European Tour 2005: For the third time in three years, I have been lucky enough to get the chance to travel with Saint Thomas on tour. Being a famous writer (of the Saint Thomas fan page, I was recognized once and thus feel I can call myself famous now), the plan for me was just to enjoy the concerts and have fun being with a group of nice people. I brought along my video camera and my MiniDisc recorders (plural, but only one would survive the trip), and ended up capturing every single minute of Saint Thomas on stage on video and audio (bar the first concert in Denmark, which I did not attend).
Touring with Saint Thomas can be heaven and it can be hell. Heaven because the people in the band - Thomas Hansen (vocals and guitar), Petter Pogo (bass and vocals) and Alexander Lindbäck (drums and vocals) - are such fabulous people to be around, the nicest people in the world; and because the concerts were highlights night after night. But it can be hell because these three people only have 'on' and 'off' buttons to determine their moods. So it goes from feeling on top of the world to the bottom of the darkest basement with a snap, and they have an amazing ability to time their 'off' moments to one at a time… all the time. Seventeen concerts in seventeen days was a rollercoaster ride, but once you got to the end you wished it would never have ended.
Day 1: Århus, DK (September 28th)
The tour started at Vox Hall in Århus, Denmark September 28th, with a reportedly great concert to an audience consisting of a little bit fewer people than the band had expected. The band had taken the ferry from Oslo, Norway to Denmark, bringing along a friend of a band member, who was going with them until Berlin. He was a really nice guy, but also not one to put the breaks on a party getting underway, so there was not a lot of sleeping taking place on the boat ride, and the party continued long into the night in Århus.
Day 2: Århus, DK - Hamburg, GER (September 29th)
I joined up with the band the next day when they came to Hamburg. This year, a lot of focus was put on Germany, and the first of the German concerts, at Tanzhalle St. Pauli, gave them a nice start to the German leg of the tour; the band gave an excellent concert, and the audience gave a great response - dancing around, asking questions to the people on stage, and refusing to stop clapping after the encore and bringing the band back on stage for an un-rehearsed band version of "Invitation" without the MiniDisc-playback. Thomas had to tell the audience afterwards that he was sorry that they simply had not rehearsed any more songs.
There were also a lot more people in the audience than last time they played in Hamburg, even though Stephen Malkmus was performing right down the street at the same time. After the concert there was a lot of partying done by a fraction of the band, resulting in very little sleep for that fraction. So, as early as after the second concert of a planned seventeen-date tour, batteries were starting to run out.
Day 3: Hamburg, GER - Berlin, GER (September 30th)
The trip from Hamburg to Berlin did not seem to be one to remember. We left Hamburg at a decent time, but there was so much traffic on the highway that the trip ended up taking about five hours. As we were starting to give up hope that we would ever manage to get to Berlin in time for the concert, Thomas got the idea of putting on Madrugada's "The Deep End" album on the car stereo. As "The Kids Are On High Street" was playing, the traffic mysteriously started clearing up, and all of a sudden everything looked like it would be alright. Grabbed by the moment, Thomas phoned Madrugada-singer Sivert Høyem on his mobile, and handed it to bass legend Petter Pogo in the backseat, who had never talked to Sivert before. Sivert picked up his phone somewhere on a foot-trip in Spain, and was told by a blushing and star-struck Petter how much his band's music had meant to Saint Thomas this day. For the rest of the tour, "The Deep End" was the magic mixture to put on every time someone was feeling low. (Which means "The Deep End" was played a lot.)
During the trip, phone calls were also made to the person we thought was in charge in Berlin, to give updates on the delay. As we got to Berlin it turned out that the calls had gone to the sound engineer, who had not passed on the messages to the booking agency people, so there was a bit of tension with them as one of three planned interviews had to be cancelled. But the sound check was done very quickly, and for the band everything was in place for a professional performance, with the other two interviews being done backstage before the concert by Thomas and Petter.
André Herman Düne was at the concert with his girlfriend, and before the concert there were talks that he would join the band onstage, as Saint Thomas currently cover two Herman Düne songs. He ended up getting on stage with them for the first two songs of the set, the Herman Düne-song "Sheer Wonder," written by his brother David-Ivar and covered by Saint Thomas for the latest album, and then "Of Course You Were There," which was written by Thomas in Berlin in December last year and then recorded for the first time with André for a planned split-seven inch that never came out.
At the end of the regular set - which had been performed very well to an enthusiastic and rather large audience (barring a few playing mistakes and a "Book On Hold" that Thomas could not remember and that therefore had to be skipped) - Thomas promised the audience "a surprise." Everyone thought he meant the usual encore that every band gives, but instead André got back on stage, picked up Thomas' guitar and was joined by Alex and Petter (and a dancing Thomas) on a mind-blowing and seemingly ever-lasting performance of his Herman Düne song "HD Rider." Petter had actually never heard the song before, but did not miss a beat. It was such a great performance that Thomas himself said afterwards that seeing one of his big idols standing on stage and performing so well got him a bit out of focus, so the rest of the encore was a slight anti-climax. For the Herman Düne cover "This Will Never Happen," Thomas could not remember the words and it had to be stopped midway, and when he got off stage at the end he was pretty disappointed with the performance, though it had only been the very end of the performance that had lacked in quality.
Throughout the tour, the band members would be their harshest critics, making sure all of them performed as good as possible night after night.
Day 3: Berlin, GER - Kassel, GER (October 1st)
The next morning, as we met up outside the venue to drive to Kassel, the mood was not the greatest. One member of the band - the same the one who was already running out of energy the day before - had only slept two hours in the early morning, and was not feeling too well. Additionally, when moving the car to load in the equipment, Thomas' dad Terje, the band's driver and usually an excellent one at that, chose the shortest route from point A to point B, which just happened to be over my bags, including expensive film and camera equipment. Amazingly enough, only a MiniDisc player had to bide its farewell after the unpleasant meeting with a heavy van.
The trip to Kassel took only a few hours, so we got there early, and were greeted by nice and enthusiastic people just like last year. The sound check took a bit longer than usual, there were some problems getting the sound right. Some wiring at the venue did not seem to have been done very well, as when Petter hit certain notes, a stage light would flicker on and off. But it worked out in the end, and as the sound check was getting wrapped up, two girls entered the venue with guitars on their backs. They had planned to go to the concert and to play in the street outside the venue to try to earn some money, but after an audition in front of Saint Thomas band members they were invited to play on stage after Saint Thomas had finished their set. While eating at the backstage area (also known as 'cold and scary cellar') the girls were rehearsing, and played "The Cool Song" to a blushing Thomas, with Alex and Petter singing along. It turned out that this song was part of their usual repertoire, but they also played beautiful versions of "Take A Dance With Me," "Born Again" and "Last Word" that the band members sat and sang along to while eating, which was very nice.
