Box News #262 – November 28, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about pre-production for the new album, flying to Dubai, the emotional ‘Churchill’ film, running out of vino, ‘Jumeirah Creekside Hotel,’ the ‘Tumbay’ medical centre, being met with flowers, seeing the amazing state of the art medical machinery, being screamed at by the students, eating at an amazing Arabic Curry House, seeing ‘Ocean Colour Scene,’ meeting the German twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell, being taken to the only 7star hotel in the world the ‘Burj Al Arab Jumeriah,’ opulence aplenty, food and service to die for, Camel Milk, a cake to celebrate Dubai being our 61st Country we have performed in, the concert outside in an amazing setting, hot and humid, the mistimed firework display, and a wonderful atmosphere for a rock show.

Mick also discusses, flying to Bucharesti Romania, the Hard Rock Cafe, Russ and water, the German front line, dressing room mayhem, and the noisy Tarom Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv Israel.

Mick also talks about, walking along the beach, inferior equipment in the venue in Haifa, a great loud audience, the ‘Havana Club’ in Tel Aviv, surprise meet and greets, a great atmosphere, and the thorough checks you have to go through to leave Israel at the Ben Guiron Airport. Arriving in London, losing Scampi’s bag, changing crew, staying in a LHR Airport hotel, driving to Wales, our Caravans, blackouts, school dinners, meeting one of our managers Ace and his assistant Sean, the Von Hertzen Brothers, a great show headlining the Hard Rock Hell Prog stage despite a few problems, the train, the drive, the cab home and Spurs losing to Arsenal.

Well after 2 weeks in the studio on pre-production for the new album which was hard work, but very worthwhile, we were all glad to be back at LHR Terminal 5 to catch a BA flight to Dubai. This was going to be a fun 2 weeks playing concerts in Dubai, Romania, Israel and Wales.

The flight was 7 hours 30 minutes long and everything was going very well until they run out of wine. To be honest I think they just shut the bar. The films to watch were pretty mediocre though they did show ‘Churchill’ which was brilliant. I had seen ‘Dunkirk’ previously in London with my wife Sheila, and this was a very emotional film that even brought a tear to my eye I have to say, and you would be hard put not to be moved by it.

On arrival in Dubai it only took 20 minutes to get through passport control and we were met by our promoters reps. We landed at 11.45pm, and the hotel was only a few minutes drive from the airport. It was a magnificent hotel with fabulous rooms and some went to the bar while others like my good-self went to bed. The time difference was 4 hours ahead of the UK.

The next morning everyone made breakfast except for Davey and I. To be honest the rest of the gang got up for breakfast as it closed late at 11am, but we were being taken to lunch at 12.45pm, so I thought I would give brekky a miss. There is only so much food you can eat and I was happy to skip that one.

The band all piled into waiting limousines waiting outside the hotel for a 45 minute drive to a medical centre called ‘Thumbay.’ We didn’t know what to expect but boy were we in for a surprise. At the door we were met by the medical staff waiting in line to present each of us a bunch of flowers.

Then we were taken through the facility which was just amazing. It was a medical university that had the latest version of everything, and it was brilliant to see it all. Apart from the major state of the art equipment, they had role play rooms for a Pharmacy and a Doctors Surgery, and along with that they had fully equipped Operating rooms complete with dummies on tables that were actually breathing, and they could operate on them and even inject them. It was a multi-cultural university with students from all over the world and a truly inspiring place.

We met the founder President and the Managing Director and I was presented with a gold ‘Thumbay` display as a thanks for our music. We then found out why we were there. The heads of the University loved our music when they were studying, and they see that music can be a good healer, and by us being at the facility it inspired the young students.

Well we discovered that very quickly, as we were invited into a lecture room where a load of students were sitting, and as we walked in they just screamed with excitement. We were directed to sit on a stage and behind us they flashed our new Heep logo, and then after a short speech they played a video of us playing. All of this was met with loud screams. Then we all had to say something into the microphone and after that we were asked to pull names out of a jar to give out free tickets for the show. Every winner had a picture taken with the one of the band who was presenting the ticket.

When we were finished we had pictures taken with all of the students and then we went for lunch. This was at a restaurant that was predominantly an Arabic curry house and the food was delicious. It never stopped coming and by the end of it we were totally full to the brim.

We went back to the hotel to relax before meeting up for dinner at 7pm. We were taken to an Italian restaurant in the hotel grounds which was lovely. As the band were still full from lunch, we just had a couple of starters while the crew tucked in. We did have some lovely wine though and that night ‘Ocean Colour Scene’ were playing, so we went to watch them. What a result. They were very good and as it was outside and still hot, they were sweating buckets. This was a sign of things to come for us the following night.

There was an Irish Bar but I could not go in as it was a smoking bar and Bernie and I didn’t like that, as we had to sing the next day. Still we walked around with Russ and had pictures taken with many people that recognised us, which was cool, then I went to my room. We lost Phil and Davey who had apparently been invited to the free bar so they stayed there drinking loads.

The next morning at breakfast we saw the German twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell walk in to the breakfast room, so it was big hellos all round. They were on this whole tour with us which is amazing.
Shortly after breakfast we walked across to the stage to have a sound check at 11.30am, as this was in the hotel grounds. This went very well considering we were on hired equipment and then the band were taken to lunch. Well we are known to be an eating drinking band and since being in Dubai we have certainly put that to the test.

This was up another level though, as we were taken to the ‘Burj Al Arab Jumeriah’ hotel which is the only seven star hotel in the world. It was just incredible and hard to fully articulate the opulence of the hotel, but it really was amazing. In the reception area, there was a dancing water fountain and to each side of the escalators were walled aquariums. In fact they employ a team of 10 people to look after the aquariums, as they are in other parts of the hotel too. Outside even before you put foot in the hotel reception there are parked white Rolls Royce’s and white Bentley cars aplenty.

We were taken into the restaurant which had a view to die for as it overlooked the ocean where there was a boat race happening. We could see lovely Palm trees and even in the far distance you could see Iran. The food there was absolutely wonderful and so was the service. It never stopped coming and there were even three deserts. One of them was Camel’s milk, but as a band we were divided on that one whether it was nice or not. There were 160 Chefs working in the kitchens.

The promoters Ashraf and Gerard had arranged for a cake to be presented to us to celebrate the fact that Dubai would be the 61st Country the mighty Heep have performed in. This was wonderful and in keeping with the opulence we had already experienced, it was edged with real gold leaf. It was a lovely surprise and very kind of them.

After lunch, we were shown around the hotel by the hotel manager. She showed us one of the rooms, well firstly she said that the hotel does not have any rooms as all the rooms are suites. which was amazing. Views to die for, huge beds, gold trimmings everywhere and basically the best of everything. Even the weighing scales in the bathroom and the hair dryer were gold. She then took us to the bar areas, the pool areas, the viewing deck and just about everywhere which was really cool. Every door we opened or room we entered had the ‘Wow’ factor. It was great to see and she said for special guests they fly them by helicopter straight from the airport and land on the helipad on the top of the hotel and are taken direct to their suites.

Oh yes regarding the air conditioning in your suite where it is either too cold or too hot, the minute you walk in the room it adjusts to your body temperature, so no need to touch the thermostat. The whole area the hotel is on is called Palm Island and evidently from the moon the only two things you can see on earth are the Great Wall of China and Palm Island, which this hotel is built upon.

After this amazing experience, we drove in our limousines back to the hotel but we were still too full to join the crew for dinner, so we chilled until it was time to get ready for the concert.

We could walk to the stage from our hotel which was great so we met at 8.50pm in the hotel reception and then walked to our dressing room. We were all changed into our stage clothes anyway, so we just relaxed and warmed up. Then as always in these territories we had to have some pictures taken along with some backstage footage on video.

Soon we were walking to the stage outside the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, and once there you could feel the heat and the humidity. Still the adrenaline kicked in and we took to the stage with massive cheers from the audience, which sounded so good. Being outside it had a really good feel about it and the audience were well up for it. We rocked through the set list and they were with us every inch of the way. It was hot and sweaty for us and the same for the audience, but in the end the whole night had a very special feel about it and we had a great time. The twins were rocking out down the front too. There was however a mistimed firework display on the early soft parts of ‘July Morning,’ but luckily this was short lived.

After the show, the dressing room was crowded there for a while with friends, promoters, the promoters’ families, journalists and even some we did not know at all. We did not stay too long as we had an early flight the next day to Bucharest Romania. At most we would get 5-6hours sleep.

By all accounts the concert was a huge success and there was talk of bringing us back again, which we would love to do in a heartbeat.

The next morning, we left at 7.45am to fly to Romania. We checked in and everything went fine and a few of us went to Duty Free to buy some Camel’s Milk Chocolate for our loved ones at home to try. We found out that once we were on the plane it was a budget airline, and although it was a 5-hour flight you had to buy any food or drink you wanted. There was a pre-order situation but we didn’t know this, so this took us by surprise, plus there were no films to watch, so those with iPads and health bars to eat were lucky they had them.

At the baggage carousel everything turned up okay, but my case which was new and only 5 days old with one flight under its belt, had its wheel smashed off, so I had to report the damage while the others waited for me outside. Luckily, I had taken pictures of my case, which I had gotten into the habit of doing before flying, so I could produce pictures if need be to prove it was in perfect condition before flying, and this was one of those times. I still have to fly to Israel and back to London with it, so I hope it holds out.

Once the report was complete, we drove to our hotel in Bucharest. Actually, it was on the outskirts.
We checked in and had some lunch before retiring to our rooms until we met up again at 7-7.30pm in the bar for dinner. As it was a night off and we were miles from anywhere, and the hotel was full of wedding parties, we all ate at the hotel restaurant and had an early night.

At every hotel in the world we insist that the promoter puts 2 bottles of water in each room, as in some territories you cannot trust the tap water, not even to clean your teeth, but at midnight Russ got more water than he bargained for, as someone above his room had run a bath and it had overflowed and dripped through his ceiling. He rang reception and he had no choice but to move rooms. He then started the painful process of packing up his suitcase to change rooms. What a nightmare!

The next day after breakfast, we had a couple of hours to rest before going down to the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ for our sound-check. On arrival, I was pleasantly surprised that it was a decent size venue and stage, unlike a lot of the HR Cafe’s I have been to around the world. After the sound-check we had lunch and then we drove back to the hotel.

We had some time to spare, so I sat in my room going over the songs we had written in the studio before this tour started. Then in no time at all we were driving back down to the venue for dinner and the gig. It was good to see it was a very full house and we had a great time on stage, made all the better by the audience who were really into it. The atmosphere was electric and we just fed off of that. It was a good concert and the German Twins were down the front with Sina Rückmann from Germany arriving too, making it a German front line in Romania. After the show, the very small dressing room became full to the brim with people and drinks being brought in by the staff every 5 minutes, and it was just general mayhem in the end. All good fun but mayhem just about sums it up.

The next day was a bit of a hang about day, as we did not check out until 4pm to drive to Bucharest Airport to fly on Tarom Airlines to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv Israel. I spent the day going over our songs again and making notes and at 4pm we all piled into our respective vans and drove to the airport.

The flight was approximately 3 1/2 hours long, but it was a noisy one. There were rows of blokes all around us that would not stop getting out of their seats and chatting and shouting out to their mates spread all over the plane. They were the proverbial pain in the backside, but I just put my headphones on and turned up the volume on the film I was watching and tried to avoid them.

When we landed in Tel Aviv we were met by our promoter and of course Moshe and Beni were there to greet us which was nice, like they always do!

