It’s a beautiful sunny day as we meet at the port of Helsinki. Travelling with the band are Zouwi the soundman and Ossi the useless roadie/drinker of free beer (and writer of this). We drive the Spyrovan in the ferry and head to a restaurant for some burgers, seljanka and the first beers of the trip. From the tax free-shop we buy some refreshments for the journey which basically means a shit load of beer, long drinks, red wine and of course Jaloviina, the diesel oil of every respectable Finnish band. After two hours in the boat we arrive at Tallinn where Olli opens the first bottle of Jaloviina and as a result my memories of the drive to Tartu are a bit blurry. With a little help from our friend Navi Gator we get to Tartu’s Rock n´ Roll Heaven where we are set to play the first gig of the tour. We check out the place and find out it’s an o.k. sized club with an o.k. stage. After the soundcheck we hang out with the other band of the night, Edgar Poe’s Favorite Cat and have a couple of relaxing drinks or at least so I’m told.
Even though it’s a Thursday night, by the time Zouwi puts on the introtape there are plenty of people in front of the stage. And they like what they see. I must say that it’s been a while since I’ve seen the band live and on this tour they sounded better than ever. The set is a tight pack of tight songs and all of them fit together perfectly. There are no loose songs that in a set like this would only stand out like limp dicks in a forest of erections. On a first gig of the tour there are always a couple of things that could go better and this gig is no exception. Still a good show and a good opener for the tour.
After the show we hang out at the backstage before some members of our squad head out into the night of Tartu and piss of the manager of the place by returning to our temporary home at an inhuman hour and waking him up several times. (Sorry Arti, we’ll give you a call soon!) But finally when all the piggies find their way back home a peace falls on the Rock n´ Roll Heaven and we get a few hours of much needed sleep.
Before leaving Tartu the band and Zouwi visit a local spa while Ossi takes a nap in the Spyrovan and does his best to recover from yesterday’s adventures. The spas jacuzzi, water slides and saunas make new men out of the Spyromaniacs and after some pizza and burgers we are ready to leave Tartu and head into Valga.
If you open the dictionary and find the word punkclub you’ll probably find a picture of Valga’s Rockiklubi. It’s an old rugged house with an all-concrete interior (even the benches!) and a motorcycle club downstairs.
We set our gear up and do a quick soundcheck before going out to the town to find something to eat and drink too since there’s no bar at Rockiklubi and you have to bring your own drinks. After wandering for a while we find a Säästumarket where we buy a few cases of beer, a case of long drink and a bottle of local lemonade. We take our cargo to a restaurant and order some seljanka which seems to be the number one food on this tour. The waiter sees our stock of refreshments and smiles. I don’t think he has any doubt about which country we are from.
On the way back to Rockiklubi Olli tries to cheer up our tired group by singing some shitty Finnish tunes, but the effect is mild. Antti on the other hand finds a cure for his headache from a not so surprising source, Jaloviina. We get to the Rockiklubi and ponder awhile on some philosophical questions before the showtime.
There are two bands playing before the Spyro and Antti is afraid that “we are gonna sound like a bunch of pussies after those bands”. Luckily he is wrong and the crowd goes absolutely apeshit from the beginning of the show. Olli throws some stickers in the crowd and they stick every one of them on themselves so soon there are a lot of people with the word Spyro on their forehead or their chest. When it’s time for encores Olli asks the audience to join the band on stage and they do so more than happily. Seeing the band and the crowd on stage together smiling and dancing is probably my favourite memory from the tour. This is what it’s all about!
After the show the dancing continues with our new friends on the tables in the backstage. Later on we go to a local pub which by the way is open till 6.00 and when you leave you can take your beer with you. That kind of policy in Finland would probably lead to sentence in jail. When the lights finally go out everybody’s dead tired and happy as squirrels. All in all a perfect night.
After four hours of sleep we pack the band and gear in the Spyrovan and head out to Liepaja. In the van the band continues its sleep except for Simo who is the designated driver of the day and many other days too for that matter. It’s a 400 km drive from Valga to Liepaja and we have some problems with the vans gearbox. Luckily after some curse words and violence we are back on the road.
The venue is called Fontaine Palace. It’s really nothing like a palace but more like a huge barn with a high roof and a big black cock with flames on it on the wall. It also has the biggest stage the Spyro has ever played on. After setting up we go to the Hotel Fontaine Royal next to the Palace to check in our rooms and to have a shower. After two days of sleeping on the floor the hotel really does feel like a palace.
Small problems at the sound check do not make the band grab the last bottle of Jaloviina. Instead everyone has a couple of hours of sleep before the show which is supposed to start at 01.00. The show is of course delayed and we wait in the backstage for the Swedish band Lowe to finish their set. At this point everyone feels a bit out of tune so we decide it’s best to take out the Jaloviina. Finally at 02.00 The Spyro hits the stage. The crowd in Liepaja is totally different from the punk-crowd in Valga but they too dance the whole show through. It’s also the biggest crowd of the tour and when they get an invitation from Olli to join the band on stage the atmosphere really goes through the roof. Like the day before the band is in excellent form and the crowd loves them. At the end of the set Toni gives us a bit of a fright by jumping on the drumriser and falling on his back on the stage but he manages to get away with it without a scratch.
After the show the band joins the audience on the dance floor and dances the night away in this great rock bar which by the way is open 24h a day, a fact highly appreciated by the Spyromaniacs.
After a decent breakfast at the hotel we get our gear from the Palace and turn the Spyrovan towards the last city on the first leg of the Baltic tour, Vilnius Lithuania.
It’s an exhausting drive but we finally get to our destination the Bix, a small bar somewhere in the city. It’s really difficult to say anything about the cities we visit since we only see the venues and maybe a couple of bars. Anyway, the stage and the bar are so small they would probably fit on the stage of Fontaine Palace. We set up the gear, do a quick soundcheck and order some food from the bar.
Todays schedule is really tight; the food is brought to the table at 19.50 and the show is supposed to start at 20.00. So we devour our food like the rockpigs we have become and the band hits the stage at the appointed time. The place is nearly full but since it’s such a small bar the show is very intimate and the band has to play at half the volume they usually play. Still a few people go nuts and dance through the show. One guy even joins the band on stage but he’s immediately removed by security. It’s a good solid show but still feels a bit like an anti-climax after the two perfect shows in Valga and Liepaja.
After the show we have a couple of beers in the bar and make new friends like every night. They lead us to a nearby pizzeria from where the tired gang returns to the hostel. We still have enough energy to drink all of Zouwis long drinks and to set Antti's ass on fire by using an air freshener and a lighter but then it’s off to bed.
In the morning we pack our stuff for the last time and start the 600 km drive to Tallinn. Somehow we make it to the ferry even though half the drive is done with a nearly flat tire and the last 100 km without the fifth gear (yes, the gearbox couldn't take it anymore). In the ferry we get something to eat and then just sit on the floor and stare blankly in to the distance. It has been a very tiring experience but none of us would change it for anything.
It must be said here that everywhere we went we met some amazing people who made this tour an unforgettable experience for us. So a big thank you from The Spyro to everyone we met and had a beer and a laugh with. We hope to see you all soon again!