The band were reunited at Heathrow terminal 1 in the early hours of yesterday morning for our trip to Berlin to play our second show with the mighty Rolling Stones.
Our faithful squire James Pepper was flying with us on this trip. Unaccustomed to air travel as he is, he unwittingly packed his guitar tools in his hand luggage. These were promptly confiscated by officials who deemed them a threat to national security. I can’t see how it’s possible to hijack a plane with an allen key unless there’s a way of dismantling the aircraft from the inside but either way, Pepper was de-tooled. Thankfully the razor sharp scissors in my bag, the presence of which I was blissfully unaware, were ignored by the x-Ray machine.
We were met at Tegel airport by Norman, a friendly dude who drove his transporter van like a golf buggy. As we left the airport, he was sat sideways in the driving seat, one hand nonchalantly resting on the steering wheel, chatting to Phil about the World Cup. I couldn’t even work where his feet were! Our soundtrack for the journey was a Brazilian medley of Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. This, mixed with the 34 degree heat, was putting us all in a holiday mood.
After a quick stop at our hotel and a hastily eaten lunch, we set off for the Waldbühne. The Waldbühne is a stunning 22,000 capacity amphitheatre nestled in a natural ravine next to the Olympiastadion, site of the 1936 Olympics. Our dressing room was in a spacious building situated up the hill from the amphitheatre and after dropping off the gear and checking in with production, we drove back along a woodland road and up the hill to our quarters. As we had some time to kill, we took the opportunity to lie out on the grass in the sun for a while. Phil immediately took this as a cue to strip off and get his stripey underpants on display. Having spent some considerable time and shared many hotel rooms with Phil over the last couple of years, I was surprised that he kept his pants on – or was wearing any for that matter, but as guests of the Rolling Stones, we’re being mindful to be on our best behaviour.
The time came for Phil to put his trousers back on and we drove back down the hill for our soundcheck. A quick blast of “Only Friend” and we were on our way back up the hill again for a bit more hanging around in the sunshine, the days of lengthy drives and breaking down splitter buses a distant memory…for now at least. We’re going to enjoy every minute of this whilst it lasts!
As we were strewn about the lawn, living the life of riley, interesting looking people began to arrive. Our dressing room was next to the VIP hospitality area and it was then that the familiar face of Ross Halfin – legendary rock’n’roll photographer appeared with another familiar face. Joe Perry – legendary Aerosmith guitarist! This is the bonkers world we’ve been invited into where Rock legends stroll by whilst Phil Campbell sits around in his underpants.
Then came show time and back down the hill again.
I’ll admit to being a bit more nervous for this show. The last one seemed to come out of nowhere and I think we were so stunned that it was actually happening that there was more a feeling of bemusement than nerves. This time, there seemed to be a bigger sense of expectation. Nerves is a strange thing. It’s a mind game to be wrestled with. You’re going out to do something you’ve done many times before but as the context changes, so does your reaction to the situation. I can’t speak for the others in the band but I don’t always get nervous – anxious would be a better word – and if I do get nervous, it’ll be about fifteen minutes before I go on which is when the realization of “Oh, this is about to happen now” kicks in. Once I step onstage, the nerves are usually gone and I’m in the moment. There are times during a gig when I might be looking around, taking it all in and various thoughts will flit through my mind. Last night, as I looked up at a 20,000 plus crowd filling the Waldbühne in Berlin, my thought was “Jesus Christ, we’re supporting the Rolling fucking Stones!”
Tune in again for further accounts of our great adventure with the Rolling Stones. Next week, Vienna and Dusseldorf!…
Thanks to Ross Halfin for the photo.