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Box News #277 – January 18, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2019 by heepster

Mick talks about Kiev Ukraine and the night off, watching his beloved Spurs football team win, Davey’s birthday, Davey needing a doctor, our manager Ace flying in from Los Angeles, the Judas Priest tour news, the ‘National Palace of Arts’ venue, sound checks, hired equipment, Passport Photographs, Visa applications, the ‘Prime Hall in Minsk Belarus, our agent Leora over from the USA, Moscow, Davey back at the doctors, Spurs v Leicester, the Crocus City Hall venue in Moscow, the Kremlin, commemorative gold coins in a blue box, signing a guitar for a Russian dignitary, the German made train to St. Petersburg and the concert in the Palace of Culture Lensoveta.

Mick also discusses, flying back to London and then on to Manchester, English TV, 3 Pledgers, the Manchester 02 Ritz, driving to Glasgow and the SWG3 venue, flying back down to London for the Shepherds Bush Empire concert and inviting out Lee to come on to the stage and sing with us. Mick also talks about how crazy it gets playing London, meeting my family and the wonderful feeling, transferring my suitcases to a cab, the open bar for our guests at the end of the show, driving to Nottingham for the Rock City gig, we had another Pledger, having a lovely curry with the German Twins Claudia and Andrea, driving to Hull for the last show of the year, doing a record signing in the local Mall, meeting Trevors family, Peter Kenyon and his wife Tracey giving me personalized number plates, another Pledger 13 year old Toby Lee who I first met at Xmas in Cornwall with both of our families, Cliff Massey sitting behind my Engl speakers by the side of Russ watching him play all night, and the train back to London and being home for Xmas and New Years.

Well the night off in Kiev Ukraine was most welcome, and the band stayed in the hotel for dinner and had a much needed early night, and the crew went out to a Chicken Restaurant. I stayed in my room after dinner and watched the Spurs v Southampton football game, as we were 2 hours ahead of the UK and we won 3-1, which was super cool. A night off chilling with a cup of tea, and watching a Spurs win while on the road, it does not come better than that. ‘Appy days!

It was Davey’s birthday the next day on Thursday the 6th December, so birthday wishes were being sent back and forth by Text, Facebook and all of the media sites all morning. He did not make it down to breakfast as he had to see a doctor. The road burn was getting to him like the rest of us. Russ was the winner in that department thus far, but he does run 5 miles a night on stage to keep fit. Ha!

Ace our manager flew in from Los Angeles last night, so we met him for breakfast which was great. There is always lots of exciting news to catch up on, and just the Judas Priest USA/Canadian tour information alone was a buzz. It took Ace 19 hours to get to Kiev via London from Los Angeles, which is a long old journey in anyone’s book. He was staying with us right through the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the UK which was great.

To enter Belarus Minsk we needed to fill out forms and have 2 passport photographs to get through Passport Control, and guess who hadn’t got them? Well Bernie had to be picked up at 11am the next morning to be taken to a machine, so that he could attach them to his entry form. Apparently Angus had to go too. Passports and travel documents if you have been reading my blogs this year alone are not Bernie’s forte. Well the carrying of them or even getting them when needed, in any case.

We were playing the ‘National Palace of Arts’ in Kiev, and it was the first show of the tour on our flying equipment, coupled with hired equipment. We have had no need for sound checks recently with our own equipment each night, but we needed one for that night, big time. As usual in those territories it was an early show at 7.30pm, so all in all everything was feeling slightly out of whack from what we have been used to over the last 6 weeks. As usual though the mighty Heep and Crew overcame everything and we had a rockin’ show.

The venue was huge and the stage was massive. So much so that my guitar tech Rich Bennett’s work station with my guitars was in another post code. Well the audience loved every minute of the show and after a few minutes of getting used to the hired equipment and our own flying gear, we hit our stride and the place rocked. It was a seated affair but people rushed down to the front of the stage and once that happened it turned into a rock concert. It was a great night but we could not stay too long after as we had an early 6.20am departure the next day to fly to Minsk Belarus.

The flight was fine, but we had to wait 40 minutes for our visas to be processed after waiting a long time already to get through Passport Control. After this there was no time for the crew to go to the hotel and check in, as they had to go straight to the venue to start setting up the stage, which was in a venue called ‘The Prime Hall.’

The band managed to get a little catch up sleep, but I do not know how the crew do it, as they work right on through with no complaining, and everything when we arrived was perfect. Joe Lynne Turner had sent me a text to get some of his family in to the show, so I arranged for them to be put on the guest list. Joe actually lives in Minsk Belarus now with his lovely lady Maya. It was a super packed venue and you could feel they were up for a rockin’ night, the second we walked on to the stage. The atmosphere was electric and it was a standing audience, so they were having a great time, and so were we!

Leora our agent from the USA had flown in to do some business with the promoter on further shows for the mighty Heep, and it was great to see her. Our dinner was delivered to us after the show in the dressing room, as we had ordered it from menus before we went on stage to play, then we all went back to the hotel and at last the crew could check in.

The following day we did not leave until 11.30am, so that was a relief. We flew to Moscow Russia arriving at 4pm. Our hired backline and flying equipment was driven from Minsk to Moscow, so we only had our own personal suitcases to carry which was cool.

As usual the traffic in Moscow was horrendous. It always is in Moscow and there is no way around it, so it took 1hour 40 minutes for a 40 minute journey. We all checked into the hotel and Davey was still under par, so he went with the interpreter to see another doctor, while the rest of the band and Ace had dinner. The crew split up, as some went to the Kremlin and others just ate in the hotel. Angus had not been to the Kremlin before, so it was on his bucket list to have a picture taken there, and now he can tick that particular box!

The good thing about the hotel is that it was right next door to the ‘Crocus City Hall’ venue.

However, back in my room after dinner I watched the Spurs v Leicester football game on my iPad, and we won 2-0, so sitting there with my cup of tea, I was chilling to the max. After 7 weeks on the road those moments become very important indeed, even though it is only one foot off of the rock n’ roll roundabout so to speak. That is why family is so important, as it gives you focus and grounding in abundance.

Well the concert at the Crocus City Hall was amazing and one to remember. Firstly a Russian dignitary’s son came into the dressing room to present us with commemorative gold coins each in a blue box, and he had seen an old picture of me playing a Yamaha Guitar on the internet, so he bought one and had us all sign it for his father. That was very cool and he was super excited.

We have played this venue many times on our own and with Alice Cooper and indeed with the Reunion show, but this concert was a step above that, and the audience were magnificent. We may have been on hired equipment but there was magic in the air from the moment we walked on to the stage.

Luckily for us the hotel was virtually in the same building, though the venue was so large we had to drive around in a van to get to the hotel reception.

The following morning we had to catch a train to St. Petersburg leaving the hotel at 7.30am. It was the German made Rapid Train and boy what a difference that was from the trains we had taken in 1988, when we played a 5 week tour there right through Siberia and beyond. This train was fast, efficient, and they had a decent restaurant car plus the seats were very comfortable. Good old German engineering!

We were playing the Palace of Culture Lensoveta venue in St. Petersburg and I have to say that too was a memorable concert with the audience going crazy and just loving every part of the show. They were really appreciative and as in Moscow there were a lot of young people in the audience. The reaction to the new songs especially in this particular part of the world, where our classic songs mean so much, was a thrill I have to say. They were well into it and the young fans were all singing the words. Now that did the heart good for sure.

The following day we were flying back to England. It was an early start as we had to fly St Petersburg to London Heathrow with a long layover, and then a flight to Manchester for the first UK gig. We arrived at approximately 21.35pm and Vic was there to pick us up and take us to the hotel.

I have to say the bed was looking good and it was nice to turn on the TV and have all of the programs in in English. To be honest a quick flick through the channels and it was turned off pretty quickly as it was time for some much needed shut eye.

The following day at the sound check we had 3 Pledgers, Ian Ainsworth, Stuart Green and Richard Kenner. This was a lot of fun and then we had dinner and got ready for the first of the UK shows. This was at the Manchester 02 Ritz which was a nice venue. We did have a great time being back in England and lucky old Scampi, Jon and Vic could all go home to their own beds, as they all live in Manchester.

