ROAD TO HEEPVENTION

Finland -> Sweden -> Denmark -> England

Itís Tuesday 2nd of may at 6pm and Iím standing at the Copenhagen railway station wondering where Mr. Rodrigo Werneck is. He has spent already here a few days after coming from Brazil and Iíve just travelled for 24 hours from Finland by train to meet him here. We were going to meet at the platform where my train arrives but thereís no sign of him. I start walking around the station looking for him and begin to think what would be the next step if Rodrigo doesnít show up. Should I wait here in case heís late, should I go to hostel where he was supposed to stay or should I call my wife home to check if Rodrigo has send an e-mail or phoned to leave a message after I left home.

But letís go back in time a bit: As soon as it had become clear that the current line-up of Uriah Heep wouldnít be at the Heepvention but instead they would be touring Denmark at the time, I started looking for possibilities to both see Heep live and attend the Heepvention. Looking at the flight time tables I found out it was possible to be in London in time on Friday after seeing the first gig of the Danish tour on Thursday in Randers. It turned out that Rodrigo had also thought the same thing, he would arrive from Brazil and we decided to meet in Copenhagen.

Because it would have been too expensive for me to fly to both Denmark and England, I embarked on a boat with a Scanrail ticket in my hand on Monday 1st May. Fortunately I didnít have to travel alone because by chance Jari-Pekka Laitio, a fellow Finnish Heepster, happened to be on the same boat. I had e-mailed him a couple of days before leaving home and he replied saying he was also going for a trip and it turned out we had booked ourselves to the same boat not knowing about each otherís plans. His trip had nothing to with Heep or Heepvention though.

It was nice to have some company at the start of my journey. The night went smoothly, we sat and talked about music and other things with Jari-Pekka and his travelling companion, at some point we dozed of for a coupe of hours and in the morning at 6.30 we were in Stockholm. My train to Copenhagen left at 9.18 and after nine hours I was there.

So here I am still at the station and then (just as Iím about to go to the police and tell them thereís a Brazilian guy who looks a lot like Enrique Iglesias probably lost somewhere in the city) I hear somebody shout my name and there he is! He had been waiting for me elsewhere because the time tables showed the wrong platform.

Rodrigo is staying at the hostel that was initially booked and thereís room for me as well. We go and leave my luggage there and return to the city to have the first taste of Danish beer among other things. We spent a couple of hours walking along the streets and we visit an Irish pub just to get a taste of whatís to come in London. Thereís a troubadour playing and heís quite good but doesnít play any Heep.


Leaving the Copenhagen hostel, picture taken by Rodrigo

The next morning (Wednesday) we take a train to Ňrhus where we have planned to spend the next day before going to Randers, the city where Heep are playing the following day. It only takes three hours to Ňrhus - or should have taken. At one station the train just stops and doesnít continue at all. There are obviously some problems but itís difficult to tell whatís the reason for this because my Danish is not so good although I speak Swedish. Probably a cable has been broken or something like that.

In the same compartment sitting opposite to us there are a couple of old Danish ladies and they speak Danish to all the time to us. We smile and nod our heads as if we understood it all. Eventually we help them solve some crosswords - written in Danish of course. Funnily thereís a magazine with an advertisement of the Danish Railways saying: ĎIn the train time goes fasterí. I point that out to the old ladies and itís very funny also in their opinion.

So here we are sitting in a train at some little railway station on the Danish countryside. From the window I can see a field with some horses, some trees and nothing else. There doesnít seem to be much goats in Denmark because I havenít seen a single one yet, only horses, cows and sheep.

Finally after waiting at the station for over an hour we get going - very slowly - and stop and wait again after a while for other trains to pass by. When we eventually arrive in Ňrhus we are late by 1 hour 45 minutes. After checking to the hostel we take a look at the centre of the city. Ňrhus is supposed to be the second biggest city in Denmark but it looks really small and itís surprisingly peaceful and quiet at 5pm except at some restaurant terraces. We had planned to maybe go to some museums but now itís so late because they have closed already so we are forced to go to a pub to have some beers, luckily itís happy hour.