The hotel was a 40minute drive and it was nearly midnight when we arrived and most of us went to bed, but the crew sat outside having a beer for a while.

The next day after breakfast Bernie, Russ and I went for a walk along the beach which was just across the road from the hotel which was nice. Davey was still in his room and Phil had long gone on his walkabout. We were being picked up for lunch at 1pm and then again at 4.30pm to drive the hour plus to Haifa the first gig. Well the proposed hour journey to Haifa ended up being 2 hours long, and when we arrived at the ‘Wunderbar,’ venue it was very dark inside and we could see that the gig would be a challenge, as some of the equipment especially the P/A, Monitors & Lights were old and inferior, which is an accurate description. It was definitely a night of heads down and see you at the finishing line night.

The good thing was that the audience were brilliant and they were into every single note we played and sang. That made for a great atmosphere and the smiles on their faces really made it for me. They sang so loudly on songs like ‘July Morning’ and ‘Lady in Black,’ that it was almost louder than the band.

Prior to going on stage, it was sprung on us that the promoter had sold meet and greet tickets so we were duty bound to sit outside our dressing room and sign autographs that were mostly posters of that nights’ gig.

They did look after us but the dressing room was a dark old dingy place to hang out, which reminded me of the floor of the old ‘Marquee’ venue in London. All black and sticky from beer 🙂 However everyone was happy and after the show we had pictures taken with the owner of the venue, his bar staff and other people we did not know which was all cool. We did manage to say hi to the twins quickly who braved the front row once again, before we drove back to the hotel.

I managed to get to bed at 2.30am, so going down for an early breakfast was not on the cards, but hey ho I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I went down for a coffee.

Everyone met at reception for lunch but some of the crew missed it. It was a 20-minute drive and a good lunch, which was nice and healthy, and then it was back to the hotel. Phil, Davey and I went for a walk down the beach, and it was good to get some fresh air and a little sun. The crew went down to the venue and Bernie and Russ went to their rooms.

That night we were playing the ‘Havana Club’ in Tel Aviv. It was a large venue and a good stage, so we were happy about that. We went down to the sound check and then we were told we could not make any noise for another hour, so we sat around bored for a bit. Well it wasn’t that boring as Dave and I worked a guitar part on a new song, and of course there was the usual Heep banter in full flow.

Once again, we were informed that there was a meet and greet organised, so we did this before the show began. As we walked on to the stage there was a huge roar and we could see the venue was packed. This made for a good night and the atmosphere was terrific. The audience sang very loudly at points in the show and that really spurred us on. It was a good concert to end our short stay in Israel and the fans never let us down, as they rocked big time.

After the show, we met some people and generally had a good chat with many pictures taken, before Phil, Bernie, Russ and I went back to the hotel on the first bus. Davey stayed with the crew coming home on the second bus, a lot later.

The next day, bus one made it to breakfast, and bus two didn’t. We left at 12.30pm to drive to the airport. Now leaving Israel takes forever. There are security questions, the check in desk, security for the bags, passport control and you are forever waiting in line for something. It takes an age to get through to the departure gates, and there are constant reminders over the airport tannoy that it is illegal to carry firearms. I have to say though that the airport staff which is 90% female, were very nice to deal with. A lady at the check in desk recognised us, and Davey gave her a signed autographed picture, which she loved, and she promptly gave us a piece of paper to get us all in the Airport Lounge, which was very nice of her.

At the gate, I was one of the last to board with Phil, and then panic set in, as I could not find my passport and boarding pass. I looked in my jacket pocket, my carry-on bag, and then retraced my steps to the coffee shop and duty free. It was not looking good when one of the airport ladies came over to help me and lo and behold she found it in my jacket pocket where I started, so the panic was over and we boarded the plane. My whole world collapsed there for a while, but these things do happen and they are no fun when they do.

Once we had boarded the British Airways flight to LHR we sat there for a while, as we had missed our departure slot. Not because of me I might add, as there were people boarding even after I had sat down.

When we arrived at LHR everybody’s bag arrived but Scampi’s. There was a bit of a crew split off as Scampi, Brian & Angus had work booked with other bands, so they did not come with us to the Hard Rock Hell Prog festival in Gwynedd North Wales where we were headlining the Friday night. I found out later that Scampi’s bag was still in Tel Aviv and it eventually made its way to his house in Manchester, so that was a relief.

We then drove to a Holiday Inn Airport hotel to get a few hours’ sleep before driving to Wales for the show. We were picked up John Bintliff, Scampi’s brother, so in essence we kept it in the family.

It was approximately a 6-hour drive to the venue, with a stop for lunch. When we arrived, we picked up our passes and met the stand in crew, before going to our caravans. Bernie and I were sharing and everybody was ready for a quick nap. Well I got up out of my single bed that was in fact a half size single bed for a child, because I could not sleep to have a shower. As I got up the whole caravan was thrown into darkness, as the lights had fused. This then woke Bernie up, and with the light from our respective phones we looked for the fuse box.

On finding this there was nothing tripped, so I phoned Vic who had driven our own backline to the show for us, to see if he could help. He went to the site office and someone came around and it was found that it was fused from the outside. Eventually we had the lights and heating back on, but it was a miserable hour waiting in the freezing cold and blackout.

I did have to laugh at the fact we had started this tour in Dubai with all the opulence in the world, and here Bernie and I were sitting in a dark cold caravan 2 weeks later, with no lights, and no heating, in deepest dark Wales. What a leveller that was!

After this we found out that none of the caravans had towels, soap or toilet paper, so we then had to wait for that to be delivered before we could shower. Knowing that we were coming in that day to play, I was gobsmacked that none of this was in the caravan already. It certainly did not resonate with the fact we were headlining at all. J

After a shower, we went to the catering, which was to be honest no better than my old school dinners. The choice was sausages, potatoes and Brussel Sprouts that were so stewed you would be hard put to keep your duvet on the bed at night, such was the ferocity of the wind created, if you happened to eat them. If I had indulged, for sure on the show I would have blown over my Engl stack half way through the set. The other food option was hard pasta and a chili type sauce and a basic salad.

While we were eating one of our managers Ace joined us with his assistant Sean, which was very cool and he filled us in on all things Heep for next year, which sounded all very exciting. After eating, the rest of the boys disappeared and Bernie and I did an interview. Once finished we walked back to the caravan to get ready for the show.

We were picked up and driven to the dressing room. This was a cold room with the most basic of riders, but we just had to make do. We did manage to see the Von Hertzen Brothers who were really good, but even then, I was dragged off for another interview with Bernie. We had a few minutes to warm up and then we were on stage.

It was a good size venue and I have to say it was great being on our own equipment. Russ was on his brand-new drum set and he had Richie our normal tech helping him out for this one show. This was still not without its problems, as by the 3rd number he had broken the underneath snare drum skin, so we had to stop the show for a few minutes to get it fixed. He also had immense problems with his in-ear system with things being too loud which hurt his ears. As it was a stand in crew we all had a few problems, but once we settled in, the show was most enjoyable and we had a great time. The audience were great and it was a brilliant night.

After a few drinks at the after show party we headed back to our caravans for a sleep of sorts before we left to drive to Manchester in the morning, and then get a train to Euston and a cab home. We did manage to run into Kevin and Yvonne Jones at the after show party, so I could sign their albums and Kev’s beautiful Carparelli S4 guitar. I was pleased about that, as at up to that point it was very difficult to meet up with all that was going on.

While we were traveling back in the van, I had the football scores on my iPhone and Spurs my football team had lost to North London rivals Arsenal 2-0. One goal was offside and the other was from a free kick that shouldn’t have been, but hey we could not stick one in the net and lost. It was very disappointing and perhaps we are still a work in progress and not as good as we think we are.

I was soon back home and my English Setter dog Iggy went mental when I opened the front door, and Sheila was home which was lovely, but Romeo was at a friend’s house, but he came home later. I could not believe how cold it was so the heating switch was turned to ON very quickly and we had a lovely relaxing family evening together and after all of that running about over the last 2 weeks it was just what I needed.

‘Appy days! Mick

 

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Box News #261 – September 5th, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about The New Day festival in Faversham Kent, the Travel Lodge in Canterbury Whitstable, meeting Bernie and his family, the cab driver from my hometown Walthamstow, meeting people, Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell and his missus, familiar faces in the front row, a great festival with a wonderful vibe, Starbucks and being on home turf. Mick also discusses flying to Prague in the Czech Republic, the liquid refreshment British Airways flight, Jon our monitor engineers lost bag, the fun fair at the side of the hotel, dinner in the hotel restaurant, the England match against Malta and Scampi programming the lights. Mick also talks about the Olympic size swimming pool, Football pitch, Water slides and the like seen from his bedroom window, the soundcheck, the German Twins appearing, a few gremlins to iron out, no sleep as the P/A felt like it was in your room, the fan with the ‘Boxmaker’ T Shirt and Coffee Mug, Police Vans, Blue Lights, Sirens, two shirts on stage, The Kladno Festival, meeting the Mayor of Kladno, fireworks set of to our music, Draught beers aplenty, my lovely Hutchins travel guitar, the BA twat and getting home to LHR Terminal 3.

A New Day Festival in Faversham UK – Saturday the 26th of August.

Marvellous a festival in England where our families could come and see what we do for the rest of the year. I drove down to the Travel Lodge in Canterbury Whitstable with my wife Sheila as we decided to stay the night, but unfortunately our son Romeo was at Reading Festival with his girlfriend and mates so he could not join us. Bernie met us there with his wife Radka, their two children Maddy and Tino and his Uncle. The hotel was only 2.5 miles from the festival site so it was a perfect location to stay at. I ordered a people carrier to take us to the festival but this never turned up and two cars came instead, so we jumped in them and we were delivered right to the backstage area by our dressing cabin which was great and unexpected. My driver was born in Walthamstow the same as me, so we hit it off and reminisced about the old days as he lived only a few streets away from me.

Once there I was met by loads of people who wanted to say hi mostly from the other bands, and I could not get to our cabin for ages, and those wanting to say hi were members of Barclay James Harvest, Wishbone Ash, and lots of other musicians and guys who I have known over the years, so I was trapped for a bit. Even the old drummer from Samson who we toured with in the UK years ago with Bruce Dickinson singing now of Iron Maiden fame. The drummer used to wear a leather gimp mask and sit on his drums in a cage on stage, so it was no wonder that after all of these years I hardly recognised him. He was known as ‘Thunderstick,’ and evidently he has a new solo album coming out.

Backstage especially in our area, it became the place to be and it was soon mobbed by family, friends and members from the other bands. At first we were told that we could not have anyone backstage at the festival even our families, but after some discussions at the last minute they were allowed. On arrival I could see their concern as they were running two stages side by side and there were trucks and vans driving to and from each stage at regular intervals with each bands equipment.

Bernie and I had to do an interview for the local area radio and then Bernie went off to eat. I was quite happy with a few nibbles that were in the dressing room but he wanted something a bit more substantial.

I did meet my old mate Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell and his wife and had a drink with them. In fact they were on my side of the stage most of the night. Dave had played earlier with the Jackie Lynton band. Now Jackie and I go way back a long way as we toured America with ‘Savoy Brown’ in the 70’s and Jackie was the singer. He was a right old character and a lot of fun to be around.

Once we hit the stage we were straight into the mighty ‘Heep’ groove and it was a blast from the first note to the last. Amazingly the German twins Andrea and Claudia were down the front amongst a sea of very familiar faces that we hadn’t seen for a while. It was great being back in England and headlining the festival and I hope it is the start of many more shows to come in our home country. The reaction was super strong and I have to say the festival had a really fantastic vibe to it and was well organised.