The show was brilliant and it was good to be back in the UK and play tracks from the new album, which everybody soaked up and loved as much as the classics. It was a great night and I wouldn’t mind playing there again.

The following day we drove up to Scotland as Glasgow was our next destination. We stayed in a hotel at the airport as we were flying down to London the next day. Now our original venue had burnt down, so we were moved over to the SWG3 venue which was a little smaller than we would have liked, but it was packed, and it had a great atmosphere. There were so many familiar faces down the front it was amazing. As I have said before at gigs we have incredible fans, and we must be one of the few bands that know the names of the front row at every venue worldwide. Now that really is something! Well Glasgow did us proud and we had a great time.

We caught a flight the next day down to London City Airport where once again our Vic picked us up and took us to the hotel. For the last week I had been receiving text’s and calls from Lee Kerslake, as I had invited him to come up on stage at Shepherds Bush Empire and join us for ‘Lady in Black.’ He had a film crew who were doing a documentary on him, and he was so happy to be doing this, as it was a wish of his to be on stage with Heep again. When we arrived at the venue Lee was in the dressing room and it was hugs all round and it was so good to see him.

London is always the most difficult shows to pull off as you are constantly hounded by your family and friends that always seem incapable of finding what to do once they are in the venue. The phone never stops ringing and then you have to do an interview and it is just general mayhem until you get on to the stage. Once the guitar is put over my shoulder and only then, there is peace and I can immerse myself into the show. There was so much going on pre show, that I did not even have time to eat.

I had to meet my family outside of the venue to give our cab driver some of my luggage to take back to my home, as from the last gig in Hull on this tour, we were coming back by train and I could not carry it all. Anyway operation meet the family and to transfer my suitcases went rather smoothly, and it was kind of Vic and Jon to help carry everything out to the waiting cab. Job done! As you can imagine it was lovely to see Sheila and Romeo and Sheila’s brother John too.

Well once on stage you could feel the buzz from the audience, the atmosphere was electric and once we hit the first riff off ‘Grazed by Heaven’ after Russ’s drum fill, we were out of the traps and up and running. After so many gigs behind us on this tour we were a well oiled machine and we had a great time. We could feed off the audience and then when I announced Lee, there was a huge roar as he walked out for a big hug and we started the song ‘Lady in Black.’ It was good to have him up there and he could not resist getting up on the drums with Russ, and to be honest his smile said it all. We came back for the encores and it really was a gig that you left on a high.

The bar upstairs was kept open for all of our friends and family and of course a lot of other people wiggled their way in, but it was good for me to catch up with Sheila, Romeo, some family and all of our friends. I have to say as I wasn’t drinking, there was not a lot of joined up talking going on, but it was a really cool way to end the night. We all said our goodbyes and we went back to our hotel.

We had a 3 hour drive to Nottingham the next day, which wasn’t too bad. We had a Pledger called Ian Murry at the sound check and for the evenings dinner we all went for a curry with the German twins Andrea and Claudia, who had bought that as part of the Pledge Package. It was a good chilled out dinner, though we all agreed to a man after the show that a curry is not the best food to have before a concert. I won’t take that any further.

The venue Rock City did indeed live up to its name and Rock it did, and it was a magic night. We had a great time and it really gave us a buzz to do more shows in the UK whenever we can. We met a few people after the show and then we went back to the hotel.

The last show of the year was in Trevor’s hometown in Hull Humberside and what a way to finish in his hometown. We had to get there a little early, as we did a record signing late afternoon before going to the gig for the sound check. We had a pledger guitarist called Toby Lee. Now years ago Sheila, Romeo, Iggy and I were staying in Cornwall for a Xmas holiday at the beautiful Watergate Hotel. Toby’s family were there too, and his dad Terry approached me and asked if I could have a picture taken with Toby, as he had just received his first guitar. Of course I did and I had an ‘Into the Wild’ T Shirt with me, which I gave to him and some guitar picks. Well Toby loved the blues and that was the direction he has taken, and he can really play well. Since then he has played with just about everyone in the Blues world from the UK and in the USA. He has great feel and good tone and he will definitely have a long career playing the guitar for sure. He is only 13 years old, and he has already achieved so much. Well he came on stage with the mighty Heep and we played ‘Easy Livin’ giving him a couple of bars freedom on the end to lay out on, and he was brilliant. Of course we then had pictures taken and we met again after the show for a short chat.

There were some other highlights in Hull too, as a good friend of Trevor’s, Peter Kenyon and his wife Tracey gave to me as a present some personalized car number plates. M80 XUH. Now how amazing is that, and I am most grateful to have them, and they now sit lovely on my Volvo Estate front and back.

It was also emotional to see Trevor’s wife Shelly and his sons Ashley and James at the gig along with a lot of their good friends. To say it was emotional in print is an understatement, but it really was good to see them again and have a much needed hug.

Russ and I had kept in contact with a drummer called Cliff Massey, who in fact auditioned for the Heep gig when Russ made the drum stool his. He came to the show and Russ let him sit behind my Engl speakers for the whole show, so that he could watch Russ play, which was really cool.

The concert was a sit down affair, but we soon had them on their feet and it was a good way to end the tour, which has at times felt like a whirlwind. Getting to the end was an incredible feat, and we met everyone after the concert and then headed to the hotel for a good nights sleep. However, we were all excited that we were going home, so very little sleep was had. For those living in London and our manager Ace who was going to London’s Heathrow to fly back to Los Angeles, we all caught a train.

Being home with your family is as good as it gets having been away for 8 weeks, but it was nice to know that we were safe in the knowledge that we had played 43 shows in 15 countries, and that now the ‘Living the Dream,’ tour had started to make an incredible impact, and there was a buzz about the mighty Heep that felt exciting, with everything moving forward in a truly positive way. The consistency of the band was of the highest caliber each night, even on hired gear, or being sick, and being just plain knackered, but each night that we took to that stage the audience gave us an adrenaline rush like no other, which we thank you for.

Many thanks go to our crew who as always made the stage a professional one that we could shine on each night: Ian ‘Scampi’ Bintliff, (Tour Manager & Lights) Brian West (Keyboards, Bass and Stage Manager), Angus Price, (Front of House Mixing) Richard Bennett, (Guitars & Drums) Aaron Buck, (Monitors) Jon Bintliff, (Stage Production) Vic Collier (Driver & Spotlight) Peter Weber, (Press) Mick Ridley, (Merch) and Graham ‘G’ Forster (Bus Driver)

More thanks go to Siren Artists Management: Ace Trump, Adam Parsons, and our Agents at APA USA Keith Naisbitt & Leora Mitzner.

The second leg of this tour will pick up again in Paris France on the 22nd of January at the La Cigale, so the mighty Heep’s Rock and Roll Circus will roll once again and long may it last.

‘Appy days!

Mick

 

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Box News #276 – December 5, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2018 by heepster

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.

EUROPEAN ‘LIVING THE DREAM TOUR’
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 fantasticcatering@gmail.com 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 GoSleep.fi/ 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!

Mick

 

Box News #275 – November 20, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about, leaving home after being there for so long, meeting Bernie at LHR, arriving in Budapest Hungary, meeting Vic our driver, having a quiet night in, Phil had his partner Patina over with him, the ‘Aquarium’ venue the first show being sold out, the delayed sound-check, first day madness, Brno in the Czech Republic, my badly timed chest infection, the ‘Semilasso’ venue, the famed ‘Volkshaus’ in Zurich Switzerland, Pledge vocalist, fantastic reactions to the new set, Dornbirn Austria, headlining an indoor festival with ‘The Sweet’ & ‘Uli John Roth,’ and a signing session in Saturn music shop.

Mick also discusses, arriving in Munich, the ‘Circus Krone,’ still smelling like a Circus, Angus our Front of House technician and his broken lap top, playing with the excellent ‘Zombies,’ Stuttgart and the interview at the SWR Radio station, another Pledger, interviews aplenty, driving to Holland, the ‘Paatronaat’ venue in Haarlem, the fan meet in a pub called ‘Crackers,’ Davey and Russ joining in, Louis Rentrop and the Dutch fans raising euro 300 for my Cancer Charity, washing shirts etc in the sink in my hotel room, the Chinese Laundry, watching the football, Jon Bintliff’s Birthday, Saarbrucken and another signing at the Media Markt, Trier and another pledger, Offenbach and two pledgers, and meeting old friends.

