Yes, hello vitamin D! This is the first time we've seen the sun in quite some while, despite the fact it is sallow, even a little bit of t-shirt weather makes all the difference. The venue is cool, like an aircraft hangar and the day is spent lazing around outside and preparing for the show leisurely... So much so that we garner an early sound check once Caroline has risen from her coffin, all the more bedraggled for her ordeal a few days before. Still, she is on the mend, thank God for small mercies and the band are back up to full strength once again.
The large auditorium affords a few of us to watch the rest of the bands tonight from the shadowy confines of the rear of the venue unnoticed. And what a difference being in front of the speakers makes! A killer sound and some ripe performances from all the bands makes for some good viewing and definitely gives us a push towards our own inevitable performance, bad health notwithstanding.
A great show once again with an awesome sound and we're all happy again,
spending the aftershow seeking out a hidden shower and then mixing with fans outside the backstage area, those who have endured the hour or two waiting for us to soak under piping hot water for a change.
The second day in Italy is in Milan and aside from a trip to the local
supermarket with Caroline to buy Tom from Godseed a birthday present (you can never fail with a good bottle of booze), it passes quite pleasantly in the venue undertaking the usual day's shenanigans before a killer show full of anger and grit. The audience are awesome again, and the other bands play well, a show afforded by the side balcony that runs along the venue to an upstairs lounge at the back, where the support acts are situated for the best part of the day.
After the show we all head up there to celebrate not only the King Of Hell's birthday, but the last show of the tour for Darkened, who unfortunately are only doing the first half of the tour, the rest belonging to a band from Cyprus called Blynd. Milan is Darkened's city, so their parents have supplied home made wine, cheeses, meat and bread for the evening and everyone chats and parties until the venue eventually shrugs us off when the drivers are ready to leave at the designated hour of two am, destination France.
It's a shame that Darkened have to leave the tour as over the last three weeks or so we have grown quite accustomed to their brand of symphonic black metal, but we have kept contacts so people may be seeing them play with Cradle a lot sooner than one might think. For the time being the show must go on, which is a little ironic, seeing as due to a booking error by the promoter, we now have three days off before our next show in Santiago, Spain on the first.
Dani and Darkend
Three days off, the first of which is spent in Montpellier France where we undertake a signing at the local Virgin megastore, which goes well and for once we receive some freebies for our troubles. There are some really nice fans here and we spend the best part of an hour chatting and signing before heading out, for a bit of shopping in the Christmassy atmosphere of the town square, before a taxi arrives to whisk us to an 18 Euro all-in buffet in a restaurant.
It is my wife's birthday today and she has a bit of a surprise planned back at home with her girlie friends, so I'm constantly keeping in contact for most of the evening including two slightly inebriated conversations halfway through the night, having retired to the aisle to watch a horror movie and devour a series of snacks.
Next day I awake around two to find myself being immediately summoned to walk around the beautiful and historic port of San Sebastián in Northern Spain, with its ancient back streets and medieval castellations, sandy beach and quaint shops, all of which are pretty much closed for siesta, so it's at least a few hours before we find somewhere open to eat. Still, a pleasant day spent in the fresh air, getting soaked twice but enjoying the five, six hours roaming with t'lads.
Friday is a very productive day spent on a campsite just outside Gidon, nestled between the hills with nary a soul to bother us for the best part of the day spent eyeing laundry, eating at the restaurant, catching up with online work, dyeing my hair, showering twice and generally chillaxing the day away as the rain poured biblically about the chalets and wooded hillocks.
As the evening drew on, and following dinner in the once-desolate dining area, other people began showing up for a Friday night meal and soon the atmosphere started feeling cosy, nestled around chatting and watching Spanish TV in the bar area with young Daniel ( as he has come to be known), Caroline Campbed and Vinnie, our lighting guy. The night soon blossoms past Midnight and with the shutting of the bar and the gentle bill paid, it's a nightcap back on the bus with an emotional Caroline before hitting the hay.
Santiago is an island in the midst of nearly a week. And what an island she was. First off we awoke to the sound of cars screaming past the bus as we were parked next to a car rally, then we were herded into a van to take us to the venue, which was located down streets too small for our voluminous Jawa Sandcrawler to navigate. But what a cool picturesque city!
