Tag Archives: Mike Sterling

Sterling Work

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. After a few weeks taking it easy. Mine were nice and busy, once again. Just how I like it. My good friend. The lovely and very talented Mike Sterling is currently on tour in Evita. Due to my hectic schedule. The only time I could get to see the show was the other week. When it was in Great Malvern.

I decided to make a night of it, so I booked a hotel there. It was the first time I had visited the place. I got the train there and arrived just before five o’clock in the afternoon. It is practically built on a big hill. Therefore wherever you go. You are either going uphill or downhill.
My hotel was about a ten minute walk both downhill and uphill from the station.

I checked in and went up to my room. I do not mean to sound at all snobbish. But it was a Wetherspoons owned hotel. I had no idea that they even owned them. Therefore I will be totally honest. I was not really expecting much. However it was very nice. The rooms were brilliant. And the view of the countryside through the window was amazing. The staff were also great. I was well looked after there.

Great Malvern
Great Malvern

Once I had recovered from the shock of it all being much nicer than I expected. I thought I would watch a bit of television before going for dinner. I stumbled across an episode of The A Team on some random channel. I had not seen it for years. But instantly I was drawn in to it. It was like I was ten years old again. I sat there transfixed until it had finished. I absolutely loved it.

It did mean I headed off out for food a little later than I intended. So I just went downstairs. And had a nice Steak and Chips with a glass of Red Wine in the bar. It was then time to make my way to the Great Malvern Theatre. To see the show. It was only five minutes down the road. I arrived there with enough time to sample a glass of their Red Wine. And to order one for the interval. Before it was time to take my seat for the show.

Great Malvern Theatre
Great Malvern Theatre

I was excited and proud to see my mate in action. He is playing Juan Peron. The President of Argentina, no less. He is no stranger to the stage or musicals, of course. Having played the leading roles in both the Phantom of The Opera and Les Miserables in the West End. He also very kindly performed at my fortieth birthday party, a few years ago. Recently me and him spent a cracking day out at Royal Ascot.

The show was sensational. Mike was sublime in it. The whole cast and the production is faultless. It is in many ways such a powerful story. Which does kind of hold a mirror up to society and the way the world is run. Plus of course it has some cracking songs in it. It is on at the Wycombe Swan in Buckinghamshire running from 23rd to 27th of October. I would urge you to see it, if you can. It has been getting lots of four and five star reviews. And I can totally see why.  Go and see it for yourself.

Evita
Evita

Then after the show I met Mike at the Stage Door. As we had earlier agreed. We were off out for a few drinks with some of the rest of the cast. It was their opening night in Great Malvern. So drinks after that is a bit of a theatre tradition, I understand. Any excuse I say. It turned out the drinks were actually taking place in the bar of the hotel that I was staying at. Which was a bit of a result for me. It transpires some of the other performers were also staying there.

I had a fantastic time catching up with Mike and chatting to the cast. After show drinks are always the best. He is having a ball. It is quite full on though. They do eight shows every week spread over six days. They get a day off and one travel day every week. And they really are heading all over the United Kingdom. I do like being around actors, singers and dancers.  There is always a good vibe about, I find. It was a brilliant night seeing an amazing show and then catching up with a Pal.

Mike Sterling & Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling & Neil Quigley

I recently spent a lovely relaxing afternoon with two very good friends. We sat and talked for ages. Had a Barbecue. Then to round things off. Me and one of them went down the pub for a few drinks.

In this crazy world where we all currently seem to be running on a treadmill. And getting nowhere fast. A whole afternoon away from it all. Just catching up with best mates. Is something to be enjoyed and even celebrated, I think.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

I managed to get along to Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park. Their festival in a day last Sunday. I have done Glastonbury in the past which is great, but means sleeping in a tent. The good thing about this event is that it has the feel of a festival. But I could sleep in my own bed at the end of it all.

The line up was fantastic. But I must admit it was the lady who was headlining. Who I was looking forward to seeing the most. I arrived there at midday and managed to get in straight away. It was already starting to fill up nicely. It gave me time to have a good walk around. See what was about and on offer. And also get my bearings for when it got really busy later on.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

I have to say it was all very well organised. And of course there were queues for things. Due to the sheer number of people. But it was all managed the best it possibly could be. I thought it would be rude not to at least sample a bit of what the bars had to offer. So I had a pint of the Pilsner they had on draft. Which was six pounds a pint. Now that might sound expensive. But that is not far off normal London prices to be honest.

