Thursday, 4 June 2015

Tribute Sandnes

cycling is a massive spectator sport in norway

I had been looking forward to playing Sandnes in Norway ever since I was asked. The last time I played there was about forty years ago. I don't remember it well but others do. Anyway, one of the attractive things about the whole thing was the late flight times. I hate being at airports early in the day, I really do. In the evening it is quieter and people watching is more interesting.

I arrived at Stavanger airport at about midnight BST. This meant the  flight took off at 21.05 pm from Gatwick. Lovely! My kind of timing. I was met by John the promoter and his lovely wife. We drove to my hotel which was a delight. Old and formed out of an old factory it was a labyrinth of coffee bars and eateries all under one roof. My room looked out onto a shopping street. I like to watch the world go by from a room above the streets. Sometimes I can sit for an hour or more just being still watching and listening.

On Saturday, gig day, the penultimate stage of the The Tour De Fjords rolled into town. I slept long and awoke to hear the noise of many people congregating at the finish line a couple of streets away. I turned on the TV and watched the leading rider Søren Kragh Andersen of Tre For-Blue Water claim the first pro win of his career. He rode away from a front group of thirteen riders including Marco Haller who was sent up the road by race leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). He outsprinted Spain’s Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-RGA) and his team-mate Michael Olssonriders heading into Sandnes.

a very expensive sculpture in sandnes for arts sake

After a walk around the immediate are I met up with my good friends Jarle and Kirsten and we agreed to meet up later at the Tribute club. A group of ardent fans had travelled from Oslo and wanted photos with me and for me to sign their EBB stuff. They were a nice bunch and very sincere.

The sound check was so easy though I felt the sound lacked a little atmosphere. It's all about the model of the acoustics of the little chapel I carry in my head. Good enough any way and that was that.

I began my set at 10.30 to a very enthusiastic and warm crowd. The onstage sound was perfect. I ran through my list and as usual I was delighted by the attentiveness and understanding shown by another Norwegian audience. The Tribute is a very nice venue. It is run a non profit making co-operative. All proceeds go back in the funds to promote the next event. I really liked John my promoter. He really has a nice approach to the music business. I have to say I find it a refreshing change from some of the less visionary venues of the UK.

What a lovely audience!  The songs and stories went down well and a good few younger people said they liked the new stuff. Many of them only knew the stories but hadn't seen an EBB or EB live gig.  I spoke with a lot of people who liked the show  and signed a few album covers and tickets then the guy who had first asked for the autographs, on behalf of the group  I had met before the sound check, came in the dressing room. He told me that he was disappointed that I didn't sing enough vintage material. I really get that point of view but hey, here I am, doing what I want to do and most importantly, most people really liked it. What I found ironic was that he was the guy talking all the way through my set. You have to listen, at least.  

If folk don't like what I do and say then so be it. I am not about to change. I know I speak to people who hear me and I hope I speak for them and about them. That will do for me. We parted on good terms and I expect I will see him again. Interestingly his friends seemed to have really enjoyed the gig so there it is.

I really like playing in Norway a lot. They listen, with few exceptions, and they give back. They are a poetic, lyrical  people like the Welsh and like other scattered tribes in the UK. So here I feel at home.

Gigs end and just as I was leaving with Kirsten and Jarle to head to their home, a young woman presented herself at the front door of the club. She kissed me and told me she loved my music. She invited me back to her place. I gave her a quick hug and left with my friends. Later Jarle told me she was the woman that laughed when I was talking about the usage of food banks in London going up by more than 300% over the last two years. I remembered someone laughing immediately after I had said that. I didn't think much about it at the time. I was playing the chords at the beginning the song The Beggar Man. Was the laugh intentional synchronicity or was it random and coincidental? We'll never know but it was a very inappropriate expression.  I suspect  I will probably amplify that small part of a day in my life for a piece of writing in the not too distant future. Aren't people interesting?

Back at Jarle and Kirstens home it was time for a snack and then some cognac and it was a very nice one.
Kirsten had to get sleep as she was making an eight peak mountain walk later that morning.
So it was Jarle and me chatting about the gig and the gigs and the songs and the life. Our life.
After a while Anders the slightly inebriated son of my hosts arrived and then we chatted some more and drank some more until it was very late. Well I think it was around 8 am when Kirsten appeared and then disappeared heading for the hills. I went to bed and slept like a very big baby. Thank you for the loan of your room Ingrid.

the tour de fjords peloton passing Jarles house enroute to the finish in stavanger

Time to leave and a little sad to leave my very good friends. A short drive to the airport, hugging Jarle and saying farewell. We shall meet again brother, I know it.

Flying and sleeping and then the train from  Gatwick heading for the great metropolis. It was all so very enjoyable and there is more to come in Norway this summer. Yes!

Now how do I fit all this fishing tackle in that spare guitar case?