Box News #280 – May 30, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2019 by heepster

TOUR DIARY PART (1) URIAH HEEP AS SPECIAL GUESTS TO JUDAS PRIEST IN THE USA

Okay it was the first day of May and there was no dancing around the May Pole for us, as we all met at LHR Terminal 3 to fly British Airways to Miami Florida. Scampi, Brian and Ben came down from Manchester, so we only got to see them once we had gone through security. Then we all met in the BA lounge for something to eat and drink. The flight was 8 hours 40 minutes, but it was an old plane that had a few things broken. Phil had his seat that was lopsided, my light didn’t work, and some of the video screens were temperamental as well. The control for the screen was in the arm rest, so every time you put your arm down not only was it uncomfortable, it either changed the channel you were watching or stopped it.

Now as it was the first of the month they usually update the content of movies on British Airways but we had the same movies that we had going to Japan a few weeks ago, which was bad fare I have to say, as we had seen most of them. Oh yes and the newspapers that they supply for you to take on board if you so wish, were a day out of date. Now if that wasn’t bad enough after lunch they closed the bar. This did not please our particular travelling party as you can imagine and other passengers were not happy about it too. In the end they condescended to open it for a short while but not for long, and they certainly did not announce it.

On arrival in Miami it was the fastest I have ever entered the USA and we breezed through everything. Then Scampi phoned our transport to pick us up and it was only a 30 minute drive to the hotel. It was rainy when we arrived, which was a bit of a shock, but still hot and humid.

After checking in as it was 9pm, we decided to go down the street a few blocks away, and have something to eat and drink, otherwise we would have gone straight to bed, as we were all tired having very little sleep on the plane. Davey took a cab to meet his mate Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest as he has a house quite close by the venue.

Then for the rest of us, it was a short walk back to the hotel and even then we tried to stay up as long as possible to try and beat the jet lag. Miami is 5 hours behind the UK, so it isn’t too bad. I was in bed by 11pm and I nodded off straight away.

Most of us got up for breakfast and some had been up since 5am, while others had the no sleep story to tell, but I didn’t do too bad. After breakfast we just relaxed in our room before going to lunch at 1pm. We went back to the same restaurant and ate, but in the evening we went to another restaurant for a change and this time we turned left outside the hotel and walked a few blocks. It was a nice setting as it was by the water with boats and yachts moored up, but the food was not so good. During the day I did a couple of phone interviews and even before that Bernie and I walked to Walgreens which is a big Pharmacy/Chemist over here to pick up a couple of items that we had forgotten back in London.

It was pretty much an early night for some, but others had made the mistake of having a long afternoon nap, which to be honest makes it even harder to shake off any jet lag. I worked most of the afternoon clearing up my emails and getting on top of everything I could not finish in the UK before leaving, which was a good move. It kept me busy and prevented me from going in a deep afternoon coma.

The following day was gig day, so we had breakfast, and then we had to check out of the hotel at 12.30pm and go down to the concert, as after the show we had an overnight journey to Miramar Beach Florida, which was a 12 hour drive away. The venue for the first night though was the Seminole Hard Rock Live Hotel and Casino. Our soundcheck was at 4pm, and we were on stage at 20.00pm. As it was the first night everything was delayed, so we did not get to the stage until 5pm. Now as we would be playing to a predominantly metal audience that Priest pull in, and we only had an hour to play, we decided to do an hours worth of straight Heep rock. We started with ‘Grazed By Heaven’ and ended with ‘Easy Livin’ and it was full on power rock set all the way through.

As we hit the stage we could feel it was a good atmosphere, and that the audience were up for some good rock music, and rock they did. It was only an hour set, but the reaction was amazing and we had everybody standing up and shouting for more, which was just great. It was a good first show and then we had the chance to go out and see Judas Priest. Well I must say they have it all down. The production, the playing, the songs the Image, the whole nine yards. If it is metal you want, with Priest it is metal you get of the highest caliber.

After our show we had to go overnight to Miramar Florida which was a 12 hour drive where we were playing ‘The Village Door Music Hall’ on our own. Well they did have a support band, but the venue was a a lot smaller than the first show with Priest. However, we adapted and had a good gig. The promoter looked after us very well with food, drink and transport, so no complaints there, The agent who booked us there said that he had never seen a better band than Heep play at this venue, and they had people like John Waite and L.A. Guns play there, so that was cool. Talking of John Waite I used to love his band the ‘Babys,’ as they had some great songs. Well the crew stayed on the bus and the band had hotel rooms, which at the most we would be in for 7 hours, but a non moving bed is essential to some of the band, me included.

The next day we had a 7 hour drive to Nashville. Now as we did this in the day time there were all sorts of traffic jams as you would expect. In hindsight and we all know that hindsight is never wrong, we should have gone overnight, but there you go.

Our first stop was to a restaurant called the ‘Cracker Barrel’ for breakfast. Only Phil, Russ, Scampi and I made it, but it is a famous chain of restaurants that have a huge porch around the outside with rocking chairs outside for people to either sit on while they are waiting for a table or they can buy one. Inside there is a shop that sells so much toot that it is incredible. We had to wait 20 mins for a table as it was a Sunday and everyone comes out for their Sunday breakfast, so it was mobbed. I have to say I marvel at some of the breakfasts some of the people were eating. Just across from us an elderly couple were wading through, 2 fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, 4 pancakes with oodles of cream and maple syrup poured all over them, and believe me there was not a morsel left on the plate. Amazing! One things for sure that is not in the Jenny Craig weight watchers menu. Jenny runs a huge successful weight loss programme that is advertised everywhere here in the USA much like the UK Weight Watchers.

Well we eventually rolled up to our hotel in Nashville TN at 8.30pm, so Phil, Bernie, Russ and I dumped our bags in the room and went in search of some dinner. We found a Japanese restaurant a short walk from the hotel, so that was perfect. As we were staying just outside of Nashville in Brentwood TN, Davey and a few of the crew took an Uber into the Main Street in Nashville where it all happens.

The rest of us had a quiet night which was cool. I am lucky enough to have been to Nashville many times, so my need for rubber necking was not quite the same as others. It’s going to be a long 2 months on tour so a bit of self preservation has to come into play.