After an afternoon of becoming acquainted with our dirty stage gear,the venue (which used to be an old picture house) and a lengthy soundcheck on a fabulously dry stage, the idea of some local Spanish cuisine saw Big M, Paul and I rove about the old historic town, with its Harry Potter wizardy lanes and ornately decorated churches and cathedrals in search of some Paella and seafood. We were not disappointed by either and it was with some reluctance that we return to the venue for an early show.
Rotting Christ have disappeared to join the Barge To Hell heavy metal cruise in the Bahamas - lucky swine- so they are absent from the next five shows, rejoining us in Switzerland. Caroline, the cheeky swine, has renamed me Vintage Daniel as opposed to Mr.Firth's Young Daniel, so I have decided to kill her after the show.
The gig is another corker, we absolutely and utterly get into it for the
exceptionally up-for-it crowd here tonight. And we have to, as Godseed
unfortunately have to cut their set short after only four songs due to Gaahl suffering from a sore throat, another blight to the touring life.
Blynd are interesting, a death/ thrash combination with some awesome melodic guitar parts amid the onslaught of brutal drums and vocals and are a worthy addition to the line-up now that Darkend have returned to their plumbing jobs, though hopefully not for long.
Anyhoo, the show is killer, some of the fans travelling from Portugal and beyond to see us here tonight and we retire to the backstage area to shower and make the usual mirth, with Geir and Tom from Godseed (and Temple Of The Black Moon) really drunk and making us grin with their singing and dancing. The trip to the bus is divided, so James and I decide to hang back to leave with the crew and take advantage of the wi-if on the balcony. When we do eventually get shuttled to the bus, it's to arrive to find some kids broken down in a van, so we opt to help get them started again, near killing ourselves in the effort to push the beast towards an incline to get it rolling. Thank God it starts, albeit with a
few grumbles along the way and we retire for the evening safe in the knowledge that we have been of some use to someone, and that we played a killer show, stranded as it was in the midst of five days off.
The next two days are spent on a campsite just outside Madrid and are fairly relaxed and non-eventful, most people opting to rent chalets, as off season they are pretty inexpensive and make for a nice change. Mine is down a side street away from everyone else it seems and has a lounge, kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom and most importantly of all, a washing machine! Plus the weather is warm and clement, so much so I sit out on my front stoop to stupidly feed a little kitten that comes pattering by. Stupid because just as soon as I manage to tempt it with a sliver of ham, eight more cats appear out of nowhere and suddenly I've got an Alfred Hitchcock movie on my hands!
That first day was basically spent eating and drinking at the local restaurant and enjoying the obligatory bonfire by night. The second, having woken on my own for the first time in months, was first spent enjoying the sun with breakfast and music, then a handful of us pirates (Big M, Mikey monitors, Paul and Tom from Godseed who arrived late last night with the support bus, a new one we thoughtfully decide to doctor with the word WANKER morphing from Hanke) decided to head into Madrid to do a spot of sightseeing.
We have a few hours before being picked up, so we decide to stroll about the centre of the city, from the Plaza Espana to the Prado Art Museum, a place I intend to visit tomorrow with Young Daniel. A very nice afternoon is spent walking through the park, then the bustling shopping area with its newly sprung Xmas markets. The night is spent gorging once again, another Pikey fire, then an early-ish night as we are leaving at eleven to hit the gig for midday load-in.
I fucking love Madrid! What an awesome day! First off its straight into the venue for some loving then me and Young Daniel (tm) make tracks for the art gallery, some half an hours walk away. I love this museum and visit it every time I'm in Madrid, it's got some astonishing masterpieces but I especially love it for one room in particular which houses my two favourite paintings (aside from Giger of course) Bosch's The Garden Of Earthly Delights (which I did my thesis on for my art exam) and Brueghels Triumph Of Death. Then there are a whole wings of other treasures, including the black paintings of Goya, which are all gathered again in one room.
Garden of Earthly Delights
After a few good hours spent perusing and marvelling, it's a walk back for soundcheck, another quick trip out to a record store (I can't believe I found 'Battlescarred' by Blood Money here, I've been looking for it for years, both off and on the net!), and an Egyptian Temple the Spanish decided to relocate, which James leads us to investigate.
