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Discuss this blog entry here onwards [thanks Carlaatje]
One of the nice things about touring Europe is how different things are from day to day. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't like touring the USA - nothing could be further from the truth. What I'm saying is that if touring the States is like an economy sized box of your favourite breakfast cereal, Europe is like filling your cupboard with those variety packs. Every morning is a slightly different flavour. As opposed to spending four to six weeks in one country (albeit one with some pretty huge extremes), here, we are in a different country every day. Each with its own culture, architecture, language, fashion, currency - and so it goes on.
We arrive in Prague and the differences are immediately obvious. The architecture is grand, colourful and imposing. There are trams and cobbled streets everywhere and the street signs have apostrophes and accents all over them. They seem to like a lot of consonants here, too. Another difference - which although unsurprising, does the most to make you feel very much "out of familiar waters" - is the almost complete lack of western corporation logos. Indeed, it has to be the first journey from airport to gig without passing a single green logo for a large coffee chain. Given that it's hard to get from one set of traffic lights to the next without passing two or three in some cities, this is a big difference.
The gig venue, slightly disappointingly, is sponsored by a huge and familiar corporation and once inside, feels very much like the stock standard arenas found all over the world. Doubtless this makes for a smoother day, but you can't help feeling that a day in something a bit more resonant with history and vibe would have felt more special. Remind me I moaned about this next time we're loading down a stone staircase into an old bull ring somewhere in the Mediterranean...
Once in the venue, I realise that I've left my iPhone on the plane. A quick call reveals that it's miraculously safe and sound ready to be collected when we return to the airport tomorrow. I've been quite good at not losing things this tour and I'm really hoping that this isn't a return to form. I'm reminded of my schooldays and mittens on string that went down the arms of my coat. I hope it doesn't come to that again. The amount of stuff I cart around would make for a rather unpleasantly heavy-sleeved duffelcoat these days.
There's another run through Glass Of Water in soundcheck. It's really beginning to achieve lift off in the choruses, so it wouldn't surprise me to see that making a flight in a show before too long. Being in a big boomy room, means that things sound instantly "RAWK", which results in a rather comedically overplayed Violet Hill from Mr. Champion.
Come showtime, there's still folks trying to get into their seats, so things are delayed slightly. This has the immediate effect of getting the audience more and more excited as with each dip in the music, they cheer in anticipation of the house lights going off. There's an impressive Mexican wave doing laps of the arena and the band's name is being chanted. Once the intro tape does finally run, they're off. The entire floor section has their hands in the air as people whistle and cheer along to the classical intro.
As befits a night before a bonkers crowd, the band are lifted into the high gears early on. The cellphone ocean that we first saw in Paris flickers into life before the encore. Pretty soon, it's all over and it's into the vans for the hotel. The ride home brings us back to where we started with this entry, talking of cultural differences. Here's a photo from Franksy which gives truth to the old travelers' adage that it really is the small things that stand out.
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