Sun 28 Oct - Portugal - Porto - Casa da Musica
We had the usual push and shove of EasyJet from Gatwick. Speedy Boarding counted for nothing on this flight which always makes me nervous about claiming some cabin space for my sax. We were accommodated in a beautiful hotel and the concert venue was equally impressive. The dressing room was an architectural showpiece! It was a late show considering it was a Sunday night. We were on at 10pm with Rudresh Mahanthappa opening up - a strange double bill! The gig went pretty well but we sensed the audience was exhausted by the end of our show... Before the gig we went to a local restaurant which was a little disappointing compared to the splendid O Cantinho De Portugal introduced to me by a Portuguese neighbour in Brixton.
Weds 31 Oct - Holland - Leiden Gebr. De Nobel
We had the reassuring familiarity of BA from Heathrow T5 again. No stress here!
Mark Van Den Berg, our Dutch manager, met us at Schiphol in a hired van just big enough for all the band. Leiden is a really beautiful town built on a labyrinth of canals. The sun was shining and I had a nice run before the soundcheck. The venue was a modern standing rock’n’roll place with 2 balconies. We played to a full house and as was the case with the other Dutch gigs on this tour the audiences were a little muted until being shaken out the tree by Seb's epic drum solo later in the set.
Thurs 1 Nov - Holland - Bergen Ob Zoom Poppodium
We had a charming boutique Hotel De Draak experience in another idyllic Dutch town. Venue again a modern standing rock’n’roll place, and audience if anything slightly more reserved than last night until the same point in the show....!
Fri 2 Nov - Germany - Kassel Theater Stubchen
The only downside with this gig was the long drive out of our way between other gigs. It’s no secret, having married a German, that I am a fan of all things German ( microphones, bread, cars, wives!!!). The hotel was nice, but dubiously located between a brothel and a lap dancing club. Marcus, the club promoter (of the venue, not the Gentlemen's Club!) was splendidly hospitable. My wife, Judith, and 3 of her family came along and were crammed into a really packed, hot, sweaty club. The audience were crazily up for it from the off and it was a joy. The new material, all the great individual solo contributions from Martin Shaw and Rob Baron - they really know how to show their appreciation to get the most out of us.
Sat 3 Nov - Belgium - Turnhout De Warande
Another long drive. This was the worst hotel of the trip (Corsendonk Viane). It looked like an under- funded medical centre and my room had a peculiar smell that remained in spite of leaving the window full open for the duration. I have attached pictures of the stains on the wall and the carpet.... to be avoided! The venue was an enormous modern concert hall with a lovely Steinway D grand piano. The 250 strong crowd did a good job making us feel welcome, even if they didn’t quite fill the 1500 or so seats! It was also a very good on stage sound and hats off to the crew for spending time trying to fix a problem on the Fender Rhodes. Nice fish curry backstage, too!
Sun 4 Nov - Holland - Zaandam Podium De Flux
The Zaan Hotel, right opposite the train station, was a spanking new, clean, stylish affair in stark contrast to last night. I had a good explore around the town and a run later, and found the best coffee of the tour so far at De Koffeezaak. The gig was in a small, grungy club. It was packed and hot, and again we had the curious experience of the audience reacting more like their sitting on the sofa at home watching telly until getting bludgeoned with the “ huballa-bluballa” bit of the drum solo. From that point they loved it, as evidenced by the most ear-splitting whistles I’ve ever heard!
Mon 5 Nov
I’m off to Berlin now to meet the rest of the Darius Brubeck Quartet for a tour of Poland... Stay tuned…