Judge Jules Diary Report March 17th 2003

17th March

On Thursday March 13th I played a private party for the Metro group, who produce free daily newspapers in a number of major UK cities. The event took place at Pacha, being my first visit to the London branch of the famous Ibiza nighterie. Pacha is now a franchise with numerous international branches, in the true Macdonalds sense of the term. I was interested to explore inside… not only does my brother Sam’s Serious promotions organise the hugely successful monthly Dusted night there, I was resident dj for three years in the mid-Nineties when the venue was known as the SW1 club, named after its Victoria postcode.

The club hadn’t changed dramatically since its SW1 era, which is hardly surprising since the entire venue was always wood panelled and very classy. On my rare forays into playing corporate parties, I generally focus on the funky house side of things, so that’s the music I delivered. Metro were very generous in their supply of Champagne, so I went home with a stupid grin after playing my set.

Bizarrely, the following night’s gig (Friday 14th) was also at Pacha, but this time a very different affair. For the benefit of those outside the UK, Comic relief is a hugely publicised round of charity fundraising events throughout the British entertainment industry, occurring every two years. Radio 1’s input was to organise a ‘battle of the dj’s’ amongst all its dance-orientated spinners, raising money through text voting on premium rate numbers. I got into the spirit of things by spending the week in the studio creating some unorthodox bootlegs, mixing commercial artists such as Justin Timberlake, Alanis Morrisette and Frank Sinatra over banging dance tunes. I’m very pleased with the outcome of my studio work, and a number of these mixes will prove useful outside the confines of Pacha. Nevertheless, some of the voters perhaps failed to see the ironic side, as I was voted out in the second round. However, most importantly the event raised nearly 20,000pounds for charity.

I hung around til near the end of Pacha, doing some live chat on the assorted different chat-rooms Radio 1 had on-stream that night. Then I headed home for two hours ‘disco napping’ around midnight, before hitting Turnmills for a 3.330- 5.30 Friday night set.

Turnmills was as good as ever, and as I’ve done for the last few months, I recorded my set to be listened to via the site. Because it’s only ten minutes drive away, I always arrive home from T’mills unable to sleep. It takes at least 30-60 minutes to wind down from the adrenaline of dj’ing, so I ended the night tossing and turning in my bed before finally drifting off.

The following day I prepared my show and packed a small travelling bag. If I’m away for one night only, returning the morning after my gig, I must confess I take nothing more than a toothbrush, showering and changing when I get home. However, on this occasion I had three gigs over the course of two nights (Sat 15th/Sun 16th March) in Ireland for St Patrick’s day.

I raced to Heathrow after my show to catch the last Saturday flight to Belfast. I’ve taken this flight four times in the past six or seven months, and never arrived at the airport more than 35 minutes in advance, which doesn’t leave much margin for error or traffic snarl-ups. As I checked in I was told to head straight to the gate, where I was amongst the last stragglers to board, passing Tall Paul en route to my flight.

The gig was the Coach in Banbridge Northern Ireland, close to Belfast. For the second time in succession, there was barely room to move in this enormous venue. You’ve got to do something really awful to fail to generate an atmosphere in Northern Ireland, and they love chanting so loud you can barely hear the records. For some strange reason, the new chant was the ‘Whoop there it is’ refrain from the Tag team. Where that originated I’ve no idea, but it sounded mighty amusing. My notoriously poor bladder played up again. I was forced to make a couple of toilet visits during the course of my two hour set, and could barely move en route to the bathroom. At the end of the night, I made a speech wishing people ‘Happy St Patrick’s day’ and in notoriously sectarian Northern Ireland, some of the crowd booed, to which I responded ‘for those that DON’T celebrate it, please DON’T have a happy St Patrick’s day’. That seemed to calm the dissenters down. They were still chanting ‘Whoop there it is’ incredibly loudly after my set, as I slipped out of a side entrance and headed back to spend the night in Belfast.

The following day (Sun 16th) I roamed around Belfast City Centre looking for a restaurant to have some lunch. All the shops, bars and restaurants were shut on Sundays , which I found surprising in a city that’s become as cool as Belfast has in recent years. I’m not sure whether this is a lingering by-product of the troubles, but I was reluctantly forced to order room service in my hotel before being driven South to Dublin.

