Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mott The Hoople - Show #2

Back for a second night in Monmouth!

"Hymn For The Dudes" the show opener

"I Wish I Was Your Mother"

Ian playing the Maltese Cross guitar duing "Walking With A Mountain”

Ian playing a 1956 Les Paul, Junior during "All The Young Dudes”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mott The Hoople - Show #1

Dave and I split for Monmouth around 2:30, this time leisurely making our way there. Having driven to the rehearsals yesterday, we knew the lay of the land a bit more and knew exactly where the Blake Theatre was, along with the nearby car park.

Arrived and parked up a few minutes before 5. Immediately ran into Pete Dutton, the FOH guy, and chatted him up for a few minutes. Then we were off to explore the village’s high street (main road). Checked a few menus as we made our way down to the end of the street, where we popped into The Robin Hood, a fairly large pub.

Had a couple of pints, and then wandered down the street. Decided to go ghetto for dinner, so we grabbed sandwiches and crisps (potato chips) from Waitrose (grocery store) and sat and ate them on a bench along the high street. Probably looked like a couple of vagrants to the locals, lol…

After we finished, we walked back over to the venue and made our way in. The lobby bar’s beer selection was pretty limited. I had a Stella, but it tasted like ass, so I switched to Beck’s. No beers allowed in the auditorium. WTF? That kinda sucked but it’s a real nice place, so I kinda understand.

As we were standing there chatting, Joe Elliott (the singer from Def Leppard) came strolling in with a buddy of his. Five minutes later, I’m engaged in conversation with him and he turned out to be a totally ordinary, nice guy. Like me, Joe’s a lifelong Mott fan. We talked about the Maltese Cross guitar he gave Ian Hunter for his 70th birthday back in June. Said he had two of them made, one for Ian and one for himself. We chatted a bit about our favorite Mott songs, and I made three or four attempts to excuse myself from the conversation and leave him alone, but he kept grabbing my arm to prevent me from walking away. He was SO excited about seeing Mott, maybe as much as I was.

Like me & Dave, he’s going to all 7 shows, the 2 warm-ups here in Monmouth and the 5 shows in London. He’ll even be opening one of the London shows, the last one (Oct. 6), as Joe Elliott’s Down & Outz. The band consists of Joe and members of The Quireboys. Just a one-off gig, not a new project or anything.

He said he’s wanted to see Mott since he was a 12-year old kid, listening to them on the radio. I can relate, except that I was 15 when I became a fan.

Finally slipped away from him, found Dave, and we made our way in. Great seats, except for the guy in front of me, who was easily 6’7” if he was an inch. I couldn’t see a fucking thing with him there, so I went back and stood by the mix position. It was only 4 rows back, so it was fine. Plus, I could see everything from there!

Dave stayed in the seats, kind of sitting across both, such that he could see just fine. With both of us there, though, he couldn’t do that.

The show was awesome. There were a few tunes that both Dave and I wish had been included, like “Thunderbuck Ram” and “Death May Be Your Santa Claus” but overall, it was a great set.

Here’s the setlist from the first Mott The Hoople show (with Ralpher and Phally) since 1973. Thirty-six friggin’ years!

There was no opening act and the show had a 10pm curfew, so we made it back to Dave’s house shortly before 1am.

What a day! I’m in heaven…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meeting Mott The Hoople - Wow!!!

Wow, indeed! I don’t even know what to think about today. At the invitation of the band’s sound engineer, Pete Dutton, Dave and I traveled 93 miles from his house this morning to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. That’s where Mott The Hoople has been rehearsing for the last couple of weeks. Today’s the last day of rehearsal – the first of the two warm-up shows is tomorrow night, also in Monmouth, at the 434-seat Blake Theatre.

After parking the car, Dave and I first ran into Sid, Mick Ralphs’ long-standing guitar tech. Sid knew Dave, so he walked us around back, where we walked up to a group of folks sitting around, outside the back door to one of the studio buildings.

