Box News #270 – June 26, 2018

Mick talks about, the long journey to Yambol Bulgaria from Cornwall, The Giraffe Restaurant at LHR, the 3 hour drive to Yambol from Sofia, meeting the Mayor for dinner, the festival celebrating the heroes who fell for Bulgaria’s freedom, 30,000 people, the firework display, the German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell having a car accident in Sofia, flying to Copenhagen Denmark, Hotel Crapola, no restaurant, free beer, the Øresund Bridge, Sweden Rock, and interview with Mic Michaeli keyboard player with ‘Europe,’ 11,000 people singing the ‘July Morning’ riff and singing the Ah section of ‘Lady in Black.’

Mick also discusses his Birthday, flying to Amsterdam Holland for the Emmen Festival, 10,000 people in a tent, the entire audience singing Mick ‘Happy Birthday, presents from the band and crew, the overnight bus journey to Emmendingen Germany and the hot hotel rooms once again, the great show and a really cool festival.

Mick also talks about, flying to Pamplona Spain via Madrid, tight schedules, Bernie’s Birthday, Bernie’s Birthday dinner and presents, meeting the ‘Status Quo,’ boys, seeing the two tallest musicians in Rock from a band called “Kadavar,’ gremlins, the walking streets and bars, flying to Zurich Switzerland, the Hinwel Festival, the Red Arrows fly over, meeting the guys from ‘Manfred Mann,’ which is always a pleasure, the private tent to watch ‘Simple Minds’ and the flight home to watch the World Cup Football.


We had a festival in Yambol Bulgaria and most of the entourage travelled the day before, but Phil, Russ and I went the day of the show. The reason being that Phil had just come from holidaying in Greece, I had just finished a break in Cornwall celebrating my wife Sheila’s 60th Birthday, and Russ just fancied traveling with us. I had to drive 7 hours from Cornwall to my home and drop off my family, and then jump straight into a cab to take me to a hotel at the airport, as we had a stupidly early flight to Sofia the next day on the gig day. I had a quick bite to eat and then straight to bed, as I was so tired. 

The next day we met at reception and took a cab to LHR Airport for a BA flight to Sofia Bulgaria. The flight was fine but if you wanted anything to eat and drink you had to pay for it. Luckily, we had a good breakfast in the airport at a restaurant called ‘Giraffe.’

On arrival, we were met by our promoters and then we climbed into their Range Rover and travelled the 3 hours to Yambol. We had just enough time for a shower before meeting the Mayor for dinner. He was a big Uriah Heep fan, so he was delighted, and he made a nice speech to welcome us to Yambol. The festival was to celebrate the heroes who fell for Bulgaria’s freedom. 

Because of our late arrival there was no sound check, so after dinner it was straight down to the show. Well it was amazing as there were 30,000 people at the festival there, all ready to rock with the mighty Heep. They were amazing, and it was fantastic to see people as far as you can see and to the sides too. It was a special night and on the last note of our concert there started an enormous firework display. 

The German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell made it after having a car incident in Sofia, so it was good to know that they were safe and alright. How they made it down to the front of 30,000 people, after their horrendous day I will never know.

After the show we had a few drinks and the Mayor invited everyone to a restaurant. I was super tired as were a few of the party, so I went to bed. Some of our entourage joined the Mayor but from experience those invites are closed off from everyone and are not very exciting, but I did hear that the Mayor opened up his private stock of Vodka and Red Wine for those that were there.

Bulgaria as you may know holds the annual ‘July Morning Festival’ so that song went down very well, as it holds something special in Bulgaria’s hearts. After all of that traveling, it was worth it to see that many happy, smiling, rocking faces of all ages! Amazing!

The next day we had to reverse all of yesterday’s travel except for me the Cornwall part, and I was very happy about that. When I arrived home, it wasn’t long before I had a nice cup of tea and then I starfished the bed.

