Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Utrecht Wednesday 24 May 2006

"country road, take me home, to the place that I belong....." Greetings fans from the fine city of Utrecht. I just need to board a train and I could be in my home town within an hour......BUT I can't. For I am twiddling knobs for the last time before the summer kicks in with the group that is known as "Dinosaur Jr." A final 2.5 weeks of sonic righteousness and we will all be able to rest our ears. But i and i is naht complainin' is lovin' it!

There's nothing like getting the UK leg of any tour over at the start, so that you can look forward to the pleasantries of mainland Europe later. This is exactly what we did. We began the tour in Glasgow. The crumbling inner city is patrolled by "neds" (surly looking,stunted, pale, youth wearing sports casuals who roam in packs, speak an indecipherable language, and carry enough menace and threat to bring down the walls of Jericho). A couple of years ago, I was in Glasgow with Lou and Jason to play a show there as part of the "Sebadoh" reunion. We arrived at Central Station just as many Scottish football supporters were returning from Hampden Park. Lou and I went to the toilets downstairs and used the urinals. There were a bunch of neds there, but all was quiet whilst I was there. I returned upstairs without any problems. Lou returned to the surface 5 minutes later all shaken up. He said the young hoodlums had surrounded him whilst having a pee, and poked him and kicked him, calling him "speccy" and trying to harangue him. Lou was more shocked by the fact that he was being attacked by 8 year olds, rather than the fact he was being attacked at all! I was happy to see many friends during the day. Visited Mono record by Dep and Stephen Pastel...and bought the new single by the 1990s just after it had been delivered fresh off the pressing plant. Who should enter the shop as I bought it, but John McKeown...mastermind behind the 1990s.

Ajay, John (1990s) and Dep (Mono record store owner) at Mono Records, Glasgow

The day the agent picked for the show was also the day of the Champions League final. Now I certainly wanted to watch the game and not participate in the show until after the game. But no, we had to start at the beginning of the second half. I watched the first half in a pub with Noj, and Mig and assorted friends, and the strange thing was that there were alot of supposed Arsenal fans there. It turned out that many Rangers fans were donning Arsenal colours for the night, because, if Barca were to win, Celtic would get an automatic spot in the Champions League next season. Nothing like a wee bit of sectarianism to add spice to the evening. I wore my 1970s Barca shirt, and was not happy to return to the venue with the arse a goal up. But through text messages from friends in the second half, I was able to keep up to date and announce the result over the PA during the performance. Happy people in the audience.
Edinburgh......brimming with history on every street corner, a treat to the eye. Walked down the Royal Mile, visited the castle and hit Princess Street. More neds everywhere, but the warm sun had beaten them into submission and they lay in the park with no energy to pester the people.The gig was fab. Packed venue, moshing a gogo and crowd surfing. However at the end of the gig, one cheeky chap reached over to where J's pedals were, and stole his Germania pedal. He made a run out of the venue followed by audience, crew and security. But he got away with it....for now. A bunch of people came to us afterwards and said they knew who he was and the police also came down and made a report. Tedious and boring, the whole affair.


Camber Sands....All Tomorrows Parties. This is possibly the greatest festival ever. Only 3000 people in attendance, in 2 indoor venues, everybody gets a chalet to sleep in ( a bed at the end of the night people....bliss!!!....and a shower). And the 3 days and nights are filled with fantastic bands. Dino played the first night and put in a fantastic performance. J was fired up having seen "Eater" perform, and Lou and Murph were fired up having watched on ATP TV the "Minor Threat live at 9.30 Club" show from back in the day. The 2 days provided many musical highlights....Eater, The 1990s, The Gossip, Joanna Newsome, Lightning Bolt, Dead Meadow, Teenage Fanclub, Magik Markers, etc etc etc. The pub stayed open till 5 in the morning and the festival chalets were party centres, where you would chalet hop and meet old friends wherever you went.
Manchester....a return to my old stomping ground. My guestlist was filled with 30+ names. I hung out with Denis and Mike in the morning and with Mike's great son, Paul. Paul entertained us, showing us that he has the potential to be a great television star of the future......gameshows may soon have an enigmatic, good looking Mancunian fronting them. Fat Mark came down from Preston with a minibus full of people for his stag night out. He introduced the band with great aplomb, but had the ignominy of having the band arrive onstage 3 minutes after he'd finished the dynamic intro!
Manchester and Preston in da haus

Mike Nolan and Paul (future star of Granada Land)

friends in Mancunia

hotel manchester

Birmingham....jeezy creeky....not only could we not find a curry house in the centre of town (this IS curry town surely?) but we couldn't find a restaurant for love nor money. What do Brummies do for food?
Bristol....Hannelore - Lou and Kath's daughter - has eaten at a restaurant everyday, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She plies through her dish with her hands, and eats half the food and deposits the other half on the carpet every time. Tonight it was the turn of Wagamama, Bristol. Check. Add to checklist. Another waiter / restaurant owner in stress. Tonight was the last night with "Dead Meadow".....fab band and stoned immaculate. We will miss these kids. Now get me outta Blighty.

Louis McBarlow and wife

Hannelore in restaurant

Utrecht....the Dutch don't know how to rock as an audience. Too laid back for their own good. But tonight, there was a moshpit! Lawdy mama I is agonna faint. Had a strict curfew, before Euro techno all night get mashed and rutt club started. Too many flashing lights, too much smoke, tall and cool looking people everywhere. The oldies went to bed.
Antwerpen tonight....playing in Belgian warehouse. Techno would sound good here, but Dino soundcheck sounded like bag of nails being thrown down stairs and amplified to max. We will see how we do tonight. Great food prepared by chef though. Thats half the battle won of any day....get one decent meal inside you, especially before the show. Now lets sample the fine Belgian beer wares............


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