A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF...?
What follows is a personal diary of my time with MSG over the past week.
I actually knew I was 'doing' the tour when I received a phone call from
Gary in April. Gary asked me if I'd fly to Dublin with him for the first
gig. Needless to say, I said I would.
On Tuesday 12th May, my partner Michelle and I drove to Gary's home in
Kent. I stayed the night (Michelle returned home) The following morning,
we had a taxi booked for Gatwick Airport which was due to leave Gary's
at 10am. We were up, ready and waiting for the taxi. We left on time and
arrived Gatwick at 10.45am. We had breakfast and caught the flight at
1.20pm (it was delayed 1hr) we arrived in Dublin and went straight to
the hotel. After checking in, we decided to get a taxi into Dublin, so
we could experience the local hospitality. Whilst in the city centre, we
met up with Shane Gaalaas, Seth Bernstein and Jeff Kollman. Basically,
the guys were excited about playing live with Gary and it was clear from
the outset that they had a tremendous respect for him. After an
afternoon in Dublin we returned to the hotel, where we stayed for the
rest of the evening. Apparently, Michael and David Van Landing were at
the venue with Satch and Uli, rehearsing the 'jam'. At 10.00pm, Michael
and David entered the hotel lobby, at which point, Gary, Michael and
David greeted each other.
Thursday 14th May-Dublin
I travelled to the venue with Gary and when we arrived Tonio (tour
manager) issued us with access all areas laminates. Gary and I entered
the hall and MSG were on stage soundchecking. Gary went up on to the
stage and Michael asked him what song he'd like to rehearse. "On and
On", Gary replied. At that point the band went straight in to 'On and
On', with Gary and David sharing vocal duties. I'd not heard, or seen
this song live for over a decade and I was truly emotional as Michael
played the outro lead break. Throughout the day, Michael seemed to be in
good spirits. This was reflected in his performance. I spent most of the
day with MSG in there dressing room. They were extremely friendly, thus,
I knew, the coming week would prove to be memorable. After the gig, I
helped Leon Lawson (Michael's guitar tech) dismantle and encase MSG's
gear. I travelled overnight with one of the truckers (Jeff Whitlock) to
Friday 15th May-Glasgow
Arrived at the auditorium at 12.30pm, three hours late. This was due to
a late ferry crossing from Ireland. When we arrived, there was a
distinct panic setting in amongst the crew. No matter, the crew worked
hard to get everything ready for showtime. Again, I spent the day with
Gary and MSG. Gary and I took a taxi into Glasgow, so we could take in
the city's sights. There was no soundcheck today, so we didn't have to
rush back to the venue. Michael arrived at 6.30pm and went straight to
his dressing room. He didn't emerge 'till he was due to take the stage.
I took some ace photo's tonight (hopefully you'll be able to view some
of them on Tristan Greatrex's 'Michael Schenker Story' web-site soon)
After MSG's set, I went backstage to see Michael. He was in fine form,
very witty. After the jam, I conversed with MSG in their dressing room.
I couldn't believe how welcoming they were. Up until Dublin I'd never
met them, yet they treated me like I was one of the band. It was great
to see ex-MSG drummer, Ted McKenna, milling around backstage after the
gig. Again, I helped Leon with the gear, after which, I travelled to
Manchester (overnight) with Jeff (Whitlock) It was 7.30am when we
arrived at the Apollo.
Saturday 16th May-Manchester
This was an exciting day for me, because I was due to meet up with
Michelle and Marc for the first time on this tour. Also, my brother Ian
and his son Richard (my nephew) plus friends from my home town of
Halifax were attending this gig. In addition to this, Michelle brought
the car with her, thus, I was mobile for the rest of the tour. The venue
opened at 8.30am and I went to one of the dressing rooms to shower. That
done, I went onto MSG's tour bus to see Gary. It was really hot day and
we lazed around for most of it. At 2.00pm Michelle, Marc, Ian and
Richard arrived. Gary had managed to secure VIP laminate passes for
Michelle and Marc. I obtained working passes for Richard and Ian. This
was also the day when a certain Dr Dave Wood came on board. It was
already arranged (by Mr Van Landing) for Dave to have a pass. Thus, Dave
was issued with a VIP laminate. As for Richard, he's only 13yrs old and
he's been playing drums since he was six. I introduced him and his
father to MSG and we were amazed when Shane offered to give Richard a
drum lesson, which he scheduled it for 7.00pm.
