Sunday, 28 April 2019

Teenage Fanclub in Europe Again

So the Teenage Fanclub bandwagon rumbled on through Europe.

After AMSTERDAM, band and crew had a grand day off in UTRECHT. Beautiful city. Trams, canals, cafes...and I managed to not get knocked down by any bikes.

A lemon tiramisu in Utrecht earlier this month
Me after a lemon tiramisu
Norman through a beer glass
The hardest man in Utrecht
Public art made out of re-fashioned plastic items
Next 'twas onwards to LILLE.

Le gig? c'etait très bien...

...PARIS aussi...

Due to unforeseen circumstances we couldn't fly from Paris to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. D'oh! We had to drive 1000 miles for 14+ hours, or else cancel the gig. We drove. Los punters were happy that we played. And so were we.

I do love getting to visit art galleries whilst on tour: a change of scene from tour vans, dressing rooms and hotels. An hour in an art gallery can be like pushing a big mind-body reset button. So when we arrived at the splendid city of BILBAO, prior to soundcheck, I sneaked a visit to the Guggenheim (where photos of paintings are not encouraged). En route a riverside busker regaled passersby with a Shostakovich waltz. Very filmic.

Soundcheck was bueno. Cafe Antzokia is always a brilliant venue to play. I have fond memories of the night we shared its stage with the Go-Betweens; the late, great Grant McLennan inventing a Go-Betweens cocktail for post-show libations.

Dave, Euros (and Norman) and Raymond putting their backs into it for the Bilbao soundcheck.
Before the gig I caught an amazing, powerful, spooky religious procession parading down one of the main city streets. The dull drums and slightly wonky brass sounded great.

The show was groovy. During the encore we bashed through "The Kids Are Alright". The "kids" seemed to appreciate it. Which was nice.

Onwards to TALLINN, Estonia. My first time there. Two nights off. Yay. I ate lots of soup...

I slogged my way up the gnarly old stone steps of St Olaf's tower...

(knees a-wobble once more at the memory.)
...for a fine view of the old city and beyond...

I wandered in and out of souvenir shops and churches, drank in the old city's architcetural charms (and also some local alcohol), and ate some custard and raisin cake in the oldest cafe in the city. I had tasty crunchy chicken in Umami and delicious salmon and shrimp risotto in Kivi Paber Käärid.

Sean Connery looking a bit like Lenin.
Custard & Raisin Cake + coffee; last seen in the oldest cafe in Tallinn a few days ago.
Ceiling of Maiasmokk Cafe

Chairman Mao and Sean Connery.
Forth we sallied to HELSINKI. A two-hour ferry crossing. More beautiful architecture. And splendid meatballs at the Sea Horse restaurant.

Love the look of this train station...
Monument to the 1939 Winter War with Russia.

Frozen cranberries + warm caramel sauce? Erm, yes.

Another fun show. 

Thence to STOCKHOLM where I visited the brilliant (and free) National Museum. I recommend the seafood soup in the cafe. And the lemony cake affair...

...oh yeah and the art...

Stockholm gig was another belter.

"Was Leo Sayer big in Sweden?"
On to OSLO. I caught up with my big (and I mean big) pal Peter who used to bring bands over to Norway when no one else was interested. He was a postman and a music fan and he made things happen. We reminisced about the time he took me to a record shop in Bergen yonks ago when I was in town with BMX Bandits and we were both on the prowl for Lee Hazlewood LPs.

I snaffled 4 from under his nose (I looked in the Country Section - he didn't) and he called me, "bloody bastard". We can laugh about it now. In fact I could laugh about it then. But Peter couldn't. Ah, memories.

My only regret before leaving Norway - I never managed to pick up a packet of the two best crisps in the world; twisty paprika or twisty salt & pepper. O well.

Anyway, the show was a blast. Thank you, Oslo.

Andy finally, Cyril?

And finally, Esther...

"Wonderful, wonderful COPENHAGEN, friendly old girl of a town". Another beautiful European city (I voted Remain by the way) with bikes, cafes and Tuborg.


Great last show.

And before flying home I managed a wee visit to - you guessed it - the national museum. A brilliant space - with a cafe with rhubarb cake to die for.

The apple & thyme juice was quite something too
















"You getting my good side, Rubens, aye?"






















And that was that. 

During my travels I watched both series of Fleabag and listened to some podcasts: The Moth,  Desert Island Discs (including John Thaw and Tasmin Little) and also Adam Buxton (David Sedaris and Reece Shearsmith & Steve Pemberton).

Now I need to get on with music for a couple of TV projects and a film.

I brought a taste of Sweden home with me; a wee aide-memoire to help nurse my end-of-tour melancholy as I stare wistfully into the fire...

Btw - we were supported on most shows by I Was A King from Oslo. Norman produced their latest album. Here's "No Way Out".