Box News #282 Part 4 – July 21st, 2019


TOUR DIARY THE FINAL PART (4)

URIAH HEEP AS SPECIAL GUESTS TO JUDAS PRIEST IN THE USA & CANADA

On Wednesday the 19th of June we left the hotel in North Quest WA at 9am, to drive to Renton WA for a day off. We had a relaxing day there and then we drove to Kent WA on the concert day where we played at the ‘Accesso Showare Centre.’ This was a fantastic concert and both bands were on fire. The audience was great to both bands, and it really was a good night of Classic Rock and Metal. Priest and Heep are a good combination, and I would not mind taking this to other countries, as we really do compliment each other.

Our next concert was just 3 hours up the road to Portland Oregon. There was no hotel as we were travelling overnight departing at midnight to a place called Walnut Creek for a day off. Angus left the fold after the Portland show and caught a flight to San Fransisco, where he planned to stay with his Uncle for a few days, which was cool.

The concert in Portland was at the ‘Theatre of the Clouds’ at the ‘Moda Centre’ and boy were they up for a rockin’ night. It was a great response and we were feeling that we were really turning new fans on to the band, which of course was the object of the exercise for this tour. We were making serious in-roads in that department.

I did have a laugh though because I had showered down at the gig and in our dressing room sitting there were Russ and Davey looking down on their respective phones, and I had my head bent forward drying my hair, when from nowhere there was a dog sniffing at me and my gig bag. That was more than a surprise, and when we asked the guy with the dog what was the reason and what were they looking for, he said guns and explosives. Wow! It did give me a shock though!

After the day off in Walnut Creek we used that hotel as a sort of base, as San Fransisco was just an hour up the road, and we had two shows in the same theatre in a venue called ‘The Warfield.’ Now this was an amazing venue, but it was in the heart of the homeless, and there were people lying on the streets, and the smell of urine and weed filled the air. It was awful to see, and we where advised that if we did go out walking, to leave all of our jewellery back at the venue and to be careful with our iPhones and keep them in our pockets.

Well we did have a walk around and we went for a coffee in a really funky place, and although it was heartbreaking to see some of the homeless, we did not encounter any trouble, probably because we were mobbed handed as they say.

Well with all of the JP trucks and busses parked outside the venue, there was no room for our tour bus as we came in last, so Bob our driver had to park about 15 minutes away in another street. Bob stayed with the bus the whole time, and they even put a guard sitting outside on a chair on the pavement with a walkie talkie should any trouble occur, which thankfully it didn’t.

It was tight inside the venue and a lot of empty JP flight cases were lined up in the street, with guards on them of course. Well as it was a nice day, and what with it being a bit tight inside the venue, certainly in the backstage area, Rich my guitar tech changed my guitar strings outside by the buses. Now who said men can’t multi-task, as Rich was changing my guitar strings for that nights performance and getting a tan at the same time.

Well Bernie, Phil and I wanted an afternoon rest, so we took an Uber to our bus and had one in our respective bunks, before getting an Uber back to the venue, as we had meet and greets, interviews, and dinner before we hit the stage. San Fransisco did not let us down, and we had a fabulous reception as we were received incredibly well. It was sold out, so the atmosphere was mega from the off!

Because there was not a lot of room backstage to store our equipment, and as we were playing a second show there the following night, the crew still had to beak down most of our equipment and put it back in our trailer to save on space. This was a shame as it could not be stored off stage, but there really was no room and no other option.

Still once this was done we met a lot of people which were mostly Russ’s family, and then we all jumped on the bus that had parked outside briefly for us all to get on board for the hour drive back to Walnut Creek and a welcome hot shower and bed in the hotel.

The following day we were all departing at midday to drive to the venue for lunch at 1pm. We had to hang about at the venue all day as after our show we were travelling overnight to Los Angeles.

I had to laugh as Phil went for a walkabout on his own and one of the things they do in San Fransisco in that particular area, is they have people walking around with trays of sandwiches giving them to the homeless, which is great. The laugh comes in to play when a lady with a tray of sandwiches asked Phil if he wanted one. 🙂

It was another mega show in San Fransisco with an amazing reaction, and we could not have wished for a better response. Once the equipment was packed, we were all on the bus for the overnighter for about an hour before the cries of food were heard loud and clear, and so we stopped, and it was hamburger city by the sound of it. By this time though I was in bed and the last thing I needed was a big greasy hamburger and fries sitting on my stomach lying in that mobile coffin all night long. Plus with the NO number two’s rule on the bus, I did not want to be making another stop to unload so to speak.

