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On tour with: Savatage

- Dead Winter Dead tour - Volker Raabe
- Poets & Madmen tour - Claudia Ehrhardt

- Savatage - Poets & Madmen over Europe -

January, 23rd 2002 - Dortmund (D) / Soundgarden -
January, 24th 2002 - Berlin (D) / Music Hall  -
- January, 25th 2002 - Frankfurt (D) / airport -
- January, 26th/27th 2002 - at home in Düsseldorf (D) -
- January, 28th 2002 - Offenbach (D) -
- January, 29th 2002 - Langen (D) / Stadthalle -
- January, 30th 2002 - Stuttgart (D) / Longhorn -
- January, 31st 2002 - Pratteln (CH) / Z7 -
- February, 1st 2002 - Wörgl (A) / Komma -
- February, 2nd 2002 - Vienna (A) / Planet Music -
- February, 3rd 2002 - Graz (A) / Orphaneum -
- February, 4th 2002 - Florence (I) / off-day -
- February, 5th 2002 - Florence (I) / Tenax -
- February, 6th 2002 - Rome (I) / Palacisalfa -
- February, 7th 2002 - Brescia (I) / Palatenda -
- February, 8th 2002 - travel day -
- February, 9th 2002 - Antwerp (B) / Hof Ter Lo -
- February, 10th 2002 - Paris (F) / Elysee Montmartre -
- February, 11th 2002 - Tilburg (NL) / 013 -
- February, 12th 2002 - Hardenberg (NL) / Podium -

Actually this tour was planned for last fall, but due to the terroristic attacks of September 11th 2001 the tour was post-poned. I first´thought about making my first visit in Malmö where the tour started on January 16th 2002. But due to private business couldn't make it to Scandinavia to see my friends of Savatage there.... So I was looking forward to meet them in Dortmund.

January, 23rd 2002 - Dortmund (D) / Soundgarden -
Yesterday we, Nadja and I, were at the Iced Earth concert in Cologne where we met a friend from Norway. So today Frode, Nadja, Peter (a friend who is writing for and I made our way to Dort­mund. In the venue I first said hello to Taz (light tech) and Gary Muchmore (sound engineer), both are friends for years´and work for even more years for Savatage. I had some photos for Jack Frost from the tour he did with Metalium in 1999 as well as from the Metal Dayz in Pratteln in summer 2000. But first I showed some pics to Johnny Lee who was sur­prised to see Jack that way... But that's another story... The ones who were at the last show of the Primal Feear tour in Harden­berg in 1999 will know... A little chit-chat with Jack after I gave him the photos before he had to do business. Chris Caffery said "Hi", but turned before I could give him the photos of last years festivals... He wasn't in a good mood... Everybody was a little stressed. Jeff Singer, the drummer of Blaze, passed, said "Hi" and mumbled an excuse... Doors opened and the venue soon got filled. A concert review you find in the live section, even if not from this show... But not much to mention about this one..
After the show I was hanging out with some of the guys and some friends. I wished to have the chance to see the show in Berlin the next day and Frode had the idea to talk to the truck driver... The trucker who is called Beetle agreed to give me a lift! Talking to John Slater and some of the other band mem­bers of Blaze after the show. Joking around with John, coz last year he introduced himself to every­body in German saying "Hi, I'm a lawnmower." I had told that story to Nadja and so she said to him "Hi, I'm a lawn­mower made September 9th!" John looked puzzled. I explained that he said that last year. Okay, this joke didn't work... Nadja talked to him for awhile and they started joking around.
I wrote Nadja a list what she should pack for me, coz Frode would be at the next show in Berlin and I planned to stay there over the weekend at a friends home. Looking for Frode we went upstairs and ran into the guys from Vicious Rumors, helped them to get their stuff down to the nightliner. Then I was looking for Beetle and soon we left to Berlin. On the way we stopped at a truck stop to get a coffee and sand­wich. A few minutes later Volker who drives the Savatage bus joined us. Then it was time to go on, coz there was a time schedule to keep, but a short break and a nap was possible.

