Tour Diary

Video: 'Pure Black Coal' from Kröpelin last weekend.

Here’s a video filmed by Marv from my concert in Kröpelin at de DROM.

This was a difficult night for me somehow, perhaps due to the events of the night before (see this post for that) but the room sounded grand and there were enough people to shout this stuff to. Perhaps it’s time to put this odd, spiteful song away for a little while though - have been singing it with a little too much joy and relish for my liking recently.

Anyhow, more to come from this show perhaps. For now, here comes an early night. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.

Stephen

Bag, laptop, hard drives, unreleased music and videos stolen

As some of you may be aware my rucksack was stolen last weekend after my concert at Kolibri near the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. I had a lovely gig with a great crowd and a few hours later when most of the guests had left i was told to bring all my bags into the main room and we sat outside the venue chatting and apparently keeping an eye on the front door. Not so well as it turns out.

Suffice to say when I popped in to use the toilet I noticed right away that although my suitcase and guitar were right where I had left them my rucksack was not. Felt immediately sick. Inside the rucksack were the following

• Apple Macbook Air laptop. Kind of old but with a few weeks work that I hadn’t backed up yet. Also expensive to replace.

• Three external hard drives. Probably the worst thing lost - two were full of a brilliant collection of films and tv shows I had spent years collecting and were invaluable on long train rides and the other had six years of live recordings and videos I had filmed since coming to Germany. This included a couple of videos I had just edited for songs from the new album, stuff from my trip to Naples with my mother earlier this year, a session recorded just that morning on a boat in Flensburg and dozens of other concerts mixed and ready to be made available at some point in the future.

I know, I know - I backed things up but then I took the backup along with me and even kept it in the same bag as the original copy. Noob move.

The music / videos one is password protected - so that’s essentially worthless.

• Current diary. I write lyrics for my songs in my journal first, mostly whilst travelling. I also tend to fill it with contacts and random personal thoughts along the way. This isn’t worth anything to anyone else I’m sure. Paper and ink, straight to the recycle bin. But I lost a bunch of ideas and all the next big hits for sure.

• Nintendo Switch and many games and all my save files. Mother fucker.

• House keys, headphones, 100€, bag of sunflower seeds, biography of Virginia Woolf. Flotsam and jetsam basically.

For what it’s worth the rucksack looks like this:

I don’t expect to see any of this stuff again and I’ve already started making plans to replace things I need to carry on working in the way I have been, with a little more security of course. But, as is often the case with this sort of thing, most of what was stolen is worthless to anyone that has it. I get that you can sell the games console right away and perhaps wipe the hard drives and get rid of those for a few euros each. The laptop is password protected and has other security enabled but I guess someone will buy it and do something with it. The bag is quite tasty and in good condition I suppose.

Anyway, had a nice little trip up north - met some fine folk and had some lovely shows but this whole thing made a very distracting time of it. I recorded half a dozen songs on the boat in Flensburg that I hoped to share with you but they are really gone. I do have some live recordings still on my audio recorder and I will post some music in a few days.

For now this is a belated moan and perhaps a call out for anyone in that area to keep an eye out for a rather anonymous looking black rucksack with a book of depressing lyrics inside. Who knows.

From the lovely people at Fritzen.

I’m in Stuttgart today, getting set to leave for Thun tomorrow morning where I will play in the beautiful Schloss Hünegg. Details about that here - please come if you can, I need a lift.

Stephen


Landau and Baden (free download)

Sunday: Landau. Friends from Hamburg pick me up at the station and we walk through the redeveloped landscape of Landau to the RIVA bar where they plan an evening concert combined with Ben’s birthday drinks. A wonderful meal of home cooked comfort food and then a rather less than ideal concert experience. We tried it with me inside and the audience outside in the sunshine - bit weird and I could just hear the people at the bar - then we tried it inside but by then apparently the RIVA was the only bar open in town so everyone suddenly had to wear baseball hats on backwards and it was spring break. Anyhow sooner than planned done with and afterwards brilliant company and Lea plays songs and everyone drinks gin and tequila and it’s a fun visit just the same. Late to bed, early enough to rise and jump on the train back to Switzerland and the final night of this tour in Baden.

The journey down to Switzerland was a little fraught as I had opted for regional trains all the way and it was Easter Monday so many people were travelling. I sat with my guitar between my legs to Karlsruhe and then plonked myself in a dark corner most of the drop to Zürich. No matter, Severin picked me up at the familiar station in Baden and always a joy to see his friendly face. We drove the short way to the venue, Werkstatt - a reclaimed metal factory with a bar, studio space and a budget looking but long running nightclub called ‘Moonlight’.

