|The Tourists Edinburgh 1980|
The Tourists first impacted upon my consciousness one Saturday afternoon, when I heard The Loneliest Man in the World on Radio 1. Not the chunky, slightly leaden version on their debut album, but the wonderful re-recording incorporating the church organ intro, which lent an almost hymnal feel to the piece. I next encountered the band on TOTP performing a routine cover of Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want To Be With You, and immediately pondered exactly what sort of an audience these folks were aiming for with such diverse offerings,
Given such mixed messages, I probably would not have chosen to go along to see them, had not a workmate found himself with a brace of spare tickets on the eve of the gig, which Wife-to-Be and I relieved him of.
The support band were an
based reggae-tinged outfit called The Solos (who had once, I believe, been The Monos), of whom I recall nothing other than they sported a coloured bass player. Edinburgh
As The Tourists opened their set with It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, I noticed for the first time really, what a striking-looking bunch they were. Annie Lennox ghost-white, wearing a black skull cap through which was threaded a long blonde pony-tail; an appendage she discarded after a couple of songs, to more than a few gasps – many folks, me included, had thought it was real. Dave Stewart resembled some 18th century dandy with his military-style outfit and finely waxed ginger mouser and goatee. Grinning bassist Eddie Chin behind his curtain of dark hair managed to look exotic and faintly silly at the same time, whilst drummer Jim Toomey succeeded in exuding that mixture of aloof cool and slightly threatening moodiness all tub-thumpers should.
It was ironically Peet Coombes, the song-writing talent behind the band, who did not seem to quite fit in – by dint of his very ordinariness. With his unkempt and poorly cut dark hair and slightly tubby face and tum, he looked more like a roadie than a rock’n’roll star. As I swiftly discovered though, he couldn’t half pen a great pop song: Don’t Get Left Behind, Useless Duration of Time, Fools Paradise, Another English Day and the sublime Blind Amongst The Flowers. My personal fave was the post-apocalyptic Strange Sky - a great wee tune criminally hidden away on a single b side. The roustabout set closed with a new song Walls and Foundations, before the band encored with I Only Want To Be….and He Who Laughs Last Laughs Longest.
And as the last named drew to a close, a large cannon-type thing was set off, firing a shower of confetti into the air (a reference to the Reality Effect album cover perhaps?) and, leaving the hall afterwards, whilst brushing a million tiny bits of paper off my clothes, I thought “Hmmmm. Glad I’m not hoovering this lot up”.