January, 24th 2002  - Berlin (D) / Music Hall -
We arrived at the venue in the morning and faced the first problem. There wasn't enough place to park the night­liners and the truck next to the venue. Both bus drivers and Beetle were checking out the possibilities. The tour rider said that there is a parking lot, but people al­ready started working in the offices near by and so the parking lot was packed.
The guys from Vicious Rumors and Jon Oliva were walking around. It was cold and so Jon invited us to stay in the lounge of the Savatage bus, but told us to be quite, coz everybody else was sleeping. While smoking a cigarette or two they discussed the problems VR had on the Blaze bus and that they had to get off the night­liner. Searching a solution. I told them that I was going with a camper on a previous tour and they thought it over. Jon thought it was a good idea and I offered them to help them getting a camper through inter­net today. Jon assured them that they should accept a helping hand from 'SavaMom'!
Then the locals arrived and we could get in the venue. Checking out the area. The bus drivers had been told how to park, not that easy, but they made it. Beetle had to drove over to the other side of the venue and park at the grass.
While I was checking with a local about catering and about the shower, coz Jon wanted a shower and the one backstage wasn't working. A shower room at a hotel near by should be ready a little later, but first the catering should be set up. So everybody was hanging around until there was coffee and some kind of break­fast. Then Jon could go over with the local to the hotel.
Later Geoff Thorpe, Cornbread and I walked over to the hotel, coz there it should be possible to access the inter­net. At the hotel I learnt that there is just the possibility to access internet with a laptop at the rooms... But the receptionist said that an inter­net café ain't that far away. A 5 min. walk and so we walked on. Finally we found the cyber bar and soon we booked a camper for 7 to pick up at Frank­furt on Monday. The guys preferred to take a cab back instead of walking.
At the venue I gave the details to Dirk, the tour manager, to check back and make sure that they get the camper. On the way back we had a discussion about the long distan­ces and that an U.S. American drivers license could be a problem. I offered to help out on the long distances and ended up that I should drive the whole tour. They ask me, if I would do merchan­dise for them, but I denied. Dirk said he could get someone, but I wanted to try first. Okay, changing plans! I called Nadja and ask her, if she would do merch, she said that she would make it possible. The I called my friend Sinje and told her about the latest development. She agreed to come around for a coffee. I talked to Beetle again and he gave me a lift to Frank­furt and then to Gummersbach, coz he had to go down there to drop equipment at the airport and than back to their headquarters. Blaze and Savatage should fly out to Greece for 2 shows and VR should stay in Offenbach 'til Monday. So, this was arranged.
Sinje came and we had a coffee and talked a little until Jack entered the catering. Jack is signed to Sanctuary Record Group with his band Seven Witches and Sinje worked there in the promotion department. Too soon she had to leave, coz she had to pick up her son. In the venue Cornbread and Ira were putting up the merchandise deco, coz they decided that I should do the merch tonight. I was watching that from the opposite side while I was talking with Taz. I still hadn't my tour pass and Jon was making a joke and I told him to get me my pass, a joke as well, but he turned and told their tour manager about. And so I finally got my pass.
The deco was put up when Chris ask for a VR long sleeve to wear on stage that night. I had to give him one, coz they told he I was responsible... I hate doing merchan­dise, too boring for me! Outside I met some people I know and talked a little while. Just before doors I entered the venue and the merchandise booth. Soon after the set of Blaze the band and so VR had to leave. I stayed, coz I arranged that a box of VR merchandise could go with the Savatage stuff. Actually Geoff arranged, coz he ask me what to do and I had the idea, but he talked to Johnny about. André, the merchandiser of Savatage, was really nice and we were joking around during the show.
After the show I picked up my back pack at the Sava dressing room where Frode had dropped it. Talking a little with Andreas Schöwe until he was leaving. I entered the truck and read a little while the equip­ment was loaded and we could leave.
January, 25th 2002 - Frankfurt (D) / airport -
I got tired and Beetle told me to take his bed for a nap. It was already sunny and al­most noon when I woke up at a truck stop. Volker wanted to meet us there and when we walked over to the restaurant Volker arrived. He parked the bus and the first one I met was Jon. There we had some coffee and food. I called the camper rental and got the final confirmation. Unfortunately we couldn't change the drop off... Soon we were going on to Frankfurt airport. There we parked at P51 and Dirk walked in to check out everything. Volker offered me to give me a lift to Euskirchen which would be easier for me to get back to Düsseldorf. I agreed. After the equip­ment was off the truck Beetle said good-bye, coz he won't be back on this tour. He would fly to Thailand for holi­days. What a pity! I stayed with Volker in the front of the bus while Savatage were sitting in the lounge and watched Hannibal on DVD. Volker had to put on German subtitles on request of a band member. Later they got tired of waiting and some left to walk around at the airport. Damond stayed and Cornbread who missed their bus and was on the Sava one were playing Play­station. It was funny to watch. Later everybody picked of their luggage and Dirk came back to re-pack his suitcase. He said that they had problems with the cargo. That was the reason why it took so long. Finally everybody was off the bus, Cornbread took a cab to Offenbach to meet VR and we could leave to Euskirchen. There Volker dropped me at the station and I was on my way to Düsseldorf.
