Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company
Monday 29th October, Prague, Rock Club
I was on the swing homeward. Waking up in Prague around 12 to a series of intense manoeuverings as the bus tried to jostle its way along one way streets and back alleys in search of the venue. I could hear the shouting and horn honking as we managed to stop all traffic in the area. I looked out of the back window of Dusters to see Steve V, Frank, McKinty, Yatta and others flagging traffic down and arguing with irate Czechs. Enough chiefs already. The manoeuvering took over an hour and Hawkeye came close to breaking. The GPS had taken him into a crosswork of narrow streets that were now subject to the construction of a new shopping mall not yet registered on the GPS unit. It was chaos. I went back to my bunk and stayed there till late afternoon. I wasn't in a shopping mood and had seen the old city before. Tonight was a gig and yesterday had been a wee bit rough. Cop the Zs and take the recovery time.
The club was downstairs and the load in demanding. The gear in the venue wasn't that great and the crew were struggling a bit. Another re-wire. The support band stood around their gear and watched us set up. We told them that the stage was too small and that they couldn't touch our wiring patches. The gig was unlikely for them.
I showered and dressed and then was hit by two interviews, both demanding. It turned out that "13th Star" was voted in the top 4 of the recommended albums in Czechland's biggest magazine. A stunning review. The interview was the follow up and the young lady knew her stuff. 45 minutes of interrogation and delving into the subject matter on a level that became more like being on a psychiatrist's couch. It got very personal and I had to pull back the line of questioning a couple of times. As I said before it's difficult if not impossible to avoid commenting on the Summer's events but I try not to mention names or too much detail. Problem this time was that the journalist already knew most of the details and had her own assumptions and opinions. It was a testing interview. I liked it.
The other was also well read up and again we embarked on a conversation rather than a regurgitating of the usual boring questions. It was obvious the album was making a huge impression and great numbers for the gig boded well for more shows there next year.
Sound check eventually happened and the local crew went out to get more leads to plug in the support band. They had run out of leads in the club and even I had to wait on a replacement mike cable.
Dinner in the Cafe next door. A simple grilled chicken breast with real salad and hot chips! Heaven!
After I'd eaten I went to the local Tesco, a bizarre experience! I bought a couple of boxes of wine but they declined my Tesco card! Just to have a carrier bag with the store name drew us closer to home.
The gig was great and, considering most of the band had suffered a bit on the day off, we were well together. A 9.8/10 it was a result for future gains. I would be back sooner rather than later.
The bus was relatively quiet that night.
Tuesday 30th October, Munich, Kleiner Elserhalle
It was a different world! Catering was full on. There was even a Thai take away in the car park where the bus was! It was all there! The full Monty. Band and crew had glorious smiles. Hot showers, towels, wireless network, sound system to spec! You had the feeling you were close to home.
I slept late, it was a 2 out of 3 and an important show. Artur Silbur was handling the promo for the tour and was also the drummer in the support band, "Central Park", a big band in the early '80s with a very '70s sound.
We met for the first time in a few years. A great guy and genuine muso he was raving about the response to "13th Star" in the German press. He had put a lot of work into the tour and the album and was achieving great results.
Sound check was a dawdle! The dinner was fantastic and we were like prisoner of war camp inmates on our reintroduction to normal rations!
The audience was a tough piece of work and older than what we had worked with in recent weeks. It took a curve and a half to switch them on but we did it in the end. The Poles had spoiled us! We took a 9.6/10. A great Munich result as it had never been a heartland even back in the '80s. Artur told me the press had loved the show. Reviews proved him right.
Monday 31st October, Luxembourg, Dudelange, Le Fondueq
I woke up early as the bus parked up outside the venue on the outskirts of Dudelange. I was one of the first up for a change and went down to make tea for Hawkeye. I pointed out that we were directly outside the factory block where the venue was and in minutes I was in charge of the bus. Hawkeye let me take the wheel after he pulled into the grounds of what was a disused steelworks, now converted into a complex of gigs and exhibition centres. John Rech, my great old friend from days when he supported us as singer with T42, and now major promoter in the area, was totally bemused as I drove the coach and trailer up to the load in dock and waved him good morning.
The venue was freezing, most of the windows taken out and the blowers struggling to make a difference.
The stage was perfect as were the lights and everything was great apart from the temperature back stage, where we huddled in cabins.
Showers were in a nearby hotel and broke the hours while we waited to get that last gig and head to Calais for the ferry. My ex-wife had driven down to see a friend and visit Tara. It was awkward between us. Tara had grown up so much in recent weeks. It was very different.
Meal at the venue was superb and we rolled on stage to an audience clad in jackets, scarves and gloves while wearing vests and T-shirts. It was so cold the vocal warm up meant nothing. A 9.8/10 or so we turned down showers in favour of getting on that journey as soon as possible. The feedback was tremendous. A familiar "best show ever...." from the press and audience. I wanted to get home.
The drive was a blur. I woke up for the ferry crossing and a greasy breakfast with Taz before back to the bunk and then the familiar wait at Birmingham airport. A hefty excess luggage charge was shrugged at, I couldn't give a damn!
I was sniffling and coughing. Incoming! The scheduled break was going to pay off. My system was giving up after holding out all the way through Poland. Only Frank and I had evaded all the shit flying around.
I was exhausted. My Dad picked me up.
I arrived home to two lonely cats.
Kenny phoned to ask me if I was going down the pub!
When's the next bus?