Haze
World Turtle
Von Daniken
Italian Tour
Aug 00
Aug 00
Aug 00

PHOTO GALLEY

Haze in Italy
Well we finally did it! Thanks to much hard work by Daniele Castracane, Francesco Ragazzini, their wives & friends, Haze played a short tour of Italy, Switzerland & Belgium at the end of April 2000. Ignoring the months of preparation, rehearsals etc. the itinerary went something like this:-

Wednesday 26th April
9am Final faff around. We'd decided that it was a bit much to ask our old transit to do a 2000 mile round trip up the Alps, so we'd invested in a brand new (OK 'N' reg) Mercedes Sprinter. However, in the couple of days we'd had it, it had developed a slight rattle at low revs, so I ran it into Northside Trucks for a quick check over. They said it was some bit to do with tensioning the fan belt, & though it might last forever, it would probably eventually knacker the fan belt. They hadn't time to fix it there & then, so I bought a new fan belt (30! - this is not the sort of thing you can replace with an old pair of tights!) and set off.
1pm Picked Paul Chis up from Chesterfield. Final check of all the gear. Although free movement of goods is now allowed throughout the EU, Switzerland still aren't playing ball, so a Carnet, detailing every last plug & lead carried is required, at a cost of some 200 to the Chamber of Commerce. However, Customs in Nottingham came up with a plan that we could use a Duplicate List System. This involved making a carnet style list of all the equipment, it's value & serial number, and producing enough lists to supply one to each customs stop en route, without paying the UK Chamber of Commerce. So, with all cases numbered & labelled we set off down the M1 into the most torrential downpour we were to see until, ooh at least France.
We arrive at the B&B in Dover at 8pm & went out for a couple of pints at the local Firkin pub & a bag of chips on the way back. Rock'n'Roll lifestyle huh?
Arrived back at the B&B to find that Daniele had called, most distraught that the Sunday night gig had been cancelled. Fortunately it wasn't a big payer, & he'd agreed to cover the cost anyway. We agreed we'd be happy to play anywhere else he could find for us that day.

Thursday 27th April
Up for a 7.30 breakfast and at the ferry terminal for 8.30 in plenty of time (we thought) for a 10am sailing. Drive aimlessly round East Dock for a while, get on the weighbridge to find we clock in at 60kg lighter than our Gross Vehicle Weight (good job we didn't have that extra slice of toast). Finally find someone to take our ticket, except we've been sold the wrong ticket, got it sorted, paid the VAT on the ticket (due to being freight?), but no one had heard of the Duplicate List System, they reckoned we needed a Carnet (& 200 to the Chamber of Commerce). We were sent on a search of some likely looking buildings, but had the same response. Finally someone suggested we go the Customs Depo, which was no longer at the East Dock, but had been moved to the West Dock, on the other side of Dover (due to the East Dock being too busy). We queued up with a bunch of hairy truckers for a while, until we finally got to speak to someone - who hadn't heard of the Duplicate List System either, but they knew some one who'd read about it in a book once. They looked it up in the tax inspectors manual & decided we needed a form E11something, which they didn't have. But they knew someone who could fax one to them. So we hang around a bit more. The 10am sailing is looking increasingly unlikely. Finally the necessary form appears, I sign it & give an address, they stamp it & we're off.
Back to the weighbridge, we appear to be getting heavier, and onto the 11am ferry.
The Channel, France & Belgium pass uneventfully, though we later hear that the 8am ferry from Dover that morning had crashed into Calais dock. Good job we're not early risers, then.
4pm and we arrive at the Spirit of 66 in Verviers, an 'American Style' Bar, complete with Marilyn Monroe statue in the doorway. The gaffer, Francois Geron isn't there, so we head for the Hotel for an hour's rest.
Back to the venue, Francois seems slightly worried by the amount of gear we are bringing in, at one point saying 'there is a PA you know'. We assure him we'd be bringing even more gear in if there wasn't.
The PA is extremely good - 40 channel desk & 10kW per side & Francois & his son are very helpful operating the sound & lights. As soon as we finish soundchecking Francois runs off to fetch us the most enormous Chinese takeaway we have ever seen. In stiflingly hot temperatures (is Belgium always hot in April?) we retreat to the upstairs bar to eat, accompanied by considerable quantities of red wine and some excellent home made chilli sauce. We hardly have time to check out the dressing room (except to note that it is full of food & beer), before heading for the stage for the first of two 75 minute sets. It's good to have the opportunity to play long sets, as our main problem is deciding what to play - or rather what not to play, when we only have a limited time on stage. Long sets also open up the possibility of extended improvisation - in songs such as 'Another Country' 'Let Go' 'Dig Them Mushrooms' 'Seven Stones' and 'Mountain' - always my favourite part of the show! I taped all the shows of the tour onto minidisk from a mic in the audience - the quality is reasonably good & we might have to consider releasing some of it on CD-R if there's any interest.

