As the band head out for the first part of their eagerly awaited European tour, charismatic frontman and avid blog writer Baz started to compose another mammoth tome about life on the road with the band. This blog kicks off in Portugal and travels through Ireland (South & North), Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and ending in Luxembourg. The blog will be published in four parts at suitable points through the tour. Here goes with part one…over to Baz…
Sat Sept 17th
So, here we go…the last jaunt of what’s been a pretty tumultuous year for The Stranglers. It starts for me with a train down from Yorkshire to London, and then a connection across to Gatwick Airport to meet the band and crew. HRH Queen Elizabeth has passed away, and the by now famous queue is snaking it’s way along the embankment towards Westminster Hall, where she’s laying in state. I don’t know what I’m going to encounter in the capital, and as we approach Kings Cross the train guard makes what sounds like an emotional announcement informing the passengers where to go and how to get there, should they be travelling to view the sovereign. It’s been such a media frenzy recently, with nothing else on TV it seems, that once in the sanctity of a train carriage in peace and quiet, the outside world takes it’s leave, for a couple of hours at least, and you could be forgiven for almost forgetting that she’s gone, and I mean that with all due respect. It’s not until we get to the Smoke that I realise there are a few folk around me who’re getting ready to schlepp across to the queue’s end, and stand for hours to pay their respects…and fair play to them…if I lived closer I maybe would’ve gone myself…I had a lot of time for her…but my knees wouldn’t have taken it…that’s my excuse anyway.
As it is, London seems it’s usual nutty self, but no real dramas unfold, and I make my way to Gatwick from St Pancras very easily, and as I step out into the south terminal, the first person I see is JJ, staring up at a screen trying to figure out where we’re meeting the rest of the gang.Two heads being better than one in this case, we figure it out, and 10 minutes later we’re all there. After a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, we all board our plane to Porto in Portugal, and 2 hours later, we’re there. It’s 120 km to the hotel from here, and as we didn’t land until 11pm…it’s going to be a late one. The local promoters reps are there to meet us in 2 very nice air conditioned transporters, and shortly before 2am, we arrive at the hotel…totally knackered.
Amazingly though, the night porter turns out to be a very decent sort of fellow who doesn’t mind dispensing ice cold bottles of Super Bock to our travel weary party, and we end the night with a nice little beer buzz…I put the lights out shortly after 3.
Sun Sept 18th
DOURO AND PORTO WINE FESTIVAL, LAMEGO, PORTUGAL
I wake at 11.30 after a pretty flawless nights sleep…I feel good. JJ is in the room next door and when I finally hear signs of life, I text him for coffee downstairs in an hour. The first person I see is Sil our manager, who’s flown in as a surprise…well, it is to me anyway…and it’s great to see him. We all cram into a vehicle and head off to the festival site to sound check and eat…arguably the most important part of the day…an army marches on it’s stomach after all.
The festival is in a vineyard type complex, with a visitors centre, restaurant and store, and very beautiful it all is as it sits shimmering in the mid day sun…a picture of tranquility. We’re about 30 minutes from Porto in the Douro valley, which is the river that eventually becomes an estuary, around which the city of Porto is situated…it’s a very beautiful part of Portugal up in the north west of the country…and they take their wine very seriously.
When we do trips like this, or ‘flyers’ as we call them, most of the gear is rented,. We take our ‘can’t do without’ essentials of course…my and JJ’s number one guitars, Jim’s snare drum and cymbals, and the brain of Toby’s rig, plus other sundries that the crew need, around a dozen pieces in all. However, as half of Toby’s keyboards haven’t arrived yet when we get there, we have work around that, and once we’ve ironed out any wrinkles that may be there, (and our crew have been here since 9, so there really aren’t any, as usual) we eat a delicious meal, and head back to the hotel. We meet down stairs later at around 8.45, and drive the half hour to the gig, arriving around 20 minutes before we play…brilliant…it’s 27 degrees even at this time of night, so you want the shortest time for hanging about until you play. Toby came down earlier with the crew to check his rig and make sure he has everything he needs, and he’s happy with it all…it ain’t perfect, but he can make it work….of course he can.
We play a tight 75 minute set to around 4000 punters, who all raise their glasses when I ask in my pigeon Portuguese, if they’re all drinking…but then of course, who comes to a wine festival and stays sober…wouldn’t happen in England…doesn’t happen here…ha. We come off sweaty and triumphant to a rousing reception…we’ve played well, and this has served as a great warm up for the weeks ahead. We all convene later outside our hotel which is in BFN (work it out) in the small hours and have a bedtime drink to celebrate.
The next day on the way back to the airport JJ and I reflect on just how much work this all takes. Organise all the flights and hotels. Get the crew and band together from the various parts of Blighty and France where they live. Sort out what gear to take with us. Weigh it all for logistics, and to make sure we’re not over with our estimations…believe you me, that fucking matters…especially now as we’re not part of Europe any more (thanks Brexiteers…how’s it all working out for you? no wonder stats are showing that most of you regret it, loath as you are to admit it….but at least we’ve got ‘control’ back eh?).
There’s a manifest called a carnet…which specifically lists everything we take and bring back…so they know we’re not smuggling or trafficking gear…and that has to be done now for every country we’re going to visit in the coming weeks. Never happened when we were in the EU and free trade, unity and good will existed. Tell me one good positive thing that Brexit has brought to our ailing, sick country, especially coupled with the pandemic, and I’ll take every word of it back. I know you’ll say to give it time, and maybe you’re right, but all the signs are not good…and there are more and more signs that the Russians maybe really did have something to do with it too…rant over…
Anyway, now we get to the venue, and play the show, after which the equipment is packed away, loaded up, and taken back to the hotel to be put in storage for the next day’s trip back to the UK, where all the weighing, checking and carnet bollocks is repeated again, only the other way around, so we can bring all our stuff back home again without anyone thinking we’ve nicked it. We get to Gatwick, and everything comes down the chute , onto the carousel, and loaded onto trolleys to be taken to a trailer, and towed back to the west country behind a van full of tired road crew, to be put back into our storage room for a couple of days…
And all this for 75 minutes…
You all know how much we love our road crew, and now you know why…they’re champions to a man…and nothing, repeat nothing, happens without them.
Thurs Sept 22nd
The Big Top, Limerick, Ireland
After a couple of days off spent travelling to get here, we arrive in Limerick at the fabulous Big Top. We’ve played here before, and it’s a wonderful place. An old milk market smack bang in the middle of the city, it’s covered over with yes, you guessed it, a big top. The hole thing is inside a ring of shops and cafe’s and it feels very cosy and friendly. As we arrive for the sound check, all the owners of these lovely little places come out to see us and say hello. The sides of the tent are open to the elements, so I’m guessing there aren’t too many winter gigs take place here either, which is probably for the best.