January, 26th to 27th 2002 - at home in Düsseldorf -
I arrived late at night and so I just wanted to sleep. Next day Nadja came with her stuff and I had to pack for the coming weeks. I had to cancel some interviews and shows (Iced Earth and Dream Theater). On Sunday we went to Bochum to see Kamelot (see the live review). I told Thom and Kamelot that I had to change my plans and was sorry that I couldn't see them in Verviers.
January, 28th 2002 - Offenbach (D) -
Around noon a friend was picking us up. He drove us to Offenbach were we was supposed to meet VR. We had more than our luggage, coz the bedding for the camper was expensive (US$ 75,- per person) and so I offered to bring mine. At the Hafenbahn we met Geoff and the guys. Uwe, our friend, Geoff and I left to pick up the camper. Arriving in Kelsterbach we had to face a problem. The credit card had a daily limit and so we couldn't get the camper today. We wanted to try to solve this problem the next day... Back at the Hafenbahn we discussed what to do. Chris of Couragous and his wife offered us there home to stay. So we got to their house. There Chris, the wife of Chris, and I prepared dinner. Afterwards we were watching some football... American football!
January, 29th 2002 - Langen (D) / Stadthalle -
At 9:30 we had to get up. After breakfast we were leaving to Langen with the stuff we needed today. We thought about picking up the rest later. At the Stadt­halle we put our bags in the dressing room and then tried to find the catering. After we had some coffee Geoff, Gerd (Couragous) and I left to Frank­furt to solve the money problem with the bank. More problems and back at the venue we talked about what to do. Nadja left with some of the guys down town.
Geoff wanted to call their German manage­ment from the pro­duction office. We gave them my mobile number in case there are any questions. Nadja later had to do the merchandise deco for her first time. André was so kind to give her advice, coz I got a call from the travel agent which is working for VR's management. I discussed every­thing with Mondial Reisen and they wanted to call back next morning. Afterwards I informed Jörg of Continental Concerts who was in´ charge for the German shows as a tour manager.
Many fans were waiting out­side and it took awhile until everybody was inside the venue. I had no chance to see VR or Blaze, but I wanted to see Savatage! During the first songs I did photos and after­wards I was standing behind the P.A. and watched the show. A decent show, but I saw them much better... Anyway, it was nice to see them on stage again!
After the show I helped Nadja until the fans left and we could pack the merch. André found a cart to transfer the mer­chandise boxes to the truck. Hanging out in the venue for awhile. Jack was sitting surrounded by female fans until it was time to leave. Chris came over and asked me about the camper, I fill him in with the latest develop­ments. Then André and I continued talking about our friends from Overkill. Then it was time to leave and again we ended up at Chris' house. Thanks again for letting us stay!
January, 30th 2002 - Stuttgart (D) / Longhorn -
Again we had to get up early. We still hadn't solved the transportation problem. The band was watching videos after break­fast while I was checking the inter­net and waited for a call of Mondial Reisen. Meanwhile Geoff ask me if he should call Jörg of Beat The Street, I recommended to do and see if he could help out. Around noon we decided to leave to Stuttgart. Chris and Gerd of Couragous wanted to drive us and so we got all our stuff in the cars and left to Stuttgart. Jörg was calling me back and we stopped at a parking lot and discussed the offer BTS boss Jörg made. We called back and finally we had transportation! Hurray!
We arrived at the Longhorn around 4 p.m. and walked in. At the venue we unloaded the stuff from the cars and dropped it in the Longhorn a little later. Today there was no dressing room for VR and we had to leave our stuff in the huge catering room. Nadja got the merchandise boxes and started to count in the mer­chandise as well as André did. Meanwhile I talked with Jörg and later with Dirk to let them know about the nightliner we should get tonight. Dirk promised to inform the venues that we need space for 3 nightliners. The reasons why VR needed their own transportation and other things which happened in Scandinavia was some­thing I wasn't informed about. Just heard some pieces here and there. But there were still some problems...
I was talking about some business when Geoff ask me to help Nadja and I had to stop my talk. I helped Nadja to count in. Then Jörg told me that doors will be in 15 min.! We had to hurry! Tonight the merchandise booth was pretty small and VR merch had the worst place. During the shows of the support acts I brought the merchandisers some cold drinks. Just alcohol free, especially for Matt, coz Blaze' mer­chandiser Matt was the youngster on this tour (age 16).
Tonight VR played a little too long and I got informed by Dirk to take care that this should never happen again. Beside that VR weren't allowed to enter the venue before 3 p.m. which also effects the crew! Nice start for me tonight!
After the Savatage set I was at the merchandise booth when there were some problems and André asked me to get Dirk. Soon this was over and we could pack and load the merchandise.
Hanging out in the catering. Our bus should arrive late that night and so I talked to the head of the local crew to find out how long we could stay. Their answer was welcome, coz we won't have to leave before 5 a.m. in worst case. But a little later Eric of BTS called and ask me for directions to the venue. He would be at the Longhorn around 2 a.m.! Meanwhile Frode and Clay Marshall asked me, if there is a possibility to give them a lift. We had some free bunks and Geoff gave his okay. A little later Caffery's guitar tech Kyle ask, if we would give his girl friend Annette a lift to Pratteln too and so all bunks would be occupied.
