grapevine
July 12th, 2010

SUMMER FUN WITH THE SPECIALS BY SIR HORACE GENTLEMAN - CHAPTER 4. Ruisrock Festival, Turku, Finland.

Ruisrock Festival, Turku, Finland.

 OK. So this weekend marks the halfway point through our 14 European festivals. Finland to be exact, the Ruisrock Festival just outside Turku to be even more precise. This promises to be the working definition of ‘logistics nightmare’. Now, to get a flight from Birmingham would have meant going via Munich, which is like going from Coventry to Newcastle via Margate. The nearest direct flight is from Manchester, 10:25am. So it’s another early start, but not on the show day. Us oldsters are traveling a day ahead of the crew and brass. After the 3 hour flight there’s a 2 hour drive from Helsinki airport to Turku. Showtime tomorrow is 8pm, so you can imagine the mad dash that would occur. So we’re going the day before. Well, all except Neville who has a gig in Potsdam (Germany). He’ll come with Jaeki tomorrow.

Confused? Thought so.

So Roddy and I are at Manchester airport, a place where overweight British people go on holiday from as far as I can tell, then on to Helsinki and the drive to Turku courtesy of a very pleasant if not extravagantly tattooed Finnish gentleman called Kari. Good reggae selection on the van stereo. Check into the hotel at 6pm local time. In my room, Status Quo are on the radio. ‘Well here we are and here we are and here we go’. A kind of synchronicity I suppose. I am very pleased with what I have seen of Finland so far and as usual the weather is superb. Brad, Terry, Lynval and Steve (not the manager) Blackwell pull in around 8pm. An hour later we’re out on the terrace outside chewing the fat and eating the steak.

Saturday. A good nights‘ sleep. A really comfortable bed, plus the two-hours ahead time difference, leisurely breakfast, wander round town and 1pm finds us all sitting on the hotel terrace again and having a chat about what we could do next year. (There’s lots of different ideas going round so it’s best I keep schtum until things get officially announced - sorry!). Tim and Nikolaj arrive around half past three. Nik says that their driver remarked that he took Morris and Ronny from the Specials to Turku yesterday. Hmm.

We head off to the festival site at around 6pm. The crew are already there, having gone straight to the site. Although being dog-tired from their early start they are glad to be there that extra hour early. Once again we are in a tent as opposed to the main stage. Perhaps we could call these shows The Intense In Tents Tour……..maybe not.

Just before we go on, the bass rig starts making a frightful noise. The wireless transmitter/receiver is obviously picking up some interference from something. 54-46 That’s my Number is playing and Punky Steve and Daniel are trying to change the frequency. They signal over to me to see if it works. It doesn’t. There is no bass. Enjoy Yourself starts.

Punky Steve is now busy fiddling with the transmitter pack on my guitar strap. It still won’t work. A bar before Brad starts ‘Do The Dog‘ ….it starts working. That was a close one guys! I don’t think anyone in the band twigged what was going on but Punky Steve looked several decades older for the first couple of songs.

Rod is thrilled to bits to be using an old AC30 amplifier which sounds ‘just right’. Lynval falls over. Nikolaj wears a plastic Viking helmet, complete with cow horns for some songs, part of a bet apparently. I nearly took Nev’s head off with my bass during Concrete Jungle. Oops. Sorry Neville. The crowd don’t seem so ‘up for it‘ as last week in France although there are a fair few Specials t-shirts down the front. Scandanavia is traditionally the domain of Metal! and I must admit every band I heard today sounded like a bad imitation of Soundgarden. After Enjoy Yourself (Hi, my name’s Terry……. and I’m being sectioned on Tuesday!) we leave the stage to a huge cheer. I’m sure we could have done an encore.

And it didn’t rain.

Opposite the hotel in Turku, there’s a heavy rock Karaoke bar (honest!) I am severely  tempted  but…………..

Sunday. There is something about Americans at breakfast that really doesn’t do it for me. 

Everyone else, no problem, but for some reason…… Here we are, beautiful Sunday morning in Turku, a pleasant hubbub in the restaurant, everyone eating, conversing, minding their own business until…… I think they were from a lighting company but the way they sat, the way they looked around waiting to be noticed, the way they ate. I have made some very good friends in America, so please don’t take this as a xenophobic rant but you know how some people can really get under your skin! The London posse leave at 10am and the Midlanders (Me, Rod, Punky Steve, Drew and Big Jon) are being picked up at 12.

Finland, so Big Jon says, has more of a problem with alcohol than the UK and wandering through the festival crowd yesterday evening I could see what he was talking about.

Helsinki airport seems to be inundated with some pretty serious drinkers. Our flight is due to leave at 4pm. Just as we are boarding, Drew (saxophone) mentions that yesterday he’d spent  11 hours traveling to do less than 1 hours‘ playing. The flight back to Manchester is half full. We get our stuff and are met by Sammy, in a car. We are three people, four guitars, two roady-type boxes and our suitcases. After some superior packing we get it all loaded and get gone, with Roddy and Steve packed sardine-like in the back along with the guitars. Just like in a real group.

 

What’s on Your I-Pod; An Occasional Series.

Roddy. The new Skabilly Rebels cd (of course). I listened to some Hank Williams yesterday……and Social Distortion.