Tony Penultimate

Sylt

North German Landscape

After a late afternoon flight from Heathrow to Hamburg which was fairly painless (except BA now charge for coffee) we checked into our hotel and then went straight to Max’s bar which is Jonty’s local (Jonty - UOGB bass player, lives in Hamburg) just round the corner and had a couple of beers to settle in.
The next morning we jumped on the train from Hamburg to Sylt (3+ hours) which is in the north and is an resort town near Denmark, where Jonty and his wife spend their summer holidays.

Jonty, it must be said is prone to exaggeration and had informed us all that Sylt was the millionaires playground of Germany, unbeliveably expensive and classy etc etc. Upon arrival it turned out to be a perfectly pleasant seaside town, not unlike Scarborough in the UK, I mean I've played in Monte Carlo and I know I don't belong there, but in Sylt I felt right at home.

For our first gig, we were playing as a six piece, our lineup was me, Richie, Hester, Jonty, Dave and Clara Sanabras - who had just got back from a gig in Bejing!  George and Will weren't doing these gigs and Leisa and Ben Rouse will join us on Wednesday for the rest of the tour.

We had never played in this combination before, so it took some working out of the set to plug all the gaps and to make the show watertight.

Upon arrival at Sylt, we split up, as the band were staying in two different hotels and, due to a balls up with the schedule, Richie, Hester and me took a taxi to the hotel, which turned out to be the hotel we were having dinner at, not which we were staying in! Hester meanwhile, was trying to find out where we were meant to be staying, leaned on the reception desk and put her arm into a large puddle of soup, which necessitated having her coat cleaned while we waited for the taxi to our proper hotel (Soup? Reception desk? - you tell me!) When we did get our taxi to the hotel, we only had time to unpack our gear and head to the venue for soundcheck - so no pre gig nap!

Rich and Jonty on the train, working on the setlist

Hester and Clara

The gig was, to be fair to Jonty, an immaculate place with tables laid out for fine dining etc and presumably a classy clientele.

While flipping through the brochure, I found out that this tour is billed as the 'Full English Brexit' tour which made me a bit uneasy - I'm a committed European. I had a word with Viola about it and she told me it was no big deal and Germans would find it funny.

Peeking behind the stage I found a two storey mountain of empties - if they were a classy crowd, they were presumably a hard drinking one, and I had visons of the evening ending in a shower of flying bottles and shouts of 'go home English'.

But I was wrong, we were playing in a bottling plant (Sylt is famous for its mineral water) and we prepared for the show.

I can honestly say that this was the hardest show I'd done in years, apart from being down on the numbers - player wise, it was stiflingly hot and within minutes we were all bathed in sweat.  I'd calculated that this tour would be a 'two shirter' ie two white shirts to cover five gigs (you can't see the dirt on a collar from a distance and suitcase space is always at a premium on tour).

Performance is a funny thing, you should be relaxed on stage, but also in a state of heightened awareness. Up front our audience seemd unresponsive, yet I noticed plenty of feet tapping, a sure subliminal sign that peeps are into it.
Some gigs are great, you have an absolute feeling of control over your environment and a sort of Stanislavskian transcendence overtakes you (OK OK cut the crap). Others you just have to dig in and do the work, in other words, sell it to them and thats what we did. We were told at half time that it was going really well and by the end we had reeled 'em in, but by God it was hard! More tomoz Campers

 

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