Winter arrived on the 23rd of November, wind, snow and travelling
is a little slower than usual. Traffic came to a stand still for a
half hour as the autobahn became a huge parking lot.
We’re on our way to Wolfsburg to see Ten Years After once again, and
from our house to the venue it’s a three hour drive, or six / seven
hour round trip, depending on conditions.
Wolfsburg is in a northerly direction and well past Hannover. The
total trip is about 380KM.
At around 6:00 we finally arrive at the venue, we’re first ones
there as is our usual procedure. The venue is a nice looking
building, clean and big. The second thing we notice, it that there
isn’t one bit of information to inform the music fans that Ten Years
After is playing here this evening. No posters or advertising. Also
on the same bill, are Iron Butterfly, a Germany band called “Jane”
We then notice that a third music fan has arrived, and is
standing at the front door. We walk over and ask him for some
information. After only a few minutes we introduce ourselves and
suggest we get out of the cold wind and if he can direct us to some
coffee we’ll be happy to treat him to a cup. No problem, as the
little building is only a hundred feet away.
Our new acquaintance’s name is Dieter, he has purchased two tickets
well in advance but he’s coming alone as his companion is home sick
This coffee shop is a story in itself. The room is about 15 x 12,
there are roughly fifteen people in here, the smoke so thick you can
only see people’s feet (almost). They all seem to know one another
and it’s a friendly but strange little joint. For instance, we’re
sitting at a little table in the corner and whenever someone passes
by, they step over to our table and without saying a single word
they knock on our table top and then say hello. That’s the custom
here. Also, this place is: A grocery store, a bar (they come to your
table with a bottle and the fixins in hand) a beverage warehouse
centre, they serve hot dogs or sausage (they have both) and a little
bit of everything else. Twenty dead fish on strings are hanging from
the ceiling, that someone has caught 50 years ago, and enough dust
and dirt to fill any dirt floor garage back in the States. For the
next hour as we wait, it’s home. Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Sterling
would love this place – a German Bates Hotel / Twilight Zone
Back at the venue’s front door, stands a lady five foot nothing
around 67 years of age and ready to Rock and Roll her ass off, and
during the concert that’s exactly what she does, she knows how to
rock – in front of the stage, the entire time. Young people, old
people, bikers, freaks and jocks all arrive.
The doors open, we approach the ticket takers and are directed to
the window where the guest list is located and we’re in. Backstage
area is off limits until later on. We enter the hall and find our
seats. Sound-check time, then the security forces enter with orders
to remove everyone from the room, everyone retreats to the hallway –
we stay seated.
The next problem is a little bigger. While “Nazareth”, “Ten Years After” and Iron Butterfly are all there, “UFO” is not!
And they’re not coming at all. It seems that their drummer Jason
Bonham has quit the band, no time to find a suitable replacement so
“UFO” are a no show, and the fans aren’t going to like it. And why,
other than the obvious reason – because the fans don’t have a clue
that they’re not coming, and the promoter never announced this
change, before they (the fans) entered. Now that is unfortunate and
The German Band “Jane” who are filling in for the missing UFO comes
on first, the last song they
play is their big hit, “Hang Man” which sounds exactly like the old
Steppenwolf song called “It’s Never Too Late” for those of you who
Enter Iron Butterfly:
Now we’re getting somewhere. The audience comes to life, people head
towards the stage and now we’re finally rocking along. They go
through their entire set, without a hitch, and it’s exceptionally
lively, tight and Ron Bushy (the drummer) is fantastic. Although Lee
Dorman is half standing / half sitting on a stool, Charlie sounds
great and the equipment is in top form on this evening. But the real
crowd pleaser is Larry Rust, who not only handles the keyboard
duties, but is also the main motivator for the band and the audience.
He grabs hold of his portable keyboard and travels the entire stage,
giving individual support to the other members.
Larry is the king-pin / main link between the band and the audience.
Without that high energy connection being made, the rapport between
the stage performers and the witnesses who stand before them would
appear null and void. Larry adds the magic to every gig they play,
and all the members support and wade in that wake, to form the whole
Ten Years After:
Is in a great position in following the “Butterfly” and the audience
likes it too. In fact the members of Butterfly and Ten Years After
all get along perfectly, on stage and off.
They run through their normal set list, with no problems at all, and
the audience is in front of the stage the whole time. Focused, and
The acoustics in this concert hall are perfect, for the big place it
is, no echo at all, just nice sound, very enjoyable.
We don’t get to talk with the band until they come out to the
merchandise table, after that Ric and Leo invite us back stage for
the rest of the evening. Brigitte and I and Dieter all head to the
dressing room, we talk for about a half hour and then the band’s off
to the hotel. We’re invited, but it’s a long drive back home, in
fact it’s 5:15 in the morning when we finally arrive.
Last up on the bill is “Nazareth” again not on my play list,
never owned any of their albums, and have no interest in catching
their performance. Some fans are left standing in front of the stage,
but only about one hundred are left. We listen to them from
Backstage is where the real fun is.