Today though it’s a warm balmy late summer evening, and it’s great. It feels like we’re on tour properly again now, and this is a great place to kick off…get 1,000 folk in here and it’s absolutely bouncing. We’ve got our old mate John Robb with his band The Membranes on tour with us for these shows, and when we arrive at the gig later, they’re on stage, and Christ, they’re loud…very loud. They’re just wrapping up their set when we get there, and they go down great…a big roar sees them off the stage…and very happy they look with the result too.
We take to the stage around half an hour later, and the place is jam packed solid, with folk listening outside in the street too we’re told. It’s a great set up they’ve got here, but it’s hard work for the front of house and monitor engineers, with sound bouncing around all over the place…but our guys always make it work…and because it’s essentially a tent, the lighting is from the front and back, with none overhead, which makes it a bit awkward to see the guitar neck sometimes, daft as that sounds. JJ and I both suffer a little from it tonight, but we barely look at our guitars most of the time anyway, so we muddle through. We do a tight compact set of about 90 minutes, and are all smiles afterwards. The cool night air has kept us from sweating too much, apart from Jim of course, who’s his usual soaking self…he puts so much effort into it…I really don ‘t know how he does it…but I’m pleased he does. Toby is pleased too…he’s played his usual pretty flawless show. The set will evolve as it always does, as the shows go by, but very we’re happy with it for now.
We’ve had a great few days in this lovely little city…the people are so warm, and genuinely pleased that we’re there. We met a great many of them, and to a person, they’re all smiles and bonhomie…just lovely. If you’re ever in this part of Ireland, I can well recommend a visit to Limerick. Nice 1!
Fri Sept 23rd
The Olympia Theatre, Dublin
This is the third time we’ve played this beautiful old theatre…and even after the first time, I was declaring it one of my favourite all time gigs. Built and opened in 1879, the list of people who’ve tread it’s eminent boards is impressive…there are some very impressive names from the past…but I have to say that when I found out Charlie Chaplin had been here, and even better for me, Laurel and Hardy, I sort of got a bit fan boy kiddie about the whole thing. Like a lot of folk of my generation I’m assuming, I was sat down in front of the TV with my three younger brothers, and fed Laurel and Hardy by my dad…seemingly for my entire childhood…and I don’t why, but they always seemed to be on BBC2 at 6 o’clock…forever…it made a lasting impression :)… Anyway, I digress.
Tonight’s gig is rammed to capacity. I’ll always remember the first time I stepped on the stage here…the venue is three tiers high, and looking up at the very top cricks your neck…the folk up there seem to almost lean over the stage. It’s also got ‘slippers’, which are the little boxes at each side of the stage, raised up, where VIP’s and dignitaries would sit, when this place was in it’s pomp…(think of the two old dudes from The Muppets, Waldorf and Statler, who sit up in the box and berate the acts as they perform, and you get the picture).These are full too, with the added attraction of being able to take drinks in there with you, sit in comfort, and have an absolute low level bird’s eye view right across the stage.
The Membranes are closing their set again just as we arrive, and I get a better view of them than I did last night. They’re really good this lot, and good to watch too…the coming weeks with them are going to be fun. I manage to have a word with Pete tonight too, their giant guitar player. I haven’t seen him since we played a few shows with Goldblade, who he also played with quite a while ago. He’s a gentle giant and it’s nice to see him again.
We go on promptly at 9 o’clock, and steam into Toiler on the Sea. Right from the off the crowd are bouncing, and the acoustics of this very well designed old place mean that we can hear the crowd’s roar all the way through the gig…gives you heart. It’s also a bit of a landmark gig in Stranglers lore, in that it’s Toby and Jim’s 50th and 400th gigs, respectively. Toby has been in the band for almost a year already, and Jim did his first show with us in Estonia in 2012…my how time flies. We had a long sound check in the afternoon, and decide to throw Don’t Bring Harry and Sweden into the set…and despite a false start to the latter, which was very amusing, we play both beautifully.
We decide to encore with The Lines and And if you should see Dave, as we did in the UK earlier this year, and they go down really well…despite some pissed wankers desperately trying to get their 15 seconds of fame by shouting JJ down as he’s explaining about Dave…not a wise move…but this is Dublin on a Friday night…some of these guys have probably been drinking for a week…or more. All in all, another great evening here, and I hope, not the last. Ireland is proving to be everything again that it always is…vital and fully alive…brilliant.
Sat Sept 24th
The smallest gig of the tour so far…but big things come in little bundles…and Belfast Limelight is such a thing. When you arrive in the afternoon to sound check, and the room is empty, it’s just another empty bar…a bit scruffy and worn around the edges…but shoe horn 800 people in it, and the goal posts most definitely move. When we arrive back at the venue for the show, which is an early one, an 8.15 start, not our favourite thing I must admit, the place is absolutely bouncing along to The Membranes. They’re only playing 30 minute sets on this tour, but they’re making the most of it without a doubt. When they leave the stage John Robb is drenched with sweat…he really gives it his all…they all do…real old school…you’ve got to hand it to them.
Small places like this are generally pretty poorly lit on the stage. We’ve got some bits and pieces to augment the lighting systems in these places, that we bring along , but generally, they’re pretty dim and dingy. So it’s not until the lights go on behind us, similar to what we encountered in Limerick, that we finally see the crowd, and they’re absolutely beaming with delight…every single one of them, and it gladdens the heart I can tell you…they’re so pleased that we’re here, and letting us know.
We motor along nicely, pacing ourselves and slowly beginning to get shiny with sweat…I can feel it start to run down my back, and when I glance over at JJ, he’s starting to glisten too…Jim of course, is dripping 3 numbers in, and Toby is his usual picture of cool…he’ll have a bit of sweat on his top lip within 20 minutes, and it’ll be running down his back too, as he likes to tell us afterwards 🙂
We’re also losing Pete Waite our lighting guy tonight. He’s been doing our lights all through the summer, and has definitely proven himself to be a contender, getting better and better as the months and gigs have rolled on. I think I’m right in saying he’s only 24, so he’ll be around in the game for a while yet I’m sure. He’s definitely one of us now, and we all give him a big hug afterwards in the dressing room, and tell him we hope to see him again before too long.