The journey South was one of the warmest, sunniest March days I’ve ever experienced. Ireland, which is gorgeous at the best of times, becomes absolutely splendid on the infrequent occasions when the sun spends all day beaming down. A journey from Northern Ireland into the Republic has advantages on both sides of the border. Much cheaper fuel prices in the South, but better roads in the North… although that situation’s being attended to by the Dublin Government.

We arrived at Dublin airport just in time to meet my wife Amanda off her flight from London. She’s rarely missed a trip to Dublin… after all she’s called Amanda O’Riordan! We checked into our hotel before heading to the Point Depot, Ireland’s largest concert venue, for another huge and impressively-staged God’s Kitchen event. The line-up was Tall Paul, Marco V, Ferry and Armin back to back, Paul Van Dyk and myself, so the arena was understandably very packed. I played relatively early (8pm) ‘cos I had another Irish gig to get to that night, and was very well-received. Being Irish, it always feels special playing in the home of my forefathers, and only last week I won the ‘Best visiting British dj’ in the BBM mag awards, which made me very proud. At the Point, people kept chucking Irish flags in my direction, which I waved as enthusiastically as ‘Paddy’s day’ dictated.

We then headed for Cross Keys in Co. Cavan. It’s a tiny town in the middle of Ireland, containing a mere handful of houses and a large country hotel with a club attached. Having arrived very early, I fell asleep in the car, waking up an hour later feeling freezing cold. My travelling companions had gone into the club and left me. The night wasn’t quite as packed as Dublin, but still well-attended, and once I’d got my mental faculties back after my shut eye, I ended up playing beyond my prescribed time, spinning a handful of the bootlegs I’d created for Friday night’s Comic relief gala. This was Ireland, so it goes without saying the atmosphere was superb.

More next week…


Judge Jules Diary Report March 10th 2003

10th March

Friday night was my fifth wedding anniversary, but we opted to celebrate on Thursday, and Amanda stayed at home on Friday, leaving me to travel up to Scotland for two gigs with my manager Charlie. En route to the airport I got a call from an unfamiliar number on my mobile. Not that I didn’t recognise the voice down the other end of the phone, it’s just that he’s changed his number and lost so many phones that I’ve given up trying to keep up with his details. It was Fergie, announcing that we were dj’ing together on both Friday and Saturday night. Back to the good old days. It’s impossible not to have a memorable night with a lunatic in attendance.

Charlie and I arrived at Edinburgh airport and were immediately driven an hour North to Dundee. We’d expected to have at least an hour’s social time before I was due to dj, but ended up navigating round ring roads for ages, unable to find the venue, Circus, hosting Glam’s eighth birthday bash. I’ve played for Glam regularly over the past five years and it was good to see promoters the Shy brothers again. They didn’t seem remotely bothered whether I started my set on time, so I chatted with Fergie about his forthcoming Mixmag column supporting young up-and-coming dj’s.

Eventually I hit the decks, and by this point the club was absolutely rammed. I was incessantly being asked to sign tickets and scraps of paper during my set. On the one hand you want to oblige as much as possible, on the other, there’s no doubt that it’s a distraction when you’re in the middle of dj’ing. The compromise is to sign a few autographs in between each record. If you sign too many, especially at a pre-sold ticket event where people have a ready souvenir in their hands, you end up getting swamped, people stop dancing and the focus on the music is lost.

Fergie took over on the decks, playing his trademark tekky sound, and I headed to the stunning city centre of Edinburgh. Illuminated at night, it’s nothing short of mind blowing, and the Honeycomb club is suitably situated in ancient vaults below the city centre. The last time I played for the promoters they took me on a protracted bar-crawl around the city’s watering holes. This time I had to jump straight on the decks, and the atmosphere was already in full-swing. It was packed right til the end, and we headed back to an Edinburgh airport hotel, enabling us to sleep ’til the last minute before our flight back to London on Saturday morning (8th March.)

