Grimethorpe - Part II: A humourous look at their trip down under:
Andy Snell – one of Grimethorpe bands quieter members, recalls
the bands historic trip to the Southern Hemisphere and a series
of concerts the like the banding world in Australia and New Zealand
will never forget. They played like angels and behaved like devils
– but it was a trip they will never forget – if only some of them
could actually remember anything of what went on.
read Part I
Leaving Sydney on flight QF43 (and with some extra
tobacco products for Mrs. Hopes) we settled down for the 3-hour
flight to Auckland. We were leaving behind temperatures of 42 degrees
and packed houses to visit a country where we had never visited.
Apparently we were the first English band to visit New Zealand in
living memory. As we came in to land the pilot told us to adjust
our watches - back ten years!
We were staying at the 5 star Sky City hotel, built
I the shadow of the Sky Tower - the tallest building in the southern
hemisphere. After a brief look around the nightlife of Auckland
we settled into our beds for the night.
The next morning saw a first, even for Grimethorpe.
Conductor Garry Cutt, Eb Bass Paul Davies and yours truly walked
to the next door TVNZ studios to be interviewed LIVE on NZ breakfast
TV. Having met the kiwi version of Eamonn Holmes and Penny Smith
the red light went on ....... and we went to pieces! Never in the
history of television have you heard more bland or uninteresting
The rest of the morning involved a small group being
driven round to various scenic locations in Auckland for a number
of radio and TV. interviews. Very glamorous, but when you’re playing
Death or Glory for the 19th time - you’ll gladly take Death every
time! After an afternoon sunbathing by the rooftop pool at the hotel
we prepared for the first N.Z. concert.
Sadly, this was a hastily arranged extra concert in
Auckland - we were due to return at the end of the trip, and so
it was less than full. Still, the audience of over 1000 seemed to
enjoy it, and a number seemed intent to buy us copious amounts of
beer afterwards. Well, it’d be rude not too, wouldn’t it!
As you will be aware, brass banding is thirsty work
and it has been known for those players who cross the Pennines to
stop for a pint at The Dog and Partridge on Woodhead pass. As we
arrived in Christchurch the next day, we left the terminal building
at the airport and heard “Hello Garry, would you like a pint?” Yes,
it was the landlady from the Dog and Partridge! Small world?
We had a few free hours to look around Christchurch.
‘Papa Smurf’ Wadsworth and Bb Bass Roy Batty stopped to listen to
‘The Wizard’, a famous local celebrity. The Wizard is a local nutter
who dresses in a wizard’s costume and talks crap in the centre of
Christchurch (and this makes him famous - over here if you dress
strangely and talk rubbish they let you adjudicate)
After a bit more PR work we played to a large audience
in Christchurch Town Hall, before being taken to a local bar by
the local top section band. It later emerged that this bar was owned
by a member of the band - hospitality or profiteering?! Once the
bandsman’s bar closed we found the one late night bar in Christchurch
- still serving food at 2 a.m. and still serving beer at 3. We tried
to take it easy that night, as we had a long day tomorrow, but failed
The next day involved a seven-hour bus journey followed
by a concert, just like being at home. We travelled almost as far
south as you can go on the south island, Dunedin - next stop Antarctica.
We played a concert in Dunedin Town Hall before another invite took
us to a couple of bars in the town before ending up at The Mission,
a night club converted from a church. We ‘threw some shapes’ ‘til
about 3 a.m. with the best dancing of the night coming from Paul
Davies, what a mover!
The next day was the first free one since the day
off at the start of the trip in Sydney. By now we were getting a
bit weary of tourist things and most of us decided to do something
normal for the day. Seven band members visited Otago Golf Club -
the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. The competition was fierce,
but eventually won by Garry ‘el bandito’ Cutt, who went round the
championship course in 97. The other main highlight of the day (other
than the evening’s entertainment of course) was a football match
between the Fielding All Stars and the Timmins Tigers. It was a
tight, defensive match in which both teams cancelled each other
out to a great extent. Both sides expressed themselves and ultimately
the all stars ran out winners 15-11!
The next day involved a flight from Dunedin to Wellington.
We flew from the field they call Dunedin Airport on a plane that
I’m sure was also crop-dusting en route to Wellington. Much to Cliff’s
disappointment Dunedin has no Duty Free shop.
On arrival in Wellington we checked in to the Park
Royal hotel and found that there was a one-day international cricket
match taking place down the road. Flushed with sporting prowess
from his victory in Dunedin, Nigel Fielding accompanied Jim Fletcher
and myself to the Westpactrust stadium to see New Zealand get stuffed
by Sri Lanka. After the concert we returned (briefly) to the hotel
to find we were sharing it with the vanquished Kiwi side. Out of
sympathy the hotel bar was shut and we gad to go elsewhere. We found
an Irish bar, with the loudest live band any of us had ever heard
and we left about 1 a.m. with ears bleeding to find a quieter place
to fall into unconsciousness.