The sets were:-

  • The Night
  • In The End
  • Let Go/
  • See Her Face
  • The Load
  • In The Universe
  • One Day
  • In The Light/
  • Dig The Mushrooms (+ Cinema Show)
  • The Vice (+ No Quarter & Echoes)
a quick break and back with:-
  • Ophelia
  • Survive
  • Another Country
  • Edge Of Heaven
  • Wolf
  • Shadows
  • For Whom
  • The Hum
  • Seven Stones
  • Mountain
encore:-
  • Exiles Song
The audience was small, appreciative and entirely male, until a couple walked in during the encores. The girl came up to the stage as we finished, pleading with us to do more. She then picked me up & carried me back to the bar, bought me a drink, introduced me to her boyfriend & proceeded to show me pictures of her baby girl, whom she had left at home for the first time that night!
The other guys finally surfaced from the dressing room & we sell at least one CD to practically everyone in the room.
The show finished around midnight, and we were back at the Hotel for 1am. The Spirit of 66 really is a great venue & we hope to be back next time we venture forth to continental Europe.

Friday 28th April
We had arranged a 6.45am breakfast as it is over 500 miles to the next gig & we're due in at 5pm. Most of the route was down the German Autobahns, which, despite their reputation, were congested & down to very narrow laned contraflow systems. The plan was to do about 3 hours driving each, Paul Chis took the first stint, Paul Mc the second, and I took over as we entered Switzerland for the final 170 miles. This was the crucial border for the Duplicate List System - we had to have it stamped by the Swiss officials to proceed.
Our first encounter was with a most unfriendly jobsworth, who didn't seem willing to communicate with us in any language, but we eventually found someone who knew what was going on, and here came the first change of roles in the band - I usually do most of the talking, but have a negligible command of any language, except possibly English, while Paul & Chis both passed their French 'O' levels, and appear to comprehend a number of other European languages too.
The first thing we discovered was that we had to have the list stamped by German (export) customs, before the Swiss (import) customs would stamp it. There was lots of running up & down stairs, queuing with hairy truckers & trying to convince the German and Swiss officials that a Duplicate List System was a valid way of transporting equipment, and no we didn't need a Carnet.
All necessary stamps procured, we were finally let into Switzerland, and it has to be said, it's pretty impressive. You know that picture on the Alpen packets? Well it's really like that. We entered the country in glorious sunshine, the Alps glowing white with snow, & little timber houses perched precariously up mountains, but then hit one of the tunnels - 17 miles long! By about 10 miles in the air was getting pretty filthy, and I was near hallucinating with tiredness & the hypnotic effect of car headlights coming toward us.
We finally got out of the tunnel, into pouring rain & low gray clouds - not an Alp in sight. We arrived around 5pm at Grotto Pasinetti in Gorduno, which is right in the southernmost tip of Switzerland, very close to the Italian border. It is a small downstairs bar, with small stage, adequate PA and an awning covered courtyard, extending out to a lawned area, backing onto one of those fast flowing, Limestone filled Swiss streams. We are offered a drink and start setting up. The barmaids are universally gorgeous and frighteningly young. The best of the bunch takes quite a shine to the father figure of Paul Chisnell, despite the monumental age difference. We are getting to quite like this European touring!
Its not long before Daniele & Francesco arrive. Francesco is particularly excited, as he is probably our longest standing Italian Haze fan (apart from Sandro Roda who we meet up with later), but this is the first time he has ever seen us play live.
We sit down for a pasta based meal, served by those barmaids again, before heading for the Hotel for a quick sleep - it is now about 9pm & were due on stage at 11pm for the first of 3 50 minute sets.
Come round around 10.30am - feeling pretty groggy & head back to the gig. It's starting to fill up & we've decided to start off with a fairly acoustic based set, saving the noisy stuff for later.

