TOUR DIARY #4
Our first day in Bratislava is a day off. And without meaning to sound chauvinistic… the women. Oh my God, the women! Now let me be clear here – this is not a typical “Dude look at her she’s hot” type guy comment. This is a “what the f*$k is going on here” type comment. It’s actually hysterical because single, married, dating or otherwise, every member of our entourage can be seen at some point during the day just standing still, with a somewhat bemused look on his face, and simply staring out into the square. The place is full of absolutely beautiful females. To the point where it just becomes confusing and irritating. How did they all get here? Where do they go? Have we stumbled upon some kind of Utopian enclave where genetics are farmed and short sundresses are the uniform? I rarely comment like this, but it really has to be seen to be believed. Everyone is intimidated and content to sit at any one of the myriad waterfront coffee bars and watch… slightly open mouthed… as the parade of perfection glides by in heels. Best described as a day spent inside a shampoo commercial (you know the ones where gorgeous models flick their hair about in slow motion, while rays of perfectly golden sunlight shimmer and dance around their features) we all enjoy the view and sip our drinks in silence.
The show in Bratislava was ok. Not great from my point of view (although the audience loved it) – a small arena with very boomy sound, subs underneath the stage, and natural reverb for days. This all adds up to not being able to hear very much. Actually let me rephrase that. You can HEAR a lot. But you can’t pick out WHAT it is you’re listening to… the different instruments swirl around the room and come back to your ears some milliseconds later, creating a crazy mixed up sound. But even this we get used to, and we give it our all anyway, rocking out through the set and making everyone in the building happy. Not the greatest of gigs technically for me, but another one under the belt and I swoop onto the bus after the gig for some peanut butter on toast (comfort food) and a night of PS4/Watch Dogs as we drive overnight into one of my favorite cities – Prague.
Walking around the city the next day, I’m struck at how tourist-driven this beautiful city has become. And it’s no wonder really because it is a wonderful place. Why wouldn’t hordes of Nikon-wielding, plaid shirt-wearing Mid Westerners descend on such a cool city. No judgement (really – honestly!) – but there’s only so many screams of “Gee Maude will ya look at that!!” and “Duuuuude this shit’s like really old” I can take. (Both real quotes overheard while standing quietly on the St. Charles Bridge, drinking in the ambience). Heading deeper into the old town doesn’t get any easier as the huge old cars giving the sight-seeing tours to Elmer and Maude around the narrow cobblestone streets, are everywhere and eventually I get sensory overload and head back to the safety of our beautiful hotel and an evening of room service, painting and a Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon movie (The Front Page in case you’re interested and its perfect!!) – I fall asleep listening to the faint sounds of four-on-the-floor dance music and feel slightly sad at the direction this favorite place of mine is taking.
The venue in Prague is an ultra cool indoor place about 5 floors below ground. Now when I say ultra cool, I mean for us. Not for the crew. Those guys had to load in down 5 floors of marble staircases and as I walk down to go and sound-check, it dawns on me yet again just how much hard work those guys do – and we simply walk in and everything works perfectly! I know it’s their job, but I think that Karel, Joel, Greg, Lloyd, Trevor, Marty, Steve, Martin, Robert and Jimbo need some Tour Diary love for this one. Thank you guys for the amazing work you do every day. And now the love has been… well… loved!… I can carry on. Sound-Check surprises me because despite the venue being a huge reverb chamber (everything is nice shiny marble!!) it all sounds pretty decent. And once the audience is in there, all that reverb gets soaked up and when we hit the stage with ‘Postcards From The Past’ (from the forthcoming album) it sounds great! The place is overflowing – absolutely rammed with you guys. It’s a really cool vibe as we play through the first three songs and the room is jumping. Ultra loud audience, cool venue, good sound – and I’m playing well. All the ingredients needed for a fun night. I particularly enjoy playing new song ‘Love And Glory’ and the Idol classic ‘Blue Highway’ tonight. At the end of the show I’m sweaty, deaf and grinning from ear to ear – just the way I like it. It takes me ages to get to sleep and as we don’t leave until late the next day I enjoy a good nights sleep, wake up late and chill quietly for most of the following day.
We pull out of Prague around 8.00pm – the plan is to drive overnight to Ljubljana and I find myself alone on the top deck of the bus in the small front lounge. From here I have a 180 degree view, and I settle back in the sumptuous leather pilots chair and enjoy the silence. It’s amazing what an hour or two of that kind of peace brings up. It’s definitely a double-edged sword for me. As we drive through stunningly picturesque countryside, I quietly enjoy the beauty of this planet. Small country lanes winding through undulating hills and valleys, with the occasional hamlet or small town off to one side… It really is perfect as the sun sets way off in the distance. This part of the experience is positive for me. But at the same time, the quiet, still, isolated vibe allows my mind to wander. Thoughts of what it might be like to simply get off the bus and start again… here… in the middle of the Czech Republic, start to form. Then I start to think about what all this is really about… maybe a life in a cave in a mountain somewhere, living off the land would be a good idea. From there it quickly gets darker, more twisted, and takes me to places that are better left out of this rock n roll tour journal. In the end I pick up this tour diary and start to type, just to bring myself back into reality!! No wonder I was loaded for 15 years! And before anyone starts calling up the men in white coats to take me to a nice soft, padded room for a while, I choose to believe that most of us have those thoughts. It’s just that not many of us decide to share them with the world in an online diary – hahaha! Oh well, I never said I was well-balanced!!!
