CRS-music Awards Night, November 15th, 1997
Oakwood School, Rotherham, UK

By Bart Jan van der Vorst


6th CRS-music Awards Night with Collage & Quidam

Said my ticket, very promising. However, Collage felt the need to pull the gig off at *very* short notice (just like a gig in Utrecht, a week earlier). Therefore it became "Quidam and Jadis". Apparently Collage wanted more money for the gig (as they are used to play for thousands of people in their home-country Poland) and the Classic Rock Society didn't really feel like paying any money, other than travel expenses. When I asked Martin Hudson, the "boss" of CRS, what the matter was with the Collage situation he simply said: "I don't know, ask them! They just seem to make a habit of letting people down."

Anyway, let's start with the start. It was a weekend with a lot of ups, but unfortunately also a little bit too many downs.
Mark Kennedy (whom I had met at a Porcupine Tree gig a week earlier) and his friend Pam were so kind to invite me to come along with them to the awards night in Rotherham. This is an annual event where the winners of the CRS-magazine readers-poll get their awards presented while several bands provide musical entertainment. A very special, but also difficult occasion for the playing bands, since half of the public consists of fellow musicians. I had already read reviews of events of previous years in both Marillion's fanzine and Dutch Prog-rock magazine "IO pages" and it seemed like a *very* special event to me. Well, special it was, although not quite the way I had expected.

At the entrance we met Rob & Alexis Crossland with whom I had a nice chat. Meanwhile I had a look around and saw some very familiar faces, like Nick Barrett, John Jowit and a couple of guys that happened to play in the band Grey Lady Down.

At about half past 7, while everybody was still drinking their beers, strolling trough the several merchandise and CD stands or was, were not even *present*, Martin Hudson came on-stage and announced Quidam. After all the stories I had heard about their Dutch tour I thought I knew what to expect, boy was I wrong. Goose bumps all over my body from the very first moment Emila Derkowska started singing! What a voice! What a screaming!! What a girl!!! (Yep, she is indeed very, very pretty)

They also made a very good impression to the rest of the audience, because next to me Nick Barrett was really swinging and all the way at the front row one Andrew Latimer went completely crazy. He went even beyond that when flutist Ewa Smarzyna announced, in *very* poor Polenglish: "And now.... Sno-gooss".
Camel's The Snow Goose was played in a very sound and energetic way, while the entire audience (about 150 people) went crazy.
They played more well-known covers. During one of their last songs they threw in the solo of Genesis' Firth of Fifth, which made the guitarist Maciek Meller not only *look* but also *sound* like Steve Hackett.

They finished off with a new song, which flowed into Deep Purple's Child in Time (did I say that vocalist can scream yet? Forget it, she can actually *SCREAM*!!! :-))

After this fabulous show it was time for the awards presentation. Chairman Martin Hudson started off with a very vague story about how glad he was that a handful of people had showed up and even a couple of musicians. (and indeed, after reading all those tremendous stories about previous awards nights, I recognised *very* few people) He continued telling us how bad business was going for CRS and that they had lost so much money that membership fees had to be increased with 40%! The next 12 months would be *very* critical so he stated.

I was thinking about becoming a member, mainly because of the good work they are doing and because they need the money. The last thing I'd wish for such a company was the fate of Dutch Prog-record label SI, which went bankrupt two years ago because of the growing impopularity of this type of music.
However, later on Rob told me the "real" story of the decreasing number of members. Apparently they felt the need to become "critical" in their magazine. Marillion's This Strange Engine had had been completely slagged off (yep, there were no members of Marillion present that night - two years ago they were presenting the awards) Fish's Sunsets on Empire was an 'ex-artist's last attempt for a come-back', Clive Nolan (keyboard player of 1995's headliner Arena) was an arrogant twat without any talent and they had also written something which had personally insulted certain members. Enough for Rob to end his subscription, and probably the same reason why so many others had given up on the CRS.

This was probably also the reason for the absence of so many bands that usually *did* attend the awards night. (Marillion, Pendragon, Arena, Tracy Hitchings, to name but a few).
Rob had run into Steve Hogarth of Marillion, the night before and had asked him whether he was was going to the awards night. H simply smiled and answered: "nooooo......".
Most of the people I had spoken to that night did not expect this event will still exist next year.

Martin Hudson introduced his 'assistant' of the ceremony as someone with a history in music "And no, it's *not* Mick Pointer..." he added. A very harsh remark if you ask me, especially when you consider that both Arena's bassist John Jowit and Clive Nolan's keyboard technician were present in the audience. It was also a bit strange that he only had *one* assistant for all the awards, rather than a different person for each price, like he used to do in previous years.
Anyway, he called up Peter Banks, was the guitarist of Yes, back in '69 and played on their first album.

