Three things. First - I, like many of you was sad to hear of the split/demise, of State of Quo. I think it's great to have bands like that, who have such a great passion for, if you will, their heroes, (albeit bugger all to do with me) that they do their best to keep the spirit of something alive, and they did it with the right attitude, so come on guys, either patch things up, or make 2 bands, There's a lot of people want to see you... and I am NOT taking the piss.
Second - Unashamed plug. Me an' me posse of Max and the Fredster AKA Woodedz are doing a warm up gig for the Bulldog bash at The Peel in Kingston, which is in Surrey, ya?, on Thursday 31st of July (that's this Thursday coming). It's one of those venues where they seem to run it for the love of rock music more than the money, I mean they're paying us 75 grand for 45 minutes, not bad for a venue with a 200 capacity. Did I say grand? Sorry I meant Euros. Should be rockin' anyway.
The Bulldog Bash is on Thursday August the 7th, and we're on at 6pm.
Third - Dear me, I hear I stirred up a bit of a Hornets' nest on the MB with my last tad of criticism. Look, of COURSE we're pissed off when people don't want to come to the show, but you can't please everybody, and to say we don't try to is just plain insulting. It's just the few people who go on and on about it which does me in, as we English would say, changez le disque bitte.
That's that. On with the show...
I'm sitting in a field in Wales writing this, I'm a lucky bastad you know. Apart from not breaking anything when I fell off my bike (see part 1 if you can be bothered. I know I couldn't be), I got to see my Max getting his degree at Cambridge, which was really something, I felt sorry for Matt when I was there, as he missed his daughters' last year, but that's life innit? I then shat meself as I had to get to Cannock in time for the evening show, and the Traffic was appalling. As it happens I was the first to arrive, and Rick arrived about half an hour before showtime due to a massively delayed flight, not much fun for him, he wasn't stressed or anything when he arrived.
Gig was marred by a serious punch up after about 20 minutes, some poor bugger got knocked out I think. However he was back an hour later, only for some reason he didn't seem that interested in the music, more like he was interested in shortening someones life by a significant amount. Luckily he didn't find who he was looking for and we cracked on, but things like that definitely take the edge off proceedings, still onwards and upwards. Which we were, up North to Dalby Forest, stayed overnight in Pickering, what a lovely town.
It pissed down on the way into the show, what a great location, 5 miles into the forest, no Mcshit there, Rick Parfitt Junior opening for us on both these shows by the way, with a band featuring one Nicholas Rossi on bass. Rain held off during the show, which was of course truly rockin'... Actually I think it should be me saying changez le disque re the actual show reports, so I'll keep them to a minimum. What, I hear you say, you only read my tour logs to find out about the gigs? Oh no you don't, you just wait to greedily devour the pearls of wisdom I bestow on you mere mortals as I roam the world.
Here's one... A sausage walks into a pub and the barman says "sorry sir we don't serve food". You see? I rest mon valise (Swiss for case).
So, where was one? Oh ya, with the usual tour planning skill we employ, it was Dalby, Northern England to Bratislava, Slovakia via Nuremburg, Germany. Which was nice, because as luck would have it, the German bit was a stopover, and they were playing Spain in the final of Euro 2008. Myself and the man from Barnes went to one of the large screens in the middle of town, where I cheered me head off for Spain. I mean I love Germany, but I can NOT support them at football. Unless they're playing Wales of course (IT'S A JOKE! I meant Scotland).
Arrival in Bratislava was really something, we were last here in the nineties, and it was a shithole. Not any more it's not. Really beautiful city, full of top Totty, great restaurants, Top Totty, great markets, Top Totty, beautiful churches, Top Totty, beautiful tramlines, Top Totty, amazing discarded cigarette packets, Top Totty, I could go on, but I suspect you get the picture.
Also brilliant show, seriously hot, but a really appreciative audience of about 2 and a half thousand, and we rocked their world, as they rocked ours. Overnight to Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I've never been. Mr. Mike Hrano, merchandiser and all round good egg of this parish is also out with us on this run, and had been there before, so we did the tourist bit, found myself a badge for my strap, which is starting to fill up nicely I think, before an even hotter gig, with even more billy. I think it was one of the best shows in years myself, we were on fire, met the prime minister of Slovenia, massive Quo fan, who's another one for the "famous people I have met but not had my photograph taken with" list. Which is actually quite long.