My radio show on Sat provided me with one of the sternest broadcasting challenges of the year. My football team Arsenal were playing a crunch cup tie live on tv, commencing fifteen minutes into the show. I’m too much of a fanatic to resist the temptation of turning on the tv in the studio, so we watched the match during my show, but my producer Damian stood in front of the TV every time I spoke on the mic, so my vocal links weren’t affected.

Saturday night was a huge round-trip of nearly 700 miles, incorporating gigs in Newcastle and Liverpool. Long journeys are good shut-eye opportunities, and I managed a combined total of nearly 7 hours sleep on the three different legs of our trip. Our first port of call was the massive God’s Kitchen event at Newcastle’s Telewest Arena, capacity in excess of 7000 people. I was there an hour in advance, and chatted to promoters Neil and James, before hooking up with Fergie for the second consecutive night in a comfy backstage area.

Planning the staging of huge events is a conflict for promoters. On the one hand there’s the consideration that most dj’s prefer to be close to the crowd. On the other, it’s important to elevate the dj booth so that the whole auditorium can see. At Newcastle, I was on a huge scaffold tower which was further away from clubbers than I would have preferred, leaving me feeling detached and somewhat isolated. It’s always harder to choose your set when you can’t see the whites of the crowds’ eyes- the Telewest Arena is absolutely gigantic, and in the absence of being able to ‘feel’ the audience, which I normally can, I opted for a fairly safe choice of records. The atmosphere was good all the same and the event sold-out, but in an ideal world it’s better to be amongst people.

We then headed West for one of Cream’s now occasional return appearances at their spiritual home, Nation in Liverpool. Unlike Gatecrasher, who operate at least monthly in their original Sheffield base, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme, reason or regularity regarding Cream’s events in its home town. More’s the pity… despite playing 4.30-6am, it was absolutely rammed til the close, with an awesome atmosphere. I was straight on the phone to my manager Charlie on Monday morning to ensure I’ll be back there ASAP. It was like the Cream of old… unbeatable.

There’s not much UK clubbing on Sundays, apart from the odd Sundissential foray into craziness. I travelled to Walsall near Birmingham for Progress’ monthly night there on Sudnay March 9th. Having done four gigs during the weekend that were rammed to the rafters, I was brought crashing down to earth as the event was very quiet. Nevertheless, I put my heart into my set, which was the least I could do to thank the relatively few people who’d turned up, playing a longer set than had been billed. It’s always been difficult to spur people into action on Sundays… especially me… I’m usually vegged out reading the Sunday papers and doing precious little else.

More next week.


Judge Jules Diary Report March 3rd 2003

3rd March

All week I’ve looked out at my packed dancefloors and tried to formulate explaining what it is I like so much about dj’ing in Australia. After all, I’ve been down under sixteen times (seventeen if you include a New Zealand-only tour), so I must have some idea. Let’s leave Oz’s attraction as a tourist destination to one side for a minute, and concentrate on how fantastic its club culture is. The weather’s what British would call summertime virtually all year round, so people are dressed in the attire you’d expect in Ibiza or some other holiday destination. The carefree holiday-style attitude seems to prevail throughout the country and onto its dancefloors. Globally, Aussies were amongst the pioneers to embrace dance culture, perhaps as a result of prolific European back-packing travels. I first toured Australia back in ’95 with Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier, and the attraction was immediately infectious. I’ve visited twice a year ever since, playing to a sea of funkily dressed clubbers whose sartorial influence is a fusion of club and surf culture. The atmosphere is always awesome.

For those who haven’t ventured down under, the main deterrent is usually the daunting 22 hour flight. Admittedly you do reach a mid-air point where you’re desperate to arrive and see your bags cruising slowly in your direction down the carousel. Nevertheless, it’s worth every minute when you arrive. Although the time difference of between 9 and 11 hours is debilitating, in late February you leave the short days of the UK for the tail-end of an Aussie summer, where the sun still shimmers in the sky til 8pm. Going from short to long days fills you with the energy of the summer. Whilst Aussies might look at me like I’m mad when I tell them I’ve flown in from Europe for 5 nights, the long Southern Hemisphere days and warm weather are the only tonic you need.

