Interview by: Mark Lacey
“When Steve asked me to do the tour, I wasn’t quite sure how an audience of people who didn’t know anything about me would respond to what I was doing. But the response has been phenomenal. I’m really just telling a universal message, and a personal story. But I’ve found after the show, dozens of people come up to me and say something similar has happened in their life. To see me talk about it and sing about it in a positive way has actually been really helpful for them”.
For the last month, former Maiden keyboardist, Tony Moore has taken his impressive one-man show across the UK in support of Steve Harris’ British Lion. That tour included three legendary performances at the Cart & Horses in Stratford, where Iron Maiden’s journey began. MGM caught up with Tony on the last night of the tour, to reflect on an electrifying month on the road, and where next for his ‘Awake’ extravaganza.
MGM: So, we’re here on the last night of the tour. How’s it gone so far?
Tony: Well, the tour has been so incredible, more than I ever expected. I hoped it would be really good, and every show has just been absolutely phenomenal for me, and I can’t believe that it’s the last night. It’s very sad, actually.
MGM: In previous years, you’ve had this residency in Camden? When you performed at the Electric Theatre in Guilford earlier this year, one of the things you said from the stage, was that it was the largest show you’d played outside of London. Of course, that’s all now in the history books. The success of this tour must have given you a lot of confidence to be able to take this back around the country?
Tony: Absolutely. And what’s really been enlightening to me is that I’ve taken out a very lightweight production of the show. All of the lighting and sound and extra effects that I would normally have with me, I left behind, and cut the show down by an hour. And it works really just as well. I know when people see the show, they’ll appreciate the fact that there’s a longer arc to the narrative, but even cutting it to 45 minutes, I’ve been able to keep the key moments in, and set up very quickly as a support act. It’s taught me that I can take this show pretty much anywhere at any time now.
MGM: As you say, you’ve cut the show right down; normally it’s about 90 minutes, and sometimes with a few encores as well. The story covers your life as a musician, and your journey with your mum’s dementia, amongst other things, so it must be quite difficult to cut an hour of that out. How did you go about doing that?
Tony: The challenge with cutting out anything, really, was that for me as a writer, I imagine that everything is vital. But when I stood back and kind of tried to be objective about the show and think about the songs that would represent all the different elements; the rocky songs; the ballads; the weird stuff; the big epic ends; I realised that I could actually condense it down quite easily and you’d still get the same feeling for the show, but in a more compact way. It’s been enlightening for me.
MGM: Given that you’ve now seen such a positive reaction from so many people on the tour, has it given you thoughts on whether you might adapt the show?
Tony: Interestingly enough, lots of people who came and see it and who love it say they can’t wait to see the whole show. Peeple are saying, “This is brilliant and I’m loving it, but I know that there’s more and I’d like to see the more”. And the interesting thing is that some of the extended pieces in the longer show drive the story along in a way that becomes even more immersive. When I have the opportunity to do the whole show, it becomes an ability to tell a bigger story, but the key points are still there.
MGM: British Lion tend to play fast, heavy, anthemic rock, and your music in places is very proggy and also quite emotionally driven. This tour had the potential to be quite a weird paring for you both, aside from the Maiden connection, obviously. But the fans seemed to have embraced you wholeheartedly.
Tony: Absolutely. When Steve asked me to do the tour, I was confident that I could go and give my best, but I wasn’t quite sure how an audience of people who didn’t know anything about me would respond to what I was doing, especially as my show is normally a seated, more theatre kind of show. These have all been standing, rock venue shows. But the response has been phenomenal. People have listened, and I’m really just telling a universal message, and a personal story about my mum and my life. But I’ve found after the show, dozens and dozens of people come up to me and say something similar has happened in their life. They have a relative with dementia, or they struggle with something. And to see me talk about it and sing about it in a positive way has actually been really helpful for them.
MGM: There are some really touching moments in your set, and ‘Dear life’ is one song that is so emotional, it brings many people to tears.
Tony: I’ve had quite a few people going, “I came to a metal concert, and I had tears in my eyes; what’s that all about?”. But to take it from the opening, which is a big, slightly Floyd influenced extended guitar intro, through some pretty rocky stuff, right down to a ballad that can move you; for me, was the challenge. How can I translate this? And seeing it in action every night has just been the best time of my life.
MGM: This shows is the third (and last) date of the tour at the Cart & Horses, which is famously where Iron Maiden’s journey began. It’s been great to see so many former members of Maiden, and also Steve’s former band, Gypsy’s Kiss at the shows. Do you keep in contact with those people?
Tony: Some of them. The story and history of our Iron Maiden is like a chain. There was a period where I was one of the links in the chain, and I knew the people around my period really well. I didn’t know anything about the people before I joined the band, and didn’t know much about the people after I left the band. I’ve re-united, and also made connections with so many different members; including Gypsy’s Kiss. I even met Mick, the guitarist from ‘Smiler’ the other night, who gave Steve one of his first gigs in the band. But that’s the story of Steve and everything around him. It’s family, and everybody’s kind of part of this extended family.
MGM: Having been around the country for the last month, it’s going to feel slightly weird now it’s all come to an end?
Tony: It’s going to feel very weird; a little bit sad. But on the other hand, from the beginning of February all the way through to the end of Feb. I’ve got my own headline tour. I’m also driving, and being the roadie along with my sound engineer. So, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied.
MGM: You’ve got 12 dates throughout February, before returning to the Camden Club in March. But, before that, some well-earned rest no doubt?
Tony: Not even a week; there’s stuff to do! I’ve also just arranged my first date in New York for June 13th. I haven’t really announced it properly yet. But that will launch a whole series of shows in America. And partly because of this tour. It’s taught me how easily I can transport ‘Awake’ to other venues without too much technical challenge.
MGM: You have really embraced social media to showcase your videos and connect with fans, but these shows will have been the first and only time most people could hear more of your music. Are you tempted to release the show as a film or CD?
Tony: Actually, a lot of the shows that I’ve been doing with British Lion have been filmed for Steve, but the same team have also filmed my stuff as well. So, I think there will be an opportunity to put together some footage from this tour that will look beautifully shot and capture some of the spirit of what I’ve been doing.
MGM: What more can you say about the American tour ambitions?
Tony: Well, it will be New York. It’ll be June 13th, but I want to get a few more dates in and around, and I want to get it on the website and on sale before I announce too much more. But the intention is to take it to the States, at least for a little while. There’ll be some Norwegian dates coming in, but over the next few weeks, I think a lot more is going to start developing.
For more information:
Tony Moore will be performing across the UK, as follows:
2nd February: Boston Spa Village Hall, Boston Spa
3rd February: Washington Arts Centre, Washington
4th February: Riverhead Theatre, Louth
8th February: The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington
9th February: The King Arthur, Glastonbury
10th February: Old Bakery Studios, Truro
15th February: Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells
16th February: Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli
17th February: Pontardawe Arts Centre, Pontardawe
18th February: Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan
23rd February: Woking ham Music Club, Wokingham
24th February: Pioneer Club, St Albans
23d March: The Camden Club, London