They following day after breakfast we all went to the concert venue at the Municipal Auditorium and had lunch, before the band went on walkabout downtown. We saw all of the bars and even though it was in the day there were bands playing live in every bar we walked past. Some of them actually on view in the window, which was usually the back of the drummer. We went in every boot shop there was headed by Bernie and Davey and saw some amazing sights. Cruising through the Main Street there was the ‘Pedal Tavern’ where people sit on bar stools drinking alcohol while they pedal away up and down the Main Street which was a hive of activity, and that was just in the afternoon, so I could see why some of the boys that went out the night before were a little peaky the next day to say the least. Still they had a great time by all accounts.

After walking around for a couple of hours and having a coffee, we headed back to the venue, as it was extremely hot and humid. The dressing room was air conditioned and comfortable so we stayed there until showtime.

Now the Nashville audience were amazing and we had a great time on stage. They were well up for it as the intro tape started up, and I have to say they were ready to rock with the mighty Heep and rock they did. We had them standing from the first note to the last and it was just a fantastic concert.

You can also hire motorised scooters that go 15 miles an hour, which is like 60 miles and hour when you are on them. Apparently after using them you can dump them anywhere as they were in some very odd places left by the person who had hired it. So after our concert Angus, Ben and Rich gave them a go, and went downtown for a laugh.

The following day we drove to Atlanta Georgia for a day off. It was only approximately 5 hours journey, so when we arrived it was the usual meet in the bar at 7pm and then all go out to a restaurant for dinner.

The venue in Atlanta I had played before and it is a very unique theatre. It had kind of a castle theme and in the roof a sky which looked amazing. It has an atmosphere before anyone had plugged in it looked that good! We were on stage for 19.30pm and we were just getting to grips with only playing a 1 hour set. We rocked from the first note to the last and the audience were with us every note played and sung. It was over all too quickly, but we had made the impression we had come on to this tour to do, and it felt good.

After the show we left at 10pm to travel on an overnighter to Kent Ohio where we were headlining on our own with a support band called ‘Prognation.’ It was three shows in the same venue which was the Kent Stage. We played there before on our last tour doing two shows, so we must have made the right impression as it went up to three. ‘Appy days!

We arrived at the venue and had lunch across the road from the venue and then the crew started setting up the stage and the band then went to the hotel. The sound check was important as we were playing a full set, so we did a fairly long one, and as we arrived we said hello to all of the staff that we had met before.

The first of the three shows was great and we had a brilliant time playing our full set. In the end everyone was standing and shouting for more so that felt good especially with another 2 nights to go. It was good seeing our Webmaster Dave White and his wife Carol there as they live in Cleveland Ohio up the road

The following morning we had been invited to the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ in Cleveland which was approximately 1 hours drive from our hotel. Dave White joined us which was cool. Firstly they took us down to the Vaults where they kept items that had not been displayed yet, which was very cool. From clothes to instruments it was very interesting. We were then set free with our passes to walk around the ‘Hall of Fame’ by ourselves. It was stocked full of so many interesting memorabilia items, but the most exciting thing for me to see was the original Les Paul ‘Clunker’ Electric Guitar. This was originally a 1942 Epiphone Broadway Guitar which Les Paul himself designed. He signed a contract with Gibson in the early fifties so they made him put a Gibson decal on the headstock. It was just amazing to see it, as it was that guitar that I had first heard on my Les Paul & Mary Ford vinyl EP’s. It was a really cool experience. Dave White kindly bought me a ‘Hall of Fame’ mouse mat that I was looking at which was very kind of him.

It was good to see our old mates Def Leppard and the Zombies inducted this year and good on them. After walking around we had a little lunch and then drove back to the hotel. This gave us a few hours before we had to get back down to the gig for the second show. There was no need for a sound check, so we just turned up in time for a warm up and to get changed for the gig. The dressing room was a broom cupboard anyway, so some of us used the bus parked outside.

Once again it was a fantastic reaction, and we changed the set around a little and added 2 more numbers. We did this, as we were mindful that some people were coming to all three shows. The second show was great, and they were truly rocking with the mighty Heep.

I have been putting Rich my guitar tech through it, as I wanted some new pick ups to try on my White Carparelli, so he kindly put them in for me, and also I bought a new Cry Baby Wah Wah which is the basic one with no frills, as I was having trouble trying to find the sweet spot on the one I have, which I love so much. They do wear out, so I thought that might be the problem.

While Rich was doing this Russ and I went for lunch and then to have a coffee in a coffee shop cum library. It was a cool place and the coffee delicious. On the way back to the venue and we were just about outside of the venue a lady walking behind us said that she liked Russ’s leather jacket. She said her father used to renovate Harley Davidson’s and he had a similar jacket that she liked to wear. She then asked if we were going to the Heep show and Russ said that we are Heep, and she nearly lost it. She then told us a story of a cat her family had with the name Uriah, named after the band. She wanted a picture but her phone was down the street in a shop she worked in. Well we waited outside while she ran to her shop and back and we had the picture taken and she was delighted.

The support band had a friend who is an Astronaut, and he took a picture taken of me and a guy from the band up into orbit with him, and then had a picture of him in space holding the picture of the both of us. How cool is that? So I am now officially an Urban Spaceman or a Space Cowboy if you like.

As it was the third night in the the same venue, we changed the set around again for a little variety. This was received very well and we after we did not leave until late as we had an overnight bus journey to Washington DC. Well the venue kindly kept the bar open and we enjoyed ourselves immensely as only Heep can before jumping on to the bus, where for some the party had only just begun.

In Washington DC we were playing the ‘Anthem’ which is a really cool venue. The band had lunch in the venue and then went to the hotel to get ready for the concert, while the crew set up the stage. Since being on this tour I must say that the Judas Priest band and the crew have been brilliant and the catering top notch. They have been very kind to us overall, and it makes for a good package when it is like that.

I had two good friends to meet who were Scott and Beth Graham. It was great to meet up with them and catch up on all of the latest news, as Beth is a longtime friend of my wife Sheila, so we have a lot of history there, as we have stayed at their house in Baltimore (well Sherwood Forest to be exact ) with Romeo over some summer holidays.

The concert was brilliant and we received yet another fantastic reaction from the audience, considering that even Priest admit they have a Partisan crowd who are staunch Priest fans, but we seem to be breaking through that barrier each night, which is great making it a fantastic night of Classic Rock and Metal.

The following day was a day off in Huntington NY, so it was a pretty relaxed day and much needed to be honest. We had our good friends David and Lana Vinogradov join us on the concert day which was cool. We always have a lot of fun with them and it is always good to see them. The venue was the Paramount Theatre where we were performing two nights. Now I like that, as it is heavenly that we did not have to unpack and pack up our suitcases and move on, but we could stay put in the one bed for two nights. Luxury!