When the time came, Shane showed Richard how to do various things. He
also took him on stage and showed him round his kit. Shane was true
gentleman. After the jam, I took my brother and nephew to meet Michael.
As ever, Herr Schenker was courteous and posed for photo's with them.
After this, we thanked Michael, at which point Ian and Richard left for
home. After all the excitement, Gary, Michelle, Marc and Myself went to
the local pub for an after time drink. We eventually left the pub and
made our way to Yorkshire. Got to bed at 4.00am.
We arrived at the NEC at 2.00pm. I entered the backstage area and
located MSG's dressing room. As ever, the guys were very welcoming. I
had a conversation with Coy (the lady who was dealing with MSG
merchandise) and it transpired that she was short-staffed. That being
so, I offered to help her. Subsequently, I spent the rest of the
afternoon pinning Schenker posters to the walls of the NEC. Whilst I was
at the merchandise stall, some MSG fans were talking about Michael. One
of them then said "I wish Gary Barden was still with him." I replied
that they were in for a "nice surprise." I asked them to wait,
whereupon, I went backstage to see Gary. I told him that some MSG fans
were 'dying' to meet him. We went out to the front of the hall, where
Gary chatted with them and signed their merchandise. What a gentleman!
They thanked Gary and myself, then returned to their seats. Prior to
MSG's set, I saw ex-MSG bassist Rocky Newton chatting to Michael in the
backstage area. After MSG's set and the jam, I accompanied Michael and
Tonio to Michael's signing session. After which, Gary and myself helped
Leon with Michael's cabs. How many lead vocalists do you know who would
do that? After taking photo's of MSG in their dressing room, Michelle,
Marc and I, headed south for Surrey. We arrived home at 3.00am.
Monday 18th May-Day off
The three of us travelled to the bands hotel in London (Gary and I had
arranged this the previous day) We arrived at 6.00pm and he (Gary) was
very tired. We chatted for an hour, then left Gary to catch up on some
much needed sleep. The rest of MSG (except Michael) headed for central
London, for a night on the town. We got home at 2.30am.
Tuesday 19th May-Wembley
Got to Wembley Arena at 1.00pm and Gary was in fine form. He was very
happy and relaxed. I drove David (Van Landing) into Wembley town centre,
so that he could purchase some photographic equipment. We returned to
the venue and I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with Gary. At
6.30pm Michael arrived and I carried the flying V to his dressing room.
When he gave it to me he said "Alan, you know how to carry that?" I
replied "Yes Michael, don't worry." I dutifully placed the guitar in his
dressing room. Tonio then asked me if I would accompany Michael and
himself to the signing sessions after the show. How could I refuse? At
7.00pm I went outside (to the box office) and met my dear friend Tristan
(Greatrex) I handed him a VIP laminate pass (courtesy of Mr Van Landing)
I then returned to the backstage area. I was really pleased to see
Tristan, as it was the first chance he'd had to attend one of the shows.
After Michael had finished MSG's set and the jam, I went with him to the
signing. After this we returned to Michael's dressing room, where a
multitude of people were vying to see him. Satch, Uli and Brian May
(separately) called on Herr Schenker. After this, ex-MSG keyboardist
Andy Nye visited Michael, along with Gary (Barden) Leon, Michael's
ex-wife Pam Schenker and his two sons Taro and Tyson. Michelle, Marc,
Tristan (Greatrex) Dave (Wood) and myself, were all ensconced in
Michael's dressing room. It was somewhat crowded, but Michael was very
open and receptive to conversation. In fact, he was very jovial.
Eventually, people dispersed and once the dressing room was empty,
Michael prepared to leave. Along with Tonio, I carried Michael's baggage
to his car. At this juncture, I bade him farewell and Michelle, Marc and
Myself left Wembley for home. It was an early night. We got to bed at
Wednesday 20th May-Croydon
What a nightmare! We were late leaving for Croydon and a mile from home
the car 'broke down'. It was 6.10pm and MSG were due on stage at 8.10pm.
I let the car cool down for 45 mins. There was a distinct possibility
that we were going to miss the gig, thus, I phoned Gary to let him know
what had happened. After this, I decided to risk driving it. We set off
at 6.55pm and arrived at the venue at 8.05pm. I went straight into the
venue, said my hello's and placed myself at the front of the stage, so I
could take the customary photo's. Gary's mum (Mrs Shirley Barden) was in
attendance and she was really happy to see Gary up on stage with Michael
again. A very proud mum indeed. Also, Tristan (Greatrex) and Dave
(Wood) were present. After the show, I went to the signing session with
Michael and Tonio. Before we left for home, I entered Michael's dressing
room and had a conversation with him about him coming back to play in
the UK. We agreed to continue the conversation ("tommorrow night") in
Cardiff. Throughout all this, Michelle had been outside the venue, with
the car, waiting for the RAC to arrive. She watched MSG's set, but
missed the jam. She is a trooper. When the mechanic appeared he couldn't
find anything overtly wrong, but surmised that it might be the
carburettor. We arrived home, with a very unwell car, at 2.30pm.
