Soaps aren’t my style
I was recently approached by a friend who works in radio to provide some promotional photographs for an interview she was about to do. The interview was with Alan Fletcher aka Doctor Karl Kennedy from Neighbours. My initial reaction was not exactly enthusiastic, considering soaps on an equal footing with reality television something to be endured for the sake of a harmonious relationship.
However I did agree to attend and so it was on a cold Decembers night that I found myself waiting with my camera in hand in the foyer of a rather swanky hotel in Manchester for the Aussie soap legend to arrive. He promptly appeared and suggested that his room was the most suitable location for my friend to carry out her interview. Apologising for the untidy state of his room, which was in fact a long way short of being a mess he ushered us in. The interview went well, my friend has a calm approach and soon had Alan relaxed enough to chat away. It may not have been particularly revealing, but the chatty atmosphere will undoubtedly appeal to her listeners. Alan came across very amiable and I managed to capture a few decent images that complimented the style of the interview and it was all finished quite quickly.
Marketing Christmas & Clublife
We had also been invited to attend his show at the K2 Club later that evening which gave us a few hours to kill. Visiting the Christmas market in Albert Square we feasted on bratwurst (well I did she is vegetarian), Dutch doughnuts and mulled wine before searching out the club. Gaining access was relatively painless for us after my friend weaved her magic, informing the door staff we were on the guest list. It was not quite so easy for the paying guests however, as they were required to pass through airport type security and having their drivers licence copied, new health and safety regulations apparently.
The club itself was a few floors up; the receptionist that provided us with our VIP passes was very pleasant and helpful as were all the staff in fact. There was further security up here and we were directed to a VIP area with comfortable booths, but it did not appear to offer much different to the ‘normal’ area despite having an inflated admission price.
The interior was similar to most nightclubs, with bright, coloured lighting and slightly garish wall decorations. There was a bar and separate cocktail bar, and a small stage, there was not however any dance floor, the guests simply ‘strut their stuff’ where they stand.
The wait was all a bit too much for one young guy; he was absolutely plastered and was soon emptying the contents of his stomach on the floor of the VIP booths, yeah I know too much information. The security team were fairly gentle with him and politely escorted away, I felt sorry for his two female friends who also had to leave. Oh and the waiting on staff who also had to clean up his mess!
There was still a little time before Alan and the band started their performance, so I had a wander around and took a few test shots with and without a flashgun. I was surprised how many young people there were present, especially young men in their late teens or early twenties, but I am assured Alan Fletcher has a large and enthusiastic following in the universities, where he often performs.
Once the show started it soon became evident just how enthusiastic they really were, the venue was not exactly overflowing though this was probably more due to a lack of publicity for the event rather than Alan’s appeal. The club did not seem the ideal venue but everybody appeared determined to have a great time however and this added a great deal of atmosphere to the show.
Alan and the band certainly did their part, obviously enjoying themselves thoroughly and providing plenty of energy and enthusiasm of their own. They never seemed to take themselves too seriously and Alan’s alter ego Dr Karl was the butt of a number of jokes, providing quite a bit of material. It was also quite funny when the audience started singing “Where have the ashes gone” at one point.
The music was an endless stream of rock and pop anthems including “Living On A Prayer,” “We Are The Champions” and “Come On Eileen” as well as his parody of the Smokie/Chubby Brown hit “Sleeping Alongside of Susan” which is his most downloaded YouTube song! The audience joined in singing along at the right moments and providing a constant flow of banter towards the evenings lead vocalist.
Some of the ‘backing’ band could also sing and proof of this was provided by a couple of them belting out a couple of impressive cover versions of their own.
I was quite popular during the evening, appearing to be there in an ‘official’ capacity as a photographer and there was a number of willing models, both male and female eager to pose for the camera. I was reasonably happy that I managed to capture a few decent images as well.
Adoring ‘Neighbours’ as fans
Before and after the show Alan was mingling with the audience, patiently posing for photographs, enjoying a laugh and a joke, this never seemed to be chore for him, he genuinely appeared to be enjoying himself and was tireless from start to finish, much kudos to the guy.
This kept me quite busy, but I was still able to enjoy the evening, and despite the slightly strange venue Alan and his supporting band; The XRays featuring another Aussie Tommy Rando provided an excellent evening’s entertainment. I will accept much more eagerly next time there is an offer to meet or see Alan perform, he is a top bloke and fair dinkum to him; a top entertainer, though apologies Alan but it still has not persuaded me to become an avid “Neighbours fan!”