Well, that was the first ‘real’ tour of the year. A bit of a tricky one, just me doing one-person-army on stage with four brilliant musicians, but it worked out just right. The start was a ‘bit’ tougher than I could have imagined. First off, the rehearsal turned out to be in an old army building, ice cold on inside, 6-foot walls (forget about phone network), but the trickiest had to be that it was on the third (!!!) floor, and of course no lifts. It took us 2 hours to get the gear upstairs. Engl speaker cabinets being among the heaviest around made it all the more clear.
With the Frankfurt Messe going on, we had a lot of supplies and suppliers in the neighbourhood, and we had to get some of them to help us out big time; some set up trouble trouble with brand new guitars & amplifiers and lack of FX pedals. but all was taken care of perfectly by Engl, Ibanez and Boss. Thanks guys! Oh, and of course learning all the songs by heart (which had been imparted on me there and then), so I could do pedal changes for Marty.
When the tour finally started, the real fun also started. endless soundchecks, because we were going to have album recordings made on 2 of the 10 shows (of course the first session was during the 2nd show, and the actual soundcheck was arecording session in itself.
That first recording day wasn’t too successful (as could be expected, at least by me), but the next one was really good… In some ways… The vibe was good, the audience great, and the band played a good show. Too bad all musicians had technical trouble. It started with the bass guitar levels being absolutely NOT like we had left them during soundcheck. First way too low, and then when Chris adjusted his levels, everything was waaaayyy too loud. Ron’s volume knob getting jammed, just like that. While I took a working knob off a spare guitar, Marty snapped his first and last string on this tour. That kind of stuff of course only happens during live recordings. Last but not least, Jeremy managed to hit right through his snare drum. As if it was made of printing paper.
The funniest bit was still to come though; right after this recording session, we head off towards Israel by plane, to do another show… And sleep? Naaaah… I had to fix that volume knob instead. Just made it in time, and I could even take a shower before we had to be back on the bus. I think I passed out on the plane for about an hour; so I’ll pretend that was sleep. But ok, Israel… Of course ‘some issues’ with backline specs, but we all made it happen. Very not-so-smart to only tell me about the support act’s drummer using ‘our’ drumkit, when the support act were about to start their soundcheck, ah well… Oh, and of course, Jeremy destroyed another snare drum today. Could it be because he plays with sticks as big and heavy as trees?
After the show pretty much the same scenario. To hotel room to take a shower, and then back to the airport. Anyone been to Israel before? you’ll *love* the security checks on your way out. Around 6am we got on the plane and that’s where I could fall ‘asleep’ again, on the way to Prague. Luckily, once we arrived in Prague, we were first taken to our hotel; a really beautiful place, resembling a medieval castle (built inside and around a normal terraced house, with two beautiful dogs, btw.
The show there was funny to say the least. Kabel, the sound guy insisted (as agreed in the rider, so he had every right to insist) on the venue supplying a monitor desk and engineer. That took about 3 hours to arrange. After a quick soundcheck and some funny ‘preparing the stage’ while the audience were already in the hall, we probably did the worst show of the tour; no wonder considering we all hadn’t had the time to sleep.
Bugger, I completely forgot to talk about ‘the gardener’, our busdriver, and Manni, the tour manager. The gardener seemed to get everything wrong, concerning typical things to do and not do on a tourbus with musicians; we did however, go sightseeing in central London on our way to the venue. And Manni made a record attempt at forgetting to remind the other crew (Kabel and me) about dinner times (I had dinner once (!)); mostly due to the incredible workload I had every day, but it would’ve been nice to hear Manni ask me about coming for dinner.
But all’s well that ends well. Last show in Rome was good, although the crowd were very depressed after they had seen AS Roma being humiliated in a football match (lost 7-1), and I just made it back to Holland in time (about 23 hours driving) to catch the plane to London to start Porcupine Tree rehearsals.