Maggie Reilly Struer Festival: A Field Report
Just got back from playing a festival in Struer with Maggie Reilly. Struer is a city in Region Midtjylland on the Jutland peninsula in Western Denmark (I nicked that little snippet from Wikipedia… to be perfectly honest I have no idea where most of these places are in reality… I just get get off the plane and play my bass. I also found out that Struer has a population of 11,364.. so there you have it). Anyway, it’s a very pretty little place by the sea.
Because of it’s location (particularly relative to Copenhagen), there really aren’t that many flights in or out at useful times of a weekend. Hence we’ve been away for three days to do the one show! And, let me tell you, three days in Struer is plenty. We soon discovered that there was really only the one place to be (day or night) and that was a little bar/restaurant called The Happy Penguin (translated into Danish of course). We managed to visit said establishment a grand total of five times in the time we spent there. Everything else seemed to shut as soon as they saw us coming.
The show was a big outdoor affair with just over two thousand people in the audience. There were five bands on that day with us being the only non-Danish act on the bill. We were preceded by a Danish band (the name has gone I’m afraid) who were apparently big in the 80’s and have just made a comeback. I really didn’t get the point of the band that went .. us. They were a tribute band for a start. The word on the street was that they were a very convincing copy of Denmark’s biggest ever band (again, the name escapes me I’m afraid) who were massive in the late seventies. It was that kind of generic bluesy rock that regularly graces the stages of many a sweaty pub up and down the country. But the audience went berserk. They were singing along to all the tunes. The locals were raving about how authentic the band sounded and looked. Didn’t get it I’m afraid. I could never imagine a tribute band playing on the same stage as proper bands at any festival in the UK. Needless to say, we made a swift exit about five tunes into their set.
We had a really great show (particularly since we hadn’t played together for six weeks!). The sound was one of the best I’ve ever had on a festival and what began as a really cold blustery day suddenly turned into a beautiful Summer afternoon the exact moment we stepped onto the stage. We got a fantastic response from the audience and everybody at the festival really looked after us. They put on a big show like this every year for the locals and this was the first time they’d had a foreign band so hopefully we’ll get to play there again another time.
The Danes have a great music scene. It seems a lot of the small town put on shows like this every year and a lot of them are state funded. They really support their local artists far more than we do in the UK and on a much grander scale. Danish folk music and jazz also has a massive following. They are very proud of their own music. I think we could learn a lot from that attitude.
After the show we retired once more to the Happy Penguin for some food and drinks. As the only decent place in town it soon filled up with merry festival goers and we had a great time chatting with the natives!
Our next show isn’t until July in Poland with Chris Norman from Smokie. Maggie’s been checking out the venue and she says it looks beautiful. It’s somewhere near Gdansk… that’s all I know. We’re all looking forward to that one. I’ve never been to Poland…
On another note, if anybody’s knocking about town on Tuesday, this month’s “Wall To Wall” show with Lea Delaria features Julian Seagal on sax and we’ll be playing the music of Stevie Wonder. Should be a corker!