Back To The Roots Tour 2016.
So, who are we supporting?
Tarquin the Hairdresser on his UK Tour?
Alan Titchmarsh on his Gardening Tour?
No. It’s Udo F**king Dirkschneider on his ‘Goodbye to Accept Tour’ with Canadian metal heroes Anvil.
This is a genuine blast for all of us: we played with Anvil in London once before and found them to be very affable blokes; and Udo has been a musical hero since I first heard Accept all those years ago in New Zealand. This is the last time that he’s going to be playing Accept songs so what a gig for us to snag.
This is actually the end of our ‘Blacklist Tour’ which has taken us to eleven countries; sometimes in the most peculiar circumstances! Next time we head out it’ll be with new tracks and a new album on the way \m/
I bumbled up on the train to Burnley the day before the first show to sort out new skins and all that on my kit. The bastards that run London’s public transport services conspired in an attempt to make me miss my train by cancelling every moving vehicle in my vicinity – but I prevailed. You can’t stop I.C.O.N that easily Boris!
The first show was Manchester Club Academy. Nice little venue. I was supposed to play the Academy II years ago supporting Saxon (first gig of that tour in 2007) but they had been held up and ultimately we couldn’t play. As coincidence would have it, John Asten (Udo’s bus driver) had been driving Saxon on that tour too. First time I met him he told me to fuck off back to New Zealand. Ha ha ha! Excellent bloke and it was really good to catch up again after all that time. It’s weird because there are a few Saxon connections on this tour: Udo’s drummer Sven filled in for an incapacitated Nige a while back and also the first time I played alongside Anvil was at a gig at Birmingham NEC headlined by Saxon. Small world…
Anyway…the stage was pretty small in Manchester so I used Robb Reiner’s kit rather than complicate the issue. We are in the strange position of playing as soon as doors open on these dates (thank you UK for your stupid curfews) but by the time we had finished a good crowd was there who seemed to enjoy it. We’re only doing 30 minutes so it’s over in the blink of an eye. No real problems although Robb has his pedals very loose and soft while I like mine firm and hard (ooh-er missus!!) which made it a bit hard to get used to. Great to see some mates in Manchester as well 🙂
The second night was Newcastle and again I was on Robb’s kit (this time with my own pedals) which was very cool. The Riverside is a really nice venue and again the gig whistled by in no time. Mister Def Annton One came down to say hello which was nice too.
Because we were in the wilds of Geordieland for this show it was a night at a trusty Travelodge before the MAIN event the next morning: Morrison’s breakfast. Awesome as ever 🙂
Sheffield was next and a show at The Corporation. This time I was on my own kit tucked in the corner of the stage. With about 30 minutes to set up and soundcheck, it was the perfect moment for Scott’s amp to commit suicide. Marvellous. The local crew guys went above and beyond trying to fix it but to no avail (in fact all crew guys at all venues have been superb!) Lips offered the use of his gear and then Olli, Udo guitar tech, plugged Scott into one of their rigs and the day was saved with minutes to spare. The mighty Welsh Minister for Metal – Tosh from Siren FM – was present too and it’s always great to see that young chap. Again the gig whistled by, then load outside, pack up and relax.
Fortunately I have now developed the dreaded ‘tour cold’. That’s awesome! I’m really pleased about that. After all it’d be too easy otherwise. We toured Europe twice over winter and the U.K. once and not even a throat tickle. Now it’s spring here in England and I’ve got a fucking lurgy. Oh well…paracetamol and medicinal rum should sort that out.
Onwards to Buckley! Over the border into the Land of Dragons…
So where were we?
Apologies for the delay in finishing this tour diary; but I’ve got an excuse and it’s a cracker 🙂
Anyway….from Sheffield we were next bound for The Tivoli in Buckley. Reece piloted the trusty ICONSteed to the destination in pretty good time and we were ready to load in. Once again, I was using Robb’s kit as he has a pretty wide set up and the stages were just too small for three kits. In fact I only used my own once on the whole tour. Nice place The Tivoli, though we had no dressing room or anywhere so were actually relegated to outside (!) or in the draughty doorway; and it was bloody freezing! By now my ‘cold’ was really taking hold so it wasn’t ideal, but never mind. Scott and I also discovered the joy of a leaking shit pipe that ran from Udo’s upstairs dressing room into our…um…loading ramp. So that was an absolute bonus for us 🙂
It had some funny moments in Buckley. A really nice bloke called Dave who did lights there (but wasn’t allowed to give us any lights for some reason) managed to stand all over Scott’s pedals just as we were about to begin. Just an accident, but it ratcheted up the tension a bit. Then, literally as we were ready to start playing, a very strange and zealous security guy jumped up on stage and asked to see our passes! Ha ha ha! “Okaaayy…now can we go?”