Mick also talks about the Lichtburg venue in Essen being rammed, Brussels Belgium at the ‘La Madeleine’ theatre, the dreaded curfews, Regensburg and the Italian restaurant, the ‘Audimax Der Univeritat’ venue, at the sound-check playing ‘Lady in Black’ with Anton ‘Judy’ Seutter and his students from the ‘House On The Rock,’ music school, getting Judy to join us on stage that night for LIB, Ravensburg, Spurs v Crystal Palace and a win for Spurs 1-0, Steve Kerslake, Hamburg, The Hard Rock Café, ‘Crazy Jeans,’ The ‘Docks,’ venue, the crowded dressing room, Leipzig and the ‘Haus Auensee’ venue, on to Dresden at the ‘Schlachgthof venue, Berlin was sold out and raised the bar for audience reaction and it was just amazing.

LIVING THE DREAM TOUR BLOG PART (1)

After being at home for a few weeks, even though we had a week of rehearsals in that time, it was a bit of a wrench to get packed and ready for a 2-month tour of Europe to promote our new album ‘Living the Dream.’ I was firmly entrenched in family life, but it was time to put my rock n’ roll hat on and hit the road. It is always a bittersweet moment, but to be honest that is the life in this rock n’ roll circus that I live. Still it was tough saying goodbye to my wife Sheila, Romeo my son and my dog Iggy and Biscuit my cat. I will miss them all terribly.

I met Bernie at London Heathrow Airport to board a British Airways flight to Budapest Hungary. Phil and his lady Patina had already been there for a few days break, rubber necking, and Davey and Russ decided to go late with the crew and sleep on the tour bus. This way they arrived at midnight and were picked up at Budapest airport by the sleeper bus, that for some reason could not park outside the ‘Aquarium’ venue, so they parked far away and that was where they stayed until a 10am bus call for the crew in the morning to start getting the stage and venue prepared etc. They had to ferry the equipment from where they were parked to the venue which delayed things quite considerably.

Bernie and I arrived at the hotel at 19.30pm just as Vic our driver drove up outside, which was pretty cool. Phil, Bernie and myself are driving in a car with Vic the whole tour, as we like to have a non- moving bed each night to sleep in after the show, whereas Russ and Davey are quite happy to be on the bus. On the way to the hotel by taxi we saw Phil and Patina crossing the road to walk over one of those famous Budapest bridges that was lit up like a Christmas tree, and I have to say it looked very impressive.

After checking into the hotel, Bernie, Vic and I had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant and a reasonably early night. Budapest was sold out which was good and whilst having dinner I was receiving texts from our manager Ace informing us of further sell outs on the tour coming in. That is a good way to start a tour with a sell-out, so ‘Appy days indeed!

The next morning, we had breakfast and met up with Phil and Patina who told us that they had a great few days walking around the city. The next move was to wait for a text from Scampi to see how the day would unfold. We planned to have a 2-hour sound check as there was a lot to do for the first night’s show.

It will not be long before the operation is running smoothly, but we do not really know how it all fits together until we have a few shows under our belt. However, the first night is always an exciting one and we could not wait to plug in and rock out.

It was first day madness and as the crew had to ferry the equipment from where the bus was parked to the venue, it delayed things quite a lot by approximately 1 hour 30 mins. So, our planned 3pm sound check was moved to 4.30pm, so the pressure was on.

In the end, the crew did a marvellous job and we managed to complete everything we needed to, and we were set.

Well it was a rockin’ show and there were some nerves bounding about, but all in all it was really cool, and we felt we had the basis for a fantastic set list. With a few nip and tucks over the next couple of shows we will be a well-oiled machine. The audience were well up for it and a good time was had by all.

No matter how hard you rehearse a set list in a rehearsal room situation it is a totally different dynamic when you do it in front of an audience, so it was cool to get a good one under our belt from the off.

The crew, Davey and Russ went overnight to the next show in Brno in the Czech Republic. Phil, Bernie and I were in the car with Vic driving. Davey and Russ were staying on the bus and only having hotels on the days off like the crew. The three of us are not good sleepers on the bus, so it is the best scenario for everyone.

Unfortunately, I had picked up a bit of a chest infection since leaving home, but luckily, I had some medicine with me to try and take care of it. I was on a no drinking, eating healthy diet anyway, so why that decided to hit me over the head with a baseball bat I will never know. Still the show must go on as they say!

Well we arrived at the sound-check at the ‘Semilasso’ venue that was also sold out, so things were definitely looking up. We managed to go through a few songs and make smoother transitions from song to song, and that paid dividends that night. We were rockin’ and the Czech audience were loving it. We had a great time and the new songs were sounding great, plus the running order of songs was bedding in nicely.

Now the next day we had a concert in the Volkshaus in Zurich Switzerland. This was a long old schlep as it was 553 miles. Because of this Bernie and I opted to go on the tour bus overnight and catch up on sleep when we arrived. This we did, and it proved to be good move as it took 14 hours. Phil stayed with Vic and kept him company in the car and they arrived just in time for the sound-check.

We had a Pledge vocalist whose name was Rene Butikofer at the sound-check and he came up and sang ‘Easy Livin’ with us, while his lady took videos of him. He was a lovely guy and he looked like he enjoyed it immensely. His lady afterwards gave me a little toy dog with a bone in its mouth with Iggy written on it which is the name of my dog. That was so lovely of her and it is now my tour mascot. I found out later that Rene was a Policeman, so we had a selfie done both saluting each other.

The concert in the Volkshaus was tremendous and everything we had worked hard on clicked and paid off. The audience were fantastic, and they really embraced every song old and new. It was just amazing!

The following day we drove for 2 hours to Dornbirn Austria, and when we arrived at the hotel we had lunch and then we went to our rooms for a couple of hours until it was sound-check time. The venue was called the ‘Conrad Sohm,’ and after our show that night it turned into a disco type night club. In fact, when the crew arrived at 3am in the morning they parked up outside, and the club night was still in full swing.

It was an odd venue but very rock n’ roll and our crew did a marvellous job of getting us set up with the added production we are carrying with us on this tour. Nevertheless, it was a rockin’ show and we had a really good time even though it was hotter than hell.

The following day we travelled 202 miles to Fürth where we were playing the Stadthalle. We were headlining an indoor festival with Uli John Roth and the Sweet on the bill amongst others.

The mighty Hep had a signing session at the local Saturn shop which went well.

Back at the gig Russ and I watched the Uli John Roth band and they were great. He is a fine player and a lovely guy as well. It was good catching up with the ‘Sweet’ boys too as always.

When we took to the stage the crowd were well warmed up, but they still had an abundance of energy to give to us, as we went down a storm. It was a fabulous concert and our set was getting stronger each night which felt really good as we hit our stride.

The next day was a much-needed day off in Munich. It was only a 2-hour drive for us, so we took it easy and arrived in time for a hotel check in of 3pm. The rest of the boys were already in their rooms, but they had to either stay on the bus or go and have some breakfast until their rooms were available. Angus and Rich decided to go rubber necking around Munich, so they were set.

In the evening there were plans for us to all go out for dinner in the city, but everyone was too tired, and we just stayed in the hotel restaurant where luckily the food and drink was spot on.

Angus our Front of House Technician Apple Lap Top had died, so he had an early appointment at the Munich Apple shop the next morning to see if he could get it looked at. At first it looked like he would have to buy another one, but in the end, they were able to fix it with another Mother Board and they even managed to get it back to him before he left that night to Stuttgart after the Circus Krone show which was amazing.

The Circus Krone in Munich has always been a prestigious venue to play and the atmosphere is fantastic. It was the first night with the ‘Zombies’ in support too, and they are a really good band of musicians, with good songs, so it was a fine musical package indeed.

I had an interview to do for a daily newspaper before we went on and there are always a number of meet and greets to do as well, so it was quite a busy backstage area. There is still the smell of animal dung all over the place, just to remind you that it is indeed a Circus.

