Luxembourgish Steel…


Another mind-numbingly interesting morning, this one spent in the Luxembourg Sofitel. I could see it was a beautiful day outside but somehow something prevented me from venturing into the outside world today, most likely tiredness, these bus journeys have a habit of shifting the body clock later and later….and we’re only the support act. I guess Bob’s lot arrive at their hotel maybe three hours after we do as they would need to wait for show traffic to die down. Late afternoon and when I finally ventured outside, everyone was on the bus ready to hit the road to the Rockhal. More daytime traffic to crawl through, it seems there isn’t a country in the world now where this isn’t the case. We wound our stop-start way to the curious location of the Rockhal, an old disused steel foundry in an area known as Belval.

Due to the dominance of the steelworks the area suffered greatly from the abandonment of steel production in Luxembourg. Built in 1932, the foundry actually finally ceased production in 2001 and has been undergoing long-term redevelopment ever since. Each time we visit, this new town grows a little more. Managed by the public institution Centre de Musiques Amplifiées and co-financed by the Luxembourgish State, the Rockhal, the largest music venue in the country stands as a ‘shining jewel’ on the Luxembourgish musical landscape. Well actually more like a grey box but nevertheless, we do love this venue.


Partly because it is a hall specifically designed for music and as such incorporates acoustic treatment. The internal walls are lined with jet black acoustic tiles, meaning the sound in there is pretty damn dead. Good news, certainly for the audience. The only minor drawback is their feedback during the show seems somehow muted from the stage, that’s because the reflections are minimized and so we don’t quite hear the atmosphere as it usually is in these halls. A small price to pay for excellent sound. The backstage facility is also very well thought out. Artist comfort being considered in the design, the dressing rooms are exactly how they should be, large and spacious with en-suite, efficient shower and bathroom facilities…I’m sounding like an estate agent.

I should probably explain this photograph. I’ve been planning to shoot some time lapse footage of the crews changing over the stage. It’s proving difficult but this afternoon I grabbed my first chance. Unfortunately there is SO much going on at this time including Simon and his light-focussing session. This meant I had no real steady light source so the time lapse resembled something more akin to the beginnings of a migraine. I did however manage to grab a still frame.


Looking back outside, the landscape is not quite as eerie as it was when we first visited as many new buildings have altered the skyline transforming this surreal film set into a more normal small town.

In the usual rush to get everything done in the time allotted, sound-check, eat dinner, prepare ginger tea, warm up the larynx, finger warm-ups, get changed…etc etc. I noticed Mark and Bob having a long chat outside the venue and wondered if there might be some consequence of this in the show, as it turned out there was.

We took to the stage promptly at 8pm to a warm reception, noticing the acoustic qualities of the room immediately, the band performed as well as ever and judging by the sheer number of smiling faces watching, the crowd seemed to be enjoying it. Our set over, seemingly just as we’d got going, we wandered back to the dressing rooms where Mark prepared for his second trip to the stage of the evening. Naturally the rest of the band changed, grabbed a drink and  set off for the area off stage-left to watch the proceedings. Mark joined Bob’s band for the first three songs of his set tonight, ‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ and ‘Things Have Changed’.
Bob was on form again and Mark sounded fantastic. It’s as close as the rest of us will get to hearing ourselves out front, although I used to nip out into the hall some nights during my break in the show to watch Mark, Danny, Glenn and Richard play Sultans of Swing.

Soon we were back on our respective buses and off on our way across the German border and on to Dusseldorf. Pete Mackay had a pleasant surprise for us in the form of a couple of bumper boxes of sushi. As Glenn so correctly noted the other night “no wonder there’s a saint named after you Peter”. We tucked in, had a drink or two, and I supplied the playlist below for this evening’s upstairs front lounge music session.