Alex did support as his Seven Doors Hostel, which he had also done the previous three nights. His support performance in Kassel was a very nice experience, and throughout the tour we would notice how he was getting better on stage from night to night. In Kassel he got a great response from the audience, with the unexpected highlight being a break while changing a broken string, which ended in a funny dialogue with the crowd and Petter getting on stage to help him measure the temperature in the room. Thomas would try the same temperature-measurement trick during the Saint Thomas concert, but ended up breaking the measuring instrument while trying to get the temperature inside his shirt. Towards the end of the concert, the two girls were invited on stage to sing "The Cool Song" with the band, which the girls also performed themselves during a short set to a still-enthusiastic audience afterwards.
As we were leaving with a taxi to the hotel, the mood was great. But unfortunately there had been quite a bit fewer people at the concert than had been expected, and money-issues were discussed in the taxi. This led to some very unnecessary tension after an evening that had been just great until then, and there were thoughts of wrapping up the tour and going home instead of the optimism that should have been there for the continuation of the tour. At this stage, a member of the band had gotten extremely tired, having completely forgotten the principles of food, water and sleep as important ingredients of a long and successful touring experience. The same band member unfortunately did not manage to sleep very well this night either, though we all went to bed early.
Day 4: Kassel, GER - Munich, GER (October 2nd)
The future of the tour had to be discussed after only four days, in a strange hotel out in the middle of nowhere outside of Kassel. It was decided that we should get in the car and onto the highway and then stop and get a good breakfast somewhere, and to then discuss what should be done next. So we got the equipment at the venue and got going, and ended up at another strange place next to the highway, with lots of old people sitting around. By then, the mood was on the rise, there were a few hugs passed around, and as close to a discussion we got was Terje asking whether he should head for Munich or for Kiel and the ferry home and Thomas replying "Munich, of course."
The drive to Munich was another horror experience, with lots of traffic on the highway, and with us already being delayed due to the events of the morning. When we finally got to Munich, the otherwise fantastically helpful GPS-system decided to act up, and sent us in circles instead of towards the venue. When we finally got to the venue, very delayed (and we had called the organizers - the right people this time - to let them know about this), things were topped off with a Spinal Tap-moment of getting out of the van and seeing a sign on the door of the venue saying the concert had been moved to a different place in town.
We got hold of one of the organizers, who guided us to the right venue. The move was actually not such a bad thing after all, as they ended up playing at the incredibly cool Atomic Café, which was a nice surprise. The people at the venue were nice and patient, and John Wayne Shot Me were there to do support; they did support on a few gigs on the tour last year, and would also be playing at another few shows on this tour, so it was nice to meet them. The sound check was done in a few minutes, and Thomas and Petter decided to sit down and do some planned interviews, while the rest of us went to eat at a vegan restaurant and brought some food back for the other two. The Oktoberfest was going on in Munich, so there were some interesting things to witness on the way back and forth to the restaurant.
John Wayne Shot Me got a great reception from the audience, and by the time Saint Thomas got on stage the venue was pretty much packed. Last year, the concert in Munich had been the undeniable highlight of the tour, with the most people and the greatest audience. I had unfortunately missed that part of the tour last year, and was happy to get a repeat of it this year. This time there were even more people there - the atmosphere was absolutely fabulous - and everyone were very happy. After the concert John Wayne Shot Me drove off early to stay over-night in Stuttgart - we would be meeting up with them in Vienna, Austria the next day - while the rest of us got a good night's sleep at one of the nicer hotels on the trip.
Day 5: Munich, GER - Vienna, A (October 3rd)
In Munich we left the equipment in the van parked outside of the venue. This was not something the band liked to do, as on an earlier tour Thomas and Alex had the very unpleasant experience of parking a car loaded with equipment at a safe place only to have someone break into the car and stealing important (and expensive) stuff. Therefore they were hesitant to do this over again, but it seemed to be the only option here, and the organizers said over and over again that it was a very safe place to park, and we had to believe them. But there was quite a bit of nervousness going back to the car in the morning. Luckily everything was alright.
The trip to Vienna was nice. A highlight was when a radio station called on Thomas' mobile phone to do a scheduled interview with Thomas as promo for a forthcoming concert in another country. From the backseat, Thomas had already told everyone that he was not in the mood to do an interview at that time, and a short discussion ensued as to who would do it instead, and how. The responsibility fell on Petter, who was told to pretend he was Thomas. Never having been one to study the history of the people he is currently playing with, Petter hilariously tried his best at telling the story of Saint Thomas to an unknowing interviewer, with many red faces in the backseat, all doing their best to keep the laughter inside.
In Vienna, the others had been in the city and stayed at the same place the year before, so finding the hotel and the venue was rather easy. John Wayne Shot Me were already at the venue, roller skating inside. During sound check there were some problems with very high-pitched tones coming from Thomas' guitar amp, but it turned out that this was caused by the railroad that the club, Chelsea, was located under, and that there was nothing to be done about it. The sounds were extremely unpleasant to listen to, but the soundman said it would be alright once there were people inside the venue to absorb the sounds (and he was indeed correct). Before the concert Thomas and Petter did an interview with a local radio station and another interview and photo shoot with a Dutch guy living in Austria, who spoke Norwegian.
The concert went without a hitch, following in the footsteps of the fabulous performance in Munich the night before, with lots of smiling faces from the many people dancing in the front. There was even an unprecedented cheer in the middle of the Herman Düne cover-song "This Will Never Happen," after the line 'and all the Terminators should be running for Governor.' After the concert we all got back to the hotel rather quickly for a good night's sleep, as we had a long trip to Dresden back in Germany the next morning.
Day 6: Vienna, A - Dresden, GER (October 4th)
In Dresden we also stayed at the same place and they were playing at the same place as we had been the year before. It is nice to come back and see some familiar places in the middle of a long series of new places and new people day after day. I even got my first single room on the trip. The organizers who like to pack as many band members as possible into as small a space as possible should be aware of the therapeutic advantages of single rooms, and how much better everyone's day gets from a little bit of privacy in the middle of living like packed sardines in a tin box. Not that the people in Saint Thomas do not get along with each other - quite the contrary - but waking up together, eating breakfast together, packing equipment together, spending the day in a van together, eating dinner together, playing together and then sharing a room for the night; sometimes you need a few hours for yourself - when you know there are still two weeks left to share with others.
