Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 19: The Fat Lady Sings

March 21-22, 2012 Paris, France London, UK Atlanta, GA, USA After our last episode, Eric and I decided to find a sidewalk cafe’ and have some more espresso. The cafe culture in Paris is so cool – everywhere you look there’s chairs on the sidewalk, and the people-watching is the best anywhere. We just chilled, preparing mentally for the rest of the day. When it got close to go time, we all had said our official goodbyes, and multiple hugs and promises to stay in touch. Dirk (Bruinenberg, from Patrick Rondat’s band) agreed to take a final photo of us onstage after our last number. The show went pretty well – we were all so pumped we nearly jumped the rails on the first number, but the crowd loved it. We played the hurry-up offense so we only had to cut our last number (everybody had shorter sets due to Patrick Rondat being on the bill). Then we did the Cookville breakdown and loaded our gear into the alley next to the club to wait for the bus that would take us to London. We didn’t wait long: 20 minutes later we were loaded and headed for the Chunnel. We’d hoped to make the early ferry, but we missed it. We took the 1:15 instead. If you’ve never done the Chunnel, it’s crazy: the bus pulled into this open train car and parked, and we stayed in the bus watching movies. The entire crossing only took 30 minutes once we were moving because the train travels at 150 mph! It was a smoother ride than any subway train or...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 18: Hosed Again

March 18-21, 2012 Vigo, Spain Spanish countryside Paris, France We rolled into Vigo (a beautiful city, like San Francisco) and had to do this song-and-dance at a parking facility 5-10 minutes from the gig. They brought a couple vehicles and we did the infernal cross-load – 4 trips altogether. We later discovered this was not necessary. Naturally. Pretty much the same Spanish routine: ham sandwiches, intense boredom. Once we went on, we played well, but the crowd was stony-faced at best. Very odd, as nowhere else on the tour did we get this reaction. Oh well, you can’t win them all. Tony and band played well, but it took Tony three or four to find the groove. Then it locked in. Load-out was not too bad, we had a lot of help. I’d gotten some bad news that day, so we stayed up and squeezed our livers heavily. We went to bed around 4. I woke up at 11:30 and the bus was parked. I soon learned that one of the trailer wheels had fused it’s bearings. We weren’t going anywhere. We were about halfway from Vigo to San Sebastian, about 6 hours away. Tony’s girl Begonia helped translate with the locals and after WAY too much deliberation, opted to rent a van. The nearest rental location was 100 km away back towards Vigo. We unhooked the bus, and Doug, Mike and I stayed with the gear (for 4 hours) at this gas station on a windswept hill in the Spanish countryside. It was cold, but pretty. We were mostly pissed. In the end, we missed the show (which...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 17: Becalmed In Spain

March 15-17, 2012 Madrid, Murcia, and Seville, Spain After Barcelona we made our way to Madrid. The promoter for Spanish run, while doing an OK job of promoting, is not so great on the details of our day-to-day existence. The club owner didn’t block out the parking, so we had to back down the street, drop the trailer, and then park a half-mile away. We spent the rest of the day on the bus, as there was nothing nearby. Once in the club, things went pretty much as usual: we set up quick, and then sit around and wait on the tour manager/FOH guy to get around to soundcheck. To be fair, the PAs in these Spanish clubs are a little janky, and the language barrier slows things considerably. If we didn’t have a couple of Spanish speakers on the bus, we’d have a big problem. I got a shower, and settled down to wait. Seems like these last three clubs have all had upstairs dressing rooms. The shows went well: AC kicked ass, and is getting steadily tighter and more consistent. Tony’s band is playing well, but some numbers they seemed to struggle through, while others just rage. Their set is 100 min while ours is only 35, so I imagine that, and the level of difficulty has to play a part. After the show it was the usual quick breakdown and on the bus. The after show hang was long, with me and Sean finally giving up near dawn. The next stop was Murcia. We were parked in the front yard of the club, and across the...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 16: The Back Nine

March 13-14, 2012 Barcelona, Spain After the show in Switzerland, the plan was for the drivers to take a break there, but they opted to shove off for Barcelona and take their break there. We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon on the next day. The weather was fantastic and parts of the city are jaw-droppingly beautiful. We ended up parking in a tourist parking lot very close to the palace with a nice view of its own and a great breeze. We opened up the doors on the bus and just chilled. Tony and band took off to see the city, and Doug went with them. The rest of us sat around yukking it up, determined not to rush into anything, but rather just see how the day unfolded. We must have sat there telling jokes to each other and laughing ourselves hoarse for three hours or more, when Doug strolls back up. He said they wandered for a bit, taking in the sights, but they wanted to get on the subway and he’d rather come back and get a jacket. So we all decided it was time to forage a little. By the time we got seated at this little tapas place it was about 8 pm. After spending some time figuring out the menu, we all ordered and got to feasting, and boy, did we ever luck out with this little place. This was some of the best food I’d ever had, and when the first course came, silence descended upon the table. We spent a couple hours at least, and then made our way...

Tony MacAlpine European Tour Part 15: The Neutral Zone

March 12, 2012 Pratteln, Switzerland After a fairly short drive, we woke up in Switzerland parked next to a big venue called Z7. This is the big sister venue to the one we played, Galery Z7. Here we stayed till 1 pm, so we went in to use the bathroom and then Tony, Mike and I went exploring. We wandered into a Swiss Costco and were promptly redirected to the local IKEA, which suited us fine. We had a delicious lunch and got back into the bus, which then rolled to the venue. Galery is on the top level of a shopping complex, with a Home Depot situation on the bottom, discount clothing and some other stuff. We put the gear on a lift and went up to the venue, which shared a foyer with a Swiss PetCo and a Swiss BestBuy. We started rolling in gear and were immediately berated by the club manager, that the food was getting cold and we must eat NOW. We tried to reason with her, but it wasn’t happening so we gave up and ate. The food and hospitality here were good, but they didn’t wash the plates all that well. No restaurant in the US would serve food on those plates. As we were setting up, we learned that we couldn’t soundcheck until after the aforementioned BestBuy and PetCo closed, which was 7 pm. Doors for the show were supposed to be 7 pm. We all just shrugged. After we set up, everybody just chilled for like 4 hours. I took a nap. Dinner was at 6 pm, and then I...