SCANDANAVIA: HELSINKI, GOTHENBERG, COPENHAGEN AND OLSO…
AND ON TO LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND
Christopher Dunn knocked on our door just a little after we had awakened the next day…around 10:30. I opened it up to allow him and the accompanying bellmen to pick up the bags, and afterwards went back to our coffee for a while. I had inquired about the possibility of us going back to the Hermitage to see the jewels, and called the concierge to check on it. She said she was still trying and would get back to us shortly. Soon she rang back to say that the earliest time we could go would be 2:30. But we were leaving at 3, so that wasn’t going to work. We were sorely disappointed, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully we can get back here some day and see some of the things that we missed this time around. But we were grateful for what we had been able to see and for all the fun experiences we’d had in St. Petersburg. It really is a wonderful, beautiful city…full of majesty and interesting things to see and do.
But now it’s time to move on, and after settling up our bill and killing a little time, we all gathered in the lobby to get on the bus that would take us to the airport to fly us to Helsinki. At Customs and Immigration we were again delayed a while…until all the other guys: Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Michael Cohl and all their families and security guys showed up. Finally we all boarded the plane and said goodbye to Russia.
After landing in Helsinki and making the drive to the Hotel Kamp, which is a beautiful old hotel in the heart of the city (although we had one of the smaller rooms we’ve had on the tour…even though it’s given the title of a “suite”), we made our way down to the bar.
Upon our arrival, there was quite a large crowd outside the hotel to greet us. The entire city seemed to be abuzz with excitement, and we later found out it was all due to the Stones being in town. Across from the hotel there is a long and narrow sort of park that separates the buildings on either side. Folks were all scattered around in it, and there were some street musicians here and there playing music…. several playing Stones songs.
But we decided not to venture out into the crowded streets quite yet and viewed all of this through the window of the bar where we enjoyed a couple of drinks with Scott Jones and his girlfriend Sheila who had arrived there. We chatted with them and some other of our group that wandered in and out of the bar…. finally deciding to try the Japanese restaurant that is in the hotel called Yume. At first Scott and Sheila said they would join us there…and Rosie and I went on to get a table. But soon, Sheila came in to say that they had decided they really wanted a hamburger…. and would pass on the Japanese food. So we had a nice private meal again…the restaurant was virtually empty until another small group of some of our folks came in. It was a pleasant change from the norm, and the light but flavorful fare fit the bill just right. Rosie ordered a set menu of sushi and sashimi and I had a whole fish dish…crispy sea bass. The sake flowed along with the food and we enjoyed the attentive service given us. Apparently the chef of Yume is the longtime personal cook of the Japanese Ambassador, so he knows what he is doing!
That finished out the day and we retired to the room for rest.
Rose Lane and I love Helsinki…such a pretty place, and the waterfront area with the outdoor market that is there almost every day is a treat to wander through. So after some gym time we went out to explore a bit. Just as was the case yesterday, there were lots of people out and about, obviously the majority of them there for the Stones. We ventured out not really knowing exactly where we wanted to go…. so we just walked around for a while until we stumbled upon a large music store. I told Rosie I wanted to go in and look around, so we did. I had been in need of a special cable for a computer program called Siebelius that I had recently acquired, and luckily they had what I needed. I also enjoyed the large piano section they had that was full of Steinways, Boston and other grand pianos.
In addition they had some nice vintage guitars, which were fun to see. I was tempted to investigate that further, but we didn’t have a whole lot of time and we wanted to get to the waterfront market before I had to go to the show. So we asked for directions to the market and headed for it. It didn’t take us long to locate it, and we walked around looking at the arts, crafts and other offerings. Soon we came to the section where they cook food on the spot…and took on some fresh wild salmon and a couple of small fried fish…perhaps sardines, I’m not sure. The gentleman serving us pilled on some yellow rice with vegetables on to our paper plates and we sat down to savor our lunch. Man, was it good! And no doubt one of the least expensive meals we’ve had in a long time!
We enjoyed strolling through some more before I had to go back to the room to prepare to go to the show. I really wanted to wander some more, but time wouldn’t let me…plus, I needed to go early to get Will Alexander to help me with this new Siebelius program.
