Sunday, 22 November 2009

HI-ON NIJMEGEN - 23 / 24 October 2009

First off, apologies for the lack of a Stafford diary. Since then I've been phenomenally busy (I'm even writing this Nijmegen diary two weeks after the fact!) and simply can't remember half of what might have happened. I did get as far as nickname generation, the most notable of which were Speed 'cake sex!' Harris and Nicko 'she's got a flap out' McBrain Jnr. Draw your own conclusions as to what sort of a diary that one would have been! Moving on, then...


The absolute highlight of the year for us Maiden tribute geeks is the now annual trip down to eastern Holland to play at the Rockcafé Backstage in Nijmegen. This is the third year on the bounce we've piled in the van and driven the long road out of Calais to get up there, and this year we had something a bit special in terms of setlist. But more on that later.

The weekend began for me when this weekend's van of choice, a Mercedes Sprinter kitted out inside with lovely comfy seats, DVD player and Playstation 2, rolled up outside Manic Towers. After marvelling at the interior and making all on board a cup of coffee, I sat down with Bruce "it was raining fanny" Dugginson to work on some arrangements for a short acoustic set that we planned to roll out just prior to the Maiden set on one or both nights. You may recall from the Harlow diary that, with Speed "Nijmegen to Calais in ten minutes" Harris arriving late, Duggers and I took it upon ourselves to entertain the crowd with a hastily thrown together acoustic set. While this was well received, we each knew we could do better with a bit of work. We came up with some cool arrangements, particularly 'Still Life', so look out for more potential acoustic sets in future!

Acoustic rehearsal I...

Duggers acoustic


Manic acoustic

After all this acoustic twiddling we wandered down into the town centre for a spot of grub. A nice cheap Chinese later we were in the pubs for a drink or two. Question Time was on, which I for one have never seen playing in the pub before but it seemed every pub in Dartford was hanging on Nick Griffin's every word. What a lovely town. Still, it didn't help that a couple of his opponents were equally blithering idiots. Back home for a nightcap then off to bed for an early start. I tried to get a bit of kip but knowing Mr Harris was arriving at 4:00am I just couldn't drift off. After letting him in I kipped down for what seemed like 5 minutes before it was time to leave.


Trying to get the rest of the Hi-on boys motivated to move in the morning is a mission. Amd, as such, we missed the ferry! En-route to Dover, Speed's botty was on fine form. The windows steamed up, the seats changed colour and many of us didn't dare breathe in for fear of toxic exposure. Such utter foulness I have not experienced for quite some time. Speed looked very pleased with himself, it has to be said. I've just looked at my Twitter feed from that morning and my one utterance read thus: "Oh God. Speed's arse is the devil. I WANT TO GET OUT."

"Bugger off!"


Hand of Duggers points the way...

That way



The ferry ride went swimmingly, with that holiday feeling sinking in. (I've just noticed I used 'swimmingly' and 'sinking' in a sentence about a ferry trip - what?!). The non-drivers amongst us had a beer while Eddie 'an egg too far' the 'Ead enjoyed a full English and a massage. Luxury! Upon returning to the van we were slightly alarmed to find that the bugger wouldn't start. Some sort of collapse of the starter motor, apparently. A bump start proved successful, and the journey continued until Speed stalled it a little further up the road. Ace! Thankfully it started on it's own volition this time, and we were on the road again. Several driver changes, two countries and some questionable sat nav direction later we arrived at Rockcafé Backstage a bit later than we had intended.

Greeted by the ever bubbly Theo and the wonderful Astrid, it felt like coming home. Last year Mr Dugginson had some issues with the monitors, and the fact that he couldn't hear himself onstage at all over Nicko's noisy tubthumping and the guitar noise necessary to overcome this. This year, however, no problem. In fact, it was quite spooky. We plugged in, turned on and played - somehow it was absolutely perfect!! Duggers looked beside himself in happiness, so that was one worry over with!

After that it was back to the fantastic Carola's place to get some nosh before running back to the venue for the show! Bruce and I opened proceedings with the acoustic set, which I believe included 'Still Life', 'Jerusalem' and 'Journeyman'.

Friday night acoustic set...

Acoustic friday

Then it was off downstairs to wig up and get on with the Hi-on business. This Friday night in Nijmegen we were treating the punters to a performance of 'Somewhere in Time' from start to finish. This was an idea I was particularly excited about, though slightly daunted as certain songs had turned out to be a little more of a challenge than I thought, particularly 'Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner'. Brown trousers time then!

Friday night I...



Live 2



The whole set went down an absolute storm, with the crowd going utterly mental throughout. I was moderately horrified to see Eddie come out brandishing my pal Sooty, but thankfully he remained unharmed and survived the ordeal. We all came off stage feeling that we'd just done something quite special, so that set list might find itself back on the stage some time soon.

