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  • Writer's pictureJH

Day 25: An Old Nemesis Returns and a New Character Arrives in Time For a Fun Show in Rees, Germany

AVT: 1h (Tot. 70h)

ADT: 60 km (Tot. 5,267 km)


"Listening to all of this Buddhist stuff on my headphones is really making me realize I'm a bad person."

- Ken


Ah, insomnia, my dear old nemesis. Thief of dreams. Scourge of slumber. How sweet of you to visit me last night, unsolicited and so eager to see the dawn. I thought I’d slipped away from you somewhere south of Leer, but here you are again. You sleuth. You boomerang.

I do my best writing about insomnia.

Hey kids, write what you know.

We’re borrowing an old trick from the sitcom world on the Sarah Smith tour blog today. Do you remember sitcoms? Back in the ‘80s there were a lot of family sitcoms. I suppose there still are. Family Ties, Growing Pains, Cosby. You know what I’m talking about. Those shows had a funny way of introducing a new character – typically a too-cute kid – four or five seasons into the run when things got stale. Most of the time the too-cute kid was the death knell sounding for your favourite show.

Seinfeld did it better: David Puddy.

Anyway, today the Sarah Smith Euro tour blog introduces a new character to shake things up. Yes indeed, the mysterious Lesley herself arrived via Flugzeug yesterday morning, following the path we set what feels like six months ago. Sarah was up early in Oberhausen to hitch a ride to the airport in Amsterdam with our friends Dani and Isabel to pick her up. I don’t want to say Sarah’s been excited about her arrival, but I think the first thing she said when we landed was, “I can’t wait for Lesley to get here.”

I think Lesley will be pleased to know that she’s talked of very little else since.

While Sarah was off on Lesley acquisition duties, I was treated to a wonderful tour diversion by fair Helena of Erla – great hope of a great nation. Helena is one of our favourites. Young, bright, lovely, classy, wise. She was in town studying for her Occupational Therapist qualifications and offered to take me to something called the Kaisergarten. It’s a big park in the city. A river runs through it. There’s a giant slinky that’s wound into a walking path over said river. There was at least one wedding happening in the hour or so that we got to look around. That sort of a place.

It was really cool to visit, but I’m disappointed to say that I didn’t see a single Kaiser anywhere.

Walking the slinky was useful exercise. I think most of us are suffering some degree of van cramp at this point, though the drives of late haven’t been too bad. Maybe van cramp is the wrong term. Tour cramp? It’s a condition of stiffness and lethargy caused by many hours of sitting or resting or hanging around. I know we play shows every day and that takes energy, but we’re so sedentary otherwise. Whenever you get an hour or two of free time you’re forced into a difficult decision: rest or look around?

Almost invariably we choose rest over reconnaissance, because the rest is so important. We just don’t want to get sick, but that choice comes at the cost of movement. It’s a delicate balance. It was good to walk a bit yesterday. Get the heart rate up. Breathe the air. Have a conversation. The park itself is very nice. I was reminded at one point of The American by Henry James. Do you know that novel? It’s a 19th century American classic about an American guy who gets rich in the toilet business and decides to go to Paris for kicks.

While he’s there, he falls in love with a woman from a wealthy French family. I suppose the family approves of his wealth, but not of his “new money” status, so the book is about these two worlds colliding: old vs. new, tradition vs. progress, convention vs. freedom. None of that has anything to do with Helena and me walking around a park, but we passed through one area where the trees were stately and old and regal, and I could imagine people in that time strolling on a sunlit summer evening. The bustles. The parasols. I thought of Paris, which is a wonderful city, and then of The American.

You should know this is the insomnia writing.

I’ll read this tomorrow and have no memory of writing it.

After the Kaisergarten, Helena dropped me off at our hotel and the lads went in search of coffee while we waited for Sarah to return. Eventually she did and a new breath of air came into our story. Full credit to Lesley: she did the same red-eye flight we did and she hit the ground running. I’m watching her now in the front seat of the van, talking and laughing. Her energy is a good lift for Sarah. We’re deep into the tour groove now, so a new perspective might sharpen some of the novelty that’s been dulled by so many highway miles. So many shows and hotels and schnitzels.

Last night we played a great little club called Buena Ressa Music Club in Rees, Germany. It was our first show in the city and, as I understand it, we were the first foreign band to appear there. We loaded in as usual, did sound check, and had dinner with some of the people from the club. Very nice. Then we returned to the venue to one of the great surprises of the tour: our Friesland friends Tjitske and Jikke made the trip to see us. We haven’t seen them since the Leer show eight months ago and it was wonderful to see them again.

Many of our German friends were there too (including Conny again via satellite). We had a good crowd in what is a neat room and I think the show went well. I’ve written before that volumes can be tricky in a small space like that. For me, stick choice becomes a question, especially when the drums are miked up. I won’t bore you with the details of my sticks, but I think we played a good show. Apparently someone said we were the best band they’ve had in the place (not the first time we’ve heard that on this tour, I might add). I can’t speak to that, but the audience reaction was as positive as it’s been elsewhere and they certainly wanted encores from us.

After the show we hung out with our friends as always. I feel special affection for all of them these days. I always did, of course, but I’m more amazed by and appreciative of their dedication to our shows than I’ve ever been. It’s so nice to see friendly faces in the audience and to hear them sing Sarah’s songs with us. I hope we give as much to them as they give to us.

Later it was hotel time once again. The lads were all sleeping in the same room, which is rare, so we enjoyed a nightcap (which is less rare) and were about to turn in when there came a knock on the door. It was Lesley, who should have been half a zombie by that point. Instead she sashayed in wearing one of the complimentary bathrobes provided to us all, reminding us that we were passing up a golden photo op.

So here you go:

Now we’re on the way to Lippstadt, where we have had memorable shows on both of our previous tours. It’s a perfect day in Germany and we’re looking forward to a change of pace for tonight’s show. Will explain tomorrow.

I think tonight I’ll pay someone at the show to take Mr. Insom Nia out on the town and get him lost or arrested.

Some people just wear out their welcome, you know?

*Cover photo by Dani Smile.

#SarahSmith #Tour #TheRoad

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