I also had a game of Crazy golf while waiting for the show with Mr. Hrano. He thrashed me. That is one of the reasons why I have a doll of him I stick needles into on a regular basis. YOU BASTARD HRANO! YOU RUINED MY LIFE! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, BAD LOSER? I'LL GIVE YOU BAD LOSER, YOU JUST WAIT MEESTER HRANO! Sorry about that...
Next, Budapest. Even hotter of course, incredibly close day weather wise, me and Hrano got stopped coming out of the Underground and they tried to give us these on the spot fines for something to do with the ticket, we were having none of it. Bastards they were, you could see them just stopping tourists, really put me off the place. I was last there in 1986, the first time I met Lord Brian of May, who is another person I don't have a photo of with me. I think that was possibly the hottest gig I have ever done, in a large, packed club with no air conditioning, but I LOVED the opening act, a local band called the Hated Tomorrow, shit name, but they're really young and have something. I don't know what it is but they got it in spades.
Day off in Belgrade, now that was different. Also Top Totty, not quite as Top Tottyish as Bratislava, but hey, when you're my age who's complaining? Quite strange though: Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic and General Vladich seem to be portrayed as folk heroes, you could buy badges with pictures of them on most of the tourist stands. Now unless I'm wrong, they lost the Balkan war in the nineties, but what do I know? Also pirate copies of all the latest films were openly being sold, I thought that was seriously illegal in the EU. Weird, but I had a really good time all the same, bring on the next tour. Fantastic wine as well.
There was one other thing that really affected me. They've left a building that was bombed (by Nato in the nineties I think) unrepaired. I tell you, it was awesome, the damage that had been done. A truly sobering experience.
The gig was in Novi Sad, an hour outside Belgrade, outdoors, and miraculously it didn't rain. The crew had had their day off there, and they had their Slovakia moment re Totty, they couldn't stop talking about it.
I'm really loving this trip, best in years, and loads of fun.
On to Debrecen, the second city of Hungary, stunning main street, Nadal beat Federer that day, I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, what do you mean I've been away from home for too long? Just seen on the lawn behind my field a weeding, sorry wedding going on, aah, Same opening act as Budapest, loved them again, proper venue, air conditioning, 5000 capacity, we didn't fill it, but you can't win 'em all. Get me back there! Please! Now!
On to a 3 show Austrian tour, during the drive from the town where I saw the most beau(p94) to Graz, our first port of call it pissed down most of the way.
I can't believe how well I know some of these places, like in Graz I remember an amazing tool shop there, sadly it's closed down. The good news is that it's now a wine shop and I bought loads of Austrian wine, it's really underrated, especially the whites. Can't remember the gig to be honest, yes I can actually, the Orpheum, an old theatre. Guess what? It was f***** boiling for a change. I thought the Austrians were really unlucky at Euro2008 by the way.
On to Vienna, 3000 Willhelm, hot and rockin. I went to one of those body part exhibitions during the day, which was nice. Did I say nice? I meant weird.
Vienna though. What a fantastic city to walk around, one of the best. You know, the more I go to Austria the more I like it, especially when the day off is in Bregenz, on the shores of Lake Konstanz, and de sun is shinin' maan. The gig in Dornbirn, good opening act again, thunderstorm and a direct hit on the building blew out the power for 5 minutes during the show, but we got round it, and went back on and started where we'd left off, as in we played the last 2 bars of Rain. Aren't we crazy dudies, eh? Pissed down again on the way to the last show, Locarno in Switzerland. Sadly the cloud found us and it didn't stop raining all the way through the show, but the 9000 billy in the Town Square, (one of my favourite kind of venues) didn't let it get them down, what a great way to end one of the best tours I can remember.
So. Don't forget Woodedz, I'm not asking you I'm begging you! I got to think about the 75 Euros you see.
My arse is killing me from sitting on this wooden chair writing this, I hope you realise how much I suffer for my arse, I meant art, but it's caning. I don't mean my arse is being caned by the way, think I better stop this before it gets too daft.
Love you, missing you already.
PS. Don't forget, changez le disque, merci.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Stage construction pictures by Urs Keller.
Other pictures by Wolfgang Bauer.
at the Moon and Stars 08 festival, Locarno.
To Rhino's Tourlog Index