I managed to find a nice standing area to the right hand side of the stage. Which I could get to and from quite easily. So I decided this would be my go to area. To watch the acts from throughout the day. Jo Whiley was the main host for the event. However for each and every introduction. She was joined by pretty much all of the other Radio 2 Presenters at some point. It was an excellent line up.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

First on was Lenny Kravitz. He was simply wonderful. His band and him sounded amazing. He did all his big hits including his current one Five More Days Till Summer. Not only did he sound great. But he is such a cool guy.

I mean who else could pull off flared jeans, leather jacket, big hat and snakeskin Cuban heeled boots. Plus you would never guess he is almost in his mid fifties. It was a brilliant start to the live music for the day.

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz

Up next it was Rita Ora. Who also put on a fantastic show. She was sounding and looking great to. Nothing personal against her. But due to timing restrictions. While she was on I was checking out the Real Ale and Champagne Bar’s. Although with the quality top sound set up and the big screens. I could still see and hear her perfectly. Even from right at the back of the park.

The next act were a little bit left of centre. They were a folk group collaboration. Who have a new album coming out that features folk style re-workings of many disco classics. They are called The Band Of Love. Their set included their versions of Night Fever, Gimme The Night and We Are Family. They were really good. And are clearly a very talented bunch of musicians and singers. Who got the audience singing along.

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz

Then it was time for a trip down memory lane with an appearance from the All Saints. They did all the big hits from their impressive back catalogue. They were sounding ace. And still had all the dance moves and routines.

They looked like they were having fun. And that they were all enjoying being back together on stage. They finished their set with the hit song from the film “The Beach”, Pure Shores. Which went down very well with the Hyde Park crowd.

All Saints
All Saints

Next it was the duo who stepped in to replace the unwell Carrie Underwood. I would have loved to seen her live. But I have been following the careers of The Shires for a while now. So it was quality to finally get to see them play live. I am a big fan of country music. so I really like their stuff.

These two are already Britain’s most successful band of that genre. They were brilliant. Lovely people and talented performers backed by a great band. They are only going to get bigger and better. Next time they are in Nashville. I would be very happy to head over there with them. Seeing them reminded me very of my time in America.

The Shires
The Shires

The first ever Party in the Park style music event I went to see was one of the early Capital FM ones in Gunnersbury Park. A new Irish band called Boyzone were their performing their first two hits. Over the years I have met both Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch. Who for the record are both top blokes. The group are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. Which let’s face it. Is making us all feel old.

They are going to go out on one more big World Tour. Then they are going to call it a day for good. They were excellent. I have seen them live a few times. And I did honestly think they were sounding better than ever. Plus you forget what a great back catalogue of songs they had. For example I forgot they did that cover of the Bee Gees Words. That sounded sensational in the evening sunshine.

Boyzone
Boyzone

In between the live performances. They were playing out videos of some of the live studio performances from Radio 2 shows from the last year or so. A few of these were spectacular themselves.

We did also have DJ sets from Craig Charles and Ooh Gary Davies. Which were fun. The sound quality of the event was perfect. But I would expect nothing less from my BBC colleagues.

Craig Charles
Craig Charles

The last time I had seen The Manic Street Preachers was at the Glastonbury Festival. They were great that time and they were equally as good or even better this time around. They sounded fantastic. They played all their huge hits. It was a very slick and entertaining set from a power house of a band. Plus their latest single is excellent.

The whole day flew by really quickly. Aided by the great live music. And a few more of the Portobello Pilsners beers. Fuelled by a burger, crisps and some doughnuts.  I was more than ready to dance and sing along with the headline act.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

I mentioned earlier the Capital Fm Party in the Parks. Well I went to the first one they held in Hyde Park. Sadly it was raining so hard that day. I had to leave two songs in to a certain Australian female singers performance. I had now waited a long time for the chance to see her again. So I was more than ready for this. And very excited to see her perform live.

The current host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show Chris Evans came out to introduce her. As he had promised to do when she was last on his show. She came out looking stunning in a pink dress. And went straight in to one of her big hits. After the first song. She then sang a few lines acapella from some of her late eighties hits. The set list was a real celebration of her glorious and long career. In the year that she has celebrated her fiftieth birthday.

After a quick outfit change in to a nice little black number.  She was back out for more fun. I was having a great time singing and dancing away to hit after hit. Then she goes into the song that I would love to do as a duet with her Especially For You. Although I had to make do with singing the male part of the song. With the rest of the forty-eight thousand crowd. But it was still magical. Specially when Jason Donovan then joined her on stage halfway through to re-create the original dance moves. That was a brilliant moment!

