Box News #285 – July 31st, 2019

My latest blog documenting the adventures that the mighty Heep had over the weekend on the German ‘Rock of Ages’ festival and up on top of a mountain in Wales at the ‘Steelhouse,’ Festival.

After only two days at home with my family, it was time to drive to LHR Terminal 5 for another two shows, one in Germany and one in Wales. Well some times your world gets turned upside down and a little crazy comes into play, and if you continue reading the text below you will see that the craziness went on forever.

I was doing everything I could for my family before I left for the airport, and then I decided before I had a shower, I would have a cup of tea and sit down for a short while, as it was stiflingly hot and humid. Then I heard my phone ping and up popped a message from my British Airways App that my flight was at 15.30pm. Now I had booked my cab for 13.30pm, but that was the time I should have been at the airport for the check in, 2 hours before. I quickly phoned my cab driver and he said he was already on the way to the airport with someone else and anyway I had booked it for Friday.

Well panic set in all round and I looked through my texts and indeed he was right, and I had messed up big time. He said he would call me back in 5 minutes and this was at Midday. He called back and another of his drivers was on the way to my house. Phew! I quickly finished packing and jumped into the shower, and we left at 12.30pm, which was great as it only took an hour at that time of day to get to the airport, so I was still on time. Wow that got the heart beating faster for sure and it didn’t help in the sweating stakes either.

Once at the airport, I checked in and met the rest of the guys in the BA Lounge. There are two BA Lounges in Terminal 5, one in the North and one in the South. We were in the North one when Angus (Front of House) who was in the South Lounge, phoned Ben (Monitors) to say Caroline Flack was in the South Lounge. She presents the programme ‘Love Island’ which my son Romeo and all of his friends watch religiously, as well as Angus and Ben, so I knew who she was. Evidently Rich my guitar tech had spotted her first, so Ben and I legged it to the South Lounge and there she was. She was just leaving, and I said to her can we take a selfie, and she was super lovely and said yes. Then Ben did the same, and she is one beautiful lady, and even more so than on TV if that is possible. I personally think she is better looking than half of the contestants, and so does Romeo.

I sent the picture immediately to my son Romeo who was gobsmacked, and he texted me back saying ‘No waaaaaaay!’ Well that was brownie points for his Dad, as he sent it to all of his friends.

Well good old BA never let you down (joke) as the flight was an hour late, and they get you all sitting on the plane first and then they tell you. So we sat their for an hour on the tarmac before we took off, but at least they had the air conditioning on. One pet hate I have, is that when you get on a flight and you fall asleep before take off, and then when you wake up you are still on the tarmac having not moved an inch, that irks me no end. I did this and then I got up to get something out of my carry on bag in the overhead locker, just as the plane started to move, and then a steward came running towards me saying that I have to sit down as the plane was moving. This was not a good way start to the flight, however in the end everything was fine, and all of our baggage arrived, so we were soon on our way to the hotel.

On arrival at the hotel we were trying to arrange dinner with our fan Sina Rückmann, as it was her birthday, but as we were late, and it was stiflingly hot and humid so everyone decided to eat in the hotel or have a drink in the hotel bar. It was so hot and there was no air conditioning in the rooms and in fact the hotel had to put 4 fans on the bar to help encourage people in for a drink, it was that hot and humid. In the end Sina joined us with her friend which was nice.

We made plans to meet up with her for lunch at her house the next day, which was only 15-20minutes from the hotel. The plan was that she would send a cab for 5 people at 12.45pm to ferry us to her house, but this never happened. We waited for just under an hour and still no cab, so we had to decline the offer and eat in the hotel. What a shame, and both Sina and the band were disappointed, but what could we do. We still do work on the road, so we planned to have lunch with Sina and come back and do the work, but it just did not happen. I think the heat must have done something to the driver because at one point the driver phoned Sina to say she had us all on board, and we were still sitting in the hotel lobby. Because of that mad driver she spoilt everything. In case you are wondering, Sina was the one who kindly carved the mini-me out of wood that sits by the pond in my garden back in London.

Still we saw her at the concert that night in Seebron at the ‘Rock of Ages’ Festival. The last time we headlined this festival was in 2015, and I was presented with a huge framed plaque, that sits nicely on my office wall in London.

Since being in Germany much like the weather in London, it has been ridiculously hot and humid and what with the hotel having no air conditioning, and not even a single fan in the room, it was all quite draining.

