Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pittsburgh again….

I got to my hotel around 6pm last night, was a real cheap Super 8 motel and I'm glad i was only there for one night! On the drive down i saw something I've never seen before. I saw a line of people at the side of the road cleaning the highway with brushes and shovels and a couple of cop cars! it was when i saw their “outfits” that it dawned on me that they were obviously inmates from a local prison! They had matching tops and bottoms on and were black and white stripes, i guess the white ones with black arrows on are only in the movies!

I didn't even go out to eat or anything after getting to the hotel, sat and did my blog for a couple of hours and then had an early night.

Woke up this morning to a text from Maria to say Lars was driving the car last night and they had been stopped for speeding by a local cop. It turns out the cop was nice enough but he still got a ticket. I've been stopped three times in the US for speeding and not once have i got a ticket! as i said to Lars, it must be the English accent that does it!

Had to fill the rental car up with gas before returning it to the rental desk at Pittsburgh airport this morning, i got to the check in desk around 7:30am and my flight wasn't till 9:15 so i had breakfast and chilled out in the Exec lounge.

Flight was about an hour and a half in total and i slept most of the way. When i got off the plane at Boston i could feel it was way hotter and a lot more humid than it had been in Pittsburgh!

Grabbed a taxi to the hotel, waited in reception for an hour for the guys to arrive and its now 3pm in the afternoon, Jens and Lars are having an hours sleep before we go out and Maria and Thomas have gone to check in to their hotel.

When we were at Buddy Guys last week i got a CD of his signed for Laurens dad Mike, He called today to say it had arrived. I was a bit worried it might have got lost in the post as something like that was kinda irreplaceable but he got it ok. Apparently he’d been expecting some vinyl in the post that he had bought for his Jukebox, upon opening the package and seeing a CD he thought they'd sent a CD by mistake and was pleasantly surprised! It was just a little something to thank him for getting up at 5am and taking me to the airport couple of weeks ago.

Looking forward to the show tonight and seeing a few old faces at the meet up in a couple of hours.

Cleveland show (spoilers)……

I was 15th row dead centre for this one and the sound and visuals don't really get much better than from this position. I would says 10th to 30th row is the ideal, to be able to see the bands faces and interaction obviously row 10 is better, to see the full impact of the visuals then row 30th is best.

The flag bearers came on at the start of the show but unfortunately the platforms that raise up approx 30 feet only went up about 2 feet before coming to an abrupt halt! Roger had to hop on the platform,swing his legs over and then lower himself down onto the stage area in front, he had a little smile on his face when he did this. To everyone that had not seen the show they would not have known anything had gone wrong.

The sound was incredible, i thought it was better than 2 nights before in Pittsburgh but others though Pittsburgh was better. The little tweaks to the show are still ongoing as are the technical glitches! G E Smiths guitar went down during Another Brick and Harry quickly took over one of the solos on the keyboard until Smiths guitar was back online! again, to most people they wouldn't have noticed but the the seasons show goer we al noticed right away.

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Rogers hand held mic went down at the beginning of Run Like Hell in the second half of the show, he shouted into the mic “come on, enjoy yourselves” but nothing was heard, he quickly went over to the mic stand and picked up the mic from the fixed stand, however this was also dead. At this point he looked a bit frantic as the tracks intro was coming to an end and the lyrics were due any second! he pointed to the mic and pointed to the crew, within second he started singing the opening lines and the mic was back online.

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Roger been very clever with the projections during the ending of one song and the start of another, he throws your attention to a place where its needed whilst appearing somewhere else on the stage and you don't notice this till he wants you to! This is clear at the end of Is There Anybody Out There, everyone's watching Dave and G E Smith and the projections till the very end while the hotel room scene is being set up at the other end of the stage and you don't see this till Roger is seated and the lights and TV come on in the scene, very clever misdirection!

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Roger nuances are beginning to carry over from show to show now and he looks to be really settling into a routine. There's a great little thing in The Trial that i pointed out to Jake who was sat next to me for the second half of the show. The projection imagine turns 360 degrees on the flat wall “screen” however as Rogers walking back on the stage he ducks down so the projected imagine doesn't “hit” him!

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The wall fell great tonight, it fell forward in nearly one piece!! The crew started to wobble the wall at the top and the first couple of rows fell backwards then the rest of the wall fell totally forwards onto the stage area in front, didn't hit the crowd at all though.

Jake with the wall                                            My friend Dawn and I after the show

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With the exception of the small technical glitches the shows are now getting better and better each night, the band are settling in, the crew know what's going on and where to be at the right time and everything just feels to be a lot more relaxed.

More pictures from the show:

To Pittsburgh through the rolling hills of Ohio…..

So after another night trying to record Jens and Lars snoring i awoke around 8am. I've tried several times to get a recording of them but every time i wake up and get the camera they stop! my last chance is in Boston and i WILL let you all hear what I've had to put up worth for the last two weeks!

Jens, Lars, Maria and Thomas are driving over to Boston, its nearly 700 miles and i had already booked my flight before they had decided to drive over. I did however have to book my flight from Pittsburgh as it was half the price as flying from Cleveland and i had a spare day in between shows so thought nothing of driving back to Pittsburgh for the flight.