Well Huntington did not let us down and we had a great time on stage and the audience were so loud it was amazing. This happened both nights, so it was good to get that sort of reaction in the NY area. The second day however I had an interview in my room at midday and then one at 6.30pm at the gig. I am constantly doing interviews, so I may have missed a few in the above text but trust me between interviews, meet and greets, trying out my equipment, having dinner, warming up, getting changed and the like, from the minute I get to the venue I am busy, busy, busy.

Also on the second night in Huntington, the crew were staying on the bus with no hotel and Angus & Ben discovered they could order McDonalds while on the move and that they could have it delivered to the bus on arrival. The crew were all starving, so apart from a number of different combinations of Hamburgers and french fries being sent, they had 70 Chicken McNuggets delivered. You read that correctly 70 of them! Now with copious amounts of Jack Daniels on board, and any other liquid refreshment that was available to consume, the party began until the early hours of the morning, and in some cases until daylight. In case you were wondering there was not a morsel of food left at the end either. At most a hamburger stashed in the fridge for later consumption.

Rich my guitar tech and I were trying out some new pick-ups in my signature White Carparelli S4, but although the pick-ups are brilliant, they sound great on their own, but with the band not so! The problem is that from stage left, the low end frequencies from the Bass, Keys and Russ’s kit, (mostly Bass Drums) I need a certain sound to cut through. As I said above in Kent Ohio, I also tried another Wah pedal, but that did not work either for the same reasons, so Rich and I have worked on the Wah I have been using for a long time, and we have made some adjustments that now sound just perfect. Sometimes it takes the slightest tweak, but it can make all the difference.

Now to change these pick-ups is time consuming, so my original ones have not made it back into my White Carparelli yet, so I will just have to be patient until it can get done. It is difficult to do this on the road with the schedules we keep. The pick-ups that I did try, Richie Faulkner from Priest suggested, but they may work for Priest but not for Heep. Also Andy Sneap Priests other guitarist and Grammy Award Winner Producer, gave me another set of a different make, and they were closer, but not as good as what I am using, so we have gone full circle, but sometimes it just happens like that. A lot of equipment sounds good on its own, but not with the band, still that’s life.

I do get lots of compliments about my guitar sound, so it is all good in the end.

The next day we were in the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. This was an exciting day for us as we were being inducted into the ‘Heavy Metal Hall of History,’ on stage that night. Pat Gesualdo and Martin Poppoff presented the awards on the stage, and it was a magical night to receive this award for the band. Each band member received one, so that was super cool.

Now as you well know from reading this blog Heep have only a 1 hour time slot to play our set with Judas Priest, and it is a tightly run ship. The award was given to us that in normal circumstances is usually done in a room full of people, who are there just for that occasion. I would then probably stand on a podium and talk at length about receiving the award. However this ceremony was in the middle of our concert and we wanted to make sure we could still play the songs on our set list for the Priest and Heep fans that were there and had bought tickets. I did manage to thank band members past and present, but going into detail was not an option for the reasons stated above. I would like to say though that this line-up has travelled the world keeping the Heep name alive and kicking, and with our new album ‘Living the Dream,’ we are entering into another phase of our career that keeps the band still relevant as we move into our 50th Anniversary. It was a proud moment for us all including every member past and present and most of all for the fans! The award was given more to this line up as we are one of the few heritage bands that are considered to be still relevant in today’s market. This is being proved each night on stage with the amazing reactions we are receiving for both old classic songs and soon to be classic songs from our new album ‘Living the Dream.’

After this presentation, we hit our stride and finished the show to an amazing response that felt so good. Backstage we had pictures taken and the party began. Jim Paidas with his family had delivered a box of ‘Sick Boy’ T Shirts for everyone, so it was a bit hectic there for a while and then David and Lana with their two friends Walter and his lady, took the band and crew to dinner in the Main Casino in the ‘Michael Jordon,’ restaurant. This was fantastic and something we had done before, as the food and drink were exceptional, and no more exceptional than the company we were in, and it was most generous of David and Lana to pay.

There was still good news on the horizon because our manager Ace Trump sent us all a message that the song ‘Falling Under Your Spell,’ from the latest ‘Living the Dream’ album had been added to the Planet Rock Radio play list in the UK. This will be the fourth song to be added to their playlist, which is a first for us, and just incredible. This just rounded off a fantastic magical day.

At midnight it was Russ’s birthday, so he continued on into the Casino with Davey and Richie from JP to celebrate some more, as did others, but I made it back to my room as I was indeed full as a gook. The mere fact they can smoke in the casino did not endear me to carry on in any case, as both Phil and I were fast getting a bronchitis type second attacks from all the different temperatures and time changes we have been through. We always seem to suffer this more than anyone unfortunately, and it is our cross to bear.

The following day we drove to Albany New York where we had a day off. It was officially Russ’s birthday and as there were a few casualties from the night before it was a quiet bus ride with most people sleeping. On arrival we went to our rooms to relax before finding an Italian restaurant, so that we could all go out and celebrate Russ’s birthday. We met in the hotel lobby and the hotel courtesy bus drove us to the restaurant that was deserted. There was only us in there and the food was average, and Russ could not even look at another drop of wine after the night before, so it was a quiet affair.

Now Mike Carparelli and his wife Natasha had driven down from Toronto to give me another Carparelli S4 with a Floyd Rose Tremelo Arm on it (Mike nicknamed it “Tiger”) as I have been recording and using live my Black S4 with the Tremelo Arm, and needed a spare just in case. Mike did a deal with a guy called Dan Preston for the guitar and I am eternally grateful for having this beauty in my guitar armoury. So many thanks goes out to both Mike and Dan!

As Mike was in town, we texted each other and they made it down to the Italian. It was good to see them both, and we had a quiet meal and sang ‘Appy Birthday to Russ, as he was given a slice of chocolate cake with a lit candle on it. Most of us do not eat cake so that duty was given to Davey, who has the sweet tooth of the Heep family. We then gave Russ his card and a nice bottle of red. After this it was all back to our hotel and Mike and Natasha to theirs for an early night.

The following day was gig day, so we slept through breakfast and then went to the venue for some lunch. After lunch it was back to the hotel after a short walk to do some laundry as they had a washer and dryer on the second floor. Davey and I shared the machine and it was good to have fresh clothes in our suitcases once again. I did not want my clothes put in the dryer as they shrink, so my room looked like a Chinese laundry there for a while, but they soon dried once the air conditioning was switched off.

