On tour III – Pardubice, we love you…

Written by neil on 9 April, 2008 in Touring with no comments.

It is late. I sit with a small glass of Irish whiskey and try to think of a way to sum up all that has happened over the last eight days and I can’t; it’s simply too much. So it’s back to headlines, fleeting impressions and the random reflections that pop into my head for a while until I can produce something more considered.

Let’s start with this: Thank you Pardubice – you guys rock! What a great crowd: you made us feel like rock stars, you made us feel like friends – nobody could ask for a better audience. Our thanks to Viktor, the guys in Funktomass, our sound engineer, our photographers and new fans. And those strange Hungarian brothers, whoever they were…

A mile from home, driving our bus down the final stretch of road, we reflected that twenty four hours ago we were on stage in front of that wonderful crowd in club Ponorka. All of a sudden, it barely seems real. I realise that I’m going to be sat here one evening soon and suddenly feel an aching sense of loss: I’ll want to be lugging my amp down another set of stairs in a foreign bar, to hear Tommy singing in Russian or Duke roaring out a Marillion cover, to be laughing with Henk and Paul over a mystery beer or talking philosophy with a stranger while I get ready to perform again. I may even come to miss the endless tape of road playing its grumbling, atonal fugue beneath the wheels of our temporary home or Caleb’s snoring. No, scratch that last one…

So, Duke filled in for Rupert in Pardubice and we were able to play a gig that, on reflection, I wouldn’t have missed for all the tea in China. We had to trim the set a little, which is a shame and we were without a quarter of the band, which is a far greater shame because Roo, showman that he is, would have been in his element at that gig. But let’s hand it to Duke – I feel – we all feel – that we’ve made a friend for life there and, if you’re reading this Duke, me case es su casa. (I think that’s Spanish for ‘You wandered off with my case, you theiving Mexican…’). He did an amazing job of learning our set (not wholly straightforward, it has to be said) in a short time and didn’t even fuck up Shadowpictures. (Even more amazingly, neither did any of us…)

Last night was an incredible end to a wonderful tour for us. Many miles travelled, many friends made, many adventures and a lot of laughter. We feel awful that we had to race off at the end without getting to know the crowd at Ponorka and without hearing the rest of the music – Tommy, just when we were getting to grips with some of the lyrics! We just about made it to the Channel Tunnel – we’ve travelled through six countries in 24 hours. We are, quite frankly, knackered.

A personal note to end this entry. My own personal thanks to the guys in the band. To Rupert, for being the ever-beating heart of what we do; for his energy and humour; for making the right decision for himself, his family and for the band even though it broke his heart. To Caleb for his extraordinary musicianship; for his ever-present smile, razor wit and self-deprecating humour. To Paul for being our anchor; for his endless capability, world-wisdom, can-do approach, his ability to deal with just about anything. You are my brothers. And thanks to Jen, Sheena and Lorraine for allowing the boys out to play with their disreputable friend after dark. They all played like rock stars but behaved like perfect gentlemen.

At some stage I’m going to write about this tour properly but for now I’m going to collapse into bed.

Layers out.

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