Back in our dressing cabin the fun began and it was busy there for an hour before everybody went home. Sheila and I, along with Bernie and his family went back to the hotel and we went to his room for a nightcap and a laugh.

The next day before driving home we popped into Starbucks for a coffee, that was right next to the hotel and we met Mike Taylor, Claudia Leão Fracalanza and Pete Wharton doing much the same, so it was good to have a short chat with them, and I was pleased they enjoyed the show.

It was a 1hr 30min drive back to London and it was good to get home, and Iggy was delighted to see us. I really did enjoy the delights of playing an English Festival for a change I have to say.

On Friday the 1st of September we all met at Terminal 3 at London’s Heathrow Airport. I met Phil at the check in desk and most of the other guys were already in the airport lounge. We were catching a British Airways flight to Prague in the Czech Republic. The flight was two hours long which was helped along by a few wines and beers to while away the time along with watching our iPads.

At the baggage carousel we all picked up our bags except for Jonny our monitor engineer. This was a downer so he had to fill out forms and the like to try and retrieve his bag. We were met outside by our drivers and driven to the hotel in two vans which only took 30 minutes.

Once there we had the hotel staff standing outside welcome us in and we put our bags in our room and went down for dinner. This was all very nice and after a few drinks we all retired to bed. I think Davey stayed up with the crew as he wasn’t ready for bed yet. Scampi actually after dinner went down to the venue to programme the lights as the festival site was only a few minutes away. Actually on arrival at the hotel it looked like a huge fun fair by the side of the hotel in full swing but not a lot of people there. Later on Jonny’s suitcase arrived so that was a relief.

We were all very pleased with the England score of 4-0 against Malta, but it did sound like they had made hard work of it with most of the goals coming after the 80th minute. My Spurs man Harry Kane bagged two, so I was happy about that especially with his goal drought throughout August.

When I woke up the next morning for breakfast I opened my window and there was a huge Olympic size Swimming Pool, a Football Pitch, Red Clay Tennis Courts and a Water Slide Theme Park. This was definitely a sporting holiday place though the temperature overnight had dropped considerably, so I would not want to have ago at any of the above.

After breakfast we went down to the festival site for a soundcheck at 11.30am. It was a little too far to walk so they sent a Police van to pick us up. We could hear the crew in our rooms getting things ready as it was deafening. The sound really carried back to the hotel big time. In fact there were announcements going on from 8.30am in the morning.

At the soundcheck I was surprised to see, but there again I shouldn’t have been really, to see the two German twins down the front. Incredible. Half way through the soundcheck they came running down waving which was just amazing. How they do it I’ll never know.

The soundcheck went fine even though we had a few technical problems but our crew soon overcame them. We then went back to the hotel for some lunch, and after that we had a few hours to kill, but any hopes of having an afternoon nap were squashed as the P/A system sounded like it was in your room, and it was a constant din of shouting voices and various instruments being played loudly along with what sounded like a few badly performed ballads.

I went down for dinner and there was a fan and his wife waiting for my autographs. Wow this guy had everything I had played on, and I was there for 20 minutes or more signing. After this he kindly gave me a present of a bottle of local wine, a T Shirt and a Coffee Mug. He was especially pleased to give me the T Shirt and the Coffee Mug as they had the words ‘BOXMAKER’ on them which is where he worked. That was very nice of the two of them and really after signing all of that Heep product I should be giving them both a present.

After dinner we all went to the festival together band and crew. Our mode of transport were Czech Police Vans, and the drivers were Policemen in full uniform. The Blue light was flashing constantly and the siren was put on for a short burst when necessary. I thought we were at the start of a ‘Thin Lizzie’ show. Anyway this took a little under 10 minutes which made it even more of a laugh.

We had our tent backstage and although everything was catered for it was freezing in there, as the temperature had really dropped. So much so most of us wore two T Shirts on stage to keep warm. Once up there though when the adrenaline kicked in, it did not bother us much. Bernie had some friends/relatives there and after the show they told us that before we went on stage two announcers were up there on stage talking through the P/A telling the audience that although we were super stars we did not act like it, as most international artists stay in Prague and not locally in Kladno like the mighty Heep. They also said that we ate Czech food which of course we did.

It was the first time I think this has ever happened before our show and quite humorous to say the least and quite an unusual warm up act.

Well the show was tremendous and we had a great time. The audience were truly rockin’ to every song, and it was an amazing magic night especially as this was our last festival of the summer of 2017. There were lots of smiles and people on other peoples shoulders and generally a great rockin’ vibe and they joined in everything with us. We left the stage to exceptionally loud cheers and before they died down a huge firework display began. While the fireworks were exploding in the air they played through the P/A our song ‘Nail on the Head,’ and then ‘Lady in Black.’ Now when I say exploding I have never heard in my life such loud bangs. For one minute (scuse the pun) I thought we were in a war zone. They were that LOUD!

After the firework display back in our tent although we had Czech beer in bottles on ice, though to be honest it was so cold we didn’t need the ice, there was a tent adjacent to ours where they had draft beer on the pump, so we sent out a request for some of that instead. Well at least 30 pints turned up so it was a rockin’ tent there for a while and I personally was a happy chap as I was drinking beer.

There were a constant flow of people coming in the tent including the Mayor of Kladno who wanted me to sign his black and white picture of him studying years ago when he was in University, and behind his desk was a picture of Uriah Heep. He said he was listening to our music back then even though it was forbidden. We also had a picture taken with him which he loved. Also one of the support bands called ‘Other Way’ came in to give me their signed CD and the guitarist paid me a compliment by saying I played guitar like I was 20 years old. Well I took that as a compliment anyway! Ha!

The twins made it back for a quick drink and then we took the police van back to the hotel. I had to laugh as Vic wanted to take a crate of beer back to the hotel for the crew and he walked over to the policeman and asked if he could put it in the back of the van and asked if he could leave it in the hotel reception for when the crew came back. That was a funny sight with the Czech Policeman in full uniform carrying our beer to the hotel I have to say. My phone was in my gig bag otherwise I would have loved to have taken a picture.

I have a new travel guitar made by a company called ‘Hutchins’ who are in Germany. Graham Stockley who used to work for Hofner guitars now works for them so that is my connection. They sent me one to try out and it is really cool with a great neck on it. Well I went back to my room avoiding the bar and obvious continuing drinking session as I had enough, and I picked it up and that was me gone for a couple of hours lost in guitar world, and it had just gone 2am before I made myself go to bed.

The next morning we all went for breakfast before leaving for Prague Airport. We checked in and everything was going smoothly when I went to the gate ready to board the plane where they check your boarding pass, and I ran into Mr British Airway’s pain in the arse. He said that I could not take both my carry on bag and guitar on the plane, and that I had to check one of them in. I explained that the guitar was an instrument (well he was thick as a plank) and it was in a soft bag and it would get damaged in the hold, plus it was a travel guitar made especially to fit in the overhead compartment, plus my carry on bag had valuables and some fragile items in it. Also my carry on bag was specifically made to fit in the overhead compartments too. The reason being that I fly an awful lot and a lot of that on BA all over the world, so my carry on luggage is specifically designed to fit with the rules of all airlines.

Well he was getting quite stroppy and I could not believe it as other passengers were walking past us while we were arguing, all carrying two bags. Some much bigger than mine and he did not have a problem with that. To top it off Davey walked past with his shoulder bag and a full size bass guitar over his shoulder and this was no problem. I did point out that on Friday I flew on BA from London with my two items and there was no such problem so why was there a problem now. He was having none of it and neither was I. Luckily Russ walked past and he had no luggage at all so I gave the guitar to him so the problem was solved and the BA jerk could not say anything, and he left with his what I assume to be very small tail between his legs. I did take his name and will report him as it was all nonsense and maybe he did not like me or he wanted a notch on his belt saying he made Mick Box put his guitar in the hold. Either way he left with more than egg on his face and I was proud of how I kept my temper under control as I truly hate jobsworth people like that.

Anyhow the flight home once we were in the air was easy peasy and we all collected our luggage at LHR Terminal 3 and said our goodbyes.

‘Appy days!
Mick

 

 

Box News #260 – August 16th, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on August 16, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about, Wagamama’s at LHR Terminal 5, the Priority Pass lounge, British Airways, the Firemen drivers, the German Twins Andrea and Claudia, Carsten Tanner, the Cancer Auction, constant raining in Germany, playing the full show, and the long drive to Pardubice in the Czech Republic. Mick also discusses, fans at the hotel reception, the ‘Friends Festival,’ the gingerbread guitar, and Davey’s sweet tooth.

Mick also talks about, the concert in Strakonice, Russ and Davey going to the Pell Stick factory, then on to the Dudak Beer Brewery, the amphitheatre with the music school in a Castle, the audience making it a magic night, the drive to Prague Airport, LHR Terminal 3 and everyone but Phil taking a short break holiday before headlining the New Day festival in Kent.

Three days at home and we were back at LHR’s Terminal 5 and in Wagamama’s, all except Bernie and Phil who went straight to the Priority Pass lounge. We joined them after a nice late lunch and after a few in the lounge we boarded the plane. The flight was British Airways to Hannover. It was pretty uneventful flight but for a few a few glasses of vino disappearing down peoples necks. All of our luggage arrived, so it was a big thumbs up there, and we were met by two guys in the arrivals hall who turned out to be our drivers. On closer inspection as they were wearing a uniform, they were actual firemen and our transport were two fire cars. Well they did not waste any time and we arrived at the hotel in Saltzgitter in under an hour.

When we climbed out of the cars the two super fans the German Twins Andrea and Claudia were sitting outside the hotel which was a surprise. We quickly threw our bags into the room and went down for some dinner. This was good food washed down by some good vino and beer. Well two persons hit the brandy but you can make up your own mind who that was.

We met at breakfast the next morning all except Bernie who gave it a miss. Carsten Tanner was there too who I was happy to see, as I had brought the last Cancer Auction goods from the UK to give to him that he had won. Well it is always good to see him anyway.

Since being in Germany it had been continually raining but we still went down for a sound check and the festival was very well organised. After this we went back to the hotel for a few hours before having dinner and to get ready for the concert.

Back at the concert it was still raining, but as I looked out over the audience everyone looked in a good mood for some rock music. There were smiles aplenty and it was a really good show despite the weather. As we were the only band on we could play our full show and it was good to stretch out and play it. The crowd were fantastic and although it was raining they were determined to have a good time and a good time they had.

After the show we met a number of people before driving back to the hotel. We were leaving at 7am in the morning to drive to Pardubice in the Czech Republic the next day that was purported to be a 7hr drive on a show day.

Most of us made breakfast at 6.30am before we boarded the bus. We had two drivers so that we could avoid the mandatory 45 minute break on the journey. If it was only one driver he would have to by law make that stop, but as we were tight on time we had the two. Well it ended up being an 8 1/2hr journey in the end and on arrival we checked into the hotel. There were a lot of fans waiting in reception with whole Album and CD collections that they wanted signing along with various photos. The rest of the boys signed a couple of things and went to bed, but I was left on my own for 20 minutes to autograph everything as I had played on the lot. I was happy to do so even though I was tired and in need of a short kip.

It seemed too quick to be down at the ‘Friends Festival’ in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, but once we were in the dressing room, which was a tent on the side of the stage, we were presented with a gingerbread guitar with Uriah Heep in icing on it. Evidently Pardubice is famous for it’s gingerbread. We had pictures taken with it and with just about everyone else who were backstage it seemed and we then quickly warmed up for the gig. I gave Davey the gingerbread guitar as he has the sweetest tooth in the Heep camp.

