|Eurotourdiary 2008 - Composed
February 15. First down to breakfast I grab someone's leftover French sports section to read while I eat not that I care about French sports or any other; shakily remembered spoken French avails me less well with grumpy hostess, when I try to ask (subsequent to arrival of Steve then Erik) if we can move to a bigger table. We end up in the bar. I abandon ambitious ideas about getting out in Liege again before we leave, and indeed I will grow generally less ambitious over the next couple of weeks as I come down with this thing and that; though there will really be little time for anything but traveling and playing, and all I miss in the end is a few meals a couple of soundchecks and a single show. (And there is massive tourism to come.)
Diksmuide is the next place we head, a place we never pronounce correctly. It is all flat around there, and was formerly host to the First World War. "In Flanders Fields" territory says Erik, I believe Erik says this, but I know that somebody does. (Diksmuide it turns out was flattened completely in the war and rebuilt not to modern but medieval specifications, explaining the 1920 date on buildings that look centuries older.) The club we play, 4AD, is again a sort of collective and next door is a related building where we sleep, each of us getting our own room with three bunk beds (they are used to bigger crowds than we make I suppose), and eat dinner and the next day breakfast, the former excellent the latter perfunctory. Behind that building there is a garden walled in by sandbags, recalling the old days of trench warfare. The club itself is an old building entirely encased in a new one; a novel approach to soundproofing. Steve goes off to have his picture taken underdressed in the cold (it is cold) (and possibly windy) and I follow Erik in search of fries, fries being something the Belgians do famously. We trundle into the old town or the older than it looks town just across the canal and though there are some very attractive bakeries and cafes we find no fries though we walk all the way to the train station. (We find where there would be fries if it there were anyone there to fry them.) We go instead into a cafe teahouse bakery for tea and the tea comes unexpectedly with truffles and a nice little cake so though we don't get Belgian fries we do wind up with Belgian chocolates. There is more food back at the complex; I don't eat the mammals but the rest is good. Support act young Trixie Whitley daughter of Chris sidemanned by Greg McMullen, also at table. Steve is back from his photo sesh with Guy Kokken who mistakes my meaning when I say that I'm sure out of the 600 pictures he's taken of Steve that day he must have got a good one (as in mission accomplished), but he takes it is an insult (as in, I guess, it took you 600 photos to get a good one) and for a minute I think I'm going to have to get Erik to fight him. (All is finally fine; "I think you're a good person," he tells me later, on no evidence.) After the show we sit with 4AD people and drink Trappist beer. After that, in the very cold as we head back to our dorm, an old woman accosts Steve, Ancient Marinerlike, to tell him, I don't exactly remember, something about her husband I think and the old days; this related to Steve possibly. Erik and I go ahead to the warm(er).
February 16. The dorm building has a washing machine and I decide to wash some clothes. It's early in a tour to wash clothes (we've played all of three shows) but I think why not get a jump on it, set the clothes clock back to zero and eliminate some of those smokey odors of Utrecht and Liege and Diksmuide. (Most of the places we'll play will be blessedly smokefree, the EU having made great strides in this department since 1992; even Greece is set to go cigless, not it's expected that anyone will cooperate.) (But the Italians weren't expected to either.) Anyway, clothes in the washer, I go upstairs to breakfast, come down, find that the machine has not really started; I pushed some wrong thing or didn't push some right thing. Get help from a local, start it, go back up to finish breakfast, come down, find that the cycle still has long to go. Erik walking by says oh the washing machines go really long over here. And we are getting to that have to go point. Ring out the wet clothes as hard as I can, throw them in a couple of garbage bags borrowed from the club, pack it up and off we go to Haarlem.
Getting to Patronaat is complicated by local road closures that GPS Jane cannot compute, but Erik manages to force the issue weaving around canals until she recalibrates. The club is multistoried and modern (a lot of going up and down in elevators); we aren't the only thing going on here I think. The rarity of a separate monitor man. Yuko is here again and here also (but not again) is old friend Jeroen whom I first met in Amsterdam 17 years (and change) on my first Steve Wynn Eurotour, backstage at the Melkweg. (I am a looking at a picture of that right now, taped to the wall.) (I've also just noticed that the leading on this page is different than the last one and can't work out why.)
Eurotourdiary part one (Amsterdam to Liege)
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