The year is 2017. America has just inaugurated it’s 45th President, an overgrown Oompa Loompa in a funny blonde wig and Britain is preparing to leave the EU, led by one of the characters from Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’, also wearing a funny blonde wig. Everyone is certain that the world will end soon and yet, despite all this, I just had one of the best Januarys you could possibly imagine.
It’s your main man Rob here, coming at you live from the sofa and I’m gonna tell you all about our European tour…
Two weeks ago, me and the boys set off on a voyage that would take us across four countries. We started this voyage at the wonderful white cliffs of Dover and, after a quick frisk by the relevant authorities, we boarded a ship called the ‘Pride of England’, sailing the high seas to a little country called France. We drove through terrifying rain to Lille, where we spent the night in what must have been one of Kanye West's apartments, then pressed on through Belgium and into Holland.
Our first Dutch accommodation could not have been further away from the hiphop-chic that had housed us the night before. A creaky old boathouse taken directly from a horror film, our home for the next thee days, provided us with both great amusement and silent terror in equal measure. These feelings were so strong that they clouded our dear manager’s sense of spatial awareness and Pat the van ended up "parked" in a nearby ditch. When you drive your van into a ditch the night before the first show of the tour, there is only one thing to do: drink lots of tea and sleep on it.
The following morning we awoke from our slumber with determination in our hearts. WE WOULD GET PAT OUT OF THE DITCH! We did not get Pat out of the ditch and a bigger boy in a bigger van had to help. Shout out to the AA. Crisis overted we set off to show number 1 of our time at Eurosonic Festival. We played a very enjoyable acoustic set and ate vegetarian burgers made by the Gods. It was lots of fun.
Our second day at Eurosonic had 3 shows in store and was absolutely crazy. We ran around from venue to venue like idiots, stopping only to feed virtual reality seals in the sustainability tent, until finally, with heavy eye lids we began load out at 1am in heavy snow. Thankfully our dear manager’s spatial awareness was back to full strength and he heroically navigated through the white stuff back to the boathouse like an absolute boss. Thank you to everyone who came to see us at the festival, everyone who listened so attentively, jumped around and danced with us throughout the busiest day we’ve ever had.
We left our creaky old boathouse and Eurosonic behind the following day and headed for the bright lights of Amsterdam. Concerto Recordstore welcomed us with open arms and strong coffees for an acoustic set before we hit Cinetol with our new mates Blupaint for the evening’s full band affair. The venue made us vegetarian cous cous, which brought delight to everyone but Cale whose fussy taste buds tasted only bread that evening. After the show with our bellies and van full, we were about to set off to our apartment when we saw the most Dutch thing that has ever happened: one of Blupaint cycling home from his own gig. We 💕 Holland and bikes.
The following day we played another in-store gig at Velvet Music in Leiden, a beautiful little town that the locals call "Little Amsterdam". We were again greeted with coffee and sent away smiling with gifts. The wonderful staff allowed us each to choose a record to take home! Oli went for the new Bon Iver offering, James the Arctic Monkeys ‘Humbug’, Cale chose his favourite Prodigy record and I picked up the most recent Radiohead album. I can’t stop staring at it.
We left Leiden and arrived at the venue in Katwijk, which was just a short walk from the sea. The show was ace, the people were incredibly friendly and the support act was really cool. Big up The Backalleys. During load-out I slipped and dramatically banged my chin on the pavement, like a footballer looking for a penalty. Nobody gave me any sympathy, but this was not the worst thing to happen that night. As we were driving out of town, we noticed flashing blue lights in Pat’s wing mirrors and I convinced myself that I’d be spending the night in a Dutch prison, crying on the phone to my mum. The Politie pulled us over and a stern-looking officer shone his torch into each of our faces. We stayed quiet. Was this the end? No, this was not the end. Another, not-so-stern looking officer asked us about our trip without shining a torch at us, checked our dear manager's driving license and then pleasantly sent us on our merry way. If anyone knows how to do the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine, it’s the Katwijk Police Department.
Utrecht was next up and once we had driven to a nearby windmill to shoot some footage for a new video that may or may not be coming out soon, we headed to the venue. Once again we were made to feel incredibly welcome and fed like Kings by the venue staff. The venue itself was very well equipped, and, I won’t bore you with the details, but I got to play a very fancy stage piano that made me grin like a Cheshire cat. The show was, as usual, lots of fun. And that was it, our time in Holland had come to an end. Now it was time for our first ever show in PARIS...
Back through Belgium via a motorway-adjacent Mcdonalds and we were in France, hurtling towards the capital at almost 70 miles an hour (Pat's version of hyperspace). We met up with Deputies, our Parisian pals and played possibly my favourite show ever. It was James’ birthday and the packed room sang a bi-lingual Happy Birthday/Bon Anniversaire, making the evening really really special. Paris was kind to us and the morning after was spent reminiscing happily over pastries and pictures by Sacre Coeur (a big French church on a hill) taken by our friend Portia. We drank coffee and waved goodbye to Paris.
Before we knew it we were back on the boat and a few hundred miles later back in our Leeds beds, sleeping off the most fun four men can have without taking their clothes off. Thanks for the memories Holland and France. Thanks for organising the tour, For The Road. Oh, and thanks for the maccies, Belgium. Hopefully we will see more of you next time.
And thank YOU for reading about our European adventures. We are about to embark on a UK tour with our mates Hippo Campus, come along and maybe you’ll be in the next blog?
In other news, Oli had the most public bath of his life, James stole a coat off David Attenborough, Cale got a nose bleed and altitude sickness from a drum riser and I’ve become a part time
Until next time kids, stay cool.
Lots of love,