Set One (Paul Chisnell on percussion & vocals, Paul Mc on acoustic guitar, mandolin & vocals & me on 12 string, bouzouki & vocals)

  • Love The One You're With
  • Weather With You
  • In The Universe
  • Fallen Leaves
  • Losing My Religion
  • Wave
  • Tangerine
  • For Whom
  • Don't Fear The Reaper
Set Two
  • The Ember
  • Survive
  • Let Go/
  • See Her Face
  • One Day (acoustic)
  • Hangman & The Papist (acoustic)
  • In The Light/ (acoustic)
  • Dig Them Mushrooms
  • The Vice (+ No Quarter & Echoes)
Set Three
  • Ophelia
  • In The End
  • Another Country
  • Edge Of Heaven
  • Brain Damage/Eclipse
  • The Hum
  • Seven Stones
  • Mountain
encores - can't remember, but probably included
  • Brown Sugar
  • Wishing Well
  • Gimme All Your Lovin'/Sharp Dressed Man
  • Comfortably Numb
It's going pretty well so we end with a series of rock covers to get them all dancing and finish playing at 3am. A long day!

Saturday 29th April
Fortunately the Hotel serves late breakfasts, so we get the first lie-in of the tour, and head for Grotto Pasinetti to load the gear back onto the van at a relatively civilized lunch time. We are supposed to ring Daniele to arrange to meet him at the Swiss/Italian border, but a missing digit in the phone number puts paid to that, so we reach the border unaccompanied. The Swiss are happy to let us out of the country, but then we encounter a young, cool, gun toting Italian customs guard. He appears to be amused that we are in a band, but wants something called a 'Cheede'. We show him all our documentation again, but he's still not satisfied. Finally the penny drops, he's after a CD! This is the first time anyone has actually looked at what we've got in the back of the van, so we fish him a copy of the 20th anniversary show CD out of the merchandise box (labelled 'promotional material - not for resale' just in case we got collared for VAT on sales), and, happily bribed, he lets us on our way.
We reach Como & ask a policeman the way to Olgiate Comasco, it's a small village, a few miles out from Como. The venue, Teatro Aurora is a modern 300 capacity theatre, complete with proscenium arch stage, dressing room with showers and art display by one of the support band ON in the foyer.
The PA & lights are being set up, as we load in & set up on the large (but sloping) stage. Tim Stenton has arrived - he flew from Luton to Milano & proceeds to photograph the rest of the tour. (Chis's camera failed to work, so we've no photos of the first part of the tour).
Daniele has impressed on us that this is the big show of the tour - he has friends, family, representatives of the local press, plus fans travelling from all over Italy for the show.
We are treated to large charcoal cooked pizza back stage, while ON soundcheck, then it's out to the foyer to set up the merchandise (one of the problems of touring without a crew, is that you end up doing everything yourself!), it was good getting to meet the fans, people we only knew as names on our mailing list & who probably thought they'd never get to see us play live.
ON played a set of Floyd & Radiohead influenced modern prog, interesting with lots of use of samples. Then Daniele introduced us & it was our turn:-