Our first port-of-call was a destination I’ve not encountered before, Byron Bay, in between Sydney and Brisbane. Amanda and I staggered off our day-long sortie from London to Melbourne, only to face a four hour wait for the first domestic flight of the day to Byron’s closest airport, Coolongatta (in itself a two hour flight away.) Byron’s a great surfing destination, and an intregal part of the back-packers’ trail up the East Coast of Australia. In recent years it’s become an up-market location too, attracting the attention of travel mags such as Conde Naste Traveller. Our hotel, Rae’s, was one of the finest I’ve stayed in for ages, and Keith Richards had resided there a week earlier in advance of the Stones Aussie tour. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side. It hadn’t rained in Byron for four months- there were drought signs everywhere and a hosepipe ban in place. However, Amanda and my arrival coincided with the first downpour of 2003.

Each Australian tour involves five consecutive night’s dj’ing, and some cities are more British traveller-orientated, others being a strictly Aussie affair. I arrived at my Byron gig an hour before spinning and hung out at the bar supping a few drinks. There was a constant flow of people coming up to say hello, but it was 20 minutes before I encountered a single Aussie. Everyone was British, from just about every region of the UK. Byron has a permanent population of only 5000, dramatically swelled by travellers and surfers, but the ‘it’s a small world’ philosophy prevailed, as I met the brother of my boss at Radio 1, plus a guy who used to be an MC at God’s Kitchen in Birmingham, amongst others.

It’s very important to me to play smaller clubs in addition to larger events. A few household name dj’s have priced themselves out of ever playing small spaces. It’s their loss, as intimate nights are the most gratifying in which to perform- some dj’s need a slap round the face to remind them it’s not all about money. The venue in Byron held 500 people, and had sold out in advance. The atmosphere was electric, although my notoriously weak bladder forced me to escape the confines of the dj booth and take a pee out of a fire exit on a couple of occasions. Despite it’s size, the club (Moog) has managed to secure some blue chip talent in the last few months, in the shape of Roger Sanchez, Sasha and Freq Nasty. I can’t wait to get back- the shopping the following morning was great too.

Stop-off point two on our itinerary was Adelaide, where it had also been dry for months, before our arrival coincided with yet more rain. Whilst Australia’s weather is an undoubted attraction, there’s plenty more that’s appealing, and at any rate, Amanda and I were so jet-lagged that we hit the sack as soon as we arrived. I was a little nervous about the attendance at Heaven, only a stone’s throw from our hotel. My visit five months earlier had been on the eve of a public holiday, and was predictably packed. This was just a regular Thursday night, and Heaven is gargantuan-sized. From my early days as a dj, before I became accustomed to full venues, I got used to listening to the soundsystem from outside the doors of the club before entering, to prepare myself for a quiet night. If the sound is too echoey, there aren’t enough bodies to fill the venue and absorb the decibels.

It sounded that way at Heaven, as we entered through a back door. However, my ears were clearly deceiving me, as the night was very busy, this time with a totally Aussie crowd. On my previous occasion at Heaven last October, the turntables were hoisted high away from the crowd on a scaffold platform. This time I was much closer to people, which is always better, and I was able to interact in typically animated schoolboy-like fashion, really enjoying myself.

The following day club owner John Pike took us to one of the finest Thai restaurants we’ve ever visited, and on each visit the chef’s come to our table and talked us through the preparation of some of our favourite dishes. I’ve thought about including a monthly recipe on this site, but perhaps that would be digressing too much!

The next afternoon (Friday Feb 28th) we headed North to the capital of the State of Queensland, Brisbane. Despite having played Brissie multiple times, this was my first gig there on a weekend, and the difference in both atmosphere and attendance was staggering. The club, Family, was heaving. Although the decks were a greater distance away from the clubbers than is ideal, and my view of the crowd was further obscured by two poorly-positioned CD players, the atmosphere was brilliant. Brisbane has a great year round climate, but it was far more humid than usual. The club seemed well air-conditioned, but any cooling system would have struggled with near 100% humidity, and there was a bit of a problem with condensation dripping on my records. Nothing too major mind you. Family was just so packed that I didn’t hang around for long after my set, but I sincerely hope they invite me back on my return visit to Oz in late September- what a night was had by all!

