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Guitar technician reporting from the tourbus....

Thursday, 30 September 2010


It turned out the bus still wasn't ready for us so Tim had to find yet another replacement to get us to Norway, and it's a bit shitty to be fair. Still, any port in a storm. It's the first I've been on with bunks three-high so there's not a great deal of headroom to be had, and those sleeping at the top require skills in mountaineering to reach theirs. What it does have is a larger forward seating area and this became the setting for the inaugural Anathema tour bus pub quiz, won by Les and John with a cracking score of nineteen (out of forty - perhaps some of the questions were a bit tough). They won eleven (yes, eleven) Euros to do with as they wish, and Les is going to compile the next one in a week's time. So much more civilized than the previous evening's leisure pursuits. The bus is now fixed and on it's way to rendezvous with us in Oslo, so it looks like we can finally settle in to our rightful home and hopefully stay on it for the rest of the tour.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


We're holed up in a hotel in Sweden - Tim has gone to drop the bus off and the other will be here around midnight, apparently, so we have more than a little time to kill. Jay and new shop girl Brian have sloped off on free bikes while the rest of us have set up a makeshift computer club in the bar. Anyway, it seems it was a far more eventful night on the ferry than I'd realised. I turned in early as I rapidly grew tired of listening to fat bald men singing out of tune in a language I couldn't understand, but by doing so I missed out on all the action, as usual. One member of our entourage spent the night in the ship's brig (sharing the metal cell with a man-mountain who'd found himself in a dance floor brawl) after an act of advanced pranksterism went a little too far. Petter (now affectionately known as Pettourettes) won a trip on the same boat after buying a Jack and Coke, then had a good shout at another passenger. It could have turned nasty but Les bravely defused the situation by falling backwards into a fruit machine. We had to leave Danny in Stockholm this morning as he'd overslept and we couldn't wait any longer for him to disembark, so we're down one band member, and John has just lost a stare-out competition with a fridge full of beer. Only nine hours to go....

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Viking Line to Stockholm..

We're on our way to Stockholm on the SS Gabriella once again, Les having just belted out a more than passable rendition of Tom Jones' Delilah - part of our formidable karaoke task force which also comprises Anneka, Petter (voice of an angel, mouth of a trucker) Carlsen, Lee and John Douglas (though the latter was not quite pissed enough to take part) and other notable absentees. Tim's picking up the mended bus sometime tomorrow after having dropped us (and the trailer) somewhere random in Sweden - we'll wait twelve hours or so until he returns, then we head to Oslo. Quite unlike our Scandinavian tour this time last year, it's starting to feel a bit parky of a night.


Another show down and it's all a bit of a blur really - they do do awfully long gigs you know. It's taking a while for me to get into the swing of things on this tour, though I blame that on flying in and the fact our original bus conked out before we'd had a chance to get on it. We are getting on the old Viking Line ferry to Stockholm tomorrow morning and we don't really know what we're going to do when we get there. The problem is that there's an eighteen hour gap between Tim dropping one bus off and picking up the other which should be fixed and ready to take us to Oslo for the gig on Thursday. One idea is to disembark the ferry upon arrival in Sweden, hop back on for the journey back to Finland, and then get back on it again to return to Stockholm - total journey time being thirty six hours. It's a strange prospect but it might just work. The alternative is to crash at driver Tim's house (he resides in Sweden) but apparently it's in the middle of nowhere and facilities may be stretched between thirteen of us. There is one more idea but that involves booking hotel rooms in Sweden, the cost of which would probably negate our going on tour in the first place. We'll see.

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Back in the old sausage factory and it's piddling down. The equipment didn't arrive in time last night so the band made do with what was available - a random assortment of guitars, amps, drums and keyboards courtesy of tremendous supports (and sports) Anneka van Giersbergen and Petter Carlsen and the chaps at the rehearsal space connected to the venue. It all sounded pretty good, though unsurprisingly some of the keyboard sounds were a bit rinky-dink, and my lack of a tuner caused me some major headaches off stage. Still, a damn good gig nonetheless. Trusty Tim arrived with the new transport halfway through the show, and what a bus it is. Bigger, comfier, more luxurious and sporting a bonkers paint job. It says "Royal Class" on each side. I like that. Tim doesn't like it but we want to keep it, not least because the downstairs pub is twice the size and will provide a perfect setting for the planned quiz night and karaoke session. It arrived pulling a trailer full of brand new posh amps kindly loaned by the nice people at Peavey UK and they're being put through their paces as I write this. It all sounds bloody great, not least because Danny and Vincent have fancy new effects boards and one or two new cables and power supplies to boot. John (who was this evening delivered to the stage in a multi-couloured shopping trolley) has new cymbals as well. This is all of course nothing compared to the sheer magnificence of my new toolbox. Les may not be impressed but what the hell does he know anyway?