  • The Night
  • In The End
  • Another Country
  • Survive
  • For Whom
  • Let Go/
  • See Her Face
  • The Load
  • Edge Of Heaven
  • Wolf
  • Ophelia
  • In The Universe (acoustic)
  • Fallen Leaves (acoustic)
  • In The Light/ (acoustic)
  • Dig Them Mushrooms
  • The Hum
  • Seven Stones
  • The Vice
encores
  • Brain Damage/Eclipse
  • Mountain
Daniele produced a (double) CD-R of the whole show, plus ON have a CD-R of their performance. If any one is interested in copies, let me know & I'll see about getting them released. After the show we went out with Daniele & the crew for a drink & found ourselves in the same bar as ON and a group of fans from the gig. Paul Chis was blow away by someone saying it was an honour to sit at the same table as him!
We head back to the Mini Hotel Baradello in Como, where we are staying Saturday & Sunday night, to finish off the last of the drinks rider from the gig.

Sunday 30th April
Daniele took us a tour round Como & the lake, most places were shut, but it's still a pretty impressive part of the world. By lunchtime we were heading out for Club Mingus in Bregano, a few Ks from Como. The club has a large naturally lit main bar, with a dark concert room round the back. They promote mainly punk & pop, but had agreed to let us do an acoustic set in the afternoon. There was pretty much no one there except Daniele & friends, plus the owner & his dog, but we went for it anyway.

Set 1

  • Love The One You're With
  • Weather With You
  • In The Universe
  • Wichita Lineman
  • Far Over Misty Mountains
  • Crazy Man Michael
  • Wilderness Of Eden
  • Firkin Of Mead
  • Fallen Leaves
  • Still Haven't Found...
  • Human
  • Tangerine
Set 2
  • Thank You
  • Losing My Religion
  • Danny's Jig
  • Hiring Fair
  • Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Lark In The Morning
  • One Day
  • Bouzouki Jam/Dirty Linen/Drowsy Maggie
  • Hangman & The Papist
  • Barley & Grape Rag
The landlord was so impresses he asked us back the same evening to play support to a faded Italian pop star, who was allegedly big in the 80s. So we moved our gear out of the way & headed off for a pizza (what else?).
By the evening the bar was filling up with a very young crowd, with the usual compliment of unfeasibly good looking women. It didn't look like our usual crowd (i.e. not balding & bearded!), but went down amazingly well, with 'Edge Of Heaven' singled out for a particularly rapturous response.
  • Losing My Religion (acoustic)
  • One Day (acoustic)
  • Still Haven't Found (acoustic)
  • In The Light/ (acoustic)
  • Dig Them Mushrooms
  • The Ember (+ New Years Day)
  • For Whom
  • Let Go/
  • See Her Face
  • Fallen Leaves
  • The Edge Of Heaven
  • Wolf
  • The Night
After the show we got out as quickly as possible - this was our last night drinking on Italian soil. We headed for, wait for it, an 'Irish' bar, though I'm not sure they serve the Guinness in litre glasses with garlic bread & pizza in Ireland! When we were finally kicked out, Daniele took us to his bar in Como for a last drink, before heading back to the hotel. It was some time around now, counting up our monopoly money in 6 currencies, that we realised the tour had grossed over 2 million! Sadly, that's 2 million Lira, so about the price of a pickled egg and ham salad in your average motorway services.

