Box News #273 – August 13, 2018

Mick talks about, being back in the saddle, flying to Helsinki, the Scandic Hotel in Forssa, no air conditioning, the Finnish Fans meet, Forssa was Heep’s 80th concert in Finland, Corky Laing, one day at home, catching the overnight Ferry from Harwich, the van convoy, the annoying wake up call, the Westfalenstadion venue in Dortmund, German Promotion man Marko Linke and his lady, Richie Faulkner, Andy Sneap, Glen Tipton and having a picture taken with Judas Priest in our dressing room. Mick also discusses Martin and Saskia from Engl Amps & Speakers, watching Priest in the lap of the Gods, watching them with the Metal heads down the front, flying to Helsinki again, the Helsinki Hilton, Hanko Casino Finland, Lahti Finland, nodding dogs, Ace Corner, Vintage Motorbikes and the smell of petrol.

Mick also talks about the start of the UK Football Season, Spurs, Liverpool and Man City all winning their first games, the Jazz Band outside my hotel window, the dressing room/repair shop and a nice cup of tea in the ‘Home’ lounge in Helsinki Airport.

After a few welcome days at home, we were back in the saddle and all meeting at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to fly to Helsinki Finland. We all went to various lounges to wait as we had quite a bit of time as the check in had gone quickly, and we had no equipment with us because it was all left in Finland from our last trip.

On arrival as it was late, we grabbed a quick bite to eat to take away with us to devour on the bus. The travelling time was 1-hour 30minutes to Forssa, where we were playing a festival in the town square the following day.

As we pulled up at the Scandic Hotel there were people sitting outside on tables all eating and drinking. It was 2 am and there were other bars and restaurants in the vicinity all doing the same. Still as it was 2am and we were a little tired, we all went to bed. Well the crew didn’t, but you would expect that.

I skipped breakfast the next morning and made it down for lunch. I didn’t really get a good night’s sleep as there was once again no air-conditioning in the hotel rooms and it was hot and humid. Lunch took over 1 hour for a chicken salad to arrive, and I was losing the will to live and when it did turn up the Chicken was a dry old bird and it definitely died of old age.

When we went to the sound check it was a good size stage, and there was a huge fairground surrounding the festival site. This all went pretty smoothly even though we were on hired equipment, and then we went back to the hotel for some dinner, before meeting some Finnish Fans before we left for the festival. They kindly gave me a T Shirt that showed that this show would be our 80th concert in Finland, and the shirt had all of the dates printed on it on both sides, along with the various line-ups. That was pretty cool!

At the show we were shown to our dressing tent, which was just behind the stage. We still warmed up even though it was hot and humid, and it was soon time to go on and play. Well Forssa did not let us down as it was a fantastic show and the audience were with us from the first note to the last. They were rocking hard and it was a good feeling to see their total involvement and their smiling faces. We left the stage pleased at how well everything had gone, and we had a few drinks to celebrate, before heading back to Hotel hot & humid, as we were leaving early in the morning to drive back to Helsinki Airport to catch a Finnair flight back to London.

Before we left we did manage to say hi to Corky Lane the drummer from the band ‘Mountain’ as he came down to see the show. We had a nice chat and it was good to catch up with him. Those first couple of ‘Mountain’ albums were fantastic, and Leslie West’s playing was totally on the money and what a fantastic tone he had.

The journey home the next day was fine and once at Heathrow we said our goodbyes, but we would only be home for one day before travelling to Germany to play a festival with Judas Priest in Dortmund.

It was a long old journey to Germany as I had to get a cab to a hotel at St Pancras Station where I met Phil, Davey, Angus & Mole, to drive in a van with Jon Bintliff who is Scampi’s brother who was doing the driving. We then drove to a service station on the M25, where we met Bernie & Russ before driving down to a pub in Harwich to meet Scampi, Brian, Vic and Dave. Here we had a few drinks before lining up to board the boat. Vic and Dave were driving our equipment in two vans and with John driving us we had a convoy.

