Day Off – Dusseldorf on a Friday evening is I suppose like most European cities, heaving with people out for a good time but when the bus rolled in last night at 3am, I couldn’t believe the numbers on the streets. It was the same when Pete, myself and John hit the street for a mid-afternoon walk, I was in search of fresh milk and found it in the market. I also surprised myself by asking for it in flawless German. (well it seemed like that to me) I didn’t know I spoke the language…don’t know what came over me. We continued on and you could barely move for shoppers. I’m guessing they were shoppers but it soon became apparent that a lot of them were drinkers too. I’ve never seen so much beer going down mid-afternoon as we passed many bars and beer kellers, all of them full. The Altstadt is jokingly known as Germany’s longest bar and that isn’t far from the truth and judging by the general atmosphere, it would appear that that famous German sense of humour is alive and kicking in this busy city. The waiters are known to have quite a laugh too although our waiter in the first bar of the evening wasn’t too happy as he accused Paul of taking the beer mat of the table we took over. They write the number of beers on the mats to keep track as there are so many beers flowing, it would be impossible without some sort of tab system. I guess one of us (who shall remain nameless) unwittingly turned the mat in question over so the waiter’s scrawl was no longer in view. It was an awkward moment as the whole bar fell silent as Paul argued unsuccessfully that he had no idea what the waiter was on about. The beer mat showed up in the end and all was well, except that for some reason, the staff were reluctant to serve us so it wasn’t long before we abandoned the mission and wandered round the corner to a small cafe for some basic but tasty bratwurst and chips. Then it was back to the bars and we stood outside and enjoyed another few Altbiers at the Brauerei Uerige.
In the market…
Show Day – After a lovely day off in Dusseldorf it’s time to prepare for another show and my first priority today is a trip to the gym. All electronics in the room are controlled by a slightly touchy touch-screen panel located in the drawer by the bed and pressing the ‘open curtains’ button slowly revealed a simply beautiful Autumn day. I did however remember that the rugby world cup final was on so I found the TV remote and found it. I also noted that there was a live moto GP race from Malaysia and I decided to watch that. I kind of wish I hadn’t as there was a tragic incident on lap two. Italian rider Marco Simoncelli was involved in an awful accident which resulted in him being hit by both Colin Edwards and Valantino Rossi. I couldn’t believe my eyes as Simoncelli slid unconscious along the tarmac sans helmet. The race was stooped and subsequently canceled as Marco’s condition was reported as critical. An hour later everyone’s worst fears were realized. He had passed away from injuries sustained. I along with many others felt sick, a truly sad start to the day. My thoughts are with his family and friends. BBC Coverage had come to a close so it was back to the Rugby on to witness New Zealand cling on to a one-point lead to win the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. All credit to the French who played out of their socks.
Back to the task at hand. I was greeted in the gym by Mark and Tim doing their stretches, Glenn going through his paces and Stu Kimball, Bob’s guitarist on the mill next to mine. As I’ve said before, you’d be hard pressed to come across a nicer bunch of guys, indeed the same goes for everyone in their production. So, on to the evening’s proceedings.
Last to arrive at the venue, our first of the tour in Germany, just in time for sound-check we de-bagged and I wandered around the huge arena with the camera whilst the crew switched the stage.
When I returned to the dressing room Mark was there with a Set-list in hand. Not ours. Bob had sent message and invited Mark onstage for four songs. The two band dressing rooms were adjacent and Charlie and Tony came popped in to our to run Mark through the arrangements. Catering tonight was a full on success with most of the guys opting for Turkey Schnitzel but I went for the Sunday Roast, rib of beef, Yorkshire pud and gravy. We were onstage at precisely 7:30PM to what appeared to be a completely full house. Another sold-out gig and a fantastic German crowd who were on our side from the word go. Another show preceded by a day off. There’s a little something extra that comes with that scenario and we were on top form with Mark especially playing some spectacular stuff and as has been the case recently, singing as well as ever. The only drawback with these shows as we often discuss is the lack of available time for vocal warm-ups, between dinner and show. We started doing warm-ups a couple of tours ago and have found them to be beneficial in the extreme. As I said, this audience were up for it with many standing ovations throughout the set. We left the stage for Bob to rapturous applause and headed back to the dressing room where Paul (Crocks) waited with set-list revisions from Bob. Some last minute homework for Mark. Tony dropped by again, this time in stage clothes to offer some assistance. Before we knew it, Mark was being ushered to the stage for Bob’s show. We all grabbed our drinks and went to the area to stage-right where our monitor system HAD been. Our boys load out whilst Bob’s crew set up his stage. Incredible. This vantage point offered a great view of Bob’s facial expressions.Bob, his band and Mark took to the stage and the band launched into Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and then into It Ain’t me Babe. Then came a fabulous version of Blind Willie McTell with Mark sailing in and out on his customary Les Paul. Mark then continued on ‘Things Have Changed’ playing some lovely stuff in amongst Bob’s harmonica wailing. Bob’s band are great to watch as of course is Bob, looking as sharp as ever.
Back on the buses for a well earned day off (joke of the day) We’re simply not used to so many as we prefer to do a run of shows before a day off but as we’re heading for one of our favourite hotels, this one in Frankfurt, no-one is complaining.
R.I.P. Marco Simoncelli
20 January 1987 – 23 October 2011