Great Danes…

Day Off – Hamburg

canalhamburg

hamburgship

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The day started with the traditional swim and Bircher Muesli. After lazing back in bed for a few hours I thought I should make some sort of effort to get out and about. I grabbed the camera and decided to find something interesting to shoot. I ended up by the harbour where suddenly there were opportunities a plenty. I found a harbourside restaurant, had a German version of fish’n’chips and as it’s a day off, ordered a draught Holsten beer which was delicious. Back at the hotel, there was a message on my phone that some of the guys were heading to an Irish bar for the evening’s Champion’s League match between Arsenal and Marseille. I opted in and we met downstairs at 7:30 and headed out. A frustrating 0 – 0 draw was compensated for by some more nice pilsner beer and a sausage platter. Food ordered in the Irish bar actually came from the German restaurant next door….thankfully. Back to the hotel for a cup of sleepy time tea and an early night with a long travel day and three countries in one day by land ahead tomorrow.

Show Day – The day started early as there was a bag call for 9:45am. I leapt out of bed and headed for the hotel pool at 8:29 and was heating up in the sauna by 9am. I braved the ice cold plunge pool too. If you’ve never tried this, do so. The only trick is that you gotta get hot first! Then it was a swift bag-pack and breakfast order, and meet downstairs on the bus. Pete, who also does the bags had a bit of a moment as an identical green Phoenix bus pulled up in front of the hotel just before ours did. It was The Kooks arriving after their night drive from Dusseldorf. Our bags nearly went on their bus. Just goes to show, you have to be on the case 24/7, and Pete is. I was gonna say hi to Luke Pritchard, their guitarist, as my son Max knows him but they all looked a little worse for wear.

foggyday

 

We arrived at the venue after a long and very foggy drive from Hamburg. The day sheet quoted 5 hours for the journey length and sure enough, to the minute, Carl had it right. I and a few other weary band members crawled out of the sumptuous bunks (most of which actually have windows!) and made our way to the dressing room. I decided to head off to find somewhere to practice my banjo and I saw no ‘banjo free zone’ signs! Methinks they’ve given up….maybe….I found a suitable flight case at the rear of the stage to sit on and I start clawing away like a demented sloth. I soon tire but there is rhythm developing in my efforts. Dinner and it looks and smells like sirloin steak. It is. I devour it.

After a crash diet since Halloween festivities, Scott jokes about his rediscovered figure with Fiona…

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The first and only show in Denmark is in a place called Herning, slap bang in the middle of the country and it’s another great one. A huge, freshly built arena with what seems like a great sound. Even though most of these arenas look the same on the inside, their sonic qualities vary considerably.

 

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Tonight’s show for me was the best in terms of the hi-fi entering my ear canals. The other interesting thing that happens on some occasions is that the sound improves during the show. This is simply because our sound boys Dave Dixon (FOH) and Jon Lewis (Monitors) will tweak the sound as we go. Most likely dealing with low end issues with EQ. This improves not only the sound for the audience but also any resonant, errant frequencies or standing waves that affect the stage sound. In a lot of venues, he can only do so much. In Hamburg for example, there was a limit to his control. All sound engineers develop their own unique ways of doing things.

So, after many waves from the front of the stage to a most appreciative audience (Great Danes) it was show over, back to the dressing room and Mark prepares for another five tunes with Sir Bob. I decided to go out and have a peek. I was a bit early and Mark and Bob’s band are hanging out by the exit doors staying out of the way of our crew who are feverishly moving flight cases around in preparation for their load-out.

The Load out….what happens is this – When we come off stage, the two crews leap into synchronized action, the stages are switched, the cabling tidied, risers moved and our gear is packed away into the road cases and set to one side. Whilst Bob’s crew attend to cabling up their stage, our crew organize our cases into a very specific order. The trucks are all loaded with meticulous care. The cases must be put onboard in the correct order otherwise it simply all doesn’t fit. It’s a jigsaw. One of our crew, often Mr. Saggers, will be at the top of the truck ramp and will co-ordinate the stacking of the cases. The heavy work is done by local crew or ‘humpers’. Weather permitting, the cases are laid out in a long line in the said specific order for loading. It’s an amazing operation to witness which of course over the course of these few weeks has been honed and improved to the point that by the time we leave (about half way through Bob’s show) our truck is three quarters loaded.

All aboard the buses once again and Tim popped into our bus to drop off some welcome sushi plates, our favourite. We departed and settled in to the drive to the third country of the day and Malmo which tonight is estimated at 5 hours.

This photo was taken as we crossed the bridge across the Great Belt between Sealand and Funen. The Storeb√¶lt-connection connects the islands of Sealand and Funen by means of an 18-kilometre-long car bridge and train tunnel. This magnificent engineering feat includes the world’s second-longest suspension bridge (6.6 km). The link was opened to rail traffic in 1997 and road traffic in 1998. At an estimated cost of 21.4 billion DKK(1988 prices),the link is the largest construction project in Danish history. Before this, the trucks and buses used the ferry services. You can imagine the time saved. as we crossed, the bus was occasionally buffeted by crosswind gusts, quite scary when considering the drop on either side! That’s Dirk’s bus ahead…

nightroad

 

Richard had command of the playlist for this evening and after two hours of delicious music, I took over with my next bus playlist. We arrived in Malmo at about 2:30. Carl had made good time…actually we had a double driver this evening. This simply means that after a certain number of hours, all drivers must rest (EU regs.) so we take another driver and do you know, I didn’t even see him during the journey. Into our rooms at the Renaissance hotel and sleep was not far behind…

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