When the truck and the busses left when our bus arrived. We already had some of our stuff in front of the venue at that time. I talked to Eric and gave him the most important information. I kinda became VRs road manager... Nadja and I were the first to chose our bunks. Soon everything was loaded and we left to Pratteln. On the motor way I gave a short round up to our bus driver.
January, 31st 2002 - Pratteln (CH) / Z7 -
When I woke up we were at a truck stop and some were out to grab some food, etc. At the time we wanted to leave Geoff and Ira left to get breakfast (burgers) at McDonalds. Back at the bus Geoff gave a burger to me and to Nadja. Frode grabbed my Metal Hammer, but there would be time to read later on.
I guided Eric to the venue, coz usually he's a sound engineer and just jumped in as a bus driver, coz he has the license. At the venue I introduced Eric to the other bus drivers and took care that Eric gets a tour pass. I also arranged that Eric was allowed to enter the venue earlier, coz he had to sleep during the day to gave us a save trip.
Then Nadja and I left to Weil to do some calls and take care about arrangements for the last days. Unfortu nately we just got the bus until Antwerp. All that took much longer than expected and when we started our way back to Pratteln I got a heavy headache and feared to get a migraine attack. It got worse and at the venue I decided to take medication and stay in my bunk for awhile. Nadja had to take care of the merchandise, coz the doors should be opened about 45 min. later!
Actually that was it for me. I kinda passed out and just remember that at night Eric counted in to see, if everybody is on the bus and that I heard Caffery on our bus..
February, 1st 2002 - Wörgl (A) / Komma -
When I woke up the nightliner parked at next to a hotel. Eric told me that he checked out the parking space at the venue, but was waiting until the bus of Blaze was parked and so a little later he drove over and found a place to park his bus. Nadja had already got breakfast and had a sandwich for me. She also was looking for a shower and Dirk had a solution. After we had a shower we checked out the venue. Taz asked us if we could develop a film for him at an hour service and Jon Oliva wanted some Wick liquorice drops. In the city center which was really close we gave the film rolls for developing to an hour service and then looked for a café. Afterwards Nadja was buying some post cards and we bought some waffles and diet coke for us. Then picked up the photos and headed back. When we returned Chris and Jack were on their way into the city. We stored our stuff and tried to get posters of tonight's show for us. We successful stole them and put them on the bus.
Blaze were on stage when I entered the catering, actually there wasn't anything left. Jon was there and made some silly looking exercises to warm-up his vocal chords. Jan, Savatage's monitor sound tech, was under tension and Jon recom­mended him a massage. So Jon ask me to be so kind to give Jan a massage and I did. Afterwards I chat a little with the Mountain King about this vocal chord exercises. Then it was time for him to get ready for the show. I picked up my photo case and entered the photo pit. After the 4th song we had to leave the pit and I decided to join Gary behind his sound board. There was a flight case which I climbed and continued to do photos. So I saw when Chris got hit by the micro stand, but couldn't see exactly what the fan did and which lead into this. Anyway, Chris got hit by the micro just a little below his right eye and was so upset that we all feared that he would leave the stage. But they continued! They are professionals, but Chris' guitar sounded more aggressive than ever...
After the show I was joining Nadja at the mer­chandise booth and the guys from VR were talking to fans and partly trying to find some chicks. He woke up our driver. We agreed that from the timing it would be the best when I wake him up about an hour before we had to leave. At the merch Jack Frost later joined us, he had a migraine. Nadja gave him a temple massage while I was outside checking, if we could load. I met Damond there who told me about Jack's try to kill the migraine with different kind of pills... I told him that I had a migraine the day before and he ask me to give Jack some of my stuff. I agreed to give him one of me prescription-free pills. Inside Jack thanked me, but didn't want to take it, I con­vinced him to take it the next morning, if he shouldn't feel better. Then it was time to load the boxes and Cornbread was helped us. After­wards I informed every­body of VR what time the bus will leave. Back at the booth a drunken fan was talking about the incident, he was the one who was responsible and soon Taz, Gary and some security kinda nailed him. Chris joined and argued with him, little later the security kicked him out of the venue. Time to leave, but some were missing... Nadja and I tried to get all of VR on the bus... It was like being in a kinder­garten! Finally everybody was on the bus and we could leave!
Nadja and I tried the dinner some­one had saved for us and decided to eat just the cutlet, coz the fries were uneatable! But Eric had dinner in a restaurant and so he offered us his cutlet which was wel­come. At the some­time Eric tried to leave town and ended at a small bridge. The bridge didn't look very trustworthy and Eric decided to turn. Not easy in this narrow roads, but he made it and soon we found our way to the highway. I stayed awake most of the trip and talked with Eric about all and everything. Parking in Vienna won't be easy and so we decided to park at the last truck stop before Vienna. We arrived there in the early morning hours and everybody was sleeping. The cars on the parking lot and their drivers / passengers didn't look very trustworthy and for a second we thought about it. Then Eric locked the back door and we left to have a sandwich and a coffee at the filling station. When we returned to the bus the back door was open! We got nearer and Eric was the first who entered the bus through the back door checking, if everything is all right. Nothing unusual and so I entered my bunk to get some sleep. Eric checked the doors again and went to sleep as well.

