This morning in Bergen I opened the curtains to see rain like I’ve not seen for a while and thought to myself, those mountains are really doing their job today. Rain seems ‘wetter’ here for some reason and the mere 3 yards from the hotel doorway to the car was enough to soak anyone. It’s little wonder that Bergen can be prone to flooding and I felt fortunate that we were escaping today. No such fortune for Steve Earle and Nick Cave who are next up at the Bergen festival, I hope it all goes ok for them. We bumped into Steve in our hotel lobby upon checkout, Steve being an old friend of Glenn and Richard. There was no tome for idle chat though as we had a magic carpet ride to catch. At the airport in Range Rover convoy, we drove airside once more and ran up the steps to be greeted by Liz. Airborne we devoured our lunch of anti-pasta meats and as soon as we reached our cruising altitude, we started our descent. No actual cruise at all in fact.
I’m not sure any of us knew too much about the town of Stavanger as we drove in heavy traffic towards the venue from the airport this afternoon. One thing was certain; it would be another great Norwegian crowd as just like the other dates in this country, the show was sold out long ago. Further investigation into its history reveals that the city grew rapidly in the latter 1900’s as a result of the massive boom in Norway’s offshore oil industry. Today this industry is still key to the economy and Stavanger is known as the oil capital of Norway.
The venue, the very newly constructed DNB Arena is the concrete-smelling new home to the Stavenger Oilers, the local Ice Hockey team. When the crew arrived this afternoon, Kerry described it as a building site. In fact, they don’t actually have the main power hooked up for staging yet so we had to use external generators, no great issue. So new is the building that there are NO catering facilities available inside. I’m not sure if that’s just because they haven’t finished them yet or that it’s a catastrophic design flaw. Regardless, our catering boys had to struggle once more and set up camp in a makeshift marquee outside the backstage door. After our arrival I made my usual visit to the kitchens to greet Dave and Chris and learned of their challenges today. Their makeshift workplace had only one small sink, barely able to cope with the constant stream of dirty pots, pans, dishes, plates, cutlery and tools requiring immediate washing in order to be put to use as the boys prepare the meals for the crew. The local promoter admitted an error of judgement on his part and apologized, something you’d never see an Italian promoter doing. Other minor irritants for the team included the fact that Milk in Norway is packaged in very similar carton to Yoghurt and the indecipherable writing on the sides of bottles of what looked like water actually described the contents as Peach flavoured mineral water. This is something that none of us actually discovered until we came off stage before our encores and Mike took a big swig of what he thought was water only to spew it out in Saccharin shock. Ianto’s pre-gig cup of ‘builders’ tea with yoghurt caused little amusement. He thought the milk was off and marched into catering to see what was up. Back in the catering tent, the makeshift tables were awash with water dripping in from the roof. Most of the band took dinner into the dressing room to make more room for the boys and girls who really need feeding, the crew. Our chief feeder, Georgie, made up a unique piece of improvised ‘swag’ possibly available for sale at the merchandise stand at future outdoor shows. Here she models her design with Ianto, who is sporting a current, non-waterproof article of MK merch.
Speaking of feeding, the main arena area had four huge bars set up for when the doors opened. Which makes perfect sense as it encourages the audience to enter the arena ASAP. I did ask if they continued to serve beer after we went on stage. The answer was no.
Sheila in catering today…
Richard practicing in the dressing room…
Mike practicing a tune we’ll do tomorrow…maybe…
Kerry fits Mark’s in-ears pre-sound-check..
pic Pete Mackay
We took to the stage ten minutes late for some reason, I guess not everyone in Norway likes beer, and the reception was as expected. Fantastic. Up on their feet from the word go (no chairs!) the audience were with us the whole way and we all had a great time, relaxed, confident and energetic. We came off stage and into the cars exhilarated and were at the plane in no time ready for our after-show feed and drinkies prepared by the lovely Liz. Another short hop across the ‘Skagerrak’ sound and into Sweden for the first time on the tour and another very interesting city, Gothenburg. Bernie and team met us at the other end and whisked us to our hotel for the next two nights.
The tour is really rolling now..
A final note of the sad passing yesterday of legendary guitar player Johnny Smith. Richard has written a lovely tribute in his diary today.