Well, we’re halfway to Berlin as I write this, with a show in Hamburg fading off in the rear view mirror. Temperature-wise it’s been one extreme to another. The Paris venue seemed to have no ventilation whatsoever, making for a sauna-like gig experience. In Hamburg, there was ice beneath the boards that covered the floor. This caused enough confusion to throw Chris off at the start of Death and All His Friends. He had a couple of goes at the intro, trying to work out if it starts with “Oh, summer” or “Oh, winter”. The crowd soon set him straight, however.
It’s got to be a sign that things are beginning to settle when there’s time in the gig to take notice of what the crowd are up to. I’m led to believe that in Paris, Cemeteries of London saw some particularly bonkers Parisians dressed in bedsheets sat on their friends’ shoulders. Plainly Cemeteries need Halloween-style spooky ghosts. Excellently silly – and I applaud. Cologne saw what was possibly the first display of sparklers during Fix You so far this tour. Maybe there have been more, but from where I am, I can only see a tiny section of the crowd, so I may well have missed out. It’s beyond great though, when the crowd give the band and crew something to look at. We see the flashing lights, the smoke and the mirrors of the show every night. When something totally unexpected happens, it’s a talking point until well into the next day. The mobile-phone glowsticks in Paris came like a lunar eclipse, giving the whole touring party something to stand staring at and pointing. I’m sure there’s more to come. Be assured, we’ll all be watching.
Another sign that the mad bout of “moving the furniture round” in the setlist is taking a brief breather is the fact that the Hamburg soundcheck consists mainly of a round of cover versions. Mr. Champion picks up the bass and gives Blur’s Girls and Boys a go. Pretty soon Guy is on drums, Jonny gives it some, and they’re off. Chris’s Damon Albarn impersonation is given an extra lift by his nice new white tracksuit top from the German promoters. Not wishing to take sides in the whole Britpop divide, next up comes an Oasis tune. Chris slurring “All I need are cigarettes and alcohol” was certainly one of the more unusual soundcheck sights so far this tour. There’s plenty more. Fools Gold from the Stone Roses gets a go and for the tiniest moment they try a Police song before giving up, quite reasonably concluding that it’s just too hard. Perhaps we should look into getting them some club gigs on days off doing covers? Mind you, all the gear will need setting up, so it’s probably best not to be giving them ideas.
I’ll leave you with a few shots I got during Yellow in Paris just before the runner…