Monday 14th May 2007 : London : Off to Dublin via Farnborough aerodrome. We fly in and out of Dublin today so I will still not get to see anything of Eire. ( we also flew in and out of Cork in 2006; my only other time in this neck of the woods ). A fantastic show with a great Irish audience and beef in guiness served up in catering. What more could you ask. Back in London by 12.30am. We have a day off tomorrow, then fly off to Miami for the U.S. leg of the tour.
Sunday 13th May 2007 : London : A day off, spent playing sax and cooking cheeseburgers.
Saturday 12th May 2007 : London : The second of the 2 London dates today. If anything this was an even better show than friday. ( of course we had the inestimable help of Nick Mason! ). The after show party was fun and I got to meet up with Paul Brown, my ex manager from my production days.
Friday 11th May 2007 : London : The first Earls Court gig today. It is both Harry and I's first time playing at this famous venue. We got there in plenty of time to have a soundcheck with Nick Mason, who is joining the band on saturday. I got to say hi to John and Isobel before the show started, then onstage at 7.45pm. It was a great show with a great audience. Roger was visibly moved by the reception. We all had a fantastic time. After the show I got to say hi to Tom and Danny ( 2 great musicians ) and Lee and Mark ( movers and shakers from the City ).
Thursday 10th May 2007 : London : What was going to be a nice relaxing day turned into a plumbing nightmare! I was doing some washing and the pipes in the kitchen backed up and filled the room with gallons of hot, soapy water. After swabbing the decks with towels to mop up the water I tracked down the source of the problem; a blocked pipe between the sink and outside drain. I borrowed a bendy pipe clearing device from friend Chris and undid the pipe just in time for the upstairs flat's washing machine to empty down the same pipe and fill the kitchen with hot soapy water again! In the end I sorted it out ( with Chris' help ) and spent the rest of the day trying to get the kitchen dry and throwing out soggy pasta and rice. Oh to be back on the road!!
Wednesday 9th May 2007 : London : Spent the day dealing with mail, bills etc. Had a surprise visit from my friends John and brother Richard. They are both in town to promote John's new album 'Gone Away' which features my tenor and soprano playing on most of the tracks. In the evening we got together with Isobel ( John's wife and band member ) and the kids and ate curry and tried on sunglasses.
Tuesday 8th May 2007 : Manchester/Birmingham/London : Everyone, including Roger, piled into a large bus and we all schlepped down to Birmingham. Back in England , so the weather is miserable ( wet and grey ). Passed the time playing gin with Harry and we then were at the NEC in no time. A quick soundcheck, a bite to eat and a couple of games of ping pong then we were ready to go on. Oli and Rob, 2 musician friends of mine from London, popped their heads round the dressing room door to say hi before the show. It was slightly disconcerting to find them directly in front of me when I got on stage. I tried to pretend that they were normal members of the audience, and I think I got away with it! The show was fun, the trip back to London was quick and I was home in Willesden Green by 1.00am.
Monday 7th May 2007 : Manchester : Picked up a couple of shirts from The House Of Fraser round the corner as I am running out of clothes! Back to London soon. Roger's flight from down south hadn't arrived when we got to the venue, so we soundchecked without him and Harry. The gig ran smoothly and Manchester seemed to enjoy the experience. I had a few old friends along from Scotland and Liverpool. It was great to see Elaine and her daughter Katie and also Mike from Liverpool. We had a nice post gig chat in the hotel bar after the show. Good luck with your Highers Katie.
Sunday 6th May 2007 : Manchester : I had a very pleasant long lunch with Mum, Dad and my brother Alistair at the Riverside restaurant on the Irwell in the centre of Manchester. After lunch I just had time to have a bit of a play on my sax, wander round the city for an hour or so for a bit of exercise and update my blog. I got an email today from Ing. Josue Sanchez Tapetillo telling me that the Viking longship that I photographed in Stockholm ( see 27th April ) was destroyed by fire the day after we left town. Spooky and sad.