We got on the boat at approximately 11pm and it was an overnight ferry. A few went for a drink while most of us went to bed. We were greeted very loudly over the tannoy in each cabin at 6.30am with the news about breakfast, then at 7pm and again at 7.30am. None of us had any intention of getting up for breakfast as we decided to stop on the way once we had docked. We had to vacate the rooms at 8am and get back in the vans to wait to be guided off the ferry. About 10am we stopped at a restaurant that thankfully served brekky as we were to a man starving.

We went straight to the venue which we drove around a few times trying to find the way in. Eventually we made it and we had lunch on arrival as there were caterers on hand which was nice. The band then went to the hotel to chill and get ready for the show.

All in all, it took 24 hours from my house to get to the venue Westfalenstadion in Dortmund Germany.

We were lucky enough to get a sound-check which was cool and being on our own equipment this was a real plus. After the sound-check we had dinner and then hung about our dressing room until show time. We did manage to meet Marco Linke and his lady. Marco owns the company who is doing our promotion for ‘Living the Dream’ in Germany and he was with Phil and I on our recent Promo trip in Berlin and Köln.

Ritchie Faulkner, Priests guitarist came into our dressing room to say hi and he had a plate of food in his hand that Bernie by one stroke of his hand knocked it all over the floor. Then Rob Halford wanted to come into our dressing room and have a photo taken with both bands. I was partly undressed as I was getting ready for the show, and I quickly put on a pair of shorts and even though I was bare foot, we took the picture.

Rob remarked that between both bands there is a 100 years of British Rock and Metal which was very true. It was good to see them all and especially Glen Tipton who had flown in to play a couple of numbers with Priest that night. Glen has Parkinson’s Disease which is so sad, but he is still rockin’ on and that is something to be admired to the max. His place in the band has been taken by Grammy Award winning producer Andy Sneap who is doing a fine job.

As I was on my side of the stage waiting to go on, there was Martin and Saskia from Engl Amplifiers just saying hello to one of JP’s techs, so we had a quick hug before the intro tape started. Well once we hit the stage there was an amazing roar which felt so good. We immediately hit our stride and it was such a fantastic concert and with that many people in the Westfalenstadion making that much noise, it was a magic hour on stage. We all came off the stage buzzed.

We towelled down and then met Martin, Saskia and another guy from Engl Amplifiers and we managed to have a chat. I am endorsed by Engl and I have to say I am so delighted not only in the quality and sound of their equipment but also in the back up service of the company. Having my own equipment in Dortmund was a real plus and it sounded so good, therefore I could relax into the show and give my all.

It was soon time for the British Metal Masters Judas Priest to go on and because of their stage set up there was no room on the stage, so Scampi had a word with their TM and we found a vantage point that was in the lap of the gods it was so high. Russ suffers from Vertigo and he could not handle it and had to leave. It was a good spot to watch the show, but too high to get the real sound of the band, so after about 5-6 of the songs I went back down to dressing room where I met Davey who took me out front with the punters.

You could really feel the power of the band there and Richie has really picked up the baton after KK had left and he looked and sounded great and played a blinder.

I did not stay until the end as I wanted to get away before that many people left the venue, and Bernie came with me. The rest of the party partied on down and Richie was with them, and I believe it went on into the wee small hours sitting outside of our hotel. Steph who runs Metalworks in Camden Town and Rocky flew in from London for the show. Metalworks was where both Davey and Richie used to play before getting taken on by Heep and Priest.

The next day we drove to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam Holland to fly to Helsinki. This was a three-hour drive and when we were dropped off, the convoy of vans along with Mole our monitor engineer for that show, all headed back to the UK. We had our fly pack with us so we each had to check in one piece of equipment along with our own suitcase.

