Dave’s Tour Log – Issue 1 – Legends of Rock weekend, March 7th 2015
It’s 8.00am and I am sitting in Betty, the name lovingly given to the Mama tour van. I’m with John W, James and Andrew as we set off on our epic trip from the North West to Great Yarmouth. The weather is gorgeous and we all have a spring in our step. The van is in good form and we head off on the open road (well, the M6 anyway) and the conversation varies from music to maths – yes maths.
It was going very nicely thank you, until a car pulled up in front of us and flashed FOLLOW ME through its back window. So we exited the motorway and found ourselves driving into a Police check area. Lots of questions flashed through our minds! Did we insure the van? YES. Is the MOT up to date? YES. Do the tyres have legal tread? YES. Should we ask the Policeman to amend his car sign to say FOLLOW YOU first? Er NO. JW is wearing his Mama T-shirt and one of the Policemen is a big Genesis fan. He approaches John and asks him a key question, “What era do you do?”
“All era’s matey!” That said we pass the test and drive back onto the motorway.
Sat Nav & Radio issues
We are using Andrew’s mobile phone sat nav as the one in the van isn’t very good. The last time we turned it on it simply said, “You are lost!” While Andrew is resting his eyes, we think about attaching his phone to the radio so that we can hear it advising us on which way to go. Unfortunately the van’s radio came free in a Christmas Cracker and as such does not appear to allow you to manually tune in to particular radio frequencies, so we need Andrew awake to tell us which way to go. This is the point where Andrew defines the term “normal” as meaning one who has a broken radio and will get it repaired. Clearly JW isn’t normal.
A debate rages about people who simply collect objects for the sake of it, compared to people who fix things and then keep them as collectables. Apparently our beloved keyboard player collects broken Dyson cleaners and fixes them but then keeps them. This is compared to yours truly who fixes band equipment, most recently the stage box, but then returns them! I am promptly renamed “Stage Box Repair Man” and immediately John comes up with my tag line, “He just keep soldering on!” We go into the Monty Python sketch, “Bicycle Repair Man,” and decide that, “Matching Tie and Handkerchief,” is a classic album on two counts; First of all it is very funny and secondly it had two grooves in the vinyl copy so you never knew which “side” you were going to hear. This goes over the head of Andrew and James as they are a tad younger than John and I and hence never had the pleasure of listening to vinyl albums (Andrew notes: I’m not too young to remember vinyl! In fact, I did an entire pro audio university course which covered everything you could ever want to know about vinyl recording and the pros and cons of vinyl as a music reproduction medium!).
By magic five hours have gone and we arrive at the site of the gig, joining up with the rest of the band and crew; Mark, John C, Jan and Jules. We collect our ID cards and roll up to our caravan, our home for the next 24 hours. It has an interesting door. We open it up with a key but we cannot lock it from the inside! While JW crashes out for an hour (well he has driven for 5 hours) James and I investigate the site. It has everything you could want. There’s food and drink for all tastes and there’s two music venues, the V Lounge and the V Room. We stroll into the V Lounge and are hit by a wall of sound. James is in his element as the bass drum crushes your breast bone. We check out the stalls selling band items and other goodies. It’s looking good and we can’t wait to be up there playing.
Back at the caravan I notice that John C is looking worried. I ask what’s up and he tells me that he has a Twitter account and that he has just found out that Gandalf’s Fist is following him! I explain that Gandalf’s Fist is a band and he visibly relaxes.
Ouch! That’s loud!
When Mentallica (the band on before us) start to play we are backstage setting up our equipment ready to run on. Marko is nowhere to be found. His guitars are here but not him. Apparently he has gone to park his car. What he failed to tell us was that he was going to park it as far away from the venue as possible! Ten minutes to go and here he is. Mentallica finish their set and we are on. We set up ASAP and are ready to go.
After a quick introduction Mama are doing what we do best; playing live. We hit the opening C chord of Behind the Lines. Our short set is over in a blink of eye, but the audience reaction will stay with us for a long time. “Turn it on again,” they are singing. “The Lamb,” they are dancing! “Home by The Sea,” and they are air guitaring. “In the Cage,” and they are air keyboarding. Finally, “Los Endos,” and they have completely flipped! It’s over and we rush off while Rainbow in Rock follow us and set up ready to wow the crowd with Deep Purple and Rainbow numbers.
Back stage and front stage
While we wait for Betty to return, several audience members wander around backstage to say how much they enjoyed the set. One gentleman was so overcome he really had tears in his eyes! A big Genesis fan, he had seen them live several times and was overwhelmed by our performance, another new big fan.
Once we have stored the equipment, we walk back to the venue and enjoy fantastic sets by Rainbow in Rock and our friends Who’s Next. Great bands, great performances, especially “Child in Time,” by Rainbow in Rock – awesome! I should mention it is Fancy Dress Day and the variety is stunning. The Village People are here and they perform YMCA to a rapturous reception. Alice Cooper is here – no really it is Alice Cooper – he looks exactly like him! Batman and The Hulk show up – so criminals beware! The Hulk spoils the illusion by taking off his face mask and saying in a quiet voice, “It ain’t half hot in this costume!”
With apologies to the next bands we leave and head for the local curry house. While waiting to be seated we have a quick drink in the bar and John W and I discuss sci-fi films. We agree that Firefly is brilliant and that Guardians of the Galaxy owes it a great debt – we often have deep conversations especially over beer. Once sat down with food, John W explains the virtues of lime pickle and James explains to me that it tastes like bleach. I give it a go and it wasn’t bad! After two hours of eating and drinking we head back to the site and watch a couple more bands and have a couple more drinks. More positive comments from fans, more weird costumes and more strange dancing (not us) and we decide that’s it and like the seven dwarves we “hi-ho” off to bed.
Is it morning?!?!
Next morning bright and early, well early, we set off back to the North West. The weather is beautiful when we leave and then the rain and traffic queues hit us as we get to Birmingham. James decides that John W must be my “Sally Traffic” and get the traffic news spot when I finally get my nationwide radio show, “Dave Does Sums.” His typical bulletins would be, “Don’t bother going out today! There are road works everywhere with signs saying 40 or 50 mph and traffic cameras to smile at, BUT there is NO-ONE flipping working (he didn’t actually say flipping) so why can’t they let us drive at normal speeds!?!?!” This last part is shouted in a sad, desperate voice. We are home.