Well Mike and Natasha joined us at 5.30pm and presented me with the beautiful S4 ‘Tiger’ guitar, and we then had some dinner in catering. While we got ready for the show, and I did some interviews, they took their seats. It was a rockin’ night for us and for a first night we had a great time. Huntington NY was ready to rock and rock they did. It was a great show, but unfortunately I did not see Mike and Natasha afterwards, as they decided to go back to their hotel after our set, though we did text a lot. However they loved the concert and Mike can be proud of just how good his Carparelli S4 guitars are sounding.

I did manage to meet Jason Morris who I first met at BB Kings in New York ages ago. Now Jason is a Judo 4 times Olympian Olympic Sliver Medalist. He has his own school and is a Heep fan. He gave me a picture, and I still have the original one from BB Kings up on my office wall in London.

The next morning Mike and Natasha (they have been married for 22 years – see I got that in Mike) left to drive back to Toronto Canada, which took them 7 hours straight.

It was a chilled day all around for us, but soon we were back at the gig for another rockin’ night. We changed the set a little and it went down a storm. The reactions have been incredible, and we get the feeling that Heep is just the ticket for the USA & Canada audiences and this tour with Priest is a serious building block.

The following morning we drove to Sellersville which was only a 4 hour drive. We had played the ST94 Theatre a few times before so we knew what to expect. We stayed at the venue for most of the day, and some had a kip on the bus parked outside. They always look after us well, but the dressing room is a broom cupboard, but surprisingly there is a shower crammed in there by the toilet.

It was a packed show and we were pleased so see that David and Lana had made it down there too which was cool. We played the full set which was so good to stretch out and play and the reaction was brilliant. The theatre was rockin’ big time and it was a good atmosphere. After this show we had a 12 hour overnight drive to Indiana, which is as far as our driver could legally drive. We all checked in to the hotel for a night off, and then we were hit with a surprise. We wanted to get a cab to a restaurant as per usual and all met in reception at 7pm, only to be told there was no cab service for a 50 miles radius, which was incredible, and I had never heard of that before. The end result was that the receptionist had menus for a Chinese Restaurant that we ordered from, and we had it delivered and ate it in the hotel reception. So it was not quite the night off or the food that we were looking for, but with the drinks brought in from the bus into reception, we made do Heep style.

The next day we finished off the drive to Milwaukee where we were playing two nights at the Riverside Theatre. Although we were playing at the Riverside Theatre we actually had our hotel in the Potawatomi Casino. We usually do two nights on our own in the Casino venue but this time with JP it we’re doing 2 nights at the larger Riverside Theatre which was 1.7 miles from the Casino.

Well we had two amazing shows at the Riverside Theatre and it just showed what a good ticket this was with both bands on fire. However with some time in the hotel and the TV on, I did see that Ladies Baseball is big over here now. It was always just played by men but the ladies games are all over the TV, and having watched a few, they are very exciting. They do pitch underhand but with immense speed. The other thing that is a totally different subject I have noticed over here is that I cannot believe how thin the toilet paper is in the USA and 1 ply is probably the max, therefore necessitating many folded pieces of paper to get the job done. Too much information you might say, but that’s the truth.

The following day we drove to Rosemount Illinois where we had another night off. It was a long drive so really we just had dinner on arrival and an early night. Well I did anyway as this chest/sinus infection caused by Passive COPD had really kicked in big time. Phil had his bronchitis return too and Bernie was beginning to get chesty and croaky.

There was a doctor brought down to the gig at the sound check as some of the Priest boys and crew were going down with it too. So Bernie joined Richie Faulkner and some of their crew to get sorted with various antibiotics etc. At that juncture I still found some meds in the bottom of my suitcase to help me out in the hope that it would have sex and travel, but that was not the case unfortunately.

Anyway as they say the show must go on and go on it did, and none of the audience were aware of either of the bands ill health and Chicago rocked. Unfortunately I had some guests after the show that I would have loved to have seen, but I had to make a quick escape for a shower and go straight to bed at the hotel. Bernie was a happy pup as his family had joined him from the UK for a few days.

The next day we flew to Austin Texas, so I will continue the next part of our rock n roll adventure in part 2 of this blogolicious…!

‘Appy days!

Mick

http://www.mick-box.net

http://www.uriah-heep.com

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Box News #279 – March 26, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2019 by heepster

Mick Box and his 2019 daily Tour Diary with Uriah Heep!

Mick documents the mighty Heep’s ‘Living the Dream’ Japanese tour 2019. “Appy days”!

Well it was only 6 days at home before we were off to Japan to play 2 shows in one night in Osaka and 4 shows over 2 nights in Tokyo at the Billboard Live venue in both cities.

As it was an early check in on British Airways I decided to stay at the London Heathrow Travel Lodge hotel the night before, along with Bernie, Scampi, Brian, Angus and Aaron. Everyone else came in the morning. I find the Travel Lodges just fine on a quick overnighter like that, and it sure beats fighting the traffic in the morning.

We all met at the British Airways check in desk, and as we were carrying our flying gear it was imperative that we all checked in our own suitcase and one piece of equipment each. A couple of days earlier we had a business meeting with our managers Ace trump and Adam Parsons at Kings Cross, and it was really cool that Ace was coming to Japan with us.

After checking in, Phil and I had breakfast at Giraffes Restaurant, Russ and Davey had brekky in Wagamama’s, while the rest all went in the lounge. I always like to start the journey off with a good healthy breakfast, that you do not always get in the lounge, even if it is for free, and it is always a gamble to what you get on the plane.

We settled in on the plane and we were in Premium Class, which actually did make a difference. However Brian’s luck was in, as he was bumped up to Business Class. I watched 4 films on the journey one was ‘Green Book,’ which was excellent. ‘A Star is Born’, which is brilliant, and ‘The Girl in the Spiders Web’ which was also good. The final film was the light hearted ‘King of Thieves,’ about a bank robbery, which was an easy watch. The food and drink were all good and really it was an eleven hour flight, that was not too bad in the end.

Once in Tokyo we had to catch a connecting flight to Osaka. This was pretty easy and we caught the flight that was only an hour long. On arrival we were met by our promoters representatives for Billboard Live, and we drove to the hotel. We arranged to meet at 7 o’clock in the bar to go out for dinner. Russ decided to stay and eat at the hotel which I am sure he regretted as it was £10 just for a coffee latte. We ended up eating in a Japanese Restaurant close by the hotel down the Ginza strip. It was a bustling place with so many places to eat, and you really felt like you were in Japan big time.