Our next venture in 3 days’ time was to fly to Copenhagen and we all met at LHR in the Priority Lounge as Ace our manager had flown over. It is always great to see him, and we caught up on all of the Heep news which was full of positivity, with many exciting things happening in the pipeline.

The flight was on British Airways and it went relatively smoothly. We stayed at a hotel by Copenhagen Airport, which was less than adequate to say the least. It was stifling hot and there was no air conditioning and the room was trying to be trendy by having it half finished. The end result was that it looked like it was put together by a blindfolded man from IKEA. The bed was as comfortable as sleeping on a plank.

Well that was not the end of the saga, as we all met downstairs in the bar, which was in fact the reception. We asked where the restaurant was and the guy behind the bar/restaurant told us there was no restaurant at the hotel. Seeing the disappointment on our collective faces he gave us a beer each and then told us there was a restaurant open 5 minutes’ walk down the road. Well off we trotted with hope in our hearts and when we arrived they said that they had just closed even though there were people still in there eating and it was only 9 o’clock. Back we went to the hotel with our collective tails between our legs and we sat in reception, while the guy phoned around to see what restaurants were open. This was becoming a nightmare, so we eventually ordered a takeaway which Ace kindly paid for. While we were waiting for the food to arrive the receptionist guy wanted a picture with us, so quick off the mark we said of course for a beer, and he obliged, so all of us in our own way were satisfied.

The next day we were driving to Sweden Rock Festival over the famous Øresund Bridge which runs nearly 8 Kilometres (5Miles) from Copenhagen to Sweden. When we arrived, it was the usual well organised festival that you come to expect from Sweden Rock. We were shown to our dressing room but shortly after that there were a few things to do. Firstly, I did an interview with the keyboard player Mic Michaeli of the band ‘Europe.’ This was a double spin out as Ace and his management partner Adam Parson manage ‘Europe,’ and I had no idea it would be him, but it was short and sweet, and all parties were happy.

After this we had an autograph signing session that lasted 30 minutes before getting ready for the show. When we hit the stage, it was an amazing sight with 11,000 people ready to rock. There was a restriction of 10,000 but we had another 1,000 come to see us, which was very cool.

It was a fantastic show and the crowd were brilliant. They sang the end riff of ‘July Morning’ louder than the band was playing it, which was both amazing and emotional in equal parts. If we thought that was something ‘Lady in Black’ took it up another level. Even when we left the stage they were chanting the Ah section so loudly it was incredible. We came back for the encore of ‘Easy Livin’ and they continued singing after that, which we could hear all the way back to our Porto cabins. It was a huge success and it felt good to be back on Sweden Rock festival. After a reception like that I am sure they were too!

Once we had towelled down and changed we ate dinner in the Restaurant tent that was just great. Good food and drink served by lovely ladies after a stunning rock show, what more could you ask for. Well we could not stay to see any bands, so we missed ‘Ozzy,’ as we had to drive back to Hotel Crapola at Copenhagen Airport, and have another night’s, non-sleep on a plank, and sweat like mad throughout the night with no air conditioning.

The next day was my birthday, so everyone was wishing me Happy Birthday, but the circus that is Heep had to continue to Copenhagen Airport to fly to Amsterdam, where we were playing a festival in Emmen Holland. When we arrived, we went straight to the hotel! We weren’t doing a sound check as there were a number of bands playing.

I was surprised when we arrive to find the festival was in a tent. The backstage area was fine with everything catered for. Johnny Rotten was in one of the cabins for hours and not coming out. He was there with ‘PIL.’ There were many areas in this festival to go to but just as we were about to go on it poured down with heavy rain. This resulted in everyone at the festival crammed into the tent to see us, all 10,000 of them.

It was a great show and the band were on fire. We came out of the traps and the Heep machine rocked the night through. The atmosphere was electric, and we had a great time. Just before ‘Lady in Black’ Bernie stopped my announcement and announced to everyone that it was my Birthday and two lovely ladies presented me with a Cake, a Card and a bottle of Gin, and then 10,000 people sang me ‘Happy Birthday’ which was really quite emotional, especially as I was away from home.