As we were performing two concerts in Wellington we
had a free day the next day and Wellington was not a bad place to
spend it. We initially sat in the foyer and watched the unhappy
NZ cricketers leaving. Then spent the rest of the day looking around
the BT global challenge yachts, taking the tram up to the top of
the mountain overlooking the city and generally being tourists again.
The next day we travelled to Palmerston North. What
can I say about Palmerston?
Err..... Err..... We did a concert.
After the concert we met the lovely Patsy Davies,
a member of the local Feilding Band. Although spelt differently,
Nigel wanted to see the town named after him and so, about 1 a.m.
we took a drive out to Feilding and even visited their bandroom.
Thanks Pats, you made Nigel’s tour! Jim Fletcher wanted to come
as well but he fell asleep after about 30 seconds and didn’t see
Next stop - Napier, an Art Deco town rebuilt after
an earthquake in the 1930s. After a couple of rounds of crazy golf
(do we know how to live?) won by Jonathan ‘hole in one’ Beatty we
relaxed with a swim in the pool before the evening concert in the
Municipal Theatre. After the concert we were invited to the RSA
club. This sounded good, a private members club, cheap beer and
food laid on. We found out when we got there that RSA is Returned
Servicemen’s Association - the kiwi equivalent of the British Legion,
so we finished the day drinking Lager at 80p a pint and playing
snooker and darts. What a day of exciting pastimes - snooker, darts
and crazy golf!
We spent the next day on the coach back to Auckland
- 7 hours. We played another concert and then, back at Sky City,
hit the casino. We started by drinking in the casino bar. Sadly
that shut at 4 a.m. and we were told that the only way we could
get a drink was to play. So we played. We had a syndicate of 7 players;
each of us chipped in $20 (around £8). Cliff was our representative
at the roulette wheel and within 30 minutes our $140 had become
$300 - this gambling business was easy! We soon got bored with roulette
and moved to the blackjack table where Dave Arnold and I got to
grips with the house rules (by breaking most of them!) Our pot lasted
until around 6 a.m. by which time only myself and Dave remained,
so we cut and ran and went to bed just as the sun came up.
The following day was spent getting our final presents
for friends and loved ones before our final concert at the ASB Theatre.
We returned to the hotel to try to pack cuddly sheep and All Black
shirts into our cases as we were leaving the hotel at 4 a.m. The
ones of us who decided not to bother trying to sleep looked much
better at 4 a.m. than those who had had 4 hours sleep (at least
we thought we looked better!)
We were leaving New Zealand - our first visit, but
I’m sure not our last, but we weren’t going home yet. We had one
more stop, one more concert. After a 3-hour stopover at Sydney airport
we arrived in Hong Kong at around 10 p.m. local time. It was commented
as we went through immigration that it was easier to enter communist
China than to get on stage at the Yorkshire Area! After a fabulous
trip in from the airport when you saw more lights than Frank Bruno
saw against Mike Tyson, we checked in to the Kowloon Hotel.
What a hotel. Our rooms contained 55 channel TV,
fax machine, Internet ready pc, bowl of fruit etc etc etc. Here
we met up with Andrew Kay, MD of International Concert Attractions.
He wanted to take us out for a drink to show his gratitude, and
as you are aware we don’t like to be rude. Yet again our choice
of bar was slightly off and we spent Andrew’s money in one of Hong
Kong’s trendiest gay bars!
So after finishing the trip in the way we started
it we settled into our hi-tech rooms for our final night’s sleep
of the tour.
We awoke to high humidity and the hustle and bustle
of a Hong Kong morning. After a brief trip on the Star Ferry to
Hong Kong island we were taken to lunch by ICA where we had genuine
Chinese food, complete with a bowl of boiled hens’ feet (no-one
even considered trying them!)
We played an early concert (7 p.m.) at the Hong Kong
Cultural Centre, where we met most of the brass section of the Hong
Kong Philharmonic (mostly British or American) before leaving straight
for the airport and the 13 hour flight home. We arrived in Manchester
at around 10.30 on Sunday, and yes, we all went back to work on
We had a fabulous time, playing in New Zealand and
Hong Kong for the first time (hopefully the first of many). We were
treated as professional musicians by ICA, (a rare accolade for most
bands) and played to full halls throughout the trip. With 14 concerts
in 18 days and a total audience in the region of 30,000 we have
proved that there really is an audience for top quality brass band