We don’t do The Lines and Dave tonight, as they tend to work better in theatres, so as this is a sweaty bar gig, we encore with Go Buddy Go and No More Heroes…and the roof finally comes off the building. Fantastic Belfast did it again, and it would be lovely to think we’ll be back here soon…only time will tell.
It’s always a pleasure to go to Ireland, and we’ll return…oh yes we will…
Wed Sept 28th
Het Depot, Leuven, Belgium
This is a great little venue that we’ve done, I think I’m correct in saying, 4 times now, including this trip.Leuven is a Flemish town in northern Belgium with a population of around 100,000…and if you’ve ever had a can of Stella Artois, and I know many of you have, (including a certain revered former colleague)… you’ll see the name printed on the tin…it’s brewed here, and the factory dominates the city skyline. It’s also got one of the most impressive town halls that you’ll ever see…an amazing Gothic multi towered affair, that could only be from this part of the world. As we pull into the alley that runs down to the venue, it looms over the end of the street, and we all gasp at it’s grandeur…breath taking stuff.
We actually arrived in the town yesterday, and had an extra day in the venue to sound check and do a little rehearsing, tightening stuff up and changing things around, so we arrive later than usual today and just run through the usual stuff to make sure the sound is well and truly balanced…then we eat.
The guy in the kitchen is obviously very vegetarian it turns out, so everything is green. While this isn’t a problem, and fresh vegetables are always appreciated when you’re on the road, it’s nice to be given the choice…as any vegetarian will always cheerfully tell you.He’s quite aggressive when the subject of meat is brought up…one of the crew simply asking him if there’s a meat dish available, and we immediately don’t like him…even the vegetarians in our camp screwing their faces up at his ‘right on’ antics. As it turns out however, his ‘don’t dispute it, just eat it’ policy just about gets him through…his food happens to be delicious…credit where credit’s due… A little less militancy would have served just as well though…not everyone’s out to get you bonny lad… Mrs Warne is vegan…and I’ve been a confirmed carnivore all my life…we love each other…just fucking get on with it…
Tonight’s gig is sold out, and when we arrive there’s a local support band on called Soviet War. The Membranes aren’t with us tonight as they have an exclusion clause for another gig they’re involved with in the area.The promoter has put a line in their contract saying they can’t play within a certain distance or time, of his festival. We’ve been involved in that too in the past…it’s fairly standard practice. Obviously if you’re playing for them, somewhere in the area, they don’t want you playing anywhere close by. I don’t really see or hear much of Soviet War, but judging by their name, they’re a punk band of some description. I forget to thank them though, even though Brendan, our guitar tech has stuck some tape on my monitor with their name on to remind me…so chaps, if you’re reading this…cheers.
We take to the stage at 9.30pm sharp, and blast through a 90 minute set with swagger. It’s three days since we played, and I find us, or more specifically myself, a little rusty. There are also some tuning issues between me and JJ, which are unusual, and brings me down a little…but hey ho…it’s all live, and we get through it okay. We encore with The Lines and ‘Dave’, and as usual, have gob shites in the crowd that won’t shut up, and I have to put them straight…as JJ did in Dublin a few nights before. Some people just never learn.
We finish as we have been recently with Buddy and Heroes, and retire downstairs for a glass of wine and a slice of lukewarm sticky pizza…
Ah…the dizzying heights…
Another successful visit to Leuven complete, we get back to the hotel in good spirits and crash out. We‘ve got a fairly long drive across to Frankfurt in the morning, and a show.
No rest for the wicked…
Thurs Sept 29th
Zoom, Frankfurt, Germany
After a 400km drive , we reach Frankfurt around 3.30, and go straight to the venue to sound check. Jim informs me that the last time we played in the city, the venue left a lot to be desired…I must confess, I can’t remember a single thing about it…probably erased it from my mind straight after we’d done it. It’s never less than a privilege to do what we do, but sometimes you just want to forget terrible venues and move on. This has happened less and less to us as the years have rolled by…but some people have longer memories than others, and you just remember,sporadically, crap gigs.
The first thing we notice about Zoom though, is it’s a really nice place…very well appointed, and with a decent sized room, and a relatively small stage, it should make for a nice experience later on when we play. We run into The Membranes, who’ve just appeared, and discover that the show they were supposed to do in Belgium, which had excluded them from last night’s show in Leuven, was cancelled…they could have played with us after all…sods law.
We sound check easily, and my in ear monitors are great tonight.Dave our monitor guy has things well and truly sussed, and he’s got me a near perfect balance…when we start in anger tonight, and there’s a crowd in, things will inevitably change, but minimally I’m hoping…it sounds great.
Another nice change to our visit to Frankfurt is that the backstage catering is fantastic…not always something you can say about Germany. They’ve really got it together, and we eat heartily and healthily…again, not always the case here. Things seem to be boding well for the gig later.
And it turns out to be a great gig. The place is very well attended and we hear The Membranes finish their set to a good reception.. When it’s our turn a huge roar greets us as we go one by one onto the smallish stage, delicately maneuvering our way around the gear that’s tightly packed onto the stage. I’ve been having difficulties with my ear monitors over the last few gigs…I turn them up too loud, I turn them down too low, one of them, my left, doesn’t seem to be sealing into my ear too well. Tonight however, everything is perfect, and I play my personal best gig of the tour so far. I’m over the moon with how it sounds in my ears, and I tell Dave, our monitor guy that he’s got the job…ha…He’s great and like the rest of our lads, goes that extra mile to make sure you’re happy…and I am.
During Golden Brown I fluff the guitar solo a tad…so after it’s finished I attempt to play it again on my own, setting myself up for a fall…and do the same thing again…JJ gives me a playful clip around the head for my trouble…as usual a little too hard, but that’s him…even when he’s larking around.
During Nuclear Device he makes a total howler, and hears me laugh during the verse…so he comes over, offers his head to me, and I twat him back in time to the music…boys will be boys…
We encore with Buddy and Heroes again, and then it’s a towel down and a glass of something as our reward. The back stage area is nice and spacious so we have some guests come back and say hello. Toby has family living nearby, so he’s busy with them, and JJ has a pal from the old days here too who seems to be a good guy. He tells me we’ve met before, and again I’m reminded that we see so many folk, and it’s impossible to remember them all…embarrassing too…but he understands…I think. Owen and Jac Carne come back to say hi too, and we have a beer with them.