The messages I received all day were just wonderful and my phone actually ran out of battery, as it was pinging so much all day long with well wishes. I was overwhelmed!

We met Kevin & Yvonne Jones after the show and they kindly gave me a Birthday card and a T Shirt for a present. Willy Boshart was there with some Dutch friends too, so it was good to catch up with them.

After our show, we had to jump on to a sleeper bus to travel overnight to Emmendingen Germany.

It took about 8 hours and when we arrived it was straight off the bus and into breakfast. It was a lovely hotel, but it had no elevator and no air conditioning, so it was stiflingly hot again.

We had breakfast and then went to bed for some no moving sleep that became impossible due to sleeping in a very hot room. There was a fan that just blew the warm air around and really didn’t do anything at all. Oh well such is life on the road. We had lunch with our manager Ace that was actually nice out on the veranda, coupled with some much-needed fresh air.

We eventually made it to the gig and it was a festival in the town square. Our dressing rooms were way up high with so many stairs to climb, I swear if we went any higher we would meet Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix. The dressing room looked out over the audience and the stage. The band on before us played mostly covers including a lot of ‘Deep Purple.’ They did it reasonably well I have to say, and the crowd liked it.

Once on stage we hit our stride and we were off and running. It was a great show and the audience were really loving it and joining in. I did see the twins down the front along with Sina Rückmann and Andy Heep Räpple which was nice. It was a really well run cool festival that the end result was that everyone had a great time and left smiling and chanting for Heep.

The next day we travelled back to London for 3 days before meeting back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly to Pamplona Spain via Madrid. It was Bernie’s Birthday. We were kept on the plane for about an hour, which put us in panic mode as we only had 1hr 30mins in Madrid to get our flight connection to Pamplona. However, it all worked out okay even though it was a bit of a rush as we had to also go through Passport Control, but we all made it.

On arrival, we were taken to the hotel which was very nice, and we arranged to meet in the bar at 7.30pm. We gave Bernie the choice on what restaurant he wanted to go too, and he got a map from the reception and off we went. We were walking for quite a while around the walking streets and bars, until we found out that Bernie didn’t even know the name of the restaurant. So, we stopped, and Scampi rang the hotel to get the name. Once we had that, we were set, and luckily, we were not far from it.

The restaurant was buzzing, and we had an excellent meal and some much-needed drinks, and unbeknown to us a lot of the Quo boys were there too including Francis Rossi. At the end of the meal we presented Bernie with a beautiful bottle of wine, a card signed by everyone and a chocolate birthday cake, which he loved. The cake was shared out to everyone who wanted some, and the consensus of opinion was that it was yummy! We then walked back to the hotel and most of us went to bed.

The following day was gig day. There was an early sound check with the Quo crew going down at 6.45am followed by our crew at 10am. It was a nice chilled day for the rest of us and we left the hotel at 4.50pm to have dinner and stay down at the gig. The festival was really cool, and the audience were ready to rock.

Well dinner was at a restaurant a few minutes from the Festival. It was a set menu, but everyone found something they liked which was cool. As we were leaving the ‘Quo’ boys were coming in for their dinner.

The festival site was well organised and there were 5 bands on in total. There were ‘Quo’, ‘Heep,’ ‘Kadavar,’ ‘Burning’ and ‘Jared James Nichols.’ We managed to see ‘Kadavar’ who are a 3 piece and played what I would call stoner rock, with two of the tallest guys I have ever seen in rock. The Drummer and Bass player. I assumed they were brothers and they would both give Mick Fleetwood a run for his money in the height stakes.

When we hit the stage, it was fraught with problems as our monitors were messed up. Bernie was hit the most with his in-ears and Russ had a problem with them too, and my guitar did not work for the first part of Gypsy plus the overall monitors were pretty much a shambles. Anyway, we quickly regained composure and overcame these little gremlins, raised our game, and the show was rockin’.