Afterwards we retired to the dressing room to start making inroads into the fridge full of Dommelsch. I wasn't particularly in the party mood, it has to be said, though I did make the effort to get up there and have a word with some of the enraptured public.

Master McBrain about to take a waspie...


I do so love that bar - it always seems to be full of the most wonderfully kind and generous folk. Young Nicko 'Queen of Alpen' McBrain Jnr took a waspy or two after over-indulging in the fabulous cough syrup known as Jägermeister, while I seemed untouchable by booze. I think I was more tired than anything else, though not a patch on Adrian 'Grolsch written everywhere' Swift, who had done a hell of a lot of driving and fallen asleep at the wheel a number of times through Belgium. Whoopsie! Once Astrid had escorted the last of the revellers out of the bar we headed back to Carola's where I promptly headed for the loft (where us snorers are banished to) to get my head down.


Day Two in Nijmegen began with a hearty European breakfast of bread and meat. Including some meat that you just can't bite into, as I discovered after loading up a sarnie with it. Even more amusing was watching Mr Swift do the same thing even after a warning from Speed! Nicko chowed down on his favourite Slag, while I went for the healthy cracker option. The aforementioned drummer and bassist then went off for a kickabout in a nearby park while myself, Duggers, Swifty, Eddie 'I like the furry stuff' the 'Ead and Carola went wandering around Nijmegen looking for some stage gear for our tall lobotomised friend.

Tonight's gig was to feature a performance of the entire 'The Number of the Beast' album, and as such it was decided that Eddie needed some devil gear for the title track. A trip to a fancy dress shop turned up the campest mask and pitchfork combo ever seen, but not quite as camp as Mr Hurry's specs of choice! Can you say 'Elton John'?

Camp specs...


While out and about we absorbed a little of the history of the town, ate some fish and Swifty even found the time to hump a church (something he rarely gets the chance to do these days, poor thing). We found a nice bar just over the road from our favourite shop in the world, Nijmeegs Jopie Dumphandel, where it appeared to be Manic's round. Happily everyone decided that they wanted a Coke with their beer. And a packet of crisps. That's the last time I offer to buy a drink without giving an upper limit! Another round later (thankfully not mine) it was time to head back to the venue via another Dugginson photo opportunity. I'll let the pictures do the talking in this diary I think!

It's (nearly always) Manic's round...

Manic's round

...and it's goodnight from him...


Back at the venue it was time to run through the tracks on 'The Number of the Beast' that we don't normally cover in the average set. This classic album features many set list staples, so not a massive task. We had to get 'Invaders', 'Gangland' and 'Total Eclipse' up to speed. As much as the average Maiden fan may dislike 'Gangland', it's a hell of a lot of fun to play. Deceptively complicated, it took a little bit of work.

After this it was once again back to Carola's for another slightly rushed dinner (bloody nice though - rice and stuff!). The acoustic set that night featured 'Out of The Shadows' and 'Strange Death in Paradise', amongst others. It's great to play the Bruce solo stuff, as Duggers and myself both love it and it's a nice treat for those in the audience who might know it. Time for 'NoB', as it were!

Saturday night acoustic set

Acoustic Saturday

Saturday night I...



Camp Eddie


Bloody Eddie

Another storming gig, with a slightly older audience it seemed (perhaps a result of the older album we were performing). It was never quite going to live up to the night before, which will forever remain in my memory as one of those eeriliy good gigs (right up there with Penzance in early 2008). Nonetheless it was a solid performance and a great reaction. Once again Nijmegen, you are fucking great!

Once I'd come down from the gig, I packed down my gear and proceeded to get utterly rat-arsed. I remember very little of the evening past that point, though I do remember having to jumpstart the van again. Which was quite amusing, given the state of us all!

We all woke up a little later than anticipated the next morning, so again it was a quick exit from Carola's place. Thank you again Carola for all your kind hospitality! Speed floored the van all the way through Europe and we ended up a little early for the ferry which was quite an acheivement! Top stuff. I spent most of the journey there conked out, and when I did awake I couldn't shake the feeling that my insides were very soon to become my outsides. I managed to keep it all down and somehow decided a curry on the ferry would be a good idea. It didn't seem to do me any harm but I certainly felt even more ropey on the ride from Dover to Dartford!

Homeward bound...


Upon the return to Manic Towers, we parted ways and I conked out. Thank God for Mondays off!

Nijmegen just keeps getting better every year. We'll have to think of another quirk for the two-night setlist next year. Until then, UP THE 'KIN IRONS!

Dave "just off to pop something on the shelf" Hurry


1 comment:

  1. Love you.....those where the dayzzzz ����