The concert was fantastic and we had a really great time on stage. The band were on fire and so were the audience. Now I do not know how they did it but the twins Andrea and Claudia were down the front again, which was amazing as they had to do the drive we had just done and to get first in line at the entrance to get their spot down the front. Wow and we were tired so they must of been. After the show we didn’t hang around too long as our bed was calling.

The next day we had a 2 1/2hr drive to another festival in Strakonice. Russ’s stick company come Pell from Strakonice so Russ and Davey went to the factory. Then they were invited to the local brewery which make Dudak beer and when we were in the dressing room they kindly bought in 5 boxes of beer, one for each of us which was nice of them. Bernie had his family over with him as they were driving early the next morning to Prague Airport to fly to Croatia for a holiday.

This stage was in a beautiful setting and we could see a castle from the stage that was a music college. It was an outside amphitheatre and there was an amazing electric atmosphere when we started the first song. The audience were extra special and really vocal and into every song. It was a magic night and one to remember and a good time was had by all. Back in the dressing room we met everyone and had pictures taken before going back to the hotel. A few stayed behind but I went back for a shower, and to finish off an idea I was writing, and then straight to bed.

The next day it was a 1hr 30mins drive to Prague Airport where we took a British Airways flight to LHR, but this time it was at Terminal 3. We all said our goodbyes and with Bernie in Croatia, Davey was going to Switzerland to see his wife’s sister, Russ was taking his family away, I was driving up to North Yorkshire near Whitby with my family for 5 days, and Phil was the only one staying at home as he had to go to the dentist as on this run a tooth was giving him gip big time.
The next time we meet will be when we headline the ‘New Day Festival’ in Kent in the UK and Phil will be minus a tooth I expect.

‘Appy days!
Mick

 

Box News #259 – August 7th, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about a short break at home, meeting our managers at LHR Term 5, flying to Zurich, the Romanshorn Festival, no air conditioning, beautiful setting, the two German twins birthday, brekky overlooking the harbour, Church bells, Fabio’s 50th, Paul Anthony’s excellent Planet Rock Radio show, the Swiss sound check with our German front line of the twins Andrea and Claudia, Sina Rückmann and Andy Heep Räpple, signing the White Carparelli S4 guitar for Melanie Hugener, bugs on stage, Scampi losing his suitcase, the festival in Schwetzingen with Status Quo, meeting Francis Rossi, Rhino, Andy and Richie backstage, Bernie Zylka keeping the bar open, and my Church Bell rant.

Mick also discusses, the Spalt Festival, having breakfast with Suzi Quatro, and running into the ‘Sweet’ boys backstage. Mick also talks about Suzi on his side of the stage watching the band, getting a tan on stage, ‘Rocking in the Free World,’ Tamla Motown and one for the Frog and Toad, plus our two flights home.

Two days at home after our last run of dates and with Sheila and Iggy in Framlingham on a break, and Romeo on holiday in Ireland, it was a very quiet house indeed with just me and our cat Biscuit. Still I did manage to get a lot done before departing for Terminal 5 at Londons Heathrow, and most of it family related even in their absence. We were all flying out (except for Phil who had stayed on in Crete for a few days holiday with Patina and he would join us later) to Zurich Switzerland to play a festival in Romanshorn.

We met in Wagamama’s in Terminal 5, all except for Bernie who went straight to the lounge. On the way to the Priority Lounge we met one of our managers Adam Parsons who was on his way to the huge ‘Wacken Festival’ in Germany, where one of his bands ‘Europe’ were performing. Our other manager Ace Trump was already in the lounge with Bernie as he was coming with us to Switzerland which was great.

We joined them in the lounge after a good nosebag and caught up on all of the excellent Heep news before boarding the British Airways flight to Zurich, that was of course delayed. The flight was just over an hour and luckily after the bad luck we have had over the last few weeks regards our bags and equipment, all of our luggage arrived. We then met our driver and drove straight to the hotel which took a little over an hour.

Although it was dark the hotel was nice and in a beautiful setting. I had a room that was stifling hot with no air conditioning, so I opened my window to try and get some air flow in the room only to find a balcony with the view of a church straight ahead and to the left a harbour full of small expensive boats. There was time for a quick picture for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, before going down for some dinner. The time was 10pm but they kept the kitchen open which was excellent.

On checking in the two German sisters Andrea and Claudia Obergfell were there and it was their birthday. Amazing!

This was a nice relaxing way to end the day before we all retired to our rooms. Well some of the crew were still sitting outside drinking and I think Davey joined them. Phil was due in that night but he hadn’t arrived by the time I went to bed.

In the morning we had breakfast outside, overlooking the harbour and I have to say there are worse settings to have a little brekky. Phil was there and so we sat with Ace to continue plotting our master plan for the end of this year and the whole of 2018.

Bernie and Davey never made breakfast so I guess they opted to sleep in, but how the hell they did that with the church bells ringing on the hour since 6am I’ll never know. We were so close to the church that it felt like you were sleeping in the bell tower.

At breakfast we also met two Italian fans that come to many of our shows. Fabio and Germana are a lovely couple and it was Fabio’s 50th Birthday, so there have been a plethora of birthdays surrounding the Heep camp over the last couple of weeks.

I have a Planet Rock Radio App on my iPad so I could listen to Paul Anthony’s breakfast show which is always great. On the front page was a picture of Paul so I texted him to let him know I was listening. He had just played ‘Substitute’ by the ‘Who’ which I love, and that got be bouncing around the room.

From my balcony you could see the stage in the distance, but along with having the stage in that close proximity you can also hear it, so any noise they make playing music through the P/A system obliterated anything you may have on in your room! D’oh! No afternoon rest then as coupled with the constant bell ringing at the same time it was a bit of a rackett.

On stage at the soundcheck it was a beautiful view over the lake and a lovely setting for a festival. The two twins were down the front along with Sina Rückmann and Andy Heep Räpple so our front line representing Germany was set.

After this we went back to our hotel which was a short walk away to rest and get ready for the show. Davey & Phil had already been swimming in the lake earlier. It was uncomfortably hot and humid and I thought that by the time we went to the show it might of cooled down a little but this was not so. Once there we met a lady called Melanie Hugener, who we had arranged to meet to sign one of my Carparelli S4 guitars and have a picture taken. We took her backstage and signed it and had pictures taken. It was the S4 white model like I play on stage, but she wouldn’t let me keep it. Well they are beautiful guitars!

When we started the show you could feel the heat double with the lights on and with the lights on and being near the water, there were constant creepy crawly things running up and down your arms, fingers and face. All this apart it was a great concert and the band were on fire and it was a good show for our manager Ace to see. The crowd were excellent, but after, we were all to a man dripping wet.

Back at our Porto Cabin the party began. A lovely lady was bringing in huge glasses of Gin and Grapefruit for us to drink and that was apart from our usual rider. Russ and I saved ours for Angus our Front of House engineer, as he is partial to a nice Gin. He was very happy to find them lined up on the table for him. Then we basically sat outside and chatted to all and sundry. The frontline all made it back except for Andy, as did Fabio and his lady Germana, so it was quite busy there for a while. Gradually everyone drifted off back to the hotel as we had a flight the next day to Germany.

We left in the morning to drive to Zurich Airport to fly to Stuttgart Germany. Ace came with us but he had a flight first to London and then back to Los Angeles where he is based. It was great having him on board even for a short while and it was a real lift for everyone having him there.

As we unpacked our van Scampi realised he had left his suitcase at the hotel, so after a quick panic and a few phone calls he managed to speak with Fabio who was still at the hotel and he said that he had found it and that he would kindly drive it to the next show for him. Now how lucky is that and how nice is that of Fabio and Germana.

We landed in Stuttgart and drove straight to the festival site in Schwetzingen, which was approximately a 1hr 30mins drive. We did not have a hotel until after the gig that day as we were driving straight to one after our show. Unbelievably as we drove up to the front gate the twins were there already to be first in line. How they do it I will never know.

The dressing rooms were spacious so it wasn’t too bad to hang there until stage time. Davey and I washed our hair in the bathroom sink but other than that it was all good. We were doing this show with ‘Status Quo’ and Francis Rossi popped into our room to say hi to me. We had a good old chat and a laugh before he went up on to the stage to check his guitars. We also ran into Rhino, Andy and Richie backstage which was cool.

This was a big festival and we could not have a sound check, but we were on before the Quo boys. Luckily we had our own equipment as Vic had driven over from England with our backline for these three shows. I could see that Sina Rückmann from the previous gig had made it to the front line too, and it is incredible how she and the twins did it. As we walked on to the stage it was to a big cheer and although we were only allowed to play for 60 minutes it was truly fantastic. We went down a storm and so much so that after we had left the stage and walked the 5 minutes back to the dressing room they were still shouting for an encore. What an amazing response. It was brilliant, and it could not have gone better.

We had a bite to eat and a few beverages before jumping into a van to be driven to our hotel in Spalt. This took a couple of hours and we arrived at midnight and the promoters tour manager Bernie Zylka met us at reception and he had kindly kept the bar open. This appealed to the crew and Davey but the rest of is went to bed. Once again it was a hot old room with no air conditioning coupled with an epileptic bell ringer in the church near by.

They say that the numbers are down on people going to church, well if they stopped annoying everyone ringing their bloomin’ bells every hour the figures may increase. You are unlikely to go to church when something as annoying as that happens every day are you. It stands to reason! Rant over 🙂

Because of the constant bell ringing so early, I made breakfast with Phil and Russ, and as I was walking around the buffet, Suzi Quatro came up to me and gave me a big hug. I hadn’t seen her for ages and she was on this same festival, and she looked great. Suzi supported Heep in the USA for two tours in 1974, before she then went on to support Alice Cooper and then on to her own headline tours.

We sat and chatted for at least an hour and a half and it was just great catching up. Her German promoter husband Rainer joined us too, and there were plenty of funny road stories being exchanged, and I have to say that Suzi is just great and full of energy. She is a Gemini like me so we were kindred spirits in that respect. Suzi is more talented than most people give her credit for and she is now a Doctorate of music and she can be officially known as Dr Quatro. Apart from her writing, bass playing and singing talents she can read music, play drums and is an accomplished piano player. Oh yes she has her own radio show too so how cool is that. To top that off she is about to embark on her 32nd Australian tour. Unbelievable!

It was an unusual bill with ‘Sweet,’ ‘Heep,’ ‘Suzi Quatro’ and Roger Hodgson from ‘Supertramp,’ but very much like the bills of old, where it was just good music and not pigeon holed in genres.
We managed to hear the last chords of ‘Sweet,’ as we arrived and we were on next. It was a gloriously sunny day and the sun was covering the whole stage, so it was hotter than hot. I had a clue that it was hot up there when I said hello to Andy Scott as he came off the stage wearing a hat, and he never wears a hat.

After a quick hello we we were up there on stage having a great time. The audience despite the heat were having a ball and getting into every band. On our song ‘Stealin’ I saw Suzi had come up to see a part of our show and she stood by my monitor. As it is a long intro I went over to give her a hug and a kiss and some of the people down the front saw this and of course started waving madly at her. Shortly after this she went to her dressing room to prepare for her show. Well we continued on and it was an amazing reaction and a truly fantastic response. At the end we left to a rousing chorus of Zugabe which is German for encore and we were happy that we had made our mark on the bill for Classic Rock Music.

The dressing room area was a little tight so we had to vacate our room for Roger Hodgson and we moved into Sweet’s as they had left. This was no problem and once in there the backstage shenanigans began. It was an hour before Suzi was on so we had time to have a bite to eat and have a few drinks before going on stage to see her.

