FURTHER ..AND FINAL UPDATE: 27th FEBRUARY 2015
Tomorrow night, for one of the first and greatest British jazz/rock bands, the end of the road will finally have been reached.
What Jon refers to as 'the last hurrah', will take place at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, when Colosseum will walk on stage to a cheering crowd for the last time.
The three UK dates I mentioned in my earlier post did eventually come to fruition and a fourth date added, when they were invited to join the "Giants of Rock" bill at Butlin's Minehead on Friday 6th February. Since the band had to be 'up and running' by that date, it seemed logical to fill the gap with a few more European gigs. Thus another 5 dates were booked in Germany and Switzerland, making it roughly a 3 week tour overall.
So, at that point, after more than 20 years of playing countless live gigs, recording several new albums, a couple of DVDs and a book, as well as reissues of their early records in CD format, the second incarnation of Colosseum will bow out.
They leave behind many loyal fans from all over Europe, some of whom have followed Colosseum for decades, going to their concerts, buying their albums and wearing their tee shirts. Many are genuinely quite distraught at the realisation that they will never see their beloved group again. However, Jon and the band are all agreed that the time is right to call it a day; while they can still hold their heads high and wow their audiences with their unique brand of jazz infused rock.
I count myself very fortunate that I was personally involved with the original Colosseum as co-manager from their launch in October 1968 to their break up almost exactly three years later and though I had no role in the band that reunited in 1994 (with exactly the same line-up! How many '70s bands can claim that?) I followed their fortunes through my ongoing friendship with Jon. From time to time I was able to catch up with them, either at gigs or in the studio and was aware of the sad decline of Dick Heckstall-Smith's health and ultimately his death in December 2004. I was quite close to Dick over the years, having first met him in 1967 when he was playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and I was their agency booker. Our paths crossed on many occasions apart from the Colosseum days. One in particular stands out, which was when I sat on the Monmouth Arts Festival Committee in the early '80s. I tried to book Zoot Money with Dick as one of the main attractions, but with our modest budget, Zoot immediately priced himself out. So, at Dick's suggestion, I booked the Eddie Martin Blues Band from Bristol, as they had gigged together many times. Needless to say, they blew a storm and totally stole the show. It also gave me the opportunity to catch up with Dick as he stayed over at my place. He was always great company, being incredibly well-informed on a wide variety of topics. I really miss him.
Some 12 years on, when the writer Martyn Hanson, (author of books on The Nice and The Groundhogs) approached Jon with the idea of writing his biography, his initial reaction was "Who'd be interested in reading about me"? Fortunately, Martyn wasn't deterred by this typically modest rejoinder and after four years of factual research, several drafts followed by lengthy editing, "Playing the Band - the Musical Life of Jon Hiseman" was published in October 2010, just in time for the band's umpteenth European Tour.
To sum up...there is no question that the band can be justly proud of what they have achieved over the years, both musically and as fine role models for all the young musicians that are following in their footsteps. Their influence will still be there through the medium of their recorded music.
As for the individual members of Colosseum...some will certainly carry on playing in one band or another and Jon assures me that he is still going to be as busy as ever, running the studio, producing and, of course, helping to care for Barbara. Her fight against PD will continue undiminished and I'm certain that she will be composing innovating music of various genres with the same determination and energy that she has always shown.
Here are the dates of their final tour:
Colosseum Tour 2015
|25.02.15 : 8.00pm||Wavendon||The Stables||Box Office 01908 280800
|26.02.15 : 8.30pm||Bilston||The Robin 2||Box Office 01902 401211
|28.02.15||London, W12||Shepherd's Bush Empire|
EARLIER UPDATE MAY 2014
My original post (back in 2011) headlined "Colosseum...the end of the road" should perhaps have had a question mark appended as, true to his oft-repeated mantra 'never say never', Jon has now agreed dates for another Colosseum tour, to take place in October and November of this year.
How come? Well, as I wrote almost three years ago, the main reason for the band calling it a day at that time, was Barbara's worsening state of health. The 'new' medication that had been so effective in enabling her to play the 2011 tour dates gradually diminished in efficacy after two years, while at the same time bringing on some really unpleasant side effects, which led to Barbara deciding to discontinue it. According to Jon, this is usually the pattern of Parkinson treatment...promising new drugs start out being very effective, only for the benefits to tail off after 18 months or so and the symptoms to worsen again.
Well, towards the end of last year, Barbara commenced yet another new regime of medication and pretty soon felt able to play her saxophones again, as I reported on her Facebook page. Eventually, after checking with the rest of the band, Jon give their German agent the green light to start booking date and an Autumn tour* quickly took shape, to the delight of their many loyal fans around Europe.
So, a few months after Jon and Barbara's 70th birthdays, Colosseum will take to the road again, playing 25 concerts in four countries over a 4 week period.
They kick off the tour on the 23rd October in Northern Italy, playing the Steinegg Festival and will finish up exactly one month later in Hungary, at the Petöfi Hall in Budapest.
At the time of writing, there are also three UK concerts pencilled in for February 2015: London (Shepherd's Bush Empire) has now been confirmed, while with the other two...the Stables, Wavendon (Milton Keynes) and Wolverhampton (the "Robin 2") terms have been agreed, but contracts were still to be exchanged at the time of writing.
Of course, this also means that Colosseum will now finish recording the 'Anno Domini' CD (later changed to the somewhat ironic title "Time on our side") which will now be released in time for the tour, along with the band's ever increasing range of merchandise.