Well when we hit the stage we were flying, and it was a marvellous show and the audience were rockin’ with us big time. When we left the stage after our final song there was a huge roar, that we heard continue until we were back in our dressing room. It was really good to have a major city like Munich under our belt and such a successful one too.

It was only a 3-hour drive to our next city in Stuttgart, but it had been arranged for us to visit one of the biggest German Radio Stations SWR for an interview. The three of us met Russ and Davey in the station and the interview was a blast and really good to do.

Russ and Davey then went back to the gig and the rest of us checked into our hotel. There was no plan to do a sound-check, but we had another Pledger Francis Neurohr come along to do ‘Easy Livin’ with us, so we still had to get down there earlier than planned. I also had to be at the venue for a 7pm interview with Classic Rock UK and another one at 8pm for a Polish newspaper, so my dance card was marked big time so to speak that day.

Our good friends Thomas and Petra came to see us, and it is always good to see them. Thomas works for Shure Microphones which we use exclusively, as they are fantastic.

Well the concert was totally rockin’ and it was all beginning to take great shape, as the venue was huge, and we could use all of our full production. It looked and sounded great even from standing on stage which really gives you a good vibe and feeling. The audience were brilliant, and the new songs were definitely sitting wonderfully beside the old classics.

Most of the attendances at all of the shows thus far, have been sold out or only a few people short of a sell out each night, which is just great. There is a real buzz going on for the mighty Heep which is very exciting, and with ‘Living the dream’ number 10 in the charts in Germany it is all good.

The next day we had to drive to Haarlem Holland which was a long old schlep and it took us 8 hours. We sure had numb bum after that journey I can tell you, and we had to go straight to the ‘Patronaat’ venue as I had a phone interview at 7pm and then a TV interview with Russ at 8pm. Phil managed to quickly go to the hotel, but Bernie and I stayed and showered down at the gig. The thought of another upheaval and checking into the hotel did not appeal to me at all and I had those interviews to do, so I was out of luck anyway.

The Dutch fans along with some fans that had flown in from England and Wales and other parts of Europe, met in a pub called ‘Crackers,’ earlier in the day to have a bit of a Heepy session. They even had a ‘Heep’ cover band playing there. As the three of us and Vic were still driving, Russ and Davey went to join in and they even got up and played a couple of songs with them, which was cool.

But cooler than that, Louis Rentrop who used to look after our website, before his illness struck, managed to raise Euro 300 for my Nightingale Cancer Charity. Louis will always be a valued part of the Heep team and how wonderful is that? What great fans we have who will give like that to such a noble cause. It was amazing and a big thank you to all concerned.

Well after that busy day it was good to get on to the stage and it was another sell out. The venue was rammed, and we had a brilliant show and Holland never lets us down as they were with us from note one to the last. It was a good feeling back in the dressing room, but I really needed a shower and a bed after that day specially as the chest infection was still lingering.

As the next day was a day off and a 6-hour drive, Bernie decided to jump ship and go on the sleeper bus overnight. Vic, Phil and I took our time driving there and arrived at the hotel at just past 4pm which was great.

I managed to do some shirt washing in the bath and in the sink in my room, so my hotel room looked like a Chinese Laundry, but from experience it had to be done and the longer you leave it the more of a chore it becomes. Some venues have washers and dryers but not so far on this run hence the washing. Rock n’ Roll eh!

After doing my washing I made a cup of tea, as I always travel with a Kettle, Tea Mug, and English Tea Bags with me. I usually pick up the milk from the dressing room, so I am covered. I put the TV on in my room and lo and behold it was a football match between Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham in the Carabao Cup. Spurs won 3-1, so I was delighted to say the least.

The evening plans were that we would meet in the hotel bar at 7.30pm and then on mass have dinner in the hotel restaurant at 8pm, as it was Jon Bintliff’s birthday. Jon is Scampi our tour managers brother and he is putting together the production every night for us. We had a great meal and most of us then had an early night. I certainly did, in an attempt to shake off the rest of this chest infection that is getting marginally better each day but is still a pain and lingering longer than I would have liked.

The concert the following day was actually in Saarbrucken Germany but for some reason our hotel was on the border in France. We were miles from any real civilisation, so we just chilled around the hotel until the sound check. Actually, we did not sound check as we were picked up from the venue to go to the Media Markt for a record signing.

My good guitarist gunslinger friend Alex Beyrodt, (Rock Meets Classic, Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Sinner etc.) was in town so he popped down to the signing to say hello as he could not make it to the concert. It is always good to see him, and it was a shame we could not chat for long, but we always keep in touch one way or another.

At 7pm I had another interview with a guy called Christof who put my picture on the front cover of the German ‘Breakout’ magazine. In fact, we were all over it with many pages about Heep, the new CD ‘Living the Dream’, and advertising for both the album and upcoming shows with the ‘Zombies.’ We had a lovely discussion and as it was an early show that night we did not go back to the hotel but stayed at the gig.

It was a fantastic concert and it we had a blast! Everything we had worked on was bedding in nicely, and there was a flow going on with the set list that felt really good. Because it was Jon’s birthday yesterday we brought him on to the stage and presented him with a cake, card and bottle of some alcohol, and the audience all sang Happy Birthday to him which was great. This is a Heep tradition as we are nearly always away on our birthday’s.

The following day we had a short 63 miles drive to a city called Trier. It is a beautiful place with lots of history, so we had a little walk around before going down to the sound check where we had a Pledger who played guitar. His name was Astrid Meyer and he had his family there with him taking videos and photographs. He bought along his own guitar and he did really well playing ‘Easy Livin’, and after that I signed his guitar. Luke was down in front of me all night long rockin’ out and I gave him the pick that I used on ‘Easy Livin’ that night.

We stayed around for a short time after the concert as Pizza’s and Salads arrived but then the three of us and Vic went back to the hotel.

It was only a 3-hour drive to Offenbach the next day where we were playing the famous ‘Capitol Theatre.’ That day we had 2 Pledgers for the sound check, one on Bass and one Vocalist. The vocalist Ralf Schmidt did a fine job, and the Armin Donderer was really cool on Bass. Armin actually plays bass in Oliver Hartmann’s band and Oliver was one of the guitarists that I worked with when we first did ‘Rock Meets Classic.’ We did manage to meet Oliver and Armin after the show for a drink which was cool.

At 7pm I had a TV interview which went well, so there was no rest for the wicked.

Sascha Krebs and his wife Doris came to the show and I first met Sascha once again when he was in the choir for ‘Rock Meets Classic’ and we have remained friends ever since. He has a hell of a voice and he sings in the ‘Queen’ tribute ‘We Will Rock You,’ ‘Evita’ and ‘Hair’ musicals to name but a few.

Well the concert was top notch and we had a great time playing. The audience were with us from the first note to the last and it felt really good. It was a fantastic response and it was good to meet everyone after the show. It did feel like we had hit our stride on stage and it was rockin’! The new songs have been going down incredibly well and that is just great.

It was a day off the next day, so we took a leisurely 3 ½ drive to Essen. We checked into the hotel that was in a good location as it was right in the city for a change.

Bernie and I went for a long 2 hours walk which was most welcome just to get some fresh air. The day was a mild one too for that time of year. Essen was getting ready for the Xmas Market and the Gluhewein stalls, as we could see these being built in the Plaza Square.

In the evening, there as a split off and everyone went to different restaurants at different times. However, the band stayed together, and we went to a Steak Restaurant that Bernie had spied on our walk earlier being the Carnivore that he is.

It was a lovely meal and as the hotel had no bar, everyone went for an early night and to make use of the day off and have a restful one.

We did not have a sound check in the sold out Lichtburg theatre in Essen, but we did have a meet and greet at 6.15pm. Then I had a pre- gig interview at 7pm before preparing for the show.

It was a seated concert but not for long and the theatre was rammed with every balcony full to the brim. The balconies were very high up indeed and right up there in the gods. It was a fantastic show and it was great to see those smiling faces down the front of the stage having a fantastic time. A few of our production boxes malfunctioned but it was still a powerful show and it went down a storm.

The crew with Davey and Russ left overnight to Brussels Belgium at 1.30am but Phil, Bernie, Vic and myself went back to the hotel pretty quickly after the show to make the most of our rooms.

