Sunday, 19 September 2010

The day was fresh, up reasonably early for breakfast, then a bus to Eindhoven and a slow train down to Maastricht, bright sun warming the journey. In Maastricht, experts there by now, we took a short bus ride and walked along the canal to Landbouwbelang, an enormous former grain factory, now squatted and home to inventors, activists, musicians, builders, lift engineers, sauna constructionists and more. The place was huge with great expanses of concrete and knots of unrecognisable machinery, giant silos between floors and chutes that dropped uncareful feet four storeys in an eyeblink.

The inhabitants had fashioned kitchens and bathrooms and even build giant wooden houses for themselves in the eaves of the larger floors. Some levels were full of protest banners and artworks, others full of partitioned ateliers. We climbed the tower up endless stairs (the lift still to be worked on), past dove nests, unclaimed spaces, forgotten rooms and up to the top space, the height of four Berlin houses. Up partially through a roof-hatch I clung to the ladder, vertigo getting laughed at from below, but I could see well enough into three countries and that was high enough and fine enough for me.

Great food later before the show, home-prepared vegetables and delicacies. Soundcheck was good, the final show nerves kicking in a bit, especially when we saw the size of the cellar, a cramped bar that was sure to be full. And full it was, I played second after Stephen once more kindly silenced the majority of people with his songs. My show was less good, never quite managed to find the trail I was following, directionless and slightly battered around by the rising levels of conversation as the bar filled to beyond capacity. Still, playing is playing, and some kind words were had – last shows of the tour are always a disappointment, a climaz and anti-climax both.

Out we went into the night, to visit some boats for late night coffee, came back and sat at the rivers' edge playing word association games and trying to speak Dutch. Himalaya played next, subdued and melancholic post rock that went down well, and then we took to the beers and couches, reflected on our days of wake and sleep, the successes and mistakes, the rises and falls. All in all, memories were strong and positive – I went to sleep before everyone else and was found, for the first time to my knowledge, sleepwalking about the place, muttering about going for a walk, unsettled by something or other. Who knows where I walked, but I woke up in bed and eight trains later found myself home again, returned exhausted to Berlin's fresh autumn.

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