special features - eis 04 review

Interviews - EIS 04 - Other Artists

What a better way to write a review then record it in diary form, so here goes!

Friday 6th August

I pickup my bag and do a final check to ensure my train tickets and my EIS 04 passes are safely in the side pocket. I have 130 and a very excited mind as I head up to Llwyni Drive to catch the number 12 down to Shotton for Leg 1 of my journey to Leicester.

I pop into HSBC to check my overdraft is set up and the lady keeps me waiting talking about letters and stuff. Eventually I manage to leave for the 12:57 train to Wrexham.

Unbelievable. As I hurry up to the platform the train is leaving EARLY! Not impressed at all and I wander back to Shotton High Street. The next train is at 13:57 and I need to be at Wrexham for 13:47 to make the connection.

Here we are speeding (well not over the limit) down the A548 down towards Wrexham in my Nanna's car. Handy her living in Shotton and we pull up at the station at 13:33. Phew! I'm hungry but I'm not risking leaving the platform.

Now we're on the way. Leg 3 of the journey down towards Birmingham New Street. The trolley arrives with much needed snacks and tea! Whoo-hoo!

I'm now waiting on the platform in Birmingham for the train to Leicester. I wonder who I'll meet tomorrow. Muzzy Izzet is a certainty and so is Greg. I hope I make some wonderful new E friends, but I don't bet on it. I go into day-dream mode and imagine Andy Bell or Vince Clarke turning up unexpected. Yeah, get real. Jason has more chance winning Big Brother! (Shudder)

Oh I don't believe this. The train at Leicester has broken down and I can't get to my B&B now for 1.60. I don't know Leicester at all. Where's Muzzy when you need him? (Clue local pub!) Have to get a black cab and I therefore have to pay 10.60! Argh!

I'm finally at the B&B, shattered, tired and generally peed off that I missed the whole of BBLB. Thank goodness I taped it at home, whew!

Muzzy phones me to say hello and 'Welcome to Leicester'. He tells me that Erasure have confirmed a new tour! Yes! Shame there's no internet here in the village of Syston. 

Pop to shop and I am delighted that there is a new internet place opened today. I go online and book myself into the circle of the Manchester Apollo.

Well after a mammoth BB Final, Nadia won and I was nearly crying I was so happy. Goodness knows what I'll be like tomorrow at the convention, and if Erasure do turn up, I'll be rushed out in hysterics! 

Saturday 7th August
It's here! It's here! It's here! The best day of my life begins now. After cereal I go to the newsagent and buy a newspaper and pop back to B&B. 

At half ten I leave for the train down to Leicester. It doesn't break down this time and with three hours, I decide to explore Leicester but decide to find the hotel Ramada Jarvis where EIS 04 is being held first....

OK, I'm lost so I cut my losses and double back to the train station.

Hurrah! I'm at the hotel door and it looks rather posh. Me thinks Greg has picked an excellent venue for tonight. Oh well, off for some retail therapy.

OK, you couldn't really call that shopping. I bought a McDonalds, battery charger which doesn't work properly, batteries and a massive bottle of mineral water.

Sit in the reception area of the Ramada and have a Pepsi. Biffo for EIS Forum walks up and introduces himself, as does Pughie and a chap sits next to me and we have a chat. I can't remember his name but he was a nice guy!

The man that is Muzzy with his friend Shazza14.05
Greg opens the doors and lets us in. It's a nice big hall and Muzzy finds me and I sit next to him and his friend Shazza. A guy called Gareth sits the other side of me and we introduce ourselves. A girl sits opposite and I smile and say hello but not much else. When Greg walks past, Biffo bows and calls "We are not worthy!"

Biffo and friend .... All together now - WE ARE NOT WORTHY!14.50
Greg kicks off (and Biffo shouts "We are not worthy!") with the tour dates and he welcomes us all before the first material of the day is played, which is acoustic music from a forthcoming album with old E songs. Vince and Andy provide commentary on a PC Screen but aren't actually here! Damn!

Pughie is bidding against himself in the charity auction! He doesn't get the item though, original artwork for the Hits album.

Head off to merchandise stall to buy Greg out and I succeed I think! Buy loads of Private Ear mags, watch, Erasure eraser (he!), mug, tour book plus the new Private Ear.

Sit in the adjourning room and watch some Cowboy concert footage. The girl who was sitting opposite me asks about my watch and then we get chatting. Her name is Gemma and we get on quite well. We talk about Erasure in concert and she tells me that the 'Evening With Erasure' night in 1998 (which I missed) she met with her boyfriend. How cute!

Gemma (with mult-coloured fluffy ears!)16:30
We listen now to unreleased material and Gemma and Gareth reckon that the mix of Searching that is played is better than the version that was released. I agree with them.

It's time for the Quiz. Gareth, Gemma and myself all kinda work together in a team and help each other out when we're stuck. Gemma won the quiz at the last convention, so she feels confident and she does know her stuff!

It's the bit I've been waiting for, the preview of 'Nightbird'. There are four clips with the last one being 'Breathe', the new single. Gemma pulls a face when Breathe starts muttering "I prefer the one before," but when the song really gets going she changes her mind. Bring on January!

