Box News #276 – December 5, 2018

Mick talks about, traveling from Berlin Germany to Aarhus Denmark, playing the ‘Train Venue,’ a vocalist Pledger who sings in a Heep tribute band called ‘Easy Livin’, the 4 hours to Copenhagen for another day off, playing a sold out concert in Rodovre Denmark at a venue called the ‘Viften,’ a concert in a venue called the ‘Tradgarn’in Gothenburg Norway, a fans dog called ‘Lanzon,’ flying to Berggren Norway and Bernies forgotten Passport, the crew traveling to Trondheim and the Black ice that was super dangerous and scary as hell, my suitcase disappearing down a black hole at the airport, the machine shut down for Russ, and two shows in Alesund Norway.

Mick also discusses, ‘Groundhog Day,’ more airport shenanigans, a film called The Circle’ with Tom Hanks, playing in Stockholm at the ‘Fryshuset Klubben,’ meeting our old mate Stefan Berggren who helped us out on vocals once when Bernie was sick, Danny Hynes and his wife, Thomas Jakobson who played some guitar and wrote songs with Lee on his latest project, the alcohol Museum on the ferry, Brazilian Bum Bum cream, Deep Purples ‘Burn’ riff played on an accordion, the ‘ Kulttuuritalo Theatre’ in Helsinki Finland, my woolen rock n’ roll socks, beernie’s family joining him, the yearly Xmas show each year called ‘Raskasta Joulua’ that Bernie helped out on, and the fear of eating Pizza’s each night after the show.

Mick also talks about the Oulu Arena in Finla nd being the last night with the magnificent ‘Zombies,’ Pori Finland at the ‘Promenadisali’ venue being our 86th concert in Finland since 1970, Spurs being done over by Arsenal, Bernie and Phil seeing a doctor, the ferry crossing to Tallin Estonia, another sold out show, buying a new carry on suitcase, the ‘Lord of the Drinks’ T Shirt, the Russian bootleg copy of our first album ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble,’ the Priority Pass lounge at Tallin Airport having a programmable black coffin type bed, the Table Tennis Table by Passport Control in Tallin Airport, and Chicken Kiev.

PART (2)

Saturday the 17th of November we drove 382 miles from Berlin Germany to Aarhus Denmark. It was a day off and with our Vic driving we arrived at approximately 4.30pm which was great. We had one stop for lunch and a couple of pee stops and that was it.

We arranged to meet at 7pm in reception to go out to dinner as the hotel restaurant was not open. A few of the boys went out for Chinese but I joined the party that headed for the Italian Restaurant, then it was an early night for me. I like to on these days off make it count and get a lot of rest, whereas in the days off of yesteryear, days off were in fact days on it, if you know what I mean. How things have changed, but we have a long way to go on this tour and beyond.

The following day we played a venue called ‘The Train,’ and at the sound check we had a Pledger called Kristian Cappella on vocals. Kristian plays in a Heep tribute band called ‘Easy Livin’ and it was nice to meet him. He kindly gave us all T Shirts each which had the ticket image of the last time we played there on the front, which was the 5th of May 2000.

It was a good sweaty gig and it was rammed with only a few people off of a sell out. It was a rockin’ night and we had a great time. We were on fire and energized from the night off and it was great too see our first show in Denmark start off in style. It was a really good atmosphere but oh so hot.

After the show we met Kristian again and his friend who took all off the pictures and video’s when he sang with us, but soon it was back to the hotel for us. The next day we drove the 4 hours to Copenhagen for another day off, which was most unusual, but there were no complaints from anyone.

The following day we played a sold out concert in Rodovre Denmark at a venue called the ‘Viften.’ This was a seated affair and normally when that happens it is a largely older audience. We could see a few headbangers standing up for most of the show but in the end we had them all up. It was a rockin’ concert nevertheless and the cries for an encore were as loud as anything. We met some people after the show and then we went back to the hotel.

It was an easy journey then next day to Gothenburg being only 3 hours, so we took it nice and easy and stopped for lunch, as we could not check into the hotel until 3pm anyway. The venue was the ‘Tradgarn’ but tonight the ‘Zombies’ were not with us, only a local support band. The venue was packed to the rafters and as near to a sell out I have a seen. It was good to be back in Sweden and the audience were ready to rock and rock with us they did. There was a dreaded curfew, so we had to lose a couple of numbers out of the set, but it was still a powerful song combination and we went down a storm.

