrees. Not sunbathing weather but very pleasant for a seaside stroll.

Potchefstroom and Windhoek

Since arriving in South Africa my feet have barely touched the ground - hence the late blogging. After barely an hour of sleep in Trondheim I started my 24-hour journey to South Africa via Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi. Due to a computer failure at Trondheim Airport all luggage was manually tagged all the way to our final destination. Unfortunately, and quite predictably, not all luggage arrived in South Africa and some is still missing and unaccounted for.

I was allowed a couple of hours in the hotel room on Wednesday morning before starting the day's promotion. Once the promotion was over the band and crew were taken to "Tribes", one of South Africa's finest restaurants, to enjoy a welcome dinner from our promoter, Frans Swart of Lefra Music Productions.
On the morning of The Aardklop Festival we changed hotels in order to be in place for the early flight on Friday morning. However, whilst loading and unloading the vehicle, Mike's carry-on bag was stolen (not an unusual event here in South Africa) and he lost his passport in the process. More about this later.
We have played The Aardklop Festival in Potchefstroom before, but this time the attendance figures were much higher. A large crowd gathered before we even had a chance to sound check and were thus treated to listening to Smokie rehearse for the first show of the tour. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" had been requested so we dusted off the cobwebs and got playing it again. I have to say it goes down very well here.
Regardless of the fact that our own bass guitar, rhythm guitar and effects pedals were missing the show was received with great enthusiasm. 
The drive back to the airport again left us with little time to see a bed and we were on the early flight to Windhoek, apart from Mike who had to go to Pretoria to get an emergency passport. Our own arrival in Namibia was marred by the fact that the visas hadn't been properly authorised and we were forced to sit in the airport for three and a half hours while the details were settled. Oddly enough the staff knew us by name and welcomed us to the country, but they couldn't let us in.
Finally we did arrive and had no chance to play with the sound before going onstage. When we did hit the stage there was a crowd of 8,000 people waiting for us in Halge Geingob National Rugby Stadium, and their voices sounded massive as they joined in with the singing. After several power failures and the need to leave the stage we returned to a modified power set-up that didn't fail and played a short set of ballads before launching into the rocky stuff. The compliments came thick and fast after the show. People had waited a long time to see Smokie's return to Namibia. Hopefully they won't have to wait so long for our next appearance.
Another short night preceded our morning flight to Cape Town where we are at the moment, having done another radio interview and a book signing on our way to the hotel.
It's a frantic pace at this end of the tour, but it quietens down tomorrow after the gig in Port Elizabeth. I'm off for an afternoon snooze before sound check.


I actually forgot this site's 6th birthday, which was on Friday. The result was that I forgot to renew and ended up having to put in a late subscription in order to keep it online. 

All's well that ends well and here I am again with another year's subscription to my host, Mr Site. I think I can promise an action-packed year with the variety that only touring in 19 countries can provide.
The Autumn has started on a very high note with an audience who were determined to have a great party whatever the outcome. The sound of the crowd as Smokie hit the stage at Vendia Hallen in Hjorring was close to deafening. It's a fact that sometimes the show is carried by the energy that emanates from the audience. Last night was one of those nights and it was a great start to this leg of the tour. 
Leaving home in September and returning on October can see us going through a variety of time zones and weather changes. From Trondheim at 11 degrees to Abu Dhabi at 39 degrees Celsius, there is little chance to properly acclimatise to my surroundings. This tour takes in Denmark, Norway and South Africa, after which there is a one-week break before touring Germany and Australia.
Smokie are as busy as we have ever been, and I feel very lucky that this is still true after so many years. Long may it continue.


Beautiful spa hotel, beautiful country, beautiful weather, beautiful location and beautiful people. What more can I say to give the impression of last night's concert at Hauptplatz in Furstenfeld? Sometimes everything runs according to plan and last night was one of those nights. There were no Gremlins in the gear, the heavens didn't open and there were no delays. In the textbook of touring that is an unusual type of day and one to mark in the diary. It is particularly good because it was the last show before Smokie's summer break. I feel like we have had so much summer already that it really doesn't matter if it rains now (as I am sure it may do in The Highlands). I wish everyone who has bought a ticket to see Smokie this year a happy holiday, wherever they may be, and I shall look forward to seeing you again and partying with you in the near future.


I spent the whole morning walking up and down hills in the mining town of Schneeberg, with its impressive buildings. It was impossible to get lost as I was either on one of the hills or in the valley. Everything in Schneeberg is visible if you view it from the highest point. A warm and sultry day threatened thunderstorms but cleared for the evening show. The venue was all under cover yet open at the sides - a good bit of planning if you can't be sure about August weather. It was good to catch up with T Rex again and have a bit of a natter before going onstage. It has been a while since we were this far east in Germany, but we will be back again in October just before we embark on the Australian tour. 

The audience were more than ready for what we had to offer at the Silberstrom Oldie Party. It seems that they were well warmed up before we hit the stage and they were well prepared to sing themselves hoarse. That's a good thing really because you can't really carry off the Smokie vocals unless your voice is a bit on the gravelly side. 
We have one more show to perform (our 44th this year) before taking a much needed break for the summer/autumn before starting all over again and doing another 36 shows before Christmas. Did I mention Christmas? Well, I had better start thinking about that soon because otherwise it will catch me unawares and suddenly appear when I am most busy.


I have one motto: "be seen and be remembered". Two things really do that for me at the moment - my odd boots and my very colourful shirt. Standing at the back of the stage I have to do something special if I wish to remind the audience that there are 5 people onstage, and this is my way of doing it. I have been asked many times about the story behind my two differently coloured boots and now there is some curiosity about the new shirt. It's good to occasionally make changes in the wardrobe department.