Well we arrived in LA about midday and some had their rooms ready and some had to wait a little while. Being LA everyone was splitting up and rubber necking in all different directions, in the end though as usual we would all met up at the famous ‘Rainbow.’ I have noticed in most hotels we have stayed in on this tour that there was no 13th floor or even a room with a number 13. That reminded me of a Stevie Wonder song ‘Superstition.’ What a great song that is!

Russ was happy because his lady Christie had flown in from the UK, so their plan was to have dinner in the hotel and a night in. Davey and Corine had flown in from San Fransisco, so Phil, Davey, Corine and myself took an Uber to the Rainbow for dinner. The Rainbow is nothing like it used to be when Mario Maglieri used to run it. It was always full of musicians and groupies and the place was rockin’ with all sorts of exciting nonsense going on all over the place. Now it is like a tourist restaurant with probably the only rock n’ roll vibe being the statute of Lemmy outside.

Well the food and drink was average, but eventually our crew turned up and even a few of the Priest crew arrived too. Kevin and Yvonne had flown in from the UK, so they joined us too which was nice. Anyway after dinner and a few drinks Phil, Davey, Corine and I went back to the hotel for an early night. It was a Wednesday night, so not much was happening either in the Whiskey-A-Go-Go or the Roxy, so it was a wise move.

The next day we played at the ‘Microsoft Theatre’ and we all had to check out by midday as after that nights show we were driving direct to Ontario California and staying at the airport hotel. It was only an hours drive, so it wasn’t too bad. Ontario was the next show so it made good sense.

Well the show in LA was intense and just great. We received a hell of a fantastic reaction and our friends David and Lana had flown in from New York City, and it was so good to see them too. Security was pretty strict and pretty silly too, but we still all managed to meet up with everyone, and it was just great catching up with our producer Jay Ruston. The venue is run on Union rules and we could not even bring in to the venue drinks from our bus, as they insisted that we buy it all from them. We asked how much a bottle of Jack Daniels would cost and they said about $130, so we passed on that one.

There were plenty of friends and business people to meet, so it was a busy old time there for a while before we left for Ontario. Some of the guests were Doug Aldridge (Whitesnake & Dead Daises) George Lynch (Dokken) Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders) John Temesta drummer for the Cult and Fred Coury the drummer for Cinderella, to name but a few.

Russells, Christie is a big Judas Priest fan, so understandably she wanted to stay and watch the whole show, and so did Davey and Corine, so we left them there and they took an Uber to the hotel after Priests show. As there were places left on the bus in that case, David and Lana drove with us to the hotel, as they were staying there too. Kevin & Yvonne stayed in LA and joined us again two days later in Las Vegas. They had some major rubber necking to do.

At the hotel the crew were going to sleep outside on the bus, and as usual hunger struck, so Angus took charge and they had 100 Chicken McNuggets delivered to the bus amongst other things. There started a competition between Angus and Ben as to how many Nuggets they could both eat. Well they both managed to eat 37 each, but Angus won by 15 minutes. I am surprised they did not start clucking after that, and how they slept with that amount of food on their stomach I will never know. Luckily they were parked outside the hotel, so if a curious turtle appeared, they could go to the toilet in the hotel at least. I should have said a curious chicken but that image just does not work as well as the turtle.

The next morning a few of us had breakfast and then at our usual 1pm, Bernie, Phil and I joined David and Lana for lunch. After this we chilled until we got ready for the concert. The venue which was the ‘Citizens Business Park Arena’ was not far from the hotel, but we took a hotel bus shuttle anyway. This was another great show and the audience were buzzing as were we.

The drive the following day to Las Vegas was approximately 4 1/2 hours, which was not too bad. However the gremlins came out to play again and we had another burst tyre on that journey. Surely we must hold the record for burst tyres on one tour.

We were playing ‘The Joint’ at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. On arrival we had to clear the bus of all personal belongings as our driver Bob was driving straight off back to his depot. There was a fair bit of scrambling about to clear the bus, and then only a few of the rooms were ready. I was a lucky one, so after putting my bags in my room I went to the nearest restaurant for some lunch. Then it was back to the room to chill and get ready for the last show of the tour. Incidentally it was going to be the last concert in ‘The Joint” as we were told that it was going to be taken over by Richard Branson.

Well the band decided a time to meet at the hotel lift on the ground floor, so that we could all go to the venue together. The hotel lift door had the gig poster all over it taking up the whole door, which was pretty impressive. Once we were in the venue we found out there was no catering, so that was dinner out of the window. Still we were on early, so we could eat after. There were plenty of people to meet and there was an extra air of excitement surrounding this concert, seeing as it was the last one.

As we prepared for the show all of the Judas Priest boys marched into our dressing room so that we could have a photo of both bands together. We loved this, and it just showed how well we all got on with each other, even after 2 months of solid touring.