The surprises did not end there. A little later on she started singing her debut single, I should Be So Lucky. During this she references the fact that it does sound a little bit like Never Gonna Give You Up. She sings a little bit of that. Then on walks the man whose song it is Rick Astley. To do a brilliant version of it with Kylie. He then stays on stage to do a version of the hit she had with Robbie Williams, Kids.

It was a brilliant end to a great day of live music in London. She is fantastic live. A great singer and dancer. Who is very at ease talking to her audience. The complete, albeit tiny package. She really did not disappoint. You do not have a career that lasts that long unless you are the real deal. And she very much is. Would I marry her tomorrow if the chance arose? Of course I would. Who wouldn’t? You have to love Kylie!

Kylie
Kylie

I will be having a look around Buckingham Palace soon. I will let you know what that was like next time we speak.

I am also finally getting round to seeing the brilliant “new” musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” next week. And today I am off to Wembley to see the mighty Spurs play Liverpool.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

By Royal Approval

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. Two weeks ago today then I went to my second Royal Ascot. Last year, as I was just dipping my toe in. I went in the Windsor Enclosure. Which was brilliant. But this time I thought I would upgrade slightly and just see what it was like in the Queen Anne Enclosure.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I went there with a good showbiz friend of mine Mike Sterling. We met up at Waterloo on the Saturday morning. After grabbing some water for the journey. We then braved what I suspected would be a packed train to Berkshire. However it was actually not that bad and we managed to get a seat together. Which meant we could catch up and have a nice natter. Which made the travel time fly by.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

We arrived at the racetrack around twelve forty-five. Sensibly we decided to grab some food first. There were plenty of options. But in the end we opted for a chicken wrap. Which I must admit hit the spot and tasted pretty damn nice to. After a stroll round the place. Just to get our bearings. We decided to have a quick drink before the Royals arrived. It is a marathon day not a sprint at Ascot, so we just started off with an half of lager each. You really cannot buy experience.

Then it was time to head off to get a place in the Parade Ring. Ahead of the arrival of the Queen. To get the space I wanted we had to get in there a bit early. But we did find a cracking spot. Right next to the area set aside for people who were in the Royal Enclosure. Before she arrived Mike managed to nip out and get us another beverage to toast her arrival. Which with the crowds growing was quite a feat to be honest.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I am a big fan of the Royal family, so I enjoyed Her Majesty arriving in her carriage pulled by those famous grey horses. And her waving to the crowd. I waved back of course. I like to think that she did see me and acknowledged me. Then once she had shaken hands with the selected elite welcoming party. She headed off to her private box to enjoy the day’s racing. While we made our way to the track to do the same.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a little bit of success in the first race. I was as a child and if I am being honest am now still a fan of the television show The Dukes Of Hazard. The famous car in it is called the General Lee. There was a horse in the race called General Hazard.

It was a bit of an outsider. But on the name alone. I backed it each way. It came in third. Which meant I acquired some money back from that one. I only had one other winner during the afternoon. That however really did not spoil my enjoyment of this fantastic event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Midway through the afternoon. We took a lunch break in The Band Stand Kitchen restaurant. We sampled the Tex Mex Platter and a Coronation Chicken salad. I have to say it was marvellous. It was all very tasty and the portion size was huge. Which is something you do not always associate with these kind of venues and events. If you know what I mean.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

There is a Band Stand in the Queen Anne Enclosure with a full brass band and a singer. After the day’s racing is over. There is a traditional sing-song around it. Therefore Mike and I grabbed ourselves a glass of Pimms each and headed there to get involved. Lots of people do stay on to enjoy it.

They did play a whole host of old and relatively new top party songs. Basically everybody there joins in. To make it even easier they put all the words up on the big screens. So it is a bit like a giant karaoke. We did every song from the classic Sweet Caroline to We’ll Meet Again and everything in between. It was brilliant fun.

Mike Sterling is a West End performer. Who has starred in The Phantom of The Opera and Les Misarables. So it was amazing to be standing next to him, while he was singing. I was happy to just to sing backing vocals and fill in with some harmony’s. It is all so British with flags waving, champagne being drunk and everyone joining in. I must say I loved it!