Now we were all waiting to be picked up for the gig, and earlier we had all heard an extremely loud bang and there was black smoke up in the sky. We found out that there was a gas explosion and a building had blown up. There were so many fire engines and ambulances all you could hear were their sirens at high pitch for ages. Now the problem for us was that the explosion was between us and the route into the festival so the vans could not get through. We waited for ages and eventually they made it to the hotel to pick us up to take us to the festival site.

At 19.00pm we arrived at the venue for dinner, which in itself was quite funny as Bernie ordered his food first way before anyone else, and he was served last, and there was a lot of us. He was getting quite angsty and I swear another 5 minutes waiting and he would have eaten the table.

After this we went straight into a signing session that lasted an hour, and then I had to do a TV interview. While we were doing the signing it began to rain quite heavily when ‘Rose Tattoo’ were on. They had an ego ramp on the stage and Angry Anderson their singer was getting soaked. Well after their set the rain intensified, and it came down so heavy almost like hail stones, and the end result was that it had soaked so much of the stage, as it blew across the front of the stage, that it became dangerous and apart from the stage being slippery and impossible to stand on, the power points had all been soaked too making it dangerous as hell. The end result was that the promoters put in big white gaffa tape letters ‘The End’ on the ego ramp for all to see. That marked that the festival was definitely over. Now this was devastating as I was really looking forward to playing this festival, as were the rest of the band.

We had Porto Cabins to change in and warm up in and I went into the cabin to get a bottle of water before my TV interview, and there was a guy playing my guitar. Now that is a ‘NO NO’ in anyone’s book, so I told him to put it down and have sex and travel, which he did.

Well after the TV interview I went back to the cabin while everyone else stayed in the catering building avoiding the rain, and as I opened the door the same guy had his hand on the door handle trying to leave with my guitar. Well red mist and sensibility were fighting me inside and I had two choices. One was to knock him out and send him to A&E for the night, but the downside to that drama would have been I might have injured my hand and he would have dropped the guitar and broken it. Luckily sensibility won, and I snatched the guitar off him and put it back on my guitar stand, and then a ran for him and I just managed to slam the door on him as he scarpered in the torrential rain. He still managed to get away with my guitar pick, Russell’s drum sticks and he had unclipped my backstage passes off of my gig bag. All this time Davey’s bass was on a stand untouched and this was probably because he is left handed.

Well not playing was devastating, and I felt so sorry for the fans and the promoters, but it truly was out of everyone’s control. There followed a party in the hotel bar for many people, but I was not in a party mood and I went to bed wondering when would all of this craziness end.

The next day we flew to London Heathrow Terminal 5 on British Airways and I was excited to get there as my son Romeo was meeting me at arrivals, as he was coming to Wales with me where we were playing the ‘Steelhouse’ festival on top of a Welsh Mountain.

After hugging Romeo and thinking we had left the crazy stuff behind, the driver Cuzz who was driving us to Wales phoned Scampi to say he had gone under a low ceiling in the car park and knocked the sky light clean off the top of the van. Well Scampi and Brian armed with gaffa tape went to try and fix it, otherwise it would have been a wind swept drive all the way there. While they were doing this we all had a coffee. Romeo was able to come on this gig as Angus & Ben drove up in Angus’s car, Russ and his girlfriend Christie drove up, and Rich and his girlfriend Katie drove up, so there was room in the van for my lovely son.

Eventually Scampi appeared and said that he and Brian had done the best they could with the sky light and they did do a good job. Well the cry went out from Bernie to stop at the first services for some food. The first one was at Reading and when we pulled into the car park it was crowded with people scattered everywhere. After a quick investigation we found out that the power had gone in the whole service station except for a Cornish Pasty Van outside. Well the rest of us settled for a pasty or a sausage roll, and a drink, but this was not good enough for Bernie, so we had to go to the next services, so that mister food dependant could get what he wanted. He had a ‘Murder King’ burger and chips, but at least that settled him down as he does get a little angsty if he is hungry.

Well we eventually arrived at the hotel which was a health and spa type hotel. It was a weird hotel to put most of the bands in as it was what I would describe as a ‘Gods Waiting Room,’ hotel.

It was still very hot and humid and still no air conditioning but we decided to have dinner in the hotel as we were miles away from anywhere else. They had a gym and a swimming pool so Romeo enjoyed the delights of the gym while I rested in the room.

