Music, missiles and zweets! - May 10
Mezz - Breda | Boerderrij - Zoetermeer | Spirit of 66 - Verviers
Photos © Ben Fenner
Guitars at Breda
Photo © Ben Fenner
Steve and Roger soundcheck, Verviers
Birds of a feather... Townsend and Fenner
After the excellent Alsacian event the express whistlestop tour extended into Breda, Netherlands, via the suggested sat-nav route which left Swiss authorities bewildered as to why we kept traversing their territory whilst attempting to remain in France. This may have been due to a motorway or two under construction and not yet ready to function, unless you felt like plummeting into space with a parachute to ease the freefall where the road suddenly ended with a one hundred and fifty foot drop from time to time... our circuitous journey took us via the occasional stray dinosaur on the loose all in a day's rock 'n roll.
Eventually Breda arrived miraculously on time under our wheels - a very welcome sight after a hard day's bus drive. Internally the venue looked like a ship's wooden hull within a spacecraft exterior. Cracking gig - Amanda and I now do twin leads on Every Day. She even does the 'zweets' in time with me, which cracks me up every time!
In case you're interested, one of my sounds is called 'bad place', an industrial nightmare version of what was once a normal guitar sound, perfect for Mechanical Bride. A ring modulator pre-set is also creeping in. Going completely ballistic at the end of Clocks, surprising even me, sometimes I just feel I light the fuse and a rocket takes off in my hand. Such are the moments we guitarists live for. Great crowd. Thank you Breda.
Next up, Zoetermeer, scene of many a previous sojourn. The gig has a very friendly crew who are obviously all music lovers. Many of these shows feel like coming home and this is one of them, reflected in the cheers of the crowd. The band were again fantastic. Gary's new drum kit sounded more powerful than ever, the octobans looking like a row of missiles, ready to be launched. Nick has come up with a beautiful solo Chapman stick piece called The Darkness in Men's Hearts.
There's something that starts to happen when a band has been out on the road for a while. Nerves give way to excitement for the show as you become too tired to allow the variables get to you. This venue has a slapback from the far walls and balcony that is the audio equivalent of enemy returning fire and a powerful bunch they are too! Thanks to all for attending and withstanding the onslaught of our ensemble energy. The lighter moments featuring Serpentine Song and Carpet Crawlers have become (dare I say it) twin anthems that soothe in different ways. Serpentine Song an oasis of calm befitting the scene of its London inspiration and Carpet Crawlers an even older friend, resurrected to enable me to play the quietest lead guitar on the planet, sounding a little like a distant violin. Fernandes sustainer guitars can do this with repeat echo mixed with fixed wah pedal set in upper harmonic mode. There... you've got all the ingredients, so good luck baking the cake should you be so in inclined.
Finally we played our last show of this leg in Verviers at the Spirit of 66 venue. At Nick's suggestion Amanda moved next to me for this one so we could more easily play off each other.
For the last two shows I had new balls... Ernie Ball super slinky strings for all you guitar buffs. Give me light gauge strings every time for those finger vibrato moments that you so long to master.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Some techniques take forever. I've never done guitar tutorials but the secret of good finger vibrato is to learn it slow and wide plus 'bend' using three fingers on a string which is something violinists practise so I'm told. When you finally crack this it's a real fanfare for strings and a thing of deep and lasting joy...
The tour ended on a strong note, and it was a happy band of brothers and sisters that returned back to the UK the following morning. Take care 'til the next bulletin!
Steve at Zoetermeer - Photo © Ben Fenner
Nick Begg's new car