Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bucharest, birthday and more

I think it’s time to recap on the countries we have covered in the last eight weeks:


The outdoor venue for Bucharest was like a roman amphitheatre, the weather was lovely and things were relatively relaxed, as there were no other bands on with us that night. So much so that Glen took a little nap on the gear piled up backstage after the sound check.
When there are no other bands involved it is easier for the crew, they can check all the equipment at a decent pace, they don’t have to worry about another bands gear coming off or another bands gear coming straight on at the end of the show.

It was the mans birthday, he and the boss were now the same age and he reflected back on the fact that he has been doing shows on his birthday on and off for the last 40 years, the last time was with Lou Reed in London in 2008.
Toby had organized a cake; we did not do any candles, maybe not a good idea with Steve as he could have set himself on fire!
We all gathered in the dressing room including the boss and sang happy birthday, the cake was extremely gooey and extremely yummy.

There were two other things that I remember about that show; it had been decided after an incident at Download that I would be the one to lead my man off stage. It is very difficult for well meaning friends and colleagues to lead Steve in the dark; I am very used to doing this, as we are together 24/7. I know to watch for obstacles that are likely to hit his head or face even though he is 6ft and I am 5’3”. I know how to talk him through an uneven surface and up or down steps or ramps, as he needs to know if they are narrow or deep, wide or steep. In the dark he is a completely blind man and there are hazards all over the place.
That was also the day that I started to feel under the weather.

Next stop Bamberg, Germany and what a lovely town it was. We had a couple of days off before the show, which was actually in a small town called Weismain about 40 minutes away.
Steve and I walked into Bamberg town centre and did a bit of shopping; he found a couple of really cool hats, which he has been wearing ever since.

The Weismain festival was LOUD! When we got there we found the production and dressing room tent was really close to the stage area, which had non-stop music from many rock bands including Motorhead.
It was raining and I could not hear myself think from the minute we got there. Nobody could hear anybody else, which also made our radio’s useless and that made the atmosphere just a tad tetchy. We couldn’t find a VIP and I found myself in the rain, waving a VIP laminate in the air at the crowd in the hope that the lost person would come forward. I had no other choice other than waving the laminate as my voice had all but gone by this time.
The AC band was fantastic that night, whatever is going on before or after the show, the band always performs at 110 percent, I am so impressed by this.

Next up Istanbul

Sleepy Glen

Damon relaxes 

Steve doing the solo in 'Fire'


Friday, June 24, 2011

Lines and Download

My blogs went into standby mode as I coughed my way across a number of countries with flu.

There are usually about 19 of us when we start rolling from one country or city to another. We are a daunting vision for any unsuspecting hotel clerk or baggage checker! On many occasions the airports open a separate checking in line for us.

On the subject of lines: These are a repetitive occurrence, that and ‘waiting’: Waiting for bags to be picked up from the hotel room, lines to pay incidentals at the hotel, lines for checking in at the airport, waiting for the gate number, lines for passport check, customs lines, baggage lines, lines for boarding the flights. All this up to three times a week for six weeks and you get the picture.  

Now add the cough of all coughs to the last few airport waiting rooms and a head that wants to implode as an ear infection and sinus infection are forming a joint plan of attack.
There were people getting up and changing seat’s, as they feared my lurgy would attach to them and carry them off to a dark grisly pit of insanity.

Anyway, the pills are working now and I can put pen to paper (so to speak)

On to the Download Festival, Donington, UK

I was pretty taken aback by the size of the site for the Download Festival in Donington, UK. In order to get from the backstage and production area to the stage on which our band were performing I had to use a little electric buggy thingy which I would have loved to have had a go at driving.
My first job was to meet the stage camera director and his camera crew; as I would be directing the jumbo screens for the show.

There were four stages and I was told about 100,000 eager rock fans were waiting to watch the huge selection of rock bands.
My man was pleased to meet up with his old friend Tom Peterson from Cheap Trick who we’re also on the bill that day. Tom is usually up for some ‘blind’ jokes with Steve, which is always taken with the good humor and affection that was intended; they have been great buddies for a long time.

We watched the Cheap Trick set from the side of the stage and they were amazing.

As with all the other festivals and no doubt all the ones to come, the color of the day was ‘black’. Black clothes, black hair, black eye make up but thanks goodness due to the good-natured crowd no black eyes!

