Tripping points…

A day off at the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt..I’m not sure we’ve quite earned it but there are no complaints from any department. The hotel gym is a highlight and indeed most of us made the trip at some point today but the main attraction for me is that pool and I’m ready for a swim. 50 lengths should do it. It did. I ended up sleeping for most of the afternoon as waves of fatigue finally overcame me whilst I was trying to practice some guitar. I’d bought my Martin 6 string to the room from the gig as I’d noticed my pads were disappearing the other evening. Any guitarist will know that if you don’t keep up the playing, the skin on your fingertips goes soft resulting in an uncomfortable show. I suppose it’s a consequence of not playing as many shows as we’re used to. A look at the itinerary reveals 33 shows in 47 days as opposed to the Get Lucky tour which produced 88 shows in 105 days. I do love a good stat. I’d also been fiddling with that Yamaha THR10 amp, I borrowed Richard’s Strat for a few hours and had some sleepy fun with it. I downloaded the editor from the Yamaha site which really helps with fine tuning the sounds, in particular the effects. A handy little amp this is.

The evening was scheduled for the traditional band dinner hosted by German concert promoter extraordinaire, Marek Leiberberg. I met Richard, Mike and Ian in the hotel bar for a swifty before we left for the restaurant in a taxi convoy. We revisited a particularly fine Italian restaurant called LA SCUDERIA. As always, Marek’s generosity knows few bounds and we dined like kings with various Anti-pasti already waiting on the table when we arrived. A delicious Chianti Classico was in my glass before I had time to argue. Then the pasta course, a trio of exquisite delights, a delicate blue cheese gnocchi, a light tomato and meat spaghetti and a linguini/white truffle treat. With little room left inside, the orders were taken for the main course. I plumped for a ‘small’ veal escalope with a snowstorm of freshly grated white truffles but others had beef, sea bass, cheeks of veal, lamb…etc. etc. You get the picture. Then dessert. Oh, dessert. I’ll stop here as the drool is ruining my nicely laundered shirt. We left the restaurant, said our farewells, thanked the staff, shook hands with the owner and headed for the luxurious Villa K. Straight to the bar for a solitary beer. None of us could physically consume any more.

Show Day –

Mark with the buses…

Carl with his bus..

The bus on the road (craftily snapped by Marc Schmidt)

I slept like a log (woke up in the fireplace) what with that swim and the dinner. I woke to the traditional sound of hallway vacuum cleaner. Humm, hum, thump, thump. A slightly earlier hotel checkout today in an attempt to free up a little more time at the venue before the show especially as Mark is becoming a more permanent feature in Bob’s set. Just as well we arrived early as there was more homework for Mark, tonight it was to be FIVE songs. Not of course that he needs to learn the songs, he knows them, it’s the arrangements and Charlie was to be found in our dressing room running Mark through any potential tripping points. Mark joined Bob on stage for their sound-check and I sat off to one side idly watching the band run-through alternative endings for one song after another. Most interesting to see how they go about it considering the sheer number of changes in their set each night, and as we have seen in the past, the setlist is not written in stone until they’re actually playing the song. I wandered backstage again and bumped into Donny, sporting his magnificent five-string banjo. He showed me the insides..a myriad of pickups and magical devices that together make the thing sound fantastic out front. I mentioned that I have a 5-string banjo too and he showed me some amazing claw-hammer style playing which was awesome. I feel some banjo lesson coming on! Richard heard the action and sidled alongside and we chatted about banjos….like you do. Then John McCusker appeared with fiddle in hand and he and Donny played a tune together. Then Mike appeared with his pipes and the three of them set off on another traditional folk tune called ‘Sail Away Ladies’. Donny recognized the melody as the old American folk ‘Sally Anne’, universally believed to have Irish origins. Richard disappeared to get his guitar to make it a four-piece. The four of them together in the hallway with road crew occasionally squeezing by as the stage was being set for our sound check. Good job I had my camera for some photos AND video.

As for the show tonight, we had a great one. some notable audience reaction this evening all of which was felt warmly from the stage. Mark played some beautiful things tonight as indeed did Jim on the piano. Such musicality and space!..also some stellar performances from Mike and John especially in a moving rendition of the brand new ‘Haul Away’.

These two pics sent in by Charlie Spieker

Bob was soon onstage with Mark alongside him playing some wonderful licks around Bob’s meanderings. Once again, Bob’s band looked as sharp as a tack and Bob was strutting his stuff, throwing shapes and clearly enjoying playing, he’s still got it.

A fairly long haul down to Munich and a welcome Rocco Forte bed.