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We ate delicious vegan burgers prepared by Severin and Aicha (which you can find as Assa here)  and then Sophia arrived and she and I worked out what we might play together. Sophia has been joining me on violin whenever we get the opportunity for a few years now and she also wrote and played the parts on the ‘Turn Your Back On The Crown’ album, for example:

I don’t enjoy rehearsing so much so we just decided on some keys and then the ramshackle room was full and we stood and played some sloppy songs for everyone. I don’t know if we played so good but it was certainly one of the most enjoyable concerts of the last weeks for me so here’s ‘Boys, I Am Worried’ as a free download from the thing:

Baden.

Baden.

After the concert I got to spend time with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and then was driven back out of town to Severin’s place and straight to bed and the sleep therein.

Next morning not enough time but some coffee and a mouthful of delicious breakfast and then sent on my way. I took a train to Zürich and another to Stuttgart, looked out the window all the way and that’s how it should go. 

My next concert is in a couple of weeks would you believe it back in Switzerland - Thun on the 17th of May - then I’ll be in Ulm on the 19th, Erlangen on the 21st and Bonn around the 25th. I have much more to share from these last days coming later this week before that though. It’s so nice that you follow, thank you.

Thun, Basel and Freiburg (free download)

At Carmen’s apartment in Freiburg with an hour to go before I take a couple of trains and also a bus up and across to Landau for a concert at RIVA tonight. Quick update on the last couple of days and a free download from Thun.

Thun.

Thun.

Thursday: Thun. Back at the Mundwerk with all the good friends there and usually a fun, lovely night and this time no exception. A brilliantly clear afternoon and a walk with Reto up the hill to look upon the mountains for some time before a simple soundcheck and a delicious burger at the venue. Some concerns that the weather would keep everyone outside were pretty unfounded and the room had enough of a great audience to play to. Super quiet crowd and I tried a couple of requests but also played fair enough. I don’t do this song, from the ‘Woe’ album very often and it’s usually when I feel that it will work ok as it’s kind of long and quiet. ‘Make Each Other Anew’:

After the concert we sat upstairs and shared stories and gins and then I dragged the guitar up the tiny stairs of the most excellent Schwert hotel that Reto always puts me in and slept for England.

Next morning breakfast good as ever and then easy but very crowded train up to Basel and a day off with Joelle. Much needed washing and recuperation but also a couple of sunburnt hours by the wide Rhine, a sweet ferry across and back to her apartment and finally a random choice of brilliant Groundhog Day on the couch. Day off indeed.

Yesterday I took a short regional train up to Freiburg for a return to the KISS cellar for the third time. Micha sitting outside catching some rays and greeting everyone so we sat for an hour with a cold beer and caught up.

Soon enough the little cellar room was pretty full, surprisingly enough for such a warm, sunny evening and I played all the songs and took my sweet time about it.

Babeuf.

Babeuf.

Micha, Carmen and I went for a couple of drinks at the Babeuf until we all got too tired and I flopped into sleep and a lovely breakfast on the terrace and here we are.

Karlsruhe and Bern (free download)

Have most of the day free in Bern so I’m spending it catching up with booking shows for the next months, writing some verses for new songs and getting a little distracted by this new website I’ve found called the Youtube. Also listening to concerts recorded recently and pledging to speak less between songs, my word.

Last night I played at La Cappella so this is where I am now. A beautiful wooden church converted into a theatre and music venue 20 years ago and run by Christoph and his team. Honestly, the concert was pretty empty last night but I had a lovely evening and I think the people who came had a nice enough time too. We got it dark and lit the candles and played the songs without mics or electricity distracting and making things louder than they need to be. I hope to come back someday and urge you to visit this place as well.

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The night before was a concert at the NUN café in Karlsruhe. A perfect bunch of volunteers running the venue wonderfully and helping out to no end. Nice friendly audience and I played so-so ok and these are pictures from the lovely evening by Simon Beha.

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Perhaps I will upload the complete recording of the concert soon, as it was kind of solid and sounded grand. I just need to cut out some of the talking for I did go on and on and on and on. Here’s something in the meantime, download and share and what you will.

Tonight I’m heading across to St Gallen for a concert at Sandro’s house. I think it might be pretty full already but if you are in the area and would like to join by all means email me and I’ll stand up so you can have my seat.

Otherwise, it’s Luzern tomorrow, Wienacht-Tobel on Wednesday, Thun on Thursday, Freiburg, Landau and Baden after that. Full dates here.

Between Wiesbaden and Karlsruhe (free download)

I left town mid-morning rode west and up across towards Köln and a couple of small local trains to Grevenbroich. Nicole picked me and up and took her to her house - it was her birthday and I had been asked to play a little concert at her place for her, her friends and family. 