It was only 145miles drive to Brussels in Belgium from Essen Germany, so we took a leisurely drive arriving at approximately 1pm and luckily our rooms were ready at the hotel. We went for a quick lunch at a Lebanese Restaurant which was nice before returning to our hotel to chill.

The venue was the ‘La Madeleine’ and there was no sound check again, so we joined everyone down at the venue at 6pm for dinner.

Well the venue was packed solid but unfortunately the dressing rooms were 4 floors up, and in another building, so we could not soak up the atmosphere. However, as we approached the stage we could hear that the audience were well up for it, so we were ready, as the adrenaline kicked in.

There was a strict curfew, so we had to change the set around a little bit and lose a couple of numbers which we did not like but that’s life. Curfews can run very expensive if you ignore them and run into thousands of Euros in fines and they can even close venues down if not adhered to.

Well apart from the curfew it was a great gig and the Belgium audience were rockin’ big time. Even with the small adjustments made to the set it ran smoothly and it was a good sign that the songs we have chosen overall, fit together like a glove.

We had a great time on stage and the crowd were with us all the way, so it was a good feeling. A lot of Dutch fans had made the journey too.

The following day we were in Regensburg for a day off. It was a long old journey of 450 miles but with our Vic driving we made up good time and we had enough time to un-pack our suitcases and have a shower before meeting in the hotel lobby for dinner.

The crew all went for a curry, but the band found a little Italian Restaurant a short walk from the hotel. It was literally 2 mins walk. It was a family run restaurant called ‘La Bella Vita.’ We were recognised and had a few pictures taken with people, but it was not intrusive at all. At the end of a delicious meal the lady owner came over with free Grappa which then morphed into Lemon cello much to the delight of Bernie.

We chatted with the wife and her husband for a while and we put them on the guest list for the following night. They were so delighted that they would not let us pay for the meal, which was very generous of them. I did ask who would open the restaurant on the Friday night if they were at the concert, and they said that it is not often they get a chance to see Uriah Heep, so they would close for the night. She did say that in another year they would be retiring so maybe that is why, but hey that is still something that does not often happen and still cool.

At the venue in the Audimax Der Univeritat for the sound-check we had Anton ‘Judy’ Seutter come along with a number of his students all with their guitars and ukulele’s as they were going to play ‘Lady in Black’ with us up on the stage. Judy runs a music school called ‘The House On The Rock,’ and we have known him and his lovely family for a long while.

Well this was a lot of fun and we ended up having pictures taken with them along with signing most of their guitars. It was a big thrill for them and in the same breath it was a good thing for the band to do, as it will inspire them to continue on a musical path with all the rewards that that will surely bring.

The gig was very theatre like and seated, but in the end, they were up and rockin’ with us big time. When we did ‘Lady in Black,’ we invited Judy to come up on to the stage, and he played the song with us on my other acoustic. He said it was a thrill of a lifetime and by the smile on his face I believed it.

We met everyone that we could after the show and then Phil, Bernie and I drove with Vic back to the hotel. It was a 4 hour drive the following day to Ravensburg where we were playing the Oberschwabenhalle venue.

Every night we have meet and greets at 6.15pm which is cool as we get to sign everything they bring, they get a Heep Lamanet, and pictures taken with the band. It is cool to meet everyone too.

Before we went on stage I was lucky enough to get on my iPad the Spurs v Crystal Palace football game, which we won 1-0, so I was delighted to be sitting there with a cup of tea watching the game. It is the simple things in life that give me the most pleasure I have to say.

Well Ravensburg was totally rockin’ from the first note and it was a tremendous atmosphere from the off. It was a brilliant concert and you could feel the electricity in the air. Everything came together that night and we were a well-oiled machine.

We met a few people backstage including Steve Kerslake who was in town, so that was cool. We had to get away reasonably quickly due to the fact we had an 8-9-hour drive to Hamburg the next day, even though it was a day off.

Bernie jumped ship and went with the crew, Russ and Davey. We left at 10am and arrived at the hotel in Hamburg at 5pm, so it wasn’t too bad, so I had enough time to unpack, have a shower and even do some clothes washing in the sink before meeting downstairs at 7pm to go for dinner at the ‘Hard Rock Café.’

Davey had left his wallet on the bus, so he had to locate where that had parked to retrieve it.

It was a 15-minute taxi ride and going there on days off has almost become a tradition. It was good food and drink and we were back at the hotel for a much-needed quiet early night. The internet was good for once, so I downloaded about a dozen films to watch on the upcoming journeys before star fishing the bed for a good nights sleep.

The next morning, we had plans to go to a shop down on the Reeperbahn called ‘Crazy Jeans.’ We always come out loaded down as they have the best stage and street clothes all imported from the USA. Russ decided not to go but the four of us came out with bags full. We even saw the twins in there when we arrived.

Then we went back to the hotel to rest for the afternoon before going down to the venue called ‘The Docks.’ I had a TV & Radio interview to do, along with 18 meet and greets, so it was a bit of a busy time, before hitting the stage.

Well the venue was packed to the rafters and it was an amazing show with the loudest strongest audience reaction thus far, which really raised the bar which was saying something. It was a brilliant night and one to remember.

Back in the dressing room it was super busy with so many friends coming back to say hello. Michael and his wife Bine were there from ‘Crazy Jeans,’ and even the ‘Frontm3n’ who were playing next door popped in to say hello. They are Peter Howarth vocalist with the Hollies, Pete Lincoln vocalist with the ‘Sweet’ and vocalist Mick Wilson from ‘10cc.’ There was also Heiko Roth famed photographer from the ‘Rock Meets Classic,’ amongst many other projects that take him around the world. We also had 3 of our manager Ace Trumps relatives and even my guitar tech Rich Bennett’s Mum and Dad. That was just a few of the guests, so you can see it was a busy old dressing room.

Eventually we made it back to the hotel for a very welcome shower and a very welcome bed.

The following day we travelled 270 miles to Leipzig Germany. This did not take too long, so we had some time to relax in the hotel before going down to the ‘Haus Auensee’ venue for dinner. We were on stage at 21.30pm that night so there was a bit of hanging about that is always filled with meet and greets and interviews. Usually we are busy up to an hour before we go on stage, then we have to stop and warm up and generally get into gig mode.

The concert was amazing considering the reaction we had in Hamburg, we thought that it might be a little less, but we were pleasantly surprised, and it was a brilliant night. Leipzig was rockin’!

Well it was back on Groundhog Day and we drove to Dresden which was just up the road by a couple of hours. We had to wait a little for our rooms, but we still had a fair amount of time in them as we stopped doing sound checks ages ago.

The venue was the ‘Schlachthof’ which was an old slaughter house and if I am honest this did not thrill me, but it was a big stage and they had made it into a pretty good venue.

The concert was much the same as in Leipzig and I was surprised at how well the new songs went down with the classic ones. Now that is a good sign and once again they were rockin’ big time, which was great.

The next day we drove to Hannover to play the famous Capitol Theatre. I had an interview at 7pm before the show and we had not played that venue for a long while and it was packed to the rafters, and what a concert it was. From the first to the last note the place was rockin’ and we had a great time. The band was on fire and the audience were totally up for it and they loved the new tracks as well as the older classic ones which was brilliant. It was an extremely strong response that felt great.

Kevin and Yvonne came from Wales for Hannover and Berlin, so it was good to see them.

Up next we were off to Berlin to play the ‘’Admiralspalast’ and this gig was sold out. I had to do a TV interview before the show and our friends Randy Black and his wife came by to say hi. Randy was the drummer for ‘Rock Meets Classic’ when Bernie and I first did it, and we became firm friends from there.

Well the reaction in Berlin raised the bar again as they were super fantastic, and we had three standing ovations which was just amazing. It was the last concert of the German part of the tour and boy what a way to finish it. We really nailed it and Berlin did us proud. The dressing room was buzzing, and Phil had his son and his wife with some friends over from England, so this was a wonderful show to see. We left Berlin feeling just great as the tour up to that point had been absolutely brilliant. We were excited to get on to the next leg in Denmark and do the same there.

