Bruges (Nov 6 and 7)
If you are looking to spend a vacation in the Europe of fairytales and children’s books then Bruge is about as good a place to start as any. A damsel in distress, a couple of white knights on horseback, even a fire breathing dragon wouldn’t look out of place in this town. Apparently it is the best preserved medieval city in Europe and who am I to argue, this place is spectacular. Cobblestones, hidden grottos, canals, excellent food, 1030 varieties of beer, gothic architecture, medieval architecture, churches, cathedrals, museums, monasteries, Beguinages, ancient bridges, haunted houses, works by Masters, vials of holy blood, this city has it all. The only place you could find a more authentic medieval-European experience would be at Epcot Center or at your local Medieval Times restaurant…but I recommend Bruges, because of the beer selection. We were fortunate enough to have a day off here and we took full advantage of it (I have a question for any of you beer connoisseurs’ out there: there is a very distinctive taste to most Belgium beer, it could be a spice, it almost tastes like cloves, does anyone know what it is?).
The venue was equally spectacular: a late 19th century circular theatre with a fully raked stage and tiered balconies: very beautiful and it actually sounded decent as well. The show was a strange one but a very good one. Because of the type of stage there was a large distance between us and the audience it was also a very formal theatre, which can sometimes be intimidating to audiences and also, Belgium audiences are relatively reserved. So the energy coming from the audience during the show was very low, but that allowed us to turn inward a little bit and explore some very quiet and detailed improvisations. Judging by the reaction of the audience at the end of the show, I figure that they were very pleased with the result. This has been a pretty fantastic couple of days spent in a very special town.
Paris (Nov 8)
Paris is not Bruge. It’s not quaint or charming or easy to get around in. Paris is Paris, enormous and sprawling and beautiful out one window and ugly out the other. Paris is work unless you are on vacation. We rolled in this morning and had to dump ourselves off the bus because it, of course, can’t sit outside the club. It was cold and damp and….Paris. Don’t get me wrong, I love this city under the right conditions, but a one-off at a pokey club in the Pigalle District (the famous red light district of Paris) is not one of those conditions. But we’re pros, so we hunkered down and made the club our home for the day. And then again, when you get right down to it, work in Paris is pretty much better than work anywhere else in the world. So I had an espresso and pain au chocolate at a nearby cafe; some of us trekked uphill to pay their respects to Sacre Coeur; and we ate dinner at a nearby Cafe that fed us some mediocre food at very expensive Montmartre prices and then, I think, we were subjected to some kind of scam being run by the wait staff on gullible English speaking tourists…hey man, it’s Paris and you’re welcome.
The gig was awesome…we were feeling old and gnarly so that’s what we gave them….old and gnarly, and they liked it. Paris and its residents, rock….a totally gnarly day.