16 March 2014

Camel Tour March 2014 - Part 4

                                                      click on photos to enlarge!

It's been a while since we last met, dear reader. Time becomes particularly elastic once one has spent a few nights on the bus. Well, as per schedule (see above) the journey from Cologne to Sheffield did indeed take ages but the next four gigs went by in a seeming trice. And in case you didn't know, a trice is not only a brief moment of time (when you're in it), it also means to haul up or in and lash or secure with a small rope, which may also be relevant but I can't think how at the moment. Anyway, it was nice to be playing in the UK again. Here's some snaps...

Andy soundchecking in Birmingham

backline tech Del Haggar's sidestage guitar shop
Ravel was here...
...and so was Cliff.
Epstein's Lucifer in the Birmingham Art Gallery

Before sound-check at Birmingham I popped across the road to the Birmingham City Art Gallery, a wonderful old piece of Victorian civic architecture. Enjoyed seeing the six tapestries by Grayson Perry entitled The Vanity of Small Differences. Read more about that here. And was also particularly taken with the enormous Burne-Jones watercolour, The Star of Bethlehem. As with the Grayson Perry tapestries, it pays to get up close and take in the details.

Cambridge Corn Exchange
The Cambridge Corn Exchange is a wonderful venue and we enjoyed ourselves greatly and, at the risk of repeating ourselves, we also had a great time in the cosy and characterful confines of the Paar Hall in Warrington. All thanks to the sheer, unbridled niceness of the audiences.
From Warrington, overnight to Portsmouth to wait around a bit for the afternoon ferry to Bilbao. It was relatively plain sailing all the way, 23 hours worth. The view from my cabin was unchanging, except of course at night when it was invisible.

Then it was back in the bus for another 12 hour overnight drive to Lisbon. It seemed as if we were travelling in a grey mist the whole of the journey so it was a pleasure to be greeted by sunshine and blue skies upon emerging from my dark inner sanctum on the bus into the Lisbon light. The gig was at the concert hall of the University. Denis and I negotiated the metro and made our way to the Barrio Alto where we enjoyed the view at the Miradore and then repaired to a little restaurant in one of the old callées and enjoyed a pleasant lunch of octupus and sardines washed down with some refreshing vinho verde. So that was nice.

the view

the vinho verde

then a quick espresso at the bar of the café brasiliana and back to the soundcheck...

my view of the soundcheck
 The gig was once again a most enjoyable experience with a warm and animated crowd cheering us on. Great to be in Portugal again. Organisation was impeccable, excellent catering. Thanks to all.
After the show, back on the bus for an overnight drive to Madrid. It's all go.... 

9 March 2014

Camel Tour - March 2014 - Part 3

home sweet home
 After a nice show at the Fulderstadt Filharmonie it was back on the bus to Köln, where the early morning sun cast a pleasing light on the city on the other side of the river.

 Set off to flanier along the river bank and crossed over the railway bridge where thousands of padlocks have been affixed to the fence by troth-plighting lovers. A trend which, as far as I know, originated on the Pont D'Orsay in Paris, but I could be mistaken.

Another great audience at the Theater am Tanzbrunnen. Every show is different, although we always play the same set. Different nuances appear spontaneously in the arranged passages and there are always moments of improvisation in the second set which are dependent on our mood and communication. Anyway, this one was a good one, made even more pleasurable by a visit from my lovely daughter Lenya, who travelled all the way from Berlin just to see her old Dad.

Backstage with my daughter Lenya

After the show I talked to two gentlemen who came from Tehran, Iran especially for the show. Which reminds me, I wanted to give an honorable mention to Chuck Padgett, who flew from North Carolina just to see the Amsterdam show and went straight back again. He said he enjoyed it.

Then it was off in the night again for the trip back to the UK. Catching the 8.15 am ferry from Calais and indulging in a 7 item English Breakfast on board. Only the Rt Hon Del Haggar de Backline managed to see off the 10 item menu (although he declined to finish off the toast - and who can blame him?).
On to Sheffield and a pleasant night off in Le Hotel Posh. Tonight Sheffield City Hall where I was reminded that this was the site of my second ever gig with Camel in October 1979 (first one was Brighton Dome). That was a long time ago.

6 March 2014

Camel Tour - March 2014 - Part 2

Eindhoven gig most enjoyable. Lovely concert hall with excellent backstage facilities - very important after a few nights on the big bus. And after meeting with some nice people afterwards it was back on the aforementioned vehicule grande and, after some tricky maneuvering of the bus through crowds of convivial, colourfully dressed carnival revellers,we were off to the historic Belgian city of Gent. Venue was the old music hall/balhaus/theatre called the Vooruit, built in 1913.

Photo taken at sound check, but before then I had a chance to wander around the beautiful old town centre. Here's some snaps from there.

The Port, Gent
Magritte was here
Josephine Baker was here
I was here
Jan van Eyck memorial
What a wonderful window
Then back to the sound check.

Ton's keyboards
l-r: Simon (backline), Ton, Andy, JJ (monitors)

We all had a good night at the Vooruit and enjoyed meeting some nice folks afterwards, including almost the entire Ducept family (Salut!).

Thanks and goodnight Gent (photo: John Bollenberg)

 Back on the bus and rolling through the night to Deutschland, arriving in the morning of a most welcome day off and a night in a proper bed. Availed myself of the sauna and caught up on events in the Ukraine. Currently also reading Christopher Clark's fascinating book, "The Sleepwalkers - How Europe Went To War in 1914" and wondering what parallels we can draw from that.
Thursday, we move on to the Filderstadt Filharmonie, Stuttgart.

and it's goodnight in Stuttgart....

3 March 2014

Camel Tour March 2014

 The tour that almost never was got off to a mercifully fine start at the fabulous, legendary Paradiso in Amsterdam yesterday. Due to a sudden unforeseen complication to our keyboard meister Guy LeBlanc's health (details and a message from Guy can be read here) we were almost thinking the unthinkable thought of cancelling the whole thing until our dear friend Ton Scherpenzeel made himself a hero and a champion mensch in our eyes by agreeing to step in at the last minute and save the day, rearranging recording dates for his band, Kayak, to have the pleasure of hurtling around Europe in a bus with all of us. Circumstances dictated that Ton could only join us for two days rehearsal beforehand. Even more circumstances dictated that the only full day would be interrupted by a four hour power cut. Ah well, these things are sent to try us. But Ton took it all in his calm Dutch stride and we all breathed a sigh of relief when the first gig went so well.

Camel at the Paradiso

big thing in the street in Eindhoven

Tonight we are in Eindhoven in the south of Holland in the wonderful Muzikgebeouw concert hall. by coincidence today is also Karnevale day. Outside the streets are vibrating with the beats of exotic oompahdisco music and many Dutch people walking around in increasingly unsteady fashion dressed in all manner of alarming fancy dress. It remains to be seen what our audience will be wearing.

Anyway I'm looking forward to playing once more with my two brand-new MTD basses.

and my excellent Taurus bass amp and cabs

Tomorrow Gent!

Hope to post more if I have a moment....