Back In Denmark With Maggie Reilly, March 2009
I’ve just got back from three shows in Denmark with Maggie Reilly promoting her new album Looking Back, Moving Forward. The album features a great bunch of new songs alongside two songs from her days with Cado Belle and reworked versions of several of the hits including Moonlight Shadow, Family Man and To France.
These shows featured a different lineup. Stuart, Gordon and I were joined by Alyn Cosker on drums and Davie Dunsmuir on guitars. It made a real difference having both Stuart and Gordon in the band; we got a much fuller sound with two guitars which really sounded great on some of the heavier numbers. The latest incarnation of Heartsong with two acoustics sounded fantastic.
After four (loooong) days of rehearsals up in Glasgow the previous week we set off for Denmark on the 5th. Actually, I set out alone. Since I am now the only remaining band member residing outside of Scotland it is now my lot to do all the sitting around in airports on my tod. At least I finished my book. And have resolved not to read any more books by Will Self. A gig the previous evening at Pizza Express in Soho meant that I wound up staying up all night in order to catch the horrifically early flight out from Stansted to Copenhagen. No surprises there then..
Our first show was at the Teaterbygningen in Købe. The three venues were all of a similar size all were all seated. Probably around the 250/300-seater mark. We’ve definitely been to Købe before, although I’m not sure whether we’d played a show there yet. I remembered the town square, and of course the hotdog stand.. first one of the tour. Excellent stuff. We did have a rather farcical episode in a cafe when we attempted a coffee and cake stop. Having been shown to our table and handed menus we were resoundingly ignored by the entire waiting staff for the next 25 minutes, at which point we had to head back to the venue for the soundcheck. Fail.
Considering this was our first show with this lineup, the gig was fantastic. The audience really went for the new material and we got a very warm reception all round.
The second show saw us schlepping across Denmark for almost five hours to Aabybro. Which is apparently somewhere near Aalborg right at the Northern tip. It was frankly in the middle of nowhere. Although a similar setup to the previous gig, it didn’t quite have the same vibe. The stage lighting left a lot to be desired; mostly unflattering white light and certainly nothing moving. It’s amazing what a difference the lighting makes to a show like this, especially when the audience are seated. I found it very hard to get into the show once the house lights went down. It felt like the rock and roll equivalent of doing a gig in someone’s office. The guy who ran the venue insisted on us all coming onto the stage with him at the opening of the set whilst he introduced Maggie. It was one of the longest, most drawn-out introductions I have ever had the misfortune to witness; with long pauses and deathly silence between what I can only imagine were his gags. Not a great start. Luckily we managed to rescue the show from this less than ideal kickoff, but it wasn’t among the best we’ve done.
Luckily the last show was only an hour away in Hjørring. We played the excellent Vendelbohus, a great venue right in the middle of town. It’s always good when you roll up at the venue to be confronted with a massive poster advertising the show. We seemed to be following ‘Jane & Shane’ all over Denmark this time, whoever the arse they are. In the classic Danish touring tradition, the one day we arrive in a big town with shops and cafes aplenty is a Saturday when everything shuts at lunchtime. When do the Danes do their shopping? They must have to take the afternoon off work during the week. Hopefully next time we go back will be mid-week; it looked like a good town.
The show was fantastic. Definitely the best of the three. The staff and crew at the Vendelbohus were great and we got some amazing homemade food. Again, this was the first time Maggie had got some decent veggie food. The Danish really don’t get the whole veggie thing and this can cause a lot of problems for Maggie when on the road. They do however do a nice line in hotdogs and chili-dogs. So I was alright. The audience were again really receptive to the new material. I think the new album is going down really well over there and Maggie has been busy with a lot of promo appearances and interviews, so hopefully we’ll be back out there soon doing some larger venues. Fingers crossed!
We had a great hotel near the venue. This was the only one which managed to keep the bar open for us after the show. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly every hotel in Denmark shuts up shop at about 10pm. Which is really not particularly conducive to the obligatory post-gig chill. We have become accustomed to trousering as much of the rider as possible on the way out of the shows and now have a bottle opener on standby after every show. There was a great kebab shop open opposite the hotel too, which made me very happy… But alas we were only there for five minutes having to leave at 5.30 in the morning to catch our flight home. Always the way!
Oh, and we saw these two rather unfortunately placed posters outside the venue… Classic.
So that’s it for now. Maggie has one more show in the book for the 2nd May in Belgium, but alas I will be busy touring with Clare and Lea that whole period. I think Ross Hamilton will be taking my place for that one. We’re expecting a veritable flurry of gigs in the Autumn, so do keep an eye on Maggie’s new revamped website or my MySpace page for future dates.
On a totally unrelated note, I was doing some recording with Katy at Red Gables just before we went away and tried for the first time a DPA mic on my upright bass. Let me tell you; this is the best recorded bass sound I’ve ever got in the studio and I’m going to be seriously investigating the possibility of getting one for myself. Apparently it was a IMK 4061. I can highly recommend this to any upright player; such a clear and full sound. I would be very interested to see what it does live on stage. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Until next time…