The camera crew for the screens were excellent; There were at least 6 camera operators and they all listened intently as I described the details of the set list that we wanted the audience to see in close up.
There was a village atmosphere backstage, many tents and small modules all with different band names on their doors. The AC band was ready for action and action is what they gave the crowd that day. There were band members from other bands gathered at each side of the stage during their set, the band love that and it adds to the excitement of the show. It also shows the huge respect that the boss generates within the industry and I suspect that will only grow once the new album is released. It will be awesome!

At the end of the show we all hightailed it back to the dressing room in a van and even before the band had changed out of their wet clothes the boss came around to say what a great show they had done.

Bucharest was next and my man had a birthday

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ireland and other subjects

I love Imodium! 

Not that it is at the top of my gastronomic delights list but it has (excuse the pun) saved my ass on a number of occasions now.
Some of this tour is done by bus only, that means there are times when we leave a show, drive overnight for ten hours to the next city or country and have a few hours in a hotel room at the other end before a show that eve.

Before your imagination runs wild, there is a toilet on the bus! But there are restrictions 
(if you know what I mean) (: And that is as far as I will go in explaining why I love Imodium the rest you can work out yourselves.

It took months to arrange and seemingly endless outlay but on June 6th my children Holly and Mathew arrived from London to Belfast in Northern Ireland.
I had not seen them for 18 months, although the internet keeps us in touch pretty well of course.
Holly had warned me that she had pink and blonde dreads which came in handy for spotting her at Belfast airport. Not that it would have been difficult really, the airport is just a little larger than our apartment in Nashville. (I'm kidding!)

We had dinner together in the hotel, where I found myself staring at both of them trying to remember every moment, watching them laugh and chat with their step dad and wishing this visit would last longer than just the two days.
The next day they came to soundcheck with us in the bus, it was pretty chaotic at the venue, three bands and their gear: Thin Lizzy, us and Def Leppard. They got to watch all the activity although the music was not quite up their street as they are both into Techno.... Trance? Dub Step? Drum N Bass? I'm not sure which but feel quite pleased with myself that I named even some of it!

The Belfast crowd were fantastic, the boss and the band were on fire and Holly and Mathew got to throw balloons out to the audience during Schools Out which I stupidly managed to not photograph.
Backstage there was a lot of band interaction, there were members of our band that had hero's in the other bands and visa versa. Old friends both musicians and crew meeting up on the road and sharing stories, great stuff!
I enjoyed the multi bill show but missed the songs we had to cut due to time restrictions.

The band, the crew and the boss made my kids feel welcome including taking pics with them, more ways for me to remember their visit but also a reminder of how much they miss their own families when on the road.

We left Holz and Mat behind to catch their flight back the next morning, as we drove off in our huge glossy green double decker I took a bit of quiet time to myself upstairs to watch the miles pass by through the front window and to start forming a plan for our next reunion.

Dublin was next, once again it was the three band lineup and the crowd were awesome but the exceptional thing about this show for me was that the boss had asked me to sing back up vocals on 'Poison' which I did with great glee despite not being able to rehearse with the guys ahead of time. 

My main purpose on this tour is to help my gorgeous man get around due to his poor eyesight but I also have a job as a production assistant which involves co ordinating the VIP meet and greets and being a camera director when there are jumbo screens, I love doing all that but singing will always be my favorite occupation.

So, goodbye Ireland, hello Download.........   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rio de Janeiro

Oh my goodness!!!!!! Rio!

The drive to the hotel was a sharp reminder that alongside the affluence is a good deal of poverty. Lots and lots of ramshackle little dwellings and children selling peanuts and other things with no shoes on, in amongst the traffic.
As we drove further towards the coast, the scene changed dramatically, turning into the most glorious vision of blue, green and yellow.
We went past Copacabana and Ipanema, how cool is that!   

The hotel offered the most amazing scenery, a swimming pool sitting alongside a stretch of sandy beach.
We all scattered when we got our room numbers, the man and I were on floor eleven so had a great view of the area.
Later on we gradually gathered into little pockets of 'tour peeps', the hardworking crew and band enjoying this time together, some in the bistro and some by the pool.
There is always lots of laughter at such times.

Whilst a bunch of the guys went up to see the 'Christ The Redeemer' statue way up overlooking the city, Steve and I went to sit on the beach where I actually felt the sand in between my toes and paddled my feet in the water, not that I would have gone in, it was too darned cold for me!

Having said that, I was born by the sea and miss it loads!

