Heerlen show diary

Thursday afternoon:
Just got home from college. The original plan was to drive directly to CXHQ and try to get a quick rehearsal in this evening, since we missed rehearsing last weekend because of my horrendous gastroenteritis. However it now seems Andy can’t make it this eve, and I’m incredibly far behind in stuff, so I decide to go up later and get some things done at home. Just as well, because it appears my gastroenteritis is having a mild return. Eeek! So I go to bed at 19.00 and sleep for an hour. Get up feeling crap and putter round the house. Finally get on the highway to Manchester at about 23.30.

Friday morning:
Get to CXHQ around 2.30 in the morning. Paul is still up packing. We have a cup of tea then I go to bed to catch another hour’s fitful sleep while he finishes packing. At 4.30 we head for the airport to meet Andy and fly to Duesseldorf. Arrive there at about 9.30 and pick up the car. I roll myself up on the back seat, pillow my head on my leather jacket (now you know why I always wear that on tour) and doze a little while Andy drives and Paul navigates.

We get to Heerlen about 11.30 and find that the hotel we are staying in has no staff. No-one. Apparently we have to check in at another hotel and then come back to this one with the keys. We find the other hotel and have a Spinal Tap-esque argument about rooms. The receptionist has our rooms and our keys but keeps insisting that she won’t give Paul a double room since he’s only one person, even though we have booked double rooms, and she has keys to our double rooms in her hand. I lose it and insist on seeing the Manager, but she won’t tell us where she is or what her name is. I grab the keys and tell her I’ll be back later to talk to her boss.

On the way back to the hotel we encounter a couple of lovely ladies opening their rather elegant and pretty cafe. We ask them if their food is good and they nod vigourously. They aren’t lying… We get served some of the best tapas I have ever had the priviledge of eating. We invite them to the show later and put them on the guest list. They say if we’re hungry after the show they will open the cafe specially for us and serve us anything we like. These are the moments when I love being a rock star.

Finally make it to the hotel. We have two hours to go until soundcheck. I crash into bed for some blissful sleep… and an hour later am woken by several frantic phone calls from the German CX contingent who can’t find the place. I reluctantly get out of bed again and sort it out… Sigh.

Soundcheck is pretty damn good. Martin, our lighting guy extraordinaire (and apparently now Germany’s 2009 “Lighting Designer of the Year” or some such nonsense) has brought some awesome LEDs again. If you were at Leipzig you’ll know what I mean. The PA is great, crew are good, and they’ve already sold 150 advance tickets, which is amazing for a little club in the middle of nowhere. The place only holds 400 max, and that’s if you pile them to the ceiling, so it looks like it’ll be an intimate show tonight. The venue also have great food – this time a smashing veggie curry, so we pig out on that and head back to the hotel to try to catch another couple of hours sleep while we can.

20.30: I’m back at the hotel, I’m very tired, and I reckon we won’t be on stage until around 22.30, so set my alarm for 22.00 and hit the sack for another hour’s sleep. Am woken up at 21.45 by a call from Volker wondering where I am. Apparently we were supposed to be on stage at 21.30! I leap out of bed, rush to the bathroom to shave off the three days worth of beard I’m sporting, and dash to the venue arriving there at 22.00. Am met at the door by a rather nervous promoter saying “I don’t want to rush you, but can you be on stage in five minutes?” I assure him that it’s not a problem, toss my jacket into the backstage area and grab some towels and bottles of water.

At the last show at BIMFest we had only a 45 minute slot, so we had played one of our classic blitzkrieg gigs, where we just kicked ass from the first moment we hit the stage – I don’t think I stood still once during that entire show. Unfortunately by 40 minutes into that show we realised that we were seriously running out of stamina and we were pushing ourselves just a little too hard. For this show in Heerlen we knew we wanted to play longer than an hour, so we decided to pace ourselves a bit. It worked out so well that in the end we played an hour and a half, and only stopped because we literally had run out of backing tracks on the computer! The audience seemed to love it, even after 90 minutes they were still asking for more – and requesting several songs by name. I would have been happy to do another half hour, but that was all we had with us; we really never thought we’d do more than that. I guess next time Paul & I have a little time at CXHQ we’ll be adding some more backing tracks to the live set 🙂

After the show there is a very good DJ set going on, so Paul and I hit the dancefloor and bop around to Joy Division, The Cult, Virgin Prunes, Young Gods, T. Rex etc. Paul turns to me halfway through and says “This is just like being back at the Phono!” and indeed it is remarkably like the kind of set list we would dance to at Leeds’ legendary proto-Goth club at Le Phonographique, lo these 25 years ago… (the place where Moscow Idaho was actually written, CX trivia fans).

Lots of people come up to us and congratulate us on the show. Many of them tell us they saw us first 20 years ago… and that we’re even better now. Which is actually true.

Anyhow, it’s now 2.30 in the morning, and I’m back at the hotel drinking Tropical Fruit tea while sitting in bed typing this entry. Rock & role, eh? Unfortunately there’s no Internet access here (what kind of hotel doesn’t have Net access these days?!?!) so I can’t post it until I get back to CXHQ. So I think it’s time for sleep. Tomorrow morning it’s back to Duesseldorf and then “Hello Manchester!”

Saturday morning:
We’re having breakfast in an “Irish” pub. No matter where you are in the world, there’s always an “Irish” pub. Note to non-Irish people: none of them are even vaguely “Irish”. This one even has a dictionary of Irish slang posted on the wall. I’ve never heard of any of the slang terms listed and I’m fooking Irish! I hate, hate, hate Irish pubs. We only went to this one because the breakfast (a very non-Irish contintental breakfast I might add) is free. Even so, I think in future I’d rather pay to eat anywhere but a damn Irish pub.

11.30. We’re back in the car on the way to airport, discussing the European financial sector and various other geopolitical issues. This is the kind of thing we intellectual rock stars talk about on the road y’know… And then it’ll be the plane and back to CXHQ for some well-deserved rest. Good night Heerlen.