Lars, Jens and i went across the street to a little deli type cafe for breakfast, this was the first time id seen oatmeal on the menu in the places we had stayed to eat! I have it more or less every morning when I'm home in the UK and had been missing it while i was here. I forgot how good it tasted!! it was probably the 2nd best (next to the steak at Joe’s) meal id had so far  while I'd been in the US. For the three of us for orange juice, coffee, oatmeal, toast for all, two huge hot breakfasts with ham, bacon, sausage etc etc it was $17!!!

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We headed back to the hotel to pack our things and met up in the lobby around 12. I headed out towards Pittsburgh not knowing where id go in between and the guys headed out for their drive to Boston. They were gonna try get as far as they could and crash in a cheap motel overnight then carry on to get the rental car back in Boston for 12 noon on Thursday.

Lars had shown me a picture of the Cherry pie he had had at the Amish restaurant the day before at Mrs Yoder's kitchen.  It looked fantastic and Lars said it was the best he’d ever had. I had nowhere today to go and as long as i was at the hotel tonight to check in and then for my flight in the morning i had no rush to be anywhere so decided to make the 50 mile or so detour to go get some pie!!

I've driven around Ohio a few times before and love the countryside it has and the roads through the rolling hills and the beautiful barn houses and farms spread around. Its so quiet out there and so peaceful, I’d live anywhere around there in a heartbeat but I'm not sure if there's any physicsy jobs for Lauren there!!

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There's a huge Amish community in the area around Millersburg, I've been before and went round an Amish farm once which was real interesting to see how they live and all the things they can and cant do. i couldn't remember exactly where it was otherwise i would have gone around again.

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Jens made me laugh as he said when they came all they saw were Amish people driving around in Hummers!! i didn't see any of those but it made me smile when i saw an Amish person on the road in front of me driving one of the buggies and then looked in my rear view mirror and saw an Amish person sat in the passenger seat of a minivan!!

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I had a rough idea where the restaurant was, or at least i thought i did! it had been 10 years since id been in the area! After driving to Millersburg and then driving round for 20 minutes and thinking they must have moved the restaurant i found it listed on my tom-tom! tapped the screen and i was all set, yay, all was good, no it wasn't!  After the sat nav announcing i was 4 miles away i followed the directions and ended up at a cross roads in the middle of no where to the sound of the tom-tom voice saying “ you have reached your destination”  there was nothing around me at all but a couple of houses. I drive straight over the crossroads and headed down the road for a mile, nothing at all. I turned the car round and drove back to the crossroads. This time i turned right and drove for another mile, again nothing at all! i turned around again and went down the only road i hadn't been down yet.

I went for at least 3 or 4 miles till i realised i wasn't gonna find the place and gave up!, i did see the following at the side of the road though and have no idea why it was just there in a parking lot! also saw a house with more than its fair share of bird houses in the garden!

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I put the Pittsburgh hotel into my tom-tom where i would be staying tonight and it told me to do a u turn and turn right after 3.2 miles, i knew this turning, id just driven a mile down it twenty minutes before.! What i didn't know though was had i driven 1/4 mile further then just around the corner i would have seen the restaurant I'd been looking for!,

You know how they say you can tell its a good restaurant if all the locals eat there ? well this was the parking lot outside!

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It was a family type restaurant with light wooden tables and chairs and looked to be overrun with people in Amish dress! it turned out however that most of these were the people that worked there and the “tourists” were the people sitting at the tables!

A nice family of four came and sat at the table beside me, what looked like a Grandpa, a wife and a son and a wife, however the more i looked the more i got confused. The mother looked like the wife of the son and the son looked like the mother and i then realised they all looked like each other!! They looked just like people from the film Deliverance!! I have no idea what the hell was going on with them but they destroyed their food like that hadn't eaten for a month! they then proceeded to pick their teeth with the chicken bones that they had stripped totally clean with their hands mouths, teeth and table wear! I was only there to get a slice of Cherry pie and ice cream but i was informed by the waitress that it was Buffet day and they have a $10 buffet with ham, beef, lamb, and more vegetables than I've seen in my life. I asked for just a slice of pie and a lemonade and sat and watched as the “Squeal piggy's” on the table got up and down for the buffet at least 4 times each within a space of what cant have been more than 5 minutes! I heard one of them telling the other that he could skin any type of animal he wanted if he had a sharp knife and 2 minutes to spare! I was truly frightened for my life!!

It took me a while as i didn't want to get caught and skinned alive but i managed to get a few sneak pictures of the savages!

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The pie was unreal, it was home made, the crust was light and sweet and the cherry filling was amazing. The ice cream again was home made and it was THE best cherry pie and ice cream I've ever had! it was definitely worth the 50 mile detour and the one hour of trying to find the place!!

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I stood up slowly and waited till the inbred’s went for another plate full of food and i left and headed to the cashier! As i walked out and got into the car i saw a rabbit in the hedge just at the front of the car, i shouted at it and told it to run for its life if it didn't want to be in the stew tonight!! I'm not been nasty to people or making fun but they really were strange and scary and not the sort of people I've ever come across before in the US!