Well we hit the stage running and the response was outstanding. Now I have to tell you every night when we were playing the song ‘Stealin’ with the gospel type ooo ahhh’s on the beginning of the song, the entire Heep and Priest crew backstage out of sight had their hands waving in the air having a laugh. Tonight however they took it a step further and all marched on stage doing it in a line and some had black underpants on with some white writing on it which I could not read, and they paraded across the stage and back twice. It was hilarious and even the audience loved it. It was smiles and laughs all round. The reaction as we finished the concert was just amazing and it just underlined how many new fans we had won over on this tour. As we came off stage there were hugs aplenty from everyone backstage before Priest came out and just nailed it with some high octane metal as they did every single night.

After the show I went with Phil, David & Lana and Kevin & Yvonne for a bite to eat, as we were starving. I did text Ace our manager where we were, but no one else joined us. When we had eaten and had a few too many wines, we then hit the bar and carried on. Well we were in a celebratory mood after such a successful tour and that’s my excuse anyway.

The next day we were flying home and David & Lana and Kevin & Yvonne were staying on for a few days. I checked my British Airways App in the morning and low and behold the flight was delayed, so we had to try and arrange to check out of our rooms at 2pm instead of the agreed 12 midday. What a pain, so at 2pm we went for some dinner to kill some time. As you can smoke in these Casinos hanging around was very uncomfortable for me, but there was nothing else we could do as it was too damn hot to wait outside. In total the flight was delayed by 3 1/2 hours and in the end we said our sad goodbyes, and we went to the airport.

When we got to the Los Angeles Airport we checked in, but we had not thought for one minute, one hour, one day, that the lounges would be full with all of the cancellations, but luckily we are all mostly silver card members, so we could get in, but it was packed to the hilt and the food area was pretty bare.

Eventually we boarded the flight and as it was the 1st of July, we thought that the movies may have been updated as they used to change them every month, but nothing had changed since when we went to Japan earlier in the year. We then found out the delay was for a technical fault that needed to be fixed before flying. Well I was in a row of four people on the outside seat, and I could not get my light to work, until I realised that the lady on the other end of the four seats controlled my light, and I controlled hers. We looked at each other and smiled saying that we hoped that they had not got their wires crossed like they had on our lights on the technical fault they had just fixed. D’oh!

Luckily I had charged up my iPad with plenty of films to watch, as there certainly was not a film on the BA screen that I would want to watch twice. Well the food was average and on my tray there was half of it missing, which I asked the stewardess if I could have the rest of it, surprise surprise, it never turned up. Similarly on the brekky before landing I asked for a second cup of coffee that never arrived either. BA are not doing themselves any favours with service like that especially after that dreadful delay.

Still I was happy to land at London Gatwick and pick up my luggage, and say good bye to everyone and jump in my cab home. Angus our front of house engineer however, had stayed out in Vegas, as he was helping out on the Robbie Williams show before meeting up with us for our festival show in the Czech Republic, where we were headlining the Masters of Rock Festival.

Once home both Sheila and Romeo were there to give me big missed you hugs and kisses and my dog Iggy went mental and he could not settle down for ages, as he was so excited to see me. My cat Biscuit looked up and went back to sleep but that is his own understated way of welcoming me home, which I have now got used to.

Both Sheila and Romeo had written beautiful welcome home notes that they had left on the kitchen table for me, and I then made a perfect cup of tea, and I was happy to be back in the heart of the family.

Shortly after being home in the UK I heard on the news, horror stories of there being an earthquake that happened in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Ace our manager said it was the worst one he had ever experienced, where his whole house swayed back and forth for 20-30 seconds. Angus said it happened in Vegas too just as Robbie Williams was entering the stage from a hydraulic lift that was shaking, but the show still went on. It was the worst quake in 20 years, so I sent a text to everyone I knew who was in those areas to see if they were okay, and thankfully they were.

‘Appy days!

Mick

4 Responses to “Box News #282 Part 4 – July 21st, 2019”

  1. Billy Moncrieff Says:

    Hi Mick ,
    Thanks for another great read . I certainly agree that Heep and Priest make a great combination for a tour . Sounds like all went well and it made for some brilliant gigs along the way . Would love to see Heep touring the uk with Priest . Wishing you and the rest of the band all the very best .

    Rock On ……………………………………………………. Billy .

  2. Glen Doucet (Canada) Says:

    So happy the tour with Priest went so well, but in my opinion Heep should have been the headliner…..

  3. Connie West Says:

    i was at the Ontario show. it was my 4th x seeing you and my 1st x for Priest. Love you guys.

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