Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Boots and more

At last I am able to sit and do a bit of catch up.

The Stockholm show was set inside an amusement park.
It was a bit weird to see all the attractions surrounding us when we got there.
Rides full of screaming people whizzing by, up and down, in and around.
The band decided not to have a full sound check as there were quite a lot of people in front of the stage already so a quick line check was made to make sure the gear was working.
There were so many people flooding into the park for the show that eventually they closed it!

Steve doing his line check (double click on any pic for full size view)

The show was fantastic, the crowd very responsive and Stockholm did us proud.
Our lovely friend Marlon came to the show, I think I am getting wider but shorter!

After the show we had a 7 hour bus trip to Oslo overnight, hello little rolling bunk but would it be goodbye sleep?

Mmmmm, not much sleep;  One of us who will not be named was snooring!

The man and I were in a zombie state by the time we offloaded at the Olso hotel, I didn’t look left or right but headed right for the front doors then up in the lift to our room.
Once we caught up with rest and had a look around the city centre we realized that Oslo was a very cool city indeed, we stayed right in the middle of the city and of course since the recent tragic events there with the madman killing so many innocent people it was scary and sad to imagine the sound of a bomb going off  with so much pain and saddness which we would have heard very clearly from where we were.

It was a big show in Oslo with Iron Maiden headlining, I was pretty busy with my job and didn’t get much chance to take any pics. To be perfectly honest the main thing I remember from that few days was how tired I was.

After the show there was another 8 hour overnight drive to Gavle, Sweden.
These last few shows were all pretty big plus an extra show had been added in Norway after Helsinki so the ‘homeward bound’ goal post had been moved a couple of days but the band and the boss pulled out spectacular performances.

The last 48 hours was long, felt more like 148 hours. We left Gavle, Sweden a few hours after the show, a two hour bus drive to an airport hotel back in Stockholm, arriving at about 4am. Slept till 7am then off to board a charter plane to Helsinki.

The plane was pretty cool, bigger than I expected with two pilots, two crew, and one other person who turned out to be a Brit engineer for the plane itself. The sky was so blue as we boarded the little prop but my head was off on planet Zonk by this time.

Got to stadium at midday then worked and hung about till show time at 7pm. Catering was good with lots of activity as Iron Maiden were headlining again so there were all their crew as well as ours. I am starting to see them as familiar faces and hear their familiar London accents as we have done a few shows with them now.

There were so many people at the Helsinki show; I think maybe 35,000. I was doing the jumbo screens so didn’t see it directly from the front. I was in a van with the video crew at the back of the stage, the band was fantastic as usual, the heat was brutal for them and the audience.

After the show finished we had another four hour wait at the venue until the bus to the airport and here we are as I write this blog. It is 1.40am, the airport is quiet; no shops open and nothing to do but write.
Some of the crew initially found a few things to occupy themselves with, messing about making Chewbacca noises with some bar stools, using the check in intercom to make fictitious flight calls (with the permission of the staff) ‘ding dong’ will Toby please wake up’.
But that didn’t last, were are all exhausted; it is quiet now as we sit around in sleepy silence waiting for 3am when we leave on the charter again.

An interesting thing; I needed to go to the bathroom which was up a floor in the empty airport and as I entered I heard the sweet sound of what I imagined was a Lesser Spotted Tree Warbler! There was the sound of birdsong in the ladies toilet! Novel idea and rather comforting, I nearly moved in there for a while but needed to get back to the man.

On to Norway in our little charter plane and a whole bunch of rain and mud! I had decided to wear my old black suede boots for the last time and the show in Norway took them out in grand style.
The camera booth area was in the middle of the grounds, under an awning along with the lighting and sound desks, but to get to them I had to cross about 100 feet of thick gooey mud. There was something quite liberating about squishing my beloved old boots across that mud, they seemed to know it was their last journey and indeed it was.
The camera crew for the jumbo screens on this last show in Norway was the best of the entire tour; they completely got what I wanted and were helpful and professional, thanking me for helping them make it a good show for them.
They even handed me a yummy plate of hot waffles with maple syrup half way through!

After Norway we were all homeward bound for the USA! Steve and I had meetings in our old hometown of Hollywood, LA but more of that later.

