|Pete's BIG BANG Tour diary 2008
November 08 saw Pete on tour with the
'World drummers Ensemble' for the Big
Bang tour in Holland. The quintet featured; Simon Phillips, Baba Sissoko, Carlo Rizzo, Arto Tunçboyaciyan
and Pete. Here is Petes tour diary as published in Drummer
magazine. With supporting acts; Nagoya Marimbas: Xi Zhang & Lauren
Warnier. Capoeira: Alexandre Santos Silva, Ederson Rodrigues Xavier.
Sjahin During Afro Anatolian Tales & Pasveerkorps with Kim Weemhoff as
Wednesday 19th November. Travel / Meeting Day
It always sounds glamorous to non-musicians when you tell them you are
going on tour. But there is little glamour in the deafening tone of the
alarm clock at 4am and the travel-sick trip to the airport that
commences so many offshore excursions. I am off to Holland to be part of
the annual Big Bang Festival which this year features Simon Phillips,
Me, Baba Sissoko, Carlo Rizzo and Arto Tuncboyaciyan. We will tour five
cities in Holland over a ten-day period as a quintet, ‘The World
Drummers Ensemble’. Sixty kilos in tow, I cross the frustrating
frontiers of excess luggage payments, security checks and an in-flight
service which only got to row 10 before the plane reached Amsterdam. I
alas was in row 25! Whisked off with Dutch efficiency to the hotel, I
showered and readied myself to meet my fellow collaborators over a fine
Previous participants in this Festival have included Keith Carlock,
Zakir Hussain, Bill Bruford, Chad Wackerman and Glen Velez to name a
few, so that is a hard act to follow. It is an unusual but exciting
feeling before the journey into the unknown begins. How will the
personalities mix, what musical ideas will surface? One thing is for
sure, it will be a great drum hang for ten days with all these great
All five drummers plus the main organiser, Erk Willemsen and his team
meet in the hotel bar. Spirits are high and all seem genuinely excited
by the forthcoming tour. We head to a civilised little local restaurant.
The hospitality in Europe is always so much better than you get in the
UK and they do not shirk away from looking after their artists. Three
hours later, after a slap-up Italian meal, all head to the hotel. My
night is not over though until an encounter with a very thick and all
encompassing mattress leads to a flurry of 3am activity to relocate the
said mattress to the corridor… One unlikely thing about touring is the
bizarre and alarming array of inappropriate pillows and beds you have to
Being fed the first night
20 Rehearsal in Amsterdam @ Pustjens Percussion.
Surprised to see 4 of the 5 make it to breakfast at 8.30am. Simon has
the worst of it time-wise, adjusting from the LA time difference. Soon
we’re in the van heading the sporty 20km to the rehearsal space.
Discussions begin as to what we are going to create together musically
over the two days we have allocated for rehearsal.
This festival is truly unique in that it creates an environment for a
group of players of unique character to unite in a new and challenging
environment to brainstorm and create a show over a brief rehearsal
period. Quite a responsibility to be handed and it seems a bit of an
uphill task as the day begins. Soon the music and grooves start to flow.
Part of the whole process is the resolution of different ideas and
different approaches, but once the lines of communication are
established then the shape of the music for the gig starts to come
together. One thing we want to avoid is a night of individual solos
followed by a group piece to conclude. This makes the overall writing
process much more complex and time consuming but if we can create an
integrated sixty min show then it will all have been worth it. Before we
can possibly imagine, the first day is rounded up and we are back in a
restaurant popping another bottle of red.
With Carlo / Simon / Baba first rehearsal
First rehearsal day
Friday November 21
Rehearsal in Amsterdam @ Pustjens Percussion
It’s the second rehearsal and a slightly later start for the group.
Difficult to kick start the day, but after an intense debate to try and
bring together a common vision of the overall picture, we begin to
dissect the structure of the seven pieces we have so far mapped out, and
incorporate them into a set along with a short solo for each of the 5
musicians. Things do not always flow perfectly in rehearsals and
conflicting opinions sometimes need to be resolved maturely with the
final goal of the concert in mind. This we all navigate successfully.
Time flies and before we know it, the giant flight cases have arrived,
Simon is changing all the heads on his kit with his Bosch drill and we
have beer in hand, expectant of another night’s great hospitality as the
guests of Erk and the Dutch team. We are not disappointed.
I'll never fit in there!
November 22 - concert in Rotterdam – De Doelen
It’s the first gig day – Rotterdam. A slightly lazier morning and we
board the bus at 11.45am. Holland is a very small country which means we
can stay at the same hotel for the whole trip. This is great news. The
trip to Rotterdam whizzes by instantly and soon we are on stage
terrifying the sound techs by switching all our stage positions. It is
the first of 5 gigs of a very elaborate programme featuring a number of
diverse supporting acts. The sound checks are lengthy and exhausting and
because many of us came on the same bus, we are prisoners of sound check
pain. Our check comes up around 5.15pm after a hideously salty meal in
the restaurant downstairs. When it comes to show time, it is really
interesting to see how everyone’s personality expands positively into
performers. Rehearsals are always so dry in comparison and here we are
in a packed 3,000-seater auditorium which is desperate for drums. The
show is a great success and we have ‘broken bread’. My voice is coming
back after a real bad cold. However, I decide to hit the bed when the
bus gets back at 2am and not venture on the wild goose chase around
Amsterdam looking for a restaurant that’s still open. Fat chance!
