11th June - Cologne


Travel to the sound of Pink Floyd, “Echoes: The Best of”, and I marvel at the fact that this music was made before the advent of computer synths and recording systems. And such a distinctive sound, one that no-one has really recreated since then. The journey is short (couple of hours) but with torrential rain showers and overcast skies. Somehow, this is the right weather for Cologne. Whoever put the city together had grey overcast skies in mind and the place ‘looks right’ today.

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6th - 9th June - Frankfurt

More stage

The Frankfurt conert is not really in Frankfurt, but in Neu-Isenberg, a satelite town about 10km outside. We’ve played in the Hugenottenhalle last year and it’s a good hall. The voice workshop on Sunday is across the other side of Frankfurt, but we’re going to stay in Neu-Isenburg for the duration. It’s a nice hotel with free internet, friendly staff and a quiet area. Well, it would be quiet if they weren’t digging up the road outside my room and Monday morning I’m woken at 7am to the sound of pneumatic drills and diggers. Closing the windows doesn’t help very much so it’s an early start on Monday.

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29th May - 1st June – Rainbow Spirit Festival, Baden-Baden

Baden Baden stage set.

I’ve been sick for a few days after the first leg, sore throat degenerating into a dry cough and it lingers on for a couple of weeks. Most unlike me, I figure it must be some sort of East European bug that I’m not used to. I find out later that Deva and Sakha both had the same sort of thing. Regardless, the show must go on and the next gig is the Rainbow Spirit festival in Baden Baden, a gloriously esoteric extravaganza in a city better known for it’s casinos and extreme affluence.

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21/22 May, return to Freiburg

Sarve takes one van to Freiburg, me the other. The musicians fly off to London for the UK leg of the tour. Bloody hot journey… stop in Regensburg, Neurnberg and on home. Today the temperature is up in the high 20s at least and out on the autobahn its in the 30s. And I’m driving west to Freiburg and the sun is shining in the drivers window all the way and this van doesn’t have any conditioning beyond rolling the windows down, which on the autobahn is going to dehydrate me to raisin like proportions as well as being uncomfortable but the alternative, having the windows up, brings the temperature in the cab up into the mid-forties within a short time so I alternate between cooking and being blasted by the wind and fortunately I’m travelling on my own so no-one hears me cursing and I arrive in Regensburg with sweat sores around my waist and a great and immediate thirst. Fortunately, this is Germany and they understand great and immediate thirsts, for which they invented beer. But I couldn’t be bothered to take pictures, so it’s a text only post… :)

15th - 18th May, south to Ljubljana (Canadiana)

Stage set, Ljubljana Linnhart hall

In which we leave Prague accompanied by the sound of some Canadian bands: starting off with The New Pornographers, on to Melissa McClelland and finishing with Danny Michel (all available at Zunior.com). Stop at Linz (home of Linzertorte) and dance into Ljubljana. The New Pornographers have been around for a while and I’ve enjoyed ‘Twin Cinema‘ for some years. For the tour I’ve gotten the ‘Challengers‘ CD and like it a lot. It’s maybe even more accessible than Twin Cinema. Melissa McClelland is totally new to me and I found her name on one of the sample CDs from Zunior, got the CD ‘Victoria Day‘ and enjoy it. It’s hard to label, but it’s somewhere between folky-rock and country with a pinch of blues thrown in. Danny Michel‘s ‘Feather, Fur and Fin‘ was on tour with me last year, and it’s good enough that I’ve brought it out with me again.

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13th/14th May, on to Prague ("A Game of Chants")

Stage set, Prague

A lovely drive through the countryside to get to Prague, playing Guru Singh‘s “A Game of Chants“, a favourite from the 2007 tour. If you think songs called “I Am What I Am” all sound a bit new-agey, well just hold on a bit. The production and music on this CD is fantastic and has vocals from Seal and performances from Thomas Barquee. Guaranteed to put a smile on the day and I’m having to ration Manartha to only twice a day.

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5th/6th May, north to St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg stage set.

For anyone who thinks that the touring life is a glamorous whirlwind of exotic places, then today is a good reality check. Although getting to bed sometime around 3am the night before (had to try the local vodka before turning in), we all meet outside the hotel at 10:15 to load up a van and head out to the airport. Although the flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg is only about 90 minutes, hotel to hotel works out at about 7 - 8 hours. Thats an hour or two hanging around airports and the rest of the time sitting cramped in a van moving through the traffic at a pace that makes London look like a race track. The flight itself is OK. An aging Tupolev that was half full and did the things a plane should do (like take-off, stay in the air and land). St. Petersburg was noticeably cooler than Moscow.

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