May 12th, 2014
And so, we awoke early in the morning already parked outside the venue in Hamburg.
On days when we are in and out with two overnighters back to back, it makes sense to just camp up at the venue rather than schlep backwards and forwards to and from a hotel. This was a nice modern venue with good dressing rooms and showers so that’s what we did.
It’s actually rather convenient and means that the vital locations of the day – stage, dressing room, catering and bunk – are all within a couple of minutes walk of each other.
The day started well with a good old fry up and a couple of strong coffees and I was ready to take on the world.
The venue – The Congress Centre – was a modern place with big, wide, comfortable seats and a steep rake to the auditorium. It was a beautiful building with lovely acoustics and I’m sure very comfortable for the audience but, if I’m honest, we kind of knew that the atmosphere at the gig would be a little flat and reserved. It’s almost always the case that the more comfy the seats, the less involved the audience gets and that rule certainly held that evening.
The comfy seat syndrome was also exacerbated by the fact that the stage was huge and the front row was a corporation bus ride away.
A brass eye view (if you’ll pardon the expression!)
This is why we all much prefer playing in clubs as the vibe is always so much better. As the audience are all standing, none of them has to feel conscious about blocking the view of someone sitting behind them. They’re all in the same boat and it doesn’t take much to get it rocking!
Anyway, it’s not our job to moan about the conditions – as good at is as we are – but rather to crack on and give every show 100% for the sake of the people who have paid good money to see Lisa – seated or not.
After breakfast we all filled in the time with our own stuff – emails, Facebook etc. and before we knew it it was lunch time.
One of the down sides of touring as a band member (and there aren’t many, I admit) is the fact that there are often sizeable chunks of time to be filled. There is a famous quote from Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the band who, when asked how he would sum up 25 years of the Rolling Stones replied “5 years playing and 20 years hanging around”. That will certainly resonate with anyone who has toured for more than a few weeks at a time.
Unfortunately, one of the ways in which you fill the time is by eating and, given there is food everywhere – catering, in the dressing room, on the bus – it sometimes feels like I regularly eat my own body weight in Bountys.
As the venue was pretty central, after lunch Mick and I had a walk into town for a look around.
As a city named after fast food it’s a very pleasant place and we had a good look around, I bought some shoes and then we had a coffee by the lakeside and watched the world go by.
Come to think of it there are a number of food themed cities in Germany, all of which are very beautiful places. Hamburg, Frankfurt, the Black Forest, Vienna (ok, that’s Austria but….. hey).
In the UK, of course, we have Eccles, Pontefract, Dundee.
Ah, well….. perhaps not.
Ich bin ein Hamburger
Sightseeing done, we headed back to the venue for the soundcheck and my traditional pre-show zzzz and before we knew it we were at the side of the stage ready to go on.
As expected, the audience were a little muted at first but Lisa always manages to get them up on their feet and rocking. With typical teutonic efficiency however, the stewards shepherded the party animals who had come to the front back to their seats but, each time within a couple of minutes Lisa had them back again and this game of musical chairs (?) went on for half the show until the stewards gave up.
So, after another great show we were all in high spirits and looking for some mischief – particularly as the next day was a day off.
We were driving overnight to Bremen but we couldn’t leave until 1.00am – something to do with the driver’s hours – so we all ended up in the hotel bar next door telling stories, watching Eurovision and steadily emptying our wallets.
At the appointed hour, our trusty bus pulled away from the venue and things had already started to get messy.
By the time we arrived in Bremen, there were many casualties and it was clear that checking in to the hotel was a non starter. So, it was our bunks as usual and every man for himself the next morning.
A day off in Bremen loomed so no-one was up particularly early but, by midday-ish most people had checked in.
For football fans today was a big day – particularly for Mike the bus driver, Sooze our mum and Walter the tour manager, as they are all Liverpool fans and they were still clinging desperately on to the forlorn hope that the stars would align, West Ham would suddenly become any good and they would not have squandered the best chance they have had in 20 odd years to win the League.
As a staunch Wycombe Wanderers fan whose league position had been secured by only the frailest of margins a couple of weeks before, I was mildly ambivalent as to the outcome – although I think it would have been nice for Liverpool to win. However, for the sake of team spirit, I agreed to go with them all to the nearest Irish Pub (every city has an Irish Pub) to watch the game.
Once the inevitable had happened, it was back to the hotel for some food and then to finish my book (in the bath, of course).
Bus driver and Liverpool fan Mike contemplates what might have been……
A nice early night in theory, turned into a late one as I was intent on learning the eventual fate of the eponymous Stoner in the classic John Williams novel. (not much, is the answer)
Lights out at 3.10am and alarm set for 10.00am.
Now that’s what I call a schedule………