She has had a lot of radio hits over the years in Germany, so they lapped it up singing along with her. The band were very tight which leaves Suzi to shine, and shine she does. She gives them what they want and she is the consummate professional. She even played one of my favourite songs Neil Young’s ‘Rocking in the Free World,’ with an extended bass groove. She said at breakfast that she loved Tamla Motown music and her bass groove and sound on that song definitely showed it.

Well backstage we were told there were two busses to ferry us back to the hotel which was about 40 minutes away and Bernie, Russ and a few of the crew took the early one, and the others came much later. Once at the hotel Bernie was not ready to lie down and wanted one for the Frog and Toad, so Russ followed him but I did a quick divert to the lift. I needed a shower badly after the heat on that stage.

Evidently Suzi after her show came into the hotel bar and had a drink with them which was cool, and by the look of Bernie in the morning, he had more than one for the Frog and Toad. Davey and Phil came back in the last available transport with the merchandiser, so they had a good time too, even though they had trouble remembering it.

The next morning the party had split into two as the Manchester Mafia flew a little earlier than us to Manchester and we flew to Terminal 5 at LHR. The bad news for us as there were no direct flights from Nürenburg so we had a layover in Dusseldorf, which was a pain in the butt, and doubly so as it was delayed.

Back in London our luggage arrived and we all scattered to our various modes of transport home, only for a few days though before we are off again.
‘Appy days!
Mick

Box News #258 – July 31st, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about 3 days at home, Priority pass lounge in LHR Term 2, SAS Airlines, plane food, SAS losing Phil’s suitcase again, the picturesque Kristiansand Festival, Rich Bennett’s Birthday and the Norwegian choir singing him ‘Happy Birthday,’ Stavanger and the Scandic Hotel, the red eye special flight to Copenhagen then on to Munich, the 11 hour journey to Winterbach Festival, playing with ‘Magnum’ and RMC’s Mat Sinner and Thomas Neumann coming to the show, plus Thomas and Petra and our new agent Keith Naisbitt. Mick also discusses, ‘The Hooters,’ Germanwings flight, the mistaken brief case, and Angus’s rescue act, being dropped at the wrong terminal at LHR, liquid refreshment in the shape of Rosé wine, meeting Robin Mcauley on the flight, Phil losing his own bag this time, meeting the ‘Quo’ crew in the hotel bar and Chris Glenn, Ted McKenna and Steve Mann at breakfast, the amazing response at the Colmar Festival in France, signing bra’s, and only 2hr 45mins sleep. Mick also talks about, The holidaymakers flight to Crete on Aegean Airlines, being soaked by mineral water, Phil’s lost lady Patina, my good friends from England Däna, Kevin, Isobel and Woody coming to the show in Heraklion, the ‘Over the Wall,’ festival, no food on the BA flight home and landing at LGW.

After just 3 days at home we were back at LHR only this time at Terminal 2. The band congregated at the Priority Pass lounge, which is one of the best at London’s Heathrow. We were once again flying on SAS Airlines via Oslo to Kristiansand in Norway. It was the usual buy any food and drink you want from the menu with none of it very exciting or appealing. However we were flying business class this time, so it was a little different, plus we had paid extra to have our flying equipment on the plane with us on this flight. We were fed Salmon Salad in a box, and apart from the small piece of Salmon the rest of it would have been classed as culinary delights for a rabbit. It was very unsatisfying and I was glad I had bought some health bars with me, which came in very handy in the hunger stakes.

We had a reasonable layover in Oslo and we arrived in Kristiansand pretty much on schedule. We waited anxiously for our suitcases and equipment to arrive at the baggage carousel, especially after our SAS experience last week where they lost a piece of our equipment and Phil’s suitcase. Incidentally Phil was only united with his suitcase 4 days later when it was delivered to his home in England. Well we could not believe it, as it was Phil’s suitcase that was lost again, as everything else turned up. What are the chances of that? This did not thrill Phil one bit as you can imagine.

Well we were starving on arrival so we were taken to a McDonalds, as this was the only thing open at that time of night on the way to the hotel. The hotel was nice and we all went to bed, as it was a long old day, especially as we had spent a lot of extra time at the airport filling out forms and trying to locate where Phil’s bag was.

The next day we had a sound check and the venue for this festival was very picturesque. There was even a natural waterfall running down the mountain that we could see from the stage. After the sound check we were taken to a house a few minutes away to rest and chill before our show time, which was hours away. There was no way we could stay in the hotel as we had to check out because we were driving straight after our show to Stavanger, where we were going to stay in the airport hotel to fly out early the next morning to Copenhagen and then on to Munich. We also had dinner there that was brought in from a restaurant. The only food choice was variations on a hamburger, which was pretty unsatisfying. Well as luck would have it Phil’s bag turned up at 5.30pm in time for the show, so he was delighted.

We had a holding cabin at the festival site that had a sign on it saying ‘Holding Pen for Uriah Heep.’ However I didn’t see one band member or crew member standing in the cabin holding a pen so the sign didn’t really ring true. We changed into our stage clothes at the house and then went up to the cabin to warm up and generally get in the vibe of the festival. I have to say the Kristiansand audience were terrific and we had a great gig. The promoter was super excited as he had over 4,000 people in the audience, which is the best the festival has ever done and he was calling it a sell out, and saying that it was all down to us, which was nice.

It was Rich Bennett my Guitar tech and Russ’s Drum tech’s birthday, so I announced this on the stage before ‘Lady in Black’ and the whole audience sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and this sounded great.

After our show we all bundled into the van to drive to Stavanger Airport and the Scandic Hotel, which was a 4 hour drive including pee stops. We arrived at the hotel approximately 1am and we all went straight to bed as we had a hell of a day fast approaching to get to our next festival in Winterbach Germany near Stuttgart.

It was a red eye special flight in the morning and yes it was SAS Airlines again, so Phil had enough with losing his bag twice, so he carried it on the flight and put his wash bag in Scampi’s suitcase. With the flight to Copenhagen, the flight to Munich, and the 4 1/2hour drive to Winterbach, we had been traveling for 11 hours and there was only time for 30 minutes at the hotel to shower before we had to be at the festival site.

With Winterbach so close to Stuttgart where Mat Sinner and Thomas Neumann from Rock Meets Classic live, they came to say hi which was great. ‘Magnum’ was on the bill too, so it was almost a RMC get-together backstage which was cool. Our good friends Thomas and Petra came too and they gave me a box of excellent wine for my birthday, which was wonderful.

This year we moved Agents and Management, and our agent Keith Naisbitt who although is from Newcastle in the UK, he is now based in Los Angeles in the USA, and he flew over for the show. This was the first concert he had seen of us, and boy what a great one it was for him to see. We went down a storm and although we were tired adrenaline kicked in and I have to say we were on fire. The audience were super amazing and the festival was in a tent, but it was electric in there and truly amazing. We had another Birthday in the Heep camp and this time it was Ben our monitor engineer, so I announced this on stage as I did with Rich yesterday, and they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him too, which sounded great.

As we sat in our dressing room tent the ‘Hooters,’ who were on after us came in to say they loved the show as did nearly everyone else backstage, so that felt really good. We did manage to see part of the ‘Hooters’ show and they were excellent. They are such great singers and musicians with terrific songs, and this is a winning combination in my book. After this we went back to the hotel where the bar was open, so it was one for the frog and toad and bed.

The next day we were flying back to London on Germanwings Airline from Stuttgart. I travel with a trolley like pull along bag and a separate brief case. Well the flight was 1hr 15mins late and was not very full so where you put your bag above your seat in the overhead locker, by the time we landed in London, it had moved down to the front of the plane. Well I picked my bags up and was nearly at passport control when a family stopped me and said ‘Sir you have our case.’ Well I was surprised on two counts. One was that I was called ‘Sir’ and the other that I did indeed have their case.

I apologised profusely and gave it back to them. Well this left me in a dilemma as mine was still on the plane. I still have a bit of a dodgy leg and the prospect of fast walking back to the plane did not thrill me at all, but luckily Angus our Front of House engineer saw my position and ran back there for me which was wonderful. He found it and so luckily both parties were reunited with the correct luggage. That is the first time ever I have seen anyone with exactly the same case, so now mine has numerous baggage tags and markers on to make sure this does not happen again, which is probably overload but better to be safe than sorry. Phew that was a close call and a big thanks goes out to Angus!

After that bit of excitement we all made it home safe in the knowledge that we had another two successful festivals under our belt this summer but unfortunately we only had 2 days at home before we were off again.

On Thursday the 27th July we were flying out to Basel Switzerland to then drive to Colmar in France for a festival. I did not have my usual driver and he had to sub let the job out to another guy. Well most of the journey I was on my phone taking care of business on the home front and when we arrived at the airport I got out of the car picked up my bags and thanked the driver. Well to my surprise and shock in equal measures, he had dropped me at LHR Terminal 2 just like last week instead of Terminal 5 where we were leaving from this week. After some quick panic thinking, I was on the Heathrow Express train to Terminal 5, and as I got there I ran into Phil, so I knew I was okay.

Phil having had his bag lost twice was taking no chances and carried his bag on to the plane this time. Once through security we all had some lunch at Wagamama’s except for Phil who went straight to the lounge for some liquid refreshment in the shape of Rosé wine as he had eaten at Kings X Railway Station on his way to the airport. After a delicious lunch we all joined him for a few drinks ourselves which was great. Then we walked to the gate to board the British Airways flight.
On the flight Davey bought a round of drink so the intake of alcohol continued. At the back of the plane was Robin Mcauley who had flown over from Las Vegas to sing with the MSG group at the same festival. Phil used to be in a band with Robin called ‘Grand Prix,’ so there was a lot of chatting and drinking going on. In fact Robin replaced Bernie in that band.

When we landed and still on the plane waiting to disembark, Bernie reminded Phil that his case was put in first class as there was no room above his seat at the back, and to not forget his case. However the wine consumption had obviously kicked in as he walked off the plane and forgot it. In essence he had lost his own bag this time, which made us all laugh after the SAS Airlines escapades recently.

At the baggage carousel everything thankfully turned up and we had to wait while Phil in his alcoholic fog tried to get his bag back off the plane. He had gone through passport control so he could not go back to the plane, so he was reliant on the staff at the baggage collection to be reunited with his suitcase. Well Scampi intervened as frustration was rearing its ugly head and eventually it came through, and we left for the hotel. By this time the hotel restaurant was closed but the bar was open, so we could get something small to eat. A few of us ate and a few of us just had a drink. Shortly after this the ‘Status Quo’ crew arrived, so they joined us and the stories flowed.

On the festival in Colmar France were the mighty ‘Heep,’ ‘Status Quo,’ and ‘MSG’ with Michael Schenker featuring Robin Mcauley. In Schenker’s band were Chris Glenn (Bass) Ted McKenna (Drums) and Steve Mann (Keys & Guitar.)

We met them all in the morning at breakfast in the hotel all except for Michael Schenker and Chris Glenn is the king of one-liners, so he kept us laughing a lot. One of his jokes was: Question – ‘Why does Donald Trump not read the bible’ Answer ‘Because he is not in it.’ This said with a broad Scottish accent really adds to the humour of it and this was just a springboard for many more jokes to come.

At the festival we were on first, as we had to drive after the show for 4 hours to Munich Airport because we were flying out the next day to Heraklion in Greece. Quo were after us, as they had to drive overnight to the Czech Republic, so MSG had the final spot.

