barbed wire garden – strasbourg

we travelled slowly out of lyon, following the path of the river as it wound its way beneath the majestic basilique de fourvière set high upon the hillside, shimmering in the beautiful morning light. having slept so very little, by this time we were already five very weary travellers indeed. crossing the bridge that offered us one last glimpse of the cities glorious diorama we began to ascend into the hills, ready to take the highway on an easterly course as we headed steadily below the foot of the vosges, into alsace, in the direction of strasbourg; this magically historic center of european culture, and one i have not set foot inside for a number of long years.
our journey was smooth and how the beautiful weather continued to bless us with bright blue horizons and a vivid sun to bath the green fields, woodlands, rivers and valleys on our journey to the most easterly edge of france. how each new mile had us all slowly lifting ourselves out of the early start on no sleep from the morning, a number of roadside teas and coffees contributing to the effect. by the time we arrived within strasbourg city limits we were back to full strength, glad to take in the sights of the town as we made our way to the location, and full of absurd jokes and larks; poised to take to the stage for an early show at the endearing maison mimir.
we pulled up at the location to be immediately welcomed by the local troops, as captained by the omnipotent jérémie fallecker, the ongoing king of strasbourg in terms of alternative bookings for discerning listeners. still, the moment we stepped inside the perimeter walls of the maison mimir we were taken aback with how truly picturesque and charming a location it is, and how the atmosphere was directly set to match. a very small gated driveway takes one through an arch into a wonderfully cosy courtyard, the house running along the right side and the musical location along the left. we had arrived in time to catch the remains of a late lunch buffet in the courtyard and we soon equipped with fresh drinks, hugs and wide smiles; wonderful strasbourg.
still, how it was an early show and how we directly needed to set-up, soundcheck and make everything ready for the audience, already making their appearances in steadily increasing numbers as the first shadows of the sinking sun began to drift across the scene. yet more delight was immediately in store though, as we soon found ourselves welcoming the amazing trip saarpreme and his better half, the always charming lisa, all the way from glorious saarbrücken for the performance. how it was such an  honour and a delight to have their presence for the show, and how ideas were immediately bubbling as to finding a way to twist trip’s arm into joining us onstage for a little freestyle action; there simply was no other way.
with pierre, francis and geste working their combined technical powers, alongside the very awesome olaf, our marvelous soundman for the evening, everything was set up and ready for the performance, and how the audience was very much arriving in drones, til by the time it got to show time we found ourselves gathered amongst a completely full room of super-nice, super-warm, super-responsive people, giving us all the opportunity to play out what has ended up to be one of the most enjoyable shows of the tour, one filled with really wonderful memories for all of us.
still, how under meticulous planning from pierre, we also planned to make this particular performance a little more special by mixing all of our sets together, taking turns, one song at a time, to create a really nicely rounded show, thusly also generating a lot more fun and energy for everyone involved. pierre and i had already tried and tested this routine back on the ‘our accents sure are pretty’ tour in north america with all of the gang, and how it did prove to be a real joy in the right circumstances; and how we all unanimously agreed that these were indeed absolutely the right circumstances.

i must confess that i would be hard-pressed to guess the total length of the show, but it must have been in the region of ninety minutes, during which the energy and audience attention level was super-high, leaving us all pretty exhausted by the times the last rounds came about, but how the did, and how we did indeed manage to get the mighty trip on stage during the ‘400 years‘ freestyle, letting him chew horrifically for the eager crowd in a series of expert assaults; a wonderful addition to the proceedings, and one that steadily helped to round the show out, nicely in time for early-finshings, leaving every to start wending their ways back home before the dusk fully descended.
we must have remained at the location for not so very much longer ourselves, only needing to pack away our gear and talk of the full lebanese feast awaiting us back at jérémie‘s to inspire our relatively swift exit, us having really not fed ourselves adequately all day and the excesses of the show taking their toll. just a little time left to bid farewell to the remaining guests, including the ever-marvelous pierre schmitt who had been telling isaac and i some fascinating insights into the world of sign language, particularly within an artistic context; a conversation which very possibly could have continued all night. but our stomachs rumbled harder and harder and how the weariness was calling us to the calm of jérémie‘s abode, and how we loaded into the car and made our short way though the city as the night sky had finally set over the scene, casting all in the slightly unreal light of the street-lamps and rising moon.

