The following may or may not have happened. I mean, I’m pretty sure it did. I was there. We all were. I pinched myself a few times to see if maybe I was daydreaming and still at home doing the washing up but no, it appeared as though we were actually standing in a corridor outside Camp X-Ray, hanging out with the Rolling Stones! In the flesh! Let me backtrack.
We had just done our set in the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf. A huge cavernous, behemoth of a building big enough to fly a helicopter in. It possibly has it’s own weather system.
Before our set, as we were waiting in our dressing room, me deciding whether to go on with or without socks, we were visited by Mick Jagger’s P.A. “Mick would like to say hello” she exclaimed. It was at this point that things got pretty trippy.
We were taken upstairs and led down a corridor, past a smiling Charlie Watts and into Mick’s dressing room. All was tranquil and serene inside and a very welcoming Mick Jagger was there to greet us. We sat on sofas around a coffee table chatting about this and that. It was such a surreal experience that I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if Elvis had popped his head round the door. I’d loved to have stayed and chatted for longer. He was an instantly likeable guy with an impressive energy about him but as it was time for his vocal warm-up and time for us to do a show, we got up, thanked him for having us, as all polite boys do, and left him in his sanctuary.
Finding the stage was no simple feat. There is an internal road that orbits the venue with various parking areas and slip roads that take you into the main arena. It was on this road that we found ourselves anxiously scratching our heads wondering which exit to take to get us to the stage. It was “Hello Cleveland” all over again but this time we were jogging round the M25! We finally found our way to the back of the stage and after a few moments to slow our heart rates back to a safe level, we walked on to the stage.
The first thing that struck me was that it was dark. Our previous shows with The Stones had been outdoor venues, hence in broad daylight, but now we had lights to add to the excitement of it all. Our logo was emblazoned on the giant screen behind us and 46,000 people stood in front of us. It was a far cry from the Water Rats in Kings Cross and yet, as Damon launched us off with the drum fill intro to “Ain’t No Telling”, everything felt familiar and as it should be.
It was great to look out and see a few more Temperance Movement T-shirts in the crowd and we even had a banner this time. Nice one Movers!
As if our meeting with Mick wasn’t enough, we had been asked to return to the Stones’ dressing room area after our set for a meet and greet so back we went. As we walked past Camp X-Ray, the pulsing sounds of Reggae could be heard coming from inside. These were followed by Keith himself. I don’t know who it was who said “You should never meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed” but they were wrong. Mick and Keith were far from a disappointment and although like star-struck teenagers we may have been, I’d like to think we kept some semblance of cool as one by one, all members of The Rolling Stones emerged from their dressing rooms to come and say hello to five slightly overwhelmed members of The Temperance Movement. This was better than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! (see diary entry #1)
As we stood in the corridor with Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie, I couldn’t help noticing how, even though they have reached legendary status and live in a slightly different reality to most of us, they came across as just a bunch of guys who have been bought together through a mutual love of music and still get off on playing live. They have a vast catalog of incredible tunes and, when you see their live show, there is still that spark which ignited them in the first place. After all these years, the energy appears not to have been diluted. If we can achieve a fraction of what they have and maintain the same level of energy, I’ll be happy. Rolling Stones, we salute you!
We’re now in Vitoria-Gasteiz near Bilbao to play the Azkena Rock festival. There’s a storm brewing outside. Our stint with The Stones is now over and as incredible as it was, and it was incredible, we’ve a lot more adventures to look forward to.