Bright clothes complement bright days, and that's exactly what we have had over the weekend. Perfect weather created perfect conditions for our shows in Varberg and Malmo and the result was a weekend that nobody will forget. We were made very welcome at the Folk Park by the several thousand people who were there. The audience moved as one as we sped through our hit catalogue. A seventy-five minute show is very punchy indeed and leaves no time for resting or taking it easy. Luckily the crowd still had plenty of energy regardless of the steamy temperature in the performance area. What a great weekend, and now the planning starts for next year's SSS tour which is due to take in 4 cities rather than just two. It's good to know that it has been totally successful and that we will be back in Sweden again next summer. Just keep an eye on those tour dates.


Today I had my first opportunity to take a look around Varberg. Each time Smokie have played at Societen we have bussed in from Gothenburg, so it was good to be able to get properly acquainted with the city, having arrived here last night. It's another beach story and Varberg has miles of rocky and sandy beaches to attract the holidaymakers as they spend their last two weeks in the sun before the children return to school. I committed a slight faux pas as I wandered on to a female nudist beach in the afternoon, having not seen any signs to indicate the nature of the area. Being unaccustomed to nudist beaches (I don't think we have any in Scotland) I was a little surprised at the reaction I got from one of the bathers. However, I found the seaside walk to be all I needed to recharge my Estonian/Ukrainian/Scottish suntan and so I carried on walking for a couple of miles until I ran out of walkways. 

The gig at Societen was always going to be a good one after such a hot day. We played to our biggest crowd to date at this venue, following Slade and Sweet. It's a show full of hits with this line-up and we kept the crowd keen right until the last note. Tomorrow we move on to Malmo where we will put on the same show. It's good to know that we have a winning combination and I look forward to doing it all again.


It was a all sun, sea and surf in Odessa where Smokie made an appearance at a private beach party. Originally the party was in celebration of a birthday but that later became a corporate bash with the Eastern Bloc's favourite band headlining. We are getting more of these offers now than ever before and it is a great pleasure to be at the top of the list. It's not exactly a hard day when I can comb the beach and enjoy the sun from early morning and then perform a 60-minute show at 10.00 p.m. after a thoroughly relaxing time. The hard bit is the 17-hour journey to get home. But now I am here I have a weekend off. Next stop is Sweden on Thursday. I hope all our fans are enjoying this wonderful warm weather and having a chance to be outdoors. The health benefits will really show when we return to winter, so make the most of those sun's rays.

Beach Party

For the first time I crossed the border into Russia from Estonia and headed for St Petersburg. I had little information about the gig but soon found out that the company Rosan, who make motorised buggies, were celebrating their 20th anniversary and were throwing a party for all their employees on Fox Nose Beach. The sand was lavishly decorated with awnings, drapes, marquees and furniture (all covered in white fabric). A sizeable stage was waiting for Smokie's arrival, as were the expectant guests. I imagine they would have had an afternoon of corporate-type events, maybe punctuated by occasional jaunts on the beach in the above mentioned three-wheeler buggies. I would have been happy to do a little of that myself - I think it would be a lot of fun. As we took to the stage ten cheerleaders lined the dance floor and acted as motivators for the crowd who were, no doubt, a little full of food and drink. Smokie's one-hour set took the crowd through a rapid-fire collection of hits that enticed even the most reluctant of party-goers to join in the dancing. The view was magnificent and the audience and organisers were delighted. It all ended on a happy note, as you might expect. There will be more corporate fun on Thursday when we will be in Odessa for a birthday celebration and another one of those punchy one-hour sets.


Narva is as far east as I have ever been in Estonia. In fact, it's as far east as anyone can go because it is very close to the Russian border that I shall cross today to reach St Petersburg. Narva Castle creates an impressive backdrop for a gig, and that is further enhanced by the 1,000 shiny motorbikes that were parked near to the stage. There was a strong 'rock" theme at the castle last night. Smokie took to the stage as the light faded and we were able to enjoy the full effect of the lights. We were warned to be aware of the four fire cannons that had been used frequently for the act that preceded us; in fact they were never used during our set and, perhaps, that was for the best as the rain started to fall quite heavily around half way through our show. The audience gave us a rousing reception and remained excitable for the whole show. Our two-day summer appearance in Estonia has been a huge success and may well pave the way for more Eastern European summer shows in future. It makes a change from our usual routine of being mostly in Scandinavia at this time of year and indicates that there are many alternative places where Smokie are welcome. 

Lohusalu Port

How important is it to have all your clothes and equipment in order to perform a successful concert? It seems like it's not very important after all. As I took to the stage last night in Lohusalu I was unaware that the keyboard had suffered a recent breakdown and was refusing to send messages to the unit that is responsible for all my sounds. This could be catastrophic except for the fact that the show has to continue one way or another. If I can only find two sounds that work for the whole show then that is what I have to do. It means looking at the show in a different way and busking my way through the songs. That's not a problem because I am a natural busker. In fact it gives me a refreshing new approach to these Smokie songs and a chance to find out what happens to me when I am outside of my comfort zone. I have to say that I really enjoyed it; and it is just as well because I may have to do it all over again tonight in Narva since we are using the same equipment. Usually these type of technical problems arise as a result of using generators, as we often do at outdoor summer shows. 

But it's the audience who really make these shows so enjoyable. They do not need to know if everything is not quite OK on stage, and it's our job to make things go smoothly even if we know that there are some hitches. As I looked out over the big crowd that had assembled at Lohusalu Port I was inspired to make last night the best possible - and it paid off because the audience were delighted.
Expect the unexpected in this business and you will not be disappointed. Now I just need to prove the point at Narva Castle. At least I have all my clothes this week!