We met as usual in the bar for dinner and had a couple of drinks outside in the fresh air, and then we went inside to eat. This became a bit of a drama getting a table but eventually it was sorted. We went to the restaurant to be told to go back in the bar to book a table, and then the head waitress came to the bar to take us to our table. It was a Carvery which was nice except as Phil pointed out his Yorkshire Pudding would have made a good Frisbee. Now you walk along the food and point at what you want as the server puts this all on the plate for you, and then there was a tray of condiments along with mint and horseradish etc that another waitress puts on for you, and then she takes the plate to the table for you. It was all very nice, and on our table was Phil, Davey, Romeo and I, and on another table there was Bernie Marsden and Bernie Shaw the two Bernies, drinking but not eating. However the stories between the two tables were flowing freely.

After this we decided to keep the theme of the hotel going and Phil, Romeo and I watched by Davey had a game of scrabble. This was a great laugh after a few bevvies and I am sure some of the words had never even been near a dictionary, but I ended up being the ‘Chicken Dinner,’ (Winner) as they say in Las Vegas. Then we joined everyone in the bar until closing time and we had a good laugh with Scott Gorham, Bernie Marsden, Phil, our Bernie, Romeo and his Dad.

The next morning we had breakfast and then outside there was a chess game with those huge chess pieces that you move about, so Romeo and I played a game, of which I was a Chicken Dinner again, much to the annoyance of my son. Then we had a bit of lunch and Romeo went for a swim and a quick work out in the gym, while I showered for the gig.

We left the hotel at 2.45pm to go to the ‘Steelhouse,’ festival as we had a 3.45pm signing session. Now this festival is up on top of a mountain and even on the way up the dirt road had markers with ‘You are half way up.’ Your are nearly there’ etc. Once we arrived we could see everything was in full swing, and soon we were at the signing tent, signing and having pictures taken, which was cool. Then there was an endless round of interviews for TV, Radio Shows, and of course Planet Rock Radio. This was done by our old mate Ian Danter which was cool.

While I was doing this my son and Rich my guitar tech’s girlfriend Katie, were in an axe throwing competition. He did well and hit the bullseye twice, so he was well pleased. There is obviously a technique to these things and he managed to find it quickly. At 5 pounds a throw I am glad he did. Let’s be fair there wouldn’t be a cash machine up on top of the mountain now would there.

Well it was soon our time to go onstage and we entered to a huge roar, and it was a fantastic gig. The crowd were ready to rock and rock they did. We only had 1hr 15 mins to play, so we rocked it out and had a great time. The reception we received was brilliant and it did the heart good. While we were on stage the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day, but shortly after coming off stage, boy the temperature dropped. Kevin and Yvonne Jones had sent me a picture of them the night before wrapped in blankets, and now I could see why. Mind you I thought the amount of anti freeze being drunk would have done the trick, but there you go.

We did hang around to see ’Living Colour’ who had Bernie Marsden come up on stage and play ‘Sunshine of your Love,’ with them. This was very well received and even a chant of ‘Bernie, Bernie’ came from the crowd. He is still well loved from his time in ‘Whitesnake,’ both as a performer and writer. The singer of ‘Living Colour’ said over the PA System, ‘Whose fucking idea was it to put us on after Uriah Heep,’ which was very nice of him, and an indication of how well we went down.

Up next were headliners ‘Thin Lizzie’ who were playing their famous album ‘Black Rose,’ in it’s entirety. I have to say Ricky Warwick does a great job filling the shoes vocally of Phil Lynott, Darren Wharton added some good keyboard parts, drummer Scott Travis (from Judas Priest) was outstanding as Lizzie’s music relies so much on the swing element, Troy Sanders was on Bass and Damon Johnson and Scott Gorham played some killer leads, so justice was fully done to the 40th Anniversary of this album.

Well we arrived back at the hotel before the bar closed so Romeo and I had a good night pint before retiring to bed finishing off the day in fine style.

The following morning we were up for breakfast at 9am, as we had a 10am leave. In the van I downloaded the episodes of ‘Love Island,’ Romeo had missed, as his mates had been texting him, so we caught up on those and he was very happy about that. We were driven down to London to be dropped off at the St Pancras Hotel, where Romeo and I met our cab driver and drove home.

It was especially lovely having Romeo with me and we had some good father son quality time along with a lot of good laughs, and a few pints as it should be.

‘Appy days!


One Response to “Box News #285 – July 31st, 2019”

  1. George Quartz Says:

    Entertaining as always, Mick! I am sure you have definitely expended your bad luck for this year. 😉 I am looking forward to the next story!

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