The whole day had been spent driving, so luckily the sound check went incredibly fast, and there was a little bit of time to relax backstage before the concert. Alex, dressed in a yellow Herman Düne t-shirt and sunglasses, did a fabulous support gig. Saint Thomas once again impressed on stage, but there was a noticeable strain in the communication with the audience, most of them did not seem to know English very well. But they seemed to love the music they were served, which is really all that matters. After the concert there was some socializing with people at the venue, and one member of the band decided to spend the night in Dresden partying, while the rest of us went to get some sleep.
Day 7: Dresden, GER - Weimar, GER (October 5th)
The next morning three of us were sitting in a café right across the street from the hostel where we had spent the night, waiting for the last band member and Terje to show up. As we saw them getting out of the hotel, waving at them to get their attention and come over, I receiving a phone call from the same band member we were waving at, who was asking where we were, and excitedly telling me that he had gotten beaten up during the night.
The two band members already sitting there were naturally shocked by this piece of information. When the other two got over, the last band member, sporting new Mick Jagger-lips, could tell us that he had been in a bar (that the rest of us jokingly concluded must have been one for those who swing the other way) and that for no apparent reason a guy had hit him in the face. Luckily the band member was alright, his only concern being that he hoped the swollen lip - the only visible evidence of the previous night's encounter - would stay like that for a couple of days, as he thought it would be a great story to tell the audience. (This was the only case of planning anything to say for the concerts, as the band members are firm believers in creating a loose atmosphere and not having rehearsed what the show should be like. For the record, the same ones who share this belief are also those who played the same set list seventeen nights in a row...)
As we got to Weimar, a very small town two hours away from Dresden, the lip was unfortunately starting to return to normal, to The Lip's great disappointment. Yes, the same people handing out chocolate medals to help against mean comments were now handing out nicknames based on the current state of people's lips. But I suppose the situation was too good to pass on, even for people making firm statements against being mean to each other. In Weimar, we were all impressed that the GPS was still working, even in such a small place, and showing us the way right to the very entrance of the venue. Thomas had found a liking in guessing which way it would tell us to go next, and in Weimar he ended up betting at one crossing, and losing twice during the course of the day - at the same crossing. The venue was an old energy plant, and things were not very professional, but the people there were enthusiastic and nice, and that always helps. When we got there and Alex put his drum kit on the stage, he and his kit were bouncing around when he played it, the stage moving along with the beats, and Alex was scared he would fall off the stage. The organizers re-built the stage, and then things worked out much better.
The backstage was a building next to what would serve as the venue, which had hopefully smelled better in the past, and where a bit of heating would not have hurt, so we went to check in at the hotel. There Mr. Høyem of Madrugada got another unexpected phone call, Kraftwerk was on television to everyone's delight, and a nice hotel receptionist got me an extra bed in one of the double-rooms. Later in the night I would get a nice offer to choose between a regular bed and the extra bed, and I would chose the extra bed just to be nice, only to then find out that the bed must have been made for children, as it reached me to my knees. I should learn not to be so kind all the time.
Back at the venue, there was an additional local musician doing support before Alex went on stage, and since it was a small town where people apparently liked to go out very late, the time for when Alex would go on stage kept getting pushed back. Alex' performance was once again very nice, and the audience seemed to like him really well. As Saint Thomas got on stage, it was starting to get really late, and due to the delay a member of the band had gotten a bit too much into their system before going on stage. In addition, the sound on stage was not very good at all, and at the beginning of the concert there seemed to be pretty lackluster response from the audience, which led to the first time of the tour where there was a genuine fear that something would go wrong on stage. I think every single one traveling along this year has gotten a beer bottle thrown in their general direction during their time with Saint Thomas, so we are all starting to get pretty good at reading the signals. A broken string on Thomas' guitar still just at the beginning of the set could have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
As it turned out, the band took the negative energy that was collecting and used it for something positive instead. Thomas performed a heartbreaking, loud solo version of "Strangers Out Of Blue" (which would usually be done the same way as the last song of the set) on a replacement guitar while Alex and Petter changed the broken string, and from then on they all started looking at each other, smiling at every opportunity, and just shrugging shoulders and laughing every time there was a mistake. The audience picked up on the increasing mood, and started moving along to the music. At the end, there was a massive dance in front of the stage, and after the concert some in the band thought it was the best concert of the tour so far, while others pointed out that it could have ended up very different, and that being on stage at a time where the situation could have gone awry was not a very pleasant experience, even if things worked out in the end.
Day 8: Weimar, GER - Colmar, FR (October 6th)
The next day we had a few hours to drive to Colmar in France. Everyone was feeling pretty good, except for Thomas who had some stomach problems, and I, in a bad mood in the front seat, actually wanting nothing more than to just go home. Having had to endure musical horrors ranging from Bonnie Tyler to Herman's Hermits on the car stereo, a round of Ramones helped, though. We had the usual daily stop at McDonald's, and as we got to the venue everyone's mood was on top.
Saint Thomas was supposed to play support for a French band called Red, who we had not heard anything about. As we got to the venue, very delayed since we figured it was only a support gig and the main act would spend a lot of time on sound check anyway, it turned out that Red were also delayed, stuck in traffic somewhere. And that Saint Thomas would be headlining. Luckily for everyone, a Saint Thomas sound check usually consists of a very quick setup and one and a half songs ("Sheer Wonder," and half of "Be Cool Be Nice" to check the vocal harmonies, but not the full one since one band member is getting really tired of playing it), so everything went very quick, with Red arriving later and having as much time as they needed for their own sound check.
As it turned out, Colmar would seem to be the Herman Düne-capital of the world. Néman Herman Düne, who played on the latest Saint Thomas record, was playing drums with Red (they had two drum kits and two drummers on stage). And before sound check, the soundman decided to play us something he thought was very special on the loudspeakers; a song from a Herman Düne session recorded live at the very same venue earlier this year. It sounded spectacular, and he also played us a live version of "Sheer Wonder" recorded 'with about fifteen people on stage.' He later said that when Saint Thomas got on stage for sound check and started off with "Sheer Wonder" he was so blown away by what he was hearing that it was hard for him to focus on getting the sound right. Being in such a Herman Düne-influenced environment, I felt like quite the fan boy, standing there in my Herman Düne t-shirt...
We got great food at the venue, and were very surprised that all of the people there spoke very good English. There is always a fear when going into France that no one will understand you, because the French are considered arrogant and only willing to speak their own language, which none of us know. But the people in Colmar were all super-cool, and the only language-barrier was the fact that we had been in Germany for such a long time that it felt natural for us to keep using German, but of course no one there understood that language.
Red played a pretty long set, which we all enjoyed, except for the fact that it was so long that it was starting to get a bit late, and both the audience and the band wanting to go on stage were starting to get a bit tired. The Saint Thomas concert was once again great, with the band dedicating the concert to Néman Herman Düne, and later being joined onstage by him for percussion on "This Will Never Happen" and "Cornerman," a song he had never rehearsed for before, at the end of the set.
We all decided to head for bed as early as we could, and everyone agreed on this, but one member of the band changed plans and decided to hang out with the members of Red instead. He and members of Red ended up crawling on their knees in the hotel lobby in the middle of the night (the Saint Thomas band member wearing his nicest white pants), which ended up in a hilarious conversation the day after when he wanted to wear the same pants on stage, notwithstanding the fact that they were now gray with brown spots on them.
Day 9: Colmar, FR - Basel, CH (October 7th)
Breakfast in Colmar was digested sitting on the sidewalk outside the first store next to the hotel where they happened to have sandwiches. I do not think we gave off an impression of being very sophisticated Norwegians that morning. At the venue to load in the equipment, no one was there to let us in, as we had gotten there half an hour earlier than planned. Time was spent sitting outside playing banjo, shaving, and trying to ride an old and run-over bicycle.
In Basel they were playing at Hirscheneck, a venue where Petter had actually played a few years earlier with another band, Schweinhund. When we got there, he only thought he had a feeling of having seen the same things earlier, but as we got downstairs underneath the café where the actual venue was, he could confirm that it was the same place. The world is small. A lot of other famous bands had also played there in the past, including Turbonegro, and Petter said that the last time he was there, there had been graffiti in the sleeping area done by Green Day, saying they had played there at the beginning of their career, but this seemed to have been painted over.
Knowing Green Day might have slept there was the only comfort for the idea of having to spend the night there, though. The sleeping area was in the fifth floor of an old building with creaking stairs, with mattresses on the floor. The bathroom, shared with café-visitors, was down in the first floor. The shower was in the second floor - up a different staircase than the one to the sleeping place, and could only be used when there were people in the nearby kitchen who could let us in. The next morning, I was the only one daring to take a shower, and from the looks of the place I doubt I got much cleaner. But, as mentioned before, good food and nice people can make up for the worst of things, and these were definitely very nice people (and the food turned out to be great, too).
The concert was taking place in the basement, a narrow hall with a sign outside saying they usually turned the volume up A LOT, and that ear plugs were recommended. Saint Thomas had already been playing very loud on the tour so far, and with a volume-eager soundman in Basel it reached new heights. There was a local band doing support, and Saint Thomas played a nice set in front of a pretty packed venue. Afterwards there were a lot of enthusiastic people hanging around. Most of us ended up in bed towards the middle of the night, while one member of the band stayed up until the early morning. But we had a very short trip the day after, with sound check in the evening, so there were no worries.
Day 10: Basel, CH - Zurich, CH (October 8th)
The next day in Basel, the tenth of the tour, was the first opportunity to walk around and actually see anything of the town we were in. People might think stuff like that is an exaggeration, but with the long drives our days consisted of driving, sound check, concert and sleeping. So for the first time on the tour, Terje had enough time to do the basic task of buying some shampoo. The four of us who had not been awake all night got up pretty early, had breakfast together, with Ween on the stereo (greeting a local organizer who must have lost the drinking competition with the band member the night before, the poor guy just had to go back to bed) and would spend our time until late afternoon strolling around town. We sat down to watch a group of people play drums at the town square, and in true bizarre fashion the same people ended up going to the Saint Thomas concert in Zurich the same night.
Back at the venue, the remaining band member was woken up at half past four. The mood was great, with everyone looking forward to a short drive to Zurich and a nice concert there. But while having refreshments outside the café shortly before leaving, the band member who had stayed up all night started telling the story of what had happened in the night, including the fact that he and the organizer had gone back into the venue and jammed in the early morning. Not a big deal, except for the fact that by doing so, he had let someone else play around with another band member's instrument, which is a big no-no on a long tour without any backup for the instruments in case anything gets damaged. The other band member got very angry, and though most of us realized it was more of an in-the-moment blowout, the band member who had stayed up all night took it very personal, claiming it would be difficult to do the concert that night with the mood being like this. But we loaded in the instruments, and as we started driving off, comments were made that in an hour or two everything would be back to normal.
Arriving in Zurich, there were hugs making up for the incident in the morning. They were playing at a club called G5, which apparently was some sort of illegal club, on the posters for concerts hanging around there was not an address for the club, only some sort of signal which was supposed to indicate to people 'in the know' where to go. The venue was on the top floor of a building, so we seemed to be stuck in our stair-phase of the tour. It was a cool place, and the people were once again very nice, making sure we got everything we needed, and even giving out free cigarettes to the smoking members of the band, a first of the tour. The sound was a bit of an issue, as it was difficult to get everything to sound right, so that took a bit longer than usual. By the time sound check was wrapped up, it was almost nine in the evening, but we were not in a rush, as the concert was not planned to start until half past twelve or so. There was a band from Basel doing support, and we went to an apartment where we were staying while they were doing sound check, to take a shower and watch Switzerland against France on the television (the football match was apparently the reason for the late show start).
Back at the venue for a late dinner, it turned out the support act had eaten most of our food, which was the first indication that these guys, though very nice people and all that, were maybe taking up a bit too much room. Once they got on stage for what they had promised would be a rather short set (since members of Saint Thomas did not want to start way too late), they played for about an hour and then got back on stage for a planned encore. So it was very late when Saint Thomas finally got on stage. All band members had started feeling a bit of a cold, and with a venue consisting of more than two hundred people packed like sardines and all of them totally spaced out, it was not easy being on stage that night. They all later agreed that there had been a definite lack of communication within the band during the performance, and that this should not be happening again, because it made it very difficult to perform well. Though the band members were not totally satisfied, the concert was very good, though most of the audience probably did not even know which band was on stage.
After the concert, Terje sold nothing at the merchandise table, and it was the first and only time on tour where something at the merchandise table would get stolen. So it was a pretty different crowd than at the other stops of the tour. After the concert, sitting backstage, two members of the band were feeling great, while the third one was having a breakdown, and had to have a time-out in a different room after having smacked a guitar in the wall. So many factors play into living with four strangers for so many days in a row, sharing everything with them, having to be on top to perform every night, and missing the loved ones at home and the routines of how you usually spend a day. Not long afterwards, back at the apartment, the same band member who had been feeling so low was then feeling good enough to drag down his pants and moon the poor other members of the band who were having night-food in the kitchen. Emotional rollercoaster, indeed.
Day 11: Zurich, CH - Frankfurt, GER (October 9th)
Getting to Frankfurt, we were shocked to hear that the concert that night was being organized by the same person who had been responsible for the concert in the same city on last year's tour. The concert last year was great, but equipment at the venue was way below standards, we did not get get-in food, had to argue for buy-out money to go eating, sleeping arrangements were less-than-great, and the bathroom experience included wading in pee at bathroom stall of the venue. So we feared the worst for this day.
As it turned out, the people at Brotfabrik were very professional, maybe even a bit too professional. It seemed they were scared of making the slightest mistake, which often gives off a slightly odd impression. The place was big (too big, we thought, way too big it would turn out) and the sound was great. For sound check, Thomas got quite impatient and did not play more than short parts of two songs before abruptly leaving the stage. They were finally playing somewhere with great sound, and seemed to be ruining things for themselves. But the soundman had managed to pick up on what knobs needed to be turned, and said he just liked it when bands were quick. A three-minute sound check might be too quick for some, though.
During a lackluster dinner for Norwegians who are spoiled with fish that actually taste like fish, a guy came over and talked to Thomas. With that, the news was out that the concert that night would be filmed for a local television station. Thomas had known about it, but had forgotten to tell the others, which upset them a little. Petter was wearing a t-shirt he was not sure was too suitable for television, and they both wished they had gotten a bit further notice, knowing that maybe they should have tuned the sound a bit more carefully, also.
The concert was taking place on a Sunday, in a venue where there was no alcoholic beverage served, and smoking was not allowed. In addition there was an early concert start, and strict notices to start on time. When Alex got on stage to do support, there were two cameras lined up in front of the stage, and approximately three people and one big glass standing around on the huge floor in front of the stage. This did not seem to put Alex off, though, he started off like every night, talking to the people who were there, cracking jokes, and playing incredibly nice. By the end of his set, the place was starting to fill up a little, and he was singing so nice and with so much emotion, it was definitely his best support gig of the tour.
Saint Thomas got on stage in front of an audience of about fifty people, which was pretty disappointing since the venue had been packed with about one hundred and fifty people the last time they were in Frankfurt. But those fifty people really got the best out of the band, and the band the best out of them. Having gotten on stage with a bowl of fruit, and one big pineapple (put on Thomas' amp, wearing a nice cap), the audience were told to feel free to enjoy the fruit, and a dance competition was held with the pineapple as the grand prize for the winner, to be announced at the end of the concert. The audience took this competition really seriously, and used the large space to let themselves go.
Getting back on stage for the encore, Alex did a huge mistake. He threw the pineapple into the audience before a winner had been announced! There was a lot of tension in the moments from it landed on the floor until someone picked it up, but it turned out that the proud girl who picked it up was the same one both Alex and Petter would have voted for as winner of the competition, so things luckily sorted itself out. The girl was later spotted carrying the big pineapple around in the café, expect it for sale on eBay some day soon after all the free commercial it has gotten here.
The band asked the audience if they wanted to come up on stage to dance during a song, to which no one really reacted. So Thomas started playing "This Will Never Happen" instead, and then a large group of girls started jumping up on stage, dancing their hearts out for the rest of the song. It was quite the sight. After a request, "The Red Book" was also performed, improvised by the two in the rhythm section who had never played the song before, and Thomas could not remember all the lyrics. The band got on stage for a second encore, playing a fabulous version of "Invitation," which ended with some sort of homo-erotic group 'hug' (that we are all glad got caught on tape), bidding the audience farewell after the nicest eighty minutes of the tour so far.
Making amends for the crummy sleeping arrangements of last year, this year's visit to Frankfurt was spent at a luxurious hotel. Unfortunately, right before we left, Petter and Alex discovered what turned out to be 46 promotional posters lying around at the venue entrance. These were supposed to have been put up around town to get people to go to the concert, and as Saint Thomas had only gotten a deal including percentages of ticket sales, knowing that only fifty people showed up and that the organizer had done a poor job was a bit let-down after an otherwise very professional day and incredibly nice concert experience.
Day 12: Frankfurt, GER - Dortmund, GER (October 10th)
In Dortmund we were scheduled to stay at the Hilton hotel, and we got to the city early, so we were all dreaming of hot tubs, maybe even a swimming pool. As it turned out, we would not get to see the hotel until late into the night. As we were getting close to Dortmund, we learned that the Japanese band Melt Banana would also be playing at FZW. We hoped it would be the same case as with Red in Weimar, a support gig that no one had told the band about. Instead, it turned out that Melt Banana would be playing on the big stage, while Saint Thomas would be playing at the decent smaller stage in the basement. Actually, when we got there, there was not a stage there yet, but it looked like a cool room that could fit a hundred people or so.
From the very moment we got to the venue, we felt like we were definitely second-class, and way down on the priority list for that evening. No one said hello or greeted us, and some people reluctantly put up a stage for the band to play on, complaining in German that it had to be so big, obviously wanting to carry as little as possible. The complaining in German behind our backs turned out to be a red thread throughout the evening, with none of them seeming to notice - and we did not see the need in telling them - that three of us actually speak pretty fluent German.
The soundman finally arrived, and was the first one there to act semi-friendly. The band set their stuff up on stage, only to realize that the only speakers there were two small ones located behind the stage. Which of course would result in massive feedback once the band started playing loud - or a very quiet band on stage to avoid the feedback. This was not a situation the band could accept. There were proper speakers standing in the backstage room that would not give great sound but that would at least sound decent, but as we had already felt, the people at the venue were very reluctant to actually have to do anything.
The person supposed to be in charge finally arrived, and could tell us that they had been of the impression that they had booked one person with an acoustic guitar (and given one double-room at Hilton for him, and one for his guitar, apparently), and that they did not have any other options for the band than to play on the crummy equipment that was already there, or they could get their money and go to the hotel. According to this person, the venue was doing the band a big favor by letting them put on a show, since 'only thirty people would show up anyway.'
There has been a lot of unprofessional behavior in the history of Saint Thomas. In pretty much every case in the past it has been caused by Saint Thomas. In Dortmund, I was proud to be with a band that was being treated very unfairly, but with three band members who were keeping their heads cool and thinking of their fans who had paid for the concert instead of what would be the easiest for them. The band agreed to try to find a different solution, and that the concert would definitely not be canceled, if nothing worked then Thomas would perform a few songs solo just to give the people who might have traveled far value for their time and their money.
Some sort of permission to move the backstage-speakers was finally granted, and it turned out that all that was needed for okay sound was for two big speakers to be moved twenty meters, taking about two minutes of time, after hours of sitting around and waiting for someone to make a decision on what to do. The sound was totally alright, clear and loud with the speakers put in the right place. During this sound check, the person in charge at the venue and some helping hand stood around watching, talking between themselves, and for what these people were saying they definitely would have deserved a kick in the nuts.
Having been lucky enough to be close to Saint Thomas for many years now, this day in Dortmund actually marked the first time any of them got to see me being angry. When this was pointed out, Thomas said no, he had seen me angry before, but upon inspecting the situation he was referring to, none of us could remember if I had really been angry then or not. But in Dortmund I was angry, and everyone else were also pretty hot-headed (though all remaining in charge of the situation) - except for Thomas. The master of flaring tempers and flying beer bottles was thinking of the people who would be coming to the concert instead of the organizers who were trying to ruin it, remarkably cool-headed behavior in the situation we were in.
Alex did support (with help from someone who kept talking loudly throughout the concert, to everyone's annoyance - turning out to be the soundman), and Saint Thomas took the stage in front of fifty-seven paying concert-goers. Not incredibly many, but far from the thirty estimated, and more than one-third of those at the concert upstairs, which was expected to sell very well. The concert was great, but a member of the band had a little bit too much to drink during the concert and got a bit out of focus towards the end. Afterwards we finally got to see the Hilton hotel, and felt as out of place as we could, and Thomas and Terje used the opportunity to get room service and have chili con carne in the middle of the night.
Day 13: Dortmund, GER - Liege, BEL (October 11th)
In Liege the concert was taking place at L'Atelier, where the band also played on last year's tour. It is a small place with a stage in the end of the room, and on the second floor you could stand around where the stage was and look straight down at it through a hole in the floor, which looked pretty cool. There was a local band doing support, and a helpful girl to make sure the band had everything they needed. Terje and I got to take a walk and do some shopping, Alex and Petter also took a walk, while Thomas spent the hours before the concert sitting backstage, complaining that it was boring to just sit and wait (but not doing anything about it).
By this time of the tour, for me it was getting noticeable that the musical performances were starting to float into each other. Though they were still very enjoyable, with conversations with the audience and interesting monologues in-between songs that changed from night to night, and there were always good parts and bad parts to point out to the band right afterwards. But by the next morning it was hard to remember if the cool part in "Heroes Making Dinner" had been performed the night before, or in Hamburg at the first concert of the tour that I saw. So in hindsight it is difficult to describe the shows, other than saying they were 'good' (which they all were, bar one) or something similar and equally simple. But, the cure for lack of memory is the twenty-four video cassettes containing every minute of every show on tour (except for the first one in Århus), but having seen sixteen concerts, the last thing you want to do is to see them all over again… So concert reviews will have to be added later.
Philippe Decoster from Saint Thomas' Belgian record label 62TVRecords was at the concert, and was a very nice guy. On this tour, a large chocolate medal had been brought along by the band to help fight mean-spirited comments and hurting each other's feelings. Whoever forgot to think before talking and slipped out a mean comment would be handed the medal and forced to wear it until learning a lesson (or until someone else would say something bad, which was usually the case, it was more of a chocolate marathon than a learning experience). (For some reason, I never got the medal. I suppose my mean jokes are just too funny.) Cristophe would definitely have deserved to wear the medal, and a running joke of his (and then ours) for the next few days when he would follow us would be that he thought Thomas bent his neck awkwardly while playing, ending up looking like a spastic, with Thomas later saying that looking down at Philippe during the concerts freaked him out.
Not too long into the night after the concert, Alex, Petter and I walked back to the place where we were staying the night. (We passed a place for ethnic food where Thomas had decided to get a meal in the middle of the night last year, naturally ending in stomach problems.) Thomas and Terje stayed at the venue for a few hours longer. By this time I was still feeling very good, but I would be in increasing pain throughout the night.
Day 14: Liege, BEL - Paris, FR (October 12th)
Waking up in the morning I realizing I had gotten an ear infection. It hurt like hell. I met Alex and Petter on their way out in the hallway, telling them how I felt, and I think I scared them a bit (not having combed my hair might have helped with that), but it turned out they had their own worries. Some time after Thomas and his dad had gotten back, someone had broken a window of the rental car parked outside of the place we were staying, and Petter and Alex had to try to figure out if anything had been stolen, and how to repair it (it was on the driver's side in the front). Luckily, nothing was missing, but we had made sure to not leave anything of value in there anyway. This was a relief, but at the same time it pissed us off that someone would break a car window just for the sake of it. Or, it pissed the rest of them off, I was pretty much fading out at this time.
We went back to the venue to try to figure out what to do. Someone had to talk to the police to see if it was necessary to file a report on the broken window, and I had to get a doctor or at least get to a pharmacy. Alex was emotionally tired, and went to sleep in the back of the van, Petter and Terje went to the nearest police station, and I went to find a pharmacy. In the end, at the police station there was no one there to help them, and at the pharmacy they did not accept my credit cards, so we were all left helpless. Thomas and I went to McDonald's to get breakfast, and Terje called the rental car company to ask about insurance and stuff to do. Thomas got me on the line with Karim Sayed, former Saint Thomas-drummer-extraordinaire (who I was lucky enough to get to spend a tour with some years ago), who is now a doctor, and was very helpful in telling me what I needed to do (and not to do).
Very late compared to the schedule, we all got in the now-damaged van to head for Paris, stopping at a pharmacy on the way for some of us to take the pills we needed (and others to take the same ones just in case they might need them) and calling the organizers in Paris to ask if there was a doctor to visit near the venue. As it turned out, the people in Paris were wonderful and helpful people, and actually got hold of a doctor who would come to the venue and take care of me. I thought that was really cool. What was not so cool was stopping somewhere next to the highway and realizing the car was leaking 'something.' We did not find out what it was, but apparently everything had to go wrong this day, confirmed later when I spilled chocolate milk on my last clean t-shirt. (Feeling like crap and driving a car that howled like a wolf due to the broken window, the spilled chocolate milk was actually the most annoying aspect of that day for my part, believe it or not.)
In Paris we met up with John Wayne Shot Me again, and Austin Lace who would also be playing. We found out a few days later that the concert that night at Point FMR was actually the ten year's anniversary for 62TVRecords. Since we had arrived so late, it was decided that Saint Thomas would not do a sound check, just a line-check before going on stage as the last band of the evening. So we had food and hung out with the nice people there, and for some reason a lot of people came up to me and asked if I was 'the sick one.' Very thoughtful, but still strange, I have problems coming to terms with the idea of people talking about me and me not knowing about it. And the fact that my name sounds like the chocolate that later changed name to Twix came up as a subject for the first time on the tour. To my defense, I would have to say that the Dutch people in John Wayne Shot Me have much crazier names than I do.
Before the concert I got to see a doctor, and picked up medication, Terje went to the hotel to get some rest, Thomas went away with some friends that included Néman Herman Düne (who lives close to the venue), and Alex and Petter walked around a bit, and checked out the other bands that were playing before Saint Thomas.
As it turned out, the sound check-less sound was brilliant in Paris. Both Néman and Philippe thought it was better than the respective concerts they had seen before. But, there were quite few people at the venue when Saint Thomas took the stage (there was a National football match elsewhere in Paris at the same time, which took the blame for that). And, Thomas had taken on the job as manager this day, doing his best to make sure everyone very feeling as good as possible, and doing a great job at that. But, having worried about everyone else, he had forgotten about himself, and was pretty worn out when taking the stage.
The concert was alright, I can definitely understand that people liked it, and I bet I would have, too, if I had not seen twelve better concerts already. The problem was mainly a very definitive lack of communication on stage, which led to a few playing mistakes, and a seeming lack of joy of being on stage that night. This was acknowledged by everyone in the band after the concert, and they realized it had been the worst concert of the tour so far, though very few in the audience noticed.
Afterwards, everyone were tired, but the trip next day was not very long, so some went out with friends and people from the other bands that had been playing, while others went to the hotel.
Day 15: Paris, FR - Nivelles, BEL (October 13th)
The morning in Paris was a nice one. The weather was nice, and I woke up early, feeling a lot better, to take walk around. We had hoped to get time to see some more of the city, and maybe even visit Jim Morrison's grave, but unfortunately the incidents the day before had ruined most of the free time that day, and in the morning there was also too little time. We met up at the venue and had some refreshments there, and met up with some members from John Wayne Shot Me and Austin Lace, the guy from Austin Lace could tell us that he actually came from Nivelles, and that he had no idea why Saint Thomas would be playing in such a small town. He would also be doing support in Brussels as a solo act, so we would meet him again.
So, Nivelles. I come from a tiny town. And being in Nivelles I realized why I moved. It was really small, with a town centre with some restaurants lined up, and the venue right down a street from there. The venue was an Irish pub. Or, it was just a pub, but they had put up an Irish flag outside, apparently that was enough to make it an Irish pub. There was no proper stage, and no sound equipment, but Philippe brought some PA along in his car. When he got there, the stuff was set up on what would be the stage, and amazingly enough it sounded pretty good with two medium-sized speakers for the audience and two on stage for Thomas and Petter (Alex did not have one, but said he was alright with that, he would just not sing much during the concert since he would not be able to hear if he was in tune or not).
We had delicious food at a restaurant, the best food of the tour, and then the band went on stage after having been asked to play two sets instead of one (and declined) and TATU and Robbie Williams blasting on the stereo. They started out with "Sheer Wonder" as usual, and Petter did some Sid Vicious-bassing, having forgotten to plug his cables back in after tuning a backup-guitar. There were not many people there, and I doubt they had any idea what they were listening to. There was also an old man in the back who kept yelling what sounded like insults at the band. The band was in a great mood, though, smiling and laughing and having a great time on stage after the disappointment in Paris the night before, and knowing that this concert and the one the night after would just be warm-up for the important last gig in Brussels.
As it turned out, the audience started warming up and moving along after a couple of songs, seeming to really enjoy the music, and the old man kept yelling, but with a smile on his face, and buying the band beers. The odd part was that once the band finished the main set, and went offstage for a quick break before the encore, no one really cheered, and the house music was turned back on. So everyone seemed to believe it was the first out of two sets, and not the end of the regular concert and maybe there would be an encore if they cheered a bit. So, with shades of Spinal Tap, the band members rushed back on stage and did the encore, to great response. Petter had to ask for the music to be turned off before they started playing again, adding the joke 'hang the DJ.' Apparently, this was a new saying in Nivelles, and was taken as an insult until Petter got to explain that it was just a joke.
Afterwards Philippe had to argue with the organizer to get the money the band was promised, someone spilled beer on the only pair of pants I had brought along, and we got to experience the wonders of small cities and drunken behavior as a car filled with drunk young men started up right outside the venue, burning some rubber and weaving right and left as it drove off, no one in the car realizing there was a police car right behind them. Hilarious. Except for the drunken-driving, of course.
We were staying at the place of Christophe from 62TVRecords for this and the following night, it was nice to be in the same place two nights in a row, finally getting to feel a little bit like home.
Day 16: Nivelles, BEL - Mons, BEL - Lille, FR (October 14th)
The second-to-last day of the tour would start with a radio performance in Mons that had been canceled the day before. Being at the end of a long tour, the band collectively decided that taking the trip to Mons to play a few songs on the radio and then rushing to get to another town and play a concert was not worth risking the mental well-being of the band members, and said this straight out to Philippe at the record label. He, seeing the importance of the performance (and being the laid-back person that he is), simply told the radio station that we had problems with the car, and could not make it, re-organizing it to take place the next day. So the next day we were sitting in the reception of the radio station in Mons. And where we had thought it was a local station without much importance, there we were, realizing it was one of the two huge radio stations in Belgium.
At the reception we had to sit and wait for quite a while for the studio to get ready. In the morning, Alex had felt really bad, and was not feeling much better as we got to Mons, thinking that maybe Alex and Petter should play without him. Since it would be an acoustic performance with guitar and mandolin, percussion would not be that important. But as they were getting closer to performing, he was starting to feel better, given an empty water jug to put behind his legs and use as a drum he actually seemed to really be enjoying himself. Then, five minutes before going to the studio, he went to the bathroom, puked, and had to go and lie down in the backseat of the car.