Another town that we don’t often visit has been kind to us, and we vow hopefully to return in the not too distant future if we can.I forget to thank The Membranes tonight too…sorry guys…you know I didn’t mean it… 🙂
Fri Sept 30th
Die Kantine, Cologne, Germany
We’ve played here before…we’re sure of it…when however, we’re not. I’m pretty sure we were a five piece, so it must have been pre 2006. It’s the outside of the venue that looks the most familiar as we drive up, with a rusty old crane thing displaying the venue sign…after that, it’s a blur. It looks like some old type of office block or administrative building maybe from the 50’s or thereabouts, but it’s really difficult to tell…looks a bit art deco on the stair cases inside, so could be older still…dunno.
Inside it’s pretty cool…nothing of any real significance to distinguish it from hundreds of other venues, but it’s nicely appointed, and the food is good so the crew tell me. There’s some vegetable soup that’s so good, I have two bowls, and as we were a bit late getting here due to traffic…Friday afternoons must be the same everywhere, we head straight to sound check.
The room itself is a nice size, and with anywhere up to 1000 people expected in tonight, it should be rocking. We don’t mess around today, as the general consensus was that last night’s set list in Frankfurt was the most balanced we’ve done up to now, so we decide we’re keeping it for tonight. Of course the crew have been here for hours, so everything is as it should be, and we only have to turn up, plug in, and play…and it’s a nice tight sound, considering we’re playing in an empty hall that reverberates to buggery. It’ll improve with some bodies in here tonight…maybe…you can’t always tell…but for now, it’s good.
Nine hundred souls in by the time we get here, make sure that the sound is different yes, but not as much as expected. Louie and Dave are up against it a bit tonight, but nothing they can’t overcome, and by around the 4th or 5th song, it’s getting there in my ears. The gig takes a little longer for me to get completely comfortable in comparison to last night, but 10/15 mins in, it’s sorted. This is one of those gigs that seem to fly by. Sometimes this happens, and it’s a bit off putting. It doesn’t mean you’re enjoying the gig any less than any other…just, something happens and next thing you know, you’re there…where you didn’t expect to be in the set. We’ve all talked about it many times over the years, and Jet used to have a saying for it…” the gigs fly by Bazza, and you’ve never done as many as you think you have…trust me…I’ve counted them from day one”. This can also apply to songs…all of a sudden you’re six in when you thought you’d only done four…weird…
All told , it’s a great gig. We don’t play Germany much…the band never really did in the old days, JJ always says…but in recent years we’ve had some great times here…it really has warmed to us, and now when we come here , the crowds are getting bigger by the tour.
Cologne is one of the German cities we’ve visited the most over the years in my time, and it’s always received us very well.
And just in case you’re wondering…I nailed that fucking solo tonight aye…
Bastard thing… 🙁
Sun Oct 2nd
O13, Tilburg, Holland
I must confess that I’d never even heard of Tilburg until these dates were announced, despite it having a population of nearly a quarter of a million and being Holland’s sixth largest town.It’s pretty much slap bang in the middle of the country, roughly halfway between Antwerp and Eindhoven. It’s famous as a textile town, and in recent years the large student population has made it one of the Holland’s leading university towns.
We arrive the day before the show, and go out to eat in a vibrant town centre that’s alive and well and truly kicking.There are bars and restaurants everywhere, and as it’s a Saturday night, the place is banging. The Black Crowes are also playing in town tonight, at the same venue we’ll be playing tomorrow, so there’s a healthy smattering of hippy looking types who still think it’s 1970…and the air is very fragrant indeed…
We’re all done in after three gigs on the bounce and a long journey to get here, so we have a relatively early night, or attempt to. Our hotel, which is out of town and situated in some woods, is a very pretty one, and it seems, a popular one for weddings…because there’s one on here, and they’re really going for it….so thanks Stephanie and Leon for depriving me of my sleep…I hope you have a long and happy life together. 🙂
Coming into town to sound check the next day we encounter some fans waiting outside the venue. It never ceases to amaze us how much travelling and organising these guys do, just to see us. There’s a gang of them doing every show on this jaunt, and it’s such a pleasure to see them in the crowd every night, enjoying every show like it’s their first and last.
The o13 is a really lovely venue right in the centre of town, custom built with fantastic acoustics and a great back stage area. We sound check quickly, as we usually do by this stage of a tour. Sometimes they only last five minutes, but we always do one, unless something has happened and we can’t get there. I know of bands who don’t bother with sound checks any more…that’s a bit arrogant if you ask me…the people who’ve paid and travelled deserve the best you can give them don’t they? Whatever works for you I guess…doesn’t work for us though…we like to know where we are, and get comfortable…it just makes for a much better gig all round. We bump into The Membranes who are running late after vehicle trouble. It’s still not fixed and they’ve got to wait until the morning to see a guy in town who’s sure he can sort it for them. They could probably travel around the UK for the next ten years without any van trouble, but it’s sods law that it always happens abroad…we’ve been there too.
When we get back to the venue for the show, they’re just finishing their set, and it sounds really good. John Robb is in full flight with a bass guitar related story, and has the 1000 plus crowd in the palm of his hand.Then they pile into their last number with everything they’ve got, and they’re done…another great reception and victory for them.
We take to the stage at 9pm sharp and straight away I can tell it’s going to be a good show…my sound is spot on and I relax into it very quickly. The only fly in the ointment is that they’ve got the air con on what feels pretty much like full power right above our heads and it’s stopping us from sweating. It doesn’t feel like a gig unless you sweat. I don’t know if it’s the law in Holland or what…as you know, they’ve got some pretty funky laws, so maybe it’s that, I don’t know. I look down in the crowd and there’s a woman wrapping a scarf around her neck. I even mention it to the crowd and get a big roar of agreement…but it stays on. JJ and I bemoan this fact afterwards…it’s nice to get a sweat on at work. Even John Robb wasn’t shiny after their show, and that’s saying something.
It’s a great show, considering it’s a Sunday night, and we’re very happy with the turn out.
Also considering it very nearly didn’t happen…
The bus driver of our crew bus, who up until point has been conscientious and doing his job, and has driven for us many many times, has what can only be described as a meltdown on his night off. It’s no ones business but his own what he does when he’s not working, and nobody is here to judge anybody else, but when it affects the running of our operation and potentially can cause harm to others in the process, you’ve got to put a stop to it. I’m not going to go into it too much here, but with some problems at home that couldn’t be addressed out here on the road, he medicated himself with whatever he had…(this being Holland it could’ve be anything) and had passed out in his cabin on the bus. The problem was nobody knew where he was parked, and when he failed to turn up with the trailer and all our gear at the venue so the boys could start work, alarm bells started ringing. He wasn’t answering his phone, and when he eventually did, he was talking jibberish…then he hung up.
The real stroke of luck came when one of our lads remembered he had something on the bus with a tracker in it…a bag or something, and through an app on his phone they were able to ascertain where the bus actually was, and walked the half mile or so to it…not knowing what the fuck was going on with the driver. Had he been mugged? Had he fallen or got himself into a fight or what? Or was he just pissed or stoned…or both?
Ultimately there were paramedics and police called, who attended and declared the driver unfit (no shit) much to his loud expletive spattered consternation. I won’t disclose what happened next…that would be unfair on the guy, who as I said, up until then was ok and who we all got on with fine…but suffice it to say, even though people were fucking furious with him, me included and I wasn’t even there, we had a duty of care and couldn’t just leave him hanging in the breeze…although at first, before the anger subsided, that was definitely a possibility for some of us.
As I write this I’m happy to say that he’s safely on a plane home to his family, and we all hope he gets the help he seems to need at the moment.I’d be surprised if he ever drives a bus professionally again though…assuming he ever wants to…he shouldn’t have really been out in the first place, truth be told.
Special mention finally, before I put this sad little episode to an end, to Lee, our regular driver, who wasn’t on this tour due to commitments at home but who jumped on a plane at 2 hours notice and flew across to well and truly bail us out and save the day…and Gazza our irreplaceable tour manager who took it all in his stride, as he always does, and got it all sorted. Nice one lads…
Just thinking on though…if our lad hadn’t had that tracker on the bus…they’d probably be still trying to find it…Tilburg is a big town…
Mon Oct 3rd
Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany
This is very familiar gig to us. We’ve been trying to work out how many times we’ve played here over the last few years. I first played here as support to the Stranglers in 1997 when I was with Smalltown Heroes. That first time was a real eye opener. For those of you not familiar with The Fabrik (German for factory) it’s had many uses over it’s long history, but is most notable, to us anyway in more recent times, for the making of munitions, rockets and ordnance, for use during the second world war. There’s a rusted and very sinister monument outside in the street as testimony to this buildings’ grim past…rockets welded together in an upright pile, and covered in graffiti…chilling to look at I can tell you.
Speaking of graffiti, the dressing room of this place has long been a marvel. There had to have been been at least 30 years worth of the stuff from a lot of the bands that have played here over the years, and you could sit for hours reading it all. I even saw some that we’d put there with the Heroes on that long ago jaunt…still there and legible!
But guess what…they’ve painted over every single bit of it and eradicated a vital part of this venues’ modern day history. It’s now some kind of misty buff new age wanky beige, with plants and framed black and white pictures on the walls…very clean and fresh, and very boring…shame…all that history, humour, and streams of conciousness from countless artists over the decades…how they were feeling on the day, and messages left for their mates and other touring bands coming in or going out of the venue…all gone…a sign of the times. Mind you, some of it was very un PC and outrageously funny…some snowflake from the staff had probably wandered in there one day ,taken a look at a big weeping phallus on the wall and thought ” mein gott…das ist in absolut jeder hinsicht ein beleidigung meiner sensibilitat” ! (thanks Google translate).
By the time we get to the gig, again The Membranes are finishing up and sounding mighty…and yes John Robb is very sweaty tonight…no AC here. It bodes well for us to sweat out some of the alcohol and bad food additives that we’ve a accumulated over the last few days.
And it works like a charm. Three songs in and I can feel the sweat starting to trickle down my back…if it’s happening to me I can only imagine how Toby is coming along…Jim and JJ are starting to shine up too, and it’s not long before all four of us are dripping wet…a proper gig 🙂 The people up on the top are lined up all the way down to the end of the venue, and it’s a sight to behold. We go smoothly up through the gears and by the time White Stallion comes, the place is absolutely bouncing and we can see the finish line. After the show it’s declared that this was easily the hottest gig of the tour so far…but a nice frosty German beer (there’s no better in the world) cools us all down and it’s job done.
The Fabrik has always been one of my favourite venues in the world to play…the sheer history of the place and close proximity of the audience, they’re literally right on top of you, make for a very memorable event…every time.
Hopefully see you sooner rather than later Hamburg…cheers…
Tues Oct 4th
Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark
It’s been thirteen years since we were last in Copenhagen…I know because I checked…but suffice it to say, I can’t remember a single thing about it. This was on a legendary tour that we did in 2009. Twenty five gigs in fifteen countries in five weeks. We still talk about that one sometimes. JJ and I lived on the bus the whole time in a little lounge at the front with two bunks and a couch with all our crap on it.
Dave was driven to them all by Big Al, our security guy and driver at the time, because there was no way he’d have been able to last all that time on a bus…’ my back won’t take it’ was always his standard reply…and we had Ian Barnard…Yarnee…playing drums with us, who had been Jet’s tech since he was 17…he’d started with The Stranglers around the same time as me, so he’d already been around for nearly a decade. It was such a blur, that looking back on it, it’s no wonder I can’t recall much about the gigs.
We talked about this on our way up from Hamburg in the car, trying to recall certain things and incidents. The scenery started to get pretty jaw dropping and by the time we got to the ferry terminal at Puttgarden, to get across to Denmark, we’d all but stopped yakking and were just blown away by the beauty that was all around us…just stunning. We have a bite on the boat, and as the crossing is only forty five minutes, we’re just finishing up as the boat docks at Vogelfluglinie on the Danish coast. We then have about 150 km to drive to get to Copenhagen, and by the time we get to the venue it’s late, most of the food has gone, and we need to sound check quickly so The Membranes can have their turn, and the venue can open the doors. It’s all a bit of a rush, but as usual our crew has got everything ready for us to plug in and play…where we’d be without these boys I don’t know.
It’s a bit of a pain checking into the hotel as well, as it’s rush hour and the reception area is packed, and by the time we get to our rooms, I don’t have much time for my customary pre match kip of forty winks. JJ doesn’t get any at all, and when we meet in the lobby to go to the gig, he looks pretty beat…but strangely, a phenomenon that we’ve encountered all our playing lives happens yet again…when you’re tired, you always play better. Maybe it’s got something to do with adrenalin almost completely taking over, sharpening you up, and giving you a sort of nonchalant concentration. You know what you’re doing, but a definite auto pilot kicks in too, and keeps you focused…very hard to explain…but it works.
For a Tuesday night there’s a very healthy turn out at the the Amager Bio, a medium sized club in the heart of the city. There are a lot of Brits who’ve made the journey too. They like to see us in off the beaten track places, and always make a trip of it when they can…staying a day or two longer and taking in the sights. They’re in fine voice and we take the stage to a big roar from a near capacity crowd. It immediately becomes apparent that this is going to be a hot one. Two songs in and sweat is already beginning to form puddles in my boots…I love it.
The gig seems to fly over…although I have unusual trouble with my guitar staying in tune, such is the heat of the place. The band are well and truly locked in , and we’re tight and powerful…and it’s another great show…becoming the new hottest sweaty show on the tour…surpassing Hamburg the previous night. Maybe there’ll be hotter shows to come. I hope so.
A few of the fans who’ve been following us around are heading home after this one, so it’s nice to see them off on a high. Safe travels you lot, and thanks for making this a memorable trip for us all.
We’ve got a night off before heading up to Sweden for three shows off the bounce. If tonight in Denmark was anything to go by, it looks like it’s going to be a great few days… I’ll let you know…
And just in case you’re wondering, The Membranes had their pants pulled down and arses firmly slapped by the unscrupulous van fixing bloke in Holland a couple of days before. We saw them properly for the first time tonight since then, and their guy tells me they were charged nearly five hundred euros for a snapped hand brake cable to be replaced. They paid it and soldiered on to get to these gigs, because that’s what you do…without hesitation…old school…
Thurs Oct 6th
Plan B, Malmo, Sweden
This is the smallest gig of the tour and has done the least amount of business. Plan B is an 850 capacity club, and at last count, we’d done around half of that. The Stranglers have never played Malmo before, so you take the rough with the smooth…it is what it is.
The journey here today was one I’d been looking forward to for some time. Spanning the stretch of water the separates Denmark from Sweden, known as the Oresund, is the fabulous Oresund Bridge. Coming from the Danish side there’s a five kilometre tunnel , which then opens out onto an eight Kilometre (five mile) bridge that takes you across directly into the city of Malmo. If you saw the TV series The Tunnel, it was originally inspired by the Scandy noir series The Bridge…which was filmed here. I’ve always wanted to cross it…just to say I have…I know…sad. It seems I’m not the only one…JJ also gets his phone out to film almost the entire crossing…what a couple of geeks. It’s a remarkable feat of engineering though…jaw dropping in fact.
We get to the hotel, check in, and wander out into the city for some lunch…smack dab into an entire square of German football fans here for a match with Malmo. FC Union Berlin are here, for a Europa League game…and frankly their supporters are as lairy as fuck…all dressed in black (at least they got that right), but are extremely intimidating, and don’t look like they’re here just for the football. Our hotel is full of them, and a quiet night’s rest after the gig doesn’t look likely for us, whatever the outcome of the game.
We decide to move and join the crew on the bus for tonight. It’s a relatively short hop to Gothenburg tomorrow, plus it’s Laurie’s birthday…Toby’s keyboard tech and all round nice guy, so a drink with the lads tonight will definitely be in order. We haven’t done that yet on this tour, and it’s never less than a hoot.
The gig itself is actually great…hot and sweaty as expected, and we all enjoy it very much. It’s like stepping back in time. These were the kind of clubs abroad we were playing when I first joined the band in 2000…and it’s fun. There’s a big contingent of Brits who’ve come over for these Swedish gigs, and they’re in full voice bless ’em. There’s a little bolshy Swede in the crowd who seems to be getting up everyone’s noses, and he’s getting a bit of a thumping from a couple of quarters. We have a stroll over during the solos in Walk On By and eyeball him…he seems to get the message, and we don’t see him again…wonder what happened to him. I get Laurie to come up and take a birthday bow, and he’s greeted with the whole crowd singing to him…his face is a picture :).
The rest of the gig runs smoothly and we sit backstage afterwards in little puddles towelling down with a glass of something. Everyone is in fine spirits, and we all board the bus for good crack and a drink…which is exactly what we do. Jim and I are last men standing and we sit up front with Lee in his cabin for the final half hour of our night before hitting the hay. The bunks on a bus can sometimes be problematic for me, being nearly six feet four, and I usually have to lay at an angle to stretch out properly. Not so this bus though, and as soon as I’m in my pit, I crash out completely, and when I wake up a few hours later for a pee, the bus is dark, silent and still, and we’re in Gothenburg…
That’s the way to do it.
NB we were right to duck out of Malmo when we did…the next day in the news there were reports of trouble at the football match, an explosion or two, some tear gas and many arrests…that would have probably happened whatever the result…as it happened, the Germans won…then smashed the place up…nice…
Fri Oct 7th
Tradgarn, Gothenburg, Sweden
Apparently, we’ve played here before. Both JJ and myself look very bemused when Gazza our tour manager informs us of this…but we played here on the infamous 2009 tour, that was mentioned earlier. I have absolutely no recollection of that at all…and it’s starting to worry me a bit all this memory stuff…hopefully in 13 years’ time I’ll be able to remember this gig.
Waking up on the bus and wandering into the venue for coffee, and seeing the boys grafting away in their natural habitat always makes me feel good. We’re a little army in a bubble, andwatching them all mucking in and helping each other with the basics before they all go onto their specialized jobs at their various stations across the stage, is a joy to watch…they’re a well oiled machine, and we don’t often get to see this so early in the day. We drink tea, make toastand have a natter. Toby is up and around in the venue somewhere, and he eventually shows up looking fresh and showered and ready to face the day…quite a change from the last time I saw him when he was barrelling around in his pants at three in the morning on the bus, needing a pee, and looking decidedly squiffy…he wasn’t alone.
This is one of those dressing rooms where they like to take pictures of the acts that have played here, get the bands to sign them, and hang them on the wall. There are dozens, and some really funny ones. They like their metal up here and a lot of metal and hard rock bands have played here in the past…and they all look pretty much the same…except for the ones that like to make themselves look like corpses and stare seriously and scarily into the camera…yeah right…These are grown men we’re talking about, which makes it all the more amusing…and why do they all have to do the metal finger pose thing and scream at the photographer?? You know the finger thing…Dr Spock did something closely resembling it in the last century. We spend a jolly half hour tittering to ourselves and saying ” chaps come and look at this one” !! HAHAHA!
The gig is another blinder, with the hall looking very busy, and another healthy smattering of Brits making themselves very much heard. We didn’t sound check today for running late this afternoon, so the first time I hear anything in my ears are the first bass notes to start Toiler, and it sounds great to me…I immediately relax into it and off we go.
We get to Don’t Bring Harry, and all’s going well as I take my customary position at the side and back of the stage. I like to keep out of the way during this one, only stepping forward for the chorus’ and solo, when I need to change patches on my pedal board. JJ takes this one, and it’s his first chance in the set to really emote and sing. I’m concentrating on what I’m doing and don’t notice him starting to get irritated with a gob shite in the front row, a drunk Brit gob shite who ought to know better, but is just braying loudly to anyone who’ll listen. He’s wearing a blue t shirt and is easily identifiable. Harry obviously isn’t his favourite tune, and that’s fine…does anyone truly love every single one? I don’t think so…but spoiling it for others with your loud bullshit is just selfish, and at the end of the song JJ walks over to the front of the stage, takes out his earpiece, and berates the guy in front of the whole audience. The bloke looks up at him open mouthed and stunned…and then proceeds to stalk off out of view…we don’t see him again. Someone later tells me he was close to tears as his idol flipped him off for all to see…personally I’d have done exactly the same thing. Just shut up and let those who want to listen, do so…surely that’s why you came to the show…?
We finish the gig in a sweaty blur, and as the dressing room is literally right next to the stage, we’re sitting with a glass even as the outro music is still playing. Really enjoyed Gothenburg tonight. Again I admit to the crowd, to my shame, that I know we played here in 2009, but I just can’t remember it at all…my life was a little bit upside down around that time I seem to recall…maybe that’s it…or at least that’s what I tell myself…when I remember to…
Sat Oct 8th
Berns theatre, Stockholm, Sweden
As I write this, we’re sitting on the train from Gothenburg up to Stockholm for tonight’s show. Wherever and whenever we can, we travel by train, and it’s always a pleasure. There’s still something quite genteel about it, even on these modern trains. There are a few fans aboard too and everyone is in good spirits. I ran into some of the lads on the platform as we were boarding, and they tell me this is day eleven for them…and they’re starting to feel it a bit…I’m not surprised…I am too. We should arrive up there early afternoon and have time for a bit of a relax before sound check.
Tonight is the last Scandinavian show on this tour and it’s in a lovely old theatre. When we get there later, I’ll have a look around and get back to you…
Would you believe it…a gig I remember! And on entering the ballroom, it’s a wonder I ever forgot…what a magnificent place this is. It would take an age to describe this place and its history, but if you really want to know, Google it and search for Berns Hotel Stockholm. A potted history will tell you that it was built in the mid nineteenth century and has been a centrepiece for Stockholm high society ever since…hosting all manner of events through the decades…and tonight, once again, it’s our turn.
After eating a Chinese buffet style lunch in the grandest of settings, with the slowest of service, but ultimately the tastiest of food, we literally nip next door to sound check. I actually remember this place quite well once inside and breathe a little sigh of relief to myself…I’m not losing my fucking marbles quite as fast as I thought I was. It’s a beautiful place this, and I can’t quite seem to get Agatha Christie out of my head for some reason. We’re staying upstairs in the hotel here too, and because the rooms literally are shoe box sized, they remind me of travelling in a compartment on a train in one of those lovely old British black and white films of the 40’s and 50’s...all burnished walnut and brass…they don’t make them like that anymore…
The gig itself is a blinder and we play the same set as we’ve been doing now for the last ten days or so…almost. This seems to be the perfect setting to do The Lines and If you should see Dave and as JJ and I take the stage in this beautiful old place, the audience settles down to almost silence… (there’s always one or two in the crowd that need that special little bit of attention they crave)…we play them through really well it has to be said, and maybe because of the grand loveliness, but still intimacy of the place, there seems to be an extra bit of poignance in the two songs tonight…can’t quite put my finger on it. We leave the stage and Jim and Toby are standing there to pull us back in with back slaps and encouragement… then back out for the double sucker punch of Buddy and Heroes and before we know it we’re back in the dressing room.
JJ and I have been invited out to one of Stockholm’s premier eateries for late night Swedish meat balls, and as the PR lady turns out to be a delight, and has worked hard on our behalf for this concert, we agree to go…not our usual thing after a gig I must say…I prefer the sanctity of my room with a glass of wine or something usually, but we go, and it’s great I have to say. Jim joins us a bit later for a drink as the three of us are flying down to Luxembourg tomorrow…Toby is electing to stay on the bus in his bubble with the crew and drive the 1600 kilometres there…each to their own. The restaurant, we’re told, is where the young and beautiful of Stockholm’s young go getters go to eat, drink, and desperately try to pick each other up. You can picture it…young girls who’ve spent three hours trying to look their very best… and guys who’ve spent twice as long trying to look like they’ve just got out of bed…always amusing. The company is fantastic and we enjoy the hour or so we’re there very much. Louise, who’s been amazing helping us around Stockholm, and promoting the show,is a lovely lady and great character with a sharp wit and twinkle in her eye…we like her immediately. It’s only a five minute walk back to the hotel, and the three of us totter off in a pleasant little haze…a nice end to a great evening, in a part of the world we very seldom come to.
Sun Oct 9th
If you follow these blogs regularly you’ll know that I generally don’t mention travel days. Why would I? You really want to hear about all the boring minutiae that goes into us getting from A to B? No…
But today turns out to be very different, for all sorts of reasons…and Ifyou’ve ever had a day in your life when you thought that something truly wasn’t meant to be, no matter how hard you tried…this would come pretty close…so I think it’s worth a mention.
It starts off well enough. Me, JJ and Jim get a taxi to the station that directly services Stockholm Arlanda Airport with an express service that takes about twenty minutes. We hop on one and are there and bags checked through without too much fuss. We then join a ridiculously long queue to go through security, and as we approach the gate, I’m hit with the stunned certainty that I’ve lost my passport. I just know…they way you do. JJ is in front of me scanning his boarding pass, and I just know as I reach into my pocket, that mine isn’t there. I then proceed to tip my bag out onto the floor at the gates in front of droves of uninterested blank faced passengers…but to no avail…I know it’s gone. I look up at JJ who’s now on the other side, and whose face is a picture of WTF??!! I tell him to go on and I’ll catch up with him (at this stage I still had that stupid ” it can’t be far ” thing going on in my head). I walk back back to the check in desk where we’d been not half an hour ago and ask the guy that checked us in if anyone had handed in a British passport. I can tell by his face that he thinks I’ve got very little chance of seeing it again. As I turn away, I can see what he’s thinking…the place is immense and packed, and I’ve seen the last of my fucking passport for sure. He’s mentioned a lost and found station two floors down, and as I walk to escalator to go down there’s a pair of security folk there…a guy and a young girl. I ask her if she can help, and she immediately goes off to contact a colleague and make enquiries about it. I can’t stay still though…panic has set in, and all the scenarios that could unfold if I really have lost it are starting to set in.
They won’t let me out of the country without a passport. I’ve got another one (you can have up to three) but it’s fucking England at home…so..
1) Mrs Warne is going to have to bring it to Stockholm so I can get out…that’ll take days.
2) The gig is scuppered and I’m not going to be flavour of the month for that for sure
3) I’ve been pick pocketed and my passport is, even as we speak on the internet drawing huge bids on the black market…
All the crap that goes through your head…honestly.
I’m thinking all these things on the escalator down to the lost property desk when I hear someone shouting down to me from above…SIR!!SIR!!. The girl’s colleague comes rushing down to tell me that there’s been a lost British passport found…my heart skips several beats. I go upstairs and they’re waiting for me…with my passport. Obviously, this type of thing happens many times a day at big international airports like this one, and they take it all in their stride…but I could’ve kissed each and every one of them. I felt stupid and embarrassed, but elated too…a stroke of luck like no other. I’ve been doing this for decades and have never lost anything before…what a way to break your duck.
So, we board the plane for a very pleasant flight to Luxembourg. We’re only at around 20,000 feet, it’s a very clear day, and I spend a lot of time just looking down on the landscape and thanking my lucky stars. When we arrive in Luxembourg, the next thing happens…Jim’s bag doesn’t come out through onto the carousel…it’s lost…probably still up in Stockholm. All his clobber and a very expensive jacket are in it. I’ve no doubt he’ll get it back…whenever that is in anyone’s guess. His main bag stayed on the bus with the crew though, so he’s still got most of his stuff…still tough.
We’ve done the whole tour in Gazza’s car. He’s driven us everywhere, but when we get to Copenhagen he decides it’s a bit far to take it up into Sweden, all the way up to Stockholm, then drive from there to Luxembourg in two days…it’s 1,250 miles. So he leaves his car at Copenhagen airport and we all go to Sweden on the bus. After the Stockholm gig, Gaz gets back on the bus with the crew, and they take him back to Copenhagen to his car, on their way down to Luxembourg. He’ll drive his car back to Lux to meet everyone. Are you with me so far? It’s a bloody long way as I mentioned, and a fair bit into the trip he’s feeling very sleepy, so he pulls over for a cheeky couple of hours kip…he parks his car, switches the engine off, but leaves the lights on…and when he wakes up a couple of hours later and tries to start the car, he’s flattened the battery…it won’t start…he’s stranded in BFN. He tries to get a jump start with cables from a couple of passing motorists for a quick getaway, but to no avail, and eventually, has to call roadside rescue to come and help. He’s covered of course, but it’s the time it takes for them to arrive that further scuppers things. We’re on a fairly tight schedule.
It’s then that he hears from the crew on the bus. They’ve been stuck in traffic on the autobahn in Germany for an age, and the driver is running out of hours to complete the trip without stopping for his nine hourbreak…which is the law. Even with a second driver which is also a legal requirement, they can’t make it without stopping. So they pull into a roadside service area, the two drivers are in their bunks in seconds and sound asleep, and the crew I hear, get completely shit faced…which is the only decent thing to do of course…
Mon Oct 10th
Den Atelier, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
The next day our phones are all buzzing with everyone reporting in and telling stories of the day before. Gazza got to our hotel about 1 in the morning, and the crew pulled up outside the venue around 9…hours after they should have done…but they made it…they always make it.
When we head down to the sound check later in the day all the boys are there and there’s much back slapping, laughing and bullshitting going on. The Membranes walk in exactly on cue too, and they all look like we do…knackered…but it’s good to see them, and as I look around I’m reminded what a family we all are, and when everyone finally gets together in the same room, it’s just great…no other word for it. Here we all are for the last date of what’s been a totally knackering, but such a satisfying tour.
We’ve taken in eight countries and played fourteen shows in just over three weeks…a pretty punishing schedule by anyone’s standards. It’s all gone incredibly smoothly (until yesterday of course), and for me, part of the pleasure has always been to play countries we don’t often visit…including tonight’s show in Luxembourg. The Stranglers have never been here, not even in the old days…so here we are still breaking new ground.
The Den Atelier is exactly as I expected it to be…a medium sized sweat box of a club…and it’s jammed. The stage is really small and JJ and I are never more than a few feet apart. We’re not even through the first number when I feel the sweat starting to come, and I know this one will be another hot affair. I look at my 3 mates and they’re all beginning to glow. Toby is literally eight feet behind me and I can see his top lip shining…but as usual, he looks like he’s having the time of his life.
This was another gig that flew by, and I don’t think there was really anything untoward or notable happened…except I can’t seem to get the Golden Brown monkey off my back with the bloody solo…and I make a bit of a mess of it again. This is a fairly common thing if you play the same thing night after night, year after year, you just sort of forget how to do it. It happened with me a few years ago with Something Better Change…hashed the solo a few times in succession, including the one that my dear bass playing colleague will never let me forget…he never fails to bring it up somewhere, which was in front of 80,000 people at Glastonbury in 2010…twelve years ago and he still won’t stop going on about it. He himself however had the same thing with the bass intro to Five Minutes a few years ago…he just couldn’t get it for ages…then, one night, he did and hasn’t really messed it up since. The trick of course is to forget about it and let muscle memory take over…that usually cures all ills. I’ve played the solo pretty well a few times too over the years and I’m not worried. It’s usually the easy ones that get you anyway.
We cruise through to the end of the set, take our bow, and that’s it, the tour is over…and we’re ready to go home I can tell you. Everyone is totally spent, and although it’s always sad to say bye to the boys, it’s nice to be heading home to your own bed and a decent cuppa…ah the simple pleasures. We say our goodbyes to Lisa and Mike from The Membranes but can’t see John and Pete, and we have to go, so I’ll text them tomorrow on the way home.
I take it as a good omen for some decent rest to come, when my journey home the next day, even through the dreaded Schipol airport in Amsterdam is flawless. No queues anywhere, no bullshit bureaucratic staff throwing their weight around, no flight delays or indeed any nonsense. I even manage a pint or two and a burger with John from Bradford, a nice fella who’s been following us around for the whole trip, and who I bump into in Luxembourg airport. He tells me how much power and vigour is back in the band, and how he’ll keep following us until we stop…whenever that may be…
Not yet though…not yet….
BAZ OCT 2022
All pics by Alis Jasko (unless noted)