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off the wall



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The shows in Invercargill went well and we headed for Dunedin next. It was another big beautiful old theatre. It was packed and we, ahem, rocked. I was dead chuffed 'cause the hotel were putting on a bit of a spread for us after the show compliments of the promoter and our hotel had Sky 2 which meant I could capitalize on the free booze and munchies as well as watch Everton play Liverpool. It doesn't get much better than that. Being an Everton fan though generally means that things can get decidedly worse...IN  A HURRY!  That it did as I painfully watched our arch rivals stick 3 past us at home. I swear I must unwittingly put some kind of curse on them just by watching them.

Dunedin reminds me of an English or Scottish city with lots of cathedrals, big old buildings and monuments. There have been many familiar acts through that old theatre. They had some of the old posters (including a hilarious looking one of the boys when they were much much younger). This was supposed to be the last date in NZ but because there was such a gap in the time between the gigs in Aus. more shows were added to keep things affordable. The only drag about that was instead of ending on a high in a big theatre with a big piss-up courtesy of the promoter we had a couple of hellish drives ahead of us in to smaller towns with smaller venues (which usually means more shows to accommodate the demand).

The first one wasn't too bad. 275km to Ashburton. This was a weird set up, we were actually in a movie theatre and my drums were right in front of the screen. Not the best room soundwise but a very enthusiastic audience (canes were waving, false teeth dropping, pacemakers clipping and toes tapping!) It started to become obvious to us that they really like having an ice cream at concerts in this country. At this show the girl actually walked around selling them while the bloody show was on! It's a good job we do two numbers back to back off the top. It gives them time to eat their ice cream before they have to clap (have you ever tried to clap with an ice cream in your hand? Impossible.)

We were dreading the next day because we had an 8 hr drive ahead of us and a show but we got a huge break when we talked the promoter into flying us. That was a big morale boost. A couple of the boys are really ready to go home. NZ is beautiful but we have seen alot of it. I however am a road warrior and am doing just fine thank you very much.

Nelson was our last city in NZ. We had two shows in two days on account of the small hall that we played in so it gave us some down time without having to travel or soundcheck the next day. I found a great trail to run along the river. The sound in this boomy room was the worst yet which was a bit of a let down for the final 2 shows. Geoffrey has been getting some great mentions in a few of the reviews so the boys were out to get him on the last show of the NZ leg. John taped over two holes on his pennywhistle so as he launched into the opening number he was completely thrown off when his whistle all of a sudden had a mind of it's own. There is a spot in the show where he has to switch whistles really quickly (he puts them all on the floor). When he bent down to get it we got the lighting guy Hans to black out the stage at that moment for a split second. Nice idea but we didn't get him on that one.

That first show in Nelson, provided me with one of my favourite moments of the tour though. Because the sound was booming around so much I was trying to back off on the drums a bit to help out the situation. But it is hard to do and still keep the energy up. I mentioned that it's cramping my style to hold back like that and the guys immediately said they noticed and it made it harder for them when I'm not imposing myself on the music. They told me to play the way I always do. So I did and the instrumental set we do halfway through the second set has a big sort of ending. I decided to lay into it but still tried to keep the volume under control. Anyway I felt I was really managing to pull it off and after the big ending Joe, the oldest Rover at 67 sent this roar of approval my way and thrust his fist in the air "Go on son!" he said. (Too funny.)

Not having to travel the next day a few pints were definitely in order. The hotel bar closed much before Geoffrey, Joe, Wilcil and myself were finished so we ordered four more rounds ahead so they could cash out and had them put on ice for us. Now we had the bar to ourselves and as some hilarious stories started coming out we started tucking into all the peanuts and we even had a couple of pulls on the taps before we called it a night. I finished off the night in my room with my headphones on listening to my fine recently purchased Marillion album...bliss.

The travel day to Aus. was supposed to be even more hellish than the one to Nelson. But again the promoter came through and flew us the whole way. He did such an excellent job promoting the shows and accommodating us on the tour. The crew were also top notch and nice people so it was a bit of a drag that we have to start from scratch in Aus. New promoter, New crew no familiarity with the set etc. I'm going to be on a different kit for each show and we will be on a different sound board on stage and front house for each night which means instead of keeping the settings the same for each night we have to start from scratch each night.

Arriving in Aus. though last night (Coolangatta) was a real treat. Warmer weather, nice looking girls and a hotel that kicks royal Ass. It's in this big Vegas-like casino complex and my room is killer. Huge room, big balcony looking out on the beach free mega buffet breakfast...YES!  New Zealand was great but in an old fashioned quaint kind of way. 70's decor, Electric blankets, hot water bottles etc. So this is like being on holiday. We've got three nights in the rooms as well. yee ha!

Coolingatta is a surf town with a great beach. The big Casino where we are playing tonight is on the main strip and the strip is all full of beach shops and cafes and stuff so it really does kind of feel like I'm on holiday. Geoffrey and I took full advantage of the free buffet breakfast. I had 6 (count 'em) hash brown fritters. Two helpings of scrambled eggs mushrooms and baked beans, bacon, sausage and TWO lamb chops. I had to go back to my room and sleep for two hours after all that.

Not sure what to expect from this gig tonight. The theatre is only a small part of what's going on in this big complex. The sound check didn't sound that great either. But that's ok I'm having fun being here in a 22 degree weather instead of all the rain and cold weather of NZ.

It's the next morning now and although the gig went well it held about a thousand and there were probably 800 or so there. I personally had a tough time. My monitor was poorly EQ'd so I couldn't get a comfortable balance all night. The front house guy though is ours and I got the impression he did a pretty good job considering it was his first time mixing us. I really miss the old crew though. Hans was a great lighting man and he got so used to the songs he was able to embellish every little thing. The front house guy Ian is the only crew travelling with us so it's going to be a bit of a crap shoot on stage and lights from here on in.  Ah well it's only two more shows.

Tonight’s gig is about half an hours drive from here so we are staying in the same accommodation (another great feed this morning though I didn't lose control like yesterday. Those poor little lambs.) I'm loving being in this beach town and wearing shorts again. I'm so glad I'm staying on for an extra couple of weeks after the tour. It looks like my work visa runs out on the 9th and the band fly back on the 7th so that does give me a day to sort out the tourist extension. It should be no problem but it is a bit of a worry not knowing for sure.  I don't feel comfortable doing the electronic application. I'd rather get into the office and talk to someone.

Take care all I'm off for a walkabout.