July 12, 2008
Well, it's always an adventure. Starting with my 3 flights to get to our first gig in Spain at the Monsters of Rock festival. The 2nd, overwater flight was delayed due to weather....they said it was because of lightning. Being from the lightning capital of North America (really), I wouldn't have judged distant lightning a threat while working around structures much taller than myself in all directions, but they sure did. Some time after the rain had gone, they finally opened up our ramp for a pushback, and we joined the ridiculously long conga line to wait for takeoff. In Madrid the fun really began. My bags were already lost, and the next plane that they could put me on the waiting list for was 36 hours away........but if I stayed at the airport for 10 more hours, I could see if there were massive cancellations or no-shows and get on the standby list for that one.
At the rental car counter, they suggested the train as a possibility. In the USA, train travel is almost always slower than car, except in big cities, because of the stops and limited schedules. Here, if I could get to the station in the city center from the airport, I could travel on a new train that cruises at 186 mph. I wondered why anyone would wait around at this airport for 10 to 36 hours when this option exists. I bought a ticket and noted that it is a reserved seat that you get. The taxi to town was more than my kid's college fund, and I had a limited number of Euros coming from the States, so the subway was the deal. After 2 trains, I was in the general vicinity of the high speed train, realizing that I still would be beating the drive time by an hour! The high speed train was fast, comfortable, and really did cruise at 186mph (300 kmh). I always prefer being in the air, but this was the best choice for this leg of the trip!
Arriving without luggage is always a bad feeling, knowing that you're soon leaving the hotel address that you gave the lost baggage office....and the possibility of your luggage chasing you around Europe, never quite catching up, (ask me how I know). Luckily, (or unluckily), I got my bags 29 hours later, right before we left for the show. Ted Nugent was on, and he was great. Our friends from Thin Lizzy had just played earlier, and Saxxon, Pretty Maids, and Twisted Sister and others were there. The wind was howling from an approaching shower, and pretty soon it became a gale. The backdrops were pulled down as the wind threatened, the light trusses and sound cabinets that were hung were swaying like kids on a swing. Then, the rain came. Any covers over the equipment was blown away, the audience disappeared, the stage crews abandoned any hope of keeping things dry as the rain came down in torrents completely sideways. Our monitor man saw an empty mike stand topple over from the wind. There is no table of reference for that amount of wind officially, but it was really bad.
As the sky cleared, the sad news came. We were dressed and literally waiting to play, but none of the equipment such as the lights and sound could be operated, having been deluged with water. We played one time in a monsoon until our guitars shorted out, then switched to other guitars until we had nothing left to play, but we had no choice on this one. We and the other groups were told that nobody is going on. Ironically, there was no sound system to tell the remaining audience of that, so I can't imagine that everyone understood the problem. From their standpoint, dripping wet, seeing the moon above after the rain, they were probably thinking, "Why don't they just play?". It was so devastating to load up and leave. Roger reminded me that our last show in Zaragoza was cancelled due to floods and rain! By the way, rain is just not normally a problem in this arid climate!
As I'm typing this, I am enraptured by the unspeakable luxury of not having to endure all of the commercial flying obstacles. We have another beautiful charter jet to travel in. The pleasant crew is Danish, and we are living "high on the hog" to coin an American phrase. I have a sneaking suspicion that once the fuel bills are added up after this trip, it may be back to reality........but, the fuel cost per seat of this very efficient plane compares well with large commercial jets, so no need to feel guilty.
Tonight we're in Italy, and we'll try a few changes in the set list. Everybody's looking forward to playing, especially after being shut down last night.
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