‘Appy Days: The Mick Box Column (No. 22)
This week, Mick tastes dodgy airline food, does more shows in Russia, experiences problems with his dongle (!), sees some cool films, despairs about gambling and gets his name misspelt. Oh, and goes on a bit about Spurs.
Just before I left for Russia, Rammstein received a five star review of their UK Wembley Arena performance,, and it was basically the same show that we saw in Hamburg, which is pretty spectacular. It starts with the two guitarists (Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers) smashing through a wall, closely followed by the vocalist Till Lindermann. A wall of fire ignites across the floor and then there are baby dolls suspended in mid air, with sinister green lasers shooting from their eyes. There is a foam machine that Lindermann straddles, and a boat that sails over the heads of the audience with one of the band members in it, and this is directed by the hands of the audience, much in the same way as stage divers do, as it is resting on their hands. There is an exploding tin bath and so many explosions and shooting fire that it is incredible.
Now here’s the bit that made me wonder, as it reports that a fan in a hoodie burst through security on to the stage, and Lindermann turned a flame thrower on him and the kid ran away with his clothing on fire. The stage hands doused him down with fire extinguishers. This must have been a plant, and part of the show, or they have some serious insurance. Still it is a very powerful show musically, and they have been successfully playing this industrial strength metal music now for 15 years. Two of Heep’s crew, Ian ‘Scampi’ Bintliff (tour manager/lighting engineer) and Christos (guitar tech/stage manager) went to see them in Manchester, and they came away suitably impressed for the second time.
Californian scientists think they may have discovered the part of the brain which makes people fear losing money. The author, Dr .Benedetto De Martino of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), conducted an experiment which discovered that Amygdala is an area of the brain that is important for normal emotional responses, and for how we perceive our environment. It plays a subtle role in helping people to learn the attributes of good things and bad things. Most people have been found to have a bias against losses, but this study shows very clearly that when the Amygdala is damaged, this loss aversion disappears.
Well I am pleased to announce that the Amygdala part of my brain is fully intact, and untouched, as I was taught at a very early age by my mother (God rest her soul), that money was too hard to come by than to gamble it away. I have known some gamblers in my time, and it has always ended in tears. I do remember my first time in Las Vegas back in the early ’70s, when I played there with Heep. We stayed at the famous Caesar’s Palace Hotel and once checked into my room, I had a look around the millions of one arm bandits as we knew them to be, and eventually sat at a table, and watched a game of Black Jack, which I soon found out to be card game we played in the UK for fun, called Pontoon or 21.
I was there for quite a while observing, and there was a guy on the end of the table obviously down on his luck, and eventually one of the guys in a monkey suit and no neck, came over and had a word with him. The guy said he wanted to borrow some more money, but monkey suit said he had used all of his credit. The guy obviously beaten said okay, and he would go to his room. He was then informed that there had been a lock put on the door, and all of his belongings kept against what he owed. He then said he would just drive home then, but his car was also impounded against debts owed. He was a drained and sorrowful figure when he left the table, and it was horrible to watch. I remember also going to my room, and in the elevator I overheard two couples happily discussing what they had lost that evening. One guy was saying he had a great night and only dropped US$ 250, and the other guy said he was down US$ 750. Mum’s advice was always the best!
Back to our recent Russian trip, and boy did I have trouble sending last week’s blog from Russia on time. When we arrived on Sunday at the hotel in Yekaterinburg, the Wi Fi internet connection was down. I eventually managed to sweet talk a girl on reception, that if I put my information on a dongle, we could go to the business centre of the hotel, and put the dongle in their main frame computer, and send from there. For some reason, as I am writing this, I keep thinking there are some sexual overtones in the above sentences a la those Carry On films which starred Sid James and Barbara Windsor, but I can assure you it was all above board. After a quick dinner in a nearby restaurant, I went back to the hotel to try and do this. It turned out to be impossible, as all the computer would show was gobbledegook. We tried this many times, and after a couple of hours of trying, it was 3am and I gave up defeated. I notified Malcolm Dome of my plight, by sending a quick mail from my hand held HTC, and the promise of I will try in the morning. At 12 midday, the hotel Wi Fi luckily started working, so I was able to connect and send the blog. 12 midday in Yekaterinburg is 7am in the UK, as we were five hours ahead, so in the end the blog wasn’t too late.
