So to continue, I finished with England. Sorry to not make it to the rest of UK this time, but the modern life takes it’s toll on such follies…
After a few days of rushing around London pretending to look like I have a purpose, taking in a little Rachael Dadd and Ichi at this little exhibition in Depford, I take a Eurostar Eurochunnel Fast Train to Bruxelles. I am on my way to Ghent (or Gent depending on Godknowswhat).
This little odd town in Belgium is home to Kris Bauwens. You may recall I played for him a year ago. He invites a limited audience to fill his front room and provides an intimate show experience. A humble host. Here I meet up with Tiny Ruins, Hollie and Cass are having a convoluted experience of the west of Europe, but more on that later. They arrive in rented car with rented contrabass, in time for us to see a small example of Wickerman-esque oddity pass through the street immediately outside. Men dressed as disturbing pink faries with false noses clatter by as a sinister organ is turned to accompany. Tiny Ruins provide the first act, a delicate rendering of Hollies beautiful songs, clever semi-historical narratives. Also, they have been travelling around the UK in a van hired for one pound. It was pained all over in the colours of the Jamaican flag. It was emblazoned with a massive painting of Bob Marley’s face. It carried some slogan promoting ‘Marley’s Mellow Mood’ a new relaxation drink. It was to be returned to Amsterdam – their destination after the UK. It recieved negative reaction from all who laid eyes upon it. Poor girls. Thanks Kris. Goodbye Gent. Pissing it down as I left.
I have a free day here – I travel direct from Gent in the morning to Lille. Raphaelle (Le NoiZe Maker) picks me up and we go to her studio to do some recording. I try out a set of new songs and capture a load of one takes and some attempts at playing some other bits and bobs. Some good stuff to work on here so watch this space. After plenty of playing, listening back, eating cheese, drinking coffee and red wine, it is the following day and time to go to La Peniche. The boat again. It is a great opportunity for really nice home cooked quiche. a big bowl of pasta and some homw made humous (it is good). Nicolas at ‘Ad Hoc’ is worth working with for these delights alone. Despite Hollie and Cass making some European geography errors they finally made it for the show in Lille (from Bruxelles via Amsterdam and Paris). The show was extraordiary from my point of view as when I ran out of musical steam my hand got stuck to the low ceiling, for what seemed like 15 minutes the room was silent as I tried to get myself unstuck. After a great cameo from Tiny Ruins on my new song and a little mid show nap, it was over. Some firends from our little community in East Asia turned up – they drove down from a reunion in Bruxelles to give me some ‘on the spot guidance’ over a quick drink at Le Drugstore, where I played my first show in Lille in the way-back-when-a-few-years-ago. Pissing it down as I left.
In the morning be enjoy a breakfast spread from gracious host, Nic. It is nearing afternoon when the ‘Ruins surface. We all speedinly gather our wares for an imminent train. We failed to catch said imminent train. we relocate from Station The Europe to Station The North. And are able to have a coffee before the train to Paris. I have one night before I fly to Spain. You may or may not recall that Espace B is a rearely frequented venue. I have played to an audience of about 5 there. Luckily this time there are perhaps 30 or so. A small place they keep very dark perhaps to desguise a thin crowd. Anyhow, Collie and Hass are on top form. Consider that audience wowwed. I stride around making noises for a while, spilling my wine and ruining my colonial linens. Oliver ‘Peel’ bears witness, as does The Sound of Violence. Staying at Jesse and Kate’s was oddified by my stresses at Jesse not hearing me becuse he was watching the Hendrix doc on his laptop with headphones. I was almost sleeping on a stairwell. He did however exceedingly redeem himself with a well dressed salad for lunch before I left. Much appreciated. It was pissing it down as I left.
Too hot. I arrive on aeroplane. They step you out on the tarmac so you can be insulted by the heat. Nacho is waiting. I am hosted by this avid collector, we have sushi from his restaurant on his balcony. He is who you thank for Outbreeding making it to the world. You can hear the Formula 1 cars screaming in the distance. He has scraped togethr a show for me in a club downtown Valencia. With his pursuasion a reasonable crowd assembles. The sound is awkward but the combination of that and a video screen at the back (with a cycle of music video/advert where a girl in underwear and trainers bounces about, some footage of a guy with his own head for his willy and balls, and Fresh Prince of Bel Air) prompts a never before attempted in public, downbeat, rendition of the theme tune to said Fresh Prince of Bel Air (my private rendition is 100% accurate “iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnn West Philadelphia…”). No two the same. There is no time in the morning before the 9:10 train to Madrid. Fast.
Not as hot but still too hot. Jose-Luis greets me at the station, he has just come in too. BMW are sponsoring the Dia de la Musica festival. We travel to the hotel in luxury. It transpires that the hotel has been chosen as so far away across town from the venue so the festival have to drive BMW’s through town as part of the advertising sponsorship deal. Convenient. Highlight of the day was the DJ set from Starslinger. And the degradable plates in the catering tent facility place (I hang out for a bit with this guy from A Greener Festival, getting the inside scoop on how green you festival goers really are). I meet and catch a little of Fanfarlo. I watch Julia Holter who was oversold to me I think. But I wasn’t expecting the band. We managed to have a chat before bedtime, she’s alright. The venue was a converted slaughter house complex – a number of ornate buildings rammed with temporary stages, and one set of these hollow edifices filled with a semi-permanent studio/creative space sponsored by Red Bull. The France Spain match – and luckily as I was in an enclosed space with a whole load of Spanish, the result resulted in a pleasant mood. I was watching Sergio watching it, across the desk in the production office, his handle bar moustache lit by the glow of his laptop screen. A bemused look on his face as the crowd outside cheered. The two minute delay online. Live broadcast on a big screen for the festival goers. I don’t follow football. The mini-bar was free. I had the orange juice and an early night. Oh, my set.
I fly back to London – No Luton. Luton is not London. I fly to Luton and get a train to London. I fly back out East the following day. Good times resting with the one I love. We meet in Beijing before heading Seoul and Tokyo for downtime. DO NOT ask about my carbon footprint. I have never owned a car and do not eat meat.