As it was St Patrick’s day we found an Irish Pub which was pretty surreal, as when we walked through the door there were Japanese musicians playing traditional Irish music, on traditional Irish instruments. Also all the beer and Sake had green food colouring in it. We found some of the crew in there already and a lot of the people had Green wigs, so we joined in, and celebrate we did. So much so Ace had to get me home which was very kind of him. The others stayed there until late, but for me jet lag and Sake is not a good combination.

In the morning everyone had a story to tell about Jet Lag and to a man we had been hit hard with it. Luckily it was a day off, so we could try and acclimatise, but It was a problem that did not seem to want to go away. We had a pretty relaxed day and had lunch in a Burger restaurant called ‘Shake Shack,’ that Ace said there was a chain of in the USA. I think after that heavy night the Burger lunch was just what we needed. Russ tried to join us, but he could not find it so we did not see him until sound check time.

After this we went to Tower Records and had a good old time. This was just behind the hotel, so it was just a short walk which was great. Davey bought some Japanese ‘Queen’ items and so did Ace. We had pictures taken with the staff, and they asked if they could use it on their media site which of course we said yes. It was a sad day when Tower Records in Los Angeles and New York closed as they were fantastic places to hang and browse in, especially in the good old vinyl days, as you could lose hours in there.

We then met in the bar for 7pm to go to dinner. We went back to the Ginza area and had a confusing meal. The lady serving us could not understand what we wanted and all the food orders were wrong, so it was a major disappointment. I must point out at this juncture, that I am absolutely useless with Chop Sticks. I find them so labour intensive balancing a grain of rice on a stick is not my style, so I always ask for a fork. That way I am always guaranteed satisfaction and a good mouthful of food, the way it should be! Anyway after our disastrous meal we ended up eating a snack back at the hotel before going to bed. However, Bernie could not wait, so he went off for some Sushi on his own.

The following day was a gig day at the Billboard Live, and we had to have a sound check, as we were on hired gear as well as our own flying equipment. We were doing two shows one at 6.30pm for an hour and one at 9.30pm. Our sound check was at 4pm, so there was a lot of hanging about to do.

The Billboard Live venue is a strange venue, as it was a place where the audience goes in to eat dinner, while looking at a giant video screen over the stage of Japanese Artists performing. Apart from the rows of tables in front of the stage there are huge spaces either side with tables and 3 balconies high up facing the stage. All in all it holds a whole lot of people. Our friend Pat Choy introduced to us by our manager Ace Trump, joined us from Los Angeles. Well actually Pat had been in Tokyo for a few days prior to joining us.

Well our intro tape went on, and a cheer went up, and although it was actually 9.30am UK time, we hit our stride full of adrenaline and it was a great show. The Japanese audience were marvellous and they were waving and cheering and it seemed like they were just happy to be there and rock out with us. They even knew the new songs which was great as we start with Davey’s ‘Grazed By Heaven,’ and they were all singing the chorus with arms in the air.

We were contracted to play at each venue, two 1hour shows, so the first performance seemed to be very successful, but over very quickly. On leaving the stage on the first show I was presented by a lovely lady a bunch of flowers, which was very kind of her, but soon it was back to the dressing room to have a light snack before the next performance. It was a 2 hour wait but there was nothing we could do about that. However as we had 2 shows we did mix up the set lists, so that each set was slightly different. I was glad we did that because on the second show, I saw a number of faces that had been to the first show.

Well the second show was much like the first and we had them all standing up and rockin’ out from the first note to the end. It may have been different to what we usually do concert-wise, but it was still a lot of fun and great to see how much they all enjoyed our music. To be honest after they had been sitting through their dinner with a relatively quite video screen to watch, and then we come on like a Panza Tank speeding at 80 miles an hour at full volume, I was surprised at how well they rocked out with us. Osaka did us proud!

After the show we had a little dinner and then most of us went back to the hotel to try and get some sleep, to attempt to try and beat the jet lag. Well in the morning at breakfast there were cries of I had 4 hours sleep, I had 2 hours sleep from everyone, and just general quality shut eye was in short supply.

Well we had to fly to Tokyo the following day as well as play two shows, so it was a tough one. The crew took an earlier flight so that they could set up at the venue and the band and Ace took a slightly later flight. The bottom line was that we arrived at the hotel with just one hour to go before sound check time. Bernie’s face looked like a Salvador Dali Melting Clock, so he skipped the sound check and went to bed. The rest of us had no choice, so we rushed and got ready and went down to the show.

Apart from the sound-check, between that and the first show, were scheduled a bunch of interviews which although were necessary, we could have well done without. On the plus side though at least it stopped us from nodding off in a corner somewhere. Bernie joined us about 30mins before showtime and this venue was identical to the one in Osaka in every way.

It was a 6.30pm kick off for the first show, and it was packed to the rafters and we had a great time. It was a good atmosphere and it felt good to be back in Tokyo. It was a fantastic reaction and it is strange that no matter how tired you are, you raise your game from the first note you play, as if you were as fresh as a Daisy. That is good old adrenaline kicking in. It was another 2 hours before the next show which we filled with having a bite to eat and just generally bantering around keeping ourselves busy. I kept having presents sent back to me in the dressing room and given to the staff to give to me, which was amazing. They ranged from Chocolates, Japanese Fans, Heep bootleg CD’s & DVD’s, and cards and letters etc.

My wife Sheila’s sister, Anne-Marie’s son Mark, is living in Tokyo, as he works there for an Insurance Company, and he was coming to the second show with his lady Cintia. I was really excited to see him as we have not seen a lot of Mark over the last couple of years with him being ensconced in Japan. Well he turned up at the second show with Cintia and some friends and he managed to get back to the dressing room which is no mean feat, as there were lifts involved and a whole kitchen type world back where we were. It was good to see him and he like me is a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur’s football fan, and before leaving for Japan I popped down to the new gift shop in the new stadium and bought him a Spurs watch and some Spurs Headphones, which he loved.

The other surprise we had was that Judas Priest had just arrived in Tokyo from Australia to play the Download festival, so guitarists Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap came to the show.

The second show was much like the first and once again I saw quite a few people down the front that were at the first show. We had another cool concert and the excitement went up another level when Richie jumped up on to the stage to play ‘Easy Livin’ with us. That’s was a real blast and it was so good to see Richie and Andy prior to us joining them as special guests in the USA and Canada starting 3rd of May in Florida for 2 months.