to my great interest i found that jérémie no longer resides in the apartment of his that i had grown so very used to; it’s beautiful rooftop veranda always a wonderful location; whether under the stars  after a show, or in the soothing light of the morning before, eating pain au chocolat, ready to face off to the next location. but now he and his flatmates occupy a very magnificent apartment in a tall town-house, traditional of the city. large rooms, high ceilings, great windows, ornate flourishes in the cornices; all combining to create a really charming residence, still filled with all the original character of the building. and how, set along the vast dining table, a lebanese feast, enough for twenty people, sat in an astonishing magnificent spread of colours and fragrances.
i can not exactly specify our number as we all sat down to eat, but we were very many. yet still how we all managed to make relatively short work of this exceptional feast, how every last mouthful was utterly delicious and how it was exactly what we needed; some wonderful food for our stomachs, so wonderfully welcoming friends old and new with which to enjoy the moment, and these most comfortable confides to relax in after three intense days of travelling and performing; the perfect rest point indeed. having taken our fill we all sat back and let ourselves take in the moment before the steps would need to be taken towards farewells being made for the evening; it being a sunday night and early starts for most in the morning.

slowly but surely our numbers dwindled, as the kind souls around us slowly made their way to their respective abodes and sleeping places, many a fond farewell was bid in this short time. finally we were left almost to our own devices as we took one more round of tea, pierre and francis attended to some more end-of-day business and how we all slowly let our eyes grow heavy and start to think about getting a little sleep, glad of this relatively early-night after the chaos of the last three days. so, we finally put ourselves to bed, weary as hell, but in high sprits, autoblow-jokes still flowing thick and fast as we steadily drifted into the dreaming.
we arose early in the morning, to the sound of pierre‘s first autoblow-jokes of the day, and took our turns to shower and dress before gathering around the table once more for an early breakfast. tea, coffee, pain au chocolat; all exactly as it should be. how the morning also gave me but a few moments to take in the morning air from the balcony and watch the citizens of strasbourg wander gently in the morning light between the beautiful architecture surrounding them. all too soon it was time for farewells, and how we bid our bold captain jeremie farewell before piling out onto the street, taking the early-morning tetris challenge and climbing into our iron horse to press on across the border, into deutschland, sachsen, leipzig, connewitz; the legendary zoro.
so, might i offer our collective thank you’s to the very amazing jérémie fallecker for his masterful organisation and hospitality, the masterful olaf for the superb sound the whole wonderful maison mimir family for their kindness and enthusiasm, to everyone who came down to the show and shared this lovely night with us, to jonathan, jules, lukas, jess, eve, pierre and many, many more! here’s to next time indeed.