I got my things together and joined the others that usually go early to the show down in the lobby. John Malloy was tagging along with me. We got there and I settled John in the Rattlesnake and went to find Will to hook up the keyboard, my computer and the Siebelius program. Siebelius is a comprehensive program that among other things allows you to play into it as it converts the input into notated sheet music. As I don’t read or write in this kind of notation and wanted to make some charts of my songs for the guys that will be my backup band on my German tour, this is the perfect option. But like any new program, it requires a learning curve and some study. Will had never used it either, so we both had some intense work to do. Of course you don’t learn this stuff on the first go-round, and today we would just get a start on it.
Will hooked it up and pressed buttons while I skimmed through the manual. In the end we did get at least a little bit going, but we wound up with more questions than answers. He made notes of our questions to send via email to one of the company’s technical reps as we stumbled around.
I took a break to go get a bite to eat and check on John who was enjoying his experience. All was well, so I turned my attention to the set list. I was able to convince Mick to be a little more adventurous…and we put in Sweet Virginia (hoping to get some sing-along going on it), Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and Love Is Strong. I went on about my business of getting ready…wardrobe, RI visits and such, and soon it was Showtime.
The gig turned out to be one of the strangest of the tour. It was a sold out stadium…huge crowd of probably more than 50,000. But they were very quiet throughout the gig. They wouldn’t sing along on Sweet Virginia (…or at lest very few did) and in general were just flat. It didn’t help that Keith was not at his best…I think he must not have had much sleep and was perhaps dehydrated from eating all the salty caviar in Russia. It was obvious to all that he was having some trouble, and we were concerned about him. But Mick and Ronnie did well and while it certainly wasn’t one of our best sets, we got through it ok. In any case we were all relieved to get through that one. By the next show Keith was fine, and we were all relieved.
The next day we had to travel…but Rose Lane and I managed to get out a little before we had to go. I had spied a sporting goods place a couple of streets over the day we arrived, and wanted to go there to nose around. I did so, and bought some nice Finnish fish filet knives to take back home. They are really great and special tools, and while you can find good filet knives in other places, they are no better in the world than what you get here.
Ronnie Finestone had told us about a fun clothing store called Helsinki 10, and after some inquiry we found it. We both bought a few things…jeans and a couple of shirts for me, a couple of pair of jeans for Rosie. After that we wound up back at the hotel cafe for a little light lunch. I didn’t eat much as I really wanted to go back to the market and have some more of that fresh fish…the little ones that were fried. We did indeed go there, and I asked for three of the “little fishes”. The lady serving said…“is that all?” I replied yes, just the fish…and upon offering some money, she smiled and said it was on her…so I relished the little fishes as we made one last round of the market before walking back to the Kamp for our departure for Gothenburg.
We went through the usual travel routine, arriving in Gothenburg in late afternoon. Here we stayed at the Raddison Hotel, on the edge of the old part of town. It’s a fairly nice hotel, but with some pretty strange decor, I must admit. We had a generous two-room suite, which was nice…but with some odd furniture, like the “space chairs”, the “ice cube light”
and the main attraction, our “X-Ray bed”.
But the good news was that the curtains were good a heavy to keep the light out during the day, and the windows were nice and heavy double paned, so it was relatively quiet…. which would make for good sleep. We ventured out for a while, walking around the old town to a big square and through the streets…thinking we may find a good place for a drink and possibly dinner…but we couldn’t quite find anything we liked, so we walked back to the Raddison to look over our restaurant list and make a decision. We had a drink downstairs in the very large and loud lobby where the restaurant and bar are intermingled and I went to consult the concierge about a place. The first choice was fully booked, and a couple of others on our list were closed for the season…but we finally made a reservation at Avenue 1, which was a 10-minute cab ride from the hotel. As we were about to leave, Jane Rose and her sister Nancy Portnoy came up and as we were speaking, we found out we were both going to the same place. So we went together and arranged for a table for four when we got there. It was nice to have the company, and all of us enjoyed the meal and our time together. That capped the day and we rode back to the Raddison.
8/3, 4, 5
Show day in Gothenburg…. I was able to hit the fitness room before I had to leave for the show…. going down early. Again, with my friend John Malloy tagging along. He’s a nice fellow and just loves the Stones…. and so far I’ve been able to let him ride with me to the gigs and take a guest van back. We arrived just past 3, and I got him settled in the Rattlesnake and had a bite to eat with him, then turned my attention to the Seibelius program again, trying to figure some things out. I managed to get my first lead sheet done…. for a song of mine called “Blue Rose”…. but as I was writing it for tenor sax, I wasn’t sure if I had it properly done for that instrument, and called on Tim Ries to help. He told me it looked OK, but if I could figure out a way to shift the interval on the staff, it would be better. So I dove back into the manual for a while trying to figure that out. Our dressing room was a weird situation…. in a tent, as many of these recent shows have been, but this time we were right next to a major road and the traffic noise was loud and distracting. Anyway, I did manage to get a little further along with it.