The following two nights I joined the Aussie ‘Two tribes’ festival, making its way to the country’s major cities over the next couple of weekends (although I was only doing the first weekend’s gigs.) Also on the bill were Armin Van Buuren, Layo and Bushwacka, Dave Seaman, Junkie XL and Mauro Picotto. We arrived in Sydney, catching the sensational view of the Opera house and Harbour bridge as we descended into Kingsford Smith airport. As we collected our bags, the promoter informed me that Mauro had cancelled, having ruptured an ear drum. I believe this happened to Sasha a few years earlier, and it sounds like the ultimate dj nightmare. By all accounts one has to cancel all gigs for months, and I’d imagine studio work would prove very difficult too.

When you look at the total transformation of a city’s infrastructure brought about by hosting the Olympics, it’s easy to see why countries lobby so vigorously to stage them. Barcelona, the hosts eight years earlier, gained a fantastic airport, a totally reformed roads system, plus hundreds of hotels, event venues and numerous other city improvements. Sydney’s no different, and I was lucky enough to dj there during the 2000 games. There were numerous British Olympic athletes at my gig that night, many of them…. how shall we say… very much the worse for wear. Years of abstention and training resulted in many of them ‘letting it all hang out’ once their Olympic participation was over in Sydney (and the cloud of drug testing temporarily suspended.) Anyway, I’ll say no more on that, and move swiftly back to Two Tribes 2003.

This was the second time in 12 months that I’d dj’d in a venue specially erected for the Olympics (the other being in Barcelona in May 2002.) Two Tribes took place in the Sydney Showgrounds in Homebush, and was everything you’d expect from a major Aussie festival. Regular readers of this column will no doubt have tired of my constant references to my bladder, but I’ll soldier on regardless. It was weaker than ever on the night. I had to race out of an open large cargo entrance to relieve myself in the 25 degree heat four times during my set. Unfortunately, it was only on the last occasion that I realised that hundreds of people at the front of the auditorium could see what I was doing. They pointed and laughed as I raced back to the turntables. Following me on the decks was Armin Van Buuren, whose parents (both doctors) are emigrating from Holland to Australia in June. Suddenly he’s started playing down under a great deal more, for obvious reasons.

Sunday March 2nd was the final date of my Aussie itinerary. In most European countries, the mention of a domestic flight conjures up the image of one hour or so in the air. Sydney to Perth takes at least four and a half. In the circumstances, this was a good thing, as four nights in a row of dj’ing takes it out of you, and I slept virtually the whole way (as did Dave Seaman, two rows in front.) My Two Tribes Perth set time was a very reasonable 11pm-1am, which was a relaxing end to a very jet-lagging five nights in Oz. The queue outside the city’s Metro club was enormous when I arrived, and people were still flooding in when I started my set. Finishing at 1am, there was still no sign of the next act, Junkie XL doing a live set of music. When I asked the promoters where he was, they informed me that there had been a mistake, and I was actually due to be playing til 2, not 1. The problem is that you can’t simply extend your set- you spend the last half an hour knowing exactly how you’re going to end, building up the momentum. If you’re told you’ll be playing three hours you plan accordingly, likewise two. So, in the end I played a few more records and came off stage, as I’d built the atmosphere to the crescendo I was aiming at. Thankfully Junkie XL was more than happy to start his set early. Overall it was a great night, with vibrant atmosphere. I only wish I’d been told I was going to play three hours, as I would have planned things accordingly.

I’m on the flight back home now. 14 hours gone… six to go!

More next week.


Judge Jules Diary Report February 24th 2003

24th February

For only the second time in my dj career, a major motor manufacturer leant us a car to road test on our dj travels at the weekend. On the last occasion it was a Bentley, in which we looked so out of place, it was a miracle the police didn’t pull us over and have us spread-eagled on the bonnet. This time, it was the new VW Phaeton executive model. We were in esteemed company, as the previous borrowers had been Auto Express, and the next incumbent was due to be Jeremy Clarkson. It was the one and only Phaeton in the UK- it’s not been released yet, and was dripping with gadgets. Each of the four seats contained an automatic back massager, which was a peculiar way of relieving the stress of Friday night rush-hour traffic. The engine consists of two Golf V6’s bolted together, and the expression ‘goes like shit off a shovel’ sprang to mind, doing O-60mph (100kmh) in 5.5 sec’s. Freshly imported from Germany, it was left hand-drive (we drive RHD vehicles in the UK.) This was disconcerting, as each time I woke from my slumber in the passenger seat, I was where the driver would normally be sat, which was confusing and frightening in my semi-delirious state.