There sat Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs, along with a couple of crew guys. Introductions were made all around. I reminded Mick that we had met at the Bad Company show in Raleigh back in June, where I had told him that I planned to attend all of the London Mott shows. He had laughed then, and he laughed again today.

Ian was awesome. He’s quite the friendly bloke, and very fit, considering he turned 70 during early June.

A fellow came walking out the door and walked right up to me and said “Hi, I’m Martin Chambers.” I’d recognized him as soon as I saw him, and was floored at how friendly he is. Martin, of course, has played drums for the Pretenders since the band started. Amazing drummer, and now, an amazingly nice guy.

Turns out that Buffin, Mott’s drummer, is having a few minor medical issues that will prevent him from participating in the reunion shows. There’s a slight chance he may play a bit at the Hammersmith shows, but that’s a decision that will be made daily during that run of shows.

After a few minutes everyone made their way inside. Pete “Overend” Watts, Mott’s bass player looked up at Dave and I, and asked who we were. Dave had interviewed Overend a few years ago when he was working on his book “Heavy Load” (about the band Free), but they’d never met in person. Well, Overend lit up like a Christmas tree and started treating Dave like they were old friends from long ago.

I introduced myself to Verden Allen, the keyboard player. We know each other a bit through MySpace. He knows me as Bobzilla and laughed that I was a normal human being in spite of the name.

The band ran through bits and pieces of a few tunes, and the whole time, all the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. When they did “Hymn For The Dudes” I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

As all bands do, they had some nuts and bolts bits to work on, so Dave and I were very politely ushered back out through the open door to the patio in order to give them more privacy. The good news was that we could still hear every note.

After about 20 more minutes, they took a break (Verden was having issues with his Leslie cabinet), and most scurried outside for a smoke.

Turned out the rehearsal was over, so then we all just hung out and the real fun started. Dave and I helped a couple of their crew guys load a dozen cases of backline gear in the truck, and then spent about 45 minutes talking to Ian and Overend.

I asked Ian about his old “H” guitar and the Maltese Cross one. He told me the story of finding the original Maltese Cross one in a pawnshop in San Francisco many years ago. He paid $75.00 for it. What a hoot!

He said he’d recently received a new one as a gift from Joe Elliott (the singer for Def Leppard and a huge Mott fan himself). He excused himself for a minute and went inside, reemerging with the guitar. Here’s Ian and the Maltese Cross guitar.

My favorite anecdote of the afternoon was Ian telling a story about Mick Ralphs quitting Bad Company back in the day. BadCo’s singer Paul Rodgers, a kinda small fellow, is well known as an insufferable bastard, and when he was quitting, Mick said to Paul, “Life’s too short…and so are you!” Hahahaha…

Dave asked if they would be playing “Thunderbuck Ram”, but Ian said that Mick’s voice had dropped an octave over the years. Tough song for him to sing back THEN, so pretty much impossible now. Dave laughed and told him they should do it as an instrumental, instead.

Overend asked me where I was from, and after I told him, he said, “And you’ve come all the way here for THIS?” I told him I wouldn’t miss it for the world. He responded, “But what if we’re shite?” to which we all laughed. It was then decided that they needed to make t-shirts for the London shows that said “What If We’re Shit?” on them. He was genuinely astounded that I wanted to attend all 7 shows. All I could say to that was “You have no idea what your music has meant to me for all these years.” I swear he blushed a bit as he smiled and reached out to grab my shoulder.

There were many more stories, and I was thrilled to be able to hang out with those guys today. It was the highlight of my year!

Tomorrow – first warm-up show…

Sunday, September 20, 2009

First Day of Vacation

Yay! The tour is done. Finished last night with the second of two nights at Wembley Stadium. Total attendance over two nights was 141,794. That, my friends, is crazy!

