SUMMER 2012 – DENMARK TO ITALY
We begin week two of the tour with a day off in the wonderful city of Copenhagen in Denmark. We’ve stayed at the hotel before so it’s all nicely familiar – as we pull in around 5.00am, the streets are full of people leaving the clubs and bars, all totally hammered! It’s kinda like Fellini meets Guy Ritchie as I watch four guys hoist a trash can over their heads and hurl it through a plate glass window. And then they collapse on the floor in laughter! OK then…. This should be a giggle! I collapse in my room and I’m out like a light, and wake up rested and refreshed the next morning. My plan is to get a light breakfast, hit the gym, and then check out the town with Jeremy later in the day. The plan turns to shit the moment I walk into the restaurant for breakfast. Carbohydrates for days. I mean, every single version of a loaf of bread that can possibly be imagined is lined up – white, wheat, 7 grain, rye, pumpkin seed, sourdough, soft, crusty, you name it. Next to the bread is a huge receptacle full of fresh croissants, (plain, chocolate and, of course, almond) and then you have the pastries….oh God, the pastries! I decide to take it easy – I just choose one of everything (!!!) and chow down like it’s my last meal. I stagger back to my room in a carbo-haze and fall back to sleep for a couple of hours!!
Feeling better about myself after hitting the gym, we take a look around Copenhagen in the late afternoon and its gorgeous. Tiny streets, café society at its best with outdoor dining everywhere and an easy pace – no one is hurrying anywhere. Well, no one on foot. The bicycles, however, are another matter. Like Evil Kenevil on crystal meth, these cyclists know no fear, and simply aim directly where they want to go, no matter who’s in the way. Old ladies on bikes with baskets on the front develop a determined glare as they come within inches of running you over. I dare to walk in the cycle lane to get around some construction and narrowly escape with my life as a family of 5 come barreling towards me, the six year old daughter way too confident on two wheels as she skims past me, ringing her bell. We decide these Danish bike gangs are too dangerous for us and after a nice outdoor Italian dinner (thanks Derek – the DC is now in full effect!!) we call it a night.
Two hours from our hotel is the city of Odense, and the spot for our Danish gig – one look around this venue and I realize this is going to be a warm one. People are outside already when we get there and by the time we go onstage the place is like an oven. Dripping in sweat before the end of Dancing With Myself, I love the vibe – totally rock n roll and the audience are amazing, singing every word and punching the air in all the right places. I’ve elaborated on this diary before about the kind of thought process I have on a stage, but tonight there is zero thought about anything except the here and now. I enjoy every single moment of the show and keep my head exactly where it needs to be – on my playing, on the band dynamics, and on Billy and Steve. A great night all around. We drive back to Copenhagen in a good mood and get some sleep before our flight to Munich in the morning.
I want to be that guy that is so spiritually connected to the Universe that losing something just doesn’t affect me – the guy that walks through his day without being tied to his cellphone every second, smelling the air around him and living in the Eckhart Tolle ‘here and now’ – and leaving my cellphone in Munich airport proves to me just how NOT that guy I am! It feels like someone just cut my umbilical cord and I am floundering around, alone in an unfamiliar world. It brings it home to me just how much we, or let me just say, I, rely on technology and communication to feel ok. After much fluster and bluster and a few difficult (due to language barriers) phone calls, it sinks in that the phone is indeed gone for good, and I set about my rehabilitation – CA meetings (Cellphones Anonymous) and some heavy grief therapy. A new handset is ordered which should meet me in Hamburg, and the delights of Munich are sampled….. I have been here before, but it always provides good food, great architecture and many retail opportunities. I shop my way through my loss and make it through another day on the road.
