Zildjian's Don Hepburn is currently out on the road with Take That on their record-breaking world tour. Read below for updates from the road from Don:
Dusseldorf: Esprit Arena
This was our second stop in Germany and my goodness, weren't we welcomed with open arms!
The crowd was nuts, the noise was enough to take your head off. It was like they were letting us know they've been waiting all year for this. We could have well been in the UK the way they sang along to every word. Again this was another favourite venue of mine because, yep, you've guessed it, "it’s got a roof." There was even a rapturous applause as the roof closed to keep the rain out.
It has to be said, the German stadiums have a sort of firm look about them, almost intimidating, a kind of Fortress look.
I had the privilege of doing my second European interview for the German magazine Drums and Percussion which is due out later this year.
Showtime...this is our last but one show, so everyone had that "let's’ av it" attitude about things.
The boys were firing on every cylinder the show was a blast. Only one to go.
Off to Munich now.
Love Don x
Hamburg: Imtech Arena
Now there's something a bit special about Germany, it's a sort of home form home territory for the lads. On previous tours there's always been a special love shown by the people of Germany, and this time round didn't differ one bit.
From before we took to the stage, the crowd were wild, they were well and truly up for it. 40,000+ could have quite easily been mistaken for 80,000 with the roar they made as the lads took to the stage. It was deafening. They sang along to everything. Then just when you thought it couldn't get any loader, Mr. Williams took to the stage and the volume seemed to rocket!!!
I'm not sure if the fact that we had a couple of days off since the last gig was the reason, but there was something VERY special about tonight's show, everyone was firing on all cylinders, and the fact that it rained for a part of the show didn't even register.
Song after song after song the crowd didn't let up for a moment! I have to say there is something very special about Europe, there's a greater sense of appreciation. I love it!!
Love Don x
Holland: Amsterdam Arena
Ajax FC Stadium was the host to our Dutch show. The best part was the stadium had a roof, and it's a good thing, because it rained the whole time we were there. But the rain clearly didn't subdue any of the fans. The noise inside the 68,000+ stadium was deafening.
As the boys took to the stage, there was a sense of relief as there was rumours that after the second night of Copenhagen got cancelled this show could follow suit, but any fears of that happening were laid to rest as they began the first number.
The place went crazy as Rob took to the stage, he kept thanking the crowd for their love, and attributed this to his energy to perform to them.
It makes such a difference to the sound having a roof, everything seems really tight and punchy! I loved it.
Now onto Germany for the home stretch...
Love Don x
Denmark: Parken Stadium
Second stop on the European leg was Copenhagen where the Parken was host. Denmark is truly one of my favourite places in the world. The food, people, and weather were all magnificent. Now folks, don't laugh at me, but on our day off I ventured to the famous Tivoli exhibition Centre where the Titanic was on display...and I don't mind telling ya it was very interesting.
Anyway, back to work, the first night was amazing although there was only 34,000+ which happens to be one of the smaller audiences, they certainly packed a punch in the noise department. What was very noticeable was how good looking the Danish are and in true Robbie style, he thanked the crowd for allowing him to be their ugly friend.
As ever, the five boys went down a storm. The Danish know how to welcome their guests as they graced us with the National anthem.
I know I've said this loads, but my drums and cymbals are blowing my mind every night. I recently added an 18" K Dark Crash to my set up in place of 18" K EFX and it is working out so sweetly.
Unfortunately our visit to Copenhagen was cut short when Robbie fell ill after the first show, which meant we had to cancel the second night of our trip. As you can imagine the crowd was gutted, as too were we and the boys, as it's the first time in their history that they've ever cancelled a show. I felt terrible for the fans that this unfortunate scenario occurred. On to the next stop. Love Don x
Not 1, not 2, not even 3 nights at Wembley, but a mind boggling 8 nights. Over half a million crazy Thatters have witnessed what the press has named the "greatest show on the planet."
Let's put things into perspective - Take That have now surpased the Rolling Stones, Oasis, Coldplay, and even the King of Pop himself, Micheal Jackson, to take the title of most shows at Wembley stadium ever by one artist. And my did they do it in style! Every night the crowds were electric. Which to be frank, is usually unheard of in London as the crowds are known for their cool, calm, and collective nature.