It was the German Twins last show on this run, so we said goodbye to them.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #274 – August 29, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about LHR Terminal 3, his son Romeo’s work experience, flying to Vienna Austria, the festival in Podersdorf, ‘Slade.’ Dave Hill, Don Powell, Romeo part of the crew, the German twins, Martina Porkony and my double bed on the overnight bus to Switzerland.

Mick also discusses, the Seaside festival in Spiez, a musical mixed bag, hanging about at the festival all day, the amazing response and fantastic show. Mick also discusses the journey back to London and the autograph signing at the Pledge Offices in Covent Garden.

We were back in the saddle again meeting at LHR Terminal 3 but this time with a difference, as I had my son Romeo with me. He was coming out for some work experience with my guitar tech Rich Bennett. We all met in the Airport lounge though Russ was late due to being stuck on the M25 motorway. There was an air of excitement in the air as Bernie had just come back from a family holiday, Phil had just signed a book deal, Davey was super pleased about the Classic Rock Magazine review, and I was super delighted with having my son with me.

The first flight was to Vienna Austria and it was late taking off which allowed us to have a couple more vino’s in the lounge. Once on the British Airways flight there were further delays but all in all the flight was fine and all of our luggage arrived ok.

It was a short 30-minute drive to Podersdorf where the hotel was, and we had some of the ‘Slade’ entourage with us too, as they were on the same festival. Once at the hotel which you could only term as basic, we found out there was no lift and no restaurant. Still there was a restaurant 5 minutes’ walk away so we were saved. On arrival in Austria it was hot and humid, and the restaurant was outside but as it was late it had cooled down, which was nice. ‘Slade’s’ Dave Hill was there, and he was just finishing his dinner. It was a quick hello, and he left to go back to the hotel.

We stayed for a while as the drinks were flowing until eventually we called it a night. Most of the crew were staying in a different hotel but it was close by and walkable.

In the morning, we all had breakfast along with the ‘Slade’ boys all except Davey who rarely does brekky. It was good to catch up with everyone and drummer Don Powell had some great stories to tell, so many a laugh was had.

Romeo was part of the crew, so he went down to the venue to start prepping the stage for our sound check. I have to say it is great having him with me on the road. The venue was right beside a lake and a wonderful setting.

We went down for the sound check which went really smoothly and then it was back to the hotel. Dinner was at 6pm in the same restaurant as last night though this time it was inside as it had just started to rain lightly.

Going down to the show there were two separate vans to take us that were 15 minutes apart, so Romeo went with the crew as my guitar tech Rich Bennett was going to put him through his paces. It was a little mayhem backstage, but we did manage to see part of the ‘Slade’ show. Those great songs are always great to hear, and Dave Hill was as committed as ever to keeping the ‘Slade’ name alive and kicking.

Soon we were on stage and it was a rockin’ show. We saw a number of recognisable faces down the front including the two German twins Andrea and Claudia. The rain thankfully held off, so everyone had a good time. The Austrian audience gave it everything and it was a really good night. It was really cool to look behind my amps and see my son Romeo, and on the last song he even came on stage and took my guitar.

Afterwards we met Martina Porkony our main Austrian promoter for many years even though she wasn’t doing that show, and it is always good to see her. It seemed like everyone wanted a picture with us before we jumped on to the sleeper bus for a 10-hour overnight journey to Switzerland. Well the bus was rockin’ there for a good few hours. I had the back lounge made into a double bed, kindly arranged by Scampi, so I was set, while everyone else had bunks. I was pleased to go to bed to be honest to avoid the shenanigans. However, I was told Romeo held his own with the late drinkers, so he is a chip off the old block.

On arrival in Spiez we saw that the festival was right by a lake again with was very picturesque. It was called the ‘Seaside Festival’ and we were on with a bit of a musical mixed bag being ‘The Dire Straits Experience’, ‘Heep’ ‘Gotthard’ Unplugged, Roger Hodgson from ‘Supertramp’ followed by ‘The Gypsy Kings.’ We were worried that will sound like a Panza Tank coming on in the middle of that line-up but there was no need to worry.

It was a bit of a hang about day as we did not have a hotel until after the show close by to Zurich Airport. Most of us had showers at the festival site which were like Porto Cabin toilets only with showers in them. However, the water must have been pumped in from the lake as it was freezing.

We sat around in our caravan and had breakfast/lunch that was very nice as it was waitress service and a menu. It was a well-run festival that you would expect from Switzerland. After which felt like ages waiting around we eventually hit the stage to 20,000 people who were just amazing. There were all ages there, but one thing was for sure they were ready to rock!

As we were announced there was a huge roar from the audience and we were off. We were on our own equipment, so we were flying from note one, and what a show it was. It was an amazing reaction that felt so good, and it felt like they were with us totally, for every song. What a fantastic atmosphere, and what a wonderful response we received as we left the stage. Incredible! Backstage everyone was saying what a fantastic show it was and that felt good too.

Well we had to wait around for 3 ½ hours before the bus could leave as the driver was out of hours so we had dinner and we got to see a small bit of the ‘Gotthard’ Acoustic show that was really good. They had strings, vocalists and the whole nine yards but it sounded really cool. Then we left for the hotel at Zurich Airport. On arrival, we all checked in and most went to bed, but some hit the bar.

As we were leaving in the morning in the hotel courtesy bus to the airport, we had to leave in two shifts as there were too many of us. United at the check in desk, we all went through and into the lounge to wait for the flight. The flight was fine although delayed and we all picked up our bags and said our goodbyes, but two days later the band had to meet at the London Pledge Offices in Covent garden to sign our new ‘Living the Dream’ product.

We ended up signing 1,300 autographs each on product ranging from Box Sets, CD’s in Jewel cases, Deluxe CD & Box Sets, Posters, Standard Vinyl, Deluxe Vinyl and Digi packs. This took a total of 2 ½ hours and I have to say the product looked classy and impressive. I can’t wait to have one for myself!

‘Appy days!

Mick

 

Box News #273 – August 13, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2018 by heepster

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!

Mick

 

Box News #272 – July 20, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about, a catalogue of things going wrong in the morning, LHR Terminal 5, the non traffic, flying to Helsinki Finland, my lost suitcase, the International Athletics meeting in Tampere, drinking despite the price, watching the World Cup Football match between England and Belgium, the Sauna Classic Festival, and the lovely Finnish Fans. Mick also talks about, the luck of missing the Trump and Putin meeting in Helsinki, Mick & Phil flying to Berlin for a Promotion Tour, the Berlin Wall and the very Rock n’ Roll hotel.

Mick also discusses, the shocking Pink rooms, the fluorescent elevators all with a different theme, the River Spree, getting stuck in the Radio Station’s lift, flying to Köln/Bonn Airport, the famous Köln City Church with its imposing Twin Towers, the many interviews, the journalists reaction to ‘Living the Dream’, the hotels phone system going down and the Eurowings flight home.

Thursday night the 12th July, as it was an early check in at LHR Terminal 3 the next morning, some of the boys opted to stay at the airport hotel. I decided to have a 7.30am leave the following morning so that I could sleep in my own bed that night.

There was a catalogue of things that went wrong with that little arrangement. Firstly my alarm did not go off at 6.30am, so I jumped out of bed a 6.55am in a blind panic and had a shower. I then finalised my packing and went downstairs and my driver Mat was already on the door step at 7.15am, which was 15 minutes earlier than planned. It was a bit of a shock, but evidently he had been texting me and WhatsApp-ing me to see if we could leave earlier as he another pick up. Well my phone was on charge downstairs, so I didn’t receive any of them, so as you can imagine the rush was on.

There was no time for breakfast or a cup of tea, and I had to feed my dog Iggy and my cat Biscuit before I left. I left the house with wet hair as I had no time to dry it, and I was hoping that I had not forgotten anything. I had my passport and my wallet, so as long as I had them I knew I would be okay.

We were leaving early anyway because the traffic on the M25 motorway and the North Circular A406 road can be dreadful at that time. Well we had 2 hours to get there, so we were covered and lo and behold there was very little traffic, and we were there an hour early! D’oh!

