Sunday, November 30, 2008

Right Now I Am A Roaming

transient waves and european black magic

I just sat in a steam room for 45 minutes to wash the stench of alcohol and sadness off of me. The experience has totally cleared my sinuses, and now I realize that every inch of me smells exactly like a hamster cage. I'm not sure how long this has been the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were quite a while.  These few weeks have been looming on the horizon for ages now, and it was never going to be easy. One week in the UK followed quickly by another in Europe, with a single day off separating the two. It is at that fulcrum that I'm resting now, teetering between a vast, grey industrial landscape and a sea of depression and baked goods that separates me from my home. Hazy recollections, and spotty internet connections have stalled the process, but I've warmed both physically and emotionally to the idea of being over here. It all started appropriately enough, an overnight flight to London, and an early morning jump up to Belfast. Winter had come early, and The Emerald Isle resembled more of a Chamomile grey color.

Things were not improved once I landed.

It was cold, and dark, but not any colder or darker than I had worked myself up to expect. Instead of doing a show at Ulster Hall, which is a historic old theatre which features not only one of Britain's oldest pipe organs, but also a fully functional heating system, we were at some sort of market which barely had walls. We were however met by a pretty decent tour bus on the first day which really resembled less a narrow berth for transporting sweaty carney folk, and more a French Brothel, but then I suppose you could argue that there is a bit of overlap in the two on a good day.

Positive omens abound.

It was a good string of miserable, soulless clubs mostly. Not the warm, historic, inviting theaters of the midwest, but dirty, beer drenched halls where, in the winter, the temperature hovers just abouve freezing all day in order to keep the bacteria and disease at bay. They were mostly a string of Carling Academys. So named, I believe, because it is where people come to learn how to drink. That and talk shit about Ian Brown.

I was basically wallowing in years of filth, lacquered onto the walls and floors like, well, lacquer. Those that had come before me....

Travel is dangerous, and exhausting, occasionally rewarding, but more often a challenge. Not to be missed is the standard, early morning ferry crossing which is a staple of UK travel. If nothing else it means a hot meal involving beans, toast, eggs and anything else that can be disguised as palatable by brown sauce, a good cup of tea and and early morning trip across the rarely serene Irish Sea.

Nottingham Rock City is one of those venues that makes you shiver when you see it listed on a tour schedule. It's a ratty old club kept together by a bunch of good natured Hell's Angels and people who look like they were kicked off of Motorhead's 1989 'Collapsed lungs and amphetamines' tour. Were it just a one-off, like doing a show in Sheffiled, or Bristol, it would be a laugh, but at the end of a solid week it made everyone a little weepy. 

Directly after the show the club turned into a disco which meant everyone scrambling to push equipment out the back door while some underpaid DJ whipped the teenage audience into a frenzy with the latest Hannah Montana breakbeat remix. It's a stressful undertaking, and was compounded slightly when Will tipped a big, top-heavy case over onto his bear paw of a foot. We spent the next five days marveling at, and documenting his foot's rapid, and seemingly inhuman decent into psychadelic bruising.

We feared early on that it would be amputated, or at the very least refused entry into France due to the onset of Gangrene. Neither was the case, but Will's clubfoot became the de facto mascot of the rest of the tour.

And so it was, and continued to be. Halfway done with the tour.