Well we left everyone standing and shouting for more and it was great to see how into our music the fans were, which was great, and we then headed back to the dressing room which filled up considerably with all of the guests. It was buzzing there for quite a while.

After some time it was back to the hotel to the bar to have a night cap. Well for some this turned out to be the whole hat shop, as after one drink in the bar they all went out to a club.

How they could do that I will never know, but jet lag can do funny things to you after a few bevvies. Mind you I used to do it regularly in the old days, so I do not know what I am talking about, but hey I cannot do it now for sure without the pain that goes with it.

Well with that mass exodus from the bar, it left Bernie and I with the bar bill from hell. I paid most of it and Bernie helped, then we went up to our rooms.

At the hotel Bernie had the room across from me, so we arranged that he would bang on my door for breakfast. Well I had a hellish night of no sleeping, but I got out of bed on my alarm and went to the toilet for number ones which ended up being number twos. Well the toilet seat was very warm as they are over there in Japan, and while I was sitting there my eyes got very sleepy basking in the warmth, so when Bernie banged on my door to go to breakfast, I said quietly, ‘Mate I’ll skip it today and see you for lunch’ and while the warm toilet seat had made me sleepy, I tried to keep that moment going, and I quickly washed up and crawled back into bed and got the best 3 hours sleep thus far. ‘Appy days or should I say ‘Appy heated toilet seat days!

On the toilet front, the Japanese really do have it down so to speak. Apart from a heated seat there are a number of controls on the side that will wash and dry just about any permutation you can throw at it. I am a simple man so I left it all well alone. Also they never leave anything to chance as I was using a toilet outside in Tokyo, and beside the urinals they had a hook for your umbrella. Now that’s a first, but when you think about it holding an umbrella and trying to have a pee can be quite treacherous, but not for these guys. Put the brolly on the hook, pee to your hearts content, job done.

At lunch Bernie and I found a restaurant a short walk down from the hotel called the ‘Outback.’ Now I had eaten in this chain of restaurants before in other countries, so we had a full-some lunch, and we returned to the hotel to get ready for the show. Now I do love Sushi and Japanese cuisine, but there is only so much of it I can eat, so our lunch in the ‘Outback,’ was most welcome.

The show today was even earlier as for the first set we were on stage at 4.30pm Japanese time. The stories started to unravel about the shenanigans of the night before, and so it goes some of the party made it back to the hotel for breakfast and then went straight to bed for a couple of hours before the lobby call.

Going on that early was strange, but once again when we were on stage and saw how into the music they all were, we were fine and we had a good time. Between shows I was given another lot of presents from fans which was lovely. My suitcase was laden down with them all. The second set was a 7.30pm start so we were all done and dusted by 8.30pm.

I have to say as unusual as it was playing the Billboard Live, coupled with the Jet lag, it was an incredible experience that I am glad we did. The venue staff were courteous, nothing was too much trouble for them, and everything ran on time from the transport to being on stage on time. The Japanese fans we met in the venue, and in the hotels and even in the street were fantastic, and the cool news is that we signed more ‘Living the Dream’ product than anything else, which is a good sign in my book.

We had a 9am lobby call the next day, so after breakfast we packed our flying equipment and suitcases into the waiting transport, and of we went to Tokyo Narita Airport. Leaving behind Ace and Pat who were staying on for a further 7 days to enjoy the delights that Japan has to offer.

Our British Airways flight home was fine and I watched in between napping, a film called ‘Widows,’ and one called ‘A Cure for Wellness’ which in all honesty I slept through most of it, though a film called ‘Can you ever Forgive Me’ was great. The food and drink were fine and we landed on time. We all collected our suitcases and took our various transports home, and it was good to walk through my front door to be attacked with happiness from my dog Iggy, hugs and kisses from Sheila and Romeo, but not even the slightest acknowledgement form Biscuit our cat, but I expected that. Oh boy my bed was looking good, but I had to stay up a few hours otherwise I would be hit with the UK version of Jet Lag, which I so wanted to avoid. ‘Home Sweet Home,’ you cannot beat it.

‘Appy days!
Mick

Box News #278 – March 18, 2019

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2019 by heepster

Mick documents the second leg of the mighty Heep’s ‘Living the Dream’ European tour 2019, through France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Holland and Moldova.

Well Milan was amazing and even Eli from Frontiers Records our record company made it down to say hello. He kindly gave me two big books of cut outs of interviews and newspaper clippings we had of the ‘Living the Dream’ promotion throughout Europe. It was a great show and our last in Italy, and what a way to end our Italian shows on such a high! They were amazing and the atmosphere incredible.

The next day was a drive day to Belgrade Serbia. We breezed through the custom points and arrived at the hotel in time for dinner and an early night. This suited Phil as the next morning he looked a lot better, and there was less of the incessant coughing. He said he had a better sleep, so that was good.

Well in Belgrade Serbia we played the ‘Sava Centre’ which was sold out. This was a seated affair with multi balconies above each other going up into the gods, but they came to rock, and it was a magnificent show. They loved it and in a territory like that, I was surprised at how well the new songs went down. That was brilliant. We had our old friend Milenko announce on to the stage and he loved it. He then took his seat right down the front.

Bulgaria and Sofia was our next concert and we had not been in Bulgaria for a while, so it was good to be back. They were a wonderful audience and of course the song ‘July Morning’ has a special meaning for them, as each year they have the July Morning Festival where on July the 1st, as the sun comes up, they play the song. This attracts people from around the world which is really cool. They really rocked out with us which was tremendous.

The next day we had a long old travel day of 10 hours to get to Athens in Greece. We made it by 7.30pm just in time to get a bite to eat for dinner and have a much needed early night. Vic really did well to get us there that early.

We had a lot of the day off as we were not on stage until 22.00pm that night at the ‘Fuzz Club’ which had sold out. I caught up on all of my emails, bills, blog and just general computer business, so I made good use of the time.
Scampi had arranged for someone to do our clothes washing, so we had to take it down to reception at 12 midday in laundry bags with our name on it, as the crew were leaving for the venue and taking our laundry with them.

Other than popping out for a few bites to eat that was it for me, so I had a quiet day. We were picked up at 8.30pm, as there was a video interview for me to do at the venue before the show.

The interview went well and then we prepared for the show, and although it was sold out, I was surprised to see that people were still allowed smoke in the venue even though there were ‘no smoking’ signs around the building. Nearly every venue around the world is non-smoking, but certainly not in Athens, and this threw me a little, as it is not my favourite thing at all, as I sing all of the high notes and have to take deep breaths to reach them, and then you get a lung full of second hand smoke.

