December 17, 2017
We left our hotel in Frankfurt soon after 9am and landed in Vienna around 1:30 in the afternoon.
We are to stay at the airport hotel as we have to get the 8:40am flight to Milan tomorrow morning.
I have not slept well again and think to try again a while, when we are checked in to our next.
The 10 minute walk through airport passages was neither unpleasant nor a thing of beauty, but it was easy on the wheeled cases and a stride was welcome.
The hotel we are booked into is one of those self-consciously trendy concerns.
All photos of beautiful young things laughing uproariously.
Hashtags and invitations to post selfies from the lift and a check-in that doubles for a bar or boutique coffee shop.
It has some well considered features, a communal microwave, a recycling booth and my bedroom suite was smart and very comfortable.
I think I had a disabled room.
The door opened itself and it was a little odd, standing there like a window display waiting for it to close again of its own volition.
Having said that, it would be a great feature for someone with physical challenges, and the room itself was not aesthetically compromised nor seemed over clinical as some disabled facilities are wont to be, forgetting that disabled people have a fondness for elegance too.
Check-in though was a testy affair.
As with all our hotels these last three months, our travel agent has forwarded our bookings and pre-registered us so that they have all our details and our keys are ready for us to collect.
Vinny approaches the counter and politely gives the young woman working registration our names, flagging up the notification they have received in 2 formats and have indeed confirmed to be in place.
Two rooms? She asks.
Yes said Vinny, giving her both of our names again.
Are you both staying in the same room?
No. Says Vinny. We have two rooms.
Then I will just deal with you, and then her, she states archly.
Fill in this form with your address.
Vinny reiterates they have all that information.
We are pre-registered.
Yes. She says. We need your address.
You have it, he says. Why do you need it again.
We like to know who is staying in our hotel, she sneers.
I can see Vinny’s back going up.
He starts to fill in a form, nonetheless, muttering that this has all been done.
Our agent has emailed and called and confirmed this.
The young woman, younger than my kids, looks at him with contempt.
I am standing to the side saying nothing.
He is still writing his address grumbling why.
Christmas cards? I suggest.
At this point she looks at my booking, for shits and giggles perhaps, and here she obviously finds the information that she declined earlier to look for.
Humph, she shrugs at him without apology. We don’t need your address.
Piqued that she finds her irritation to have been unfounded, she ups it a notch.
To me, with whom she has as yet had no eye contact, she thrusts forward a form.
Still not looking at me.
You can put your address.
Are you alright? I ask her mildly.
She looks taken aback.
Wifi is free.
No details needed.
Praise the lord.
I sign the form.
I don’t put my address and make up a new signature for larks.
It’s nothing crooked.
The room has been paid for and I will have no extras.
You can fuck trendy gaffs up the wrong’un though.
Elitism is so very desperate.
I don’t sleep but watch CNN news instead.
A formidable female anchor is taking no nonsense and shows no duplicity in making her feelings known.
I like her.
We meet downstairs at 3:40 where we are met by a very warm and charming driver. Quite the gentleman.
In the car I look at my phone and have had a message from Georgie wishing me a good show and reminding me that while we don’t have the numbers we had in Germany, it doesn’t mean who comes won’t love it.
This is a gentle introduction to the possibility that there may be a bit of tumble-weed tonight.
We have not sold well.
Our German leg was a grand success.
We sold out all the shows and my promotor wants me to come out again quickly and extend the cities we play in.
This is the first time I have done Vienna since I have been with Modest Management nigh on 10 years, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever played here before.
Either way. It’s sounds like the country is not gagging for me.
What do you mean by numbers? I text back.
50% she says.
I know she will have rounded that up by, oh, at least 10% and have counted in a hopeful walk up.
What else can she do?
She reminded me that to those that do come, it matters.
We thought we’d give it a punt and it didn’t work out.
They will get as much of me as our sold out rooms do. I have points to prove.
Our last tour it was the same situation in Paris.
The french have not taken me to their bosom or claimed me for their own.
