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Monday, 23 November 2015

CORONAS ON PARADE - TOUCHSTONE'S FINAL GIGS, LONDON & ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA

Wow, what a weekend, this was a real Fellowship of the Stick / Corona's extra special event, or to be precise, two events.

LONDON


CORONAS ON PARADE

Embarking on an epic adventure for the biggest gathering of the Fellowship of the Stick / Corona’s this year, two trains saw the first four of us  safely transported from ‘The Nidge’ to Finsbury Park for a quick change it was on to Highbury & Islington where but a short step away we found The White Swan, a Weatherspoon’s Pub with a reasonable selection of ales and extremely passable food at of course reasonable JDW prices, ideal for the first couple of pints of the day and lunch.

Where's my fish & chips?

Bunny ears, what bunny ears?
 At this stage of our excursion we were taking full advantage of our London Travel-cards so we nipped back down to Highbury & Islington station to take the London over-ground train to Kentish Town West to visit The Camden Brewery Bar which is in fact just under the station!


The Camden Brewery beers are excellent and they brew a good range of beers and real lagers, we even tried the unfiltered draught Hells Lager which was in fact extremely refreshing and tasty.

Nipping back ‘Upstairs’ we again caught an over-ground train to Gospel Oak to visit the Southampton Arms, a splendid old pub with a ridiculous range of microbrewery ales and craft beers, they also do a splendid hot pork roast roll with crackling, be aware though, this pub has no phone, no jukebox, no fruit machines and does not take cards, it’s cash only and in my opinion all the better for it, wooden throughout and full of character (& characters!).


 Of course, the day was supposed to have involved minimum walking but as things turned out we got a message that two of our friends we were supposed have met up with earlier were hopelessly lost in Kentish Town but had found their way to The Pineapple (A pub we know well) and there had met even more of our friends from CRF/Skeggy so would meet us there if we made our way down, so of course we did.
Missing a bus by a hairs breadth we walked and eventually arrived at the Pineapple just in time to enjoy a well-earned pint, pick up with even more friends before a mass stroll up to The Boston Music Rooms at Tufnell Park, where of course we met up with the rest of our own motley crew (As opposed to Motley Crue with, as you may know, is an American rock band).


 So, why were we all there? It was Touchstone’s final London gig, supported by John Mitchell (Frost, It Bites, Arena) in his ‘Lonely Robot’ incarnation and it seemed like it was the biggest gathering of the (predominantly) Southern prog family since the last Celebr8, Celebr8.3, it was so good to see so many well-known characters there.

Corona's on Parade!
John Mitchell makes no bones about the fact that he does not like playing the acoustic guitar but, what the heck, a lot of the Lonely Robot songs do work well acoustically and I wish I could play the guitar a tenth as well as he does, a good opening set for the evening.

John, the onely Robot himself
Touchstone, as a band, have called it a day as not only does Kim Seviour have to take a good long break to recover her health but founder member Rob Cottingham has also bowed out to pursue other projects, Moo, Adam and Henry however have ongoing plans, I can’t wait to see this particular project come to fruition.


Anyway, back to the night in question, poor Kim was suffering from Laryngitis and had been ill all week and had only just recovered part of her voice, as she said, the top end of her vocal range had “Just gone!”
Of course cancelling the penultimate gig was never going to be an option so the lovely Heather Findlay was drafted in to assist on vocal duty so it was a very different Touchstone that took to the stage, despite everything it was a damn good gig none-the-less and of course a pretty emotional evening, all in all I’m glad we went, a fine day out and a great evening.




ROYAL LEAMINGTON SPA

Saturday saw two of us who could still just about stand heading up to Royal Leamington Spa for the final gig, meeting up with many more notables from the prog community and what made it even better was that several of us enjoyed a drink and meal together at The Jug & Jester before heading over to the Leamington Assembly Hall where we again saw John Mitchell kick off the evening but this time with Heather Findlay on vocals for the Lonely Robot songs with the female lead, a stunning performance and by the way John has the full electric band project on at La Scala in London on the 20th December.


 Next up were those Welsh masters of melodic prog, Magenta who delivered a near on two hour set of absolutely stunning quality, to be honest I’d have happily gone to just such a Magenta gig.

The Magnificent MAGENTA
So, there we were, Touchstone’s final gig and by all things in heaven and earth did they ‘go for it’ , again with Heather helping Kim out on the ‘Top range’ this was a classic Touchstone performance, if last night was good then somehow this was an order of magnitude better, what a way to bow out, I’m pretty sure that in years to come there will be those “Were you at Leamington Spa for Touchstone’s farewell gig” questions, I’m so happy that I’ll be one of those able to say yes!


Heather & Kim
The whole evening was being filmed so no flash photography was allowed hence my fairly crappy photos.

There was an ‘After party’ after the gig, a small but select crowd which after all the photographs, the meet and greets and autograph signings dwindled to the hard core of fans, the bands themselves along with family members and close friends, it may have been the end of an era but there was a lot of laughter, drinking (In some cases extremely heavily!) and dancing and it was all good.
So to Touchstone, to Rob, Kim, Henry, Moo and Adam, a huge thank you for all the great music and live performances and I and many others I know are looking forward to whatever the future brings for and from you.

What a brilliant band, the mighty, TOUCHSTONE

Tim wins the air guitar of the year award!

Spot the Corona, a great after party.
So, that's it then, what a brilliant weekend and I even got up for work on Monday!
Cheers m' dears, until the next time round the plastic spiral.
GM November 2015.

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