February, 2nd 2002 - Vienna (A) / Planet Music -

The truck stop was about 60 km from Vienna and I woke up when we arrived the outskirts of Vienna. When I left my bunk Nadja was sitting next to Eric, but wanted me to take over, coz reading a map is not one of her hobbies. I haven't been to Vienna since 1977! A very long time, but when Savatage played Vienna in 1998 I had an appointment with Iced Earth in Nuremberg, so I joined them the day after in Salz­burg. Anyway, we easily found the street where the venue should be, but decided to turn left which was wrong. No problem, we just turned and soon found the venue. Both busses were there and so Eric had no other chance then to park at the bus stop next to the venue. When we left the bus Blaze and some his band were already walking around. In Wörgl some of the guys said that they wanted to come down town with us and do some sightseeing. Unfortunately the time schedule for Blaze was tight and so John, Steve and co. Couldn't come with us. But some of the Savatage members wanted to join us. I told Dirk to wake up Damond as we talked about before and he agreed. Meanwhile Jack, Chris and Jeff Plate tried to get a shower and so we were waiting in front of the venue enjoying the sun. It was almost 1 p.m. when we were ready to leave. Dirk told me to be back with the guys at least at 5 p.m.! We crossed the street and waited for a tram. The driver was really unfriendly when we asked if there is another ticket machine, she told us to wait for the next tram. We decided to take this one, even if we didn't had any ticket. A local crew guy had give us some directions and so we got down town. A little walk down the street he said and then we should turn left and arrive at the pedestrian zone... Damond filmed parts of our trip. We took the way the local told us until Chris asked, if we shouldn't turn here. We decided to take that way and it let us to center. On the way one of them wanted to get some cash and the other entered a small shop and bought some­thing to drink. It was the first shop which was open, not easy to explain that in Europe we don't have much 24-7 stores. Then we arrived at the famous cathedral called Stephans Dom. Jack in Vienna ;-)Jeff tried to make a photo of the Stephans Dom, but it wasn't easy to get the whole thing on a photo. We would have needed a fisheye! Damond filmed the scenery. Continuing our walk someone was looking for a exchange-office. Jack entered almost every souvenir shop to find a nice snow ball of Vienna and other stuff. Chris was always a little ahead of us and while Nadja stayed with Frost, I walked over to Chris to make sure that we won't loose him somewhere. Dirk would have killed me, if not everybody returned with us! Even if I knew that Chris would make his way back. Jeff and Damond were always some­where in the middle of the group. A little later the guys wanted a coffee and entered a coffee bar while I tried to find out how to get to the Hunderwasser Haus. Hunderwasser is a famous painter and architect in Europe, but how explain this to them? Anyway, I got directions and when I returned to the coffee bar they were almost finished and we left. On our way to the metro station we passed Starbucks and Jack was a little unhappy that they had coffee at this coffee bar, coz he loves Starbucks. We were close to the metro station when we passed a few Savatage fans who were filming the scenery and didn't recognized the guys! This time we got tickets and everybody wanted to give Nadja the money for the ticket. Chris and Jack were joking around while we were waiting for the metro. It was easy to get there and the cab drivers had told me that it was just 200 m down the street. But we had to learn that it was about 1 km! We passed a video tape library and entered it, coz they had also some movie related stuff. Damond and Chris were checking which posters they had and soon we were back on our way. Finally we reached the Hunderwasser Haus and the guys were a little dis­appointed.The Hundertwasser Haus / Löwengasse The told us that in the States you can find this kind of houses and that this is nothing special. In the store of the Hunderwasser Haus they bought some post cards. On the other side of the street was a kind of gallery with souvenir shops, bars and other stuff. Chris felt a little dizzy today and left. Damond found some books, posters, etc. of his favorite artist Gustav Klimt. Jack found some souvenirs and a shirt for Johnny. Jack bought a roll for the posters, but before that Nadja and Jack fight in the manner of Star Wars with this rolls. It was time to get back. Jeff and Damond were looking for Chris while Nadja and Frost fight. I said that Chris was waiting outside, actually I didn't knew, but was sure he was there. And out­side Chris was waiting and so walked to the tram station to get back to the venue. In the tram Damond wanted to watch what he filmed and I had to move a little closer to see it as well. Chris and Jeff were sitting behind us and I guess that had no chance to get a glimpse of it. Jack and Nadja were somewhere in front of us... At the venue it was time for sound check and Nadja & I got the merch boxes out of the bus and started to drape the shirts.
Soon the doors were opened and the venue was packed. Again we got dinner after doors open and so I get dinner for Nadja and me and we again were sitting between cardboard boxes and shirts. But today the food was pretty good and we enjoyed it. After­wards I wanted to take my photo case out of the bus, but met Dirk outside who asked me, if I have some cough drops. I denied, but offered to get some. Dirk gave me some money and I tried to get 2 or 3 packs of cough drops for the Mt. King. Nadja wanted to take photos of the Blaze show and so I stayed at the merchandise booth. Then it was time for Savatage and today for the first time our bus driver wanted to watch the show.
While the crew were packing the equip­ment I was ordered to watch Gary's radio. After everything was loaded there was a band / crew talk, every­body was a little under tension. But soon the members of VR and Savatage were talking to fans, again Blaze had already left. A fan wanted to get some stuff signed and was looking for the Savatage drummer. He asked some­one and mentioned that he's a huge fan of the band, but the one he asked was Jeff Plate! Jeff told him that the drummer left that way and pointed in one direction. Later he told everybody the story and we all had a laugh on it. Actually we had planned to leave as usual around 2 a.m., but the band wanted to stay. Eric agreed and I decided not to look for a bar to hang out and went to bed 'early'.
February, 3rd 2002 - Graz (A) / Orphaneum -
In the early morning Eric started and was on the way to Graz. I woke up when we left to Graz. somewhere down town Graz At a truck stop Eric wanted to have breakfast. Nadja was awake as well and so we enter the restaurant. Soon we continued our jour­ney and I helped Eric to find the venue. I decided to take a nap, coz in Vienna I haven't had much sleep before we left. Nadja was checking out the venue and left with Blaze's John, Steve and Rob for some sight­seeing. Some others took a look around in the city as well.Steve is checking out a sculpture
After I woke up I entered the venue and watched the crew putting up the equipment. Blaze' guitarists were changing strings. I stayed inside and read a little. Someone was filming... Later we used the chance to take a shower... Lukewarm, but better than nothing! Today the merchandise booths were split up and so every­body was on his / her own. I helped Nadja with the merchandise and also I found one more poster for our collection!
I saw about 2 songs of VR and then joined Nadja. Today she wanted to get our food and again we were sitting between shirts.