next field report : leipzig

barbed wire garden – lyon

the first order of business as we drove south-east out of paris, en route to lyon, was to set about raiding the vast bag of albums that geste had cunningly packed for our listening pleasure across the long miles of the tour. it would be sage at this moment to immediately mention the almighty double-album from danyèl waro, which proved to be one of the first albums we auditioned and subsequently the one we returned to the most; beautiful maloya sounds along the highways of the old world. still, how the geste collection on this particular drive led to a long discussion between the man himself and swordplay surrounding the facts in the case of the richmond and dc hardcore scene and all the myriad bands therein that they realised they both shared an interest in. while they talked long and in depth, pierre and francis talked business up front and i let my eyes rest a while, desperately trying to catch up some of the missing sleep from the past two nights’; which would rapidly become an ongoing theme indeed.
as our route took us closer and closer to lyon, the weather seemed to improve with every mile, and how, by the time we arrived at le périscope to be greeted by the lovely folk there, we found ourselves in the midst of a truly beautiful spring afternoon. azure blue skies extended above the location and a hot sun bathed everything in the most warming glow as we unloaded our gear, sought to secure ourselves tea and coffee and set about the sound-check situation directly. how le périscope is a truly beautiful location indeed, how the sound was an absolute dream; both onstage and off, and how we could all only be so keenly aware of what a wonderful opportunity it was to play in such a venue. through the exhaustion and the haze of the night before, the makings were steadily building for another magical evening.
still, time was precious and our agenda was packed. with the sound-check all in hand, we steadily made our way en mass via the lyon metro system through the city and to the location of the hallowed jarring effects record store and label headquarters. glad handshakes were exchanged with the omnipotent mo and his expert consorts and how we were treating to a guided tour of their legendary installation before gathering together to take mint tea and talk awhile on the facts in the case of jarring effects, dora dorovitch, the barbed wire garden tour and all else therein. it was in these exact moments that i once again cursed my inability to understand and indeed be able to converse in french. i poured all my concentration into try to gleam any understand i could from the conversations, but was left to resign myself to re-doubling my efforts before the ‘next time’.
subsequent to our gathering, we filed our way back into the store, where a goodly number of folk had amassed in order to catch a small ‘in store’ performance, which we began to set about directly. isaac stepped up to the mic first and treating the audience to three or four songs in anticipation of the nights’ performance and how i followed-suit soon after. with the little showcase very much in hand we filed out onto the street and took in the lyon evening air before starting to think about making our way back to le periscope. it was at this point that the enchanting miss sophie reappeared after her train commute from paris and how our collective evening was once again brightened by her presence and, with our number being unified once more, we steadily made our way back to le périscope with a view to beginnings the evenings proceedings before too long.
once back safe in le périscope we took the opportunity our securing our fill of the tasty food that was now waiting for us backstage and, with our bellies full and the guests having began to arrive, it was time to begin the show. in what was essentially a repeat performance of this night before, francis took to the stage first a set the scene with three of four of his masterful compositions before i stepped up to join him as we made our way through five or six titles together; and how it only became more and more apparent to the both of us how much we enjoyed and how well being onstage together was working out for us. two shows down and it already seemed like we had been working together since the very beginning; these strange intangible musical connexions.
isaac and pierre took to the stage soon after and absolutely destroyed their set. there may indeed have been more people in attendance the night before in paris, but how the sound in le périscope was absolutely crystal clear, and nice and loud; and how it was an absolute dream to get to hear every note, every line, every nuance of their set. truly spell-binding, and how exactly the same could be said of geste‘s subsequent performance. there is something deeply affecting about being able to hear songs in this context, in this undiluted and all-encompassing fashion; one of the many reasons why live music performance is still head and shoulders above any ‘second-hand’ experience by comparison. the strange magic of the arts indeed.
with the show over for the evening, the rest of the night was spent propping up the bar and getting the chance to talk with a host of wonderful souls who had made it down for the performance, many of whom i regrettably let the names of escape me, but how there is so much to be said for these magical moments when the opportunity presents itself to be able to commune with like-minded souls, to celebrate these songs and to simply share some moments together within this curious and magical life. the hour grew later and later and the drinks continued to flow, and how it were as if the spell would never end, but slowly farewells had to be in order and how weary eyes began to signal the slow paths back into the dreaming once again.
at some truly ungodly hour of the night we finally set about loading up the car, bidding fondest farewells to the dearest périscope and jarring effects families and making our way back to the girardeau residence, as per our sleeping arrangements for the evening. as matter-of-fact as it initially seemed, upon following miss sophie to the door of her building and indeed to the door of her family apartment, it quickly became apparent that our lodgings for the evening were far-beyond five star. words can scarcely do justice to how charming the apartment actually was, and how the interior decoration, curated by miss sophie herself, was truly impeccable. i remember that the only compliment i was able to muster in the moment was that it was fit enough for a band of buriers to shoot a music video there; no small feat indeed.
as per what were becoming usual operations, the kettle was quickly brewing and how there was a little time to relax after the chaos of the evening, to take tea and to reflect awhile on these past two days before we would reduce ourselves to but a few more hours sleep before the drive to strasbourg in the morning. slowly but surely we all gradually made our ways into the sleeping; desperately attempting to secure some kind of rest before the early morning light would beckon us up and back into the car once more. still, how perfectly-relaxed a group we were, and how soothing it was to be able to spend even this short while in such a magical safehouse; chances of a lifetime.
the morning arrived far earlier than any one of us would have desired, but we all took it in our stride, even dear miss sophie, who had no actual need to arise with the rest of us, other than her consistently kind and charming nature giving her cause to do so. soon tea and coffee’s were on the cards, the breakfast table was awash with tasty croissant and pain au chocolat treats and we were slowly able to gather ourselves back up to spill out onto the street. after what was becoming the usual morning game of tetris in packing the car, we took our individual turns to thank sophie for her kindness, hospitality and company, before we all piled back in to the vehicle, ready to begin the drive to strasbourg under the beautiful hot spring sunlight. weary travelers on a long road, filled with warmth and ready for the next steps of the adventures.
might i then take a moment to offer collective thanks on behalf of all our number to everyone involved and everyone who made it down to le périscope on this magical night. so many names, and so many of them having slipped away in the sleep-deprivation, but indeed lucas did wonders with our sound, mo and the jarring effects family were gentlemen and scholars indeed, captain alexandre who drove three hours and stayed in a hotel just to catch the show, this wonderful couple who sang along to every word of the ‘tap-water’ songs, the lovely miss sophie for her charming company and willingness to stay up far, far later than i can only imagine she would have desire this night. how we are filled with such gratitude and warmth for all your kindness, and how we can only dream of repeating the performance again before too many long moons pass.
next field report : strasbourg