Dinner is buy-out at a gaudy Mexican restaurant with Young Daniel and Tom (of Godseed and Temple Of The Black Moon status, I promise I'll stop introducing him!) and then it's not long before the show is underway with two days of pent up wrath emerging throughout a great performance, the crowd being exceptional. Afterwards it's a cold shower and a bit of signing outside in the street before heading back to bedlam.
Barcelona. Well, we're miles away from anything remotely interesting but the catering is ace, the venue is accommodating and we manage to cadge a lift from a punter to visit an electronics store and purchase a laptop for our ongoing issues with our projection system, which still isn't up and running due to some interface problem. The only interface problem I see is that of the idiot back in England who has been leading us on a wild goose chase for the last five weeks hunting down some invalid serial number.
Dinner is down the road at a cafe/bar and is an enormous plate of four wursts mit chips, a little strange for Spain I appreciate, but nice nonetheless and stomach bloating.
Anyhoo, the gig is another fantastic one, and the Spanish audience, though a tad sparse due to the severe economic clime here, are fantastic and we have a thoroughly enjoyable show and get to meet some really nice people who patiently wait for us to shower and scrape up our backstage desecration.
Wednesday December 6th is a travel day and a boring one at that, as we have to traverse France on our way through to Geiselwind in Germany. Still we get to stop for a spot of lunch at a service station and then later, when we arrive at the venue there is a 24 hour trucks top with huge festive portions. Sated.
Today we find out that the gig is actually a mini festival with Obituary, Macabre, Psycroptic and The Amenta joining the bill, which is nice. Snow has fallen and the place adopts a romantic Christmassy mantle as the day passes as per normal, save that dinner is back in the huge portion truckers restaurant and a visit to a nearby sex boutique yields an impromptu dildo buying session. One for my wife, one for Caroline ( she bought her own, after a lengthy -excuse the pun- window shop) as she is now all about the gushing orgasm, or so she says.
The show is awesome and we get the chance to watch the new bands from the side of the stage, which is a bit of a trip down memory lane as I was (and still am) a fan of Obituary and Macabre, whom I tap up for a cool Albert Fish dressed as Killers Eddy t-shirt. We play really well tonight, thus extending our good gig run to double figures and the crowd is really packed in and loud.
Afterwards we hang out with the other bands, promoting James to have a 'who's got the most sunken-in eyes?' competition with Trevor Peres. Today is his birthday (35 again) and he is brought cake, novelty truck stop tack and above all, booze. Hence he is drunk. A lot. Which is fun. I also get a chance to have a whizz on the back of a young fan's newfangled gizmo wheelchair which can, and does, reach a top speed of 20mph down the slippery snow covered street. Brilliant!
Four Sunken Eyes
At last the night ends with the news that we have to leave, despite the party atmosphere and the fact that Macabre are shit-face drunk and everyone is having a rollicking good time. Bugger!
Still, we have two more shows on this run, so tomorrow, as the old adage goes, is another gig day...
Kiss my Bochum. A crisp winter morning, a supermarket next door and a Xmas street fair before descending to the club in the depths of this old brewery. Still, backstage is anything less than claustrophobic as at the bottom are tunnels, which are pretty high, and all the backstage area is linked and cluttered with a myriad of photos taken from magazines and tour posters, giving a information overload almost everywhere you look. Best bit is side of stage, which houses the tittie wall, which is pretty self-explanatory and a bit tortuous this far into the tour. The catering woman is lovely and the food too tidily prepared for the likes of us, so all is good despite the lack of seeing daylight for the rest of the day. The day passes slowly, too slowly really, so a lot of web browsing and review reading goes on before our time to grime once again as the
hour crawls towards 9.30, a relatively early show on account of the club
Not as great as I had hoped as I had a good gig but a lot of problem with the smoke from my machine in the enclosed tunnel and it was monstrously loud on stage, rendering in-ears white noise. The problem was addressed and sorted, but it was one of those gigs for me, everything appeared to grate although everyone else seemed to think it was ace. Hence I had an hour of sulking with pizza and a few beers before some Godseedlings came to drag me into the club part for a few funny tequilas and a strange bloke who wanted Tom and my signatures on either arse cheek.
Tomorrow Switzerland and the promise of great food at the Z7...
Silly Bejewelled Face