After the show Eric and I asked back­stage one of the locals for the drinks for VR and I mentioned several times that it's for one of the supports. Anyway, later we learnt that we got some of the Savatage stuff... A little later we left the 'Orpaneum' just to get over to Hooters. Dirk gave us about 1 ½ hour to watch the Super Bowl!!!! Hurray!!!! When I came in Chris, Damond and Jon had already found a free table and I joined them. Today Chris was in the city and did a prayer in a church there, he told us and that it seemed that it worked out, coz they could watch Super Bowl! Geoff told us that he will pay for Nadja and me and then VR found their place at the counter. Soon I heard the first details about the bets. I wasn't sur­prised, coz usually Savatage and crew are betting on games. And usually Chris is the one who's taking the bets. After everybody ordered drinks and some also order some food we watched the game. Chris wanted to have one of the Hooters shirts, coz in the States he often is at Hooters, but not many will have a shirt of the Hooters in Graz! It seemed that VR were more inter­ested in the drinks then in the game. Johnny Lee tried to explain the rules to Nadja and Jon thought it was funny to scare me, but didn't succeed. Chris and Damond had a laugh on Jon, guess he looked very puzzled.
Then Dirk came in and told us that it was time to leave. Chris and Jon were the first who left, even if Chris was mumbling some­thing and I know that he was very unhappy about. Me too, coz this was the first Super Bowl I couldn't watch in years! It took a while until everybody was on the bus and we left to Italy. After we passed the Italian border it was time for me to sleep. Every­body expect our driver was already in Morpheus' arms.
February, 4th 2002 - Florence (I) / off-day -
Again I woke up when we arrived in Florence. We were searching for the venue, there we had to realize that we couldn't park there. So what to do?After a phone call with Volker we tried to find the parking lot where Volker and our new trucker Olli parked. It took a few minutes and turns, but we made it. Nadja and I grabbed our stuff and walked over to the hotel where Savatage & crew stayed. In Graz I had asked Taz, if we could show up in the hotel to take a shower at his room. He said that he would ask Jan, his room mate. Jan gave his okay, "if you won't make a day room out of it!" And so we entered the hotel and asked the receptionist who showed me the room list. Chris and Jack were sitting at the counter and had a coffee before they left for sight­seeing. At Taz & Jan's room we could take a shower. It was more then welcome, especially because it wasn't in a venue! I watched the final minutes of the Super Bowl in a replay while Nadja was taking a shower. Afterwards we brought our stuff back to the bus. Actually Damond wanted to do some sightseeing with us, but we was sleeping and Kyle didn't want to wake him up!
Gary was in the lobby for a moment and I ask him about the massage he wanted the night before, he said that he has to do business, but will be back in about 10 min. It took longer and as usual we stuck in the hotel lobby. Nadja wasn't used to it and soon got pissed. I know that it's all about waiting and hurrying up. Anyway, in the early evening almost everybody was in the lobby, even Chris and Jack were back (we walked about 14 km today!). Only Jan and Taz had left to find a Harley-Davidson store.
Blaze were in a different hotel and VR are stayed on the bus, only Brian O'Connor had checked in at a hotel down the street. But he was there when Johnny started to count to find out how many cab's we need. Then we were on our way to the city center. After a little walk and talk we found an Italian restaurant. From Savatage only Jon stayed at the hotel, therefor Kyle, Gary and Brian joined us. It was really funny. Chris made some jokes. But most, even Gary didn't got it, so Damond and some others were more than sur­prised that I got it. Chris just smiles, guess he expected me to under­stand this....
Back at the hotel... We were hanging out in the lobby, drinking and talking. Later I went up­stairs with Damond to give him a back rub and we talked about different things. Nice conver­sation. Meanwhile in the lobby Jack had offered Chris some of the salted nuts from the counter. "Chris, do you want some of my nuts?" Frost asked and Chris replied "No, I don't want your salty nuts, Frost!" This was a running gag on the rest of the tour!
A few more drinks and they asked Nadja stuff like "Are you shaved?" Or "Have you ever make it with a woman?" Typical, but new to Nadja. She didn't know how to react. But that's something you have to go through. One by one left and at the end just Nadja, Damond & I were in the lobby. In the early morning Chuckie (Savatage back liner) came in, joined us for awhile, then left to get some sleep. It was almost 5 a.m. when Nadja and I walked back to the nightliner.
February, 5th 2002 - Florence (I) / Tenax -
We got up early, coz we wanted to go down town for laundry. At our nightliner we asked if someone have some laundry to do and Brian gave us some of his clothes for laundry. When we arrived at the hotel I picked up the clothes from Gary, Taz and Jan. Someone mentioned that we should ask the others and Chris & Jeff had also laundry to do. Jack said he had no laundry to do and I told him that he wasn't allowed to do laundry, coz he had more luggage on tour than anybody else! He has puzzled. While we were waiting to get the stuff from everybody Jon was waiting in front of the hotel for the bus. Then he danced a waltz with Nadja. Afterwards I talked a little bit with him. Then talked a little with Damond. The bus arrived and every­body got on the bus. The bus left to the venue and we took a cab to the laundry shop.
We needed lots of coins and after we changed we occupied several washing machines, later several dryers. When we got all the clothes out of the dryers we had them separated in different laundry baskets, but an Italian girl put all our stuff on one pill! Seems that she didn't liked us using several laundry baskets... So we did our best to find identify the clothes of the different guys.
Back at the venue we handed back the clothes, but later learnt that we mixed up some. Sorry! Today there was just one dressing room and so only Savatage had a dressing room and a shower! Any­way, we used the shower there and the band had to keep out!
Killing time we were checking out the rest of the venue. I joined Frost for a chat and Dirk handed a few sheets of paper to Frost. An emailer he had to do after the release of the Seven Witches album. Dirk asked Jack to fill in the answers and he would later type them and send it. It ended that Jack dictates the answers, I was used to it, coz I'm working as a secretary usually. Today we wanted to count in the merchandise again. Took more than an hour and then we found out that Nadja was separated from the other merchs. We couldn't put up the merch booth for Nadja, coz the tables first should be used for dinner. A new experience, today we all had dinner together. And it was good!!!
Not much time was left until the doors should be opened and so we had to hurry. Geoff told me that they want to load there equip­ment while Blaze is on stage. But it didn't worked out that way. I had no chance to do photos therefor. Then Gary came over while I was talking with André and told me that Jon needs to see me badly. Immediately I checked what's wrong, but Jon just needs cigarettes and so I left the venue to get some for the Mountain King. On my way back I saw that bootleg mer­chandise was sold opposite to the Tenax. I informed Dirk and we walked over kinda undercover. But nothing we could do about...
The show was great tonight and as usual afterwards we loaded. Damond wanted to do sight­seeing in Rome with us and informed Dirk to wake him up. We all got on our busses and soon we were on the way to the Italian capital.
February, 6th 2002 - Rome (I) / Palacisalfa -
It was raining in Rome. In the venue we all were facing problems, but they should be solved soon. The crew was already busy. The Savatage guys would be picked up for sightseeing by the Italian fan club and Damond thought that he should join them. VR played soccer and we were looking for the Blaze band. Blaze Bailey offered us to come into their bus and we talked a little. Then we left, coz the band was still asleep. André would have joined us, but had work to do. Nadja and I left to the tram and drove down town. The colloseumThe colloseum wasn't very im­pressing, small then we ex­pected and because of the high ticket prize we just walked around. Then entered a tourist in­formation and the em­ployee gave us direc­tions. Actually Nadja was listening to her, coz I saw the Dunkin Donuts logo and just wanted to get there!