The festival was like a huge amphitheatre and a really cool venue. We had played it before many moons ago. I did see Sina Rückmann from Germany down the front and Sina was the lady who gave me the carved wooden mini-me that sits proudly in my garden by the pond.
Well to say we went down a storm would be an understatement, as it was an immense response and just amazing. There were people in the front standing, but the rest were all seated. On our last note of ‘Easy Livin’ it was just incredible as those sitting down all stood up as one, and gave us a standing ovation. Incredible!

While the crew packed away we had a little dinner before loading up the bus for our 4-hour drive to Munich. As we went to leave, the bus had a flat battery, which took forever to fix, so much so that we watched the entire ‘Quo’ show which was not part of the master plan as we would have been 2 hours into our road journey by then.

I went up to see ‘Quo’ who sounded great and I stood by the mixing desk. A few people recognised me and started wanting autographs. I was high up on the side of the stage, so one of the security guards started handing me up the items to sign. Well within minutes there were loads of people wanting their tickets, posters, and hats signed and I even signed 2 bras. ‘Appy days! Lets hope that’s a sign of things to come and a new trend has begun.

Eventually the bus was fixed and we went on our merry way. Unknown to us though at about 2am the driver had to stop for his mandatory 45 minute break, which did not thrill us at all. We turned up at the hotel at 4am and we had to get up at 7am to catch a flight to Greece, so we were to a man burnt out. I had a quick shower before going to bed and even though you are dog tired it is hard to try and force sleep and the next minute the bloomin’ alarm goes off. D’oh!

We were on the holidaymakers flight to Greece, so there were queues aplenty, but we did all get on the Aegean flight. I was quietly sitting in my aisle seat as the food and drink trolley came around, when suddenly the stewardess dropped a litre bottle of still water all over me soaking my shirt and shorts. As I was sitting there it looked like I had just wet myself, which believe me is not a good look. They were very apologetic and she said ‘it is only water,’ and at that point I wanted to grab a bottle of water off of her trolley and douse her with it saying those very same words, but I didn’t, and I did not cause a fuss. I had to laugh though as all that she gave me to soak it all up was one of those flimsy paper doilies they put under your drink, and I was drenched.

As you land at Heraklion Airport the runway is by the sea, and it was blisteringly hot. Thankfully all of our suitcases arrived with the equipment and we met our promoters and headed for the hotel. Luckily our keys were ready. I had bought a salad at Munich Airport so I ate that for lunch, but the rest of the boys were hungry so they sat down at a table inside the hotel to eat and I went straight to bed.

The crew however went to the venue to set up, which came with its own set of problems as they couldn’t get the stage at the time they were told, then they couldn’t make a sound at a certain time, and then transport back to the hotel didn’t turn up, so they abandon the idea and caught two taxi’s back to the hotel and went to bed for some much needed rest. With all of that going on, there was no sound check.

When I woke up, I had a shower and my phone rang and it was our friends from England. In fact Däna works in he same law firm as my wife Sheila. Well they were in Greece touring the islands and they had one day in Heraklion, and on walking around the city they saw posters that we were playing that night. That was such a lovely surprise so Däna, Kevin, Isobel and Woody came to the show. They only live a couple of streets from us in London and in fact Sheila while I am away is staying at their country house in Framlingham, that they kindly loaned to her. This all made it both surreal and wonderful at the same time. What are the chances of that happening, but I am glad it did!

After the call I went downstairs to have something to eat for dinner and I saw Phil walking around. He was supposed to meet his lady Patina at the hotel on arrival and she should have been checked into his room, but he could not find her. He found out that the promoters had changed our hotel and not told us, so Patina was in the original one across town. She had flown out to join Phil as they were staying on after our show with friends for a couple of days and he would join us in Switzerland for the next run of festivals. Still it was a big disappointment for him, and he did not hook up with her until the gig. There was no harm done, but the communication highway must have been blocked in Heraklion with regards to the hotel information.

Well the ‘Over the Wall,’ festival was just great and the fans from Greece never let you down as they went nuts. Most of the other bands were Heavy Metal/Speed Metal all from the local area and we were the international headliners. It was a great rockin’ night even though we were on hired equipment, but the atmosphere was great. The German twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell were remarkably down the front as we hit the stage, and we had a great time.

After the show we met all of my friends from England and friends of Davey’s plus friends of Bernie’s, and the people that Phil was staying with too, so it was a busy old dressing room there for a while. There was a constant stream of people all wanting a picture with the band too and most of the support bands.

Once the bus was loaded with our equipment we said our goodbyes and drove back to the hotel where everyone went to bed. The next morning we left for the airport and we had a British Airways flight back to London Gatwick South Terminal this time.

We were sitting at the back of the plane and they started to serve the food and drink from the front of the plane, so it took ages to get to us, and by the time it did, as it was a buy your food and drink from a menu, there was nothing left. On a 3-1/2hr flight you would think it would be better stocked than that, so we had to go without.

Still once on the ground we went to the baggage hall and everything turned up, so we were thankful for small mercies and we said our goodbyes and all went home.
‘Appy days!
Mick

Box News #257 – July 17th, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2017 by heepster

Mick discusses Heep’s trip to France, racing driver David Coulthard, bass player Norman Watt-Roy, the Retro C Trop Festival, The wonderful Beatles Tribute Band, The Pretenders, The Beach Boys, Gremlins coming out to play, John Henry’s Rehearsal Studios, Clamm Castle in Austria, Kris Kristofferson, Nazareth, Manfred Mann, Lady in Black Ice Cream, The Lovely Days Festival in Austria, Z7 in Basel and Paiste Cymbals, Flying to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Alkmaar Holland and Leffe type beer.

He also talks about The Kantine in Köln Germany, flying to Trondheim Norway and the lost equipment and luggage, the Roots Rock Festival in Bronnoysund, incessant rain, fame and the picture with the Stewardess. Mick also discusses, being super tired, working on adrenaline, Phil’s lost suitcase, the Moto Stadium Festival in Kiev Ukraine, LHR Terminal 5 and going home.

Well I have to write about our trip to France by memory, as I didn’t manage to start the blog as per usual on the day.

We all met on Saturday the 24th June at our spiritual home of London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to fly on a British Airways flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. Our show was on the following day in Tilloly and it was a festival called the Retro C Trop.

When we arrived at the hotel the restaurant was closed but luckily enough for us a there was one a few hundred yards from reception that was open. So that is where we had dinner while sitting outside, as the weather was still nice at that time of night around 9.30pm.

Back in the bar at the hotel after dinner we met Norman Watt-Roy the original bass player with Ian Dury and the Blockheads. He was out with Wilko Johnson and they had just played the same festival that night. He is a fantastic player and his bass lines with the Blockheads are just spot on. He also played some great memorable groove bass lines with Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

He came over and said hello to me first of all and we had a good chat and I found out that he had a love of Bombay Sapphire Gin. So much so he had a bottle of it put over the bar for his delight. I ended up going to bed but Davey who admired his work greatly bonded with him and they had a late one.

The Saturday line-up was ‘Les Insus,’ ‘Wilko Johnson,’ ‘Blue Öyster Cult,’ and ‘The Stranglers.’
The following day when we arrived at the show it was an amazing setting as it was in the grounds of the Château de Tilloloy. In fact the Château was behind the stage and this was where the dressing rooms were.

It was a beautiful building with amazing oil paintings hanging on every wall and a majestic staircase running through the middle of the house. This was also where the catering was. It would have been a good location for a period movie and I would not be surprised if that had already happened. Personally I would have loved to film a Heep video there.

As we arrived a Beatles tribute band called the ‘Rabeats’ were playing and they were brilliant. They were dressed in the colourful Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band outfits and most of the songs they sang and played were note perfect and it was great to hear. They even had Beatle type wigs on. My only comment was they just stood there playing, so there was no energy coming off the stage, which kind of looked flat and lifeless. Still they had the music down with added musicians on Synths, Pianos, Strings and Brass.

After they played there was a band called ‘Matmatah’ and then the mighty ‘Heep,’ followed by ‘The Pretenders’ and ‘The Beach Boys.’ However when we hit the stage there was a multitude of gremlins that came thick and fast like a wave crashing over us. On the first number my guitar went down, followed by the out front mixing desk needing to be rebooted as it crashed, and then throughout the show our monitor desk went down, all of the in-ear systems and even the bass guitar and keyboards.

With thanks to the Beach Boys crew they lent Bernie an in-ear system and while he was doing this, the rest of us went into a jam. The crowd seem to like this and it did give the show another dimension and a human feel for sure.
The crowd were fantastic and because we did not give in and we used every bit of professionalism we could muster, they really warmed to us, and by the time we left the stage with all guns blazing they were cheering for a long time after for more.
It was a hard day at the office but we won through in the end, which was just great and very rewarding.

‘The Pretenders’ were on next and they had no such problems as they had their own Front of House mixing desk and their own monitor system as did the ‘Beach Boys,’ and they sounded good and they were just like ‘The Pretenders’ should sound. Chrissie Hynde still has a great unique voice.

The ‘Beach Boys’ followed and they were fantastic and it was a set full of hits one after another. The harmonies were terrific and you would not believe Mike Love the singer is 76 years old and they still play over a 100 shows a year. Amazing!

We enjoyed the rest of the festival and had a few drinks and then retired back to the hotel. The next day we flew back to London and decided that before our next trip we should have a rehearsal day to run through the backline to avoid any more on stage surprises.

We did this at the famous John Henry Studios in London on Wednesday the 5th of July. It was a good move, so that we could iron out any equipment problems and feel confident that when we headlined the Clamm Castle Live festival in Austria on the 7th July we would be fine. It was indeed time well spent and we left the rehearsals feeling a lot happier.

The next day we flew to Vienna on British Airways only this time departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3. We all met in the airport lounge for a couple of drinks before boarding the plane. Bernie was in 7th Heaven on the flight as he is a big car-racing fan and he was sitting next to racing driver David Coulthard. He was one happy puppy and was thrilled to bits.

We arrived in Vienna and were met by the promoter’s drivers and initially we thought it would be a 1-hour drive, which turned into 2hrs.The hotel restaurant was shut when we arrived at 10pm, but luckily a short walk up the road there was a restaurant open where we sat outside and had some dinner, as there was nothing on the plane over to have. Then we all went to bed and congregated at breakfast the next morning early, as we had a 9.45am pick up for a sound-check. The crew had gone down at 8.30am to prepare the stage for us.

It was a fantastic stage and our sound-check went reasonably quickly which we were all happy about and the time spent in rehearsal with our equipment was well spent. We decided to go down early to see some of the other artists and bands. We were headlining but we had a tribute to the Doors band on called ‘Doors Alive,’ the legend ‘Kris Kristofferson’ and our old mates ‘Nazareth’ and ‘Manfred Mann.’

Backstage they had a lady dressed in black with black hair selling ‘Lady in Black’ black ice cream in black cones. It was all very black and a little bit Goth. Phil was the first try it and he said it tasted okay, but I was not sure the black teeth after eating it was a good look.

‘Doors Alive’ were actually quite good and ‘Kris Kristofferson’ was fantastic. The songs he has written over the years are just incredible and he really is a true legend and inspiration.

‘Nazareth’ played a rocking’ set and went down great and ‘Manfred Mann’ were on fire too.

When we took the stage it all went up another level and the crowd were with us from note one. I was afraid they may have been exhausted after the day’s activities but they were well up for it. I was truly amazed at the reaction and I was very proud of the band’s performance as we were totally in the pocket as a tight unit and it felt really good.

A few of the bands had run over time and this always impacts on the headliner as there was a strict curfew in place, so we finished on ‘Lady in Black’ and did not have time to play ‘Easy Livin’.’