We find a place called Nethouse later in the evening where we both can check our e-mails and send some disturbing messages to the list. Rodrigo has loads of e-mails from work all saying "VERY URGENT!!!" and "IMPORTANT!!!" but he doesnít bother reading them since heís on holiday. I send a mail to wife telling where I am but Iím positive she doesnít open the computer at all while Iím away so Iíll probably have to phone her tomorrow and tell to check the mails. Clever isnít it?

In the following morning we decide to see "Den Gamle By" (The Old Town in English) before going to Randers. This is an outdoor museum where they have collected some old houses from across the country. The places opens at 10 but when we arrive there itís still only 9.30. The gates are open and thereís nobody there - only some maintenance crew walking and driving with vans so we walk in. The place is nice with lots of buildings all restored very beautifully. When we have watched enough, we sneak out through the back gate. The admission was 55DKK (=7USD) so we save quite a sum. My tip to anyone visiting Ňrhus is to go to Den Gamle By before opening hours and you can get in for free.

The train to Randers takes 40 minutes and there are no problems this time. The hostel is only 500 meters away from the train station but it couldnít be seen in the map that the station is down in the valley and hostel high on the hill so the whole 500 meters is uphill. After ca. 2 hours of climbing we arrive at the hostel. Just as we have entered the building, a man comes rushing towards us and immediately asks me: "Whatís your name?". Iím so embarrassed of this unexpected approach that I canít speak for a moment and when I say Iím Tapster from Finland, the man is not happy with it. He turns to Rodrigo instead, gets the answer he wants and says thereís a telephone call for him. Itís Torben Levring whoís also coming to the gig tonight. He just happened to phone the same time as we arrived. We make plans with Torben to meet him later and head towards the centre. We find that walking downhill without the luggage goes much easier. First we head to the hotel where Heep are staying but they arenít there. We notice a man wearing a Uriah Heep t-shirt, he turns out to be Mathias GrŁnenwald, a German Heep fan, whoís come to see the Danish shows with another German Heep fan Katrin MŁller.


Katrin MŁller, Mathias GrŁnenwald & Rodrigo outside Rick's Cafe

Together we go to Rickís Cafe and we donít need any instructions because we can hear the noise they make already from a distance. The venue is very small, itís really just a bar with a shallow stage so small that thereís just enough room for the band and their instruments (if they donít move at all). The guys are in a middle of a soundcheck when we arrive and we stay there till they finish. As always, the band seem to enjoy themselves and have tremendous fun. Partly it is probably because they have played only concert in the last two months and not theyíre enjoying each otherís company. Mick comes to say hello after he notices us and the other guys also drop by later. The surprise of the soundcheck is that in the end Bernie starts singing ĎThe Golden Palaceí - a song thatís never been played live by Heep - but he quits it after the first couple of verses. To my ears it sounds perfect but Bernie claims it sounds like shit in this place. I wonder if this means theyíre thinking of including it the set?

The band go to have something to eat and drink before the show and we go to a bar to talk with Katrin and Mathias. Itís always nice to meet new Heepfans and the conversation went well even thought Mathias canít speak English and Rodrigo canít speak German so Katrin had to act as an interpreter from time to time.

We arrive at Rickís Cafe early, itís already pretty crowdy but we still manage to get the best seats in the house, the table nearest to the stage. This is another thing that is special about this gig: Ií ve never before watched a Heep gig sitting! At this place it would have been impossible because it was so shallow that people in the back wouldnít have been able to see anything.

Mathias has a large Heep poster from 1977 and heís planning on getting signatures from Mick, Lee and Trevor tonight. Heís showing it to us but what he doesnít see is that thereís a burning candle on the table. Fortunately Katrin notices it at the last moment and rescues the poster before it catches fire.

Itís a very international table because besides me there are people from Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Brazil and Holland. Mick pays our table a short visit before the show and warns us that weíre in danger of losing our hearing by sitting so close to the stage.


