You know you're dealing with a class act when the headlining band, having had to cancel playing the show, still turn up to the last night to watch Chthonic one last time and then everyone is in tears when the aftershow, end of tour party, breaks up 'cause we have to leave for Amsterdam.
Just did some arithmetic today (for insurance purposes so the hospital gets paid for fixing my brane) and totalled up that in the 6 months I've been "living" in Amsterdam, I've actually been away for 59 complete or partial days.
First, I ended up in hospital. I got punched in the face in Leidseplein in the wee small hours of Saturday morning two weeks ago and ended up with a fractured skull. Don't ask me what happened, I really have no recollection. I wasn't even very drunk according to the hospital blood tests. Kudos to the hospital: they were AMAZING. X-rays, scans and extremely attentive care (they were concerned about meningitis and concussion). If you're going to be ill, be ill in Holland.
Then as I was getting out of hospital, my dad went in. It seems like it's a consequence of his rheumatoid arthritis medication (methotrexate, evil, evil stuff) suppressing his immune system and letting a chest infection get out of hand. He's now been in ITU for a week and it looks like he's turning the corner. What happens after he comes round is open to question, apparently RA causes lung damage too. My family have been amazing, rallying round, visiting and generally keeping the excellent ITU staff on their toes.
The path to Hell is paved with good intentions: it must be very soggy underfoot.
A couple of weeks ago, I'd volunteered to drive the Taiwanese black metal band, good friends and wonderful people, on their week-long UK tour, intending to keep a tour diary. Well, in between the gigs themselves, the driving and the sleeping, there was very little time to do anything else much!
In typical touring dartboard style, we did:
Telford - Not a gig as such but a PA for a Taiwanese businessman. Very surreal, but he paid for our motel so no complaints there!
Wolverhampton - good gig, lovely promoter, CJ got to meet his idol RIck Wakeman. I bought a totally Indie scarf. It was curry night at Yates' across the road and the band got their first taste and were hooked. The Hopwood Park Welcome Break on the M42 is LOVELY. Nice people, clean showers. Recommended!
Southampton - The guys got a takeout curry on their rider continuing the curry theme. The local support bands brought a flock of lovely young ladies who moshed quite adorably. The 3ioB guys were most taken at the way they kept popping out of their tops.
Minehead via Stonehenge - On to Butlins Minehead for Hard Rock Hell. But first, to take the rockers to the rocks where they were the perfect, if a little frozen, Asian tourists.
Now, Minehead was surreal. 5000 or so rockers, 50 or so bands. We were on pretty much as soon as we arrived, to a great reception on the stage to be crowned by Chthonic's heroes and mates Cradle of Filth later in the evening. Load-out and catering followed. Now, catering. Actually, it was a complete holiday camp carvery and rather good it was too. Again, curry on the menu but a bit mild for the band's tastes. Dani did however discover Colman's English mustard so all was well. I got to say hello to John McCoy but totally missed Bernie Tormé as he'd cut and dyed his hair!
There's a legendary piece of video on YouTube of Jesse wigging out in a chalet with some emo drummer. Priceless!
Alexis from 3 Inches of Blood managed to smash his elbow in a BRI (Booze Related Incident) and ended up in hospital, leaving Chthonic without a headlining act. After much wheedling of both 3IoB and MattC from Biomechanical (they knew each other from touring before and Chthonic were in the slot Bio would have had if they hadn't broken up), I got them to agree to rehearse and at least have a stab at the Camden gig.
Swindon via Bath - Stopoff in Bath. I gave the guys a quick run round my home town in the failing light. I think they were happy, they got to see the Abbey and the Royal Crescent.
And so to Riffs. Firstly, big kudos to Riff and Tiggy for their hospitality and especially to Tiggy for her eye-wateringly hot curry. If the drumming was extra-urgent that night, that's why. I've been to Riff's a couple of times and it's always been a nice cosy place but that night it was metal mayhem. Riff did the sound and it was possibly the best FoH mix I've heard for Chthonic so far.
Sadly, Brighton got cancelled so we got to hang out with the Taiwanese Conspiracy in Harrow again and CJ got to cook, which was nice :)
Camden Barfly - and so for the big one. Not just for Chthonic, but for MattC who, in two days had nailed 5 3IoB songs beat for beat and one cover. Took most of the guys over the road to the Brasilian restaurant to blow their PD's on big chunks of beef and then it was photoshoot and show time. And the show was immense. Really, really good. The place was rammed and the audience bouncy. 3IoB did amazingly well. Matt nailed 5 songs plus the Immigrant Song, as Matt quipped: "cheaper than a Zep ticket". I have some tasty video of both bands I may post at some point.
And so to Stansted - Having dumped the slightly bent van in Hendon earlier in the day, it was left to our chauffeur to spirit us to Stansted and a cold, hard floor for the 7am flights where we took our leave of each other: them to Vilnius, me back to Amsterdam.