vrijdag 8 maart 2013

The three things we need

Wow I'm sitting listening to the very last concert of this tour in Wolverhampton, UK. We have had some Momentum, but we wont keep on going ;) but let me look back first...

After the gig in Madrid we drove to Bordeaux for a day off and a hotel. I went with Chris to find out how beautiful Bordeaux actually is. We planned on finding Neal because he texted us that he was buying a hotdog somewhere near a ferris wheel. Americans... I convinced Chris to ignore this blasphemy and take a pizza at a decent French restaurant which we did.

After 5 minutes Neal even found us. The sun was shining that day so it was just incredibly nice to enjoy this years first outside lunch in the sun. After checking the nearby carnival we went back to the hotel. I roomed with Charly Brown (Neal Morse) again and while he worked on the Charlie Brown musical I read a book and did some merch administration (just hhad to mention this to emphasize the sheer complexity of my job).

Around dinner time we joined with the whole group and went for dinner downtown. Jonas seemed to know a nice square where we sat down. Together with a waiter that actually spoke English (A Frenchman I hear you think, yes indeed) and my highschool French we took orders for the whole group and started the big wait for our dinner. It was the opposite of fast food: delicious, healthy and yes: slow.

After a great dinner we went back to the hotel to wait for our bus to leave at... 4 am!!! So we figured it would be better not to sleep before being on the bus. Not many enjoyed the early ride. Except for Mike Portnoy who didn't understood the problem: "I always go to bed around 4 so thats perfect"...

We drove to Paris where we played in a nice venue at the edge of the periferique. Which ment right after soundcheck I had to take Adson and Eric, Neals two guitarists, to check out some of the highlights. We just had enough time to see the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. While they stayed a little longer to eat something I rushed back via 3 subways to get to the venue only 1 minute before the doors opened... Oops.

The Paris crowd was enthusiastic and disnt disappoint. After hearing our bus wouldn't leave until 5 am, Eric and me decided to check one more Parisian highlight of our list: the Notre Dame. There was hardly anything to do there on a monday night so we just had some drinks at te nearest cafe and took a taxi back.

After Paris we drove to Rüsselsheim to challenge ourselves with the smallest stage of the entire tour. It worked out well even though I had to sell merch outside which was very cold.

While touring I'd say the wholy trinity of touring is good food, good sanitary and good WiFi. That way you can keep any musician happy. This last one was quite troublesome at almost every venue we visited. As soon as one of us has found and yelled the password 18 of us get the macbook and iphone out and completely burn, destroy or at least mess up the internet router. So we tried not to share the password with someone else :)

After a surprisingly intense and good concert we jumped on the bus (which left around 4am again) to drive to Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. I promised everyone that the three holy aspects of the touring musician would be well organized there and I could be proud. The boerderij is such an awesome venue!

Neal had a sore throat so I hope the concert went well. I had no idea cause I was in another room... Poor me.

So then here we are in England. Yesterday we took the ferry to the white cliffs of Dover and drove to the venue.

Chris and me had a great lunch just around the corner at a very old and traditional pub. We thought. After we saw quite some pictures of ehm lets say women with high testosterone and lots of lipstick we found out that it was actually a drag queen / gay pub. Walking out we saw the huge rainbow flag and had a good laugh about it. Nice people, though!

The venue had awesome painted walls (backstage) and the gig was amazing. The crowd sang every line and was just brilliant. At the final part of Stranger in Your soul Steve Hackett came on stage to join with some wild guitar soloing. Talking about a legend!

I met quite some people that told me they follow my blog, which is really cool. One guy asked me for yellow water, took me a while to get that one haha.

Ok, neal is closing his set so I have to get ready to tape the encore and I will update you soon!

maandag 4 maart 2013

Stairway to heaven / Stairs from hell

Milan was a great concert. We tried to see something from the area but we were not even close to the city. Lets say we felt a bit Ryanaired.

So no sightseeing for us. Both bands played a great gig though. I had all the time to watch the gig because for some reason selling merch there was not an option (for me, their Live Nation ppl had to do it). Also we didnt sell any cd's because they told us we had to buy a 1€ sticker per cd and all other kinds of weird things. A bit lame but well... I had some time off. We had to pack everything directly after the gig because we had a long drive to Barcelona to make.

After a long drive flanked by the mediterranean sea we arrived in Barcelona. Too late to be able to use the elevator of the venue. So we hurried with all our stuff up the 1001 stairs :( pfff

The Barcelona audience was great and my friend Jose was there. It's always nice to meet friends so far from home.

After the gig we had to get out fast because there was a disco in the same hall (hall 2 of The Razzmatazz). Quite exhausted we continued to Madrid.

Now the sun started to shine and we had some walka around the block where the venue (Sala But) was. To the Starbucks and back for example haha.

The Madrid venue (despite more stairs without elevator) was great and the gig was maybe the best until now. At the end of the set both the Flower Kings and the Neal Morse band join on stage for a Transatlantic song and that is just beautiful! Very emotional. Fans were going crazy from the front all the way to the back where my merch stand was. Just an awesome experience!

donderdag 28 februari 2013

Dont drink the yellow water

Right when we got in the bus after the gig in Cologne / Köln we got some bad news. Bad as in really bad! It so happened that somone (ofcourse it was impossible to find out who) had ignored one of the most important rules of the tour bus. As a result our toilet was broken. Now with 18 guys in the bus one toilet is kind of a challenge but 0 toilets on the bus... Thats not very nais! (with Borat-accent) Im surprised that we got to the Swiss venue (Z7, Pratteln) in time despite numerous sanitary brakes. Waking up in Pratteln was great. Everyone was looking out for Z7 because they have this amazing cook. She makes the best food and also there's a washing machine and dryer at the venue. It's the simple things in life that make a musician happy... Although seeing one of our gitarists get out of the bus with 3 bottles of yellowish water, adding: "no water!" was priceless as well :)

We had a great gig in Pratteln and both bands were on fire. The audience loved it even though you could tell that there were quite some people that never saw Neal or the Flower Kings. But thats great!