I headed out to my hotel for tonight and got held up by a few of the Amish buggy's but it gave me chance to look at the houses and farms as i drove along the roads. There's lots of Amish furniture stores at the side of the roads and lots of places that sell al the home made wooden barns, sheds and out houses. There were lots of farm produce places selling fruit & veg  as well and lots with huge displays of pumpkins outside, i guess getting ready for Halloween in 4 weeks time!

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Maybe i should get one of these to ride at home, i wouldn't have to pay $11 for a gallon of gas that were now paying in the UK!!

Amish buggy

A day in Cleveland

A day in Cleveland is actually a day too long!!

Woke up to rain being blown sideways outside and the forecast said it was going to be like this all day. With the hotel room we booked we got free tickets to the Rock n Roll hall of fame. I’d been about 8 or 9 years ago and to be honest i wasn't impressed at all. There was nothing else to do on a day like this so we booked the hotel shuttle to take us there for 1pm.

I borrowed an umbrella from the hotel reception and went down to the Starbucks on the next block hoping to find some of their Yoghurt parfait. They didn't sell it though so i settled for a hot chocolate for breakfast. Walked back to the hotel and the 3 of us chilled out in the room till going downstairs to get the shuttle

Outside  the hotel waiting for the shuttle:          Rock n Roll Hall of fame:

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I took Laurens camera with me today to try get used to using it before tonight's show, its still just a regular digital camera but has a 12x optical zoom on and a few more manual features. I also like the 16:9 format for the pictures.

The others hadn't had breakfast so the first stop was the cafe on the 3rd level,i wasn't planning on having anything till i spotted of all things yoghurt parfait!! Jens, Thomas and Maria got what the cafe called a burger, however , looking at them there was probably more taste and nutrition from the cardboard box they came in! (Maria was later ill in the afternoon due to what could only be this food)

We wandered up to the Floyd exhibit which I've seen before and has been there a good few years now. What i hadn't remembered from the last time i went was there was no video or photos allowed AT ALL. it wasn't long before our posing and the noise of shutters clicking attracted some jobs worth porter who freaked out and told us not to take pictures. We managed to click a couple of before the big guns were called in and started to follow us around! There was seriously more and tighter security to stop you taking pics than there was at the venue each night for the shows!!

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We had a quick look round but the security were all over us like flies!! they made us feel like criminals! we just left and got a taxi back to the hotel, didn't even look around at all the other stuff, we were all really disappointed and would have been more so had we paid the £25 entrance fee! I'm not surprised they had to give tickets away! Lars said in the taxi back all he was thinking about was “why the hell are we doing this and feeling like this here when i have laundry to do back at the hotel”,lol

Took these pictures for Mike on the way out as i know he’s a big fan.

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There's a few more pics in the album at the end of this post of the stuff in the lobby of the hall of fame.You can click on any of the above images as well to view larger pictures.

Got back to the hotel, Lars did his laundry, i sat and wrote my blog and Jens just chilled out in the room.There was a pre show meet up tonight and Joe and Eric were coming down as were Michael, Suzanne  and Jeff, all of whom had been in Chicago the week prior. A few friends i hadn't seen since i was in Cleveland for the last tour a few years ago were also going to make it there, my friend Dawn and Tony were driving down from Rochester NY and a couple of friends from the band Wish You Were Here.

Around 5pm we walked up to Panini’s where the meet up was, it was the same place we all met up on the last tour and i remembered how god their stuffed sandwiches were so hadn't eaten much at all during the day as i was saving myself for this.

This was a roast beef with everything on and they then pile a load of fries on the top and then make it into a sandwich.

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The picture doesn't do it justice but this was a regular one, Lars had the larger one which was only a couple of $ more and he left half of it! and Lars likes his food! It was just as good as i remembered.

It was good to see my friends Dawn and Tony who were already there when i arrived(thanks for the sandwich Tony!). I hadn't seen them both for a long time and it was great to catch up and half a talk before the place got busy and you couldn't hear yourself think! Michael and Suzanne arrived along with Michaels son Eric who was going to the show for the first time. Mt friend Rob from Cleveland said he was going to make the meet up but not the show, i looked al over for him but I'm guessing he didn't make it, shame as i wanted to see him.

Tony, myself and Dawn                               Suzanne, myself and Eric.

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Around 7pm we all made our way to the venue which was a 2 minute walk just round the corner. Jake who was in Chicago was also meeting us at the show, Michael and Suzanne hung outside to find him while i went inside to see the pre show entertainment and chat some more with Dawn & Tony who had gone ahead before us.

Hanging out before the show:

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Hanging out after the show (see separate post soon for review of show

Jake after the wall fell                                Dawn and I

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We all headed back to the bar we;de met at before the show and it was great to hear everyone's reactions who hadn't seen the show before and how much they enjoyed it.

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Couple of great group shots before we all started to head back to our hotels.

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Full album with all the pictures above and more here: