Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 3: How’s Your Mom?

I was unaware that Tony also studied classical piano. Here his skills are showcased as he hurts some feelings in Berlin. Throughout the show he effortlessly transitions from Uber-shredding on the guitar to melting faces with his keyboard chops. Did I mention he also has perfect pitch? Sickening.

February 26, 2012

Berlin, Germany

IMG_1017Berlin was, at first impression, very gray. We were to play at Crystal, in the back of the Columbia club, across from the old USAF airfield. There was litter everywhere and it was cold. Tony and I walked in and said: “this is a great room!”. The stage hand says “yeah, but you’re over here.” Hello, basement.

While not actually underground, it was small and reminiscent of the club I’ve played more times than any other. Tony and I decided to wander around and see what we could see.

Berlin plaqueWe wandered for a bit, everything was gray and most of the shops were closed, as it was Sunday. We found a coffee shop and had a cup and sat around for a second, then decided to keep searching, this time going past the club in the other direction. We passed this gigantic red-bricked gothic building, almost like a complex, trying to figure out what it was. Turns out it is a police compound, large enough to actually house all the cops and their families. Literally as big as a NYC block. The plaque at left was on the wall.

We walked around this building and headed back towards the club on the other side. We passed an intersection on the right and saw a beautiful gothic church, so we went that way. We still had two hours before we had to be back so we decided to keep exploring. This time we hit paydirt.

Berlin church towerIn stark contrast, this part of town was light and airy, with gorgeous architecture, and a little center where there were some busy shops and cafes. Tony and I passed under a window and heard a cellist practicing somewhere upstairs, but I thought it was a saxophone. We have continued to debate this… I guess we’ll never know. We found a little sidewalk cafe’ and grabbed a beer in the sun. We chatted for an hour, and finally headed back. Tony is a very funny guy, with a lot of energy. TMac BerlinHe’s very friendly and makes you feel as if you’re his old friend, even if he’s just met you. He’s been touring the world for 30 years as a guitar virtuoso, with many of the best players in the business.

We finally walked back and got to work. The drum kit setup time is hovering around an hour, although breakdown time continues to improve. The 2m by 3m rug we use to set the drums took up nearly the whole stage. We had to use the cases from the guitar heads to set the monitors on, and that got us a few extra feet. Bjorn again missed load-in and load-out, (perfect score thus far) complaining of a cold and now he has a chronic bad back. Hmm. Not the hardest-working guy. Otherwise he’s ok.

The show went better than last night, at least in terms of technical problems. I’d woken early to write a more fixed solo for Desolate Supreme, and while I really like what I came up with, I didn’t know it well enough to play it exactly right. That said, I had a decent solo nonetheless. I am starting to get more comfortable on the big kit. Eric’s solo in Desolate was fantastic, really creative. Overall I gave it a B+.

Tony’s set was more or less problem-free, although the sound wasn’t great and he was getting a little frustrated because of it. After insisting the Aquiles play the full-length version of his Psychoctopus drum solo, Tony walked onstage in the middle break (where they’d been stopping it) and ended it. Aquiles was a little miffed. Then they played one last number (cutting two from the set) and called it. I understood: the sound was bad, the stage was small, the crowd was small. Not inspiring.

Did I mention Tony can play piano?

Also, this happened (see video above). Overall, weird and a little tragic. Breakdown was fairly quick; I was able to break down the entire kit before Aquiles came back from the dressing rooms. Then a shower, some sandwiches and an early bed.

Next stop: Nurnberg.