Christophe from 62TVRecords was there to take care of us and aid in case there were language barriers, and he is a drummer, so he was asked if he wanted to play with them, never having heard some of the songs before. The three of them went into the studio, and as microphones and sound levels were being adjusted, they went through the songs they would perform once or twice, and then they recorded "The Mexican Father," "Sheer Wonder," "The Play" and "Last Word," all on the first take, except for "Last Word" which had to be re-done because Petter thought the mandolin solo did not sound as good as it should.
We drove on to Lille in France, with Alex gradually feeling better. There were some worries about him performing that night; since Brussels was such an important concert and Lille was far from important, the thought was that it would be better to get some rest and feel better for the important concert than to play in a small pub to a few people and then feel worse and have to drop the next concert. But this was not an option for Alex, who throughout the tour had showed a remarkable skill of feeling bad or being sick but getting everything in focus for his support performances or when sitting behind the drum kit, giving his best every night.
Arriving in Lille, the place was indeed a small pub. (Getting closer to the concert, it was indeed just a few people, also.) But Alex set up his drum kit and we had some food sitting on the floor down in the small and very claustrophobic-looking basement, then the guitar and bass were set up, and Philippe set up his brought-along PA. The sound would end up being pretty good, but something was starting to malfunction in Thomas' amp, so even though his treble was put at the lowest level, his guitar had some high-pitched sounds that did not sound very good for the ears.
Due to the stop in Mons for the radio performance, the concert basically started right after the sound check, to a very small audience of about fifteen people. The two concerts in Nivelles and Lille had been booked on very short notice, and though the pay for the band was very good, it was obvious that the local organizers had not had much time to advertise the concerts. But the mood within the band was great, and the people in the audience seemed to really enjoy what they were hearing, the small place and the intimate setting led to a lot of talking between the audience and the band, with the band asking people their names and such. Surprisingly, being in France and all, the audience consisted of people from England, America and even Australia, which was an interesting mixture.
Originally, the plan was for the band to not just play this one concert in Lille, but to pack down the equipment, drive to another part of the city, set up the stuff and play support after another band from 62TVRecords. But obviously this was a schedule that was not going to work out, with the radio performance in the afternoon and all. Instead some wanted to go and see the band, while some were tired and sick and wanted to get back and go to sleep as early as possible. We ended up doing the latter, it was getting late and it would take an hour to drive back to Nivelles. Philippe could later tell us that we would only have gotten to see the end of the encore if we had gone to check out the other band.
On the way back to Nivelles, some people really wanted a McDonald's meal. We did not find any places next to the highway, so the closest one was plotted into the GPS. It turned out to be in Mons, where we had been earlier in the day. So we drove by the city, which turned out to take quite some time, as there were so many one-way streets and so difficult to find the right way to take inside the city. To top it all off, when we finally got there, the place had closed a few minutes earlier. We got some dry hamburgers and fries at a different place, and though the meal was far from great and we had spent such a long time getting it, it helped to get the mood on the rise for the rest of the trip home, with a sick Alex in the backseat remembering the complex route back from the city to the place where we were staying by heart.
Day 17: Lille, FR - Brussels, BEL (October 15th)
The last day of the tour. A blessing and a curse. A blessing because I think we all wanted nothing more than to get home and get back to the usual routines, get some proper sleep, eat on schedule, and not have to drive five hours every day - especially for the two of us who were feeling really sick. A curse because the concerts were getting better and better for every night, and with the shorter drives and more time to sleep towards the end of the tour, the mood was actually much better now than at the beginning of the tour.
We slept long, had eggs and bacon for breakfast, and drove the one hour to Brussels with all of us feeling really good. The band had played and stayed at the same place the year before, so finding the way was really easy, and we stopped to check in at the hotel first. The venue, Boutanique, is right next to a fancy hotel where the bands usually sleep, and it was great to top the tour off knowing we would be sleeping at a nice place and playing at a great venue with great sounds, and where there were a lot of people expected to attend.
Right down the street was the venue, we loaded in the equipment, helped by two very nice people who would be the sound engineer and the stage sound engineer, and later we met the guy who would be responsible for the lights. The equipment was set up really quick, and it sounded absolutely fabulous, with the light guy doing the lights during sound check it also looked incredible. Everything was set up for it to be a great concert. In the time between sound check and concert, Alex and Petter took long baths, Thomas rested, I walked around the city centre and finally got some shopping done, while Terje used whatever shampoo he could find to clean Thomas' white pants in the sink at the fancy hotel. Yeah, sophisticated Norwegians on tour…
A young two-piece band called The Tellers, consisting of two talented teenagers on acoustic guitars, played their first concert ever as the first support act on stage. They had brought along a lot of friends from school, and got a great reception. Then on was the singer of Austin Lace, doing a solo show with only new material, before Saint Thomas took the stage. The reception was great, and the venue was pretty packed with about one hundred and fifty people. The sound was very 'big' in the mix, which some people liked and some people thought did not fit the band very well, but the concert was incredible, one of the highlights of the past seventeen days.
At the end of "This Will Never Happen" during the encore, pieces of Alex' drum kit went flying in all directions, his drumsticks into the audience, the song was a loud and triumphant band-finishing of the European tour, with Thomas doing "Strangers Out Of Blue" by himself as the very last song.
Afterwards the backstage room was full of friends and members of the support bands, Austin Lace and John Wayne Shot Me and people from 62TVRecords. They all drank beer from Brussels' finest fridge (infamously desecrated in the worst of fashions by a Saint Thomas fan the year before), and the mood was great. Alex had gotten a surprise visit by two friends from Oslo, and went out to eat with them, later meeting up with the remaining members of the band and their entourage, while Terje and I retreated to the hotel for a good night's sleep, I was not feeling too well by then, and he knew he had to drive from Brussels to Kiel in Germany the next day, a scheduled eight-hours or so, and would take the sleep he could get.
Day 18: Brussels, BEL - Home (October 16th)
The morning in Brussels was not pleasant. Waking up at nine never is. Doing so in a fabulously fancy hotel where you just got to spend a few hours makes it worse. But we all got up in time, loaded in our equipment, getting in the car and starting the long drive home (loading in the band member who needed the most sleep, and had been the grumpiest when getting out of bed, into the back of the car).
In Hamburg we stopped close to the venue where they had played the second concert on the tour, and where I had met up with them seventeen days earlier. It was time for me to go home, and they had enough time for a break before continuing to Kiel to get the ferry (which they took to Sweden, and then drove the remaining hours back to Oslo). We had a fabulous dinner and nice wrap-up mini-party in an Italian restaurant, which Thomas would later talk about and ask me 'were you still there?' so it was definitely a good party.
I said farewell, and they got home nice and safe the next day.