'So Black and White!'
The flight to Singapore was pretty arduous as it took twelve hours to reach Kuala Lumpur, with a further two to Singapore City, though it was no way as bad as Paul's flight total of nearly two days from Minneapolis, rendering his time at home to nary half a day. Pretty pointless in the long run, begging the question 'why the fuck didn't we just travel straight to Singapore from South America and avoid all this lengthy bloody flying?'
'Departure Lounge Band'
The first thing that hits you on arrival in Singapore is the heat and the
humidity, which is incredible. Then it's the wealth and beauty of the place. No litter, no graffiti and huge plants and trees everywhere. And expensive sports cars. The architecture too is fantastic, with a skyline dominated by skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes and fabulous design. The city really is quite breathtaking in its geometry and the first day we get to see quite a great deal of it, as we discover on arrival at the airport (from the promoter Sam) that the Police have shut the show down. Something to do with our fearful reputation it seems. Thus, after another huge lunch and access to our amazing hotel rooms, we spend a jet-lagged dreamy afternoon visiting potential replacement venues, including an art gallery where absolutely everything would have to be brought in to physically make a show happen, and a nightclub that wants to charge the promoter a further four thousand dollars just to move the resident bands
equipment off of the stage. Still, at least we get to see the vibrant sights of the city in our gallant quest. And at least no-one can say we didn't try, though in the end we have to admit defeat and opt for a signing session followed by an in-depth Q and A round to satiate those poor fans who were obviously expecting a concert.
In fact, in order to try to make the gig happen, we literally pull out all the stops by fighting through the jet-lag and it is with languid exhaustion that we eventually end up at a buffet full of weird and wonderful delicacies that have to be either fried or boiled yourself. Young Daniel (Doogle Firth) disappears for a walk and almost gets left behind, but who could forget this strapping young Scottish lad on purpose? Who indeed...
Fuck me if I didn't sleep for England that night with a belly full of food and a head full of stars. Breakfast is just another heavy addition to the stomach and those who don't have jet-lag are then whisked away for a spot of sightseeing around this magnificent modern city. Over night it has rained fairly heavily but this has done little to dowse the humidity, in fact it seems quite the reverse as we troll around various landmarks with our cameras firing like Japanese tourists. First we drive to the top of the mountain to overlook the sprawling metropolis and harbour, then we head through the heart of the city to the down town landmarks, all the while marvelling at the enormous architecture and the two-a-dozen Lamborghinis and Ferraris that scoot about the roads.
If you haven't already guessed, I'm totally addicted to sports cars, having driven some marvellous ones over the last ten years or so, thus I am in petrol-head heaven when confronted by all these amazing machines and the Singapore Grand Prix track that actually weaves around some of the public highway. This is my opportunity to mention the fact that crime, graffiti, chewing gum (I fear for my liberty with three packs in my bag) and litter are not tolerated here, with televised canings for those who transgress. As we pass streets that are immaculately laden with neatly grown flora, I can't help but imagine what it would be like if the great cities of Europe (Paris, Rome, Prague, Barcelona) were to instigate such penalties for those who deflower their magnificence. It may sound Dickensian and a trite stuffy, but it seems to work. It's not stopping anyone from perpetrating these things, but its quite a deterrent and apparently this is the safest city on the planet. Women go about with nary a care for having their legs on show (it's way too hot for trousers or nylons) without fear of abuse or potential rape, and burglary is so low that the promoter says that people leave their doors open in the hotter months, though I really can't envisage it getting any hotter than this. Christ, it would be totally unbearable!
Sam and Juicy (this is how you pronounce her name, if not the way you spell it) are the absolute perfect hosts and it's not long before we're eating all manners of strange aquatic creatures once again, in a restaurant overlooking the business district and it's birthmark full of cloud-bothering sky scrapers that seem torn from a Star Trek movie.
Beetle bellies full, we return to the hotel for a few hours sleep before one of the most surreal experiences I have yet to encounter. In full on stage regalia, we are driven to a nightclub to attend the aforementioned signing session for at least three hundred people who then assail us with all manners of questions whilst we sit upon a stage with Asti, our stage-tech acting as chatty compere.
And he is absolutely brilliant at it, introducing us as one might a circus act (well, if the cap fits!), and keeping the audience white hot as we answer most questions in ridiculous fashion. The fans, I think, really appreciate the irony and the mirth we put into this session and its three hours later that we leave with two (lucky?) winners of the best questions in tow to once again eat another gargantuan feast.
