Lille, France 16 October, 2011
Saturday was a day off in London, up early, down The Underground to Gloucester Road for an acrylic fix. An addiction many guitar players claim, acrylic nails on the fingers of the picking hand. Of course you have to continually get them re-done every three weeks and I have a little spot I fall in just off Gloucester. That done and no other agenda, it was back to the hotel and into the gym. Met with Jim Cox later in the afternoon for a trip to Soho to a record store he knew about that specialised in world music as well as hip hop ,dance, jazz and folk. It was a small place a tight, crowded upstairs and a steep staircase leading down to a claustrophobic basement. Fantastic stuff, loads of vinyl new and used and headquarters for a label called Soul Jazz Records, which I think may be the owners of this shoppe. I came away with two volumes of the history of Bossa Nova, it's earliest recordings by various Brazilian artists. I've momentarily forgotten the name of the store but will post it in the next diary, it's a must go for music lovers. After, we stopped in for a curry at the Delhi Brasserie next door to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club on Firth Street, then back to the hotel, a couple of night cap pints of London Pride and an early night.
Sunday, late morning, we gathered at King's Cross/St. Pancras station and took the Eurostar to Lille. A great way to go to France, smooth, clean, quiet, efficient and the seats comfortable. Lunch was served and before you know it 90 minutes had passed and the train pulled into the station in Lille where we were met by Dirk and the band bus.
Tonight's gig was at Le Zenith, another old favourite we've played many times, what's known as a stand up gig as there is no seating on the floor, just around the perimeter in the balconies. There's a different kind of energy to these stand up shows, not better or worse, but we always love playing them. It's great being back in Europe as well, the audience gave us a great reception.
We finished our portion of the bill, got changed and left the venue to meet our new second bus.... two decks of luxury on wheels. It was the plan to get by with one bus through the UK then pick up a second for the European leg. With 10 people now split between the two buses there's plenty of elbow room as the single bus was always slightly cramped. A terrific upstairs lounge and huge wind screen looking forward to the road on the upper deck along with a master suite that I doubt will ever be used. Large bunks, kitchen area and lounge downstairs. This new bus also sports a jump seat in front if anybody wants to take in the big picture which is exactly what I did around midnight as Carl our driver wheeled us in to Paris and around the Arc du Triomphe and delivered us to the hotel.