flights, ferries & fjords

Acoustic Tour of Norway 2011

What to do after 4 weeks of shows in the UK?

Head to Norway for another 5 shows.

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Day 1

Up at 3am for final pack and drive (type of transport = 1) to Manchester airport. There is always that feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Doubly so when you go on tour. Would be slightly embarrassing as tour photographer if I forgot my camera. Or my passport. Triple checks done, and out of the door by 4am (having forgotten my iPod – grim for me…good news for everyone else). I arrive within minutes of Mike and Oli (sound and TM – Tour Manager). Onto our first plane (type of transport = 2).

Hmmmmmm… our suitacase weights are all wrong and there is some furious reorganising of bags to get them all to the right weight. Job done. In my limited experience of tours it seems that however well stuff is packed, it always needs rearranging before it passes airline muster, which is a bit odd, seeing as I all still goes on the plane. Oh well. Rules is rules. We grab some breakfast. It might have to last a while and it seems that 5.45am is the wrong time altogether to be eating it, it must be done. Hello Burger King breakfast.

We are flying to Oslo and then a connecting flight to Bergen, but have to travel some distance to a different airport in Oslo for the connecting flight. A Taxi is required (type of transport = 3). Before we set off the taxi driver taps a couple of lines on his phone. We try and catch a few minutes extra sleep. Ten minutes he announces to Mike, “would you like to be on the radio?” A slightly confused Mike obliges, says a few words and passes the phone back. Within 2 minutes the piece is on the car radio followed by Knife Edge. The radio station was P6 and listed to be about a million people! Nice one Mr Norwegian taxi driver. And take note Chris Evans!!

More waiting in an airport… I compare lenses with Oli…. Mike does some work on this years Gathering footage. It’s a cool airport though.

At Bergen and we meet up with our additional tour performer, William Hut and our driver, who believe it or not is called Stig. After a brief sandwich stop, and in order to not be late for our connecting ferry, he does indeed drive us in our minibus (type of transport = 4), in a frighteningly similar manner to THE Stig (you couldn’t make it up). Maybe he is? It later turns out, Stig is an Ambulance driver and well used to this sort of driving.

Oli has a go at taking a pic of Me and Mike. I think I may have left the camera on the wrong settings. Although, on reflection, he has made me look quite good.

Stig and the rest of us make the ferry (type of transport = 5) with 2 minutes to spare. Phew. They have Earl Grey tea on the ferry. Lovely. Apparently on tour it’s called Earl Gay. Are they trying to tell me something!!

Thanks Stig (see above)!!! There’s a job at the BBC in England if you leave the Norwegian ambulance service.

Oh yeah, we also look at the amazing views!

And on to Husnes.

In the town centre Mike gatecrashes a promotional event for the evening (news of that at a later date) and gets all Christmassy.

We chat to William Hut, who is well known in Norway, He’s had a number 1 and done some TV music as well as a number of albums. His first ever concert was to see the Alarm!!! He goes through a few songs with Mike, and Mike shows him the way he plays it!

Once a hearty meal is consumed, a very warm Norwegian audience is treated to a local singing group, followed by the sweet tones of William Hut…

… and then of course, Mike’s first show. A few requests are dispatched, a singalong ensues, and William gets to live the dream and sing “Walk Forever” with Mike before we are despatched to bed a mere 19 hours after we got up.

Rock and Roll…Norway style.

Day 2.

Good nights sleep. Unexpected. It’s raining though. Which isn’t the best way to see Norway. Still nice though.

A lazyish morning is followed by a trip to Tronds music shop in Husnes ( Soooo nice to look through proper albums again. I love CDs and my iPod, but the experience of flicking through vinyl can’t be bettered. Trond, who is also a promoter who has organised the shows in Norway. He’s also a fan, and we spend lots of time looking at loads of stuff we can’t bring back!

Thanks Trond!!!

The ferry we need is cancelled, but is true rock and roll fashion. The show must go on. This would prove an apt statement today.

We manage to find an alternate ferry (and an impromptu photo shoot)…

…once again, arriving in the nick of time and making across another Fjord in time for our transport and another show.

On getting to the hotel, we mostly want to crash out after the long trip yesterday.

Which we do.

Skyping all round, then a hearty Norwegian dinner followed by great hospitality at The Olen Pub for tonights show. Ergil, the owner is also transporting us around. A fantastic host.

Sadly just before the show we hear the news of Andy Grays death. Andy was not just Mike’s guitar tech, but he built one of his guitars, and he was also a great friend to many of the crew.

There is a great sadness.

Of course, no one else knows. Mike dedicates the welsh version of ‘A New South Wales’ to Andy.

I found it hard to get into gig mode, put the camera down and went and sat at the front.

Cliche’s aside, we press on knowing we CAN carry the sadness and still embrace the Norwegian experience.

Day 3.

We awake to a dusting of snow. Very Christmassy.

After a typical continental breakfast in the hotel, Oli and I walk out to take some photos. Rather handily there is a lake about 100 metres from the Hotel. Its amazing!

Ergil drives us the scenic route (actually they all seem to be scenic routes in Norway) to Odda for our next show. The route involves going over a mountain pass. Lots of tunnels and quite large drops! Taking in some amazing mountain views and Waterfalls. Sadly its not possible to stop every mile to take more photos so we arrange a stop at a particularly beautiful pair of waterfalls.