'After Dinner Mince'
In fact a whole troop of people join us for a meal only a stone's throw from the hotel, in a scene that reminds me of China Town in Blade Runner. The weather is still humid as hell, so food and drink is quaffed with sweat pooling at the nape, though no one seems to give a shit as we are all having the time of our lives. I love Singapore, in fact if it wasn't so bloody hot, humid and expensive it'd be the most perfect city on the planet, even better than
'The Morning After'
The next day's lobby call isn't so bad, eleven o'clock gives us plenty of time to sleep in a little and quaff another breakfast dominated by noodles. Then it's back to the airport where we meet a few fans who actually missed the signing session, though they did travel from other countries to be here. There is also a deeply embarrassing moment when I manage to drop a freshly acquired iced coffee all over the floor of a restaurant, succeeding in spattering the legs of several people standing nearby.
The flight to Indonesia isn't too long (around four hours) and boarding the plane we are subjected to some ear splitting Mandarin that strangely enough is interspersed with the mention of Queens Park Rangers, the premier league football team I support ( though not for long it seems, they're being relegated). Indeed as a youth I was a mascot who got to run on the pitch before a game and kick a ball about with the players. It seems very surreal to me now, but not quite as weird as hearing the team's name being dropped into boarding information, then I twig that this is because the team are sponsored by Air Asia, which this particular flight is part of. Chaos intercedes negotiating the exchange rage from US dollars to Indonesian Rupiah for a Lychee green tea with Lychee jelly particles and a chicken and onion flavour noodle pot. And all the while on a tilting bloody plane.
We arrive several hours later to be marched straight through customs by the promoter of the Jakarta HammerSonic music festival and then board a bus amid the bustle of the taxi ranks to be whisked away through the city to the venue, which is actually situated in the grounds of a holiday complex. The hotel is vast and overlooks the sea and we have huge rooms that all seem to have something slightly wrong with them, be it tarnished shower water or dodgy electrics. It is also near-impossible to traverse the lobby as fans are staying here also, either that or they are camping out here to get the various bands playing on the bill's autographs. This makes things exceedingly difficult as the lobby is the only place that the hotel's Wi-Fi appears to work and everything useful is linked off of it.
Still, a good night lies ahead as this is the first day of the festival and it affords free beer on tap backstage and the opportunity to watch Lock Up ( featuring our old drummer Nick Barker whom I get to chat with), Dying Fetus, Epica and Obituary from the side of stage, with the temperature still really humid even after Midnight.
Before retiring for the night there is still time to play a prank on young Daniel, stealing a cardboard cut-out figure from the lobby, standing it outside his door and doing the time-immemorial thing of knocking loudly and legging it as he stands there bleary-eyed wondering just what the hell is going on.
No change there then...
The next morning is an early departure for the stage to sound check before the festival gets under way for its second day, unfortunately no one seems to have told the local stage crew who all appear to be breakfasting, thus leaving everything in the Crewdle's capable, but overworked hands. This results in some trouble later when we hit the stage having had no sound check (though not for the want of trying) to find that the in-ear channel on the desk is utterly fucked, resulting in the first couple of songs being a right royal nightmare for me, as I can't hear bo diddly squat.
Prior to this the rest of the day is spent wandering around the picturesque gig site dodging low flying dragonflies and enjoying the sun before twenty thousand odd punters descend on it; and eating and sleeping. We're not on until eleven o'clock in the evening (as we're headlining the entire thing), so it's nice to take things easy for the afternoon and escape the incessant heat and even more incessant fans that flock the hotel with their ceedees and album covers poised to strike.
Lunch and dinner are both taken in the hotel dining area which overlooks the pool and sculpted garden, though both events are marred by a dodgy stomach which at first is loose, then painfully blocked, once the medicines I've taken kick in. Just before leaving for the show I'm desperately trying to pass a poo baby in my hotel room between bouts of making-up, and I just manage to literally get my shit together before heading out across the park to the backstage where our tent resides.
I mentioned the problems on stage earlier, made all the worse for the fact that it is being televised and that there are thousands of Cradle fans here. Still, the Crewdle are astonishingly astute when it comes to near-disasters and Matt our sound guy, having conquered the audio, scoots from front-of-house to aid Asti with the in-ear channel dilemma and soon all is well again with the world. By song three, 'For Your Vulgar Delectation', we're back in the driving seat and the show roars along a treat. The crowd is strangely subdued for such a huge audience (aside from the circle pits that whirl and eddy five or six rows back) but as it transpires this is because they are truly intent on watching the performance above all else -which is amazing- and on our return to the hotel we're mobbed again as we descend to the bar to hang out with Cannibal Corpse and a fleet of Australians who have played just before us and are already halfway to getting battered.
The evening is hilarious as most of the bands are here, and George from Cannibal treats everyone to various hard liquors as we proceed to take over the hotel to comedic effect. A marital mannequin in full wedding dress is unintentionally disassembled, the piano in the foyer is well-abused and there is much in the way of drunken debauch.
Finally we retire knowing full-well that we have another early departure the next morning. Next stop, Hong Kong via two lengthy flights and a lengthier stop over between the two.
Aargh!!! Jet-lag central! Again!
'Dan in the Mirror'