Friday, 24 September 2010


Day one of leg one of the 2010 European tour and, despite the fact we're on a Ryanair (tarmac your runway for you sir?) flight to Tampere, we're not off to a flying start by any means. The tour bus, which we loaded on Monday and which was supposed to meet us at the airport in Finland, has broken down somewhere in Sweden. Driver Tim has managed to procure a replacement and this will now meet us at the venue in Seinäjoki at about 11 tonight, giving us just enough time to sling the gear on stage and hope for the best.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


...was alright - not much to report really. Now we're on our way to this little lot:

Leg one

24-09-2010 Seinäjoki, Rytmikorjaamo
25-09-2010 Oulu, Club Teatria
26-09-2010 Tampere, Klubi
27-09-2010 Helsinki, Tavastia
30-09-2010 Rockefeller, Oslo
01-10-2010 Train, Aarhus,
02-10-2010 Columbia Club, Berlin
03-10-2010 Proxima Club, Warsaw
04-10-2010 Studio Club, Krakow
06-10-2010 Anker Leipzig
07-10-2010 Posthalle, Wurzburg
08-10-2010 Centrum, Erfurt
09-10-2010 Matrix, Bochum
10-10-2010 Elysee Montmartre, Paris
11-10-2010 Garage, Saarbrucken
12-10-2010 Lagerhalle, Osnabruck
13-10-2010 Boerderij, Zoetermeer
14-10-2010 Effenaar, Eindhoven
15-10-2010 Antwerp, Trix Hall
16-10-2010 Substage, Karlsruhe,
17-10-2010 Backstage Hall, Munich 

followed a couple of weeks later by leg two (band members should have enough time to at least give their girlfriends a quick kiss between the legs). It looks like I'll be writing a more official blog on the band's main site, though I'll be carrying on with this one. Stay tuned.

Credit is due to Ian Pattinson and the late Humphrey Lyttleton for the "legs" gag.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Back in the UK now after a pretty grueling week with lots of travel at seriously odd hours, not very much sleep, and some pretty fine gigs in the middle of it all - this despite all the hiccups described in previous posts (I didn't have much time to write anything much so listing ill-fortune became the default theme for this particular excursion).

Highlights for me included the drinks we enjoyed with the fine gentlemen of Porcupine Tree - Steven Wilson surprising and impressing with his capacity for red wine (and his appreciation of the mighty Cardiacs). We also got rather merry in Poland with Ozric Tentacles who were all very lovely and nothing like the crusty hippies I expected them to be. It's a bit of a family affair with them - Ed Wynne plays guitar and his son Silas takes care of the keyboards (making it a Wynne-Wynne situation in my book). Brandi, Ed's missus, plays bass. Best grub of the trip was the Moussaka served backstage in Athens - another recipe I wouldn't mind having. On arrival at Liverpool the luggage carousel got jammed, resulting in what one band member rather dubiously described as "a suitcase Hillsborough". Hmmmm.

We're off back to Beirut at the weekend, a trip which will hopefully include a visit to Abdel Wahab's fine restaurant, and this time I'll know to pace myself (must save a bit of room for that crunchy sparrow).

Saturday, 11 September 2010


....after a six hour drive through dense fog from Berlin:

Danny's very nice Carl Martin distortion pedal has died on us, as has the power supply for his Line 6 delay (thankfully this one runs on batteries).
A member of one of the support bands took a swig of coke, not realising there was a wasp hiding in the can. The little bugger stung him on the tongue (!!!) and he's been rushed to hospital with an anaphylactic reaction.

Anyway, off to dinner with Ozric Tentacles in a bit.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Athens (or Thessaloniki continued....)

Our driver to take us to the train station after the Thessaloniki gig failed to turn up meaning we had to get three taxis at six in the morning. When we arrived we were rather unhelpfully informed that there was a train strike and we would have no chance of getting to Athens in time for the next gig, so we flew instead. Luckily Les had enough on his credit card to cover it.

At the Athens show, supporting Porcupine tree:

One of Danny's power supplies died, meaning no reverb pedal,
John knocked over his crash cymbal, and his floor tom collapsed mid song, meaning some hasty repairs and a lot of gaffa,
Porcupine Tree's keyboard player fell off his riser (after a manly swig of sake), injuring his head and ribs,

etc, etc.

We are about to board a plane to Poland via Berlin. What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


So far on this trip:

Mark (front of house) had to cancel due to an ear infection (not ideal for one who mixes sound for a living),
Les dropped  a bottle of beer, smashing it in the airport cafe,
We sent Vincent's suitcase to baggage handling with his passport still in it,
Les left his brand new book on the plane,
Vincent spilled tea all over his laptop,
Jay broke a bass string mid-song (and we didn't have a spare bass with us),
Vincent spilled a bottle of water over the stage - not good with all those electrics there.

They're still only halfway through the set and I have the fear....