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Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Concert Diary 2007

De Purmarijn, Purmerend - 8th December

Chris Simpson writes - Jan is here spot on time at 3.30.

He and I go through the usual ritual outside the cabin doors, pulling on various noxious smoking substances with which to kill ourselves, puzzling over the outdated idea in these mild winters of squirrels hibernating.

Hiber is the Latin for winter and in those times I am sure winter was winter and if you were a Roman soldier in leggings and a miniskirt, it was enough to freeze your eagles to your standards.Now in these unseasonal times we watched a brilliant display of aerial gymnastics from two reds before it was time to hit the road again before it hit us.

To get to Purmerend you have to circumnavigate Amsterdam, the blazing lights showering up into the night sky, visible from miles away.

We are early; in my book, madly early; but still the traffic ambles along in files of invisible frustration. There is now no time in Holland you can be sure of a traffic free run.Sometimes the jams stretch for tedious kilometres made up of mind weary motorists who set off early to avoid the jams they caused in the first place. And still more new cars pour onto the highways... We make it into the town for 4.15. The soundcheck is at 5.0pm.

I love the ancient Dutch town centres, particularly in the wintertime when the lights flash and sparkle on weather worn brick walls and the canals throw back the light across cobbled squares. Their window dressing is superb as well, (particularly in Amsterdam!) and yet bureaucracy creeps in as ever in irritating and petty ways, We are almost at the Theatre and Jan's Ton-Ton is homing in on the destination when, zap and heyho there is a shiny aluminium bollard with a red light on it blocking the way. So near and yet so far.

Jan, who's English like most Dutch is superb, retreats into anglo-saxon and round and round we go. No way out. Would you believe in the end we have to dig out the contract, call up the Theatre ( thank heaven for mobile phones used properly) and ask how in hell's name we get out of here.

Squashed in the back, I have images of dark waters; the silhouettes of boats and masts nodding in the night wind and the eternal flashing of the stoplichten, and we circumnavigate the bloody town again before finally arriving at the stage door.

Load out into a gantry. We are not allowed in it for safety reasons, but up goes the gear and we climb the stairs to the auditorium.

It is now 5.30pm, so we have lost the best part of an hour circling around the town. Still, I think, what are we doing here three hours before showtime?

I will tell you why. It is an anarchic Dutch habit of, by and large all having their dinners at 6.0pm. On the dot I tell you. You could set a chronometer by it. I always imagine across the land, 6.0pm and the resounding thud of knives and forks like thunder as the evening meal gets under way.

The Theatre sound and lighting engineers are no exception, and they want us lit and checked in double quick time so they do not miss their 6.0pm deadline.

We just make it. The amps. are balanced; monitors checked for tone and level; Matt's violin and mandolin channels against the guitars, and the all important vocals, and for me the nightly joy of hearing my buddy, Andrew Jackson's wonderful soul tearing voice coming off disc in the 'Fields of Eden'.

Matt signals the cues and that is it. Shazam. They are gone. Suppertime.

Jan Bor, apart from becoming the sort of friend you can rely on through any kind of weather, appears with some beers and a bottle of Chablis. Off across the brightly lit square we go, Matt, Jan and I leaving a very slim Linda putting on her make-up. It is windy enough to blow the end off your cigar and we end up in a fast food joint with plastic holly and some flyblown Father Christmases on the tables in honour of the festive season. This is one occasion where the food is our concern, not the Theatre's. We order krokets and pomme frites, and loempia's (a kind of fried spring roll full of beansprouts and whatever) and sate.

Matt goes off to a shwarma joint for Linda.

While we wait for the food I notice an advertisement for a forthcoming attraction in a rock venue. Bonjovi,no less.

Then I look again, a little more closely. Jon Bovi!! Wow, what steps will they not take to cash in.

A banquet fit for rock stars

Back to the Theatre. We pull a table into the dressing room and hey presto, a movable feast,( in terms of calories horrendous,in terms of taste buds, stupendous) Chips and Chablis. Egon Ronay eat your heart out.

Showtime.

Lin and Matt do their stunning acoustic version of 'Who knows where the Time goes?'

I am on and as we steam into 'For the Gypsy,' I feel to be all fingers and no thumbs. Solo, and Lin and Matt sending me up. I finish the licks and wind back into the vocal. Phew, made it.

Once again that feeling that has been with me down thirty eight years of road. Namely, that after a moment of startpanic this is one of the best things you can do...

The sparks of humour between us flash across the stage but initially we knew the outfront sound was far too loud and I mutter to myself 'what the *****n' ell do we do a soundcheck for"?

It levels down. On through the first set and the feeling of the audience like a moving soul out there soaking up your every nuance and accent.

Lin's great song 'Shine' in homage and love to Harry.

'The Fields of Eden 'and the sense of hitting with an emotional hammer and Andrew's voice laying them low like a soulspun scythe.

Pause, as the Dutch call it.

Dressing room. Animated. It is all about sound, not performance. We are just too sharp edged at this point in time and tour for that.

The second half and we are on the case and you can feel them moving through every emotion.

They fall apart with laughter as athlete Matt is pelted with underwear in 'Backroads', to dream through 'African Theme' / 'This time Around', have their photographs taken for the website, and stamp the place down in the rockin' 'Ordinary Man'.

Dedications and thanks, then we slay them with 'Paradise Row' which once again moves through different boundaries and timescales.

The end. Another memory.

We bow and look up to see the entire audience up on its feet. To be fair there have only been three venues out of thirty six on this tour that have not given us a standing ovation. It still gets to me.

It has to be encore. It has to be 'Airport Song', - a hit four times over in this land, by us and other artists Off stage.

Down to the foyer to sign CD's and Dvd's and books. It is a busy signing. Jose, I recall, buys 'Deserted Highways', the double CD and a book. So many people happy with what we tried to do for that short space in time. Old friend, Yvette, and Paul and some very wise comments...

We are paid. Whoopee.

Then pack down, although the Big Man (Jan) has done much of that, and load out.

Rock n' Roll on the airwaves; beautiful Boer cured Dutch ham sarnies to chew on, while the late night soggy land unrolls last the windows, anonymous in the pitch black night. We are home around 2.30 and the blessing is - that was an early one.

Goodnight...

Some  of our audience
Left Arrow Dordrecht, Holland Rotterdam, Holland Right Arrow