Brussels was one of those gigs that goes to plan. Ok mostly to plan. This time our guitarist Paul went down with an illness hours before the show and we had to attempt to reconfigure the set without him in case he didn’t make it. Luckily he recovered in time to play. This show wasn’t one of our best performances but more than made up for that with a good atmosphere and an attentive crowd.
It was a shame to have to leave the luxury of the Brussels space to have to veer into France. No bad thing normally but it was freezing cold. I wore one t shirt, a shirt, 2 jumpers, a hooded top and a coat. Still I was freezing. On arrival at the venue there were hideous toilet problems. I don’t want to be a Mariah Carey style diva but I simply can’t work with a toilet which was plunged into darkness and had something stuck in it. I haunted the streets of Metz rather than hang around the venue and upon my return another one had gone down with the bug. This time Sarah, our violinist was stricken and had to be taken to our accommodation whilst we attempted to play without her. Like the earlier Gent show this was a free gig but was up against four other shows in the town so attendance was modest. There was the usual dribble of attentive fans and a smattering of drunks. The highlight came when one worse for wear punter decided to count us in 1-2-3-4 and without missing a beat we went straight in – cue hilarity all round. We were also bothered almost continually by the town drunk- a pestulant fly of a man who just wouldn’t leave us alone however many times we tried to swat him away.
We were taken back to a countryside flat in a small village which seemed to still have its Christmas decorations up (or were they early for next year?). The final show day and it’s a strange mix of emotions. Part of me just wants to be back home but the other half says enjoy it while you can. I’m so tired though. We manage to get to Luxembourg early and on a whim I decide to spend the time I should have spent sleeping eating a Magnum bar. I was then furious that I’d left myself only 20 minutes to nap. It was a good job we got to the venue at 5pm – only leaving ourselves just the 6 hours until show time as they kept pushing back the time. We played with a band Berndt from Sweden who were young, polite and full of vitality. I spent most of the time slumped in a corner sipping at a fruit tea, hat pulled low over my head, virtually dead. The show was great though- a game of two halves - we started poorly but burst into life half way through with some wild enthusiastic playing. There was someone asleep in the audience but I think most people were awake.
The final day we woke up to snow and a long 10 hour journey home. The driver, Leo, came into his own, safely negotiating the inclement weather and the dawdlers on the A1 in order to drop us back in Leeds at a good hour. Paul’s road was frozen solid so there was 20 minutes of utter chaos as the van slithered up and down before finally resting at the bottom of the road. Instruments were dragged up the hill and people scattered attempting to get their cars down the slippery slope in order to get home. I’m still not quite sure where half my stuff is - it was a typical bizarre and memorable finale.