WHILE the tiny island of Bali may
not be so mysterious these days, its locale remains
somewhat of an exotic destination for many in the
western world. Some probably only know the the name
from the musical South Pacific, from which the song
Bali Ha'i has become a standard. But it is no figment
of the imagination .. this tropical haven off the
coast of Indonesia is very real indeed, and is SE
Asia's leading tourist hotspot, with its absolutely
wonderful food and magnificent temples, palaces, volcanoes,
beaches and wildlife.
The people are friendly and
a joy to get along with, because they know that tourism
remains the lifeblood of the island, and that making
visitors welcome will of course encourage many of
them to return.
But it's not quite a paradise
either. Mixed in with five star hotels and world class
resorts are derelict buildings, kerbside beggars,
polluted rivers, narrow roads and a traffic systen
so chaotic it takes nerves of steel to negotiate a
journey. There are no apparent road rules, with the
ubiquitous motor scooters darting in and out and up
and down, and SUVs passing SUVs which in turn are
passing other SUVs even as they turn a blind corner.
And so it came to pass, in
this exotic corner of the world, that Jeff Christie
performed in September 2010 ... at the invitation
of long-time associate and newly-ensconced Balinese
Epstone, a one-time housemate of Jeff's back in
the UK. As public relations officer for the local
chapter of Rotary, Robert knew a concert headlined
by Jeff would help raise much needed funds for disabled
children in Bali, one of the many humanitarian causes
to which the organisation is dedicated.
Jeff's visit also provided
the perfect opportunity for him to catch up with Christie
website manager Ray Chan, who, living in the Australian
city of Perth barely three hours away by plane, was
quick to book a flight to the island. The eventual
meeting between the two would the first time they
had got together for 40 years.
in 1971, with Christie riding the crest of their popularity,
the band embarked on a tour of SE Asia and Australia
... which included a stopover at Bali and a gig in
Perth. Young teenager Ray, who had fallen in love
with the sounds of Christie's first album, pestered
his dad to chaperone him to the Perth nightclub at
which Christie were playing .. and ended up meeting
his idols and getting an album autographed. The impression
has lasted with Ray ever since, and after re-establishing
contact with Jeff in 1998, he created this website
which keeps growing stronger and attracting fans old
However, reuniting with Ray
was just one of Jeff's priorities on the visit ...
the main one was naturally the show itself, for which
Jeff had to play with a local backing band. Rehearsals
were difficult, with the practice studio an arduous
90-minutes' drive away via congested Balinese thoroughways.
The mellow, lax and often inscrutable attitudes of
the locals didn't help either, for there were days
when some band members would simply decide not to
turn up because "they had something else on".
Meanwhile, billboards and
posters for the Christie show were being plastered
all over Seminyak, the town where the gig was booked.
Ever the professional, Jeff was determined not to
disappoint concert-goers and vowed to overcome the
obstacles and ensure the show went off successfully.
A problem with the initial
date set down for the event was to be a blessing in
disguise: due to a double booking, the Christie performance
had to be put back by a week, giving the musos more
time to learn the set. The band eventually did manage
to come together for several encouraging sessions,
so much so that Jeff was finally able to relax a couple
of days before the concert was due.
With the tension eased significantly,
Jeff was happy to participate in an impromptu jam
when urged by the house band at Mannekepis, Bali's
leading jazz and blues venue, where Jeff had been
dining with Robert. The result was a
three-song set of Rock and
Roll Music, Bad Moon
Rising and Twist and
Shout, which brought the house down and whetted
appetites for the big gig on the following day.
SOS (Sunset Over Seminyak) nightclub at the 5-star
Anantara resort is without question Seminyak's finest,
with patrons able to enjoy magnificent views over
the gorgeous beach and ocean .. and it was here that
Jeff played to a packed house on the night of the
charity gig. With the backing band, Kelimutu, showing
their professionalism, and the assistance of harmonica
player Eric Bonhomme, Jeff romped through a highly
entertaining show that included his hits and some
rock classics, leaving guests dancing on the floor
throughout. Christie fans at the club would have been
delighted to see Jeff bring out the classic
peace pendant he used to wear when playing with
Christie in their heyday.
The view from the SOS nightclub
Jeff and the backing band rock the
The peace pendant is back!
The local band were on fire too.
Jeff found many new fans.
praise and new-found fans came Jeff's way that
night. It was a mark of Jeff's generosity that he
donated his time to help raise funds for a worthwhile
cause, which was boosted by the auction of a few personal
items to an appreciative and generous crowd (see right).
Three weeks in Bali thus proved
to be a mixture of frustration and satisfaction, of
sweaty shirts and cold cocktails, of meeting old and
new friends, and, as the song goes, of pleasure and
pain .. but certainly more of the former.
Perhaps most encouragingly,
interest in Jeff's music has been renewed .. so much
so there is now talk of him returning for another
But there's no rest for the
talented .. barely three weeks after Jeff returned
from Bali, he and his band were due to play in the
colder climes of Germany. And so the Yellow
River keeps flowing along ......
STARS ARE HUMAN TOO!
Jeff orders lunch at a Balinese food
Jeff and friends waiting for their
Jeff and Robert enjoy a Japanese dinner
Jeff enjoying dinner in Bali