Unfortunately, Friday (Feb 21st) was no time to be testing a car. The UK was blanketed with impenetrable fog on the night of one of my longest dj’ing road journeys, to the Empire in Middlesborough (250 miles from London.) Fortunately we’d left London with ample time, as I really like the owners/promoters of the Empire. We always try to arrive an hour early for a ‘social’. This is partly to avoid being obliged to stay for a drink afterwards- an Empire ritual, but not fantastic preparation for my radio show the following day. Barry, the owner, has recently bought a pad in Ibiza, and we shared stories relating to the pleasures and pitfalls of owning a house in the Balearics. There’s virtually never been an occasion when owner Barry and promoter Ashley haven’t been there, which is a lesson to some of the stay-away promoters who sometimes don’t attend their own events.

The atmosphere in the UK’s North East is legendary, and the Empire is one of two venues at which I always record my dj set to be put on the website (it should appear in the next couple of weeks.) The dj booth is set up with four turntables and two mixers- a great back-to-back dj opportunity- I’ve yet to try it there, but look forward to battling with another dj sometime in the future.

The crowd refused to go home and after my third encore, accompanied by some inane chortling on the mic by my drunken self, we headed out into the night. The fog had become even worse, and it was so difficult to read the road signs that we took a wrong turning, making our journey even more complicated. The most dangerous thing about thick fog is that you suddenly encounter drivers going dangerously slow, ie around 20mph, on roads with three times that speed limit. We were only able to resume normal MPH about half way towards London, once the quantity of trucks making Saturday morning deliveries built up, giving us a sense of perspective about the thickness of the fog.

After waking around 10am on Saturday, I prepared my radio show all day before heading to Radio 1. I get the show together early in the day on Saturdays, as the 90 minutes immediately prior to it commencing are spent frantically scanning the football reports on both tv and radio. The last Premiership matches end at 4.55, and my show begins five minutes later, so advance preparation’s essential, if only to ensure that an unfavourable result for Arsenal doesn’t ruin my karma. There was no such cause for concern on Saturday, as Arsenal trounced Manchester City 5-1 to take a five point lead at the summit of the Premiership.

Anyway, I’m getting carried away on a tangent. I finished the show, and had an hour at home to polish off a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc before heading out for Bristol and Derby. We’d had some decorating done that day, and the house reeked of gloss, so I was pleased to be out the door.

Fortunately, the weather was much improved en-route to Bristol, as Pete and I were accompanied by Lippy who runs this site (hopefully some pictures will appear shortly.) There was a reassuringly decent-sized queue as we arrived outside Creation nightclub, home of Slinky Bristol. I played 11-1, which is a set-time I always enjoy, as it enables me to build the musical momentum for the first hour, unlike a later set when I’m expected to be quite high-velocity throughout. By midnight the club was packed upstairs and down, and I left very pleased with the atmosphere.

I was clearly worn out by the nerve-racking stop-start sleep in the previous night’s fog, sleeping like a log throughout the 140 mile journey to Derby, and had to be woken by my driver Pete outside Progress. Although they’re one of the UK’s longest standing ‘branded’ dance nights, Progress have changed venues four or five times during their ten year existence, having returned to their original home, The Conservatory, about six months ago. The club was very full, and for only the second occasion, I took to the decks after my occasional musical cohort Darren Tate. I normally incorporate about 4-6 of my own productions in a two hour set. From what I could gather, Darren was packing his set with his own tunes, which is acceptable ‘cos most of them are really rather good.

I finished at 5am, and headed off immediately as I had a family lunch the following afternoon. Boy can my family drink, but that’s another story…

More next week.