Holland and Belgium are famous for their early closing restaurants and
there is nothing worse than wandering aimlessly around a city centre -
often filled with drunks - looking for something that’s open. They all
got back to the hotel after 4am having had a less than satisfying
Waiting in the lobby for the bus
On the bus
Sunday November 23 Day off
Thank goodness. A break for a day. I attempt to go out but it is snowing
really heavily. My cold is still a big problem so I go back to bed until
the evening when we all brave the heavy snow to go out for an evening
meal. I have to get fit for the rest of the tour.
Leaving the bus
Drums and cases
Monday November 24
- concert in Amsterdam – Heineken Music Hall
Thank god for the late 10.30am breakfast curfew. A sleepless night with
the dodgy hotel pillows again. After a bit of shopping I head back to
the hotel and then to the sound check. It is the same crew and a lot of
teething problems with the sound have been ironed out. My wife has come
over for this show from London and somehow manages to flush her
cellphone down the toilet. How? The mysteries of the feminine!! BOOM!!!
The gig is rocking and the quintet is really starting to take shape now.
The technicians have got all the changeovers between the acts flowing
nicely and it is a lot more relaxed. The hall is a bit out of town, next
to the Ajax stadium. Gary Mann from Remo has also popped over for these
two gigs and it becomes a nice social hang after the gig.
Off the bus
Tuesday November 25
- Utrecht – Music Centre Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn
This venue is famous for its ‘lorry lift’ which hoists the lorry up the
side of the building to offload. It always makes me laugh but is ultra
efficient like a lot of the new built venues in Holland. The performance
and technicalities are hotting up efficiently. Slick and quick
soundchecks. Everybody knows the routine and all the performers have got
the material down to be able to add a lot of flexibility and extra
dynamics to the show. Simon is really starting to rock out on his solos.
We stay on stage for each others solos and I have found the ideal place
to sit right next to the giant mounted bass drum he has on his right.
That moves some air, (and hair) believe me. These last 2 gigs have been
out of town in ‘new city’ modern arena-type venues. Big, but cold
auditoriums in some aspects. Todays venue is a giant red box which is a
temporary venue whilst the venue in the town is refurbished. The final 2
gigs will be in more ‘old style’ auditoria in the centre of their
respective towns, so hopefully we will stop feeling like we are on the
Michelle, Simons drum tec on the tour
26 – Day off.
Day Off. Chill in Amsterdam (literally…). Nice! Some good shooping.
Desperatly sad to hear the Mumbai news when I get back to the hotel. I
had been in both those hotels just before this trip. Simon and I head to
a floating Chinese restaurant with Xi Zhang & Lauren Warnier of Nagoya
Marimbas. They are an impressively talented duo. Simon spent the
afternoon with them in the Music college brushing up on his Marimba
The ultimate load in!
27 - concert in Eindhoven - Music Hall Frits Philips
Eindhoven gig. Suffering with a cold still and even more totally down
about the violence in Mumbai. Hard to focus on the gig day, but in spite
of all this, we do a great sold-out show. I think this is the best show
of the tour. We have all really got inside each others playing and are
really getting to compliment each other and play off each other. The
spirits are high after the gig. Beers on the bus and back at the hotel
Friday November 28
- concert in Enschede – Grolsch zaal Muziekkwartier
The longest trip of the tour out to the border with Germany. Luckily the
soundchecks are like clockwork now so the stress level is reduced
pre-gig. The final venue is a little more ‘rock & roll’. A standing
audience and a club atmosphere, although it is probably the worst
designed back stage area I have ever experienced. It is sold out, packed
and sweaty. The venue is tight, especially for the 50-strong
Pasveerkorps group with their co-ordinated drum choreography. I must
say, they are a really stunning group with incredible precision. It is
another great gig. We have all really grown together over the last 5
gigs. Lots of new things come out and it is a really high energy show.
Spirits are high and after a wine-fuelled ‘after show’ and 3-hour trip
to Amsterdam, we get back at 4am. Early flight to follow the next day
and time to reflect on what has been a truly memorable 10 days. Hats off
to Erk and his team who make this innovative festival possible.
Sat November 29 – Fly back to London
Two and a half hours sleep and then it is back on the road to the
airport. I have been on the road pretty much solid for five weeks now
having just got back from a five city India tour just before this
project. I need to sleep. Fat chance!!! We all love it though, tough
schedules or not!
SP pre gig
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