This is the first time in may years we have not played this number on stage, but leaving the crowd with ‘Lady in Black’ was still a good way to finish as the audience were singing at the top of their voices and in the end chanting for more. This sure did the heart good as we sat in the dressing room listening to them.

We stayed around backstage for a while and talked to a few friends before driving back to the hotel.

The next day we drove to Vienna Airport where we were staying at an Airport hotel as after that day’s festival we had an early flight to Switzerland.

The festival that day was the ‘Lovely Days’ festival and it was at a different location this year to the other years we have played it. On previous years they had an old train backstage that was used for the dressing rooms which gave the whole backstage area a really cool vibe, even though it was uncomfortable to get changed in.

Our crew had driven straight to the venue leaving at 8.30am to set up the equipment but unfortunately Zucchero’s crew were running late so the boys could not get a look in until 5pm so they drove to the hotel for a much need catch up sleep.

The new venue was still really cool and the festival did not seem to suffer at all. The line-up was ‘Doors Alive,’ ‘Edgar Broughton,’ ‘The Levellers,’ ‘Canned Heat,’ ‘Kris Kristofferson,’ ‘Uriah Heep’ and ‘Zucchero.’

We arrived in time to see Kris Kristofferson again and he went down an absolute storm and they loved him.

We were up next and I have to say what an amazing show it was. The audience were incredible and the reaction to each number just got stronger and stronger and you could feel they were with us every inch of the way. They were incredible and by the time we finished they were shouting and screaming for more LOUDLY. It felt sooooooo good!

As we left the stage all of the crews were shaking our hands and some were doing the ‘We are not worthy’ thing on one knee, and even ‘Kris Kristofferson’ was up for a good part of the show. He really is a Heep fan now and he even recorded ‘Stealin’’ on his mobile phone which is wonderful considering he is 81 years old. What an inspiration he is and he even made time after his show to sign autographs at the festival gate just showing what a true legend he is and what a really lovely man he is too.

After the show we managed to see a few songs of ‘Zucchero’ who were very good. There were a lot of musicians on the stage and they were right in a line behind ‘Zucchero.’ He had a brass section too so it was the whole nine yards.

We drove back to the Airport Hotel as we had a red eye special flight to Switzerland in the morning.

The flight was good and we landed in Zurich and luckily it was only a 30 minute drive to the hotel so we could grab a quick bite to eat before going back to bed for some much needed shut eye.

The crew had to go straight to the venue to set up before they could come back for some more sleep. The venue was the famous Z7 venue where they had set up a festival situation out in the huge parking lot. Our mates ‘Magnum’ were double headlining it with us as ‘Kansas’ had cancelled, so we were pleased to see Bob and Tony again. Bernie and I had a few months earlier played the ‘Rock Meets Classic’ tour with Bob and Tony and we got on like a house on fire.

The ‘Magnum’ set was rockin’ and they went down really well, even though on the last number it rained heavily. They do have some really good songs and it was good to see them perform again.

When we took to the stage it was bucketing down with rain but this did not put anyone off and everyone stayed until the end. It was a brilliant concert and our thanks goes out to the audience for standing there in the rain and giving us such a great reception. In the end despite the rain it was a wonderful concert and everyone had a good time.

We hung about backstage for a while meeting friends and it was good to see Christian from Paiste Cymbals at the show. They sponsor Russ so it was a good show for him to see despite the rain.

The next day we drove to Vienna Airport even though it wasn’t very far from the hotel but with all of our luggage, it was too far to walk. We then took a flight to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

We were met by our drivers and driven to the hotel in Alkmaar Holland. It was a night off so the band found an Italian restaurant a short walk from the hotel that was really good. They even served Leffe Beer which was a bonus indeed. On top of that they gave us a free drink so we were all very happy chappy’s.

We still had an early night so that was a good recharge for the batteries.

The following day was John Lawton’s birthday, so I sent him a birthday message at breakfast and then at midday we all went out for a walk before having lunch.

The show that night was one that we put in after the cancellation of ‘Kansas.’ We didn’t want to disappoint our Dutch fans, so we put in a gig at the Victoria Podium in Alkmaar to try and make up for it.

It was Carine and Harrrie Van de Van’s 30th Anniversary and they had a picture of me painted to celebrate. They wanted it signed so
we arranged to meet up at our hotel to do this. It was great to be able to sign the picture and I have to say it was an excellent painting with great detail.

The venue was packed for a Tuesday night and the promoter was very happy and so were we. The audience were fantastic and we really fed off them, and this took everything up another level. It was a brilliant hot sweaty night and both the band and the audience had a great time. Holland never lets us down and this was no exception.

We did miss Louis Rentrop our Dutch Webmaster as he could not come because he wasn’t feeling too well. We wished him well and of course there will be other shows he can attend.

After the show we had a couple of drinks before going back to the hotel and bed.
The following day we drove to Cologne in Germany for a show at the ‘Kantine.’Once again this was a filler gig due to ‘Kansas’ cancelling, but it was the right thing to do for the fans.

It was a good size venue and well attended for a Wednesday night and we had a great time. The band were on fire and the audience were much the same as the night before and very vocal and on our side from the first note.

In fact when Bernie announced me they clapped and shouted for a long time before we could start the next number and I have to say that did the heart good and I thank them for that ovation. It was again a hot sweaty one but most enjoyable seeing all of those smiling faces.

We didn’t stay long after the show as we had a long drive the next morning all the way back to Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport to catch a plane to Oslo Norway. We made it in time and checked in all of our baggage. Once we were in Oslo we had to catch another flight to Trondheim so it was a long old day.

We were travelling on SAS Airlines and as we were sitting on the tarmac Scampi saw a lot of our baggage was on a trolley not being loaded on to the plane. We had with us a lot of equipment and all of the guitars, so this was a bit of a worry. When Scampi enquired what was going on they just shrugged their shoulders and even dared to laugh. Now we had paid extra to have this equipment on the flight so we were not happy at all.

They said that it would be put on the next flight out and there were quite a few flights going that day. When we got to Oslo even more trouble was in store as they had a system in place re picking up our bags and catching a transfer flight that even their ground staff didn’t understand.

The bottom line was that we just about made the flight and when we arrived in Trondheim there were no bags and no equipment. Scampi and Brian spent some time at the complaints desk and it was rumoured that it would arrive after 10.40pm that evening.

We really needed that to happen as we had to leave the airport hotel at 7am to fly to Bronnoysund Norway where we were meant to be playing a festival called the ‘Roots Rock Festival.’ Talk about flying by the seat of your pants.

Well Scampi and Brian went to the Airport, which luckily was only a short walk from the hotel to see what arrived. Only the equipment flight cases arrived and not all of them, and no suitcases. This did not bode well but at least something was on the plane.

The next morning we caught a flight to Bronnoysund with a check in time of 7.20am, and SAS said that the rest of our bags would arrive in Trondheim from Oslo by the time we arrived in Bronnoysund. This was good news, as we now knew where the hell the bags and remainder of the equipment were.

To cut a very long story short, after a million phone calls and much stress on Scampi’s part, the bags and the missing equipment arrived at our hotel at 17.30pm

In the interim period SAS had sent to the hotel Wash Bags, Sweat Pants, T Shirts, Jumpers, socks and Underwear for us all.

Since arriving in Norway there has been a huge shift in the weather and it was cold and raining heavily and because of the late arrival of the equipment we could not do our customary sound check, plus no one had a proper coat for this weather.

Just to top it off Vic drove our own backline from Köln to Oslo for our show there, and he was stuck at the border for over 6 hours. What a nightmare. This did eventually get sorted but it sure added to the overall stress.

Still the promoters in Bronnoysund were most helpful and we thank them for that. My fear is that we fly tomorrow back to Oslo and we do not want to experience any of that again.

Well the Roots festival in Bronnoysund despite the rain all the way through was a huge success.
We had a great time and the audience were fantastic.

The dressing rooms were unusual and made out like a grotto. The inside of the tent was mostly decorated black with a bar, and even a fruit shop for those inclined to be healthy. The tent was pretty small and cosy but it had a cool atmosphere with music being piped out the whole time and the staff could not do enough for you.

After the show we had a couple of drinks and then we drove to the hotel as we would not get a lot of sleep as we were flying to Oslo via Trondheim.

Once on the plane the stewardess recognised us and she was very excited. We were soon in the air and I was watching a documentary on my iPad, but it wasn’t long before I fell asleep with the film still playing. Well I guess you know that you have a measure of fame when the stewardess tells you when you wake up that she hoped I didn’t mind as she took a picture of her and me while I was sleeping. I sure hope it wasn’t one where my mouth was open snoring with drool running down my chin, but there you go, I guess I’ll never know. She was very happy though.

Luckily on this journey we landed in Trondheim on the way to Oslo, and we still stayed on the plane, so if the suitcases and equipment had made it on to the plane then it would all get to Oslo. Phew!

Well it did all get to Oslo so we were very happy about that and the band drove to the hotel and the crew went straight to the venue, which was the famous ‘Rockefellers’.’

Our hotel was at the airport as we had a really early start the next day to fly to Kiev in the Ukraine.

We did manage to get a sound check and it was good to be back on our own equipment as Vic had driven it there from Köln. After that we had a quick dinner in a Vietnamese Restaurant across the road from the venue, and then I did an interview with a lovely lady.

Before we started the interview she gave me an envelope that had a ‘Happy Birthday’ Jigsaw puzzle inside. This was a present from both her and a big Heep fan she knew which was very cool.

After the interview we had a little time to get changed and warm up before hitting the stage. Well the venue was rammed and it was a great atmosphere from the very first minute we started ‘Gypsy’. It was an amazing night and the band were on fire and the audience were electric. It was certainly a triumphant return to Oslo, as we had not played there in a while.
We couldn’t stay very long after the show as we needed to get to the hotel as at best we would only get 4 hours sleep before we had to check in to fly to Kiev.

As the flight pattern has been on this trip we had to catch two flights. Oslo to Munich, and then Munich to Kiev. We were travelling on Lufthansa Airlines. We on the flight we were a pack of nodding dogs as we were all cream crackered (Knackered.)

On arrival we started collecting the equipment and the suitcases and lady luck had disappeared again as Phil’s suitcase did not make it. This held us up longer than we anticipated, as he had to fill out forms etc. so we were seriously cut down on any sleep we may have been looking forward to.

We did manage a short nap but the poor crew had to go straight down to the festival site to start setting up our equipment, plus Phil was taken to a Shopping Mall to try and get some stage clothes.

He couldn’t find much so I lent him a T Shirt and Brian had an SAS Airline pack left over from the lost luggage in Bronnysund, so at least he had some shampoo, shaving cream and razor and a toothbrush and some toothpaste.

Well the festival was called the Motto Fest at the Moto Stadium. The night before Finnish band ‘Lordi’ had headlined.

It was a really great show despite our tiredness but once again adrenaline won the day. We fed off of the excitement of the audience and it was brilliant.

Backstage in the Caravan the party began and we popped a few corks and opened a few bottles of beer, and we celebrated the great run of shows and that we had made it through.

We went back to the hotel and the bar was still open so the party continued. We did not for once have an early start so we all decided to miss breakfast and have something to eat at Kiev Airport.

This is what we did, and then we boarded the British Airways flight back to London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. We picked up our bags and all went our separate ways except for poor old Phil, who was hoping that his bag would follow on the next flight to London and they would courier it to his home.

It was only 3 days at home before we were off to Norway again, but it was good to be home to re-charge our batteries.