Yes that's me again, I was there

Prints of the setlist have been scattered across the stage so itís easy to see that itís going to be the usual Sonic Origami tour set, exactly the same that theyíve been playing since October 1998. Iím wondering why they need to print the set lists at all, they should remember the songs already! If they keep on playing the same set for several years, then at least they could change the order a bit to keep it more interesting. This way the band are in my opinion in danger of losing the few fans they still have left. Anyway, the concert is as great as all Iíve seen in the past five years even if there were no surprises to look for in the set.

After the show we stay at the table waiting till we can enter the backstage. After weíve waited what we consider a suitable time, Rod goes first to check to see if itís OK and when he doesnít returned after some time we follow him. Backstage is also the smallest Iíve ever seen at a Heep gig, thereís barely enough room for one large table and chairs and thatís it. Only Torben, his friend Jens, Katrin, Mathias, Rod and myself of the fans are there. Itís much less than usually so thereís a good chance to talk to each band member.


Heep backstage recording a message for Heepvention

When we finally leave, we have to climb up that hill again to get to the hostel but this time itís a lot easier because the hill is not as steep arriving from the city than from the train station. We have to catch the 9.40 bus to the airport the following morning. We are flying first from Ňrhus airport to Copenhagen and then continue to London.

A bus drive through the lovely Danish countryside is a new experience for me and Rodrigo. We arrive to Ňrhus airport and we have to sort out a few things first. Originally we were booked to the same flights but there was some re-scheduling and we are now on different flights from Ňrhus to Copenhagen. We ask at the check-in if itís possible to get as to the same flight since we are two travellers far from home and donít want to be separate from each other. The official says itís not possible because these flights are fully booked but thereís a plane with empty seats leaving in just a few minutes and if we hurry, we might catch that one. We follow her and get inside the plane thatís already waiting at the runway.

I am a little scared at high places so Iím definitely not comfortable in this kind of small plane, especially when because of the short flight takes we fly quite low below the clouds and we can see the earth and sea below us clearly. We have a couple of hours in Copenhagen before our flight to London and what better way is there to spend a few hours than have a few pints of beer? I order and the bartender asks me if I want small, medium or large pints. Of course I answer: large. It turns out that a large pint here is 0,75 l instead of the usual 0,5 l but we donít mind that, on the contrary. I am assuming there will be lots of beer drinking during the weekend so this is good practice. After a few large ones itís time to start the final part of the journey, a 2 Ĺ hours flight to London.

When I began my journey from Finland four days ago I had some doubts if everything would work out well and if I would eventually make it to London in time. When our plane lands at Stansted I have to believe itís true. Here we are and ready for a Heep weekend. An old man approx. 70 years of age stops to look at the huge Uriah Heep sign we are carrying and says: "Uriah Heep? They used to be good". Now we know we are in the right place - home of Uriah Heep. Soon we spot some familiar faces - some guys from Stay On Top are queuing for the train tickets, I wonder where they are going? I part company with Rodrigo because I have made an appointment to meet my friend Enrico with whow Iím staying here.

Enrico is waiting for me at Liverpool Street Station and we continue to Enricoís home. Heís an Italian but he had lived in London a couple of years, his girlfriend Satu is Finnish and I met him for the first time at a Heep gig in Tampere in February 1999. They have a pleasant surprise for me: Yesterday, they have decided to move to a new apartment and they have to move this weekend so I "get to" help them. They have rented the apartment furnished so there arenít any heavy pieces of furniture to carry but somehow the thought of getting up early on Sunday morning after the first Heepvention night doesnít attract me that much. After weíve left my luggage and drank a few beers itís time to start with the unofficial part of Heepvention - the meeting at Prince Alfred Pub.

In the tube I realise well how big London is - it takes at least one and half hours to travel from Enricoís place from Eastern London to the Northwest where the Heepvention venue and the pub are situated. Finally we enter the pub and itís already crowded with people. Let the Heepvention begin!


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