Judge Jules Diary Report January 27th 2003

27th January

Now almost a year since I started my weekly reports, it’s felt like going back to school. Hopefully I’ve learned to write again. I recently printed out a whole year’s worth, and was appalled at how pompous and self important early editions sounded. Part of the problem was that I felt the need to focus entirely on my gigs. I’m lucky enough that the vast majority of clubs and parties I play are very busy with exceptional atmosphere. So really there’s not much to report in that respect. It was only upon starting to focus on travelling anecdotes and the foibles of the many different people I meet, that I believe this column began to improve. The last couple of weeks have covered two very busy spells- the Christmas and New Year period, and my Asian tour. On this occasion, there’s only two gigs to talk about, so if it seems like I’m dragging things out, that’s the reason why.

We returned from Bangkok in the early hours of Friday Jan 17th. Despite my frequent sorties into different time zones, they’re usually very short visits which only shift the body clock a couple of hours in either direction. This time I’d been away for a full two weeks, and the difference it made on the jet-lag front was major. For those that haven’t experienced 8 hour plus disorientation, you feel like your centre of gravity’s all screwed up and you’re on board a ship on rough waters. Despite feeling this way, I had two weeks of promo records to plough through. An important job- the Christmas period doesn’t throw up much playable new music, however January brings plenty of goodies. When you’ve been touring night after night with a small hand-luggage sized bag of tunes, you come home aching for some new tracks to breathe life into your next set. Fortunately there was plenty of satisfactory tuneage awaiting me. Also arrived was a new car, which replaced my previous one, only 20 months old with 80,000 miles on the clock. We covered so many miles in it, the tyres needed changing every two months, which was very expensive. This was my first ever car with sat nav. The manual was as long as a telephone directory, but once we’d worked out the key features, we were astonished how accurately it pinpoints your location (to the nearest 20 cms.) I then collapsed into a coma-like sleep for four hours of the 280 mile journey to Newcastle. According to my driver Pete, we were stationary behind an accident on the motorway for over an hour, but I was none the wiser. We arrived only 20 minutes late, with the help of our navigation system.

Gigs in mid-January can be unpredictable. Most people still haven’t received their next monthly pay cheque after the expense of Christmas and New Year. Not that Promise in Newcastle was affected- it was a complete sell out. The venue’s awesome to play in, because from the vantage point of the dj booth, you can see just about everyone in the club, and they’re dancing as far as the eye can see, and the atmosphere’s legendary. I tested all the new tracks I’d listened to during the day, and all but one got a ten out of ten reaction. I’d hoped that at least 50% of my radio show the following day would consist of tracks I’d never aired before, but only if they tested well in front of a club audience. Despite having failed to play my full two and a half hours, thanks to the accident on the way up, what a night!

When we arrived home about 6am, my body clock was all over the place, refusing to let me sleep. So I did everything I would normally do after waking up on a Saturday morning, ie preparing my radio show, writing links and answering emails. I eventually managed to get to sleep by 10am knowing that at least everything was prepared and ready for the show when I finally woke.

Rising at around 3pm, I headed straight for Radio 1, did my show, and then had half an hour to get to Heathrow for the last flight of the day to Belfast. For the third time in as many months I arrived for this BMI flight with less than five minutes remaining before check in closed. It was then straight to Armagh, 45 minutes away, for The Met. There were at least 3000 people there- I’d only played once previously, on a Bank Holiday Monday with considerably less in attendance. The Met must have one of the biggest dancefloors outside Ibiza, and combined with outstanding Northern Irish atmosphere, it was a great night. Unfortunately, I was very jet lagged by the time I hit the decks. It seems to affect you worse on the second day, and was less than my usual animated self when dj’ing. Nevertheless the night was awesome.

I ended the night at a houseparty with Fergie, who appeared out of nowhere. The get together took place in the basement of a guy called Davey’s house. He’s built a fully-fitted club down there, which could be in any city centre, it’s that authentic. It’s not cheap to construct your own nighterie in your cellar, I can assure you… don’t even think about it! I was too exhausted to hang around there for more than an hour, but it was a surreal end to a tiring weekend with two very good gigs.

