Feb 8, 2015 Wroclaw, Poland (Polish show #1) – Zaklete Rewiry
Beautiful drive into Poland this morning.
I really love it here. Poland took me by surprise the first time I came here in...hmm...probably 1997, with King Crimson. I didn't expect to feel such warmth from the people. Since then I have been back six times. Every time I feel the same.
Pulling up to this venue I realized I had been here before. With KTU a few years before. Crazy place. Giant old converted brewery and decorated inside like some kind of twisted Moulin Rouge.
Great sound this evening. And great audience. Even though they were seated there was a lot of grooving going on. And by the end we had dancers.
Feb 9, 2015 Katowice, Poland (Polish show #2) – Kinoteatr Rialto
Sold out show tonight! Our first one.
This was a cinema so we have an enormous screen for the video projections. The balcony was packed (obviously), but the lighting didn't allow us to see the folks up there. Slightly sad for me, as I like to see who we are working with. But I could feel them and all was good. Even better when the house lights came up during Jerry's talk at the beginning of the encore. Here was the audience! Great folks.
I had some challenges with the sound tonight. The PA was right next to me on the stage and the low-mids were quite strong. Though, of course, with our in-ear monitors and the Berhinger system everything went smoothly. Until my in-ears cut off completely. We were part way through “I Have The Touch” when the whole sound went dead for me. All I could hear were Jerry's drums and the muffle of the house PA through my ear-buds. This happens to my system on occasion and all I have to do is pull the batteries out and put them back in. But....I was playing. So I played out the tune and rapidly worked the batteries in the short, first verse of “Humdrum” before my part came in. All is good.
We tried a new experiment with the set tonight. A series of linking “clouds” between several of the tunes. I begin “Here Comes The Flood” with a cloud-ish improv. Then at the end of the “Flood” tune proper, Michael and I build a cloud off the G# tone in the final E major chord and change the key to Eb minor. Next Jerry brings in “Games Without Frontiers”, then another TG/Michael Cozzi cloud which leads us into a piece off of “The Last Temptation of Christ” soundtrack.
After the show, during our nightly debriefing, we were uncertain if it actually worked having so much “cloudy weather” right together in the show. Maybe the clouds should be spread out across the evening. Hard to say. We'll try it again tomorrow night and see how the vibe goes down.
Feb 10, 2015 Opole, Poland (Polish show #3) – Centrum Wystawienniczo-Kongresowe
Sold out show, again!
Opole. I have been here several times. Always with Ragtime Productions (Wotek, Ola & Julia) and their extended Drum Festival. The first time was with TU (duo with drummer Pat Mastelotto) and the last time with KTU (Trio with Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and Pat). I always love being in Poland and Opole is a the quintessential old Polish town.
It has been one hell of a day.
First the sad news. David Jameson's mother passed away this morning. David has been traveling back and forth to Dublin to be with her on and off for the last few months. So this was not a surprise, but still a shock. And auspicious timing, as he had just spoken with her the night before and our day off is tomorrow. We were totally prepared to cancel a show should David need to leave for Dublin at last minute notice. But it is amazing that he will go there for her funeral right after the Opole show and make it back to Germany in time for the next gig in two days.
Meanwhile, here in Poland he is holding it together with astounding conviction.
We ran through a new tune today at soundcheck --“Lay Your Hands On Me”. It sounded so strong, that we decided to take a leap and put it in the show. Even though there are still some rough transitions and a few questionable bits. But our “go for it” attitude is overriding our sense of playing it safe today.
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And in better nes, the evening was great. Superb audience. Real listeners. They were a much better audience than we were players. Tonight was real breakthrough for the group. The breakthrough being that we tossed off a string of the worst train wrecks in the band's history and yet, we still pulled off a fantastic show. There were some spectacular F-Ups. “Family and the Fishing Net” and “Games Without Frontiers” had a couple of wonderfully distorted transitions. Part of the band went to one section early and other part waited a bar and a half to try to join them. Meanwhile one or another player bounced around back in forth in utter confusion about what was happening.
Notable thing about this show: many kids. In fact, all of them young girls. At least five -- between 6 and 14 years old. Two sat right in front of me. Brian invited them up onstage for an introduction. Back in the hall I saw another girl up on her father's shoulders.
Wonderful dinner at the amazing Starka Restaurant. I have probably been there about 12 times. Superb food and a fantastic, traditional drink called Wściekły Pies. In English – “Angry Dog”. This is a shot of vodka with raspberry syrup and a splash of tabasco. Sounds horrible, I know. But it hits the spot. Especially after five shows in a row and sleeping in the bus for 6 nights.
This restaurant is notorious for playing practical jokes on people. Brian was the first. They brought him a beer in a lead mug that weighs about 20 pounds. Nearly impossible to lift off the table. This quickly followed by a tiny beer. Jerry was the next suspect. He had ordered soup and when it arrived the waiter said “careful, this is very, very hot” then he dumps the bowl into Jerry's lap. Everyone jumps. It turns out the bowl is empty and he has tied a string to it and around his thumb. The fun never ends here. Plus the food is ridiculously amazing.
We leave the gig around 1:00am and take David to the airport at Wroclaw for a 5:00am flight. Then drive until we hit a truck stop that Brian has been talking about ever since I met him a few years back. Wifi, fantastic meals, laundry, sex shop, strip club, movie theater, pedicures, strippers that do your laundry, computer repair shop. We'll see.
previous tour diaries