The flight landed at 22.10pm and we were staying the night in the Helsinki Hilton. The kitchen closed at 11pm so the race was on as we were all hungry. We just made it by ordering our food and drink first before going to our rooms. We then all had a quiet night as we had to drive to Hanko Finland the following day.

We were playing a venue called the Hanko Casino and when we arrived it was right on the water’s edge and a very unusual venue indeed. A typical Finnish seaside type venue, but once packed out it was a rocking gig and a very hot and sweaty one as well. After the show I was the first to go back to the hotel which was only a 5-minute drive while the others stayed for a drink. Some found a bar beside the hotel and Phil tried to join them, but he somehow had locked himself in the hotel, so he retired and went to bed. It was a good thing, as we were up at 8am for a 9am leave to drive to Lahti Finland.

This was another three-hour journey and the van was full of nodding dogs in no time at all. On arrival we went straight to the hotel as lunch was there and then the crew went down to the venue to set up. This was an outside concert at a venue called the Ace Corner. There was a building restaurant/bar off of the stage and this was full of vintage motorbikes that were really cool. In fact, our dressing room was the repair shop complete with the smell of petrol which was to be honest quite overpowering.

We had played the venue before 4 years ago, so we knew quite a few of the people there. Our sound-check was at 15.30pm which was early, but there were another 2 bands on and they had to sound-check too. This went relatively smoothly, but I was upset as it was the start of the Football Season in the UK and the sound-check was happening while my beloved Tottenham Hotspurs were playing Newcastle for their first match, and I could not see it. However, we won 2-1 and got the 3 points, so it was a good start.

Before going back to the hotel, I did an interview, and then we were given some Ace Corner T Shirts and had some photos taken and we signed some posters. Back at the hotel we arranged to meet at 6pm for dinner in the hotel restaurant.

We were not on stage until 22.00pm so there was plenty of chill time. Outside my room and Bernie and Phil’s room there was a Jazz band playing down below. They may as well have been inside my room as it was that loud, even with the windows shut. They did hit some good grooves though. Russ and Davey were lucky as they were on the other side of the hotel where it was peace and quiet.

They were still playing as we left for the gig. The crew had gone down a little earlier than us and Davey decided to go with them, so the four of us met at 21.15pm to drive the short journey to the festival. We got changed in the repair shop and the smell of petrol was overbearing, but luckily, we managed to go on a little early which helped.

Once on stage we were flying, and the crowd were well up for it. It was a beautiful setting as we were right on the water’s edge again, which just added to the party atmosphere. It was a really good concert and the smiles on everyone’s faces were brilliant as they were having a blast.

After the show, we hung around the dressing room/repair shop and they bought us Hamburgers etc to eat while we had a few glasses of vino, but the next day we had an early start and at the best we would get 6 ½ hours sleep before driving back to Helsinki Airport.

The drive to the airport was relatively quiet with a few nodding dogs asleep, and when we arrived we unloaded the flight pack and our suitcases and checked in. This was all pretty easy and we all went to the lounge. We have been to Helsinki Airport so many times lately that we know every square inch of it. The lounge was done out like a real home complete with kitchen and in fact it was called ‘The Home.’ It was super nice to get a cup of tea before boarding the flight home and you cannot get homelier than that.

Once at LHR Terminal 3 we picked up our bags and all went our separate ways, happy that we had 10 days off before the next run of dates in Austria and Switzerland. On the drive home, I could listen to the Liverpool v West Ham football game on the car radio and they won 4-0 which is a pretty impressive start to the season, and I bet Davey was a happy pup. I arrived home in time to watch the Manchester City v Arsenal game and Man City won 2-0 and it felt good to have the football season back in full swing.

‘Appy days!



2 Responses to “Box News #273 – August 13, 2018”

  1. Amazing to read your on the road stories. Living the dream👍

  2. It was great to have you in Finland for 3 gigs in 8 days. And several more for this year. See you again next December in Helsinki, if not before. Leo Mustonen, Uriah Heep Suomi Finland, the fan club that is all yours.

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