Onge from the legendary fan site with Kerry, his g/f18:00
As I have a dining ticket I go to the Queens Room for lunch with Gareth who also has a ticket whilst Gemma & her friend Louise go back to their room in the Ramada. I chat to Jonny Morris on the way in and thank him again for the help he gave me in the website.

I eat my lunch sitting next to Onge from the legendary fan site (see links page) and go back afterwards to outside the main room and chat to Biffo and his family. He is certainly a character!

Newly-wed Ewan gives out the quiz answers and Gareth, Gemma and myself cheer as we get a lot of answers right. Gareth actually finished in third and won a signed CD of Hits. He seemed delighted with it, but I think Gemma may have been miffed she didn't get a prize because she got 51/60 and I got 50/60. Mooger won with 56/60 and had a very special prize of meeting Erasure.

Greg gives permission to Gemma to take a poster from the adjourning room and I go with her and take photos of the other posters. There is a musical interlude with a mix of Erasure classics.

The evening really kicks off with Eraser, the Erasure tribute band performing a set. The lead singer Stuart sounds just like Andy it's amazing. I film a bit on my digital camera but the sound quality is poor because the speakers are so loud!

Blue Yonder Dove whispers into my ear that Andy Bell has arrived. I can't believe it. Wow! I don't get my hopes up but Greg is hiding out in the Queen's Room where we ate earlier and he appears to be hiding something.

I go to the front of the stage to watch the Eraser encore which is Sometimes before I get the shock of my life. Stuart then leaves the stage after performing and he walks into the Queen's Room and he walks out with Greg and ANDY BELL! Oh my good goodness. At this point we're all jumping, cheering shrieking and generally making a right old racket. AND I'M IN THE VERY FRONT OF THE STAGE next to Gemma and Louise. 

Andy starts 'A Little Respect' but the microphone stops working and we don't hear him singing so after ten seconds he stops and we all have a bit of a laugh and Andy the Eraser keyboardist gives him another one and it works and we all sing A Little Respect together followed by Blue Savannah. 

Andy thanks Greg for putting this on and then Greg announces that Andy will be doing a meet & greet session the Queens Room and we all grab something to sign and our cameras and join a massive queue. Gemma and myself are reasonably mid placed and we jump up and down squealing and clapping our hands, reminiscent of Marco from Big Brother Five! Gemma rings her boyfriend up and he is dead cheesed off that he couldn't come and Gemma just laughs afterwards. Our little group just stick together and Gemma asks me whether she should kiss him like she did the last time she met him! I say that it's not a good idea as all the security guards are there! The disco has now started but there's no-one dancing and Rod Kemble who's hosting it shouts out "Why isn't anyone dancing?" Gemma responds to me "Coz we're queuing to see Andy Bell! The choice is obvious. Andy, disco, Andy, disco."

Myself and the one and only Andy Bell!23.08
We're in and I take a quick photo of Greg and then hand my camera to a lady next to Andy to take a couple of photos. I don't know quite what to say but I manage "I'm one of your youth fans!" and he signs the latest issue of 'Private Ear' for me and I now plan to frame it! Gemma wisely doesn't try and kiss him but when we leave she says that she wants to try and get in again. I say "Greg might have other ideas!" and we spot a posh black car outside and we reckon it's the car that Andy was driven in.

We're now madly dancing in the disco having a great time. I am so excited about Andy Bell that I text Sam (my friend from college), my best friend Chris and phone my Mum up.

The disco is full swing and the DJ puts on a special song for Greg of the EIS, S Club 7's Reach. It's a good job Onge has now left, otherwise he'd be smashing the record up no doubt!

Me, Gemma, Gareth, Ros, Louise etc all join in a circle with arms around each other for 'Home' but then it changes into a Boney M song and every one joins a conga line and I grab hold of Biffo as he all circulate around the dance floor.

Greg thanks everyone for coming and the evening is finished off with one final Erasure classic on the disco, 'Stop!'

I'm in the taxi now on my way back to the B&B. I can't believe it's over, sob, sob, sob.

I'm still awake and I'm too excited to sleep.

Sunday 8th August
I wake up and make sure I've packed everything for my journey home and I go out to by a newspaper.

I get on the bus down to Leicester city centre. Gemma texts me to say they're leaving 11-ish.

Leg 1 done and I'm now at the train station. Unfortunately I've missed Gemma and the gang by less than a minute but never mind, there's always another time.

The train for Birmingham arrives and I end up bumping into someone who was at EIS 04 yesterday and so we have a good chat and we're on the same train back to Birmingham.

We're now in Birmingham but to my horror I find there's no train to Wrexham for an hour and a half. There's only one thing for it, I have to sit and wait.

Oh my goodness. My best friend Chris has just walked past and we exchange a "What are you doing here?" before we catch the Wrexham train together.

Chris knows the conductor of the train we're on and he offers to drive Chris and I back to Shotton from Chester, which we gladly accept.

Gemma texts me to say that she's nearly home and she's very tired. I'm more hungry myself.

We're now on familiar roads down through Chester and Deeside, home beckons.

My Dad picks me up from the number 10 bus stop in Shotton.

Home sweet home. A Sunday roast awaits me as does my own bed. This has been a weekend to remember. I've met up with people I'd known from erasure.com and EIS Forum and met some fantastic new friends.
Steven x
EIS 04 Pictures