We walked down the lane, by fields and the river. Warm, spring evening.

Everyone sat around and I sat around too and played a bunch of things, actually quite a lot of things. Loads. Half an hour after I finally stopped Achim said he wanted to go home right away to get his saxophone and play some with me, so that happened as well. Maybe you’ll get to hear that but someone has to ask because it’s kind of a mess. The best kind.

The next morning he kindly drove me back to the station and I rode down to Stuttgart for a day off, completely not on the route but really exactly the right place to be for a brilliant evening of delicious Swabian food at Vetter, lovely company and the next day the Seilbahn and a graveyard and all the good things to be found down there.

Yesterday I took a train back up along the Rhine, around the Loreley corner and to Wiesbaden where I was back at the lovely little Wakker room. I’ve played here a few times before and it’s always been very cosy and fun. Last night was no exception and the room filled up and people squeezed in and sat down the front and I played some new songs, plenty old songs.

From the back of the tiny room here’s a free download the last song of the evening. It does go on a bit.

I’m in Karlsruhe tonight to play a long overdue concert at NUN. I was last here back in 2009 or so with Liz Green and her band and it was the first the first time I stood up to play a gig. We were all barefoot that week and super pretentious and sloppy. Was a grand time.

Free download - ‘The Woods Were Full Of Them’ from Leipzig two nights ago

From my concert at the Horns Erben here’s an old song played as a request.

Was a very quiet, lovely audience in the old room in Leipzig and I played a few things I don’t often touch. Will have more from this concert to come, just wanted to pop this up here.

Lichtensteig and Basel but now home.

Friday night I got to return to Lichtensteig, a small town about half an hour from St Gallen in the east of Switzerland. I’d previously played a house concert down the line at Watwil and also at Behind The Bush in Lichtensteig so I think that was the connection. FeinerFreitag is organised by Thomas and his friends - it’s a monthly evening of food and music at his wonderful house. A carpenter and a painter, his place was full of stocky furniture and figurative paintings on each wall. I rode seven hours down to the stop and he picked me up, drove the 5 minutes home and made me as welcome as could be.

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Much earlier on the first train I met Malena who was visiting her mother in Austria and was in possession of some of the most handsome Italian shoes I’ve seen. We chatted at the end of our shared journey, too briefly, and then she took me to a café in Munich for ridiculous donuts and cakes. She asked the name of my music thing but I changed the subject, I’m often ashamed or embarrassed or something I don’t know. It was daft not to at least exchange contact details as I’d enjoyed the conversation, her shoes and the donut, but so it is sometimes.

Anyhow, sat on some more trains, grew alarmed at the amount of thick snow the further south I got and realised an old suit and no jacket were probably insufficient for Switzerland in March. Trains and music venues are warm went the thinking.

So, the concert in Lichtensteig. Two big tables with local friends and strangers, delicious winter salad and lasagne and many cold bottles of wine and beer. I played three sets, I think - kind of in between the courses and after the food. Got to sing some songs I rarely do because it was a super sit down and be quiet kind of deal. Also a lovely bunch of people knew some of my things so they asked for a song and that set me to thinking of others. I played a new song ‘There Is Joy Yet Between The Pages’ that has been finished once but will change a little more and seems to be fairly liquid and malleable at the moment, which is a fun state to be in.

Anyhow, was nice and pleasant and perhaps I missed out a little on the wonderful meal everyone was enjoying but a lovely evening nonetheless.

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Next day, after a lazy morning and a delicious breakfast and twenty minutes playing with the cat I walked down the hill and across the bridge to the small train station and a ride across country to Basel. 

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We were taken to eat at Hirscheneck and had a brilliant meal there. Great atmosphere, very loose and friendly and delicious food.  Spitting sausage.  I suppose everyone in town knows the place but it was somehow new to me and I liked it there a whole lot.

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That evening’s concert was downstairs in the Irrsinn Bar, in the Loch - super smoky, tiny, dark and lots of fun. Lukas stood up and sang and had new things and then I sat down and played for what seemed like ages and ages. Some people in the audience knew a few of my songs which is always surprising so I tried to play those. I did ‘Brighton Gallows’ for Chrigel, ‘When I Was Away’ for someone and ‘We Could Have’ for someone else. 

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Later and away from the smoke the conversation turned to Ireland, Flat Earth Theory and the Sussex Panther. I dragged myself home late and then realised I had forgotten my scarf and hat so dragged myself right on back.

I’m home now, watching the wind blow the pigeons every which way. It’s Monday afternoon and I’ve more concerts this week. You alright?