Finally I did my set list duties and went to see Mick, who selected a couple of choices I gave him and signed off on it. Later we did our little rehearsal with Keith, running through Ain’t Too Proud To Beg and Let It Bleed. Soon it was time to hit the stage, and the show flowed nicely. It felt good to get Let It Bleed in, as we haven’t been playing it much. The crowd was much more responsive here, which helped us all stay in the groove…and being a sold out show made everyone happy.
Rosie and I packed our suitcases after we got back, as we travel again tomorrow…to Copenhagen.
A quick gym hit again, and Rosie and I had a little time to walk the streets before our departure. We enjoyed looking around, but didn’t buy anything, just walked and looked. Did the travel routine, arriving in Copenhagen in the late afternoon. On the way in we were talking about how we were here in September of last year, playing our last show in Europe. We didn’t play in Copenhagen, but stayed there and did a hit and run gig to Horsens. We were talking to Lisa Fischer about all of this, and both she and I were having trouble remembering the hotel and the show. But as we talked it started coming back to me, and I could visualize the D’Angleterre Hotel and it’s surroundings. Guess the ‘ole memory banks are getting fuzzy, but eventually I got it!
We got to the hotel and checked in to a very nice room…. I think it must have been the same one we had before when we were here last year. It had a balcony that faced the square across from the hotel and wrapped around the side. Narrow, but wide enough to get out on, and it had a small table and a couple of chairs…nice. Again it had the two separate rooms, giving us good space. After settling in and hooking up on the Net for a while, we went downstairs for drinks. There we ran into our pal Ronnie Finestone, who invited us out to dinner with his group. We passed on that, though…deciding to go somewhere with just the two of us for a quieter situation. While I was talking to Blondie Chaplin in the bar, who had joined us for a minute, Rose Lane went to see the concierge and arranged a reservation for a place around the corner called “38”, which was the number of the street address where it was located. Great dinner, but wow, was it expensive. Boy, the ‘ole Greenback is suffering these days. I winced when paying the bill, but there was no undoing it…so I did my best to savor what we’d had!
Next day was nice and sunny, and I sat out on the balcony for a good couple of hours before it was time to get back to work. Again going early to work on my charts, I left about 3. I was able to get two more charts done, and then dealt with the set list. We had a short warm up in Keith’s room, then hit the stage shortly after. Show was strong and consistent…and fun. At the hotel we wound down with some white wine in the room and watched the telly for a while…then turned in.
We’re in a bit of a whirlwind now….we traveled on to Oslo on the 6th, having dinner at a nice Asian place (name?) near our hotel, the Grand Hotel.
The 7th was a day off, and we did laundry and walked around the town killing time. The show on the 8th was quite good, and the following day we moved on to Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s a beautiful city near the scenic lake Geneva. The 8th was a travel day for us and we arrived in the late afternoon, and had dinner in the hotel. On the 10th we had a great experience at our friend Claude Nobs’ home.
Claude is the founder of the Montreaux Jazz festival. I’ve played there twice…once with Sea Level way back in ‘77 and once with Eric Clapton around ‘92, I believe. Claude is a friend and a fan of the Stones, and we’ve seen him through the years at a few shows. He sent an invitation to all of us to come to his incredible home way up in the mountains above Montreaux. It’s quite an amazing place…sort of like a compound/small village/getaway. He has several buildings on the beautiful grounds…. filled with fun collectables, musical instruments, an impressive sound/video system that feeds all over the whole place…. all overlooking the mountains and the lake below.
He put on the “Ritz” for all of us…. with cocktails, h’orderves, and a seated meal. Rose Lane and I enjoyed walking all around, gawking at all his fun collectable model trains, bric-a-brac and such. He had a couple of fun dogs that we also enjoyed playing with. Such a wonderful guy and a gracious host.
We also viewed quite a lot of his vast collection of Montreaux performances…. he has the largest collection of music performances in the world, I think. It was truly a fantastic day and we were all grateful for his having us to his place.
The 11th was the show in Lausanne, and it went smoothly. We’re on the “home stretch” now, and there are only six shows to do now that this one is done. We had a nice crowd in Lausanne…a very successful show.