Monday, February 15, 2010
A late start for everyone, and very few showings at breakfast this morning. We have not stopped since we have been here, so we all made good use of the rooms and slept in. The crew went down to the venue at midday, and the band met at 1pm in the lobby. We were taken to the same restaurant as last night for lunch. Then we went to a music shop for an autograph session. Out in force at the shop were the Urals Beatles Fan Club, whom we had seen before. Last time they gave us our own Urals Beatles membership cards, and made us honourable members, and Russell Gilbrook was presented with his this time. They also gave us an apple made of Green Ural stone with our names on the box, and I was also presented with a jewellery box by a young lad and his father, made of the same stone, which was nice. They even made one for Lee Kerslake, and I will give it to him on my return. In case you are wondering Lee is doing fine and we talk quite often, and always have a good laugh.
The autograph session was mobbed, and we signed many vinyl records, CDs, pictures and two guitars. Straight from there we went to the sound check, which went without a hitch. At the signings there were also the interpreters that we had the last time we played there, and back then they showed us around the Church Of The Blood. This was a house on the site where the Romanov family were murdered. (Apart from Anastasia who got away and was never found). This site is where the Church Of The Blood now stands, with the canonised bodies of the Romanov family. We were taken up to the top of the church tower and rang the bells. This was a very special thing to do, as no one is allowed up there except the clergy, and yes they were very loud, and the intro to Hells Bells by AC/DC, did spring to mind.
We are on stage at 7pm tonight so there is always a bit of hanging about to do after the sound check. The show was great and a good way to end the tour. Both Bernie Shaw and I had beautiful girls come up on stage from the audience to give us roses, and overall the tour was a great success. I have to say that to a man and to a woman, we all thought that seven days away from home with everything we have packed in, felt like seven weeks. In total we had six flights in seven days, and four shows in five days. With all of this constant travelling, and one minute you are in the freezing cold outside, and the next minute you are uncomfortably warm inside, Bernie ended up with a sore throat and a rotten dry cough. Luckily he made it through the shows.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
We arrived at Yekaterinburg Airport with plenty of time to check in, and everything went pretty smoothly. We have to pick up the suitcases and equipment in Moscow to clear it through customs with our carnet, which documents every last piece of equipment down to the last jack plug, so that customs know that what we arrived with, we are departing with. Luckily we have a four-hour layover to do this. At the check in at Yekaterinburg, we had to laugh when we were given our boarding passes. Some of the spellings of our names was hilarious. Charlotte Evans: Sharlota Evans; Brian West: Bryan Vest; Ian Bintliff: Yan Bintliff; Russell Gilbrook: Russell Bruck, Michael Box; Mikhael Boks; Phillip Lanzon: Filip Lanzon; Bernie Shaw: Berni Shau. All of the others were okay but anywhere else in the world, you would not be able to fly if your ticket even has one letter misplaced. Once on the Urals flight they brought around the food box, and I had the fish and rice. Phil and I noticed the dates on some of the food packets, and in most countries it is usually the sell by date or use by date. The selection of processed meats in a packet were okay, but on the crackers it read 21.12.2009, the Chocolate 02.10.2009 and the small piece of cake 04.02.2010. Phil tried the crackers and they were so hard, that he was only a small bite away from a trip to the dentist. I wanted a cup of tea, and they had in the box, a Pickwick Ceylon tea bag. This was looking good, until the stewardess bought along the water which was tepid at the outset and just plain cold when it got to us. Now I was desperate for a cuppa, but cold tea is not on. Still we arrived okay at Moscow airport and checked everything through to London from Moscow.
We remembered that the last time we were in Moscow Airport, we discovered an Indian restaurant called Paprika. As we had some time left, we headed for the Indian restaurant, which was really excellent last time, and well worth a revisit. This way if the plane food was in anyway iffy, we would have already eaten. It was a British Airways flight back to London, which was pretty much the same plane as we came out on. It must be one of their oldest planes, because they had the old 1960s type TV’s suspended from the ceiling at various intervals, and there were even ash trays in the armrests. Still we arrived back to London, and by the time we get home, for some of us lucky ones it would have been a 16 hour journey, and for others not so lucky 18-19 hours.
On the football front, while I was away Spurs lost to Wolves for the second time this season 1-0, and they drew in the FA Cup against Bolton 1-1 with Defoe getting our goal. We are as they say consistently inconsistent!
