After a good night’s sleep we marched southwards towards Southend, battling the usual terrible motorway traffic. It does say something that we’ve travelled nearly the length of Europe and apart from one border checkpoint between Austria and Germany, these are the worst traffic conditions on some of the bumpiest roads with miles of roadworks and no bastard working on them. Just an observation…
Anyway, we arrived at Chinnery’s without hassle: nice venue on the seafront. The Operation:Mindcrimers were already present and correct and the whole soundcheck accomplished without hassle.
For once there were no catastrophes…no breakdowns…no battling the clock…incredible but true, but it was an uneventful day.
It was an excellent gig; even the rain leaking into the stage couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm. Fire and Water were blinding, we played well, and the headliners stormed it. A great night all round. Our Guv’nor Anna was there to meet the teams and all in all the day/evening ran as smoothly as a smooth thing with the word ‘smooth’ written smoothly upon it.
Then back to Larndan for a day off. Next stop Brighton.
Yesterday was definitely a test. We made the ferry terminal in time and checked in, but the ferries were all over the place because of bad weather. Ironically we actually ended up getting an earlier scheduled ferry that was still delayed and left after our original ferry was due to leave. Yeah…we were back to the future.
There were only five foot passengers: us and a little old nun. It was classic; especially at immigration:
“Are you all travelling together?”
“She’s our manager.”
It’s definitely on the list of photos I wish I had when we reached Dover and were leaving the terminal she walked through the doors with Reece and I on either side and Scott and Mark behind. We looked like a seriously heavy duty escort from the Vatican. It just needed the Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back and she would have looked like The Emperor arriving…or Nun Vader.
We were surviving on four hours sleep. Tried to get some sleep on the ferry but it was pretty busy and there was a woman nearby with one of those voices; like an Ostrich mating with a constipated camel. Didn’t help, but at least we were able to relax.
It took ages to disembark as we were shunted around the bloody ship, but we finally made it ashore go meet our Vans for Bands connection and pick up our trusty steed. As ever – a totally reliable company!
Then it was hell bent for leather up the motorways…and into traffic jams. Reece and I were both pretty tired. I’d reached that point of having a conversation with the steering wheel to keep awake. I won’t bore you with the details, as it was slightly surreal, but it turns out that the steering wheel on our van has a fine sense of humour and stunning grasp of historical fact.
Anyway…we FINALLY reached Stourbridge to discover that the Operation:Mindcrime people had hit the same transport problems – multiplied by their being on a bus – and were still on the M25. Time was racing by – and after exhausting every single avenue to make the show happen it was reluctantly cancelled by the venue manager (a very nice bloke). I know for a fact that this was extreme circumstances and everybody was very unhappy at this outcome.
So we were left with no choice but to head to the Travelodge and finally sleep.
Wilhelmshaven – great venue and excellent gig. Was nice to be back in that town. Reece and Mark did a radio interview and then it was time to do a four hour run to our hotel in Antwerp. Got there by 2.30….up at 6.30 for the final run in the Falcon to Calais.
Border police – check.
Park the Falcon in correct bay – check.
Ensure we have all our crap when we leave – check.
Check in – check.
Lose keys to the Falcon – check.
Run back to car to find them in ignition – check.
Drop keys off – check.
Have nervous breakdown – check
Knowing us it’ll probably get torpedoed by a U-boat.
Travel day from Zagreb to Nuremberg. The plan is simple: we drive to Trieste airport to drop off one car and pick up another which we use until we drop it in Calais on the way back to the UK shows.
We reach Trieste (or Tourette’s as Reece pronounces it) and drop off the car. Job done?
The car is in Venice
Okay….how about bringing the car here or taking us to it?
Okay…how about we hire a different car? Simple!
No. “We are a car hire firm…but we have no cars”.
Does any car hire company of the seven here have cars?
Finally after nearly three hours we manage to hire a car to get to Venice.
Phone goes en-route: “We’ve cancelled your car because you are at the wrong airport”.
“Okay….so we’re fucked?”
“Yes. But for an extra €700 we can find a car.”
“No. Let’s just get unfucked while we are driving to Venice.”
So we are on the way to Venice. I’m expecting the town not to be there when we arrive…
(Later that day)
It turns out that the two ladies at Venice airport could not have been more helpful. We got our car without any hassle. It will by known as the Millenium Falcon because it doesn’t look like much but it’s got it where it counts. It made .5 past light speed through Austria and Germany. Long border hold up…brush with the undercover Polizei hunting for escaped POWs…and six hours later we are at the hotel. Hamburg tomorrow!
Not much to report really today. Slept in; had coffee; broke iPod; tried to fix iPod; swore at iPod; abandoned iPod and went to the gig which is a very cool venue with equally cool staff. Sound checked without problems and then feasted on ridiculous amounts of awesome food.
Fire and Water were predictably fantastic and we had an absolute blast on stage. Much tighter than last night I reckon, just a few tweaks here and there made a difference.
Now enjoying Croatian beer while listening to Operation:Mindcrime – these guys are fucking brilliant.
The European shows have been great for us; the crowds really seem to get what the band is about and the promoters have been awesome to us. We have three shows coming in the UK too. It’ll be good to see how they go. Shame we’re not doing London but the promoter wouldn’t let us. I will be diplomatic about that. For now.