I know it can be deemed a cliché to say that each night got better and better, but they really did. The Boys and Band were truly firing on all cylinders. The eighth night was particularly special as it was the one that broke the Michael Jackson record.
All in all, it was a magical time and one I'll "Never Forget" (Ahh see what I did there...). Love Don x
Birmingham: Villa Park
Well, I've never been more proud to be a brummie than tonight. My home crowd of 46,000+ showed the world how to make noise. And in fine form stole the crown as loudest crowd on tour.
Although it was a tough gig for me because I had to set foot in our arch rivals stadium me being a blue nose the love and passion displayed by my home crowd was breath taking.
A bit of rain didn't ruin the occasion, it was quite literally water off a ducks back. 2nd night which was actually 1st Birmingham show to sell out was mind blowing the noise levels were immense Gary praised the crowd and informing then that its the first time they've been to Villa park.
By the end of the night there was nothing but smiley faces to be seen.
In true Midlands style WE ROCKED!!! Love my home town. Of to the Capitol, no doubt they'll be great moments in store
Love Don x
Glasgow: Hampden Park
As the tour rolled into the north of the United Kingdom, heavy showers were in full effect to greet us. Oh well, the joys of stadium tours, and the forecast isn't looking great for the 3 shows we've got planned.
4:30pm the doors open and in flood the crowd, it's carnage - 50,000+ screaming fans fighting for their space at the front.
Well Gene Kelly had the right idea when he sang the 1950's classic "Singing in the Rain." 50,000 loyal Scottish fans braved the pouring rain for the 2hrs 30mins show. I have a new respect for the Scottish fans, there wasn't a sorry face in sight. Hats off to the lads as well who didn't let the rain effect their performance at all.
And just when I thought Glasgow couldn't get any better, I bumped into the legend and fellow Zildjian artist that is Gregg Bissonette who's currently on tour with Ringo Star's All Star Band. We ended up having lunch together and talking about all things drums. He is a diamond bloke. And to top it off, the sun came out. Happy Days!!!
Show 2 was out of this world, a beautiful summers evening set the scene for what was a truly amazing end to a fabulous day. The screams were ear piercing as they sang along to everyone song. I think it's safe to say Glasgow claimed the title as the loudest on the tour so far.
Show 3 carried on from where we left off the night before, but louder and the one lady in particular was extra enthusiastic and wanted everyone to see how much she was loving it....Say no more.
Yet again Glasgow was in fine voice showing everyone how to do it.
On to my home town "Birmingham" - come on Brum don't let me down. Lets ave it!!!!
Love Don x
Dublin: Croke Park
Ahh, Dublin how I love Dublin...nice pint of Guinness on arrival.
It's the oldest stadium on the tour and it's steeped in history, as it's built on the site where a 16th century hill once stood. With a capacity of 78,000+ it's without doubt the biggest capacity on the tour to date. Rain coats at the ready though as angry grey hovers. Well, I've never heard noise like it. The place went mental as the boys emerged, it was another stella performance. I think its becoming a bit of a tradition to get the overseas crowds to grace us with their national anthem. The boys repaid the gesture by paying homage to some of the famous Irish bands, wishing U2 a fabulous time at Glastonbury.
Robbie promised the crowd he'd come back and do a free concert for the fans...so watch this space. The boys added they should've recorded their DVD here, and they weren't wrong! Song after song the crowd was on an all time high. I was sweating buckets. My Drums and Cymbals sounded amazing, for all you people looking for a stadium crash cymbal, check out the 20" A Custom Rezo, it's out of this world!
Well all in all, Dublin, as always, showed the world how to make noise. 150,000+ over the two nights, everyone made us feel more than welcome.
Off to Glasgow now, Hampden Park here we come!!!
Love Don x
Well I never, talk about "blow the roof off!" From start to finish the crowd were immense, not to mention the weather, as we had a beautiful Welsh summers day to greet us as we arrived.
You could sense the electricity in the air as the crowd sang along to every tune. They even graced us with their national anthem!
