Brian Bayley

Review: SAILOR in Aylesbury (UK) 14 November 2001:

For all UK SAILOR fans, it was the music event of the year. They came from all over the country to see their heroes. The sleepy little town of Aylesbury hadn't witnessed such crowds for hours. The venue was Friars Club, that legendary Kaiserkeller/Cavern of the south which had once been graced by such bands as Genesis, The Jam et al. The trouble was that it had been demolished years before and replaced by Aylesbury Civic Centre and nobody had told Steve Harley who in turn misinformed SAILOR. Nevertheless the new Shea Stadium was an intimate venue which comfortably seated a total of 650 riotous middle aged rock fan hasbeens together with a substantial youthful quorum and a great show was anticpated by all.
From the start the impression was given that Steve Harley was in a hurry and had clearly told our heroes that they only had so long to play what was I suspect a fast and short set. They were told to come on stage at 19.50 whereas the tickets stated that the show commenced at 20.00. There were also frequent references by SAILOR that they had to be quick.
The show kicked off with A Glass of Champagne and the capacity crowd started swinging. The boys continued to play with great humour. The sound was excellently mixed with the new nickelodeon in great form. With harmonies abound, the boys cruised through their show in forty minutes and finished with with the now usual self effacing encore which had the crowd in raptures. The only disappointment for me was that they didn't play The Secretary. Grant told me later that this was because it had never been a hit in the UK. Every SAILOR fan there would have wanted to hear it though and I wish they had played it.
Steve Harley has always had a reputaion for being difficult to work with and judging from his set he clearly hasn't changed. He takes himself very seriously and has an ego to die for. The music however was excellent and he has equipped himself with a first class band who played a great set for close on two hours.
It was SAILOR who had the last word. They had left notices around the foyer stating that they would be available to meet all of their fans in the 'Grapes' pub next door after Steve Harley had finished. Being aware that pubs in the UK close at 23.00, and Steve Harley looked likely to be playing until about 23.30, many of the SAILOR fans left the arena before the encore and left him playing to at least 100 empty seats! By this time the pub had closed and our boys had come back into the foyer to meet their faithful. Except of course Rob, who stayed in the pub cutting a rather lonesome figure to redirect any wayward flock. He soon caught up with the rest and was mingling effortlessly with the fans.
SAILOR were obviously pleased with the reception they received as Phil told me that they would consider playing here again next year as the headline band. He also said that he had heard that 70% of the crowd had come to specifically see SAILOR. Personally I'm not so sure of the accuracy of that figure because there were many Harley fans there. SAILOR were very well represented and I think with the right publicity and perhaps another oldie band in support, we could be looking at another sell out with all the crowd staying in the arena until the end this time.
I have been a SAILOR fan since their first album and saw them live in 1974 in Liverpool. I only found out they were still going in January of this year so it was a great thrill for me to go and meet them. I will definitely be there next year.
Copyright by Brian Bayley, 16 November 2001

Last updated: 19 December 2001




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