We have a day off in Ljubljana and it’s an absolutely beautiful city. Amazing architecture – a river running through the center of it (Jimbo and Marty decide it would be a good idea to jump off one of the many bridges and into the water and in the middle of the afternoon, in this wonderfully sleepy, quaint, old historical city center, our two tattooed long haired guitar techs actually strip down and hurl themselves off a bridge and into the freezing waters!!!) – it’s a great place to unwind, grab a coffee and a gelato, and watch the world go by. I have an easy day and then in the evening I go out for dinner with Erik and Paul. Paul’s buying and he picks a nice looking Italian place overlooking the boardwalk and the river. And then… let’s call him Hugo… Hugo the Waiter.. Hugo comes over and slams menus down in front of us, obviously curses in the local language, and walks off!! Wow! I call after him… ”what did you say”… and Hugo simply repeats the curse without looking back as he walks off!! Ok then. We sit for a second, digesting the attitude we were just served, before.. let’s call this guy Ivan… Ivan the Waiter… Ivan comes over with a smile and asks us if we would like drinks. And the meal basically flips from Ivan to Hugo the whole evening! It’s hilarious and we end up telling Ivan to keep miserable Hugo away from us and all will be good. Not really sure what Hugo’s problem is, but we have a perfectly average meal and get the hell outta there and get coffee and cake somewhere a little more… friendly. And as we are sitting there, in the balmy evening heat, the heavens open from nowhere and torrential rain hits us hard. A fitting end to a strange evening. We run through the wet, storm filled streets and make it back to the hotel, wet, laughing and ready for bed. Ljubljana may be overtaking Prague in the Morrison Top Five European Cities chart.
Show day. A nice arena packed with people ready to watch Billy Idol. And for an indoor arena show the onstage sound was great. No boom from the subs, nice crystal highs and a very good mix from our monitor engineer, Greg Looper. Greg is the guy that thought to hustle me for a painting when I was at my lowest! I stumbled in to a sound-check about a week ago….. my Coffee Mate creamer supply was running low. I thought I’d brought enough to get me through, but as always with these things, I’d done way too much, too soon. My greed for the powder had won and my consumption was through the roof. Sweating, with hollowed eyes and that familiar vacant expression of someone just starting coffee creamer withdrawals, I sat meekly on the stage. And THAT is when he pounced. Like a demon from the underworld, he whispered into my ear that he had the stuff. He HAD what I craved. And it could all be mine. For a small price, of course. A painting for a jar of Coffee Mate. He knew I was powerless to resist. The deal was done and my soul was his… and today I delivered on that deal. He is now the proud owner of an original Morrison canvas, and I have my powder. I really gotta sort this addiction out!!! The show rocked (partly due to my coffee being creamy again!!) and Steve and Billy blew the roof off the arena. One of the noisiest crowds so far, the whole place screaming the lyrics to pretty much every song… Thank you Ljubljana. We’ll see you soon.
Overnight to Serbia and a whole day and most of the evening to relax and enjoy the hotel as we don’t play until late tonight. It’s an outdoor show with a few bands before us, so I take the opportunity to get some pasta for lunch on the lovely outdoor patio, overlooking the park. And during this lovely outdoor lunch….. it rains. Well, that may be the understatement of the year. It f*$king pours. Like a Far East torrential tropical downpour, the wind and rain come from nowhere, the skies turn as black as coal, and the rain lashes inexorably at everything… including our outdoor stage apparently, because a few hours later we get the text. “Show Cancelled”!!! Yep – the huge outdoor field we are playing is now a mud bath, with a stage that is in danger of being blown/washed into neighboring Romania. The good news is that the idea of squeezing it in to tomorrows schedule comes up and that’s the plan they run with – we’ll do the Serbian TV show and then do the outdoor show. So there we have it – an unexpected night off. The crew come back drowned and all hit the bar immediately so Erik and I hang out with them and have a laugh until late. Those guys just set up the whole show and broke down again in a thunderstorm with torrential rain and gale force winds hacking at them all day long……. Much respect and thanks. Next week we’ll have the re-scheduled Serbian show, the TV show, and some Skopje/Bucharest/Vienna action. For now – be nice, play safe, turn it up!
Billy Morrison (Guitar/Billy Idol)