I’m on holiday in the UK for the next 17 days. I’ll be spending the first 11 of those staying at my buddy Dave Clayton’s house in Charlton, down in Dorset, about 2 hours southwest of London. After that, 6 days in London attending all 5 of the Mott The Hoople 40th Anniversary reunion shows at the Hammersmith Apollo. Dave will be joining me for those.

In addition, we have tickets to the two warm-up shows the band is playing at the Blake Theatre (434-capacity) in Monmouth, Wales on September 25th & 26th. Seven Mott shows in total.

Best. Vacation. Ever.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Production Day in Dublin

Had to get away from the venue at a reasonable time tonight. Because one cannot go do Dublin and not go out for a fresh pint (or 8) of Guinness.

Julie and me, imbibing...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Show Day in Manchester

Ste McNally, one of the three guys from BBMak (the band I tour managed back in 2000), came out to visit tonight. He brought me a disc with tons of photos and videos from the year we spent together. I really miss those guys, but I don't miss being a tour manager. It was fun to go through that stuff - brought back a lot of good memories.

Jim and Peanut, the two riggers who ride my bus…

Had a killer office here yesterday and today, with a great view of the stage. Just before doors, and just before showtime…

Jay-Z, our main support act tonight, on stage…

Friday, September 11, 2009

Travel Day to Manchester

Sunrise on the ferry, en route to Manchester…

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Show Day in Nijmegen

Today’s the second of two shows here in Nijmegen, Holland, birthplace of Eddie and Alex Van Halen. Can you believe this place has not one single statue, plaque, or other type of recognition of that fact? I can’t.

Got a couple of cool shots from stage right tonight…

Monday, September 7, 2009

Show Day in Paris

Got a final shot of the Eiffel Tower this morning as we were leaving the hotel. Wish I had a couple more days off here…

Spot operators doing their thing up on the delay towers:

Wonder what they’re gonna do with all those leftover beers they poured. Hmmmm...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Production Day in Paris

Photo of me, standing next to a HUGE cell tower I found a few blocks from the hotel.

Went to dinner tonight with Mick and Eric ( merch guys), and Jackie (security). Everyone wanted Mussels and Frites. We wanted to go to Leon’s, but there was a line out the door, and since the place next door had no line, we went there instead. Mick and Eric:

In the contest of Bob vs. the Mussels, Bob won in overtime:

After we got done with dinner, we went next door to Leon's for dessert and ANOTHER POT OF MUSSELS. Seriously, after we had dinner, we went and had dinner again. Hahahaha...

OK, just one pot of mussels, and just to compare.

Next time, we'll stand in line at Leon's. 'Nuff said...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Show Day in Bern, Switzerland

This, folks, this is a road case for a couch. Yep, you heard me right, a couch.

We have one truck out here (out of a current count of 34 trucks) that carries nothing but furniture and other dressing room crap. And there are 2 guys (Ian and David) who do nothing but deal with dressing room ambience.

Took this shot from stage right tonight. Good view of the crowd.

Here's Andy Bramley, our Video Director, doing his thing during the show.

And this is our Video Engineer Ed Jarman, doing likewise.

I almost missed bus call tonight. The load-out went way faster than normal. Suddenly, it was 2:15am and someone on my bus called me on the radio to tell me that all the other buses were gone and they were sitting at the gate waiting for me. I'd been so busy websurfing and talking to R. Kelly's Tour Manager that I hadn't noticed that everyone was done. D'oh!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Travel Day to Bern, Switzerland

By now, you should know I don't sleep very much on buses. Got to sleep just past 4am, and was up this morning by 7:45.

Went up front to sit and watch the countryside roll by. I think my two favorite drives in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Swiss Alps. I've been lucky enough this year to do them both.

Mountains so tall, they reach up and touch the sky…

It is just so beautiful here. I would love to come live here for a short time, even if only for a few months.

We went through one tunnel this morning that was 17km (10.5 miles) long. I thought we'd never get back to daylight.