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

Rather than rush off. We decided to wait for the train traffic to die down a bit. So we went for a few drinks in a couple of pubs in Ascot. On the way to the first one. We bumped in to a former Jockey that Mike knew called Karen Wiltshire. As well as having a successful riding career. She has also done some presenting on various racing programmes. It was fascinating to talk to her and get some of the inside stories and secrets from the world of racing. It was lovely to meet her.

After having a drink at the pub right next to the train station. We decided to catch the train back to London. It was much quieter than on the way there, so we easily found a seat. We randomly got talking to a couple of Italian ladies. Who had been at the races. Mike speaks a little bit of Italian. Plus he is a trained Opera Singer. Who knows a few big Italian songs. He ends up serenading the ladies with a couple of songs in their native tongue.

I was sitting next to him and let me tell you it sounded beautiful. They were loving it. One of them was filming it on her phone, so she could send it to all her friends in Italy.  We had people walking down the train to get closer and enjoy the impromptu performance.

It is a shame neither of us were wearing Top Hats or we could have put them down and made a few quid. To have such a talent must be amazing. He absolutely made the two girls day. It also made the train trip back to London very enjoyable.

Once we were back in Waterloo. We went to a nearby bar to have a nice glass of red wine to toast a successful and fun day. It was such a good occasion that I am already planning next year’s trip. I will again choose the Queen Anne Enclosure. Mainly just for the access to the Parade Ring and the Band Stand singing at the close of the event.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

I had a brilliant time at this year’s Tringe Roving Comedy Night. I did the course and performed at it in 2012. Then last year I got to do it again. Which was so much fun. I was watching all the action at The Kings Arms. A venue that I played during my debut year. There were twelve brand new comedians and four professionals. One for each of the four groups, that each perform in four different pubs around the town.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Congratulations to all of the Logan Murray Course Graduates. Who performed on the night. You were all great. You got up there and did you stuff. I hope you enjoyed it and will keep doing it. If you now have the taste for it after this introduction. I would recommend doing the comedy course and this event to anyone. It is lots of fun and you will get a lot out of it. The people behind the Tringe Festival are all ace.

The professional comedians were all brilliant. They included Steve Best, who really does have his own unique style. I enjoyed seeing him for the first time. Rich Wilson, who was another new one on me was also very funny. Then there was the brill Laura Lexx.  Who I had seen before doing the warm up at a recording of Upstart Crow. She is fantastic.

Rich Wilson
Rich Wilson

Finally there was the guy who I once gave a lift home to. The always hilarious Silky. He was quality as ever. It helps the whole night along. When you know that you are never more than three comedians away from a seasoned and polished act. As a new comedian. I was delighted with this. As it made the audience more patient knowing that a comedy treat was on the way very soon.

Silky at Roving Comedy Night
Silky at Roving Comedy Night

I did manage to briefly catch up with Silky after the show. For our annual chat. He is a top bloke. I did also grab a quick word with the very funny Olaf Falafel. Plus I spoke to the man behind the whole brilliant festival Ben Moorhouse.

I am hoping to bump in to all of them and see their full shows. When I am up in Edinburgh at the Festival in August. Sadly though I did not get to see the comedy guru himself Logan Murray. I had to dash off before he arrived at the after show drinks.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The football World Cup is reaching its big finale. I have been trying to watch as many matches as I can. There have been plenty of goals and excitement and that was just the England against Panama game.

Not to mention the high drama of the penalty shoot out against Columbia. With three Spurs players scoring in it. Just saying! Today we face Sweden in the Quarter Finals. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My Dad’s cousin lives in Australia and has done for many years. He was in Russia supporting his country at all their group games. He is now visiting England. Which was always the plan. I am not sure if it would have changed if Australia had got through to the knock out rounds. Or he was realistic about their chances. When all of this was booked.

I am hoping to see him today to find out what it was like in Russia. And actually being there at a World Cup supporting your nation. I would love to be able to do that myself one day. Now that the chance of me representing England in one of these tournaments has may be passed. Also I quite fancy a visit to Australia, so I may have a chat to him about that to. It will be really nice to meet up with him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am very excited about my upcoming holiday. I am going to America to do a bit of a musically inspired tour of the place. Which includes visits to the home of County and Western Nashville, the place where Elvis Presley made his home Memphis and the area where Jazz and Blues exploded New Orleans.

It is going to be extremely interesting and a lot of fun. It does mean the blog will be taking a little bit of a break. But I will of course tell you all about the trip, when I return.

Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70's #crazydays
Neil Quigley and Elvis Presley hanging out in the 70’s #crazydays

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Cheers Neil