Oberhausen-Stuttgart-Kestenholz 1, 2, 3 July

30 June

A day off in Vienna. A long push in the gym followed by a couple hours walk with Jim Cox. Vienna was nearly 100 degrees as the heat wave hovers over Europe. I managed to squeeze in one last schnitzel at dinner then several of us went to an Irish pub where our Mike McGoldrick knew the whistle and flute player. She’d been playing some shows on the Continent and a few of her musicians were along for a little folk session. A pint of Guinness, a few tunes then it was back to the hotel for me and an early evening.


We de-camped Vienna after a great few days for a show tonight in Oberhausen. Landed in Dusseldorf and drove a half hour to the venue. The Konig Pilsener Arena was sold to capacity at just under 10,000 folks. Amazing after the quantities of wiener schnitzel consumed, the band was in great shape, sure footed and relaxed. It’s fantastic playing in front of that many people yet feeling like your in somebody’s living room simply having a go at a few songs. Hard to describe but that’s how relaxed this thing is… in all the correct ways. A runner back to Dusseldorf where on check-in at the hotel a small group of us hoofed it down the road to a favourite beer cellar and their delicious Alt Bier. Smooth, brown, not too heavy and massively drinkable. Served cold in small glasses rather than pints of litres, the beer always stays cold and doesn’t linger around very long. We managed to get 5 rounds in before the place shut at midnight. Not bad considering we were still on stage two hours earlier in another city. In bed by 12:30, book in hand.

2 July

Flew this afternoon to Stuttgart, home of Mercedes-Benz, our fleet of Mercs humming happily through the city, delivering us to Schleyer Halle. Another sold-out show at just under 10,000 folks. A short runner to the hotel and a respectable showing down the bar for nightcaps.

3 July

We’ve been on the move the last couple of days… rare that we stay just one night in a hotel, usually basing at least a couple of nights in one city. Scarcely had a chance to un-zip the suitcase here in Stuttgart last night before closing it up again this morning and boarding our plane for Zurich followed by an hour drive to Kestenholz. Tonight’s show was the St. Peter at Sunset Festival an outdoor gig in picturesque pastures of wheat, farm houses and surrounding mountains. Hot temps during the day but as show time approached the sun set lower, a light breeze picked up and became cooler. A relatively small gig at just under 5,000 folks, a combination of seating in front, grand stand in the rear and standing along the sides. Wonderful gig apart from over zealous security patrolling back and forth directly in front of the stage and guards coming down the aisles bothering anyone with a camera. Completely unnecessary and heavy handed. Wonderful audience, wonderful show. The hour runner back to Zurich was lengthened as three lanes were closed for resurfacing. We finally arrived at the hotel a little past midnight with a good portion of the band making a bee-line to the swingin’ ’60s bar downstairs that kindly stayed open a couple hours beyond usual closing time. With the day off tomorrow we enjoyed quilt-free nightcaps then off to bed for a well earned sleep.

Richard Bennett