After Berlin we had 3 more sold out shows in Germany, in Wiesbaden, Hamburg and Cologne. The Hamburg show provided us with a day off in the city after the end of 4 shows so I checked off the bus into a hotel and a real bed after 2 weeks bouncing around and trying to sleep somewhat unsuccessfully on the bus. Instead of getting stuck watching the St Pauli football match or just lazing about, Bob, Brad and Gabe and myself took in a cab to the riverside resort area known as the Blankenese Treppenviertel. Sitting right on the banks of the Elbe River, I had been told by a friend who stayed there on vacation about the huge mansions on the hill that overlooked the river. This place did not disappoint and we spent the afternoon eating seafood, drinking dark strong beer and hiking the incredibly steep hills to the resort hotel on the summit. We stood at the top marveling at the tiny islands in the huge river and sheer enormity of the ships passing and rumbling through the thick waters up to the port of Hamburg.
ON THE BANKS OF THE ELBE RIVER
After starting up again the next day in Cologne, we landed in St Niklaas, Belgium, a town we have never played. This show and the venue and crowd were truly a high point. We were playing like a well-oiled machine and we started a ritual that night that would remain through the rest of the tour. A nightly before show viewing of “Weekend At Bernies”. Just enough ridiculousness to put you in mood to laugh at what you might see in the crowd. On this night the bar was raised by one of the many crowd surfers who we could see coming across the barricade down front. Only this guy was in a wheel chair. And he was holding a full beer, while being hoisted above everyone’s heads. And he did not spill his drink. After completing the run over everone’s head he made it safely to the ground, unharmed but a bench mark now for every crowd from here on out to be compared to….”Well that was a rad show….there was no one in a wheelchair getting crowd surfed,…but still a rad show”
THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED….
2 shows followed in Eindhoven and Leeuwarden, Netherlands. In Eindhoven at the end on the show as we were walking off stage, I leaned over the crowd to hand my sticks to this young kid that had been watching intently all night. I noticed him focusing on the drums and bass and he seemed really into it, like he was being transported, even laughing out loud with approval (I hope?) at some of the jam stuff that Brad and I were doing in “ Godzilla” when we hit the heavy groove part after Brad’s bass solo. As I specifically handed him the sticks, he smiled really big and I could see he was stoked, until two other big guys all of a sudden rushed in and tried to grab them out of his hands. This unfortunately made me lose my cool and I yelled at them “ HEY!! Those are for HIM!!” They suddenly knew they looked like jerks to everyone around them and they let him have the sticks. It sucked that as I was trying to just give this kid a little extra these two were trying to spoil it for their own selfish reasons. I regretted later yelling at them but at the time I was really boiling.
Copenhagen provided the next cold day off and a much needed overdue bike ride in the rain across town with Jon and bus driver #2 ,Chris, who has joined us for the long Scandanavian treks over the fjords. We start off in the wet cold and everything was getting well soaked until we get the gift of Danish sunshine. Then the air clears and we ride over a bridge to Christaina and then across the river into the downtown of Copenhagen and towards our final furthest point, The Little Mermaid. I honestly have no real interest in seeing the tiny statue of a mermaid on a rock, but figure its at least a good benchmark to make then head back, as its still cold even with the sun shining. We stopped in front of a train station to get our final direction bearing and Jon says “ I think we are on the wrong side of the road” so as we take his advice and start to cross over I hear a big POP! and there goes his back tire. Gutted that he can’t complete the ride and we cant find a bike store open to fix it (its Sunday), we get him in a cab back to the venue where the bus is stationed. Chris and I finish the ride to said mermaid and ride back through Winston Churchill park. The leaves are falling in brilliant gold and red in slow motion over the lazy lakes and park bridges and it makes it seem like we have entered into some kind of other world where time is running slow. A truly odd wrinkle in the day that only later would make Chris say to me “didn’t that park seem weird that we rode through?”
NOT DARYL HANNAH
After the next days Copenhagen show I awoke early as we were on our way to my favorite destination of the tour and the place I always look forward to the most, Oslo Norway. Parking outside of Vulkan Arena and getting squared away with sound-check and dinner, I jumped on the bike for a solo bike ride (as in no one wanted to ride in the rain). Starting across the bridge from the arena past the familiar Revolver Bar and Rockefeller’s I rode up the narrow wet streets to the main plaza of town and the old Viking fort on the hill that overlooks Oslo Harbor. Took a pit stop by the Nobel Museum Of Peace and then up the hill to the palace and the guard changing and the sun falling fast so I had to barrel through the neighborhood too fast to my destination, the Vigeland Sculpture Garden with its fields of eerie light and a waterfall of human bodies all falling over each other in a sculpture obelisk stretching to the sky high on a terraced hill. As I reached the summit ,I realized it was getting late and after stopping for a quick photo I got back on the bike and got rolling back across town to the venue. Arriving back at the bus my feet were freezing so I quickly changed to warm socks and rushed across the street to get changed and warm up for the show. Even though it was sold out the crowd was strangely silent between songs. At first I thought it was because maybe I was wearing earplugs and I couldn’t hear them but I soon realized they were just being..well..quiet. All attention was focused and they were polite and everyone stayed the entire show. Maybe because it was a Monday they were just really mellow. Until the very last note of the last song, when they exploded and seemed to unload all the noise they had been saving in a deafening roar. What a send off!!
THE FU IS COMING
Stockholm ended up being a disappointment, not in the show department (that was AWESOME) but in a mishap earlier in the day as we were going to dinner. As I was walking over to follow the group to dinner, I slipped on a clear piece of plastic that shot me straight up in the air off my feet and scared the hell out of me. I landed on the hard cold concrete on my back and upper left side in sharp pain and just laid there in shock. All I could see in my mind was the cancellation of the last two shows. But miraculously I landed not on my arms or hands and pretty soon I was up stretching and making sure I had full range of motion. Although it hurt like hell, I gobbled a bunch of Advil, threw on some Icy Hot on the sore spots, limbered up the best I could and played the show without incident or tightening up. It wouldn’t be for two days after a long over night ferry to Helsinki and the very last show of the tour that I would feel the excruciating pain every time I took a deep breath or sneezed or coughed. But for some reason, there would be no pain while I played. So for that I am thankful. And that we had a great tour. And that we landed safely at LAX after 2 days of traveling. So now we get to work on finishing those tunes for that new record we want to put out in 2017. Below is a little video summation of some of the scenes described above..and some not described..like Bob composing a video game soundtrack right before we went onstage in St. Niklaas..see if you can spot it.