Thursday 21st May-Cardiff
We rose early, but we didn't have time to put the car in for a check-up.
We decided to risk driving to Cardiff and arrived at 12.30pm. On
entering the venue, we found no band members. I went to the tour bus and
was informed that all the band had gone in to Cardiff City centre.
Michelle, Marc, myself and Keith (MSG and UFO's sound engineer) decided
to follow suit and we had a great time. In the centre, we met up with
Seth Bernstein. After leaving Seth, we 'bumped' into Shane (Gaalaas) and
Jeff (Kollman) We then visited the Britanicca pub for some lunch. From
inside the pub, I saw Dave (Wood) walking along the street. I ran
outside and called out to him. Subsequently, Dave joined us for lunch.
We headed for the venue and arrived at 6.00pm. Gary informed me that
he'd been booked into the 'Moathouse' hotel (it was supposedly his final
night of the tour) Consequently, we booked a room there as well. Again,
I accompanied Michael and Tonio to Michael's signing sessions.
After the jam, Gary was asked by Tonio to go to Michael's dressing room.
They were talking for, at least, an hour when I entered. Gary asked me
to "wait a minute". Thus, I retreated. Gary came out and I went in to
see Michael. We talked for 45 mins and he signed all my MSG CD inserts,
along with some photo's I'd taken at Croydon the previous night. At this
point I beckoned to Michelle, Marc and Dave (Wood) to come in. I was
amazed when Michael hugged Michelle and Marc. He then thanked them and
Dave for their continuous support. It was a great moment. Michael then
posed for photographs with each of us. A true gentleman. We then filed
out into the corridor where Gary was waiting with a huge smile on his
I said to Gary "Well, we'd better go to the hotel matey!"
Gary replied "I'm not staying in a hotel."
"Why?" said I.
Michelle then quipped "He doesn't know."
"Doesn't know what." I cried.
Marc then chipped in with "What a sad bastard! He doesn't know"
"Gary's doing the whole tour." Blurted Michelle.
"It's your fault." said Gary.
"No" I said, "it's because you've done the business. That's why Michael
wants you to do the rest of the tour."
I then said "He never even told me. He never even mentioned that you'd
be going to Europe. I can't believe it. I've just sat with the man for
45 mins and he didn't say a word about it!"
At this point, it was approximately 1.30pm and Michael emerged from his
dressing room and I bleated "Michael! You never said anything about Gary
doing the rest of the tour."
Michael looked bemused and said "Oh." And, in his own inimitable style
he added "I have to go. Thankyou!
'Enigmatic to the end', thought I.
He then left the venue with Tonio, whilst Gary, Michelle, Marc, Dave and
myself burst into fits of laughter. It was then that Michelle and I
decided to cancel the hotel booking and drive home. We got to bed at
5.00am. What a week it had been. I was so happy for Gary, because I
always believed that he deserved another chance with Michael. I truly
hope that they make another album together.
After spending ten days with the G3 tour, courtesy of MSG, I was
exhausted. The hospitality that was shown to, not only myself, but also
to Marc (my son) and Michelle (my partner) was exceptional. The list of
people I would like to thank is endless, so I'll keep it short by
extending thanks from Marc, Michelle, Tristan (Greatrex) Dave (Wood)
and myself, to all concerned. I would also like to take this opportunity
to thank Tristan and Dave for their inexorable support regarding 'all
things' Schenker and UFO. True heartfelt thanks must be advanced to
Michael Schenker. At every gig on the UFO and G3 tours, Michael has
unconditionally allowed me to stand in the pit and take unlimited
photographs of him. I am truly grateful to Michael for allowing me to do
this. Hopefully, in the near future, many of these photographs will make
their way onto Tristan's or Dave's web-sites, where all you Schenker
fans can gain unlimited access. Happy viewing! Finally, a word regarding
Gary Barden. Well Matey, who was it that said it wouldn't/couldn't
happen? That is, yourself and Michael playing live again. You did it,
make no mistake. And, you performed like a trooper. You did yourself and
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