Jamie Cullum Summer Tour 2011 Pt. 1
You find me sitting aboard a flight home from Spain roughly two-thirds of the way through the string of JC 2011 summer dates. I usually start my blogs by trotting out excuses and quips about why it’s been so long since I last wrote one… and this one is no different.
JC and band have had six months off, see. Having spent 2009/10 touring almost solidly to promote ‘The Pursuit’, it was decided that we all needed to spend some time apart. Jamie hated Chris, Chris hated Tom, who wasn’t sleeping with Rory anymore because he’d stopped doing everyone’s ironing as a result of an argument he’d had with me over my tardiness in writing and posting blogs. So, we went away, realigned our shakras, ate some peace cookies and (Jamie) had a baby.
Since early June, we’ve been back on the road, taking in some new and extraordinary sights, sounds and, quite unavoidably, smells. Rather than my usual waffley prose, here’s the lot broken down into an eccentric list of highlights and what I would describe as ‘Own-goals’, there being no genuine lows in our line of work, of course…
Highlights: Beautiful landscape, smoked lamb, stunning people, a packed gig and the freshest air imaginable. Ended up gawping through the windows of Reykjavik’s estate agents, hoping that the exchange rate had suddenly become favourable enough for us all to move there. Round-the-clock daylight… a brilliant attribute to a night out.
Own-goal… Round-the-clock daylight… lead to the abominable mixing of Icelandic spirits and Newcastle Brown Ale and the whole band dancing in a space the size of a wardrobe at 3am. I forgot my swimming shorts and was forced to rent what can only be described as hot pants so as not to miss out on the steam baths and springs. Ensuing applause from rest of band not sincere or appreciated.
Highs: Outdoor stage on the banks of the Bosphorus at sundown provided an extraordinary setting for a memorable show. Jamie’s impromptu harmonies with the prayer calls as they floated over the water from the hillside mosques. A kebab that out-kebabed all kebabs.
Own-goal: Such a short trip meant we didn’t get to meet any of the brilliant fans or see the beautiful city. Weren’t able to find Herbie Hancock’s room in our hotel to ask him about synth sounds or sing him any of our favourite tunes of his.
KEW GARDENS (London)
Highs: Happy 30th Birthday Tom ! A gig on home soil in the very civilised (and rock ‘n’ roll) surroundings of a botanical garden. The brilliant Natalie Williams and band supported.
Own-goal: Chose a tour bus bunk opposite Snorey Simmons.
Highs: An afternoon trip to a country chateau to sip the local beverage, talk drivel at the wild deer and pretend we know how to play billiards. Another amazing French crowd.
Own-goal: Missing Morcheeba’s set before ours. Piling onto a tour bus to sleep in close proximity to seven fully grown men who had spent the day enjoying rich French cuisine.
Highs: Another stunning venue, this time a Roman amphitheatre. Band spent much of soundcheck barking quotes from ‘Gladiator’ through a vast soundsystem. French food.
Own-goal: Rory Simmons, Cornish Snorer Of The Year 2011 (Tour bus category)
Highs: A chance to visit an amazing country we’ve all wanted to visit for a long time. Played in Byblos, the world’s oldest city. Crowd went wild several songs into the gig and turned it into a night to remember.
Own-goal: Would have loved to have stayed longer and hung out with the locals. All night travel to get to the next show in Spain involved a layover in Istanbul at 4am which involved the tour party collapsing and taking over a large area of the airport. Group snoring offended locals and may have harmed international relations.
Highs: Another gastronomical trip, this time to a hilltop vineyard where we sampled local black pudding, pimientos and barbecued lamb. Seeing the incomparable Eric Reed and his band play at the festival.
Own-goal: A nameless member of the band missed the vineyard excursion due to ‘dehydration’. Chris Hill’s coffee addiction began to acutely manifest itself before the gig.
Highs: Gurten Festival cleaner and more friendly than a freshly-bathed labrador. Pleasure to see the Kaiser Chiefs from side-stage- great band.
Own-goal: Chris Hill reaches level of energy-depletion at which he begins one of his coffee marathons.
Own-goal: Sunburn, tough early start- JC typically unaffected (he was a bulletproof tourer even before the up-all-night-changing-nappies years)
Learnt of the tragic passing of our friend Amy Winehouse shortly before this show. This, compounded with the heartbreaking events in Norway made it a strange weekend. The brilliant Austrian crowd, along with a truly inspirational performance from Erykah Badu later in the evening, lifted spirits.
Highs: Free gig in a beautiful little town square. Germany continuing to support JC in force.
Own-goal: Almost broke thumb by trapping it between hi-hat cymbals whilst busy watching JC wobbling around on top of piano… no points for coordination (for either of us). Chris Hill coffee marathon spirals out of control leading to indiscriminate onstage hopping, moshing and screeching.
(please see ‘ANTIBES’ for full details, though JC again showed us how one should manfully deal with sleep deprivation).
COSTA BRAVA (Spain)
Highs: Ham. Pure ham. And wine.
Own-goal: Passport went walkies so had to get a later return flight home alone… what a numpty.
So, that is a potted summation of the last few months. Thanks so much to everyone who has come out to these shows. They have been as much fun as we’ve ever had.
I will be blogging again next week when we’re in Scandinavia… I may even change the format of the blog again- do tweet me some suggestions of what you’d like to hear or see (click the Twitter link on the right of this page to find me).