Showday in Munich and tonight it is the Tollwood Festival. None of us realize beforehand that this is going to be a VERY special gig. Nothing out of the ordinary happened externally, no special guests, no huge fireworks display. The heavens did not open and there was no burning bush, but something indescribable happened to us all onstage in Munich tonight and… well, maybe I should let Steve Stevens describe it…… after the show, Steve said to me that it was one of the best Billy Idol shows he had ever played. And that guy has played a few! It’s almost impossible to put a finger on why some shows are the way they are – you guys definitely play a huge part – the audience in Germany tonight were very special. Over 5000 fans packed in to a tent and every single one was noisy and enthusiastic – at times, every single hand in the place was in the air and every voice was screaming “More More More” as loud as they could. But there is also something intangible that happens between the musicians onstage – something electric, that makes everything just that little bit more powerful, more energy-soaked. And it happened tonight. As we made eye-contact with each other, we could feel it happening and all six of us played and performed with increasing intensity, every note, melody line, chorus just kinda….. happening. What an amazing feeling – better than sex (well, not quite, but you get my drift!!). I’m going to leave the last word on this to the inimitable Rex (our trusty tour manager) – Rex has seen it all, believe me. The Who, Led Zepp, Motley…. They’re all in Rex’s story. And as we walked off the stage tonight, Rex turned to Billy and simply said… “well, mate… it don’t get any better than that, does it”.
The next day is an off day in Zurich, Switzerland. The most expensive city in Europe. And of course, I choose that place to buy a new camera! Idiot!! But what the hell – I needed one, they had what I wanted and we were playing with Status Quo the next night. Fuck it. Purchase made – and I’m very happy with it. I also bought more Swiss chocolate than any man should have a right to own, but I know Colson will give me a hand getting rid of it. Jeremy is my running mate in these places – like the terrible twosome, we always meet up and get coffee and then roam the town looking to see what kind of trouble we can get into… it’s quite a sight, the two of us covered in tattoos, usually in last nights clothes (and me with last nights eyeliner smeared all over my face) trying to explain to someone who speaks no english that we need….”ze coffee? WHERE is ze STARBUCKS, por favor??”…We crowned the day off with an insanely good Thai meal right inside the hotel. The White Elephant – if you’re ever in Zurich and find yourself craving some Pad Thai and Red Curry noodles, you now know where to go. The Billy Idol DC rides again.
Show day – and the venue is seriously cool – right in the old town of Locarno, outside in the streets. People are hanging off their balconies and the picturesque streets are packed with people. It reminds me of the Paramount Studios back lot….except this shit is real and not movieland. It looks amazing as we walk onto the stage – the buildings are lit and there are thousands of people cheering. Our show is great, but we have to cut a few songs because tonight, Status Quo are playing after us. And anyone who read the 2010 Tour Diaries knows that I am a huge fan of the band, and so is Billy. We’ve already set it up with everyone that we are not doing a runner after our set, but staying to watch the Quo do what they do best – making Telecasters sound meaty and heavy through Marshalls and playing 12 bar boogie/blues like no other band. Billy and I stand side-of-stage and watch Francis and Rick power through everything we wanna hear – Carloline, Down, Down, Whatever You Want….. they still look like they have a blast up there, sound amazing, and we leave tired and happy for the bus journey to Italy.
Let me take you on a journey. Close your eyes (metaphorically speaking, otherwise you won’t be able to read this!!!) and imagine you live on a bus. A nice bus with beds, TV’s, sofas, a fridge and most amenities you could need, but a bus nonetheless. You would, I’m sure, imagine that space is limited. You may understand that it becomes a home and, as such, your possessions spread out, you nest, it becomes a sanctuary from the craziness of the gigs and the endless procession of people. It’s where you live. You’re facing an 8 hour overnight drive from Zurich to Padova in Italy, so the plan is to make some toast, chill out for an hour and then get your head down in your bunk for a few hours of restful sleep. Now imagine that about two hours into that sleep, you wake up lying in a pool of water, and an inexorable, Chinese Torture style drip…drip…drip coming from directly above your head. Yep – the AC on the bus froze up, and then melted and every single top bunk on the bus (of which mine is one) ended up soaking wet, along with the sleepy inhabitants of those bunks! Ah, the glamour of it all. I give up on the sleep idea and watch the sun come up as we pull into the ridiculously quaint, old town of Padova. Founded in 1183BC by the Trojans, Galileo worked here, Napoleon stayed here, and everything is old. Not old as in ‘this was built in 1937’ but old as in ‘the fucking Romans used to have orgies here’!! It’s all cobbled streets and cappuccino in sidewalk café’s. Lovely. But just like the last castle I stayed in a few weeks back (in Rimini – see www.billymorrison.net for that diary) we have no room service, no wifi etc. Whatever, we walk around the town, meet Billy’s family, who are here to celebrate his Dad’s 88th birthday, and I reminisce with both of them about Bromley, Gen X and the whole late 70’s South London thing. Good Times.