Saturday 5th May 2007 : Paris/Arnhem/Bournemouth/Manchester : We have quite a lot of travelling today so had a fairly early start. On landing in Holland there was an hour bus ride to the venue, so we didn't arrive till 4.30pm. Roger was already on stage playing and singing 'Flickering Flame' which we all joined in on. I wonder if he is considering a change in the set? It was nice to meet Marleen before the gig. The show was fun, with everyone playing well. The 35000 strong audience were surprisingly subdued but seemed to liven up towards the end of the second set. After the show it was back to the airport and on to Bournemouth where we dropped off Roger and Harry who are spending sunday at home. Next stop was Manchester at about 2.00am local time.
Friday 4th May 2007 : Paris : Another day off in Paris. Holly, Tanya and I hooked up with Dave and cabbed up to Montmartre. Had a look around Sacre Coeur and ended up in the square with all the portrait painters, artists and cafes. We had a pleasant light lunch before meandering down the hill and catching the metro back to our hotel. In the evening I took Holly andn Tanya to the Paris institution, La Coupole for dinner. The weather had just turned wet so the traffic meant we turned up 15 minutes late. This did not seem to matter to the charming Maitre D and waiters who had fun with our incompetent attempts to speak French and confusion over the menu. We started with some foie gras then I had the excellent lamb curry ( a house speciality ) and the girls seemed happy with their choices of main courses also. The rain had given up by the time we finished eating, so we had a quick wander round the 14th arrondissment before heading back to the hotel for a nightcap.
Thursday 3rd May 2007 : Paris : The day of the gig, so just had a brief wander around the Champs-Élysées before setting off for the venue. Played some doubles table tennis( Sean and I against Dave and Harry ). We thrashed them comprehensively, much to Harry's annoyance ( I'm sure he won't mention this in his blog! ). Didn't fare so well against Kahuna in the singles though. The show was fun with particularily good sound ( thanks to Trip and Bob ). We got a great view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night from the roof of our hotel.
Wednesday 2nd May 2007 : Paris : Missed breakfast so had a wander around the immediate area before holly and Tanya arrived from London on the Eurostar around 2.00pm. The three of us then meandered aimlessly around the streets of Paris, having a great time. We stopped off at a couple of cafe's before ending up on the Isle De La Cite near Notre Dame. After browsing around the inetresting shops in the area we found a pleasant brasserie with a view of the cathedral and had some seak et frites and good red wine. ( we have something more elaborate planned for friday night where I made a reservation at La Coupole ). After dinner we caught a couple of sets of a cool Argentinian group playing at Duc Des Lombards - Club De Jazz. They were led by Minino Garay and his Cordoba Reunion. Minino is a fantastic persussionist/drummer who played exciting and dynamic rhythms on his kit and an amplified wooden box.
Tuesday 1st May 2007 : Bergen/Soenderborg/Paris : We left for Denmark around 2.00pm. The beautiful weather seems to be following us around. I got thrashed at chess by Harry once again, but faired a little better at gin rummy. Kahuna is the king of ping pong. Not even Harry can take more than the occasional game against him, but we all try. The show was great, if a little chilly for both band and audience. It didn't stop the Danes from having a great time. They almost matched the Norwegians for enthusiasm. After the show it was off to Paris ( France ) and a day off tomorrow. Thanks to Dag Øivind Rebnord for sending me more pics of his band performing 'The Wall' in Bergen.
Monday 30th April 2007 : Bergen : I met up with Dave at breakfast and we decided to go for a bit of a hike into the hills. We set off around 11.00.am and made good progress through the old town and up the path to the start of the forest. We saw some whacky wooden carvings in the bushes on our way. Later we came upon a beautiful lake. We were really lucky with the weather which was bright and clear but not too hot. Dave was keen to get as high as we could so we pressed on and finally reached the summit above the town where we could see the snow covered hills to the east. There was a strange bunker like building with KAOS sprayed on the front. I would be interested if anyone could fill me in on the meaning of this and if there is any connection with Roger's album of the same name. On the way down we stopped off at the cafe which had a great view of Bergen. We ran into Pat who was on a slightly less ambitious trek into the hills. All in all a very good days exercise. We arrived back at the hotel around 5.00pm, just in time to spruce up and get together with thew rest of the band. In the evening we took Roger to a local fish restaurant and had an excellent meal.