barbed wire garden – initial facts in the case

so, as i find myself once again relaxing in the safe and calm of the connewitz safehouse, my thoughts start to turn to attempting to detail the madness and joy of the recent ‘barbed wire garden’ tour, and how it strikes me that it was such high adventure, to such a great extent, that i am scarcely able to be sure as to how to possibly manage to adequately convey the delights therein. but, try i must, and how i might well begin by taking a moment to draw together some of the initial facts in the case, in order to do begin to really do justice to this life-changing set of performances.
i would do well to reaffirm the fact that i was very much a last-minute addition to the chaos and wonderment of this tour. i had been aware that swordplay & pierre the motionless were due to be touring the EU, and was indeed deeply involved in helping to organise their leipzig show, and how i did indeed marvel from afar their overall itinerary, with not the slightest inkling that i might be involved to the final extent which i was. needless to say, when i took the call from pierre a week or so before the first paris date, i was absolutely beside myself with delight and excitement at the chance to get involved; the horror and turmoil of it all.
i have been fortunate enough to have been good friends with isaac [swordplay] and pierre for many a long year now, our paths first crossing in north america in the spring of 2009, and how it took only moments to become greatly fond of them, as artists, but moreover as wonderfully kind people. pierre really is one of the most amazing men alive, so incredibly kind, decent and loving, and with the most wicked sense of humour one could ever imagine, and how isaac is equally amazing, never a more considerate, understanding, honest soul there was. the two of them combined, on record, on stage, and in person; really is a union that has to be witnessed to be understood.
still, how the prospect of this tour also brought with it the realisation that i would get to finally cross paths again with the masterful geste, another dear friend i had grown acquainted with during his time in london, through collaborating on materials various together, as well as performing at glastonbury festival together as part of the 2econd class citizen live band back in 2010. how he really is such a exceptional man too, fiercely-talented to an incredibly technical degree, but also filled with such honesty and compassion, understanding and empathy, a true gentlemen and scholar indeed.
lastly, i keenly understood that this tour would mean at last crossing paths with the masterful francis esteves, a man who i was still only learning the importance and magnificence of. our paths had first crossed online during his re-launching of the beautiful doro dorovitch label, by way of the ‘connect the machine to the map‘ compilation, and how we had been exchanging a steady slew of communications over the long moons from then til now. i fully understood how great and opportunity it was to meet him, but how i could scarcely have anticipated the complete picture of quite how much of an affect our meeting would have, as we traveled and performed together across these nine shows.
the tour really was absolutely outrageous in so many respects. we played nine shows in nine days, across four countries, over five thousand kilometers, averaging three hours of sleep a night and six hours of driving a day. we were five men driving into a surreal dream of sleep-deprivation, saturated with night after night of astonishingly warm souls welcoming us into their worlds and offering such kind words regarding our music. we pushed everything to the absolute edge and came out dazed, weakened, elated and filled with warmth. i will do my absolute best to detail the facts in the case, and how it shall be a strange ride indeed.
first field report : barbed wire garden – paris

barbed wire garden eu tour

gentle readers. with much excitement i can hereby announce the shocking news that i have officially been enlisted as part of the barbed wire garden EU tour alongside the almighty swordplay & pierre the motionless, geste and we are disco doom revenge, and shall be appearing at all scheduled stops this month, as the route makes it way from paris to vienna and back again; the shear unbridled horror of it all.

‘Barbed Wire Garden’ EU tour – March 2014

14th – Nantes [FR] – Le Lieu Unique
15th – Amiens [FR] – La Lune Des Pirates
so, please do be sure to check for the event in your city, it would be truly wonderful to see as many souls along the road as possible, and how i am so very much looking forward to returning to some sites i haven’t seen in what feels like a lifetime, as well as visiting some new locations that have remained only ‘on the cards’ for far too long. glory days indeed.