The following day the entire band flew on SAS Airlines to Bergen Norway, while the crew drove overnight which was a 10 hour journey (470 miles). While we were checking out of the hotel a couple who had been down at the front of the audience each night on the two shows, told us how much they loved the concerts and that we were getting better and better. They also said that they named their dog after Phil and the dogs name was Lanzon. How cool is that!

We had 2 flights on SAS Airlines which were Gothenburg to Oslo and Oslo to Bergen. The first panic occurred when Bernie realized Scampi had both of his passports. We are going to Japan next year and we are organizing the visas but Bernie had forgotten to ask Scampi for one of his passports back. Luckily we were in the hotel so Scampi could send over copies of his passport to the hotel computer in case there were problems. He was lucky though, as he got through with his driving license at all check points.

The venue ‘USF Verftet’ in Bergen Norway was once again packed to the rafters, and it was a great show. The new songs went down brilliantly along side the classic songs and it was good to see all of the audience singing the words to the new songs as well as the old. We did not hang around too long after the show as we went back to the hotel for a good shower and bed.

The crew were driving overnight and the band flew again to Trondheim the next gig. Well this was not without incident as the sleeper bus was stuck on black ice with one wheel off the ground and it was more than close to a drop over the mountain side. This was scary to say the least as some of the crew were still in bed and this was dangerous to the hilt. Eventually it was overcome but not without fear, brown trousers and general panic setting in as it it was scary as hell.

While this was going on, Scampi was sending me pictures at the airport that looked horrifying. When it was time to check in at the airport it was all automated. Well I was first up and I put my suitcase on the belt, and the next instruction was to scan the label which I did, and boom my suitcase disappeared down a black hole with no label attached. Well I found a wonderful lady at the other end of the airport who sorted this all out for me and it was helped by the fact that I had taken a picture of my case, so it was easily identified. She gave me my receipt and everything was fine.

While I was doing this Bernie was helping Russ out, but he picked up his case twice and it shut down the machine. Well eventually this was sorted out too and the lesson learnt there was that automated machines are defiantly not for the mighty Heep.

Well the crew did not arrive until late, after all of their dramatic problems so both the ‘Zombies’ and ourselves had to shave 15 minutes off of our sets. This was unfortunate but at least we played the show. It was a good concert nevertheless and everyone had a great time. I thanked the crew over the microphone on one of my announcements, as they deserved it with what they had been through, and to get our show up and running so professionally.

After the concert we all went overnight on the bus to Alesund Norway. It was the first of two shows at the same venue which was sold out, and the venue the ‘Terminalen Byscenen’ was right on the waterfront on the docks by the quayside, which was unusual. Alesund was a lovely Norwegian city with houses that were way up in the hills and the people were terrific. It was seriously cold, but you would expect that for that time of the year.

The first show was just amazing and the audience went nuts and it was an incredible atmosphere. They were loving every minute of it and the responses to both old and new songs were terrific. They were singing along to the new album songs just as loud as to the classic ones, which felt so good. We had a good night, and our crew were happy because for once they did not have to break down the equipment, so they could relax and have a drink. A few of the ‘Zombies’ stayed to see the show and they loved it too which was nice. Well a few of our party found a Guinness bar and stayed there until it shut, and some hit the hotel bar, but it was a relief knowing that we were in the hotel for two nights.

The second night was totally ‘Groundhog Day’ and they just loved the show too, and so did we. It was rockin’ big time and the smiles on everyone’s faces said it all. It was a little quieter backstage after this show as the crew had a 16 hour overnighter to Stockholm Sweden, while the band flew on SAS from Alesund to Oslo and then Oslo to Stockholm. The ‘Zombie’ lads were with us on both flights which was cool.

Once again it was a check yourself in number, so having leant my lesson from the last time I took it slowly and followed the instructions. This time though my case was overweight by a few kilo’s so it could not be booked through. There was no one to ask, so I had to take out some of my items and carry them on in another bag. Then once I had the correct weight my suitcase could be processed. Now how stupid is that. By putting some items into a carry on bag I am in effect going on to the plane with the same weight I started with. It made no sense to me, and of course there was no one to ask as it was the machines or nothing. D’oh!

All of our luggage arrived and we met Vic at the arrivals in Stockholm airport and he drove us to the hotel. It was a night off and although the hotel itself was nice they only had bar food on their menu. The thoughts of sitting down for a lovely meal soon disappeared out of the window. Still we ate what was available, which was more than below par, and we all had an early night.I watched a film on my iPad called ‘The Circle’ with Tom Hanks. Now I am not a Tom Hanks fan but this movie was brilliant, before I fell into the land of nod.