Sunday 29th April 2007 : Bergen : Got up late, so had a choice of going climbing in the hills above Bergen or going to see around the Arctic Sunrise. The hills won out on this beautiful day. I saw enough to know that if the weather is good tomorrow I am going back for a longer trip. We headed to the venue around 5.00pm. Soundchecked, had a great nut roast courtesy of Michael in catering, couldn't get near the table tennis table. Ping pong and darts are getting very popular before the show with band and crew. The concert was fab. Katie sung particularily beautifully on 'Beirut'. Dave, in spite of an ongoing cold, rocked. The audience were amazing. The 15000 people made enough noise for 50000. So much for my 'Latins make the best audiences' theory. Thank you Bergen.
Saturday 28th April 2007 : Stockholm/Bergen : We go to Bergen a day earlier than scheduled because Marianne Faithfull is in town and Roger and Harry are going to meet up with her for dinner............... Arrived in Bergen in the late afternoon. The weather is beautiful, so I had a stroll around town before the sun went down. Bergen is a very picturesque little place. The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is in moored here at present. They are having an open day tomorrow so I hope to see some more of the ship then. In the evening we all met up with Marianne at a very good local restaurant. Just before the main course came, Andrew Zweck arrived and told us about a performance of The Wall, which was going on round the corner at that very minute. Roger and about seven of us bundled into the van and arrived in time to hear 4 or 5 tunes from the end of the set. There was something quite surreal about standing in the dark with Roger listening to a Norwegian band perform his mega opus. Not something that happens every day. After the show we returned to the restaurant for the rest of our excellent meal. I managed to have a few words with Marianne, mainly about her fantastic performance in Tom Waits 'Black Rider' a couple of years previously. This great show featured Marianne as the Devil. Later Harry and I played a few tunes in the bar and were joined by Pat for a rousing version of 'Summertime'.
Friday 27th April 2007 : Stockholm : Plenty of time for more site seeing around Stockholm before leaving for the show. We started early ( 7.30pm ) so no time for ping pong. There were a couple of mishaps during the show, including Roger breaking a string on his acoustic guitar during 'Mother', but this did not detract from a great concert. 'Perfect Sense' and 'Sheep' were particularly powerful. Andy was rocking on 'Beirut'. After the show we adjourned to the Opera Cafe until the volume of the disco drove us all back to the hotel.
Thursday 26th April 2007 : Stockholm : A day off in Sweden. We all slept late, so didn't leave the hotel till around 2.30pm. Stockholm is very pretty and clean; particularly the Gamla Stan area, which is one of the older parts. I ran into Carol in a cafe along the way and invited her along on my evenings jazz expedition. Before returning to the hotel I checked out the small island Skepps-Holmen, where I took some photos of sculptures which looked straight out of the Beatles 'Yellow Submarine' ( but predated that film by quite a few years ). In the evening, after some computer admin ( getting Carol's MacBook up and running ) we went to the Fasching Jazz Club, where the Fredrik Kronqvist Quartet were just finishing their set. Harry and his mother Caroline ( who I hadn't seen since Radio Kaos days in 1987 ) turned up for the last couple of tunes. We enjoyed the set hugely, bought a CD and repaired to a local Italian restaurant for some pasta before returning to the hotel. ( thanks to Renate for the new pics of the Barcelona concert ).
Wednesday 25th April 2007 : Milan/Antwerp/Stockholm : We play in Antwerp this evening then fly on to Stockholm....... Flew into Brussels since Antwerp airport closes before our scheduled onward flight to Stockholm. Straight to the venue, soundcheck, a few hands of gin rummy with Harry ( back to all square after I won 4 hands in a row and got a 'Schneider' ) then on with the show. I see from reading Harry's blog that he has gotten a bit of flack from calling the Belgian audience comatose! Having played many gigs with other bands I can definitely say that Roger's audiences are the most knowledgeable, loud and enthusiastic bunches of people that I have ever played to. That said, the Latin audiences give the rest of the world a lot to live up to! The gig was good fun in spite of the crowd remaining seated till the encore. We were whisked away to the airport before midnight and were in Stockholm by 2.30am.
