European Tour Part 1:
Apologies for not blogging for a while but since my album release I have been touring Europe relentlessly. The first leg of my European Tour back in May started on the Moon. A place otherwise known as Lanzarote or maybe just Lanzagroty! I mentioned in a previous blog that an album launch on the moon was unlikely….not so! With its inhospitable, desolate lunar landscapes, dry and arid climate you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on the moon. However the moon is probably a bit more forgiving. Everything about this place from start to finish was a total disaster for me. Bad food, not very friendly people and 2 terrible gigs with the owner of the bar where I played a complete dickhead! I wont be going back there ever again!
Earlier this year I received an email from a guy in Germany. He said he could organise some gigs for me in the south of the country. May sound a bit dubious as I didn’t know him from Adam but took the risk anyway. It paid off big time! My first 2 gigs in a snazzy restaurant were amazing. The main reason being was that the audience were silent for the whole gig. This felt quite odd because a lot of my gigs can sometimes be like a Chimps Tea party! I also played at a few private parties and one could only be described as a Millionaires banquet! I did my thing and just smiled lots in between. So far the Germans are probably the best audience I have played to in any European country….they have a great appreciation for music (no jokes about David Hasselhoff!). A compete reverse of fortunes compared to Lanzarote…… all in all a huge success!
After a gig in the west of Germany I was off to Berlin. Berlin was 2nd behind New York in the list of places I wanted to visit most and it didn’t disappoint. I stayed in a place called Ost Kruetz which was just like being in Brooklyn again. One thing that sets Berlin apart from any other major city in Europe is, its very cheap…especially the beer! It’s amazing to think that the race to Berlin in 1945 from the Russians in the East and the Allies in the West has shaped the city today. At first I was a bit puzzled why the main parliament building (The Reichstag) was covered in holes. But as I had guessed, it was bullet holes from the stand off with the Russians in 1945. The most potent symbol of the division of Europe was the Berlin Wall. This was the divide for the 2 main political ideologies of Communism and Capitalism. There were many unsuccessful attempts at escaping to the west through the notorious “death strip”. Since the wall came down Berlin has experienced a new phase of optimism. One way to experience this is in its night life. On the Saturday I ended up in a club on Alexanderplatz where you take a lift to the 14th floor. The whole building was vibrating to the sound of DJ’s Kruder and Dorfmeister. Got a bit carried away and before I knew it, I left the building to be blinded by the morning sun…..it was 9am! After Berlin I had a night stopover in the place where it all started for the Fab Four…..Hamburg. I stayed on the infamous Reeperbahn, if your coming here don’t plan on getting any sleep!
I returned to Denmark to play 12 days straight. So far this year I have played many times in Denmark and in a complete reverse to Germany the Danes are probably the least appreciative audience I have played to in Europe. Its also the place where I have sold the least amount of albums. However, one night in Copenhagen there were 12 girls from Switzerland who screamed my ears off…..a nice problem to have!
The last place to play on the first leg of my European tour was where giants roam……Holland. I would love to know what Darwin would think of this place…..if you want to feel vertically challenged then come here! Warning: Coming out of a Coffee Shop in Amsterdam can be fatal….not for the cars, not even for the trams that follow bizarre interwoven tracks …. but the crazy f*****s on the bikes who have absolutely no regard for pedestrians! Having said all that I love Amsterdam and most of the Dutch people I have met are very warm and welcoming. As it turns out the room above the bar where I was staying was where Expressionist Max Beckmann used to dwell. This was the best gig of part 1 which capped off the tour perfectly.
European Tour Part 2:
Second part of my European tour I was back in Germany to play at more banquets then soon after I was off to Italy. Word to the wise: when travelling to Italy by train don’t have anything on you that errrrr…. you shouldn’t. Or you might have the boarder police come on with sniffer dogs and you might have to place your item in a small rubbish bin. You might have to hope you have tricked the guards and the dogs, then one of the dogs might go for your nether regions, Then you might have to get off the train, be searched and interrogated anyway. As a consequence you might miss your connecting train and wait 4 hours for the next one!!! So to Venice. Not the best place for a solo troubadour especially at night, not knowing if there will be a dwarf in a red mac on the other side of the bridge. But what a gorgeous city even if it is 8 Euros for a beer by the Rialto Bridge! Played once on the East Coast of Italy plus when I was there I got to see Chuck Berry live….84 years young! Returned to Genoa to play what was the most successful album launch in Europe so far.
Back to Ireland for the last time as a resident. I have lived here on and off for 3 years now, so it was a strange feeling of closure. But with the death of the Celtic Tiger I knew it was time to move on. It was a great send off playing 16 gigs in 14 days.
European Tour Part 3:
The third part of my European tour started in Denmark. For my first gig there was a large group from Norway and they all bought an album which I had to sign. One girl had a name that was difficult to spell so I asked her to write it on a piece of paper. She wrote her name as “Room 386”.
I played for the first time in Switzerland. A place known for chocolate, banks, watches, glaciers and neutrality. Having travelled here many times over a 2 year period to this idyllic picture postcard country, it was great to be back. I played twice in the same day in Zürich or “Zu reich” (too rich!). The first gig was a private function and unfortunately not many people were listening. The second gig was at a restaurant and at the back there was a huge beer hall with a stage. Although not as many people came as I had hoped, like the German audiences before they sat and listened intently.
I was introduced to the world of hospitality and “Couch Surfing” at my next destination of Duisburg, Germany. At first I was a bit dubious but my host seemed to be the unofficial king of Couch Surfing who has even had documentaries filmed and articles written about his “Hotel California”. My gig here wasn’t great because it was a Monday and not many people came. However the main plus was meeting the guy I was supporting, Doug Mclean. A great man and a great musician. I had to leave Duisburg for a gig later that evening in Bielefeld. As it turns out my replacement was to be Aunt Mimi’ Sisters Granddaughter from New Zealand!
Back to Amsterdam for my last gig. I have worked out why they are so tall here……so when global warming happens they wont drown!!