More next week…


Judge Jules Diary Report January 20th 2003

20h January

Now almost a year since I started my weekly reports, it’s felt like going back to school. Hopefully I’ve learned to write again. I recently printed out a whole year’s worth, and was appalled at how pompous and self important early editions sounded. Part of the problem was that I felt the need to focus entirely on my gigs. I’m lucky enough that the vast majority of clubs and parties I play are very busy with exceptional atmosphere. So really there’s not much to report in that respect. It was only upon starting to focus on travelling anecdotes and the foibles of the many different people I meet, that I believe this column began to improve. The last couple of weeks have covered two very busy spells- the Christmas and New Year period, and my Asian tour. On this occasion, there’s only two gigs to talk about, so if it seems like I’m dragging things out, that’s the reason why.

We returned from Bangkok in the early hours of Friday Jan 17th. Despite my frequent sorties into different time zones, they’re usually very short visits which only shift the body clock a couple of hours in either direction. This time I’d been away for a full two weeks, and the difference it made on the jet-lag front was major. For those that haven’t experienced 8 hour plus disorientation, you feel like your centre of gravity’s all screwed up and you’re on board a ship on rough waters. Despite feeling this way, I had two weeks of promo records to plough through. An important job- the Christmas period doesn’t throw up much playable new music, however January brings plenty of goodies. When you’ve been touring night after night with a small hand-luggage sized bag of tunes, you come home aching for some new tracks to breathe life into your next set. Fortunately there was plenty of satisfactory tuneage awaiting me. Also arrived was a new car, which replaced my previous one, only 20 months old with 80,000 miles on the clock. We covered so many miles in it, the tyres needed changing every two months, which was very expensive. This was my first ever car with sat nav. The manual was as long as a telephone directory, but once we’d worked out the key features, we were astonished how accurately it pinpoints your location (to the nearest 20 cms.) I then collapsed into a coma-like sleep for four hours of the 280 mile journey to Newcastle. According to my driver Pete, we were stationary behind an accident on the motorway for over an hour, but I was none the wiser. We arrived only 20 minutes late, with the help of our navigation system.

Gigs in mid-January can be unpredictable. Most people still haven’t received their next monthly pay cheque after the expense of Christmas and New Year. Not that Promise in Newcastle was affected- it was a complete sell out. The venue’s awesome to play in, because from the vantage point of the dj booth, you can see just about everyone in the club, and they’re dancing as far as the eye can see, and the atmosphere’s legendary. I tested all the new tracks I’d listened to during the day, and all but one got a ten out of ten reaction. I’d hoped that at least 50% of my radio show the following day would consist of tracks I’d never aired before, but only if they tested well in front of a club audience. Despite having failed to play my full two and a half hours, thanks to the accident on the way up, what a night!

When we arrived home about 6am, my body clock was all over the place, refusing to let me sleep. So I did everything I would normally do after waking up on a Saturday morning, ie preparing my radio show, writing links and answering emails. I eventually managed to get to sleep by 10am knowing that at least everything was prepared and ready for the show when I finally woke.

Rising at around 3pm, I headed straight for Radio 1, did my show, and then had half an hour to get to Heathrow for the last flight of the day to Belfast. For the third time in as many months I arrived for this BMI flight with less than five minutes remaining before check in closed. It was then straight to Armagh, 45 minutes away, for The Met. There were at least 3000 people there- I’d only played once previously, on a Bank Holiday Monday with considerably less in attendance. The Met must have one of the biggest dancefloors outside Ibiza, and combined with outstanding Northern Irish atmosphere, it was a great night. Unfortunately, I was very jet lagged by the time I hit the decks. It seems to affect you worse on the second day, and was less than my usual animated self when dj’ing. Nevertheless the night was awesome.

I ended the night at a houseparty with Fergie, who appeared out of nowhere. The get together took place in the basement of a guy called Davey’s house. He’s built a fully-fitted club down there, which could be in any city centre, it’s that authentic. It’s not cheap to construct your own nighterie in your cellar, I can assure you… don’t even think about it! I was too exhausted to hang around there for more than an hour, but it was a surreal end to a tiring weekend with two very good gigs.

More next week…


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