Odda is nestled in a mountainous region near a glacier. The view from the hotel is stunning. Well, it is for all the other rooms in the hotel. I have a cracking view of the car park. Still, it’s only a few metres to the real view! I send yet another gloaty facebook post. It’s hard not to gloat about the view when it’s so great.

More sleeping. Then we are collected by our host to go to the soundcheck. The gig is about 50 metres from the hotel. Soundcheck is swift, as the lure of a Chinese meal is a sure fire way of speeding these things up.

The gig is in a blues club, which is a great venue and very vibey.

Each show has been better than the last with a good mix of songs. After Mike has finished the show and headed back to the hotel, William and I finish our pints, at which point a fan of Williams exchanges a few pleasanties and then asks him to sign her CD’s and then rather amusingly, a particular part of her anatomy. Typicaly, its just after I have packed my camera. That one will just have to be consigned to memory.

At the end of the show I finish my beer and as I head back, Oli is heading out with his camera for some long exposure shots. Its very dark with no moon so it proves a challenge. We resort to trying to write Christmas messages with a torch. Well I attempt a couple…my attempt at the town name of Odda is OK. Whilst Oli manages a brilliant Merry Xmas. V funny.

It would be great if we didn’t have to be up in 5 hours.

Day 4.

Early morning. Continental breakfast. Taxi (type of transport = 6) to the catamaran. Its dark, which is quite sad as this drive looks like the best of the tour. Amazing waterfalls and snowy mountains. Sadly again, not possible to take pictures.

We buck the trend, and arrive 10 minutes early. Whoo. The catamaran (type of transport = 7) is fast but its pretty choppy out there. An amazing ride though. Strangely for us English there seems to be free internet on the catamaran and my emails flood in. The sun comes up as we speed off. Amazing views of the snow capped mountains.

Change of plan as the weather has meant we cannot go the whole way on the water. More hey ho’s…it’s only rock ‘n’ roll.

The shorter trip on the catamaran means a connecting bus (type of transport = 8) to Oslo. But we don’t arrive too late.

Back to bed in the hotel. Slightly gutted as Bergen is a very pretty city and its raining. A lot.

The hotel room TV seems to think I am Mike Peters!

The venue is in the old part of town, all wood and wonky doors. It’s really beautiful and a shame we don’t have much time here. But like everywhere else we have been, the organisers, fans and crews have been brilliant. Thank you Norway!

Trond the promoter is at tonight’s show. His shop also sells guitars and he loves Mikes Gibson J200’s. He and Oli run through Eye of The Hurricane trying to work some of the chords.

Even before the gig starts it feels like it will turn out to be the best of the tour. They have all been great in some way, but tonight already feels different.

William Hut comes on and crowd is respectfully quiet. He does an brilliant show and I think it’s his best show of the tour. I get told off for being noisy!!! Ooops.

When Mike comes on the gig gets very animated! Hit after hit and lots of requests from the Norwegian crowd, who are in fine voice. A little walkabout hits the spot!!

Trond the promoter was kind enough to say it’s one the most special shows he has ever been too. And this guy has seen a lot of shows. Everyone goes away happy.

Day 5.

Early start. So early, there is no breakfast. Off to the airport to fly back to Oslo. It’s been snowing so the views over Norway are stunning…again!

How progressive is Norway. Even internet on the plane. So just because we can, we send photos to people and twitter.

Train (type of transport = 9) into Oslo and to a nice little hotel. Being early isn’t very rock ‘n’ roll, but hanging around certainly is. We are very early for our hotel so hang about in the foyer (with more free internet), catching up on emails, updating and generally fiddling about.

At this point on the last day, grabbing some extra sleep would be the best idea. But then again, we are in Oslo and it isn’t raining, so Oli and I go and take photos. We aren’t exactly in the tourist areas but we stumble at various point upon, interesting graffiti, huge ears on walls, bikes parked 10ft up lampposts, a statue in a church giving a peace sign and a huge giraffe image with ET’s head. I like this place.

We head back for a couple of hours sleep. Which I don’t manage.

We head to Club Mono for soundcheck at 5pm followed by dinner. Only second burger of the trip. But it’s home made and rather yummy.

Its a proper rock ‘n’ roll venue. The guy in charge has an amazing English accent. Oh, hang on, he is actually English.

The venue is shabby chic, and the dressing room is adorned with cool posters which I don’t understand.

The last gig of any tour is a special moment. An extra push from Mike to make it special, maybe a few beers afterwards. And the knowledge of returning home to families.

It is special, and lots of nice compliments from fans plus the aforementioned beers round off an amazing tour.

Without exception, our promoter, various hosts, hotels, venue, taxi drivers etc etc have all been really welcoming and helpful. The views have been amazing, even stuck inside with the rain coming down is acceptable when looking at a fjord.

There has been sadness, but some great shows and good times.

Maybe we can do it again sometime…..


For the full set of photos in a slideshow, please click here.

There is also a review of the Bergen show from Bergen Puls.

A Google translate version in English is available here.

A pre-tour article feature William Hut available here.

And the google translate version is available here.