WEEK EIGHT: GERMANY
I woke up on the bus after a decent 7 hours sleep (a rarity for us as nearly every night we make it to a hotel in time to check in and go to bed) and stumbled downstairs to grab myself a double espresso from the machine in the bus kitchen. One look outside the window at the passing scenery and my mind was on just one thing. Renting motorcycles! As we drove through the winding lanes, through the German countryside at about 7.00am, with the sun coming up, I realized that we were in near perfect biking country, with smooth tarmac, gently undulating, sweeping curves, and no cars in sight. Sure enough, within 3 hours of checking in to the rural, “fraulein-leiderhosen-weinerschnitzel-slice-of-Bavarian-heaven” type hotel, our security guy, Steve, Evil McG and myself were sitting on three Triumph motorcycles and pulling out of a local rental shop and off into the great unknown (otherwise known as Oberstaufen, Southern Germany!). What an amazing day off – mile after mile of amazing riding in hot dry sunshine, with a country lunch, a lake or two and more cows than a butchers shop.
The gig the following day was in Ravensburg (about an hour away from the hotel) and an indoor ‘sock-hop/basketball’ type arena. This makes for an interesting delay with the sound – you hit a note, and then it bounces around the room and comes back to your ears about three seconds later. This may not sound like a long time, but imagine listening to a CD, and while you are listening, starting the same CD on a second CD player three seconds later. Sounds like a mess, right? You get my point! But once the people were in, it soaked up a lot of the delay and the band had a great show. Hot, sweaty and loads of fun. My guitars are holding up well on this tour, considering that one day they are outside at a boiling hot festival, then in a cold truck overnight, then inside at an arena. They’re made of wood after all, which contracts and expands with temperature. But they are staying in tune really well, and I’m loving the prototype of my model that is my main guitar on this tour (the one with the cream and black fucked up Union Jack on it) – Can’t wait for Gibson to release the actual thing.
Vienna again, for a day off. Time to meet up with our friends Coco and Dan from Rattlesnake Tattoo, who take me off to buy some much needed supplies. An English store provides a few little ‘special’ needs….. Coffee Mate, Cheesy Quavers, Raisin and Biscuit Yorkies, Lurpack…. and custard cream cookies!! Morrison is a happy man when he finishes shopping! We meet up with Jeremy (who has grabbed more ink – the guy is insatiable…..and seriously covered!) and head off downtown to District 1 for some tourist-style shenanigans. The diversity is amazing – old regal, impressive structures right next door to glistening modern monolith type places. Louis Vuitton alongside a Mozart trinket store. A Horse and carriage overtakes a Bentley. I love it all. Dinner in a gorgeous Italian place, in a cobblestone square, finishes the day off nicely and we take a stroll back through the streets of the city to our hotel. Goodnight Vienna – I will, most assuredly, be back soon.
Hungary. A huge outdoor, multi day festival event in Sopron, to be exact. VERY hot, dusty and seemingly full of drum circles, ley lines, bungee jumping, oxygen bars and dance bands…..that sing in Hungarian!! That’s all probably rubbish, but after about 5 minutes of getting off the bus and wandering around, it’s what it seems like to me. I run away quickly, back to the air-conditioned safety of the bus, the TV and the cold water in the fridge. Mosquitos, bees, wasps and a ridiculously large flying mammoth of a bug all decide that today is a good day to feed. On musicians. Everyone is getting bitten and stung, and the previously mentioned ‘Giant Mammoth Of A Bug’ makes a valiant charge at the stage while we are playing, obviously headed for Billy or Steve. This thing must have been eating nuclear waste or something – it was huge. It missed, and was ‘dispatched’ cleanly, and the show carried on. Close call!! Now this show was really up there for us as one of the best. We were connected with each other – lots of eye contact and interaction (which I believe is important – nothing worse than watching a band go through the motions as five or six individuals) and all of us covering all of the stage. The packed festival audience went crazy from start to finish and we fell back onto the bus after the show, hot, sweaty and exhausted. Always the sign of a great rock n roll show.
John F Kennedy spoke the words “Ich bin ein Berliner” (All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!) and still today, the city reverberates with its turbulent past and its relatively new freedom. We take a walk through the Brandenburg Gate, down to the site of Checkpoint Charlie, over to see the last piece of the Wall (I was lucky enough to visit Berlin when the wall was still up, and you had to travel through the East to get to West Berlin – a heavy and memorable journey) and spend a while in the museum that now stands on the site of the SS headquarters. After that lot, we decide we need to lighten the mood somewhat and we hit the gelato shop for a few scoops of European goodness. The weather is great for our day off, and the sushi meal that evening is particularly good. The following day, we have a show in Potsdam – about 25 miles outside the city. It’s another outdoor festival. My feelings are mixed about the outdoor ones. On one hand, its hot, dusty, at the mercy of the weather, no proper dressing rooms…… and on the other hand the audiences are always huge, stretching in every direction, and very noisy (a good thing!). This show is no different, being VERY hot and sweaty on the stage, but with a VERY noisy and appreciative audience. Add on the fact that Germany had just won their game in the world cup about an hour before and it made for a raucous evening! More great contact onstage between us all – we are now firing on all cylinders.
As we drive towards Bremen and the next show, conversation turns to the upcoming US tour and, if all goes well, the exciting new stage we will be able to use on those dates. More infor nearer the time, but rest assured that it will be a lot of fun for us to use and you to watch. Eventually it gets late and everyone collapses into their bunks and falls asleep…..only to be woken up an hour later so that we can check into the hotel and…..um….go to sleep!?!? Not questioning the logic behind this, I grab my shit, fall off the bus and into the hotel. I must be a vision for this five star hotel, stumbling into the grandly appointed lobby in shorts, flip flops, last nights stage make up smeared all over my face and my hair wildly spiky in all directions. Carrying plastic bags full of snacks for the room!! Hahaha! No wonder they give me my key quickly and usher me out of sight to the elevators. A few more hours of sleep and its showtime again. The show is another outdoor festival and this time, my Camp Freddy cohort, Mr Chris Chaney, is playing right before us with his band The Coat Tail Riders. It’s awesome to see Chris and his band rocks!! We hang out, shoot the shit, discuss Freddy business, and then it’s time to hit the stage. Steve Stevens and I start the opening chords of “Ready Steady Go” (which never fails to get the hairs on the back of my neck standing up) and we are off and running again. I have some wireless problems, which mean either standing still in front of my receivers, or hearing NOTHING when I run over to Steves side of the stage. I try both, and eventually find a spot near the center of the stage where the fucking things work. Its hard to throw a good show down when your instrument keeps cutting in and out. But we make it through, and jump back onto the bus for the overnight drive to Montreux. Another week down, and one more to go. Hopefully you guys are still enjoying the diary – if it’s a success, maybe I’ll carry it over into the US portion of the tour. See y’all soon, now, ya hear?!