I just found the nearest coffee shop in the Terminal and had a coffee and a little fruit and nut breakfast, and then I downloaded the newspapers on to my iPad. I answered a few of my emails and soon it was time to meet the boys, so I made good use of the extra time.

We all checked in at the British Airways desk to fly to Helsinki and we had to do this all together, as we had our fly pack equipment with us, whereby we all had to check in 2 pieces each. Our suitcase and a piece of equipment.

Once through security a few of us headed for the lounges and a few of us fancied a decent breakfast in the restaurant. This proved to be a good move as the flight was one of those where you have to purchase everything, and there is very little that you would want. To be honest by the time they usually get to your seat, they have usually run out of everything anyway.

The flight was 2 1/2hrs long and when we went to the baggage collection everything turned up except my suitcase. I guess it was just one of those days. The problem was we were not staying in Helsinki but a place called Tampere, which was a 2 hour drive away. We registered everything with the lost baggage lady and we left to go to the hotel. Before we left the airport I went into a shop and bought some toiletries to get me through, until I was united with my suitcase.

There was a major International Athletics meeting in Tampere, so the promoter had to book the band in one hotel and the crew in another, as most of the rooms were taken up by the athletes.

Well our hotel was slightly better than the crews, so they came over to our hotel for dinner. It was only a short walk away. The restaurant was packed with athletes who were all looking at the athletic meeting on the suspended televisions and occasionally cheering for their own team when they did well.

The wine and beer seemed to be flowing despite the hefty price of drinks, and this somehow morphed into a local Gin drink, and then a few of the party went to an Irish Bar. It was a short walk away and once ensconced there they hit the Whiskies. Ooch!

I managed a few beers and some dinner and went to bed. I was told by Scampi that my suitcase would arrive at approximately 1.30am at the hotel as I was a Bronze BA card member and I had a priority tag on my case. This was good news and Scampi kindly told reception to just keep it in reception until I came down for breakfast in the morning to collect it. This was exactly what happened and I was a happy pup!

After breakfast I walked with Bernie to a Pharmacy, as he had left some medication at home and luckily they had it, so he was pleased. Then we chilled in our room until lunch time. I met Phil and Davey and we walked in the sunshine to the river, which was only a short walk away, and we found a nice restaurant that we could sit outside and have lunch. When we arrived we saw Russ sitting there on his own, so he joined us for a bit. This was all very pleasant and then I went back to the hotel, as I had some work to do and Phil and Davey went off rubbernecking.

We all met up, except Bernie, who has no interest in football whatsoever, down in the hotel restaurant to watch the World Cup Football match between England and Belgium for the coveted 4th place. Well we lost 2-0 and in the first half we were pedestrian, and in the second half we did not take our chances, even having one shot cleared clean off the line. It was a shame, as we now have to qualify for the next World Cup in Qatar, whereas by Belgium winning they are automatically selected and they also pick up a Bronze Medal. Our Harry Kane picked up the Golden Boot Award and it must be the easiest award he has won having barely scored in open play and mostly goals on penalties. Still it is our Harry Kane from White Hart Lane and we are extremely proud of him. I must say that I was surprised that the chemistry between Kane and Deli was not exploited in this World Cup, and we did not even get a sniff of it. that was most disappointing!

That night we were headlining the Sauna Classic Festival with what looked like a lot of Finish bands. The festival was also called on the posters the Heavy Metal Garden Party. After a day of hanging about the mighty Heep were ready to rock even though we were on hired equipment.

Once down at the festival we went to our changing cabin and it was super hot, and all of the other bands were in the surrounding cabins all sensibly sitting outside in the fresh air. After a short while as I went for a pee in the porto loo, they all wanted a picture with me which was fine but I really need that pee. As the stage was beside a lake we all sprayed anti bug spray all over us which proved to be a good move.

We hit the stage running and it was good to be back in Finland. The audience were brilliant and into every single note we played and sang. It was a fantastic night and there was even a huge banner being waved thanking us for all of the years of music which was amazing. One guy was trying to get my attention and when he did he lifted his T.Shirt sleeve and showed a tattoo of me on his upper arm. That was truly a gob smacking moment indeed.

Scampi came into the dressing room and gave me an A4 piece of paper with writing all over it. A girl had given it to him and she had asked members of the audience to write a message to the band which they did. It was full of well wishes and wonderful comments and what a nice thing to do. We really do have some incredible fans!

After the show we hung around for a few drinks and met a few friends as well as Tapio Minkkinen who used to run our Finnish Fan Club, and then a few of us went in the first van back to the hotel. Bernie, Phil, Davey and Scampi had gone out front to a food stall to have some toasties, so we left them to it.

The next day we had the 2 hour drive back to Helsinki and luckily President Trump had changed his meeting time with President Putin to the day after we left, otherwise we would have had huge security checks to endure. We had taken all of this into account and we still had 3 hours to spare before the plane left, and the check in gate was not even open, so we had a bit of hanging around to do. Luckily the Priority Pass lounge was a good one.

Once we had landed, we went to collect our bags and then we all went home. However Phil and I would be back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly to Germany after one day at home, to start a Press Promotion tour for a couple of days talking about the new album, “Living The Dream.” The rest of the guys had a couple of weeks off.

After one day at home, Phil and I flew to Berlin and we were met by our German Promotion guy Marco. On the flight Phil had a nose bleed, which was nothing serious, but we were the last off the plane. We had to wait for the luggage because the conveyor belt at the baggage claim had broken and I had never seen that before. Luckily one of the workers there fixed it reasonably quickly.

As we approached the hotel in the taxi we drove right past the old Berlin Wall, that was covered in graffiti. We parked outside and there was a queue from the reception that went right out on to the street. Marco kindly lined up while Phil and I had a quiet drink outside the restaurant area overlooking the river Spree. It was not a bad place to sit and wait indeed.

Inside the hotel there were a number of Rock n’ Roll things that we noticed. Firstly there was a stand with a guitar and a bass guitar on it, with a sign saying that you can order the instrument of your choice to your room. You can even get a DJ on room service. Now I have never seen that before. Also there was a stage with a Marshall Stack, a Drum Kit and a guitar suspended on a string in the middle of that stage making it a surreal image.

When Marco had our room keys we were given a free drink voucher which was a circular beer mat in the shape and colour of black vinyl, keeping the rock n’ roll theme. Inside our rooms everything was shocking Pink and they had a chocolate gift of an ice cream cornet and a chocolate cassette tape. The TV was in the mirror which is another thing I had not seen before, and it looked impressive I have to say.

The 5 elevators in the hotel all had a theme which was either Rock, Pop, Classical, Jazz and Electronic, with each one pumping out the appropriate music. They were also decked out in different shades of fluorescent green, orange, blue, pink and white.

We decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and the place mates on each table were black vinyl for real and not cardboard. We did have a very pleasant relaxed dinner overlooking the River Spree before going to bed, as we had an early start with interviews the next morning. Phil went off to get a night time video of the wall, but I went to bed and I would get my footage the next day.

We started interviews the next morning at 9.30am and that went right through to the evening. We then went to a Radio Station called ‘Bob Radio.’ It was not without its moments though as Phil, Marco, the station lady and I all got stuck in this big industrial lift. We had to phone for help and luckily it came, and we were saved. It was just beginning to get claustrophobic and hot, so we were very pleased about that. The interview was great and we had a good time and then we went to a Greek Restaurant for dinner. After this we caught a taxi to Berlin Airport to fly to Köln on Eurowings which is a branch of Lufthansa Airlines.

When we arrived at the Köln/Bonn Airport we picked up our bags and jumped into a Taxi to take us to the Hilton hotel. The hotel was right by the famous Köln City Church with its imposing Twin Towers. It looks magnificent, even though it could do with a good clean up. This Church is featured on our live ‘Spellbinder’ CD cover.

We were all tired so we went to our respective rooms and made a plan to meet in the breakfast room for breakfast at 8.30am before the next round of interviews began. It was a long old day, but the good news was, that a lot of the journalists were calling our new album ‘Living The Dream,’ a masterpiece, which was both cool and encouraging in equal parts.

