Øur day began in England after a perfectly timed 7-day break. Once again the team reformed in the GAT lounge at Farnborough airfield, this time in pouring British rain. Traffic coming out of West London was quite extraordinary. With many road closures, it was a nervy ride out for some of the guys in what was at times, gridlock. Slightly delayed, we left the UK and headed north over the North Sea, over the West coast of Norway.
Regrets? It’s difficult to have any on a tour such as this but it was a shame we couldn’t spend any time in the beautiful town of Ålesund. Apart from being surrounded by the most breathtaking of scenery, the town itself has a unique trait in that architecturally it is extremely consistent. Aided by gale force winds, the great fire of Ålesund in 1904, destroyed the entire wood-built town in a matter of minutes. Remarkably, only 1 person died but the mass evacuation meant 10,000 were left without shelter. Most of the current buildings having been built between 1904 and 1907, the town has a distinct Art Nouveau style.
Views are spectacular from virtually any standpoint and with so much sea in close proximity, it’s no wonder the town has a strong fishing heritage. It is in fact the most important fishing port in Norway and could arguably be the original birthplace of Bacalhau or dried Cod. Bacalhau is undeniably Portuguese but ostensibly, the concept of salted, dried Cod originated in Norway.
Ørigins aside, Nørvøya is the name of the particular island on which today’s venue lies, the municipality of Ålesund being made up of 7 islands. These are all linked rather beautifully with some very deep, rather impressive road tunnels and an occasional bridge. Impressively, there are over 1,000 road tunnels in Norway. I’m not sure any other nation has more. We were met at Ålesund’s small airport by Alex’s team of drivers and we made our way along the most scenic of routes to the venue.
Years ago, a hall such as this would have caused concern for the band in terms of on-stage monitoring. No such issues these days with the in-ear systems as they are now. Having said that, the ambient level of the general chattering seemed excessive. I called across Ben Byford, one of our on-stage sound techs and asked him to turn down the ambience mics. He said they weren’t in my mix! Either people have a lot to talk about when they get together up here, or the hall somehow enhanced the chat level. Either way, we had a great show and it was good to be back rolling again, possibly even rocking.
After the usual encores, we left the building in extremely well drilled fashion into bright, and I mean BRIGHT sunshine. This far North and at this time of year, it hardly gets dark at all and resisting the temptation to put on sunglasses, we boarded the plane in broad daylight at 11pm. A short hop to Oslo and a hotel check in at midnight with seemingly half the city on the streets and in the many bars in the Sentrum. It always seems to be midnight on a Friday night when we arrive here.