Friday, 17 September 2010

A gradual start to the day with eggs and coffee and fresh bread, recollection of things, the eternal reorganisation of luggage and equipment, selling CDs but gaining tapes, the exchange of formats gradually rendering my collection obsolete.

Something happened with the trains, something that meant we were left sitting for hours, bemoaning our own good timing, but it was shortly forgotten as the express took us over the border to Belgium, through an lost city between the kingdoms, long empty platforms with low slung lights and seemingly no way to get into the city. On we continued into Li├Ęge, the houses built differently already, tall and toppling, roads at 45 degree angles, no grids, only streets meandering up breathless hills.

Sebastian picked us up at the station, there for hours, held by our delay under the enormous glass span of the controversially expensive train station. We took a short car ride to the venue, Le Cercle, a reclaimed working club, very Gallic-looking, bar billiards tables and strip-lighting, tall ceilings, long bar with stools and clouds of smoke. Out back, a kitchen and tall stairs, the smell of amazing food, stuffed mushrooms, parsley and couscous – we ate and soundchecked and smoked as the lights went out one by one and slowly people arrived.

Stephen did the honourable thing and opened again, no mean feat when you expect the audience is not yours. Of course, he killed again, hitting each song perfect to a rapturous set of applause, the words floating through the silent room. I took the stage after a pause, wary of the slightly battered PA, knelt down and played a long set of shifting oscillations, grainy wildlife recordings and some submerged melodies. The room responded really nicely, a really enthusiastic and genuine audience. They asked us to play more, so Stephen and I paired up for a couple of encores, songs about woods and canals, before retiring to the bar for some nine percent Belgian dark beer.

More conversations, table football (they know how to play), an attic room to sleep in, inebriated wanderings through the halflight to get there, storeys of red brick and tall hills, green clouds seen from a summit laying low over the entire city – with evocation and interest, we'll be back.

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