On the British Airways flight over to Moscow, on the 1960s suspended TV sets as explained above, they played the movie The Invention of Lying starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner and Rob Lowe. I was lucky enough to have downloaded this movie before I left on to my iPod, so I could enjoy it without getting a creak in my neck. With my Bose noise cancelling headphones on, I was in my own little cinema. Basically the film is about what if humanity was incapable of lying? What if everyone, everywhere always told the truth? This is the world in which Mark Bellison (Gervais) lives. He’s overweight, snub-nosed, and a struggling writer who develops scripts for a history-themes documentary company. The film is worth it just for Jennifer Garner who is a darling. Mark’s blind date Anna (Jennifer Garner) confesses she needs to go upstairs and masturbate before their date, because she’s never going to sleep with a “Chubby, snub-nosed loser.” Things get better and deeper when Mark tells his first lie to pay his rent and moves on to the invention of God or, as he calls him, “The man in the sky.” The scene in which Mark writes 10 commandments on two pizza boxes and delivers the good news to the multitudes is Gervais at his best. Then the trouble starts, as the question is, will Anna see past Mark’s physical shortcomings and accept him for the man he is inside? This is where the movie gets bogged down in the mechanics of a romantic comedy. Still I enjoyed it, and it made the flight time disappear, helped somewhat by a couple of Bloody Marys.
During the week I played the new Foreigner CD Can’t Slow Down. The line up for Foreigner now is: Mick Jones, guitar; Kelly Hansen, lead vocals ; Jeff Pilson, bass and vocals; Tom Gimbel, sax, guitars, vocals; Michael Bluestein, keyboards and vocals; Brian Tichy, drums. I really enjoyed this CD and the songs are well crafted. I especially like Kelly Hansen’s vocals, that have just a hint of Lou Gramm in them, but enough of his own identity and power. Lyrically they do not have a Dirty white Boy, Cold As Ice or Juke Box Hero, but overall it is a most enjoyable CD. Mick Jones, Hansen and producer Marti Frederiksen do most of the song writing. It is well worth a listen.
This Thursday I was meant to take my son Romeo and two school buddies of his for football training, with Tottenham Hotspur’s coaches. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to the pitches being waterlogged. So I had the three boys all day to entertain. In the end we decided to go and see a film. The only one they could all agree on, and that they had not seen before, was Percy Jackson And the Lightning Thief. Now this was fun, with lots of visual effects, and it was full of adventure that the boys all thought was fantastic. It is directed by Chris Columbus who was responsible for the first two Harry Potter films, and is an adaption of Rick Riordan’s first novel. The effects are impressive, but there is humour, pop culture references (even a mention of Mick Jagger) and some of the performances were hammed up, which made it all work very well. It’s a clever idea, juxtaposing ancient Greeks with contemporary American culture, and it kicks into action straight away.
Percy a teenager lived with his mum Sally and her deadbeat boyfriend, Gabe Ugliano, in New York, before he discovered that his absent father was Poseidon, God of the Sea. Percy goes from a dyslexic troubled teen to a teenage demigod, and is soon off on an adventure to stop the gods of Mount Olympus destroying the Earth, with Zeus misplacing his lightning bolt. He saves his mother from the underworld, while battling wicked Medusa, multi headed dragons, and the leather-clad, hell-raising Hades. It was good fun and it kept the boys entertained for two hours so everyone was happy. The film is for nine to 14 year olds, but I enjoyed it for Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth) who has the most amazing blue eyes and she is a corker to boot.
I was sent this URL by our monitor engineer Peter Foulkes, and I thought it was good enough to share, as it did make me smile!
It is a sign of the times, to see that the EMI Music Group have put Abbey Road Recording Studios up for sale. Business analysts regard the move as a sign of EMI’s growing desperation. The studios are not a listed building and occupy prime space in an expensive part of London, thereby making it attractive to developers. It would be a sad day if the studio was closed down, as it has had such a huge place in rock ‘n’ roll history.
I guess this reflects the digital revolution, and indeed if there is a role any longer for large corporate studios. EMI have owned these studios for almost 80 years. In 1931 Edward Elgar recorded Land of Hope And Glory there. This has been Heep’s stage outro music for years now. These studios are one of the few studios able to hold an entire orchestra, and many of the soundtracks to the biggest blockbusters have been recorded there, such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter. I have just read that the National Trust is also considering whether it should launch a campaign to buy the North London complex and that 61-year-old British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, has expressed interest in buying the Studios. Webber has probably brought more musicians to record there than anyone else, because of the capacity to record large orchestral productions, with great facilities that includes three major recording studios within the building. He has recorded Jesus Christ Superstar, Love Never Dies and his upcoming sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera at Abbey Road. If this fails I guess the best we can hope for, is that a rich music fan would buy it, and turn it into a museum. I might give Paul McCartney a call, and see if he would be interested, as this would be the ultimate in Beatles memorabilia (The studio has now been taken off the market – Ed).