Having never smoked in my life, I found that a bit uncomfortable to say the least. So did the other boys as everyone remarked on it after the show. Still apart from that this show was a real highlight of the tour thus far, as the Athens audience were absolutely fantastic. They were so enthusiastic to both the new and classic songs it was amazing, and they sang so loudly it really was emotional. Greece has always had a special place in our hearts as a band, and that night just proved it. We could feel their energy and it was obvious they could feel ours, so it was a special magical rockin’ night.

We met a few people after the show and then we headed to the hotel as the following day we had a 4-5 hour drive to Thessaloniki. There was some sort of strike on, so there were blockages at various tunnels with vehicles blocking the way, so some of the journey we had to do on ‘B’ roads. We still made good time and arrived at the hotel at a reasonable hour.

We were not on stage until 22.15pm, so we had a cushion of time right there.We were playing the ‘Principal’l venue which is a fairly large venue. We had dinner in the hotel and the Chef came out and had a picture taken with us, and then we were picked up by Vic at 21.00pm.

The ‘Principal’ looked totally sold out and it was rammed in every corner. It was another magic night in Greece but unfortunately a lot of people were smoking and this irritated our throats and chests, but once again adrenaline got us through. They were a fantastic audience and with us from note one. So many young fans too, as in Athens, which was brilliant.

We did not stay too long as we had a long old drive to Istanbul Turkey the following day. So we went back to that hotel pretty sharpish. However, the sleeper bus was blocked in by a car when they wanted to leave, so it was all hands on deck and our mighty crew picked the car up and moved it. Job done!

The journey to Istanbul was supposedly meant to be 7 hours with stops, but we also had to contend with the border crossings. Leaving Greece through the border was fine, but for some reason getting into Turkey became a problem. The sleeper bus made it through after some hassle with documents, and we made it through after paying 90 Euro for some insurance, that we were never told we needed, as we did not have a green card. Well on a hire car we were never told we needed one, but there you go we paid the insurance and left. Now our 7 hour journey became 9 hours which was a long old schlep.

However, the equipment truck was having horrendous problems getting through, even though we had water tight carnets and all of the usual documentation required. Because they were not happy for what ever reason, they sent our truck driver Pete to another port office 50 miles away to get it sorted, but when he arrived there it was shut until 9.30am the following morning. Now you would have thought that they would have known that and informed him, but they didn’t, so he drove all the way back to the original border to try and get this resolved.

The end result after many hours of going back and forwards our poor Pete did not stand a chance, as they then decided to unload the whole truck and go through every piece of equipment. This was after him driving through the night from Thessaloniki, so he was knackered and stressed beyond belief.

As they decided to do this and the fact that he still had 184 miles to drive to get to the gig, he would not have made it in time for the show, so we had no other option but to cancel the gig.

The following day we were having to drive to Telfs in Austria that is 14 hours drive, including 12 hours down time due to drivers rules, and then another 14hours to Telfs.

Well we decided with the Istanbul promoters to put the gig on the following day, and the drivers and Scampi put their collective heads together to try and find a way to get to Telfs on time. This is what we decided to do in the end, and it was the only logical solution we could of made.

The crew, Russ and Davey all had to check into our hotel because they had no rooms due to the fact they were originally going overnight from the Istanbul gig. Luckily the hotel could accommodate everyone, and as you can imagine everyone had a quick bite to eat and an early night, as we were all shattered. The poor truck driver though was still at the border and I felt for him big time, as he must have been be spent, and still he had that 184 miles to drive once they have finished with him. Now he had a nightmare and a half to put it mildly.

Well the gig did go on the following day, and it was amazing. We felt really bad for those that could not make the show on the second day, but those that did make which was at least 95% of the sell out crowd, they had a great time. It was a magical show and the Zorlu venue was amazing. The staff looked after us very well and the show had a very special feel about it, and a great atmosphere from the off. They were fantastic with so many young people there too, all singing the new album songs as well as the classics, so that concert was one to remember for sure.

After the show the sleeper bus and the truck left right away to have a stopover in Serbia before the drivers need a 9 hour legal drivers break. Then they could finish the journey to Telfs Austria.

However Phil, Bernie and I said good bye to Vic who was driving to Telfs by van and we flew from Istanbul Airport to Munich, and then we took three trains to Telfs in Austria and a taxi to the hotel. We arrived at approximately 6.30pm and decided to meet for dinner at 7pm.

While we were eating we were being sent text messages from Scampi saying all was not well on the trucking front, as he had been held up again only this time at the Serbian Border. There we so many trucks waiting too get through that there was no way he could make it to Telfs on time, so when he was cleared Scampi gave him instructions to drive direct to Vienna where our next show after Telfs was. The sleeper bus did the same and they all stayed in Vienna the night, when they eventually got there, knowing that the gig would have to be re-scheduled it made sense and saved a lot of money on fuel as Telfs was still a 5 1/2 hour drive to Vienna.

If we could have made it in time there would not have been a problem, but the Gods of the borders were against us on this one. Devil’s of the borders more like!

Well the Telfs promoter arrived while we were having dinner, and he was obviously upset as the show was a sell out, but he did understand in the end that it was out of our control and that the only solution was to reschedule it.

The following day when we were having breakfast in walked our very tired Vic, who amazingly had made it to Telfs. Still he was in a much faster vehicle and not carrying lots of people or lots of equipment, but it did amaze us that he had driven that distance and through those difficult borders, and arrived so quickly, so he won the ‘King Driver,’ award of the day.

We had a spot of lunch in a restaurant opposite the hotel and then we had a walk around town for some much needed fresh air. Our suitcases were on the sleeper bus, so we would not see them until the next day, so we bought some bits and pieces to get us through in the toiletry department. Then we chilled until dinner time. I was pretty excited as I would be able to see the Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Champions league football match that night in my room. With all of the casualties we have in our team of major players and that Dortmund are top of the German League, I was fearing a good kicking coming on, but you never ever know with Spurs, and to my surprise they won 2-0. What an amazing night! I was dancing around the room like a looney. Yes there was evidence of non stop cockney dancing in my room for sure.

In the morning we drove to Vienna where we were playing a venue called ‘Simm City.’ This is owned and promoted by our very good promoter friend Martina Porkony. It was a good size venue and packed to the rafters with an amazing atmosphere. It went some way to helping the disappointment of not being able to play Telfs, as the audience were fantastic. We had a truly great night there and it is always good to see Martina and and her dog Pako, who is forever by her side.

