Ah well, it was inevitable I suppose. I got up this morning, in Brussels, to make a cup of tea to discover that housekeeping had removed my travel kettle and tea mug from the room. An innocent enough mistake, but no less frustrating as I interrogated the maids in the corridor in vain. “No English speak”. Two hours later they redeemed themselves, the kitchen staff had found them. Looks like I’ll have to revise my procedure for making the room ‘maid-safe’.

Making our escape from the basement car park of the Amigo, we drove past the front entrance where there was a crowd of fans clutching pens and their various collectibles. I’m not sure many were actually there for us as there were real celebrities staying. Woody Allen for one. There was another band in the hotel too but I failed to discover who they were. They certainly looked Rock and Roll enough, long hair, tattoos, carrying guitars etc. Just like us. Ha.

Swiftly jettisoned at the GAT terminal, Brussels, we went through the usual rigorous security screening (I’m getting tired of this belts-off thing) and were bussed to the jet where low and behold, parked up next door was the old Embraer Legacy we used on the last tour. Daniella confirmed this. What are the chances? We soon took off and landed at Schiphol almost before we could get through our crudités. We’ve cut out the ‘lunch on the plane’ thing down as some of us are starting to resemble inflatable beach craft.

The Ziggo Dome is surely one of the finest music venues in the world. Its design is to be admired, as its acoustic properties were clearly paramount when it was conceived. They even have acoustic treatment on the stairwells. The latest improvements include a lookalike nightclub with full bar attached to the dressing rooms. As a consequence of the sound, the band enjoyed every minute we had up on that stage, an extended sound check and an absolutely fabulous show.

Every concert in Amsterdam is the same. Simply put, the Dutch are just cool, on so many levels. We were working on some new horn arrangements for a tune we haven’t played yet and Tom Walsh mentioned to me that he has a ‘saved search’ on eBay for his Trumpet mutes. The reason is that they are extremely old and difficult to replicate. As with many vintage instruments, there’s nothing quite the same as the original. This description from Tom…the one on the right of the picture is circa 1940s. In Chicago, the ‘Harmon mute co.’ kind of became the Hoover or Tannoy of the trumpet world, because their brand name became the identifying name for the product – so it’s commonly referred to as a ‘Harmon Mute’ in the business! Some great combo of the light design and alloy of the metal (believe this Harmon is aluminium mainly) meant that it was the go to brand, and was popularised as a sound and style on trumpet by Miles Davis. He uses a mute (that will be very similar in age to mine) just like this on his 1959 album ‘Kind Of Blue’ which still remains the biggest selling jazz album of all time, unless you count Kenny G, which I don’t!…The other one isn’t as interesting but I have had it for around a decade. It’s a Straight Mute, often found in symphony orchestras. This particular one has a bottom made out of copper, which makes it slightly more sonorous, and I use it on ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ to try and evoke the sound of all the famous spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, etc.

Luxuriating in our monitor mixes, tonight’s show was the best for me, and many of the band. The sonics of the hall do indeed play a big part in how things sound in our ‘ears’. Judging by early reports from the audience, the two go hand in hand. We enjoyed freshly poured draught Heineken before our final encores. “Don’t get used to it” stated Peter, firmly. It was as sweet as any beer has ever tasted. It’s all in the timing I guess. Encored duly done, we sped off to the Wonderful Waldorf Salad eagerly looking forward to one of life’s true pleasures… a day off in the Dam.

Show-pics gratefully received from Henk Pestman