‘Appy days!
Mick

Box News #256 – May 4th, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2017 by heepster

Mick talks about 12 hours at home before flying from London Gatwick Airport to Kiev Ukraine, arriving in the snow in Dnipro, fans giving me presents, eating late, sound check run through, the audience in coats, an excellent pencil drawing of me and a beautiful Icon of ‘Archangel Michael’ given to me by fans after the show, the drive to Kharkiv, the pot of honey, the wild audience proving just how much thinks had changed in that territory, the huge ‘We Love Uriah Heep,’ banners in the audience and Spurs losing to Chelsea.

Mick also discusses the beautiful mystery lady in Kharkiv, the overnight train to Odessa, Sushi, Pizzas and Chicken for the journey along with the drinks rider, Babushka’s at the end of each section of the train making a good cup of tea, more beer and 3 Ukrainian guys. Mick also talks about the ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ train journey, the stealing of the toilet key, Phil getting his collar felt, the Troubadour Restaurant, a guy with his Dean guitar, the Ukrainian crew pulling out all of the stops, Leffe Blonde Belgium beer, the present of a bottle of Ukrainian Rosé and bottle of Brandy, the 24/7 Irish pub, Horse taxi’s, the Acidic Jew magician, the flight home and the M25 being blocked plus Bernie not getting home until 2am.

Thursday 20th April 2017
After 12 hours at home after the Rock Meets Classic tour I was back at the airport (this time London Gatwick South Terminal) to meet the rest of the Heep boys and crew to fly out to the Ukraine. Our first flight was to Kiev with a short layover and then on to Dnipro. On both flights it was buy your own food and drink and for entertainment it was what you took on the flight with you.

We arrived at Dnipro and we met our Ukrainian promoters and then we drove to the hotel. Well outside it was snowing and freezing cold but soon we were in the reception area collecting our room keys at 10pm. We threw our bags into our rooms and we went straight down to the restaurant for some much needed dinner, as the food on offer on the flight did not look very nice at all. At the reception area there were some lovely fans who gave me a Dnipro Coffee Mug, Towel and T Shirt and a wooden necklace.

The next day was fairly chilled until we went down to the show at 4.30pm for the sound check. We ran through a few songs and bits anyone needed to try, as we hadn’t played a concert in a while and we were set. I had to go through the end of ‘July Morning’ as I had been playing it with the Orchestra on the Rock Meets Classic tour and the end of the song arrangement was very different and condensed.

The venue was the DK Shinnik and we had played it before. It was a lovely place but everywhere was freezing cold, even on the stage. The proof of how cold it was to be honest was when my guitar tech Rich Bennett took a picture from behind me performing, you could see that most of the audience still had their coats on. This did not stop them from enjoying themselves and it was an excellent first show.

After the concert we went back to the Hotel restaurant to have dinner and a few glasses of wine. It was good to be back with everyone again and the banter was flowing as per usual. As I was leaving the venue a couple gave me an excellent pencil drawing of me and a beautiful Icon of ‘Archangel Michael’. I had pictures taken with them and signed all of their autographs but the presents were really special.

The next day we drove to Kharkiv which was only approximately 2 1Ž2 hours away. We checked into the Hotel and went for some lunch in the restaurant. There was guy in reception and he wanted some things signed which I did and then he gave me a pot of natural honey. It was an unusual present but still very nice of him. He was very excited to give it to me.

Over here because the shows are early, starting at 7.30pm each night we always have dinner after the concert. Not a great scenario at all but that is how it flowed over there.

The venue in Kharkiv was the KKZU and it was equally as cold as the one in Dnipro. This time though they managed to get some heaters in the dressing room and on the stage.

Now as the lights went down the audience were screaming our name with delight. That was a great sound to hear and a marker of how some things have changed over the years in this territory, as they would have been quite reserved in their appreciation years ago with a row of soldiers facing them to prevent them having fun.

Well Bernie did not have to invite them down to the front of the stage or to stand up because as we came on they did this for themselves, and it was a cool rock night from that moment on. There was a huge flag some guy was holding saying ‘Uriah Heep We Love You,’ and another one towards the back of the audience with a red love heart saying ‘We Love You.’ It was a rockin’ night only spoiled for me by Spurs losing to Chelsea 4-2 in the FA Cup semi-final.

Once again it was back to the Hotel restaurant and this time we had cleverly pre-ordered. We had plenty of laughs and stayed up a little later than usual, as we had a free day the next day. Still I did manage to drown my sorrows over the football result.

The next day we stayed in the hotel until 3.45pm before driving to the Railway Station, as we were taking an overnight train to Odessa which took 14 hours. As we were leaving I saw a beautiful lady in the reception of the hotel and she came up to me for a picture and then she gave me a box which had a cake in it and some Easter Eggs. This was very nice of her and then she kissed me and left, never to be seen again.

The trains over here are at least a mile long and our carriage is always at the end. As the train restaurant is usually rubbish the promoters bought lots of Sushi, Pizzas and Chicken for the journey. They also bought a lot of the alcohol from the dressing room too, so the train was a rockin’ train there for a while. The one good thing about the trains is that the Babushka at the end of each section of the train makes a good cup of tea.

After a few hours and running low on beer for the crew, we all walked down to the buffet car. You see all sorts of sights in this walk like people smoking in the connection between carriages, a smashed window in the connecting doors, people four to a room in their undies and it can get a little bit smelly from body odour. There was a guy walking up and down the train constantly with a beer crate on wheels selling Vodka, Beer, Soft drinks and Potato Chips.

Well when we finally made it to the Buffett carriage it was like something out of a Fellini movie and very surreal. The tables and chairs were carved wood and on the windows were hanging royal blue satin curtains that were draped from the ceiling too. There were a few people sitting there eating and a few of us wanted beer and a few of us a cup of tea. (Chai) The guy running the show did not want to know about the tea but only about the dozen beers Scampi ordered for the crew. Even when we pointed to the table behind us who had tea he still did not want to know.

While we were sitting there, we were chatting to 3 Ukrainian guys and one of them left but we thought he had gone to his cabin for something, but he came back with 4 cups of tea from the Babushka which was nice of him. When he put the cups down he said ‘Welcome to the Ukraine.’

After chatting to them for a while, well mostly Johnnie our monitor engineer we put them on the guest list for the show in Odessa. Then we all went back to our cabins.

It was an overnight journey full of ‘Shake Rattle and Roll.’ The train stopped, started, shunted and just about everything else making it impossible to sleep. Even the Babushka opened and closed Russ’s door at 5am in the morning for no apparent reason. To be honest the bed was more of a slippery bench even with the bed linen on. The standard of toilet had not changed either in years and they are unpleasant places to do your ablutions, but there was no choice.

Well the train stopped at a station just as I was going to clean my teeth and they always lock the toilet up once in the station. One of our promoters travelling with us seeing that the Babushka was out on the platform, he went into her room and got the toilet key. I cleaned my teeth using a bottle of still water I might add, and on leaving Phil wanted to do much the same so I gave him the key. Well this did make us laugh as the Babushka had come back into the carriage and seeing the key missing went to the toilet and what can only be describes as ferociously rattled the door handle and Phil royally had his collar felt as she shouted ‘No, no, no’,’ which was hilarious and we could not stop laughing.

We arrived at Odessa train station bang on time at 8am. We then went to the hotel and checked in. We recognised it as we stayed there last year. Then we went to the Troubadour Restaurant a few streets away where we would be having all of our meals while we were in Odessa. Nearly everyone ordered the Troubadour Breakfast that had everything in it, and then after that we went back to the hotel for some much needed non moving bed sleep.

All of us except Davey had gone back to the restaurant for lunch, and then we had a few hours back at the hotel before getting ready for the concert. The venue was called the ‘Filarmonia’ and a short walk from the hotel. On the way to the sound check I was met by a few autograph hunters with many Heep albums and a guy with a Dean Guitar he wanted to show me. It was obviously his pride and joy and he wanted me to have a picture taken holding the guitar. I did this and then he wanted to show me his collection of guitar picks, some being Tortoise Shell and others different types of metal. He was so into it I spent some time with him before catching up with everyone else to get into the venue.

We knew the layout of the venue and Brian our Bass and Keyboard tech as well as being our stage manager, said that the local crew were superb and pulled out all of the stops for our crew. This was good to hear so on his recommendation I thanked them on stage that night along with our crew and all the other people connected with the short tour.

The show was fantastic and the audience just lapped it all up. They were all standing and running down to the front of the stage from the first note, which was pretty cool. It was a good show to end on for sure.

After the concert we met a few friends and then we went to the Troubadour Restaurant for dinner, which we had pre-ordered. This was excellent and the discovery of the very strong Leffe Blonde Belgium beer took it all up another level. It was a rockin’ restaurant there for a bit, and I noticed that they had the same staff in the evening as they did at breakfast and lunch so those guys really did put in a shift that day.

While I was sitting there with everyone a guy came in and gave me in a brown bag a bottle of Ukrainian Rosé and bottle of Brandy. He just gave it to me and shook my hand and left. That was so nice of him and most unexpected. I think he made a quick getaway so that the security didn’t get him. Anyway it was very generous of him indeed.

Back at the hotel the same guy in the street with the guitar was waiting in reception, and he told me everything he had said earlier, but he was obviously excited, so I had more pictures taken with him and the guitar, and I gave him a MB Heep guitar pick and he was over the moon.

Well the Leffe Blond beer had sufficiently fuelled Phil and Davey to want a few more drinks before going to bed, so they went in search of an Irish pub that was rumoured to be open 24/7. They were walking the streets aimlessly and even a couple of cars pulled over to try and get them in, but luckily they didn’t take that course of action even though Phil said Davey was dangerously close to doing so, but he may have ended up inside a concrete post or worse.

Eventually two ladies appeared like a vision on horseback. Now these turned out to be horse taxi’s would you believe, but neither Phil or Davey had any local money. After a short chat the boys got on the horses and the ladies led them to the nearest cashpoint to get out the required money, plus they needed some cash for the beer too. Then they led them to the Irish Pub which was indeed open 24/7. They stayed for a few pints of Guinness before walking back to the hotel.

The next day was a bit of a hang about day as we did not need to leave until 2pm to go to the airport, so we all met for lunch back at the Troubadour Restaurant where we had been having all of our meals in Odessa.

Soon we were back at the Airport and checking in for the long journey home. We said goodbye to our promoters and our interpreter Anastasia, then we went through security and boarded the first plane to Kiev.

We landed in Kiev on the Domestic side of the airport then we had to walk to the International side to get the plane to London. Before boarding the plane we had a little time so Bernie and Phil went to the quite barren and quite brown lounge, while Russ, Davey and I went in search of a restaurant for some real food, as on the journey over we knew there would be nothing we would want to buy from the plane menu on the flight home.

While Bernie and Phil were sitting in the lounge there were a number of Acidic Jews in there. One of them was asking where the napkins were and Bernie pointed out that they were set right in front of him. Well this started a conversation and this guy was from New York and he was a Jewish magician called Shlomo Levinger, so he started doing tricks for Phil and Bernie, so they had a great time in there before joining us on the queue when we were boarding the plane. What are the chances of that happening, and they said he was brilliant.

The flight home was long but fine, and we landed in LGW South Terminal where we collected all of our baggage and jumped into our various forms of transport and went home.

The M25 was blocked off so we had to take the long way home arriving at 1am, but Bernie’s case was the last off the carousel and he missed his train by 10 minutes, so he did not roll in until 2am. D’oh!

The Ukraine tour was a real success and well organised, the people were lovely, and hopefully we will be back in 2018.

‘Appy days!
Mick
http://www.mick_box.net
http://www.uriah-heep.com