Goodbye Europe!


The venue starts to fill up in Helsinki

 The sky says it all in Norway on the last show

The mud

My view of the Norway show

What I see to do the screens; top left is what the crowd are seeing on the screens, top right is the preview screen for us and the smaller screens below are the eight camera's.

From the stage

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our Stockholm break

I really always wanted to be Maid Marian!
Golden brown hair flowing in a nonchalant way down to my ass, looking delectable with no make up (apart from a blob of carefully placed rouge for that fresh rugged outdoor look).
Riding bareback on a stallion (probably sideways) and managing to remain pleasantly feminine as I hacked the head off a metal clad attacker who threatened my castle and my one and only love Robin Hood.

This realization came from the fact that the man and I have been able to watch a few movies in the hotel room whilst we relaxed in Stockholm, thanks to Robin of Loxley (and Cate Blanchett) I have been able to establish my missing link, Maid Marian is indeed my alter ego. This revelation could also account for my love of brown linen frocks.

We watched a pretty cool Will Smith movie whereby he got all tangled up between the mob and the FBI, just another days survival for the skinny guy who even cried quite convincingly in a moving death scene.
Finally but far from least was a movie called ‘Drag Me To Hell’ no idea who the actors were, they were pretty young and pretty funny. This was a horror movie with its tongue firmly in its cheek, hilarious stuff and a perfect end to our hang- in- bed Saturday.

Stockholm is beautiful, although we have our friend Marlon to thank for the fact that we saw anything beyond the hotel lobby.
Stockholm is also full of beautiful men and women, most of whom are blonde of course but also most of the women seemed to be pregnant! I have never seen so many women in one place with a bun in the oven! And, they still manage to look gorgeous!!!
After finding out that during the winter the sun goes down at 3.30pm we deducted that nine months ago it was November and what do you do if the sun goes down at 3.30pm……..well, you know what!

Marlon is a cousin to my old friend and record producer TB in the UK.  By sheer chance during a Skype call, Steve asked TB if he knew anyone at Propellerhead. Propellerhead are the music software company that makes ‘Reason’ and Reason is the Rolls Royce of music sequencing software.
TB said no, but I know a man who does and Marlon is his name!

Marlon is about 6ft 3, a blonde Scandinavian Adonis who is as fit as a butcher’s dog (do Americans know that expression I wonder?). More importantly he is a sweet, smart and generous young man, he not only arranged a meeting at the Propellerhead headquarters here in Stockholm but he also took us to the old town, the cool shops and sorted a couple of superb meals.
Marlon is very industrious in life, he teaches (defensive) fighting as a sport; manages an up and coming actor and also runs a successful business developing company profiles and marketing.

Steve thought it was his birthday at Propellerhead, you have to understand what going there means to someone who records in their own home studio. We not only met the hospitable CEO Ernst (who happens to be a huge fan of Steve’s work) but also their main developer Kristoffer, they showed him some of their newer products and answered some of his questions on current products.

Stockholm is a very clean and prosperous city, the people are fit and there are hundreds of bicycles everywhere, ridden by young and old alike.
It is expensive, more expensive than London!

Show is tomorrow night

Steve with Kristoffer Wallman (left) and CEO Ernst Nathorst Boos at Propellerhead:

Steve plays some guitar at Propellerhead:

Friday, July 1, 2011

The 100 Club London

The 100 Club in central London was a late addition to the tour dates; we flew in from Switzerland and stayed at the same hotel that we had spent the day in before. This was very near a huge shopping mall with a Marks and Spencers so the man and I had a good browse in there whilst we had the opportunity.

On the day of the show we all went down to the club in the late afternoon so the guys could do a sound check, the 100 Club was tiny!
They were also adding some cover songs to the set and needed to run through them.
We knew there was to be a special guest and the rumors where flying that it was to be Johnny Depp, by the time we arrived at the club we knew for sure that he would be joining us that afternoon to go over one of the songs, he ended up playing on two.

The only people in the building were the band, the crew, Alice’s manager and a few others. I was over on the far left nearest to Steve, watching them sound check.