Monday 1st May
I had mapped out the itinerary for the whole tour pretty accurately, getting up times, travelling times, soundcheck time, stage times, when to have another beer time(OK, maybe not), but had left the way home pretty open. I figured if we left Como at 11am, swapping drivers every three hours & stopping only for food & fuel we'd make Sheffield by 9am Tuesday morning, or, if we wanted to take it easy, stop in France at a B&B & we'd probably make Sheffield for 9pm Tuesday.
As it happened, we were all up for getting home ASAP, so we said our farewells & headed back toward Switzerland. We were more confident about dealing with customs on the way back & passed in & out of Switzerland painlessly. We travelled back a Daniele recommended route, that involved ducking in & out of France via Belgium & Luxembourg to avoid the road tolls & take advantage of the cheap Lux diesel. On the way we hit the heaviest of rainstorms, that cleared the bugs off the windscreen the way no carwash possibly could.
Heading up the some steep little pass, just over the French border, we passed some customs police on motorcycles in a lay-by, who, predictably enough, pulled out & pulled us in to the next lay-by. We showed them our well worn Duplicate List and opened up the back of the van. They asked to see in the first case, which happened to be the merchandise trunk ("promotional material only - not for resale"). The tour T-shirts at least corroborated our story, although, embarrassingly, there were a dozen bottles of Francesco's home made "English style" beer stored there for safe keeping! They seemed quite interested in the box of handmade mushroom badges, but as they appeared to be neither edible or smokeable, let them be.
They then had a look at the pile of CDs in the front of the van, seemingly wanting to hear one of our music. I went to fetch one from the back of the van & made to hand it to one of them, but he backed off like he'd been stung. These guys obviously weren't for bribing!
Anyway, they let us on our way & we made good time into Belgium, until a rattling from the engine and an overheating warning light forced us over to the hard shoulder. As predicted it was the fan belt expiring. We had our spare fan belt, but fitting it proved to be a major task beyond the tools at our disposal. I headed down the motorway to the nearest rescue phone & had a rather pointless conversation, me in English, the other guy in French, neither of us understanding the other. Eventually we established that a breakdown van would come out, but when it did, he said (we think) that it would be far too expensive for him to do anything without us having local breakdown cover. We showed him our National Breakdown info & he let us try to call them from his mobile, but to on avail (none of our mobiles work outside the UK). His recommendation was to limp on to the nearest services, only a few k away & call National Breakdown from there.
We made the services without incident - the National Breakdown freephone number didn't work (It reached some American telesales company) so I had to call the UK number, who got a local Belgian breakdown service to call me back. It wasn't easy explaining where we were, he'd never heard of the service station & they don't appear to have motorway junction numbers, so we eventually got one of the girls on the counter to explain how to find us.
The breakdown truck eventually arrived, a wild west monster truck with a couple of likely lads, who could have been mechanics anywhere in the world. Much sweating & cursing later they were done & we were off again, having lost 3 hours.

Tuesday 2nd May
France is bloody big, even when you miss bits out to do Belgium & Luxembourg, so it was 1am Tuesday morning that we finally made Calais, completely knackered, and waited for the next ferry.
2.30am & we're on the ferry - time for breakfast. I always thought ferry food was expensive, but actually it's no worse than motorway service food, i.e. expensive.
4am & we're in Dover, customs couldn't be bothered to check us for refugees, drugs or dodgy prog-rock CDs, but we decided to do our duty & turn ourselves in to the West Dock customs to get the final stamp on the Duplicate List. Seriously knackered, we're too close to home to stop now, so with increasingly frequent changes of driver we carry on.
Somewhere on the M1 both Paul & Chis realise that they don't have house keys so won't be able to get in if they arrive home too early! That's married men for you! So we pull into Leicester Forest East for 1/2 an hour. Me'n'Chis have a cuppa, Paul tries to get some sleep ready to take over for the final drive.
We make Chesterfield at 8am, fortunately Jane's up & about to let us in, we drop Chis & the drums & head for Sheffield. It's bizarre driving in the morning rush hour, when you've been on the road since the previous morning. Paul drops himself at home & I take the van the last hundred yards up the hill to arrive home on the dot of 9am - exactly as predicted in the itinerary (he says with great pride), to be met on the doorstep by Nicola in her night-gown.
Time for bed.

Epilogue
The next night I was playing in Chesterfield with Satsuma! We were double booked, both bands had been cancelled & the Landlord had gone to Spain for a month. And there was no pizza, free beer or Italian women.
Welcome home!

I know it's taken a long time to write this (4 months!), but we arrived home to a frantically busy time at work. We had just taken over another company & were trying (& failing) to run from 2 sites, so we had to relocate, amalgamate & catch up with work that had built up while we were both away. Not to mention gigging with Strongheart, Satsuma! Treebeard & World Turtle. And then there's the Whitchurch festival. But that's another story.

Chris McMahon

PHOTO GALLEY


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