Yet again, the band and boys were in fine form, everyone at the top of their game. 65,000+ witnessed the five lads break it down and sang along to an old-school medley of their classic hits.
The boys could not stop praising the crowd and crowned them as the loudest on tour so far, they were not wrong.
I took the pleasure of walking to the Stadium on the second night, being amongst the crowd was out of this world! The vibe on the streets of Cardiff city centre was electric.
So two amazing, breath-taking shows in Wales and the bar has been set.
Off to Dublin now, ooooh anyone for a pint of Guinness???
Love Don x
There's no place like home, well at least not for the lads...Yes you guessed it, we're in Manchester!!!! 55,000+ will be mesmerized by the awesome sound of my Zildjian setup...Oh yeah, and the boys too.
Opening night was a beautiful evening and the crowd was in full voice. The boys took to the stage as proud as ever, and serenaded their friends and loved ones. I must admit, I do love playing in Manchester, especially now that we're back in the City Of Manchester Stadium. Not even a couple of technical hitches could ruin the performance as in true "Spinal Tap" style, the boys got stuck on the massive stage prop.
As the shows went on they got better and better. I was particularly amused by Robbie's (Williams) cheeky pop at the Man Utd fans as he wished them "a Safe journey back to London."
The boys decided it would be fitting to film the DVD in Manchester which is always an important time on tour, everyone will be going for gold making sure that what goes down in history will be nothing short of genius!!
For some though, all the excitement was all a bit much as my 2 year daughter can bare witness, falling asleep after the first tune, Ahh bless xx. That's all for now folks, see you in Cardiff where we'll see "what's occurring."
Love Don x
The Take That "Progress Live" 2011 Tour has hit the road and includes a total of 29 sold out dates in UK/Ireland averaging 60,000 seater venues...for the statistical heads amongst you, that means by the end of the UK tour dates alone, an average of 1 in 36 of the UK population will have seen the show. Amazing!
Last autumn, the Take That tickets, all 1.75 million of them, sold out within hours of going on sale, crashing ticket websites nationwide. The demand for tickets was 30x greater than tickets for Michael Jackson's last planned dates. Thus, Take That's "Progress Live" 2011 Tour became the biggest selling tour in UK and Irish history.
The tour comprises of 36 nights in total across Europe, including eight nights at London's Wembley Stadium - a 90,000 capacity stadium.
The show is produced by creative director and choreographer Kim Gavin who worked on Take That's "The Circus" Tour and whose next big thing is the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. It features a 20-metre long futuristic robot man, "Mr Om," costing £1.5 million, which is unveiled and eventually stands vertically aloft with arms outstretched, along with a giant waterfall of 30 gallons of water.
Zildjian's very own Donavan Hepburn is the lucky guy in the "hot seat" and having completed the last Take That Tour, "The Circus," Don is certainly no stranger to what the job involves.
Zildjian were there to watch the band's rehearsals from which you can see Don's set-up, including a number of proto-types out on trial:
Left to right:
10” A Custom Splash with holes (Proto-type)
18” K Custom Fast Crash
15” A New Beat Hi Hats
20” A Custom Rezo Crash
8” A Extra Thin Splash
12” A Extra Thin Splash
18” K EFX or 18” ZHT EFX
22” K Custom Medium Ride
16” Oriental China
16” A Custom EFX
13” A Custom Mastersound Hi Hats
18” A Custom China/Crash (Proto-type)
18” Oriental Classic China
Zildjian were lucky to be behind the scenes at the final dress-rehearsal at the Sunderland Stadium of Light, a small group of 300 people in the 54,000 capacity venue all in awe of the sheer massiveness of the show...the night kicked off with their hit "Rule the World," it certainly feels like they might...
You can follow Donavan's Tour Diary as he brings news from behind the scenes - and what a huge operation it is, including 110 trucks and 238 permanent crew members - right here on Zildjian.com!
Don, pictured left with his drumtech, Howard Barrett, says "It's become a tradition of Take That!! To begin their tours in the North East of England and, to be honest, what a great place to start. The crowds each night in Sunderland have been deafening. They've loved every minute of it. Now onto the homecoming that is Manchester, I bet they'll be a few surprises there"
Stay tuned for more from Don.