Tuesday 24th April 2007 : Milan : Had breakfast with Dave, Pompey and Andrew. Found out some interesting things about Pompey's past in the military. Particularily his winter training in Norway. In the afternoon I wandered round Milan. Milan is about shopping. There are more clothes shops here than you can shake a stick at. ( although I'm sure they would prefer you to shake credit cards at them ). I did rather badly in the shopping stakes. Saw another cathedral. In the evening I had a nice dinner with Ilaria, who plays keys and sings in a Pink Floyd tribute band ( but is studying to be a vet ) and is a massive Jon Carin fan.
Monday 23rd April 2007 : Barcelona/Milan : Bags at 12.30. Bus to the airport at 2.00. Harry is starting to get ahead in the chess tournament. Come to think of it, I'm not doing so well at the gin rummy either! straight to the gig from the airport. It was nice to meet Ilaria and her band mate before the show. The concert was storming. A fabulously enthusiastic audience made playing a particular joy.
Sunday 22nd April 2007 : Barcelona : Slept late then returned my bicycle after a run down the seafront where most of Barcelona were soaking up the sun on the beach, or checking out the people soaking up the sun on the beach. In the afternoon most of the band and Roger went to see John McEnroe play in his match against Cedric Pioline in the seniors competition prior to the start of the Spanish open. All our support was to no avail however, as he lost in two sets 6-4, 7-5. We shouldn't have kept him up so late on an evening prior to a big match! ( He blamed his poor showing on this also !! ). It was fantastic all the same to see this genius of tennis in action, having seen many of his great matches against Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg et al...... Later Harry and I went on a jazz expedition that turned out to be a wild goose chase. We did however get to see the Sagrada Familia by night, spectacularily illuminated. I had a last jaunt along La Rambla before retiring.
Saturday 21st April 2007 : Barcelona : The day of the gig. We don't leave the hotel till 6.00pm ( a late show ), so plenty of time to see more of the city and go to the Museu Picasso ......... Spent a very interesting couple of hours in the Picasso museum. The room containing 50 or so versions, copies and details of Velasquez 'Las Meninas' painted by Picasso was particularily fascinating. I was less interested in the many early Picasso's the museum featured, though obviously of historical significance and proving what a complete and gifted technical painter the man was for anyone who doubted it. The concert was tremendous. The audiemce were easily the best, loudest, most enthusiastic on this leg so far. Everyone had a great time, including John McEnroe, who came back to the hotel and spent a bit of time with the band after the gig.
Friday 20th April 2007 : Barcelona : A day off in Barcelona. The jazz hunt is on! ....... I have found a couple of promising places, so I'll see if I can drag Harry away from his poker match with Dave and a few other members of the crew. Cycling seems like a good way to get round the city so I picked one up as soon as the rental shop opened after siesta time ( finishing around 4.00pm ). Had a good days riding, exploring the city and , of course, visiting the amazing Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's humourous take on how to design a cathedral........... No sign of Harry so I set off to Jamboree in the Placa Reial. The beautifully melodic and fluent trumpeter Claudio Roditi ( who does look quite a lot like a younger David Jason ) was playing his second set of the evening at 11.00pm. The small club was jammed with people, all of whom enjoyed the concert hugely. I bought a copy of Claudio's splendid CD 'Light In The Dark' which I am listening to at this minute. Las Ramblas was still bustling with people when I left the club at 1.00am.
Thursday 19th April 2007 : Hamburg/Barcelona : Had a few hours to sightsee in Hamburg before the show. Saw some churches and lots of shops then off to the venue. I was here once in 1989 checking out a German band with a view to producing their record. I didn't see much of the town on that occasion either! The band was playing great tonight. Snowy in particular played some ripping solos on 'Brick' and 'Numb'. A long drive to the airport then 3 hours on the plane to Barcelona. Enough time for Harry to beat me a couple of times at chess........
Wednesday 18th April 2007 : Cologne/Leipzig/Hamburg : Returned my bicycle and had a swim in the morning before setting sail for Leipzig. Cool gig then back on the plane, bound for Hamburg.......
