Hello you. On Monday I returned from my favourite-yet solo tour of Germany. Leaving on Wednesday 25th September I walked to my car, drove to Bristol, trained to Gatwick, planed to Hamburg and bussed to meet Keith, Elisa und Paulie. After a quick refreshment in Freundlich und Kompetent, I got some well-deserved shut-eye (sitting all day can be quite tiring). The next morning Keith und Elisa had to work so I took Paulie (below) for a (small) stroll around Hamburg.
I made my way to Kiel via bus and train and the got SOAKED in a torrent on my way to the venue Prinz Willi, for the first gig. It was a relatively quiet affair but with a lovely group of students – one of whom was a Lithuanian girl who was friends with a friend of mine back home. Small world and all that. Gabi very kindly put me up that night and we sipped a Bowmore with Liam Ó Maonlaí (on the tape recorder) Next day was a bit of a mammoth to say the least. I woke in Kiel (as you might imagine) and took my first Mitfahrgelegenheit (Germany’s incredibly efficient car sharing scheme) to Bremen. In Bremen I met up with Phil who was to be my driver (and friend it turned out) for the next few days. I had two gigs this night.
The first in Delmenhorst near Bremen brought back some fond memories. Been there three times now and it’s always quite lovely to see Jens and Ekrem again. After an 8pm gig there – unfortunately not being able to stay for IsaMirja and Hello Pied Piper – Phil and I drove to Hannover for a 10.30pm gig. If you know German geography you may realise this is a bit tight. We made it though even though we had rapeseed oil for fuel, bald tyres and a steering wheel that oh-so-desperately wanted us to drive in the hard shoulder. In Hannover we met up with many friends and made a bunch more. Next morning was a bit of an early one though. We got up at 8am and drove to Melle for a two day street festival. I basically had my own little stage and I had to play from 11 – 6 on the Saturday and 1 – 6 on the Sunday. Needless to say I had to slip a few covers in but it was a great laugh and we were well looked after by Maik from the Lamker Modehaus and Jurgen und Vanessa from the Groene Krabbe opposite. Not sure how I would have coped without Phil there to amuse me. On the Saturday evening we went to the mainstage and met up with Vanessa and her man Marco, where we ‘enjoyed’ German covers band Smile doing their leathery best. On the Sunday night I said a sad goodbye to Phil and a glad hello to Michael (my agent) and we made our way to Mykonos for our tea. After tea we went to the Kermis in Wiedenbrück and picked up Caroline en route. After a much-needed long night’s sleep at Michael’s house, his mutter made me two of the finest meals of the tour. She’s such a sweet lady who is just the best cook like ever. Naturally I was reluctant to leave but on the Tuesday night I had a gig down south in Tübingen so I decided to split the journey with an overnight stop in Marburg. Tuesday morning came and so did Mitfahr #2. I left Marburg at 9ish and one train, one car, 5 S-Bahns, 4537 footsteps and 10 hours later I arrived in Tübingen. The gig in Tübingen was a new one for me and it was really cool. Loads of people – including some children from a school I’d visited earlier in the year, and their moms – came along. I mentioned during the gig that I might go Stochenkahnen on the River Neckar the following day and after the gig, a lovely chap, Jonathon invited me out on his boat. So after another nice long sleep in the hotel I made my way to town for my punting boat trip. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to have to do the punting myself, but after a few wobbles I actually really got into it.
After a soaked me said goodbye and thank you to a dry Jonathon, I got picked up by Kerstin for the wohnzimmer gig at her place. After a quick soundcheck and slow bath Kerstin treated me to Spätzle. The wohnzimmer gig – as they usually are – was a very laid back, friendly affair and was almost like having a night off. The next morning Kerstin took me to Stuttgart where I met Mitfahr #3 who drove me back to Gießen where I caught the train back to Marburg.
I’ve played at Molly Malones in Marburg five times in 18 months now and I love it there, but seeing as this was the first gig there since the band tour in May it felt like something was missing. Still enjoyed it immensely, even though my voice was starting to tire a little. Luckily I had a nicely timed night off the following night so I was able to enjoy a quiet night in with Dom and his friends to recover in time for Saturday.
Mitfahr #4 the next morning took me to Winterberg where I met Sancho. Sancho and Manu drove me to the Pianobar in Warstein for my penultimate gig of the tour. This was definitely the most surreal of the lot. First two sets were just fine and normal… just before I started my third, a large group of boys with lederhosen celebrating Octoberfest, filled the bar. It suddenly got very noisy and a bit rough and tumble. Anyway, I got on with it and they got noisier. Two of the guys asked nicely if they could join me for a song; one playing wooden spoons and the other playing some kinda washboard/bells/stompstick type thing.
Needless to say, I agreed and did a cover of Die Toten Hosen’s Hier Kommt Alex. Nearly all the audience had their video phones out so I may post it if I ever find it. I really enjoyed it there and will definitely make it a regular trip.
Next morning I shared a train or two with lots of drunk people on their way home from Willingen – imagine Butlins, times it by Wetherspoons and you’re about there – and another train with loads of Frankfurt and Mönchengladbach fans as I made my way to Aachen for my last gig. In Aachen I met up with The Tideline, who had been over to England for a few gigs with me last year. It was so good to see them all again and we played a few songs together for old times’ sake.
The next day I took the train to Amsterdam from where I flew home. It was by far my favourite solo tour so far and I can’t wait for my next one. Needless to say, details will be here as and when they come through.