Picking up where we left off, the Tremendous Titans of Tribute (that's us) had put our heads down at my gaff for a few - and I mean a few - short hours of sleep before we were off to Holland-land.
Caption competition time...!
I've had a few a rude awakenings in my time. On one pre-university holiday with pals, a friend of mine took to waking us all up to with Edwin Starr's "War". But nothing quite prepared me to wake up to the sight of Bruce 'ran out of bog roll and had to waddle to the ladies' Dugginson towering over me [insert height joke!]. I can't remember what it was he wanted, but perhaps that's for the best. I got up to make the coffee and rally the troops to ensure we were out of the door on time. Which we were! We're always slightly amazed when we get to Dover and haven't missed our ferry!
The rest of the journey was relatively smooth. I have vague recollections of visiting the gents for a Sit Down with Eddie 'shopping for blood' The 'Ead in a neighbouring cubicle, singing as much of Rod Stewart's "Sailing" as we could remember. I recall Adrian 'what the F**K are you playing?' Swift discovering a new energy drink named "Go Fast!", which was to Red Bull what White Lightning is to Old Rosie. There was a bit of a scrabble to find some motion lotion - we were running on fumes by the time we got to the first petrol station on the continent (fill up in Calais next time if you're worried, Swift!). Then the only battle ahead was finding somewhere to park in Nijmegen! We arrived a little early, so went to find ourselves a beer at our favourite bar on Grotestraat.
Of course, when the sun is out, the first thing we all do is take pictures of whatever we're drinking...
Beers out of the way, we headed to the Rockcafe Backstage to start off the business at hand. It was so good to see all our old friends again - the minute you see Astrid's welcoming smile, you know you've come home! Theo tweaked the dials while we made a racket, and prepared ourselves for the evening. I went off to find myself some chips and mayo, and wandered back around showtime.
Friday set list:
Caught Somewhere In Time
2 Minutes to Midnight
Sea of Madness
The Number of the Beast
- Seventh Son of a Seventh Son -
Can I Play With Madness
The Evil That Men do
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Only the Good Die Young
Run to the Hills
Fear of the Dark
The Wicker Man
Bring Your Daughter... ...To The Slaughter
I did not have a good gig. Just before my very first solo of the night, right there in the first song, a string went. Of course, my backup guitar (the old "Manic" guitar) is less than desirable compared to what I'm used to playing, and I've never quite tweaked the sounds in my rig to make it sound passable. Thankfully, Duggers and Eddie are LEGEND - legging it downstairs during the instrumental break in Infinite Dreams to get one of Swifty's spares and getting it all ready for a quick guitar change-over. Duggers literally got back onstage just in time to start the last verse! I nearly shed a tear. The rest of the show went reasonably well, and after the show I got the chance to catch up with all our pals. The drinkies rather got the better of a couple of our number, as good-natured as it was I was a little worried we'd have to break up some fisticuffs! Then it was back to Carola's to sleep it off.
Awakening the next morning to an absolutely beautiful summery day, I was set to task preparing coffee (as, of course, is tradition). A tasty continental breakfast was laid on by Carola, and all in all we were having a wonderful time. It really is like coming home - good friends, good traditions, good times! It's so easy to fall back into the rhythm of the place. After breakfast we took a walk into town (as, of course, is tradition), and went for a wander in the Kronenburger Park not too far from the Backstage. Eddie reveled in the history, while I lazed in the sunshine. Soon, it was time to go and get Eddie some more fake blood and something slightly more hellish than a tattered green mask to put his sweeties in. We all look forward to our sweet delivery during Eddie's "Satan" spot in "...Beast"! "Let's go shopping for blood!" said he, to which I said "Hey, that's a pretty cool name for a song!". Dethklok. Look 'em up. Steve "we can have beer now?" Harristopolis and our erstwhile tubthumper went off to watch the football, while the rest of us had some more beer!
On our travels around Nijmegen this year, we had sighted, on numerous occasions, something that announced itself to be the "Maxi Fun Bus". To the untrained eye, this was a rather awkward looking combination between six bicycles and a bar, which had severe trouble with corners of any type. To those in the know...it was a clusterfuck. It still did look like Maxi Fun though, and we had a good chuckle watching it try and get round the rather phallic statue just off Bloemerstraat. We all traipsed to the riverfront hoping to find a decent bar, but failing rather miserably we headed back to Grote Markt (pushing through a rather colourful gay pride parade en route!) to settle down for beer and food - Wiener Schnitzel !
Back at the venue, Duggers and I worked on a short acoustic set to open up with. The main set tonight had been chosen by the good people of Nijmegen on our behalf, and was an absolute belter!
Arc of Space
Die With Your Boots On
Flash of the Blade
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Children of the Damned
22 Acacia Ave
Back in the Village
To Tame a Land
Charlotte the Harlot
Where Eagles Dare
Flight of Icarus
Hallowed be Thy Name
The acoustic set was warmly received, and the main set was absolutely blinding. I had one minor catastrophe to speak of: the beginning of Still Life bears a striking resemblance in arrangement to the beginning of To Tame A Land. Your humble narrator found himself playing a transposed version of the melody from the former of the start of the latter. This was one of only 2 "false starts" I can remember in my history with this band, and it elicited a rather shocked and colourful blast of language from our Mr Swift! Thankfully I managed to laugh it off and we got on with the show!
It's always with a slight pang of sadness that I start packing down my gear after a Nijmegen show. However, as is of course tradition, we always end up partying until the small hours (regardless of what time we've got to set off!). I was feeling a bit glum, and had decided not to drink too much as it usually just serves to deepen the mood. Despite this, it's hard to say no when Astrid plonks a bottle of....well, plonk, in front of you. And then another. I sat and had a really lovely chat with Astrid, which somehow is something I've never really managed to do in all the times we've been there. She's a real pleasure to talk to, as is everyone who frequents Backstage. Nicko 'someone hand me a rope or a shotgun' McBrain finished the night asleep on a bench, and I ended up taking the second bottle of red wine to bed with me....bad form, Manic!
"So, a drummer walks into a bar..."
We said another teary goodbye to Carola and hauled ourselves down the motorway back towards Calais. I think I managed to sleep most of the way, and despite our best efforts we did indeed miss the ferry!
All our heartfelt love to all our friends at the Backstage - you are the reason we keep coming back!
Until next time,
Dave 'horrible, horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE botty' Hurry