The following day it was a fair old drive to the Czech Republic where we were playing the ‘Beat Festival’ in Prague with UDO. Once again the audience were well up for it and although UDO had been on before us, they still had an abundance of energy left for us Heep boys which was great. It was a terrific show and the Czech audience did not let us down.

While on this tour I had been approached by Furch Acoustic guitars, that are made in the Czech Republic in Brno to be one of their endorsers. Well on the song ‘Waters Flowin’ that we play live from our ‘Living the Dream’ album, I play a Furch Acoustic anyway, so it was a no brainer really, as they are beautiful guitars.

On the way to Hluk our next city we stopped at a music shop in Brno, where incidentally the factory is, and we met the Furch Representative Mirek. It was good to meet him and we talked through what type of acoustics I required, and he showed me so many guitars and different woods etc that I was spoilt for choice, but in the end we decided what would suit me best and he wrote it down. It would take about 3 1/2 months to get them all finished, but it will be worth the wait, as they are super quality and they look and sound beautiful. We then had a little lunch next door, and after that we drove off to Hluk after saying our goodbyes.

The venue in Hluk in the Czech Republic was a huge Sports Hall and this was very well attended and the promoter was delighted. The show was rockin’ and all in all we had a great time. We were staying in a Wellness hotel but to be honest I didn’t feel any healthier staying there at all.
The following day we travelled to Kosice in Slovakia. The venue was the Spolocensky Pavillion and once again this was an amazing show, and I was very happy with the consistency of the band, as we had set the bar high on the first show, and it stayed there. It was another great audience and then we had a day off, which ended up being a travel day, driving to Poland

We had a 179 mile drive to Wroclaw Poland which took approximately 4 hours with a lunch stop. The roads were terrible and whether you wanted it or not, your backside was massaged to the point of being numb. We were playing a venue called the ‘A2’ which was rammed.

Back in London at our home we had a cleaner called Agnes who was Polish. She no longer works for us, as she had to move away, but I remember promising her that I would get her friends into the concert. Well I sent her a text and she was delighted that I had remembered, and they came to the show and just loved it. The even sent me a video message thanking me which was very nice of them. It was a great show for them to see, so I was very happy about that.

We then drove to Warsaw and we arrived in time for lunch, as Georg Jozwiak who used to own the Hamburg Hard Rock Cafe invited us to have lunch in the Warsaw Hard Rock Cafe. I still have a Carparelli S4 hanging in the Hard Rock Cafe Hamburg that Mike Carparelli donated, which is cool. We arrived on time and Russ and Davey jumped into a cab to join us, as they had driven overnight on the tour bus which was parked at the gig. It was good to see Georg again and we had a fabulous lunch before driving to the hotel to get ready for the concert that night.

It was another fantastic concert and we met Georg and a few of his friends after the show before driving back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

I have to say the audience were shouting so loud, I still had them ringing in my ears even when I got back to my room. It was a magic night indeed.

Our last show in Poland was in Gdansk at the B90. It was a great show to finish Poland on but we had a really long old drive to Holland the next day. We drove for 8 hours and stayed in a hotel and did the other 4 hours on the gig day. The show was in the 013 in Tilburg and it was nice to play our last concert of this tour, as a sell out. Holland never let us down and it was a show to remember for sure. It was lovely seeing Louis Rentrop there too who used to be our webmaster and that made it extra special.

The next day we drove to the train that took us back to England through the tunnel and I was home for 5.30pm. Romeo my son was home from College so he came running downstairs for our long awaited hug, and then Iggy my dog went mental with excitement, while Biscuit our cat sat in his cat bed waiting for me to go over and stroke him while he just purred away. Sheila came home from work a lot later, and we all had dinner together, and it felt really good to be home and back in the heart of the family.

We had 13 days at home before flying out to Moldova for a show. Our flights were booked with Turkish Airlines as we were routing through Istanbul to Moldova. Well we sat on the plane for a half hour, then we coasted to the runway where we stopped for half an hour, and then much to our surprise we went back to our original spot for about an hour. We found out that someone up at the front of the plane was ill, so it took all of that time to get him or her off the plane with the rest of the family travelling with them, and into the hands of the medics.

Well this delay cost us dearly, as we missed our connection to Moldova. When we eventually arrived in Istanbul Scampi our tour manager went to the Turkish Airlines desk to get us a hotel at the Airport only to be told in the flying stakes, that we could get an 8.30am flight. As it was an international flight they insisted that we had to check in 3 hours before departure. This meant at the most we would only get 4 hours sleep, and we would not see our suitcases.

In the morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and went to the Turkish Airlines check in desk only to be told that the 8.30am flight was cancelled so they put us on the 8.30pm flight instead. Scampi politely but firmly informed them that by missing the concert in Moldova, this could cost rather a lot of money for the airline to shell out, as well as the bad will involved, and soon they found a flight that went to Odessa in the Ukraine. Thankfully our suitcases all arrived and we then had to drive 4 hours in a bone shaking bus to Moldova.

We eventually arrived at the venue in Chisinau with approximately 4 hours to showtime. Well the band went to the hotel while the crew had to pull out all of the stops with no sleep, to get everything up and running in time. Luckily Vic had driven over all of our own equipment, so that did help a little, but still it was tight, as well as everyone being tired. Aaron our monitor engineer came separately, so he was in the day before and he had it relatively easy on the sleep front, but it was still heads down to get the show up and running.

Well the crew did us proud and we had a great concert, and adrenaline definitely helped get us all through. The lady Mayor came into the dressing room after the show saying how wonderful the concert was, and we had the obligatory pictures taken with her, then thankfully a little food arrived. It was just nibble type food and there was a suggestion that we be taken out to a restaurant that was meant to be the business and the best ever. Now we had an early start the next day and at best we would only get 8 hours sleep if we went straight back then, so Russ and I decided to make do with the nibbles and have some sleep, while the rest of the party went out. Like most times in these territories they promise you a good restaurant with the best food ever, but in fact it turned out to be a pub. Still the guys were happy with that and by all accounts the free drinks flowed freely, but I personally was happy I took the bed option, especially when I saw everyone in the morning.

There were plenty of nodding dogs on the flight home and it was Turkish Airlines again routing through Istanbul, but this time it was only an hour late in the end, so after that trip, I was happy to get back home again in one piece, even though it was a super tired piece.

‘Appy days!

Mick

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

 

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