Touring is about music, I guess. But food comes as close second :) So after the chicken curry (and home made Tiramisu with Whisky) in Switzerland the bar was set for Milan, Italy. We just found out they did a great job with a classic pasta dish: Penne Bolognese. Made us happy :)

That should be a fine gig tonight!

maandag 25 februari 2013

Close to the Edge of Home

After our Swedish adventure in Malmö we got on the bus. Well, around 6 am because we had to wait for the disco night, that came right after our gig, was over. I hang out with Eric Gilette, one of the two guitar players of Neals band and Edgel the tourmanager. Both play drums as well (Actually more than 50% of our group plays drums, it's insane. Everyone is tapping and drumming - all - the - time. But I dont mind, Im glad to be with the like minded haha). The night before we stayed up late as well. We even stayed up longer than Mike, which is always quite an achievement. Mike was in for a surprise though, finding Thomas, the keyboard player of The Flower Kings in his bunk, laying on his special pillow he brought from home. And on top of that Thomas was sort of pyama-less, if you know what I mean. Together with Edgel they found a nice new bunk for Thomas so everyone ended up happy haha...

Driving back to Germany we took the ferry to get there. I got out of bed to find out the whole ferry-experience is actually quite boring. The only thing to do is pay too much for lousy coffee and prepacked sandwhiches. Never again! I better sleep while I can.

We arrived in Hamburg and slept at the Holiday Inn. A decent hotel. Actually its the same wherever you find one. Even the artwork on the walls is the same. But the shower was just heavenly. What do you expect after 3 days in the bus and filthy venues?! I could have showered for hours...

I roomed with Neal to find out that he got himself into a difficult situation. Apart from this whole prog tour he had a musical to prepare where he plays piano. So before going to bed after our day off yesterday in Hamburg, he was practicing on his keyboard. He has to do so an hour per day every day! Haha. He told me next time he'll check the music scores before he actually says he'll do it. I read a book and we watched Enemy at the Gates because going to sleep early is just not rock and roll ;)

Now we're getting close to home having a concert in Hamburg and Köln. In Hamburg we had our first day off so we went out for dinner and saw the Beatles monument they have here. Back in the time before the Beatles made it they played here in local hotels and clubs a lot.

Now the concert in the markthalle is almost at a close so I better line up my cd's to make it extra punktlich and grundlich for my German customers :)

Oh I met some guys from the Mike Portnoy Forum, who follow my blog which was really cool!

zaterdag 23 februari 2013

Swedish love shirts!

Well the first concert in Stockholm went very well. The venue was a sort of local cultural center where you could also have dinner. Nice atmosphere, but not really a rock environment. Still the audience was coming for prog and they absolutely loved it. The set starts with the Flower Kings who have a great setlist. I also like their new drummer Felix. He's great! A weird thing is that Felix and Mike Portnoy both use exactly the same color drumkit (Tama Starclassic Performer Birch/Bubinga in a sort of diamond dust finish).

I was surprised to see how many t-shirts I sold. It was crazy. I really have to go order more! And soon! Otherwise I will run out in like 4 gigs. And thats not a good thing for a merch guy, cause the band needs the money to cover for all the travel and tour costs. I mean a tour bus alone (with 2 drivers) costs a lot! And then there's our daily coffee and cookies... (I brought the stroopwafels so those are from my personal budget ;)

Lets hope I sell everything tonight! Whoohoo...

donderdag 21 februari 2013

On the snowy way to Stockholm

After taking some trains to Osnabruck and Hamburg we got on the tour bus (ok we went to have Indian food in downtown Hamburg first JUMM). Its big and red and has a trailer. Which means we can only drive 80 going to Stockholm. But well, I have books to read and we just stopped to have breakfast at a certain American ehm restaurant. Im gonna post a picture of the bus and the view from the bus (thats as exciting as it gets for now) and get back on the bus :)

dinsdag 22 januari 2013

Sneak Preview of the Neal Morse / Flower Kings tour shirt

Here's a preview of the Tour shirt for the Neal Morse Band & The Flower Kings European tour. I'm curious what you guys think about it, so let me know!


I really like the color, and I think there will be a black one as well (DUH!) but I remember the Orange Transatlantic shirts sales were always booming!

donderdag 10 januari 2013

A preview of what happened earlier

Here's a little preview of the new Neal Morse Live DVD we will be selling this European tour!

vrijdag 4 januari 2013

A new chapter of epicness...

I just decided I'm going to join Neal, Mike and Roine on another tour. This time, unfortunately, without Pete because the bill reads: "Neal Morse & The Flower Kings" (sounds alright as a band name as well;). From February 22nd until the 8th of March we will tour Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Great Britain. In an intense two weeks we will have 11 gigs all over Europe with a busload of the best prog musicians of today. Exciting is an understatement. I will be selling merch again, just like I did during the Transatlantic tour back in 2010. This time though, no shipping of leftovers, no losing Daniel in Spain, no hassle with gear at the venue in Paris (it actually burned down), etc. But many more epic experiences (and music) are bound to cross my path. As soon as I know more, I'll be sharing it here!