Sad to see that Doug Fieger lead singer of the Knack, and co-writer of the song My Sharona with bandmate Berton Averre, has died at the age of 57. He had battled cancer for five years and died in his own home in California. What a simple, infectious riff that song had.
Whilst in Russia I had the chance to watch another film directed by Quentin Tarantino on my iPod called Inglourious Basterds. The story begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)…. Inglourious Basterds. The story begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). She however escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Lieutenant Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt, organizes a group of soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. They are known to their enemy as ‘The Basterds’, and they are ordered by Raine to collect scalps from every German that they kill. He demands that every soldier under his command bring him at least 100 scalps.
Raine joins forces with the German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Shosanna fuelled by the hate of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, after the execution of her family, carries out her own revenge plan that takes place in the very cinema she owns. Tarantino sure knows how to create tension and suspense, and this film is just full of it. He does killing very well too, and has made it into an art form. It is well worth a look!
I have just received in the post from our management office a copy of our new Official Bootleg series (Live at Sweden Rock Festival 2009). This is a CD documenting some of that evenings performance. It is a fantastic package, and Ioannis has done us proud once again with some fantastic artwork. I will throw it in my car CD player when I go for my next drive, as this is where I play most of my CDs to get a judgement call on how good it sounds. This is the first of many of these Official Bootlegs that we hope to release fairly regularly.
It was nice to see that my mate Robert Fields, with his book called Minstels, Poets And Vagabonds: A History Of Rock Music In Glasgow, made it to number one in the Amazon ‘History of Music’ book charts. I wrote the forward for this book, and it is such a thrill that all of Roberts hard work has paid off. It is well worth a read, and you can feel the love and passion Robert has for the Glasgow rock scene.
This Sunday my team Spurs played Wigan in a Premier League Match. This was an away game at Wigan and we won 3-0. Jermaine Defoe got the first goal in the 26th minute. With 20 minutes to go Defoe was substituted for the Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, who scored the other two goals on the 83rd and the 92nd minutes. On our home ground earlier in the season we beat Wigan 9-1, so this season we have scored 12 goals against Wigan and had one goal scored against us. This is unheard of, certainly in Spurs world. We are presently fourth in the Premier league, but Manchester City in fifth place have a game in hand, so they are snapping at our heels, and it will be a fight to the end for this fourth position.
Whatever next! I read in the Sunday Times today an article about stressed out dogs popping a doggy version of the anti depressant drug Prozac. This has been launched in the USA, and is soon to be available in the UK. It will be used to treat a canine compulsive disorder, in which faulty genes combine with stress, to produce excessive licking, whimpering and tail chasing. The drug is called Reconcile and comes in beef flavoured chewy form, and it is also expected to curb compulsive pacing, chewing and dribbling. In my book most breakthroughs in dog behaviour are achieved with tasty titbits. To be honest if dogs were not carried around in hand bags, dressed up in the latest fashion, and treated as accessories, that would help. If you treat a dog like a dog, everything should be fine. The world has officially gone mad. At least in the dog world that is.
I hope you have enjoyed the above, and if so I hope to see you next week for more of the same.
Tags: Abbey Road Studios, AC/DC, Alesandra Daddario, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Barbara Windsor, Beatles, Bernie Shaw, Berton Averre, Brad Pitt, Brian Tichy, Chris Columbus, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Doug Fieger, Edward Elgar, Foreigner, Jeff Pilson, Jennifer Garner, Joe Satriani, Kelly Hansen, Lee Kerslake, Lou Gramm, Marti Frederiksen, Melanie Laurent, Michael Bluestein, Mick Box, Mick jagger, Mick Jones, Nigel Tufnell. Spinal Tap, Paul Landers, Paul McCartney, Phil Lanzon, Quentin Tarantino, Rammstein, Richard Kruspe, Rick Riordan, Ricky Gervais, Rob Lowe, Robert Fields, Russell Gilbrook, Sid James, The Knack, Till Lindermann, Tom Gimbel