The following day we were playing at a venue called ‘Fryshuset Klubben’ and this was packed to the rafters. We had some friends come and see us, who were vocalist Stefan Berggren who helped us out on vocals when Bernie was sick once, and he bought along the keyboard player and bass player from then band ‘Opeth’ with him. Also long time friend of the band Danny Hynes and his wife came and Thomas Jakobson who played some guitar and wrote songs with Lee on his latest project. Davey had a few friends too, so it was a busy old dressing room there for a while, though we had to leave early as we had 5.30am departure the next morning to catch a 12 hour ferry from Stockholm Sweden to Helsinki Finland.

Well on the Ferry after some sleep and a bit to eat Phil and I had a walk around the boat and of course ended up in Duty Free. We didn’t need anything, but it was something to do. Well we had not seen such an array of alcohol in our lives. It was an alcohol Museum. In fact I did look in the Duty Free book in my cabin and I out of 266 pages 179 were for alcohol. They had an amazing array of whiskies alone with some of them costing Euro 1,789.90 which was a 2015 ‘Little Mill’ annual release from the Lowlands in Scotland and a 33 year old Craigellachiue single malt from Speyside Scotland, that you could buy for a mere Euro1,989.00. They had many bottles open so you could sample a shot of each of them for 2 Euro. Now that’s not a bad deal in my book even though we refrained from doing so.

We also came across on the shelves some ‘Brazilian Bum Bum cream’ in a yellow jar that you could buy. Now we could have used that on some of our long drives, but we decided to leave it on the shelves.

There was a young house band called ‘Hurma’ playing in one of the bars that were playing so quietly I was amazed at how quiet they were, and there where people jiving, twisting and waltzing around with their partners, wives or whoever on the dance floor in the front of the stage. It really did seem like a flashback to the old days I the 40’s and 50’s. However we were blown away by a version of Deep Purples ‘Burn’ track, with the main riff played on an accordion. We had never heard the riff played like that or indeed the song played like that, and it did bring a smile to our face. The dancers loved it, as it was the most up tempo song that they played.

Once off the ferry it was a further 1hour 40min drive to the hotel in Helsinki. It was a day off so we made the most of it with a quick dinner and then some bed. The following day we played in the ‘Kulttuuritalo Theatre’ which was a seated affair. To be honest the venue was not suited to a rock band as the acoustics leant themselves to more of an Orchestra even though they do have concerts there. Well it was sold out and we made it a rock concert for the night. Angus our Front of House did a marvelous job, as did the rest of the crew and Rich my guitar tech got it bang on in the volume department and everyone had a good time. They were rocking in the aisles and standing up in the end, and it was a great show.

I could not stay around too long as my returned chest infection was giving me trouble, so it was back to the hotel for me and bed. However some of the boys met a few people backstage as the bus was not leaving until a little later and Tuula Hannikainen had knitted me some woolen rock n’ roll socks that she had given to Scampi to give to me the following night, which I did receive, and I was very thankful for them as they are a work of art.

Bernie was keen to get back early too as his wife Radka and kids Maddy and Tino had flown over, but they were too tired to go to the gig, but were nicely tucked up in their room. They were coming with us the next day in our van and staying with us to Oulu Finland which was our last show with the ‘Zombies.’

The following day we drove to Seinäjoki where we were playing the ‘B Hall’ which was better then playing the A-Hall (A-Hole) if you know what I mean. This was a big place and although it wasn’t full, the crowd were up for it and rockin’. On the drive to the show earlier in the day Bernie was contacted by another rival promoter who puts on a Xmas show each year called ‘Raskasta Joulua’ which consists of Finnish musicians and singers playing Xmas Carols in the Heavy Metal style. They usually have one International act come over and this year it was Glenn Hughes, but he had lost his voice, so Bernie stepped in and sang ‘White Xmas.’ Then he had to dash across town to the mighty Heep to keep his day job. It was a lot of fun and they were all very grateful, so it got them out of a tight spot.

As I said our show was rockin’ and full of fun and they loved it. There was not a lot of hanging about after the show as I was still sick, Bernie was naturally knackered as he had in effect performed two shows in two different venues, and Phil wanted to leave early too, so off we went to the hotel, but before leaving they did leave us the best Tuna Salad ever which we did manage to woof quickly complete with pieces of refreshing melon. There are always plenty of Pizzas after the show which is basically food for our technicians, though some band members do indulge which is a dangerous exercise because if you eat that for 2 months every night suddenly your jeans are little tighter to put on and then the comfort of wearing them goes right out of the window. Ha!

On the drive to Oulu Finland we stopped for lunch and to fill up the van and I noticed a new energy drink I had not seen before. It was in a green can and called ‘Motor Oil’’.’ I kid you not! It had the slogan ‘Mental Lubrication,’ written on the top front of the can and ‘For Internal Use only’ written on the bottom. The thought, ‘whatever next’ did cross my mind.

Well Saturday night in the Oulu Arena was the last night with the magnificent ‘Zombies.’ It had been a wonderful tour with them and it was great listening to all of those great songs each night played brilliantly by the band. We did have the obligatory picture with both bands and hopefully we will remain friends with each other and maybe even work together again. Great guys, great musicians and great songs, a winning combination in my book.

I watched their show from the side of the stage, before it was time for the mighty Heep to rock out. Oulu did not let us down and we had a great rock show. Bernie made it back in time from his earlier performance being Bing (Crosby) Shaw, and we were on fire.

Our final show in Finland the next day was in Pori at the ‘Promenadisali’ which was a seated venue and sold out, which was cool. Since the inception of the band back in 1970 this particular concert was our 86th in Finland. Amazing! We had a great time on stage and in the end they were all standing, singing, clapping and wanting more Heep, so we obliged with our last two songs and left the stage to many smiles and a happy audience that had rocked out with us.

The only downside to the whole day was that my beloved football team Tottenham Hotspurs had lost the local derby to Arsenal by 4-2. This was devastating news and did not finish the day well for me.

The crew, Russ and Davey had to leave overnight to catch a ferry in Helsinki. It was a 6 hour drive and then a 2 hour ferry crossing to Tallin Estonia. Vic, Phil, Bernie and I left in the morning at 9am and made the 12.30pm crossing and we were at the hotel by 3pm, as it was close to the port even though it was still in the town.

Well we were booked in the Comfort Lounge on the Silva Line ferry, and lo and behold on the TV all over the ship they were playing the full Spurs v Arsenal football match. I watched the whole game and to be honest had they not been gifted with an Eric Dier own goal, it could have ended with a draw, but it was not to be, so we lost our bragging rights for North London.

We checked into the hotel and then met everyone at 7pm to decide what to do for dinner. Well we all ended up in a restaurant across the road from the hotel which was a mix of Italian and Greek. Nobody fancied walking about as it was freezing, snowing, icy and not conducive to rubber necking.

Everyone had an early night which was a good idea as Bernie’s voice was beginning to suffer with a dry throat and Phil was getting a chest infection too. So much so, the next day they both had a doctor’s appointment who will hopefully fix them up. I was still struggling with my chest infection that was getting better by the day, but boy was it taking its time.

That’s life on the road, as we go in and out of so many different temperatures, travel so many miles in confined spaces with the lack of fresh air, coupled with lots of stressful schedules, different countries, and then performing consistently at the highest level each night at each concert. Doing all of that for 8 weeks solid will wear you down, which is why we try our best to look after ourselves, but sometimes the bugs come out to play and there is nothing you can do about it. Saying that we are only 6 weeks in on this tour, so there is a long way to go yet, with concerts to play in Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the UK. D’oh!

My aircraft carry on suitcase zip broke unexpectedly, so I had to go shopping in Tallin for a new one. Russ came with me and luckily we found one not far from the hotel. We were then picked up by Vic for lunch at the venue, which we were told was sold out, so ‘Appy days! Bernie and Phil had been given medicine to help get them back on track, so we were ready for a rockin’ show in Tallin, and a rockin’ show it was indeed. It was a huge seated theatre with a three tiered very full balconies, and the floor seating was totally full. The promoter even had difficulty getting the doctor a seat that treated Bernie and Phil, but hey somehow he managed it by making a few calls.

We had a meet and greet before the show with radio contest winners and one guy gave me 2 bottles of drink in a box with a T shirt in it. He asked me if when I put it on to send him a picture. It had on the back ‘Lord of the Drinks,’ which didn’t quite fit in with this tour for me as with my chest infection, I have not been drinking. Still it was very nice of him.

I was also given a black market Russian bootleg copy of our first album ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble.’ This was a cool present and there was a guy waiting outside as we left called Aleksander Andrejuk who said that every time he played his copy back in the day, the police would smash it, but he would just get another one and they would smash that one too, just for listening to our music. Now how sad is that, but it did not stop him getting another one just establishing the fact that music has no barriers or boundaries and gets through them all legal or otherwise.

Well the concert in Tallin was fantastic and everyone had a really good time. These venues are really not suited to a rock concert to be honest, but once the mighty Heep had finished it sure becomes one. We left them all smiling.

It was an early show at 7pm so we all had our dinner after the performance cooked by two chefs who have a company called ‘Fantastic Catering,’and it was excellent. Their email is should you want to check them out.

It was a busy night at the end as the tour bus was driving back to London in the morning with Jon Bintliff, the merchandiser and all of our backline along with most of our suitcases as we were flying and getting trains for the rest of the tour until we meet them all again in Manchester. Vic had to drive to Warsaw Poland, where he picked up the van to deliver it back, and then he flew home to Manchester.

From here on in until Manchester we are on hired gear and our flying pack, so that should be interesting. We will not see our own gear again until the fist show in Manchester at the 02 Ritz on Wednesday the 12th of December.

The next day the rest of us were flying to Kiev in the Ukraine departing the hotel at 11am so it wasn’t too bad. In the Priority Pass lounge at Tallin Airport they had a black coffin type bed that you could lie in, and take a nap. It had a timer you could set and then the top covers you. It was called but if you are the slightest bit claustrophobic you would not go anywhere near it. It wasn’t something I would relish experiencing for sure.

On the way to Passport Control they had a Table Tennis Table where we left Aaron (Monitor Engineer) and Angus (Front of House Engineer) battling it out, but thankfully both of them still made the flight, and they didn’t get too carried away.

We arrived at Kiev airport by 15.10pm, and were met by our Ukraine representatives and driven to the hotel. It was a day off, so that was cool for everyone. The band ate in the hotel and stayed in and the crew went to a chicken restaurant around the corner from the hotel. No surprises if they ordered Chicken Kiev then for dinner.

‘Appy days!



4 Responses to “Box News #276 – December 5, 2018”

  1. Egil Heepaholic Says:

    Wow, that is what I would call one hell of a tour!! It was a pleasure watching you guys in Bergen, Norway, where the sound was fabulous in the upper part of the venue and the set list,,,,fantastic mix from 1970 to 2018.

    Seeing that you guys are filling up the venues to the top, is great news!

  2. Take care in cold Russia guys! Everyone feels sick here…
    Thank you so much for a great show in Moscow! I returned home with a wide smile on my face again. It’s always a huge pleasure for me to watch your shows! I loved the songs from the new album as well as from the old ones. Maybe I just have one favor to ask: don’t forget songs from 90s. 00s and 10s as well, they are so many amazing songs that definitely must be played live as well.

    We love you! Take care and have an easy end of the tour!

  3. Elina Aaltonen Says:

    Thanks for the interesting blog! What a tour it has been! I’m glad the crew made it through Norway.
    You gave a great show and sounded fantastic in Helsinki and Tallinn. The sound was perfect, even in the challenging concert halls (greetings to Angus: most bands cannot get it right, but you did), and you truely rocked! It was nice to hear the audience in Helsinki respinding unusually enthousiastic to Too Scared to Run, which just goes to show how good it is that you include songs from different eras.
    I saw Bing Shaw’s performance in the Heavy Xmas show on YouTube, and he did an amazing job there as well. I can say he was the best guest star I have ever heard in that show – and what a surprise for those attending that show in Oulu!
    I hope the rest of the tour goes in the same fashion. Keep well, and wear Tuula’s socks to keep your feet warm! X

  4. Billy Moncrieff Says:

    Hi Mick ,
    Thanks for the brilliant show in Glasgow !! . I was sitting due to having health issues with my left knee . Missed being down the front of stage as I usually would be . Sat with my wife Louise and Lou Ramp . We had a great time . Loved the new album tracks and the old classics too . Guitar solos awesome as usual ! .
    Sorry we didn’t get to meet you after the show . Maybe next time .
    Sending this on my birthday today ( Saturday ) . Best birthday present ever was seeing pic of Lee on stage last night at gig in Shepherds Bush . We’re all hoping he battles on .

    Hope there will be a live dvd of this tour and it won’t be as long before your back rockin’ Glasgow again .

    Rock On……………….. Billy

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