Saturday, September 01, 2007
I don't know how your day started on Friday (obviously!) but mine started with a Mick Green riff. I'd been round to see East's latest unlikely acquisition (and he has some increasingly unlikely ones, believe me), in this case a fully autographed copy of 'Led Zeppelin II', and ended up in a pub with him (no, I don't know how either). The previous week-and-a-half on painkillers may have conspired against me, or maybe it just seemed a good idea at the time; either way when I got home I decided to check that my Fender Telecaster was securely packed in it's case... since I'd earlier in the day been listening to the recently released 'BBC Sessions' album by The Pirates it seemed logical to try to see what I could remember. At least I didn't plug it in. None of this would have been of any great significance (after all, I do things like that all the time; doesn't everyone?!?) were it not for the fact that my alarm was set for 5.30am to give me enough time to make it to London City Airport for 8.30 (which, in a roundabout sort of way was why I decided to get the guitar out in the first place- isn't drinking brilliant?!?) to meet the rest of the band for our trip to Zurich.
To cut a long-ish story short-ish, I got there just as Pete & co. were checking in. The long-suffering Shirley dropped me at West Ruislip station and I was lost in 'Mojo' magazine's 1967 special edition in no time. I spotted Richard the sax player in the next carriage to me on the DLR train but, concerned for my ailing back, I decided to stay in my seat rather than go through to his carriage and risk having to stand. I must be getting really old... after checking in and breakfast (John the drummer telling an excellent 'Russ's stag night' story) a reasonably uneventful flight ended with a rather bumpy landing- or maybe all that reading about L.S.D. was starting to get to me? I remembered to adjust my watch (they're an hour ahead of us) and waited for mine and Squirrel's guitars to emerge in the SPERRGUT ('bulky items' I guess) section of the baggage reclaim area- always a nervous time though the HELLO-BAR looked enticing enough to take some of the worry away. Thankfully everything arrived ok and it was outside to meet Ronnie the promoter and Andy the driver- Ronnie, who could politely be described as a 'character', presented us all with 'Switzerland' baseball caps, to general amusement all round. From there it's straight to tonight's venue, The Studio Maur where we're playing at a corporate event for Credit Suisse. And it's an extraordinary venue- hard to describe here (see picture above. Some people really have got too much money don't you think?) but we were playing in a pyramid based on 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' with a huge staircase down the centre for the BB's to perform on and the band members either side of it in an extremely unorthodox set-up. Amps and drums were courtesy of the excellently named 'Swiss Cheese and Chocolate Company' who go straight onto my Christmas card list for the Fender Blues Deville they supplied for me to use. Superb. A rather peculiar soundcheck followed with monitors being even more important than usual- it's amazing how much eye contact there is in playing in a band or, maybe more importantly, how much you miss it when it's not there anymore...
Time to check in at the Hotel Sonnental which, in it's 'Wellness' suite, offers such unlikely delights as LYMPHDRAINAGE and FANDOPACKUNG (no I didn't in case you were wondering although the SCHOGGIMASSAGE did start to look appealing after a while- a bit tricky to explain on your credit card statement though don't you think?). I'm sharing with Mike 'Elwood' Hyde and there's just time to put our bags in our rooms before it's mealtime. Switzerland isn't too 'vegetarian-friendly'; that said tomato soup as a starter and salad and chips as a main course definitely fitted the bill as far as I was concerned. After we'd all eaten more than enough it was 'see you in the lobby at 8.45' time- I was woken up by Mike at 8.30...
Remember my comment about 'eye contact' earlier? Well we missed a few cues here and there and the ending to 'Shake Your Tailfeather' wasn't quite as I remember it but overall all things went pretty much according to plan and the assembled multitude seemed to love it which is always the main thing at events such as this. Afterwards the organisers presented us each with a large bar of Toblerone (excellent!) and there was time for a bottle or 2 of Cardinal lager 'though things took a turn for the worst when it ran out. Squirrel reacted indignantly to being presented with a weaker fruit beer with the only possible course of action- he ordered 3 vodkas to mix with it which seemed to cheer him up no end. 'It's water with ice' he kept saying to anyone who asked.
Back at the hotel and the words GOTT SUCHT DICH are on a large neon sign on the building next to us. Enough said methinks.