It’s 3am, an ungodly hour for any musician to wake up. We are creatures of the night after all and more accustomed to going to bed at this time. The sun still in slumber and stepping outside to a teeth chattering 2° wind helps you very quickly to wake up… We set off with our destination at the heart of conversation and the usual 10 second blind panic of “did I lock my front door”.
After the early start, we arrived at Heathrow (our second home) and checked our bags in with the now familiar BA staff. Seriously – we’re on first name terms! We grabbed some breakfast and discussed the flat tyre that plagued our bassist at 3am that morning. However, Pete always has a backup plan and it didn’t affect our arrival time.
The plane was boarded and 2 hours later we were admiring the scenery getting gradually whiter below, flying above the frozen lakes of Sweden and touching down at our destination of Stockholm. On arrival, we were met by our wonderful driver Nikolas with whom our gguitarist had a conversation in Swedish lasting 10 seconds comprising of phrases learnt 30 minutes previous at 35,000 feet. He was very happy with himself…
As we drove off we were told we may have some time to explore the stunning city when our drummer recalled that his father suggested visiting the Vasa Museum. A purpose built complex containing a fully intact 17th century ship that dwarfed the nearby docked modern ships. The singer remarked that this museum bared the same name as the venue we were due to perform in that evening… a quick Google search confirmed this revelation and the evening took on an extra level of gravitas.
Arriving at the perfectly kept city and our charming hotel, our posse checked in and quizzed the hotel staff about the best place to eat locally. Napoleon once said, “an army marches on its stomach” and it’s fair to say a band does too. After pointing us in the direction of a few eateries we settled on a traditional cafe, complete with elegant oil paintings of the surrounding city and a menu to satisfy the most demanding culinary expectations. It was here we met up with our friend Rhys, flown over from Paris and charged with the mission of capturing some of our trip on film.
After a stroll around the now snowy town we were greeted at the hotel by our next driver Dan, who spoke better English than most of the band – the guitarist wisely decided to not embarrass himself with further foreign dialect. Upon arriving at the modern looking Vasa, complete with 100ft wooden masts piercing the roof, we were greeted by our client, who introduced us to the venue staff, sound and lighting engineers and to our gastric delight; the Chef.
Once fully acquainted with the surroundings, it was our chance to explore this incredible Museum. The main attraction of which is the previously mentioned ship, the Vasa. The 64-gun warship sank on her maiden voyage in 1628, a cool 20 minutes after setting sail. The 226ft long vessel which towered 172ft into the air is housed in a purpose built indoor dry dock. The building we were standing in had to be built around the ship in order to cater for its sheer size. It’s impossible not to be blown away by the attention to detail of the engravings and the general good condition of the now 393 year old shipwreck. We wished we could have spent more time exploring however duty called and we had another mission that evening.
After a slap-up meal and a very smooth sound check we retired to our Green room. A dimly lit place of zen, calm, quiet, and recurring conversations regarding misheard lyrics, the weather and what key the first song was in.
15 minutes to go! Now changed into our 80s inspired stage clothes complete with colourful wide collar shirts, matching white jeans and black aviators; we set off for the venue room.
Showtime! We hit the stage at 10:30 and were met by the wonderfully energetic and enthusiastic guests who didn’t leave the dance floor all night, and sang along to every song.
The energy of the room was only contained by the hermetically sealed roof of the Museum. The set timed at 2 hours featured the biggest 80’s hits possible covering every genre. From the new wave synths of Spandau Ballet to the earth-shattering rock guitar of Bon Jovi. A few audience participation moments provided an extra level of enjoyment by everyone with Max brandishing the microphone and conducting the audience in the chorus of Don’t Stop Believin’. Being in Sweden, it would have been foolish of us not to incorporate a local band cover so after a chin wag with the audience Max announced the next song ‘Final Countdown’ by Swedish band Europe. Do you remember Europe? If the name escapes you it won’t for long after you hear the opening stadium filling synth line.
After 2 hours of 80’s euphoria and nostalgia we finished our set to a rapturous applause and thanked everyone for having us and helping to make it a night to remember. A brilliant night was had by all and we later returned to our hotel for a beer to celebrate another successful gig and a very happy client.
The only way the trip could have been any-more fun was if we stayed for longer to better appreciate the beautifully picturesque city of Stockholm. However, as they say, ‘the show must go on’ and we had to return to London the next morning. Our flight departed with all members on board and the previous night’s memories in tow. The return ‘Journey’ (see what I did there), included conversations about the yesterday evenings show, what we had to eat for breakfast, what we were going to eat for lunch and a final argument about what key we played the first song in…
Thank you to The Meeting Space for having us!
by Matt Williams
A huge thank you to the immeasurable Leo Johnson for the incredible images! Check him out: Leo Johnson Photography