Box News #283 – July 18th, 2019

Well after just a week at home we were off again to headline a festival in the Czech Republic called the ‘Masters of Rock.’ This time though there was an extra air of excitement, as our original bass player Paul Newton and vocalist John Lawton were joining us on stage. Lee Kerslake was also going to do this, but his ill health prevented him from flying, so he instead went to see ‘Kiss’ at the O2, so that he could interview both Gene and Paul for his documentary. We really did miss him, but flying was out of the question. It was still a shame as it was the one thing he wanted to do, and that was to be back on stage with Heep.  

We all met at LHR Terminal 3 all except John and his wife Iris who flew from Stanstead. We were flying to Vienna and then driving to the Zlín in the Czech Republic, and once through the check in procedure we all went to the lounge. There were two lounges so we were split up there for a while, until we all met at the gate. Most of us were in one lounge but Davey, Phil, Paul and his wife Joan were in another. 

I sat next to Paul and Joan on the flight and we had a good laugh catching up on everything, and of course the stories were flowing. When we arrived in in Vienna we had a two and a half hour drive to Zlín, and I have to say it was numb bum all around as the roads were terrible. It was like someone had installed speed bumps every 3 feet for the entire journey. We did have one stop for a pee, but we were anxious to get to the hotel as they were keeping the restaurant open for us, and we were all starving. 

We eventually arrived at the hotel that was more than adequate, and we dumped our suitcases into our rooms and went straight down to the restaurant. John and Iris had been there for a while and had eaten, so we got the heads up on what was good and what we should avoid. It was hugs all round and then we found out that it was a set menu of sorts, but everyone could find something to satisfy themselves in the food department, along with their chosen beverage to wash it down with. 

The following morning the crew had to leave the hotel at 7.30am as they had an 8am-10am window to set up all of our equipment. Vic and John had driven our Backline over from the UK so that was good. Needless to say there was no sound check with that number of bands on the festival bill, and I personally was quite happy about it what with that red eye start to the day. 

Those left at the hotel all managed to have breakfast and then Phil, Bernie and I went for a walk around the town. Where we were staying there was very little to see, so it was a short walk, and then we all met for lunch at the hotel restaurant, which once again had the same menu as the night before. In fact the menu did not change for our entire stay, but that wasn’t too bad. 

I managed to do some work in the afternoon which was cool, as I had a lot of catch up to do, especially after the long 2 month tour with Priest we had just been on. Then it was time for dinner and we left at 19.00pm to get down to the show. 

At 19.30pm we had a signing session and John and Paul joined us which was cool. It was an amazing line of people and we were there for just under an hour. 

After this there was a press conference where we all sat at a table and there were plenty of press, photographers and TV Cameras, but really there were only three people passing around the microphone asking us questions. It was a bit of fun and then we went back to our dressing cabin to prepare for the show. 

There was a lot of banter and laughs all round in the cabin, but soon it was time to get changed and for Russ, Davey and I to warm up. In no time at all the intro tape was on and the next thing as we ran out on to the stage we could see 20-30,000 people there which was amazing!

We kicked off the show and the atmosphere was fantastic and half way through the set list we announced both John and Paul who came on to play ‘Stealin’ and they received a huge roar from the audience. It was great fun having them on stage, and I could see John being his usual cool self and singing great and Paul was just loving every minute of it. 

The next song up was ‘Gypsy’ and we had found out that it was John’s Birthday, so I announced this on stage to a huge roar, and two lovely ladies came out and presented him with a Birthday cake, a Birthday card signed by the whole band and crew, and a bottle of Gentleman Jack. Then the audience sang ‘Appy Birthday to John which was great.  After this we fired up the intro to ‘Gypsy’ and Paul stayed on for this song. It was the first time Paul and I had been on stage playing ‘Gypsy’ since the old king died and it was a good feeling, and Paul’s smile said it all. 

After this we were back to finishing the set and jamming through ‘Look at Yourself,’ and then on to ‘July Morning,’ before both John and Paul joined us for ‘Lady in Black.’ We had  Davey and Paul on bass for this one, and it went down incredibly well. It was amazing that on stage that night we had the first and last of the Heep bass players, which was super cool! As John and Paul left the stage we went into ‘Sunrise,’ and finished on a rockin’ ‘Easy Livin.’ They both then came out and did the bow with us, and all in all it was a special night. 

Back in the dressing room cabin the drinks were being poured and John got stuck into the Gentleman Jack and the banter was full on. Davey was eating some for the cake and those with a sweet tooth joined in. After a while John & Iris and Paul & Joan were driven back to the hotel while the rest of us had an overnight journey to Rosenheim in Germany. I think John and Iris went home to the UK, and Paul and Joan were going to indulge in the delights of Vienna. 

Well the bus was rocking there for a little while, before we all climbed into our respective bunks for some sleep which was difficult as once again we were on those bumpy old roads. We arrived at stupid early o’clock in the morning and our rooms were ready thanks to Scampi arranging it, so we crawled out of bunks and into the hotel with one eye open and one eye closed, and picked up our keys and went to bed, only this time in a non moving bed. 

The crew left at 11.45am to get down to the venue which was the Rosenheim Sommerfest to set up the equipment. The rest of us had lunch at the hotel. We were headlining this festival and the two other bands were our old friends ‘Sweet,’ and ‘Nazareth.’ As we went to lunch we met both the bands and the crews and it was hugs all round. 

We left the hotel at 19.45pm to get to the venue as we had a few last minute interviews thrown at us, well thrown at me to be exact, and we could hear the ‘Naz’ boys rockin’ it hard, before the ‘Sweet’ boys went on and went down well too. 

Before the show I was presented with a painting that a lady called Elke had painted, and it was made up of 25 Heep song images, combined in one picture, 40 X 50cm in size. This was very cool indeed and very nice of her to do it. She said that it was her way to express her gratitude for all of the joy the Heep music has given her since the 70’s until today. Now that is brilliant.

Still soon it was time for the mighty Heep to hit the stage, and the crowd were well up for it, and so were we. We hit our stride like the well oiled machine we have become, and the 9,000 capacity crowd just loved it. It was a sea of smiling faces and people having the best time rockin’ out, which amounted to a fantastic night.

We met quite a few people after the show before heading back to the hotel. In the morning we drove to Munich to fly on British Airways back to LHR Terminal 5. This went without a hitch so we collected our bags and took trains and cabs back to our respective homes. We would only be home for 5 days before flying out again, so we would not be home for long, but that is festival season for you, and we love it. 

‘Appy days!

2 Responses to “Box News #283 – July 18th, 2019”

  1. Billy Moncrieff Says:

    Hi Mick ,
    Great blog again ! . Good to hear John and Paul meeting up with the band . Sounded lots of fun . Shame that Lee didn’t make it over but his health comes first . Playing to that audience of 20- 30,000 must have been amazing and it is great publicity too .
    Rock On……………………………………………….Billy

  2. Glen Doucet (Canada) Says:

    That is so awesome that John and Paul were on stage with Heep, so sad that Lee couldn’t be there, that would have been amazing to have 3 former members of Heep on stage together, Heep really are like a family…..that would have been great if it would have been filmed for DVD release….hope Lee gets to be on stage with his band one more time….

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