The show itself is another crazy location – this time in the grounds of the stunning Villa Contarini (google it, you’ll love it!) and other than a LONG day at the venue, we have a great time. Halfway through the show, Billy introduces his Dad onstage and the Italian audience go crazy… his Mum and Dad (who, by the way, are the coolest people) have been watching the show from the side of the stage. Billy tell’s the audience that it’s his Dad’s birthday and the cheers that go up are deafening… what a way to celebrate a birthday! He comes onstage and Billy gives his Dad a big hug – it’s very emotional to be a part of it, and I’m so happy for Billy that he gets to show his folks so much love. Then Mr Idol Snr (!!) leaves the stage, and we carry on rockin’ through the rest of the set. The Villa is lit up, providing an eerie, Napolionic vibe to the show, but it feels right – like rock n roll was meant to be played here.
After the show, all of Billy’s family hang out with us and the backstage vibe is fantastic. I decide to jump on the bus to make some toast….. and this is where it all starts to go south. Noticing a new bread knife in the kitchen drawer, I decide to cut myself a couple of pieces of fresh Italian bread for my toast – get some peanut butter on this, mmmm, hmmm….. it’s just what I fancy, and it’s gonna taste so…..FUUCCCCKKKK!!!! The aforesaid new knife is actually one of those super sharp kitchen things, and I have just sliced through the bread and through my finger at the same time. As I do it, I can’t feel a thing, but I watch with strange interest as the knife slides easily into my finger across the first knuckle, about half an inch into it. Um….this may be a problem…..and then it starts to hurt. Blood starts pumping out at an alarming rate and I grab my finger with my other hand, jump off the bus and casually say to Rex… “er…..mate…. we may have a problem here”….before finally giving into the situation and screaming obscenities into the beautiful Italian night air! Rex, Karel (our production manager) and Josie Stevens are amazing. They calmly but swiftly take me to a bucket of ice and water and I thrust my hand in, immediately making the ice cold water look like a scene out of Jaws. It turns red immediately, but Josie is calming me down and Rex and Karel clean the wound and bandage me up. I decide not to get stitches (because that would then hamper my chances of playing guitar) and we just bandage it up tight and hope for the best. (I am typing this two days later and after about 36 hours of bleeding and a ridiculous amount of “New Skin”, it seems to have stopped and is beginning to heal). The moral of this story? Don’t try cutting bread when you’re pumped full of adrenaline after a two hour show! No one has let me NEAR a knife since!!!
OK – so that’s what I have for this week. We’ve had a few very special shows so far, and you lot are really making this tour one to remember. For me, I’m having a blast. It simply doesn’t get old – the songs, the band, all of it feels as fresh to me now as it did when I started this over 75 shows ago. And I can’t imagine it getting old either. There is an energy in Billy and Steve that is inspiring, and a creativity that’s infectious. Sharing the stages with them is an honor, but to know that we will be creating a new record together is extremely exciting and the subsequent touring will take us out for a while I would think (and that’s just fine by me!) – This is better than sitting at the front of the worlds biggest roller coaster, stoned out of my skull, with Never Mind The Bollocks playing loud in my headphones and a Grande Latte in my hand!! Tune in next week for another fun-filled, thrill-packed ride through the middle of Europe with Mr Idol and his merry men. See ya!