Toby and Cesare our tour and stage manager's came strolling by, it was good to see them having a bit of relaxation time, they make this tour happen and that is not always an easy job!  Despite some of the glamorous places that get visited, this much traveling and organizing is exhausting for everybody.

We had a meal which my man shared with a pretty little stray cat that has found refuge of sorts at the resort, being allowed to be fed by whoever cares enough to bother. 

Enough of all that! On to the show.

What a fantastic crowd turned up, they were so loud and happy to see the boss and his amazing band. They had a great gig and there were some fab Youtube clips to follow, including one of the Hendrix song 'Fire' where my old man now has the black wig planted firmly on his head for his awesome solo.

That's what I love about this tour, there are so many bonuses: the wonderful King of Darkness, an extraordinary line up of musicians behind him, the guillotine, the monster plus the fun. Humor and excellence in one fantastic show. 

And that was Rio:


Monday, June 6, 2011

Catching up

I have finally been able to load a few pics on here!
First up is a great pic of the band taken backstage:

We are now in Belfast but I need to catch up on a couple of countries/cities/shows.
As I have the worst short and long term memory in history I may well get a few things out of order but here goes.

Porto Alegre, Brazil is such a pretty place, Steve says it is like Portugal so now I need to go there!
We strolled around a little during the day, the shops were very tempting but expensive, although he did buy me a wedding anniversary present that day. 

The show was great but marred a bit by the fact that one of the bands leather stage 'biker' vests got stolen from the stage after soundcheck, so keep your eyes peeled out there, there were only 5 made. 
I took a few pics during soundcheck that day and thought I might have caught the robber red handed in one of them but it was not to be ):
I will be attempting to post some pics yet again at the end of this blog post but the 'interweb' may have different idea's.

Next up was Sao Paulo, the city with 30 million people! The gig was fantastic, the crowd were noisy and enthusiastic plus I had another chance to do camera directing for the jumbo screens which I love. I managed to highlight my man with the black wig on for the Jimi Hendrix song 'Fire' which is hilarious and which has also now been immortalized on a Youtube vid. 

BUT WAIT! I have to tell you about the hotel which was quite ....... interesting........ modern...... darned weird!

From the outside it looked like Noah's Ark but made out of stone and all the hotel windows were round like portholes! 
The first thing that struck us was how dark it was inside, I recon they had joined a new 'Let's Save Electricity' society cos when you got in an elevator and the doors closed you were thrown into almost pitch black apart from a bluish strip light across the top!  This is not good for a man with very poor eyesight and I meant to point that out to them but forgot in the end.
The hallways to the rooms were so dim we were both feeling our way around the walls! (Well, almost)
When we walked into our hotel room, it was also pitch black so after trying a light switch to  no avail, I went towards the 'porthole' window to draw the blind but it was also on a switch and nothing would work at all, not the blind or the lights. Ah ha! I said to myself, more savings! You had to put your room card into a slot by the door then the electricity flowed like wine, but, having walked in, closed the door and crossed the room I then had to feel my way back across to find the slot, telling Steve to stay where he was or he might walk into something.  

There were two big coconuts waiting there like large green pods with a straw sticking out of the side of each one and a neat little 'Welcome' sign set in front. I was fooled at first and thought they were sculptures but I have to say I ended up enjoying them both as the man was not keen at all. 

The frosted glass 'wall' that separated the bedroom area from the bathroom actually split into two halves then folded up towards the ceiling which was so thoughtful, you could have a bath (or something) as your loved one snoozed on the bed, presumably so that you didn't feel lonely
On the small table on my side of the bed was a small black box and it was then that I realized that despite having us walk around in darkness they were showing just how much they really cared at this hotel, they had supplied us with two condoms (:

Next time, Rio de Janeiro

Porto Alegre, Brazil

The 'Boat' Hotel in Sao Paulo

From the roof, can you spot the 3 million people?
The coconuts

The condoms!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What was I thinking!

There are two things in my suitcase on this tour that should have post it notes on them saying "What were you thinking"!

The first is a newly hand made velvet Kofi hat for Steve that I prepared for beading, along with a few thousand tiny beads and a sewing kit............. ???? I barely have time to unpack my hair shampoo talk about bead a hat!!! The time we do have sitting around I try to catch up on life out there in the real world or I sleep.

The second item that is completely redundant thus far is a pair of evening shoes, ha ha ha, what was I thinking!!!!