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  • Writer's pictureJH

Day 11: Oh, What a Night in Hardegsen, Germany ....

AVT: 4h (Tot. 37h, 45 min)

ADT: 260 km (Tot. 3,005 km)


"I'm raising liberal kids. Whenever I leave the house I ask them if they need beer and cigarettes."

- Deni


It’s strange to feel so muted on the morning after what was one of the great nights of my musical life.

We are drifting along the back roads of Germany, through ancient towns still drowsy from Saturday, and I am looking out the van window at fields and cows and tree-lined highways. It’s a grey day. There was rain. I’m settled in the passenger’s seat and feeling quiet and I think I blame The War On Drugs. I was listening to Pain on my headphones this morning and that song is just so melancholy and wistful that maybe it set the mood.

But alles gut.

Things are just a little muted. Sometimes it’s nice to ride along and not say much of anything.

Last night. Man, oh man. The gigs have been so good on this tour so far. Yesterday we drove from Hamburg to the charming village of Hardegsen, where we were booked to play at Burg Hardeg – a legit castle that we think dates back about 700 years. Now, you know by now what that sort of thing does to me. They built a venue on one floor of the place, with ancient stone walls and windows and a heavy wooden door. We were looking for knights in armour and massive, metal goblets sloshing with ale.

It was probably the coolest room I’ve ever played.

We set up and did our sound check and then Ken and I got a quick tour of the underhalls. You can smell time in a place like that. It runs deep. I can’t stand in a room that old and not think of how it used to be. At Blankenstein I looked out over the walls and imagined the invaders approaching. Felt the chill of impending battle. Burg Hardeg felt more monasterial to me. More reverent. I tried to imagine the people building those walls so many centuries ago, carrying the stones, carving door frames, laying those floors. I can get lost in it if I’m not careful.

Which makes today’s potential tour diversion a capital ‘D’ danger zone.

The show was fantastic. Sometimes all of the factors just come together – setting, sound, audience. There was a particular ambiance in that room and the stage sound was fabulous. Deni set the tone perfectly with his opening set and we started our show gently with Sarah’s Song First Time. For me it was neat because the stage was carpeted. Under the lights it made me think of Jason Tait – one of my favourite drummers – playing the Junos with Bahamas earlier this year. This is the sort of experience I’ve wanted. I’ve wanted to be playing classy music in classy places with confidence.

The band was on last night. Again, it’s a combination of all of those factors. The audience warmed up to us very quickly and we continue to gel on stage together. Our volumes were on point and we played the songs well. Sarah is so good at being endearing and funny and vulnerable in her performances. Sometimes audiences over here aren’t quite sure what to make of us. As I’ve said before, we play music seriously, but don’t take ourselves seriously, so you might have a profoundly emotional moment followed by Deni doing high kicks. What I do know is that last night the people were on their feet and dancing, which we’re told has never happened in six years of shows at the castle.

We finished the show and they were on their feet calling for an encore.

So we gave them one.

Then they wanted another encore.

So we gave them one.

When we finally left the stage for the last time they were still calling for encores. A few seconds later I stood by the merch table with Sarah and whispered, “This is what we came for, right?”

It is.

I don’t know if anyone in the audience will read this, but I want to thank all of them for giving us such a warm reception. It really does take two sides to make a great show. Two energies. They combine in a place like that and you get a rare kind of magic. Shout-out once again to our German friends who came to the show, as well as the Friesland crew who made the long drive to share the night with us. Thank you!

I’m trying to think now of other cool places I’ve been lucky enough to play. Outdoors looking up at the mountains in Banff comes to mind. The festival stage in downtown Apolda, Germany last year. The Em Pootzke jazz club in Dusseldorf. The wallpaper on my phone is a collage I created of drummer’s-eye-view photos of big rooms around the world. Theaters. Arenas. Stadiums. One of the photos was actually taken from my own kit looking out at a packed London Music Hall on the night Hiroshima Hearts opened for Nazareth. You can call it a vision board if you like. I do these tours and play these shows because I want those experiences. A part of me is still waiting to be uncovered as a fraud, but until then I continue to dream of dreams and imagine these worlds of possibility.

But man, those dreams will have to work hard to beat playing a great show in a freaking castle.

What do I say now? Nothing. It’s raining in Germany and we’re moving quietly along with traces of memory lingering warm around us. I’m smiling at just having written a dreadful and pretentious sentence – something like a gratuitous and extravagantly botched drum fill – and the tour goes on.

Enjoy your Sunday.

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