The Magic Highway


An Interview with affable Christie lead guitarist Adrian Foster
(Extracts from a series of chats conducted by Ray Chan)

Adrian FosterQ) Tell us something about yourself, Fos.

A) I was born in Derby, England, and became interested in the guitar at an early age, forming a band and playing my first gig when I was just 10. My friend Kevin Moore, Christie's bass player, was the singer! We played mainly our own songs, but also did other chart songs from people like Marmalade, The Beatles, The Herd, etc. There was an amazing guitar song by Dave Edmunds in the charts too - but far too difficult, and I vowed that one day I would become good enough to play it.
    When I left school I became a management trainee with the National Bus Company, and progressed rapidly to a senior position within a couple of years. However doing that and gigging four nights a week proved to be too much and I decided to go professional.

Q) What bands have you been with?

A) I answered an advert in Melody Maker, joined a band from Bristol called Trilby, and within a month was playing in Johannesburg - far away from the cold British winter! Work in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy followed as well as long periods in Germany with a group called Airtight - which included regular trips to Berlin, a place I love.
    Upon my return to the UK a few years later, after a spell playing bass, I was invited to join Tubeless Hearts, which reunited me with Kev, and introduced me to Simon Kay, Christie's drummer. He was a big record collector and often used to talk about the local music scene in the 60s and 70s and that's when I discovered Christie were originally from Leeds.
    I had the first K-Tel compilation album and one of my favourite tracks on there was Iron Horse - loved the jangly guitars and rolling rhythm. The music fitted the lyrics perfectly. Little did I know that one day I would be a member of the band!

Q) Do you have any favourite Christie songs?

A) I think my favourite Christie single is San Bernadino - it is just one of those perfect songs which ticks all the boxes for me. Inside Looking Out is another big fave.

Q) When you started playing with Christie, there were songs in the playlist you don't do now. Like Fool's Gold, Alabama, Handle with Care, City Streets. Why don't you play them now?

THA) Choosing songs in the early days was very different from the way it is now. When Tubeless
Hearts (pictured right) joined up with Jeff, we were a five-piece at the start with Trevor Midgley as a keyboard player who was also an outstanding vocalist, so we did some big harmony stuff.  However when he left Jeff decided to keep a raw edge with the band, and stay as a four- piece. We had to drop songs as a result.
    I bought a guitar synth to add extra textures on certain tunes like Jeopardy and No Reply, but from around 1996, this wasn't used abroad, due to excess baggage charges and problems with it getting lost between flights. We then settled as a purely guitar-based act doing a set list fairly similar to that of today.
    As an aside, in 1994 we played for a couple of weeks in Tel Aviv, and needed extra songs. Some of the early ones were brought back again and re-worked using the guitar synth - City Streets and Learning To Fly come to mind - and some new ones were also drafted in on a temporary basis. Most were discarded after the trip but one turned out not to be temporary after all, and is still played to this day.....

Q) Sabre Dance has been a consistent inclusion in set lists of the past few years. Whose idea was this?

A) When we were looking for songs for Israel, Jeff suggested we have a song featuring guitar to give everyone a break from singing and asked me to see if I could find anything suitable. I'm only an average guitarist anyway, so how could I find an instrumental from the 70s that featured me and lasted for more than 6 minutes? It took quite a while and then one night my mind went back to when I first started out and I remembered that song by Dave Edmunds - Sabre Dance. Could I play it? I realised I could, so then came the job of extending it, and trying to make all the bits come together as one big song.
    Eventually I presented it to the band, and after much debate everyone said " yes" and we worked and worked to get it right. I remember the first time we played it live and how amazing the reaction was afterwards ... so it has been part of the show ever since.

Click on the image to watch Fos play Sabre Dance.

Q) All the other members of the band handle lead vocals at some stage during the stage shows. When are we going to hear Adrian Foster?

A) I used to do background vocals. However the big harmony songs have gone now and as the other three are all great singers, there is nowhere for me to fit in. It would look odd if I only used the mic once in an hour spot! I have been known to introduce songs in German though on Jeff's behalf :)

Q) What do you do when not playing with Christie? Are you in another band?

A) I work with a girl singer named Caroline in a duo called Adrenalize, playing guitar and doing backing vocals. She's amazing - she can sound just like Whitney Houston if necessary , but equally at home with Bon Jovi and AC/DC. Incredibly talented. We do two to three gigs a week in the North of England.

Q) What are some of your treasured Christie moments?

A) The outstanding memory I have with Christie is an outdoor gig in Bonn - the show had to finish by 10pm due to noise restrictions and the park was packed with people in beautiful sunshine. I think Jeff said there were 40,000 there. We had played earlier, but the promoter had misjudged times and asked Jeff if we could go back on and do another 20 minutes to finish the show.
    While he rushed off to find the others, I prepared the guitars and climbed up the stairs onto the stage to be greeted with a huge roar from the crowd. I stopped to take it all in and couldn't believe the view of all those raised arms and smiling faces stretching away into the distance with a fading sun and incredible sunset behind them. A truly spectacular sight!.