December 9, 2017
Having come back to my hotel in Amsterdam last night, I was now with David who is arrived to see tonight’s show at the Paradiso.
His brother is here with some mates and they will have an opportunity to hang out.
I am still on a talking embargo, so after we get breakfast downstairs together, he takes himself off to wander and to visit an art gallery, while I stay in and write and take a bath.
Dougie texts me to say it’s a ‘buy out’ tonight, so there’s no food available to us on site.
I won’t eat on a gig night after 5pm, so he says I should get foid where I am before sound check which tonight needs to be later, at 5:30pm.
I order room service.
It’s a reliable bet.
Very odd though, this time.
A knock at my door and I open it to a robust middle-aged woman who voluminously chants out what she has come laden with.
Asks too if I am a ‘Mrs’ as the order doesn’t indicate that…?
(They always say ‘Mr’ to me on the phone in hotels.
It is a combination of the expectation that a sole guest will more likely be male, and that my spoken voice down a phone, certainly 50 gigs in, is not unlike that of a hairy-cracked docker)
She strides in and I press myself against the wardrobe to give her room.
She is balancing the tray on her shoulder.
Me, docker. You, hod carrier.
Marriages happen with less in common.
Bizarrely, behind her and following her in, is another woman, apropos nothing.
Similar age and behaving as though here to view a house for sale.
Slowly, she glances around my room.
At items of clothing draped over a chair.
The sheets of my bed.
The two of them act as tag team when a bottle opener is required for my Diet Coke.
I don’t have mine, smiles the first
The second slips her hand into my cubby hole.
It was a bit creepy to be frank.
Salmon was nice.
I meet Vinny at 5 and he drives me to the Paradiso.
Paradiso is a club venue of club venue renown.
Consequently standing venue.
Back stage is basic, but my room is well equipped, warm and comfortable.
I sign the CDs and LPs that Olga has left on my table for the merchandise stand.
She comes by, both delighted that I have already done them, and that outside it has started snowing and heavily enough that it is settling.
She says she is going to walk out in it, well wrapped up as she is.
When I start sound checking I just laugh.
The unruly boom is barking.
Goodness knows what I can make of it.
James and Darren do EQ deals between themselves.
It makes little sense to me now, but I don’t freak as I might once have done.
James says the bodies later will dampen it adequately and he is not one to make idle promises.
I know I will get the best of what can be had, and if other acts manage, so can I.
I am tight for time now and an 8:30 show time, so I get a shifty on.
My new audio book is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin, and I am quickly absorbed in it.
I have it booming.
I have my curlers in.
I have my face on.
I am ready.
The boys join me.
We warm up.
Dougie comes in and says we need to push back show time as there is still a long queue outside of some few hundred trying to get in.
Finally we get clearance.
Sean and I stand at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs which open directly to stage-left and John has gone to stage-right to wait for our cues.
We monitor check and then April 10th fires up.
The sudden roar from the crowd make Sean and I look at one another and giggle a Wow.
Underground as we are, the bass is causing everything to rattle and burr.
Sean says Guy Sigsworth should be here to see it.
The earthquake tremor of the sub bass.
Sean has reminded me we had a blast last time we played Amsterdam.
I can feel it will be a good one tonight.
I don’t remember the venue we last played, but we had a great story from it.
The truck arrives in the morning and a local crew are employed to unload into the gig.
Dougie gets out and calls the group of men hanging outside the coffee shop opposite.
Come on, he says to them.
Let’s get this stuff in.
We’re just waiting for the coffee shop to open, days one.
Unload first, insisted Dougie.
No time. Coffee later.
The men duly slunk over and unloaded the truck.
Item by item.
Cabs and flight cases and all.
As they finished depositing the last heavy crate, a different fellow altogether approaches Dougie.
Hi, he says.
We are your local crew.
Shall we start unloading?
Our cue to take to the stage sounds.
We walk out to a room every inch packed.
The welcome is overwhelming.
This is what we are gifted from one song to the next.
The energy and atmosphere, electric.
The wholehearted cheers, deafening.
That I had the cheek to tell them to buy their beer in a quieter fashion, at one point, is to my shame.
I am greedy.
They were giving me plenty already.
When I played ‘Other’, the reception was unparalleled.
It seemed to resonate for an age.
Tonight was an exchange we dream of as young bedroom would-be’s.
It was quite astonishing.
I left the stage straight into the car, where David was already waiting for me, full of cheer from a good day spent and a venue that is perfectly to his taste.
Vinny drove us back to the hotel, through a city blessed by abject beauty and subtle elegance.
We passed a sculpture of white lights adorning the central arch of a bridge, the impression it gave was of crystaline water flowing from above and around underneath and back up again. Like a rapture.
We all murmur at its beauty.
Snow on the ground.
Everything tonight, magical.