After a *very* short interview, which seemed more like a childish provocation to me, the 'ceremony' really began.
IQ was the big winner: Best Band, Album, Drummer, Bassist and Keyboard player. It was also the only band that had send three delegates to the awards-night (coincidence?): Peter Nicholls, John Jowitt and Martin Orford. Other awards were for Camel (best Concert), Damian Wilson (Best male vocalist), Spock's Beard (best overseas band - received by one of Rick Wakeman's sons, can't remember which one) and an unknown (and non-present) lady for best female vocalist.
John Jowitt also won a special price, for winning the Best Bassist award for five consecutive years.

The whole 'ceremony' was a bit lame and very childish. For every category the best four were named, before the envelope with the winning name was opened. For instance, the four best bass-players:

John Jowitt - somewhere on the left side in the audience: YEAAHHHH!!!
Pete Trewavas - about ten other people: YEAH!
Tony Levin - Somewhere in the back: Yeah....
Dave Meros - some others: YEAAHHH....

Rather than a whole audience applauding for all musicians.

Worst of all was best male vocalist:

Steve Hogarth (about three people applauding)
Damian Wilson (some more)
Peter Nicholls (everybody that had not applauded yet)
"Oh, and this is a funny one: Fish" And after that it was dead and dead silent in the entire hall. Martin Hudson continued with: "Yeah, sorry, I can's understand it either, but it really says so on my paper."

Well, after that I decided definitely not to become a member of CRS. I mean, less than half an hour before he told us how glad he was and how great it was that all these different musicians with different personalities and different interests are setting aside their differences and problems to team up and cooperate "together" with the CRS, in order to attract more people to their shows and to try and survive "together". Well, apparently only "together", as long as Mr Hudson likes you....

Anyway, that was a minor part of the evening. After the awards presentation best vocalist winner Damian Wilson played three acoustic songs, accompanied by his brother on backing vocals. *Very* beautiful and *very* special indeed. After that we had a 15 minute break, while the stage got prepared for Jadis.

During that break I tried to have a chat with Quidam vocalist Emila, which turned out to be *really* difficult, as she hardly speaks any English. (She was constantly leafing through a Polish-English dictionary as well). And damn, she's really gorgeous as well. I wanted to ask her have a picture of us two taken as well, however after one look in her eyes I just couldn't get myself to asking her.
She did sign my Quidam cd-booklet with a very special message though. :-)

After the break Jadis came to torture our eardrums. During the Quidam gig there was a lot of talking going on in the back of the hall and to make sure this would not happen during Jadis they had increased the volume a *slight* bit..... This caused that most people left the hall and went outside - where listening to the show was a less painful experience - for their conversation. This decreased the number of attendants to about 50 people. (it was getting late as well and many people had gone home after the awards 'ceremony').
I've tried to stand up to the volume for a while, but Jadis just couldn't impress me at all. After the wonderful performances of both Quidam and Damian Wilson this sounded like some sort of third-class metal band.

At a certain moment during the show someone tapped me my shoulder, I turned around and met the smiling face of Peter Nicholls: "Hi, Bart? I'm Pete, Rob told me I had to meet you..."
We went to the back of the hall and tried to have a conversation despite the high volume of Jadis. He asked me how I had ended up in Rotherham (being Dutch) and when I explained to him that I lived in Aberdeen he was even more surprised. He managed to persuade me to go to their gig in London this January (I had missed their tour this autumn) and Mark Kennedy (who later on joined us) and I promised Pete that we would both be there in London.

At a quarter past 12 Jadis had enough of playing the clowns for only thirty-some people and they stopped playing, which resulted in a pretty unique fact: Support act Quidam had played almost half an hour longer than headliner Jadis!!!

Despite all the minor things I really had a great night, it's just too bad that CRS seems to be screwing everything up. Despite all the good work they do, I think they are digging their own grave.

 

Quidam setlist
(not entirely correct, this is the setlist they played during their autumn tour,
slightly adjusted to my vague memory. And of course Polish is difficult enough as it is!)

Gleboka Rzeka
Nocne Widziadla
Warkocze
Wesola
Niespelnienie
Bijace Serca
Plone
The Snow Goose
Bajkowy
Sanktuarium (incl. Firth of Fifth guitar solo)
Chocbym
---
??/Child in time

Damian Wilson setlist:

She's like a fable
Naked
Homegrown

 

 

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1997 DPRP