At the end of the day I had to do a phone interview in my room. While I did this Phil went out rubbernecking. I was waiting in my room for a while but the phone did not ring, so I picked up the receiver and it was dead. I rang Marco our Promo guy on my mobile to inform him, and he got an engineer to come up and try and fix it. He could not manage to do this, and then he found out that the whole floors phone system was out. So, because of this, I did the interview on Marcos Blackberry phone. There were some strange questions that were a bit left field, like asking me if I thought that the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Bob Dylan should have gone to Leonard Cohen, but there you go!

Once this interview was finished we said our goodbyes to Marco, who incidentally did a brilliant job in a very understated way, and then Phil and I went out for dinner. After this we sat in the hotel bar and had a few very nice vinos chilling, before going to bed.

We were both in the breakfast room at 8.30am as we were told that because of the traffic we would have to leave in enough time for the Airport. They said it may take up to an hour to get there, so we took their word for it. As usual sods law came into play, and it only took just over 15minutes to get there and there was no traffic in sight. This meant we had 3 hours to kill before we went to the gate, so we sat in Starbucks as there was no Priority Lounge in our Terminal.

All in all we completed 21 interviews in 2 days all approximately 45minutes to an Hour long, so we did cover some good ground. Every journalist raved about the album, so we were very pleased with the outcome.

The flight home was on Eurowings and when arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport we picked up our bags and Phil went by train to his home, and I went by cab to mine. As I walked through my door, I dropped my bags in the hallway, and went straight upstairs to my office to do another phone interview with Classic Rock Magazine Italy. I received a message from our manager Ace, saying that ‘Graized By Heaven,’ had remained on the Planet Rock Radio ‘A’ list again this week, so that is just great. I start phone interviews again on Monday but the weekend is now officially all mine….Yiiiipppppeeeee!

‘Appy days!

Mick

Mick_Box_Blog_1a

Box News #271 – July 10, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about, flying to Barcelona Spain, the surprise visit from one of our managers, the Hard Rock Café, Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest, the topless beach, the festival autograph signing session, Dee Snider and his party piece, Gremlin City and the crews 4am start time to the Czech Republic. Mick also discusses, the festival in Vyrava, thankfully using our own backline, the German Twins down the front, the crews second wind coupled with a few bevvies in the hotel. Mick also talks about the journey to Holysova, the Golf Resort Hotel, watching the England v Sweden World Cup Football game, Czech Bands at the festival, Scampi and Russ playing 9 holes of golf before leaving to fly home and the 54 mins on the tarmac.

WEEKEND WARRIORS – SPAIN & CZECH REPUBLIC

We all met at LHR Terminal 3 on Wednesday the 3rd of July to fly to Barcelona Spain for a huge rock festival. We were on the same day as a lot of other bands with ‘Dee Snider’ who was on before us, then the mighty ‘Heep’ followed by ‘Accept,’ ‘Judas Priest’ and ‘Ozzy.’

The flight over was fine and when we landed we drove to the hotel where we checked in and had dinner. A few of the other bands were staying there but none we could recognise. The hotel was basic, but it was just across the road from the beach and literally 15 minutes from the festival site, so all in all a perfect location.

As we were having dinner in walked one of our managers Adam Parsons with his lady Audrey, which really surprised us as none of us knew except Scampi our tour manager, who had neglected to tell us he was coming. This was really great, and we had time to chat about lots of things over dinner, as well as chill.

Davey had been in touch with guitarist Richie Faulkner of ‘Judas Priest’ his old mate from Camden Town where they both used to play covers at ‘Metalworks.’ Their hotel was in the City so both Davey and Russ took a cab over there to join him at the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ for dinner. Evidentially that all got a bit messy with them not returning to the hotel until the early hours of the morning and joined up talking was evidently not on the cards.

The following day after breakfast the remaining three of the Orchestra that did surface, went for a walk along the beach and we ended up having lunch there at a beach bar too. This was very relaxing and coupled with the fact it was beautiful weather and that it was a mostly topless beach, extremely enjoyable.

We were leaving the hotel quite early that afternoon as we were on stage at 19.40pm and we had interviews to do and an organised festival autograph signing session that lasted 45 minutes. The festival was very well organised, and the two stages were side by side, so when one band was playing another could start setting up. This way the changeover times were minimal.

The funny thing is that when ‘Dee Snider’ was on, our crew were checking the equipment. Brian our Bass, Keys & Stage Manager tech was testing Phil’s gear as there was a problem, and Snider could hear this and came over to our stage with his microphone and said something down the microphone to Brian standing right by him akin to ‘This is my f******g show so shut up.’ This is evidently his party piece as he did it last year to another band but that’s our Dee for you. The bigger the larger the louder the better. All taken in good fun though!

Well when we hit the stage the stage hit us back big time as it was Gremlin city. We were on hired gear which did not help, but it was a steep hill to climb with problems with the monitors, in-ear systems, helicopter sounds coming from my speaker cabinets and the whole nine yards. We did recover and went down great and we received a wonderous response, but we could have done without the Gremlins.

After the show we did manage to see ‘Accept’ and ‘a bit of ‘Judas Priest,’ before the bus left to take us back to the hotel. Phil and Davey managed to stay on and get a lift, so they saw a bit of ‘Ozzy.’ It was a fantastic festival and the view from the stage was just amazing as there were people as far as the eye could see in every direction all ready to rock!

The following day it was a tough one for the crew, as they had to leave at 4am to fly to Prague in the Czech Republic. That was really tough, but they had to be there for the load in, at the festival in Vyrava. Our journey was a lot better as we did not leave the hotel until midday. On arrival in Prague we had a 1hour 30minute drive and we had enough time to have a little dinner, shower and get down to the festival where the crew were to a man looking understandably knackered.

When we arrived at the venue our changing room was in someone’s house which was a bit weird. Luckily for this show and the next one Vic and John our drivers had driven out from the UK with our backline, so we were very happy about that, especially after the Gremlins in Barcelona.

As we walked out on to the stage we saw the German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell down the front which was amazing. The audience were well up for it and we went down the proverbial storm. They really were a good festival audience and being on our own equipment, we were on fire.

We did not stay too long after the show as we all had to travel back in the same transport to the hotel, and a few of the crew were super tired. However, a few of the crew had got their second wind, so despite the lack sleep the dressing room booze was transported back to the hotel and a few bevvies were consumed.

The following day it was a 3-hour bus journey to Holysova where we were playing another Czech festival. When we arrived, the crew went straight down to the gig and the band minus Russ went to have a bit of lunch. The hotel was a Golf Resort and the World Cup Football match between England and Sweden was on. After lunch, this was shown on the TV in my hotel room and I got showered for the gig at half time, so I could see it all. What a game and what a result. A win by 2-0 and I was buzzing!

We drove down to the festival site and when we arrived it was in full swing. Evidently all of the top Czech bands were playing there too, so it was happening. We had a little changing tent off the side of the stage and you could hear the high pitch screaming going on for the Czech bands. Each band seemed to have songs with a chant in them that the audience could all sing, and each band had Pyros that ‘Kiss’ or even ‘Rammstein’ would be proud of. There were a tremendous amount of young Czech girls screaming and singing every word to every song, it was amazing.

When we hit the stage from the first note of the intro of ‘Gypsy’ the audience were with us big time. It was an incredible show and the atmosphere was just great. We had a marvellous time and by the look on people’s faces in the audience so did they.

We did meet the German twins briefly before we headed back to the hotel, but the back-stage area and our changing tent was pretty small, so we only had time to say goodbye and thank you for coming before heading back to the Golf Hotel.

Most of us went to bed but the crew and a couple of the band all congregated in one of the crew’s rooms, with the booze from the dressing room tent, and they watched the replay of the England v Sweden football game.

The next morning Scampi and Russ our resident golf nuts, got up at 8am to play 9 holes of golf before we headed off to Prague Airport to all fly back to London.

We were travelling on British Airways and once we were all on the plane they told us that we had to stay on the tarmac for another 45 mins before they could get a slot to fly off. This was a bit of a pain, but at least we arrived okay and all of our baggage turned up at LHR.

We all said our goodbyes and went home for another 4 days, before we fly out to Finland for some more Weekend Warriors. The Rock n’ Roll Circus continues!

‘Appy days!

Mick