After playing Rhino (Quo’s bass player) came in to our dressing room and said it sounded great out front and that no one noticed any of the problems. For this show we did not have our usual Front of House or Monitor Engineers. For FOH we used Rob Hodgsingson who has been Deep Purples monitor engineer for 23 years. Everyone said he got a good sound, so that was a relief. The crowd were chanting for more, and as we played our encore ‘Easy Livin’ they jumped up and down as one which was brilliant.

Up next were ‘Quo’ who were a well-oiled machine, and they do have a high level of consistency. They had a small technical problem where Rhino missed a cue, and Francis said over the microphone ‘there you go Bernie’ and he looked over to where we were standing, and we raised our glasses to him. Top bloke!

We then all went back to the hotel where a few of us including me had a night cap, while others went to bed, and others namely Phil and Davey went to the walking streets where all of the bars were, as it was buzzing.

Scampi and Brian had one drink at the bar, as they had a flight at 6.30am the next morning. The rest of us could stay in our rooms until 2pm, as we were being picked up for the airport at 3.15pm. The idea was that we would meet at 2pm and go for lunch. I saw Bernie and Phil for breakfast, but no one else surfaced until lunch time.

Just three days again at home and we were back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly out to Zurich for the Hinwel Festival. We were playing on the Friday night and we were 2nd on the bill to ‘Simple Minds.’  Before us were ‘Corleone’ who is the project of guitarist with ‘Gotthard,’ then ‘Manfred Mann’ then the ‘Red Arrows’ flyover, then ’Black Stone Cherry,’ and then mighty Heep followed by the ‘Simples’

Prior to the show we had a couple of interviews to do, a photo session, and a meet and greet. I was scheduled to do the interviews, but I had a manic headache come on, so Phil and Davey covered for me. I took a couple of headache pills and relaxed in the dressing room until it subsided.

There were 11,500 plus people there and it is a very well-run festival, and the stage times ran typically like a Swiss watch.  It was a huge stage and a hive of activity at the back area with band crews setting up and dismantling.

We managed to see the ‘Manfred’ set and Mick Rogers had some trouble with his guitar set up that took 15 minutes to fix. I am not sure if it was totally up and running as the set started, but he still managed to eek out some marvellous melodic notes and sounds, even under that pressure. They have the songs and the players, so they will always go down well no matter what. They have a fine vocalist in Robert Hart and the crowd are soon on his side.

The Red Arrow flyover was amazing and deafening at the same time. They were doing formation stuff and tricks and it was really cool to see. This all happened over the audience’s heads and we had a very good view backstage.

The set for us was tremendous, and although we only had 75 minutes to play, we could not have gone down better. It was a truly amazing reaction and hopefully it will help us when we come back to Switzerland and play the famous ‘Volkshaus’ on the 25th of October 2018. We hit the stage at the right time too, as it was just getting dark and we could use the lights to great effect. It was a huge system so ‘Scampi’ was having a field day. The congratulations continued backstage from everyone including the staff, other musicians and the Promoter, so we were delighted.

There was a private tent that we were invited into that had the best drinks and food and even Cigars for those that wanted to indulge. I watched a bit of ‘Simple Minds’ from there and Bernie and I took the early car back to the hotel. They were just as I expected and no more really, so not by cup of tea. Everyone else followed after their set and I heard them all arrive back from my room.

Most of us made breakfast before we all drove to Zurich Airport to fly home. The boys from ‘Manfred’ were on the same flight so it was good to catch up with them again. We collected our bags and went home for 10 days before we fly out again to Barcelona. Over that 10 days we had a full weekend off, so we made the most of it, and of course we could see all of the World Cup Football matches. Come on Engerland!!!!!!

‘Appy days!


One Response to “Box News #270 – June 26, 2018”

  1. Glen Doucet (Canada) Says:

    All those festivals sound awesome, great that Heep are in such demand, hopefully another North American tour will be in the works to support the new album…..

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