That last Paris show was more papered than a Sunday Observer, but I had a brilliant time with all those that cared enough to come.
I insisted we do it again on this tour, to the puzzlement of all my people, well aware it will cost me and that likely few will come again.
I like small parties too.
I will come and sing for my beginnings and my endings.
For my dad and my ancestors in all their absences.
The Vienna gig tonight, I am told is in the middle of a shopping centre.
I wonder what on earth I will find when I get there.
As I climb out from the taxi I am startled to be met by a crowd of autograph hunters.
Few of them I suspect will be coming tonight.
Some of the pictures they present to me are 35 years old.
I wonder if this means they are not aware that I have made music since, and how many people here will be expecting of me a retro show.
A couple, though, I sense, have kept abreast.
We connect in a glance.
When I arrive though, Dougie is sporting his best ‘Dour’, like a gymkhana rosette.
I’m going to give you the bad news first. He says immediately.
Sound check is delayed
….Can’t be bothered…
….On the fuckin’ rider….
….Takin’ the piss!…
What’s the good news? I ask.
There isn’t any. He says.
You definitely inferred there was.
No I didn’t.
Vinny concurs that my impression was correct.
A ‘First’ implies a second is forthcoming. I reason.
Dougie is not finished airing today’s issues.
I’m not one who’s not going to tell you the truth, he states, proudly.
You could withhold, I said.
Wait until I ask you for it?
You will ask.
Not if I don’t know the question.
He is on a roll though.
It’s always like this with promotors, when you don’t sell well.
They can’t be fuckin’ arsed.
It’s the same with the Paris show.
I knew Paris was going to be in there somewhere.
The Paris show has a face that only its mother can love.
Still. Tonight It’s a standing show.
The punters will be comfortable.
I have asked the crew to eat as heartily as possible.
Fill the space a little, like dough left to prove in a hot room.
By now, though, I’m feeling a bit flat.
That impending cold is scratching at my awareness and I feel mildly trepidatious.
No one here has said hello and it feels marked.
I eat lightly.
My dressing room is good.
Vinny asks if today I didn’t need my show case?
He has noticed it by its absence.
Of course I do.
I’m a twat.
He kindly offers to go back to the hotel for it.
I protest that I could wear my DMs tonight, but he assures me it’s fine, and off he goes.
Audio Book. Prepare. Dress.
Sean comes in.
Sean is a great energy for me to be around.
He is glass half full.
He is reassuring without being obvious or artful.
It’s going to be great, he says, and he has a face you just believe.
Yes we are. And I know it.
I don’t have energy though for a hearty warm-up.
I dial it in.
I don’t stand up for it.
John comes in and is upbeat too.
Doesn’t matter, he says.
Warm ups don’t have to be vigorous.
Sean is spitting about Farage and his ‘I’m broke’ piece in the Daily Mail.
Fucking broke. He lives in a 4 million pound house.
I believe everything Sean says.
We three go into our Beatles medley and love it.
Dougie comes in.
I’m going to hold the show time for 15 mins.
To allow the queue to get in?
He smiles back wryly.
It’s a Saturday.
Give them more time to get here.
Side stage I hear what I take as a slow clap.
Get a move on. I tell Dougie.
Get us on.
They’re getting pissed off.
I’m not confident they will stay.
And then, on we go and blow me.
The audience look perfectly healthy.
They are not packed sardines, but they do go from front to back, covering the floor, and they are cheering and they cheer long and loud and throughout.
It’s a truism that when a show is not sold out, more often than not, the people that have come are more condensed hard-core.
They have not responded to a hot ticket and mine here is not that patently.
They have come because they have been waiting for you.
Tonight’s audience are glorious.
Tonight turns out to be a great one. Expect little and can come wonderful surprises.
I am not the biggest act to grace these walls, but I have tonight been gifted a response and a respect that is more than enough reward for a minstrel soul.
Much, much more.
If it is our only time,
thank you, Vienna.
I loved you hard.