We’ve been away for four weeks, we’re over half way through, and we reached the UK last Saturday for a welcome night off in Glasgow.
What to say… Gabrielle’s first major tour kicked off in Hamburg, Germany at The Grosse Freiheit. The venue is a rock’n’roll club just off the world famous Reeperbahn and the night was a triumphant way to start. A thousand happy, smiling Germans all gently swaying to begin with and all jumping up and down furiously by the time the floorstomping “Falling” is played. Everyone is elated.
We travel overnight to Copenhagen on the tour bus, and those who’ve never travelled overnight on a bus before, find themselves rocked to sleep as our driver, Ian, fights the high winds and bumpy roads. In Copenhagen the sun is shining, though a brisk autumn breeze keeps the cheeks fresh and rouge, and when we arrive at the gig we get a sense that something special is going to happen. You guys have to realise we have no idea how these shows are going to work.
A concert is a deal between performer and audience, we know that as long as we give it everything the icing on the cake comes from the crowd and what a crowd in Copenhagen! They seem to all speak English which is a good job because none of us have any Danish language skills apart from “Good Evening” and “Thank You”. Proof that music transcends language is made real tonight and Gabrielle ends the set sitting on the floor laughing, singing and continually encouraging the audience to dance more!!! And More!!! And More!!! They love it. We love it! Even the usually cynical local stagecrew are shaking their hips.
Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Zurich all fly by. Vienna is a gig in a huge, well… barn really, with no facilities backstage and very very little heating which isn’t good when there’s a cold snap in town! At the end of the set the audience go insane and start calling out for “I Wish”. Gabrielle decides that if the three boys calling loudest want to hear it they should come on stage and sing it with her acapella stylee. The crew haul two young boys over the crash barrier in front of the stage and lift them on stage. A third teenager makes his own way via the side of the stage. A treat for everyone as Gabs sings solo and then hands the microphone to the youngsters. They sing their hearts out, word perfect.
En route for Zurich overnight the band bus is about an hour behind the crew when we get a phone call from them. Whilst driving down the autobahn all the electrics on the crew bus have blown a fuse and the headlights have gone out. Its cold, foggy and very windy and the driver, Roy, cannot see anything. He does an excellent job of safely pulling over and then to reach a layby has to drive by the light of a torch held out of the front cab, whilst high performance german sports cars driven by high performance Germans screech past them.
From Switzerland we travel back into Germany to Offenbach. The Capitol in Offenbach is a beautiful old theatre which is packed by the time we take the stage. Afterwards a group of fans wait for us to leave and Gabrielle signs everything handed to her and indulges in a little post gig private performance at the stage door accompanied by the fans. From Offenbach we drive to Paris and have another day off. Its a lovely thing having a day off on tour. We have now all slipped comfortably into tour time. No-one knows what day it is, which time zone we are in (and the clocks are going back tomorrow to confuse us all even more) and when ordering drinks at the hotel bar it is very easy to give your room number as the one you were in three days before….
The day after the Paris show we all go to EuroDisney for a four song performance for the biggest French Radio Station. The hall is packed and Gabrielle has decided that she will sing live with Paul playing acoustic guitar as a special treat. The reaction is breathtaking. The audience, we think, expected a brief performance, mimed, but Gabs won’t do this and as the first chord of “Dreams” is played the 2000 people in the hall go wild. Afterwards we jump on the bus and drive back to Germany. We sit up most of the night watching videos and talking. The mood is good, very good and none of us can quite believe that the European leg of the tour is nearly over (only four shows left).
We wake in Cologne to a beautiful, sunny day. The Cologne show is the last of the German shows and is as magical as they all have been. We retire to the hotel bar where the smiling German promoter buys us all a drink and asks us how soon we can come back!
We leave Cologne the next day for the drive to Amsterdam. After about an hour we stop for breakfast and realise that Dave, our keyboard player, is not actually, er… well on the bus. He’s broken the cardinal rule of bus touring – don’t get off the bus after the headcount unless your let the tour manager know! – but he’s resourceful. Mobile phones are a bane and blessing. Dave has left his on the bus and hence we cannot speak to him. We phone the hotel and discover that he has got himself on a train from Cologne and will be in Amsterdam in plenty of time for the show. We carry on to Holland secure in the knowledge that everything will be OK.
When we get to our Amsterdam hotel he’s not arrived. The hours pass and he’s still not arrived. We phone the train station to check about delays (nothing). We are about to call customs at the German/Dutch border when he appears. He’s as happy as we are. It turns out that as well as being resourceful he was also very tired and fell asleep on the train, got off at the wrong station and was still quite away from Amsterdam! But he made it in time for the last moments of soundcheck, dinner and most importantly the show! (Since then he’s been the first on the bus and its been more difficult to get him off it)
The Paradiso is a storming show. The Dutch speak better English than most of us and know every song. The whole hall and the balcony are up on their feet.
We travel a few hours to Brussels for the final European date and after a lovely evening, we retire to the hotel for some well earned rest. Dublin – we know its not strictly speaking coming back home but it always feels that way. The shows here in June were great and the Olympia Theatre (another classic old vaudeville venue) is steeped in theatrical and musical history. Dublin doesn’t disappoint. Two sold out shows and an electric atmosphere.
Back in the UK. No-one is sure what day of the week it is but at least we don’t have to work out what country or currency to use! These are little but important things…..
Dundee and Glasgow – we’re now in seated theatres…. what use the seats after three or four songs!!
Newcastle – last time we were here in May we had a great time and the City Hall show surpasses even that. The next day we see the first review of the show we’ve been touring now for over three weeks and its a blinder! (Actually we saw lots of reviews in the press in Germany but as our German is as good as our Danish we had to take the word of the promoter that they were all good!)
We have another day off before we play in Nottingham and its a welcome break. Everyone is feeling good and the sense that we’re taking a travelling party to a town near you is the overriding vibe. Thank you to everyone who’s made it so special so far and to those of you yet to come, bring your dancing shoes and your best singing voices….
Come join in!
[Taken from Gabrielle.co.uk 2001]