Passing some more old stones and the Piazza Venezia, then the Fontana de Trevi we found Donkin Donuts! There we stopped for a coffee and some donuts. Nadja bought some postcards which we wrote right there. I talked her over to by a mixed dozen for us. Then we made our way back home...
Back to the venue, I mean. Arriving there late, coz the bus driver ignored our wish to leave the bus and dropped us at the next bus stop which was about 5 km from the one where we wanted to leave. At the venue we smuggled our donuts into our nightliner and put them in my bunk. In the venue we had to get some tables for the merch. The tables were dirty and I organized some hot water and a rag and cleaned all the tables for the 3 mer­chandisers. Then we hurried to display the shirts. Today dinner was at a restaurant which meant that we, the crew, will get some take-out from there.
The shows took place as usual, after Blaze I had to hurry to help loading, coz I wanted to be back in time for Savatage. Something I said from the beginning was that I want to see Savatage, coz that was my inten­tion when I planned my trip. Okay, I made a few changes for VR, but said that they don't need to pay me, but I want to see Savatage each night!
After the show I talked to a couple who came from Egypt to see Savatage! Then it was time for me to wake up our bus driver. In the bus VR already had a party started and so Nadja and I stayed in the venue after we packed and loaded the mer­chandise.
Finally everybody who didn't belong to our bus was off and we could leave the rainy capital of Italy. We tried the take-out food and trashed it immediately! Luckily we had some donuts and so Nadja & I were in sitting together in my bunk. Silly comments from the band. We were happy to have the donut and kept hiding for awhile. Nadja joint the guys for 30+ min. and I read.
February, 7th 2002 - Brescia (I) / Palatenda -
Not much to say about Bresica.... My dog's day and I stayed away from everybody. Nadja and John did some skating the ice hall next to the venue. I sat in the cafe and read.
Just before dinner Geoff wanted to talk to me and Nadja. He told us that they have a trans­portation problem from Antwerp to Paris. The bus would drop us in Antwerp and a new one will pick us up in Paris. There were some points where we didn't agreed about the handling of things and so I should get off the tour in Antwerp. Nadja decided to leave the tour with me.
Geoff left us alone and I had a breakdown. A few years ago my friend was killed in a car crash that day and his father died when the airliner crashed into the Pentagon and with the pictures from Afghanistan / Iraq brought back all this... Nadja talked me over to get dinner, coz I haven't had food for 24 hrs.! Again a huge table for all of us and Neil, Blaze road manager, served every­one pasta. It seemed that he ignored me and Chris made a joke. Bad timing! I knew it was a joke, but was fighting back the tears any­way and so I left. Every­body was I little shocked, I guess. I avoided the presence of people expect for the Savatage show. Today's show was different... It was really cold inside the venue, just 8°C! Every­body was freezing.
After the show I stayed behind the merch, but first brought back my case and saw that someone was at my bunk and left some­thing for me. A nice gesture! Then we brought down the decoration and packed the merch, loaded... Time to leave.
February, 8th 2002 - travel day -
Today was a travel day and Eric had to go to the headquarters of Beat The Street At the 'Beat The Street' HQ in Hall / Tyrol before we could con­tinue our trip to Antwerp. At the HQ we could have a shower and check our mails. Jörg, the boss of BTS, invited us for lunch to a restaurant near by. Thanks!
After­wards we searched the way to the motor way and headed to Germany. We stopped at a McDonalds somewhere near Stuttgart. I walked over to the truck stop for a coffee and 20 min. later we were back on the road. Everybody been to bed early. I stayed up a little longer and then Eric had to take a break. I had hoped to see Kamelot tonight in Vosselaar, but no chance....
February, 9th 2002 - Antwerp (B) / Hof Ter Lo -
We arrived Antwerp before noon and had to get all our stuff our of the bus, coz Eric had to go to London to pick up the next band. We carried all the luggage and my bedding down stairs in the back­stage area. Dirk was so nice to let me store the stuff in free room. We hoped that some friend of Nadja would pick us up later....
We left downtown, but didn't got what we were looking for. Back at the venue I had some arguing with Geoff. I was pissed and joined Kyle's girl friend Annette to get away from VR for a few moments. I was still upset when I ran into Jon and he saved my day! Thanks to the Mt. King! If they would have free bunks they would have give us a lift!
In the catering we had a coffee and Volker and André joint us. Volker mentioned that Dirk had a rented car which should be returned to Germany. Dirk agreed and so we had transportation back to Düsseldorf!
Nadja decided to do the merch for the last time and because someone from VR helped her, I stayed away. A friend of us arrived and we were pretty happy about it, especially after Nadja talked him over to go to Paris the next day. So, we offered Annette to come with us and to join us the next day. She was happy and so was Kyle.
I met a lot of people at Hof Ter Lo and the girls from the Dutch Savatage fan club showed up. A good show for Blaze and Savatage tonight. After the show we were hanging our back­stage. Damond wanted to give us his address and when he started writing down in my organizer he saw the phone no. at the top was astonished! "She has the private no. of Paul O'Neill!" he said to Jon and Jon just smiled. The last time to give them a back rub and than we had to leave the venue. We carried out all our stuff to the car. Outside the venue we said goodbye to almost everybody. When we wanted to leave Neil called me and ask me, if I cold give him a lift to the hotel. I agreed. Then we were on our was back to Germany. Dropping the rented car in the early morning. A few hours sleep ahead of us.
February, 10th 2002 - Paris (F) / Elysee Montmartre -
After a quick break­fast we left to Paris. Arriving there in the afternoon we walked into the venue. Geoff and his mates tried to talk Nadja over to do merchandise from them. She denied, then they tried to convince Annette. No success. Not our business anymore.
Tonight Nadja should film two songs with Damond video camera. I decided to stay in the audience to do photos. Great show!
After the show chatting a little with Taz and André. Later joking around with Damond. We left a little earlier today, coz a long drive lay ahead of us.
February, 11th 2002 - Tilburg (NL) / 013 -
Luckily friends of us wanted to see Savatage in Tilburg anyway and so this show we could see! Hurray!
We enjoyed spending time and not having any business to deal with. Meeting people, talking. A relaxing night! Dirk was so kind to arrange that we could photograph the whole show from the pit with flash! Thanks a lot!
Actually Jon had planned to make a joke on Johnny, but couldn't realize it...
After the show the band had a meeting with the Dutch fan club in the small venue which is part of the 013. We wasn't sure, if we could make it the next day and so walked in to say "Bye" to everybody. It was like leaving our family... A sad moment... We will miss you all! Every­body in band & crew! Thanks for the great time we had!
February, 12th 2002 - Hardenberg (NL) / Podium -
In the morning I called a friend and he agreed to give me his car! So we could see them again! We got the car late after­noon and so we would arrive in time to see Blaze, we thought... Arriving at the venue we saw just 2 night­liners. Strange!
Inside we heard that VR were kicked off the tour. Details we heard later. Due to the change Blaze was done and Savatage was next. I found my place in the audience. After the 4th song Chris told me to stop doing photos. He felt bad and I said 'okay'. But then there was a misunderstanding and I had to stop at all... It's strange to see them and not to do photos, but I enjoyed it. After­wards we used the chance to talk for the last time to the guys. Then we had to leave... Hope to have you back here soon! Mean­while we will keep in touch, but that's not the same! Thanks for all!
Claudia Ehrhardt (words)