I was aware that a small group of people had come in over on the other side, it was dark and I could only just make out two very small figures, a very tall man and one more figure in a hat. 
The two smallest figures where Johnny’s children, Lily-Rose who is beautiful and young Jack who is so like his dad it’s silly. Both children are bright, engaging and polite.
The tall figure was a 'minder' who looked pretty serious; then there was Johnny, dressed in a dark striped T-shirt with braces that were hanging loose down by his side, baggy pants, tinted glasses and a cool ‘news boy’ cap that fell over to one side in the coolest way possible. Around his neck was a long scarf tied loosely.
I honestly did not think I would get to meet him, I would certainly not have just gone over to say hello and continued to watch the band go over the songs.

As they finished a song, Alice jumped off the stage and beckoned to me, “do you want to meet Johnny”? Then he called to Steve and took us both over with him.
Johnny and Steve shook hands, Johnny said; “This is an honor man, I am a huge fan of your playing” Steve was clearly taken aback, how cool was that!

He introduced me and I managed to say “hello, lovely to meet you”. I remember meeting Annie Lennox in London in 08 when Steve was touring with Lou Reed and more recently Bette Midler in NY, I was so star struck on both occasions and could hardly say “hello” at all so I was trying hard not to mutter this time.

Johnny Depp is a quiet man with bright eyes and an easy smile, he chatted with Steve for a few minutes then afterwards as some of the band were getting their photographs taken with him, Steve asked him if I could have my pic taken with him. Luckily Glen was right there with his phone camera, otherwise the moment would have been lost!
And that is how I came to have my arms around my gorgeous husband on one side and the equally gorgeous Johnny Depp on the other side (:

There was a heatwave in London and the 100 Club was so hot that night! It was packed to the gills with about 350 Alice fans and what a treat they got. No make up, no guillotine or other props (only the snake) but a rock gig to remember.
Alice was relaxed and chatted in between songs which is unheard of normally but this show was different, the band and the boss were in an informal setting, they loved the close proximity to the audience and each other, this was a one off for sure.

When the boss called Johnny up he introduced him as Johnny D and the audience had no idea who was up there! Gradually they all realized who it was and the place went crazy.

Johnny Depp can play guitar! And he looked like he was having so much fun up there, rocking with Damon, Alice and Chuck and looking every bit the rock star. They did ‘Eighteen’ first, I love hearing Steve solo on that song, it is a bit slower than a lot of the set and that allows him to really play the blues. He took the first solo and Johnny took the second solo, ‘Schools Out’ was the other song.

The band were dripping wet when they finished the set, we were all boiling hot but what a night it was, thank you London, thank you Alice and the band and thank you Johnny Depp.

Istanbul and more

I was a little disappointed with Istanbul; in its defense I only saw a small part…..the road leading to the hotel, the hotel and the venue! I guess I expected one big colorful bazaar with tents full of exotic fabrics and I am sure that is there.
The open-air festival felt like it was set in a large hole in the ground, the surface was terribly uneven wherever we went; the dressing room/tent was up a steep, winding narrow stone staircase, that day was particularly taxing for the man and I had to stay with him most of the time.
But, the sun was out; the show went well, the people were delightful and always keen to help.

That night was made very special for another reason; Shep treated some of us to a meal at a famous restaurant called The Topaz. This is set high up overlooking the river and near a mosque with two tall towers.
The scenery was simply stunning; way in the distance we could see Asia! The sun was going down then at 9pm we heard the most amazing and haunting sound I have ever heard. It was an evening prayer being sung in Turkish. The singer glided between quarter tones, his voice floated across the water to our ears and I will never forget it.
Then came fireworks lighting up the sky in various locations along the river, which were accompanied by Iron Maiden starting their set over at the festival.
I will always remember Istanbul for that evening prayer.

On to Switzerland; as we landed in Basel my ears were not liking the pressure change at all, I felt like crud and this only got worse. 
Eventually Steve took me to a doctor, (as I have already reported on here) 
We did not get to see very much of Basel, apart from the hotel room and one brief trip into town. The hotel staff were so sweet and kind during my sickly stay.
It’s very clean in Basel and very very expensive!

The road into Istanbul


The man wearing one of Tommy's cool T-shirt designs and having a Starbucks: