Lisa Stansfield UK Tour – September 2014: Episode 2: Birmingham to Gateshead

And so, we pull away from The Symphony Hall in Birmingham and say farewell to the utter carnage that is Broad St on a friday night.

I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it in all my days. There were at least 5 ambulances at the top of the street, just waiting for it to kick off – which it inevitably will. Gaggles of spotty youths and orange girls teetered from pub to pub, stopping only to insult the occasional police constable (who were also, strangely, either spotty or orange??)

Sodom & Gomorrah with a silly accent….

Anyway, we were out of there and on our way to much more civilised climes.

Namely, Gateshead.

What??

Oddly enough, although I originate from that part of the world, I’ve never ever been to, seen, nor really given much thought to the Sage Gateshead. Shame on me.

There it stands by the side of the Tyne Bridge, a cultural sentinel guarding against the cap sleeved T-shirted hoards threatening to cross the bridge and engulf the place in the immutable odour of CKone and regurgitated kebabs.

Built by Norman Foster and serving as the home of the Northern Sinfonia, it is another of those halls that never quite expected such musical ruffians as us to be assaulting its acoustic properties.

Having said that, the on-stage sound was nowhere near as bad as the Symphony Hall of last night and so, true professionals that we are, we cracked on.

Mick had a large contingent from Hartlepool in tonight so we were extra careful in making sure that the show would be the best that it could be. We both specially washed our leg warmers and polished our tap shoes.

We did, however, stop short of tuning up as we both felt we had taken care of the important stuff and didn’t want to overdo it before the show.

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Mickey turning the water into wine….. (we bought the Cider)

After the sound check Mick went off to the pub as he seemed very concerned that his guests wouldn’t be able to find their way to the Sage, despite it being the biggest building for twenty miles around. In fact, he was so concerned for their welfare, he went a good two hours before the show started – just to make absolutely sure they got here safely.

That’s Mick. Always thinking of others….

I, on the other hand, have sadly fallen straight into that general state of torpor that usually comes after a couple of weeks on the road.

The process of breathing recycled bus air for half the time and air conditioned public building air the other half, sends your brain into a sort of low level fug which renders you exhausted, even though you haven’t actually done anything!

In my experience there are only two things which can effectively defibrillate the brain in this circumstance:

1 A brisk walk in the fresh air
2 Vodka

OK, three things…..

3 Red Bull

In the end I opted to got to bed for an hour and then administer a combination of two of the above listed items in healthy doses.

Before we knew it, it was show time and we were ready for the last show before the Live DVD which we will be filming in Manchester tomorrow.

This was our last chance to make sure that everything was running smoothly and that the whole set flowed nicely, with each song running smoothly into the next, before the whole thing was digitally captured forever on DVD (available soon in all good stores and web sites 😉

Except, true to form, we changed it all didn’t we?

Anyway, that’s a story for tomorrow’s blog.

Tonight it was Gateshead’s turn to feel the awesome power of the optimism-fuelled mayhem that is a Lisa Stansfield show.

We were all pleasantly surprised to find out that the whole tour is virtually sold out and, if all the crowds are as up for it as the Geordies, then we’re in for a good time all round.

It took a couple of numbers but, once they got into it, the crowd were tearing the place up (that’s tear that rhymes with There, not tear that rhymes with Here)

Lisa was on form as usual and looked absolutely amazing in a new frock. In fact, it’s prompted Mick and I to wonder if we shouldn’t follow suit and perhaps buy some new socks?

After the show, we all said hello to the Hartlepool massive and once again offered our sincerest condolences to Mick’s partner Gill. There ought to be some sort of medal….

Then it was all on to the bus for the overnight drive to Manchester and the scene of the next show – which has a few little surprises to offer!

Bis Morgen…….

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 15: Cologne to Munich

Last night’s ‘quick’ pre-bed bath turned into a bit of a marathon soak I’m afraid, with several hot water top ups and the chapters dropping like flies. The upshot of which was lights out at 3.00am

SC BathJohnny whacks off another chapter

Next morning rendezvous was at 12.00 in the lobby from where we were taken to the venue – Theater Am Tanzbrunnen, a rather unusual affair in the middle of a park.

The theatre is a sort of hybrid design, somewhere between tent and dome, with a roof which looks like the canvas roof of a large marquee but which is actually made of steel.

Lovely, reflecty, rotten acousticy steel. Looking forward to tonight!

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Theater Am Tanzbrunnen – German for “Great big tin can”

 

DSC_0022Sound Check: Snowboy enjoys the acoustics

As it was only a few minutes from the hotel to the venue we had a fair bit of time to kill before soundcheck at 4.00pm so we filled it in the usual fashion.

Eating.

Back in the day when I was touring with Level 42, we used to carry our own caterers with us. Everywhere we went, the lovely Alison would take care of us and make sure we had all the favourite foods we liked.

At each location the crew would unpack and repack cookers, fridges and all manner of appliances necessary for catering to the whims of a coterie of spoiled musicians.

These days that seems like extravagance bordering on madness. It surely can’t be that hard to find a decent caterer in the major cities of Europe, can it?

So far on this tour, the standard of local caterer has been generally high – with the odd exception – and in some cases, exceptional!

Zurich particularly was a high point, as was today here in Cologne. Lunch was Tomato and Coconut soup, followed by Pasta something-or-other but Dinner was the most beautifully tender Roast Beef with Roast Potatoes and sautéed vegetables.

It was absolutely delicious and I’m sure I got through close on half a herd before finally admitting defeat and retiring for a lie down.

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Mick fine tunes the mix in his monitor…..

The show was as expected really. The sound was pretty difficult and it was very hard to hear anything on stage with any kind of clarity. Walter (Front of House sound) and Meado (Monitors) are, to my mind, the best in the business and without their expert knob twiddling (ooh,er missus) things could have been much worse.

Poor Lisa was suffering from a very bad bout of Hay Fever which was making the high notes difficult but, as usual, she just pushed through it and is always focused on giving the best show possible for the audience. Judging from the audience reaction, they didn’t notice a thing, even if we knew she was struggling a little.

A trip to the doctor tomorrow in Munich will hopefully help sort it out.

After the show, we had a 9 hour overnight drive to Munich so plenty of time for post show celebration/recrimination/ambivalence (delete as appropriate) and a decent night’s sleep to boot.

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Mick discusses the finer points of something or other…….

On the subject of sleep. We have ‘Temperature-gate’

Poor old Andrea is struggling a little with the temperature in the rear bunk room (the quiet, fragrant one you may recall). It would seem that the only way she can get comfortable is if the thermostat is turned up to ‘Hotter than the Sun’ – which is great when you go to bed but means that the rest of us spend the night dreaming of the Kalahari and wake up looking and feeling like the mummy of Tutankhamun. And I don’t mean his father’s wife.

So, there has been much experimentation with the thermostat, which has been up and down like a bride’s nightie. The whole affair has, however, culminated in some spectacular ad hoc modifications to Andrea’s bunk. A spare duvet, some heavy duty gaffer tape and a determined mind have turned her bunk into what can only be described as a miniature Sangatte, with barely the tiniest chink through which precious heat can escape!

This, my friends, is determination on a different level.

DSC_0057 Hibernating bears go to less trouble………

So, with Andrea hermetically sealed into her bunk, the rest of us either drank, watched a movie, talked shit or a combination of all of the above until they could take no more and climbed into their respective bunks.

Next thing you know, we are parked outside the wonderful Circus Krone in Munich – a real, permanent working circus where we will be bringing our particular brand of thrills and spills tonight.

Send in the clowns…….

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 13/14: Antwerp to Cologne

So, after a hearty full Belgian breakfast – which is pretty much the same as a full English breakfast except with toy sausages and salad (who eats salad for breakfast??) – I checked in to the rather imaginatively named Hotel Theatre.

Now I confess that I haven’t conducted extensive research but I am guessing that its name comes from the fact that it is next door to the theatre?

I don’t know. Call it a hunch.

Anyway, it has to be said that, its proximity to the theatre was pretty much its only saving grace. Other than that, it was a little like staying in your local council offices. No charm, no character and certainly no frills.

Oh, the staff were certainly very friendly. Especially when I told them that the room I had just been checked in to was yet to be made and was strewn with wet towels. And very especially when at checkout they charged me €2.50 for a sodding Mars bar from the minibar!!

I, of all people, am happy to take it on the chin when it comes to being royally fleeced on minibar items. Since time immemorial it has been a routine of mine to ransack the mini bar of anything even remotely chocolate based almost the instant I enter the room.

Toblerone, Mars bar, M&Ms, even those horrible wafery ones with the Kinder egg stuff inside them – none are safe once Thirkell has dumped his case on that funny foldaway thingy.

But €2.50? For a Mars bar? In a hotel that was last painted in 1963? Come off it!

However, as I say the major advantage (and I imagine the reason why we were there in the first place) was that you could get from the hotel to the theatre and back without setting foot outside so it wasn’t all bad I suppose.

Over the years I have worked in Antwerp many, many times – mainly doing the Diamond Awards which was always at the Velodrome on the outskirts of town, and so I have never really had the chance to explore.

This time though, as we were pretty central, I was able to do a little sightseeing. What a lovely city!

Of course, the fact that it was a beautiful sunny day helped but I did enjoy wandering around the market and poking around the shops.

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Antwerp. Well, part of it. Not all of it.

After a good Belgian lunch – which was pretty much the same as an English lunch except horrible – Mick and I met up with a very old friend from the days of our youth back in the North East of England.

Paul Flush was one of the pre-eminent local keyboard players of his era in the North East and I hadn’t seen him since Adam was a lad so it was very nice to catch up with him, have a beer and get the low down on the life of an ex-pat in Belgium.

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Spot the wig……

Reunion over, we said our goodbyes and Mick & I split to our traditional pre-show routines. I hadn’t had a bath in hours!!

Show time was 9.15 so there was plenty of time to relax, read and go wrinkly before then.

The venue was a fairly plain and nondescript place but the crowd were far from plain and nondescript.

Although the show didn’t match the killer one in Paris the night before, the audience were totally up for it and I think they all had a great time.

All, that is, apart from a guy sitting in the front row who sat there with a face like a Jimmy Saville impersonator. Not a smile, not a clap, not a movement. We had to hold a mirror to his mouth a couple of times!

Ah well, you can’t please everyone I suppose.

After the show we were breaking from our usual routine of travelling overnight and staying in the illustrious Hotel Theatre for the night.

Nice.

I decided to have an early night and hit the hay around 12.30. However, the best laid plans………

In a somewhat surreal turn of events, I (and several others in the band) were woken at 3.00am by the sound of a trumpet, tuba and clarinet playing at full volume outside.

At first I thought it was a good old fashioned nightmare but it swiftly became apparent that, no. It was really happening!

A band of lunatics was really playing in the streets of Antwerp.

At 3.00 am.

Badly.

This dreadful cacophony continued until 5.00, yes 5.00am and in the interim my alarm was changed several times from “enough time for a bath and a couple of chapters” to “how quickly can I pack my things and get to the bus?” (whilst still allowing enough time to be ripped off en route – €2.50 for a Mars bar indeed!!)

Not to worry though. Next day was a day off in beautiful Cologne so I would be able to rest and recuperate once we got there.

The journey was livened up somewhat by the creation of what will be the game sensation of 2015. You mark my words! The original conception of “Wheel of Brie” was by Terry but, as the game wore on (and on!), more rules were added as and when required.

All that is needed to play is one circular tub of President Brie, a minimum of 3 EXTREMELY bored people and LOTS of time!

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Lisa cheats shamelessly at ‘Wheel of Brie”

We arrived at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cologne around 3.00pm having lost the will to live and arranged to rendezvous at 4.00 for a trip into town.

Unfortunately the bed monster got me and at 4.00 I was still smashing out ZZZs. Luckily there was a second wave at 5.00 which I managed to make.

A beautiful sunny half hour walk brought us to Cologne Cathedral where 80s Dave, Terry and I had a hearty German meal – which is pretty much the same as a hearty English meal except German – a few beers and then we headed back to the hotel for a relatively early night.

Maybe a quick bath first though………

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A Cathedral. In Cologne. I think it might be Cologne Cathedral?

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While 80s Dave’s permanent assistant wheels in the grand piano he insists on taking everywhere with him, Terry begs him not to play it!

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Is that a monkey hanging up there??

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 11/12: Paris to Antwerp

So, the plan was to meet in the lobby at 2.00pm and all head out for a spot of Paris sightseeing before an early dinner, a few drinks and a relatively early night.

I KNEW I shouldn’t have looked at my computer before I left!

Just a quick check to make sure there are no problems, I told myself. It will only take a minute, I thought.

Next thing I know I’m up to my ears in a problem and they all have to leave without me.

One of the definite downsides of running your own business is the fact that, if something goes wrong and no-one else is available, it’s all down to you. Wherever you are. Whether you can be arsed or not.

It’s actually an interesting point. I gave up being a full time professional musician over 12 years ago when my business began to take off and left me with a choice. I could either focus on building a strong business which would take care of me in my old age or carry on blowing down a tube and never really get rich.

Of course, I chose the former – a decision which I don’t at all regret because in actual fact, as I have carried on playing with Lisa all these years, I get the best of both worlds.

What I will say is this though. I had forgotten how easy it is being a musician. OK, you have the uncertainty of not having regular employment per se but, whilst you are actively engaged in the process, it’s an absolute doddle!

Normally, I wake up in the mornings thinking about the business day ahead, planning what I’m going to do in the office etc. All day I wrestle with the day to day dilemmas of running a business and the issues that come with employing people. I finish a full day and go home and I’m still thinking about the problems of the day as my head hits the pillow.

When you’re on tour you just look for someone you know and follow them!

Everything is totally taken care of. Someone organises everything and the sum total of your responsibilities is to make sure you are in a fit state to play your instrument for 90 minutes a day.

That’s it.

90 minutes of intense activity served on a bed of fannying about, being spoon-fed, led around like a child and drinking vodka as though your life depended on it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining at all. It’s just that it was put into stark contrast today when the guys where sitting in the sun at a pavement café in the 6th Arrondissement sipping Pastis and ordering encore une foi while I scoured contracts looking for the clause that made the problem go away!

Anyway, by the time I had found what I was looking for it was too late to join them all so Billy No-Mates went out get something to eat.

I think almost by protest I did the unthinkable in Paris and went to……..

(oh dear!)

McDonalds. Filet O’ Fish meal. Twice.

At least it sounds french.

Back to the room for more work and, just to make sure that none of the day’s objectives were met, I put out the light at 3.30am.

Next day. Show day.

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Hurry up and wait……

The gig was at Trianon, a lovely little theatre at the foot of the hill leading up to Montmartre. We left for soundcheck around 12.00 and, although it was only about 14 inches away, Paris traffic made sure it took over 45 minutes to get there.

I’m guessing that the theatre used to be an old cinema as there were lots of old cinematic artefacts around the place and the décor was grand, bordering on nouveau.

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Trianon 1

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Trianon 2

Paris audiences can be very sniffy and so Lisa was a little anxious about the reception we would receive – particularly as it was a seated venue.

She fretted all day and swung between worry and resignation.

Oh my word. If ever there was a night with no need to worry, it was tonight.

This was easily the best show of the tour so far and possibly one of the best shows we’ve ever done.

Not necessarily from a performance perspective – although everything went very well – but the crowd were roaring from the very first note to the very last.

When the audience is like that, you are carried along on a wave of adrenaline and it seems like you are invincible, It’s just the best feeling!

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Yo, Paris!! (Courtesy of Snowboy)

After the show we were all buzzing and the high spirits were maintained even in the face of the fact that, due to a cock up involving some stupidity and lots of gallic shrugging of the shoulders, some of Lisa’s guests were not allowed in. (Note to french promoter: being a few minutes late does NOT mean you aren’t coming)

So, after the usual post-show pizza (4 assorted pizzas in the dressing room by end of show) we all piled on to the bus for the relatively easy drive to Antwerp.

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One enterprising fan attempts to steal a march on the European Tour Photo Competition (details here)

As we were all still buzzing from the show, it was a pretty late night on the coach and we were well into Belgium by the time we all called it a day and went to our bunks.

Next thing I know, it’s 10.30am and Sooze is walking through the bunk rooms announcing that breakfast is being served.

See what I mean………

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 9/10 Amsterdam to Paris

And so, after a reasonably early night, 80s Dave and I rendezvous in the hotel lobby at 10.45am to catch the first tour boat leaving the jetty opposite the hotel.

The idea was to take in some of the sights and sounds of old Amsterdam without actually expending too much energy.

I’m a big fan of Amsterdam and I never tire of taking in the unique laid back, almost hippy vibe of the place. However, after an hour or so I was desperate for a coffee – not having got up in time for breakfast before we left – and so I convinced 80s Dave that we should walk the last few miles back to the hotel (and stop off for a caffeine jolt on the way)

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80s Dave takes in the sights of Amsterdam

By the time we arrived back at the hotel everyone had checked out and were all at the venue, which was only a few minutes walk away.

Melkweg is a renowned Amsterdam venue and quite rightly so. It’s a great club vibe and, as a standing only gig, one to look forward to for sure. Plenty of room on stage and great acoustics promised a great show – and, as it turns out, we were not to be disappointed!

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Melkweg from the outside

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Melkweg from the inside

After lunch and before sound check a couple of us popped next door to look at an brilliant photographic exhibition featuring the work of some amazing tattooists. The travesty of many of these types of exhibition is that they are all too often under-advertised and therefore under-visited and it was a real shame to find ourselves the only people there.

Or maybe it was closed?

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Lydia, the tattooed lady……..

Anyway, it was soon time to head back and get to work.

Sound check was pretty smooth and drama free and after dinner we all scattered to do our pre-show thing.

Snowboy has seen one of those things before…… but can’t quite remember what it is.

As I may have said before, my preference is to crawl into my bunk and have an hour’s kip before the show but, as I had yet to write the day’s blog (which came out yesterday – always a day in abeyance) my pre-show time was spent trying to think up some of the usual cobblers with which to assail the handful of folks who still give a monkeys.

To be honest, it’s always a bit of a challenge to think up interesting stuff to write about as, quite often……

….nothing much happens.

Maybe that’s the point though? If it’s purpose is to give the reader an insight into life on the road, then boredom is certainly an integral part of the story. It’s often a case of “Hurry up and wait” and a sizeable chunk of the time is spent either staring into space, getting irritated, mucking around or looking at your watch.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere something happens and its go, go, go.

Then…… back to nothing.

Anyway, having committed to doing it, I shall continue with the daily dredge of my failing short term memory in an effort to recall the previous day’s events.

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Having said that, the gig was a spanker!! Poor old Lisa had a bit of a throat infection but, being from good northern stock, she shook it off and gave it her all. An epic performance under the circumstances and, other than the fact the we only did one encore tune, I don’t think the crowd would have known.

It was one of those nights where everything gelled and the whole band was giving it what for! A cracker and we all came off buzzing.

After the show it was off to Paris, However, as our hotel rooms would not be ready until 1.00pm and the trip was only 6 hours we could either leave straight away, get to Paris early and spend the morning there before checking in OR stay in Amsterdam and leave at 4.00am so as to time our arrival.

Unanimously the latter was chosen and the intervening 5 hours involved:

  • An Irish bar
  • Lots of Guinness
  • Karaoke
  • Sweet Caroline (at full volume!)
  • Mickey doing the conga with the locals
  • A 24 hr Maccy Ds
  • Andrea pole dancing (although this is, as yet unverified)
  • Kebabs

Pretty soon it was 4.00am and time to leave for gay Paris!

Festivities broke up fairly quickly and next thing I knew it was 11.30am and I looked out of the bus window at a bustling Place de la Republique.

Thursday. This must be Paris.

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 7/8 Bremen to Amsterdam

10 o’clock Monday morning and the alarm goes off.

Right off!!

So off, in fact, that next thing I know it’s 11.30 and I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha.

I’m sure Bremen is a lovely town. In fact, the bit between the hotel and the Irish pub yesterday was delightful. But sadly, that was all I was destined to see.

By the time I had showered, shaved and gathered all of my possessions – which were scattered around the room as though I had just held a jumble sale – it was time to leave for the venue.

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Favouritism…….

Today’s venue was a municipal theatre, which was rather imaginatively called “The Musical Theatre”. They must have been up all night thinking of that one!

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No paparazzi…….

It was another seated venue but at least it felt like the audience were in the same room, so we held out hope that it would be a good one.

Soundcheck took longer than usual as we wanted to try out some different endings to the show. The closing number of the main set is power ballad “The Rain” and it’s perfect as it has a great big, thundering ending with everything but the kitchen sink chucked in.

However, the past couple of shows we have felt a little uncomfortable at the timing of the end as Lisa walks off. Either we were finished before she was completely off stage or she was off and halfway through her second pint and we were still going for it.

So, we decided to experiment with some different endings to give us more flexibility and to help get the timing perfect.

Seemed like a great idea at the time……..

Anyway, show time came around and, as it was the third night in a row, Lisa was a little concerned that her voice might be a bit under par. However, as usual she delivered the goods and the audience were really rocking.

A great show was rounded off by the glorious sound of the new experimental endings.

All of them….

All together….

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the end of the show sounded like a fire in a pet shop, with 3 different endings all competing against each other and all of the protagonists insisting they were right.

Thank god it wasn’t being recorded! Somehow, we managed to get sort of in sync and finish roughly together but it wasn’t pretty, I can tell you.

In actual fact, I spoke to a fan after the show who said that he didn’t notice anything so, either I’m making a mountain out of a molehill or he went to a different gig?

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Paddy, the lighting Director, prepares for the show…….

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Mickey, the Sax player, prepares for the show……

After the show was a 6 hour drive to Amsterdam so we pushed off around 1.00am and I went straight to my bunk.

Got up at 4.15 am to pay a visit to the little boy’s room and Lisa, Ian, Walter and Andrea were still up drinking red wine and talking absolute bollocks!

Good job tomorrow’s a day off again!

Next thing I know, it’s 10.00am and we are parked outside the venue with the hotel a mere 2 minutes walk away.

As we were early for check in, not all of our rooms were ready but by 11.30 or so, I had my key and was – surprise, surprise – running a bath.

A day off in Amsterdam is something to relish as there is so much to see and do there. The new Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum plus just walking around taking in the lovely relaxed vibe of the place.

Outside of Andrea, who had several episodes of Coronation Street to watch, the band and crew divided into two camps: Cultural and, shall we say, counter-cultural.

Museum or coffee shop…..

I had a good wander around the old city which has a special feeling for me and it was one of those tour days when I wished my wife was with me. However, sadly she wasn’t so I had to make do with spending time in a second hand record shop with Snowboy.

Much as I love him, he was a poor substitute!

As we walked in to Wax Well Records, the proprietor recognised Snowboy straight away (he’s also a famous DJ, as well as a world renowned pan clatterer) and they were off on an unintelligible train of music trivia and minutiae.

After an hour, I lost the will to live and branched out on my own, getting back to the hotel with just enough time for another bath before heading out for a quick drink and a curry at the now traditional Akbar restaurant with the guys.

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Help……..

Once we had eaten our own weight in Indian food – except Mike the bus driver and Tony the truck driver, who both wildly underestimated the XXXXXX rating of Dutch Vindaloo – the two factions split again, with Snowboy, 80s Dave and I heading back to the hotel and the others disappearing into the night and who knows what?

Just time for – you guessed it – the 3rd bath of the day and I’m in bed and starting my new book.

I’m SO rock and roll……….

Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2014 – Day 5: Frankfurt to Hamburg

We arrived in Frankfurt nice and early after a very cheerful overnight drive. It’s always good to get the first show under your belt and, given there weren’t too many hiccups, most people let off any pent up steam through the medium of drink.

Bed times ranged anywhere from 2.00 am to 5.00 am, with the exponents of the latter proving very unpopular with the former the next morning!

We dropped the poor old crew off at the venue around 10.00 am to get started with the set up and the band headed off to the Intercontinental to check in and do whatever each of us does with our free time.

Me, I like to work. Catch up on emails, documents and generally take care of any business that needs to be taken care of. Others have a much more relaxed attitude.

Andrea, for example, will head to her room, lock the door (only to be opened for room service) and watch the omnibus editions of just about every soap under the sun.

Mick plays Candy Bloody Crush

Each to their own, I guess.

The show tonight is an early start – 8.00pm on stage for us – so by the time I had finished up my stuff, had a bath and read my book a little, it was time to head off for sound check.

Rock ‘n Roll.

The venue was a beautiful old and typically germanic Rathaus which, whilst being a fascinating setting, offered one of the smallest stages of the tour. Not a problem per se except that it severely restricted the brass section’s dance moves.

The flick flacks were definitely out tonight!

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Nice Hall, tiny stage……..

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Plenty of space in the dressing room though…….

I guess we weren’t fully aware of how nervous we all were on the first night in Zurich because, with that out of the way and everyone feeling much more relaxed, tonight’s show was a different kettle of fish altogether.

From out of the blocks we were all gunning for it and the crowd were absolutely up for a party too. It was one of those amazing nights which leave you buzzing at the end. The whole room was going to have fun and NOTHING was going to stop them.

At the soundcheck we had made a couple of small changes to the set but no-one let this hold them back and, if there were any wobbly bits, I certainly didn’t notice them. I was too busy enjoying myself.

I can always tell when I’ve really enjoyed a gig because afterwards it feels like my top lip has just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson.

When you play the trumpet the idea is to be controlled at all times, with a relaxed demeanour, focusing all of the energy you create with the air down the mouthpiece of the trumpet. At no point should you be tense and you should certainly never be applying undue pressure to the instrument on the lips.

Then you have a few drinks and the audience start screaming and you just jam it on as hard as you can and blow like hell!

It’s a tried and tested system.

Once again, Lisa was on top form. I know it gets a little boring saying that but it’s absolutely true. She’s always on form!

As you might imagine, post gig was buzzing as we headed back to the hotel to have a couple of hours relaxation before jumping on the bus to head overnight to Hamburg.

Back in the bath with the book for Johnny Boy (they didn’t used to call me marine boy for nothing) whilst the usual suspects headed for the bar for a night cap.

Highlight of the evening was most definitely Andrea, who spent a lot of time on the bus trip swearing that she doesn’t really drink.

Sadly she had been well and truly Donnellied* and no amount of liquorice tea was going to sober her up. I think the toasted crumpets we made helped a little but when I went to bed around 2.00am she was still utterly incoherent.

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The thing is, I don’t normally drink…………

And so, dear reader, to Hamburg………..

* Donnellied  Adj. to make the mistake of going to a bar which sells cocktails with Mickey Donnelly.

Bonus Photo

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I can never resist a wig…………

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