“Um…where’s the soundman…it’s gone 7pm?”
“He’s gone to get some chips.”
Ha ha ha! You couldn’t make it up really. Fortunately he came back within minutes and we were still off stage within our allocated half hour. And it was a pretty good gig 🙂
Another funny question of the night:
“What time does Dirk Schneider start playing?”
“Well, Dirk and his boys will be on about 9pm”
Clearly a long term Accept fan 🙂
At the end of the night I felt like absolute shit though. Couldn’t stop shivering and we headed back to Burnley for the night where a hot bath at least stopped the chills. But the cough was getting worse and my temperature was rising (chills…temperature rising…losing control…I’m sure there’s a song from Grease in there somewhere).
The next day we were off to the wilds of Norwich and The Waterfront venue. What a fantastic place! Really cool people and we were sharing a dressing room with Anvil as well, who are always a pleasure to be around. It was an excellent gig with a great crowd, though I struggled a bit because of how I felt. So apologies for not making too much eye contact with you guys up front, I was concentrating on trying to hit the right drum.
That night we headed back to London to crash at my place for the day off that followed. And that’s exactly what I did – went to bed to try and shake this thing off. Unfortunately it just seemed to be getting worse. Angie and Mark had started coughing now too so I guess I was spreading the joy.
By the day of the last gig I was very worried. Being sick, light headed and all that sort of thing does not generally make for a good night on the drums. It was an important show so couldn’t afford to fuck this one up.
We made the venue in no time and as always the staff there were absolutely brilliant and loaded all our gear in. We had a nice little dressing room downstairs, but every time I went up and down the stairs I’d collapse in a coughing heap of phlegm. Awesome. This was going to be great.
Showtime was half an hour after doors and there was a great crowd there when we started; including Phill and Terry from Diving Unlimited 🙂 To be honest I don’t remember too much about the show as I was really trying to just focus on hitting things at roughly the right time at least. But it seemed to go well and then we were off. I’d had a small salad and some chocolate milk before the gig and was determined not to vomit on Robb’s drums as that could really put a damper on things. I was successful too…made it all the way back to the dressing room before…well…it wasn’t pretty, let’s just say that 🙂
And that was it. Tour over. The band had played really really well. Mark then had a large part of the bottles of Jagermeister and Vodka and proceeded to get very pissed – which was well earned – while everybody else wandered about meeting people. Again, sorry I didn’t spend much time upstairs, I was drifting in and out of sleep downstairs in the dressing room.
The tour had been great. Anvil are really cool people – including their excellent TM Dale (guitarist from Jaded Eyes) and merch lady and US/TM Delilah. Really nice people all round. Plus we were made honorary members of the Metal Pounders Union 🙂 The Udo guys were absolutely fine too. Spent a while talking to Fitty who was a very nice bloke. Olli and Arno were top blokes in the crew and the other guys quite friendly. The dark haired guitarist bloke seemed to use up his quota of smiles on stage, but he did own a fetching pair of leather pants and did an admirable ‘Rebel Without Wi-Fi’ pose leaning on any available wall. Still, nice enough guy and we got the occasional ‘S’up?’ from him (which took me a while to figure out wasn’t German). So, thanks Udo and Anvil – we loved the whole thing 🙂
There is of course a brief epilogue…
The next night I went slightly confused and delirious. An ambulance carted me off to North Middlesex Hospital where I took seven bags of saline IV, two bags of penicillin and one bottle of paracetamol before coming around a bit. My blood pressure disappeared and I was wheeled into the Emergency Resuscitation room which was disconcerting. Some poor bloke called Chris was next to me as doctors tried to keep him breathing. The Police everywhere had brought him in after an assault and it sounded like he had a crushed windpipe. I hope he is okay. Don’t remember all of that night…but do remember poor old Chris.
Turns out I had pneumonia. So a few days in hospital (where EVERYBODY was absolutely magnificent), four tubes in my arms with all sorts of stuff going in, shitloads of blood tests and drugs and then I’m out again. Thanks for all the well wishes – it really meant a lot.
What’s next? A new album \m/
The Blacklist Tour is officially over.