Tuesday 17th April 2007 : Cologne : A day off in Cologne, so I'm off cycling........I set off along the west bank heading south along the Rhine. The city soon gave way to countryside and I spent a bit of time exploring a forest by the riverside along the way. I finally reached Weiss, where there is a ferry across the river to Zundorf. Had a nice chat to the boatman who ( once he found out I was from Scotland ) decided to practise his English on me. We had a nice chat about Skye, the Loch Ness Monster and the German band Can ( who I think he may have played keyboards with an early incarnation ) I said adieu and headed north towards Cologne. The trip back took me through Porz and Ensen and I finally got back to town around 5.00pm after a 30 mile round trip. In the evening the local promoter took us to and excellent Italian retaurant where much fun was had by all.
Monday 16th April 2007 : Cologne : The weather is fantastic today. I spent half an hour updating my blog and then headed out in search of a bicycle to hire for the next couple of days. After a false start back and forth across the railway bridge ( Hohenzollerbrücke ), I was directed to the right location ( Deutzer Brücke ) and found the bike rental place at one end of the bridge. I spent a pleasant few hours exploring the environs of Cologne before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the show. The concert was great. Roger did a fantastic job, particularily considering he had been hit with the tummy bug that plagued the end of the South American leg. The audience were quite reserved until encore, when they finally got out of their seats and defied the venue security staff and stood up. After the show we had a pleasant glass of wine and some snacks back at the hotel and were even joined by Roger who was feeling a bit better, if a little drained.
Sunday 15th April 2007 : Cologne : A day off in Cologne. Had a nice chat at breakfast with Pompey, who has taken over from Simon on security. Spent the rest of the day wandering round Cologne before heading back to the hotel to hook up with Harry. We found a jazz jam listed at the Villa Ignis starting at 6.00pm, so we hopped in a cab and headed there around that time. When we arrived the band were just packing up and indicated that on this nice sunny day they would rather be picnicking by the Rhine, than playing jazz with us. ( not unreasonably since it is a beautiful day ). The proprietor of the bar kindly let Harry and I play for an hour or so to the remaining customers, before she shut up shop for the day ( and invited us back the following week ). In the evening there was a poker game arranged which Harry attended and I ( considering my last late night poker experience ) decided to miss!
Saturday 14th April 2007 : Prague/Budapest/Cologne : Yet another lovely day in Prague. We leave for the airport at 2.00pm destined for Budapest. I have never been to Hungary, but suspect I won't get much of an impression of Buda or Pest on this trip........ I was right! Straight in and out of Budapest. Another good gig then on to the plane bound for Germany. Harry and I had a good game of chess during the flight ( good for me at any rate! Harry must be slipping ... ). In the hotel by the river in Cologne by 2.00am.
Friday 13th April 2007 : Prague : Another beautiful day in Prague. I spent most of the day siteseeing, including a trip to the amazing Modern Art Museum which has some great paintings by Max Ernst along with mainy lesser known Eastern European artists. Another wonderful gig. Everyone was on excellent form, including the pig.
Thursday 12th April 2007 : Prague : Had a very pleasant afternoon wandering around Prague. It is a beautiful city, particularily in the sunshine. The band met up at a great restaurant by the river next to Charles bridge in the evening. We had a splendid meal. Afterwards Harry, Richelle, Mary Zweck and I headed to U Maleho Glena to catch the last set featuring the Roman Pokorny trio. I sat in on a version of 'Straight No Chaser' but before I could get Harry involved the set was over. Maybe he will have better luck in Cologne.
Wednesday 11th April 2007 : London/Zurich/Prague : I was picked up at 8.30am and taken to Heathrow, terminal 4 ( via Harry's gaff ). Re united with the band in the British Airways lounge and restarted my blog ................ Got to Zurich around 2.00pm and went straight to the venue for soundcheck. Got a bit of table tennis in before a storming gig. Everyone was right back to form straight away and the audience reacted enthusiastically. There was an incident with the pig during 'Sheep'. For some reason it wouldn't stay in the air and kept landing on audience members in various parts of the auditorium! The Swiss audience were very civilized and just held it aloft till members of the crew came and rescued it! This incident did not detract in any way from a fabulous show. After the gig it was straight to the airport and on to Prague. ( Thanks to Simon Wimpenny for sending the pics of me from the Zurich show ).