Dead Winter Dead over Europe

- January, 4th 1996 - Bochum (D), Zeche -
- January, 5th 1996 - Vosselar (B), Biebob -
- January, 6th 1996 - Amsterdam (NL), Melkweg /
January, 7th 1996 - Tilburg (NL), Noorderlight

- January, 8th 1996 - Osnabrück (D), Hydepark -
- January, 9th 1996 - Bremen (D), day off -
- January, 10th 1996 - Bremen (D), Tivoli -
- January, 11th 1996 - Hamburg (D), Markthalle /
January, 12th 1996 - Berlin (D), Halford
- January, 13th 1996 - Merkers (D), Werra-Rhön-Halle -
- January, 14th 1996 - Ludwigsburg (D), Rockfabrik -
- January, 15th 1996 - Munich (D), day off -
- January, 16th 1996 - Munich (D), Charterhalle -
- January, 17th 1996 - Salzburg (A), Rockhaus -
- January, 18th 1996 - Pratteln (CH), Z7 -
- January, 19th 1996 - Offenbach (D), Hafenbahn /
January, 20th 1996 - Würzburg (D), Rockpalast

What a day! Four hours before the tour got kicked off I got the order to work at this mega-tour! All I can say, an experience which money can't buy! I got the chance to see one of the best live bands 14 times and was honored that I was allowed to travel with Savatage in the night­liner. But let's start right now!
January, 4th 1996 - Bochum (Germany), Zeche -
It was the first day of their European tour which leads us through 5 different countries and almost every day to a sold-out venue! Like today where about 1,000 fans came to see the Americans. With the German band Sinner they had a decent support who played songs from their last 4 releases. As an en­core they played the Billy Idol song Rebel Yell.
Then it was time for one of the best bands of the last de­cade, even if they haven't visited Germany that often during the last years, they have a lot of loyal fans here. In Japan they are stars. Savatage showed a almost perfect per­for­mance which made me - and the fans - almost speechless. The chosen songs covered all eras of the band and presented old and new com­positions.
Here are the songs:
Christmas Eve
Nothing's Going On
Jesus Saves
Edge Of Thorns
Taunting Cobras
He Caves His Stone
Alone You Breathe
Lights Out
Mozart & Madness
Handful Of Rain
Doesn't Matter Anyway
Gutter Ballet
Dead Winter Dead
Hall Of The Mountain King
This Is The Time
They played the same songs every night, so I won't mention it again and I think it isn't ne­cessary to talk about the songs in detail. Everybody - okay, a handful of fans left earlier - stayed until thelast note faded. The fans in Bochum were really im­pressed by the bands performance. A good kick-off for the tour, so let's get to Belgium and Holland!
January, 5th 1996 - Vosselar (Belgium), Biebob -
The Biebob is the smallest venue on the whole tour and so it was no sur­prise that it was sold out. Sinner did a good show and Savatage con­quered Belgium by storm!!!
January, 6th 1996 - Amsterdam (NL), Melkweg - /
January, 7th 1996 - Tilburg (NL), Noorderlight -
The next two days we spent in the country where dope / hash isn't illegal and so the Americans were happy, coz fans supplied them with it both days. For a German band Sinner got very good reactions and no doubt about the fan re­action for Savatage. In Tilburg the sextet played their best show so far. Every­body was in a good mood and so the tour party was on the way back to good, old Germany. Just a few minutes before we had to cross the border all the legal stuff - in Holland - was taken off the bus. For some it was hard to throw the good stuff away, but in Germany it's illegal and nobody wanted to get in trouble
January, 8th 1996 - Osnabrück (Germany), Hydepark -
The fans bought tons of shirts and so we were almost running out of merchandise. To give all fans a chance to buy shirts, we got 10 new cardboard boxes with shirts. A good day! Good catering! And about 700 fans showed up. The bands enjoyed playing, even if Sinner hadn't a sound check - again. The band is very professional and so they made the best out of the situation. Savatage had a lot of fun on stage and especially Jon Oliva made a lot of jokes with the others.
And in time for the first day off the cold weather made some of us suffer from a cold. The word 'pharmacy' was the most used one on the way to the hotel...
January, 9th 1996 - Bremen (Germany), day off -
No command about this day off!

January, 10th 1996 - Bremen (Germany), Tivoli -
Again about 700 fans came to see the bands live. Good reactions as usual. Savatage were able to impress the musicians who came to see the Americans with their per­formance. Most of these musicians know that they will never be able to reach the level of Savatage. Perfect show! Everybody knew exactly what to do and how to move on stage
January, 11th 1996 - Hamburg (Germany), Markthalle - /
January, 12th 1996 - Berlin (Germany), Halford -
The Americans used the day to do some shopping in Hamburg and Sinner had the first time a real sound check. Both shows took place without any problems and everybody was in a good mood. Happy faces everywhere. The first time we had some kind of party in the nightliner and time was flying. The crew started to fool around with stupid rhymes and poems. Funny days!
January, 13th 1996 - Merkers (D), Werra-Rhön-Halle -
It wasn't Friday, the 13th, but the 13th of January and the worst day of the tour. Shades of gray. With 450 fans this was the worst day of the tour. I can't understand why not more fans showed up, especially after the promoter told me that they al­ready had more then 600 tickets pre-sale for Sinister.... He said that the metal fans in this area are more into the extreme and brutal sounds, so it wasn't really a sur­prise. How shall you be happy when around you everything is gray and dark? When the doors opened and the fans came in it was like the protagonists of a ghost train had a day off and came to be part of this show. Cads and mutants who just alive to get drunken and to f**k their own sister. That may sound severe, but if there is a chance to avoid going again to Kali-Merkers, then I do it! And I just can recommend you to do the same
January, 14th 1996 - Ludwigsburg (D), Rockfabrik -
The totally opposite to yester­day! It was like a big party with 1,200 people. Tour record so far. After the show a lot of fans were waiting for autographs and souvenirs. I never so a mer­chan­diser work harder! A long night, coz we had a day off next.
January, 15th 1996 - Munich (Germany), day off -
Recovering for the party night. Savatage had a photo session and did some shopping for friends and relatives. At the evening we had a party at the 'Fantasy' which is a rock discotheque a little outside Munich. Drinks for free for band and crew! The 50 fans who come to get their stuff signed didn't care. Main reason was a meet & greet with the bands. We were totally done and drunken when we left for our hotel. I couldn't sleep, others had the same problem and so I had a small talk with Jon Oliva for about 2 hours and chit-chatted afterwards about one hour with Zak Stevens. Great, but we had to check out at 10 a.m.,so...
January, 16th 1996 - Munich (D), Charterhall -
The guys from Savatage used the huge venue to play some American football. The hangover was over after a decent break­fast. 750 fans attended the show. Afterwards some trouble with the local pro­moter. Savatage thought that the promoter tried to cheat them money-wise. Angry and upset we headed to Austria.
January, 17th 1996 - Salzburg (A), Rockhaus -
First I have to state that the Rock­haus in Salzburg is a club with a very friendly staff. What this guys and girls do for the bands who play there is worth to be told! Great!
With 550 fans the venue was sold out. It was packed! Another great day on tour for everybody.
January, 18th 1996 - Pratteln (CH), Z7 -
Even in Switzerland the show of Savatage at the Z7 in Pratteln (near Basel) got the atten­tion of about 700 fans. Some trouble. A drunken nerd verbally attacked Jon Oliva during the show with nice comments like "You fat asshole - F**k you!" And so the band stopped the show and the guy got kicked out of the venue. When the door closed behind that nerd Jon & co. continued.
Something which was in the head of every­body and so the mood wasn't really good..
January, 19th 1996 - Offenbach (D), Hafenbahn / -
January, 20th 1996 - Würzburg (D), Rockpalast -
The last two shows were a triumph for this superb band. In Offenbach were about 700 fans and the very last show on this tour was crowned by the tour record of 1,300 fans!
Unfortunately in Offen­bach a power failure during the Savatage set happened, but they rocked the house!
After the show in Würzburg it was time to say good-bye. And it was a sad mo­ment when I had to check off the Savatage nightliner. Thank God that there are several festivals this summer which this band should play... And so the tour was over, perhaps the best tour in 1996, even if the year just began. After all those years and after the release of great albums now the band get the attention they deserve. Thanks to Jon Oliva! Savatage rules! And Doctor Butcher rules!

Volker Raabe


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