Monday, January 22, 2007

Newsline from Andorra 1

Hey there.

Well, a lot has happened so far. Plenty of gigs, some of them quiet (the après ski gigs at the Alba hotel in El Tarter are very laid back – we actually do a couple of slow blues numbers and they go down really well amongst the usual high-octane insanity) and a lot of them VERY loud. We’ve done 3 full gigs back-to-back in the last 3 days, and tonight’s is a scheduled full gig (as I write this it’s Tuesday), so that’ll pay the rent for this month. Very reassuring!

My gear is holding up well. The 2x10 trace cab I sent down with Jamie provides some much-needed mid and top to the Trace V4 combo, which is a monster. The bass POD is doing great, and I’ve been tinkering with sounds this evening trying to get the levels right on the patches I use for soloing. I had set them up before and didn’t realise they were absolutely massively louder! I’ve been trying to use the SoundDiver software that came with the POD too – I can get MIDI out to it from the Tascam 122L I got – but the software doesn’t seem to be able to find the pod. I’ll have to check the web for updates when I hook this laptop up to the Aspen’s ADSL to send this stuff. Ironically, I’ll probably use the cable I hook up the foot controller for the POD with to plug into the Aspen office Ethernet – it’s a standard cat 5 cable! I like that, it’s good design – no need to reinvent, and cheap cable replacement when required.

The Aspen is a great place to play. The stage now has the backdrop (which Nic made ages ago – we projected the logo onto a sheet and Nic did the rest!), the speakers out front as a runway for Jamie (and myself!!!) to pull all the rock and roll poses necessary to entertain the crowd, and thanks to Nero 6 and Nic (thanks honey!) we now have a slideshow DVD of pictures, logos and URLs projected onto a massive screen above us as well! It all looks really pro, and when I finally get hold of those stage lights it’s going to be the most professional looking stage in Soldeu – actually, there’s probably only places in Andorra La Vella which would look better. As regards the audience side of the stage, that’s great too. Large area out front of the stage between us and the bar, stairs to the upper level where they have 3 full size pool tables and balcony seats with tables to watch the band from…. It’s a great venue. You get people cheering and singing along on 2 floors in front of you – and if the DVD player is playing our DVD slideshow and all the screens are showing it, you could rename the place the Janeiro Bar….!

So… I can hear you all asking how a Janeiro show runs. It’s pretty much on-the-spur as to which songs we play (I’m now doing vocals on Basket Case and Dani California by the way!) but there are some set pieces during some of the songs.

“Mustang Sally” features Steve the drummer belting out the vocals and Jamie and I sharing the mike out front and “ooo-ooo-ooo” ing all over the place, beatles style. The audience gets a great chance to sing during that one. Last night Jamie and I were goading the audience with the promise of a free shot for the best voice in the audience (which basically means the one who looks like he’s about to pop something when he sings) and had great fun pointing and nodding during the audience participation bits.

“Johnny B Goode” has a spectacular mid section during Jamie’s big solo where he plays his guitar slide-style with any object James the bar manager can rustle up – so far, I’ve seen jamie play with a spade, a fire extinguisher, a beer barrel, and beer sign, several bottles of bud, one of his other guitars (that WAS impressive), someone’s pint, a packet of fags, a mop head(???)… I’ve taken to doing a little Bud-slide myself during that bit, sounds weird but great fun.

We also have a little country n western benny hill action (I kid you not) with the theme from Benny Hill's little bawdy chase sequences as what essentially amounts to a bar order. We call it "shots!" and it gets a round of Sambucas from the bar, which we then toast the audience with. By the end of a night most of the audience are joining in and shouting "shots!". We seem to be able to get an audience to really get into the spirit (sic) of the show and join in!

Home life in the flat here at the top of the hill is pretty much settling down – we’re usually all awake by 12ish (I tend to get back here fairly soon after the end of the gig) although the guys have been getting in pretty late after post-gig partying and as a result I think Steve holds the current record with 5pm(!) – I can see I’ll have a spot of gig-lag when I get back to the UK, I’ll have to retrain myself a bit! We’ve got TVs, DVDs, PS2s etc in the house, and Steve bought a little digibox for about 30 euros which gets a fair few local channels and BBC world. It’s got the advantage over the Freecom DVB stick I got in that it detects and can use alterative audio channels within a TV channel – Nic, you’ll be happy the hear that K3/300 can show you Dallas, Land of the Giants, Beverley Hills 90210 and Star Trek with the original English soundtrack! The other channels are all French, Spanish and Catalan.

Speaking of TV channels, there is an Andorra TV channel (good music TV during the day) – and they’re going to be at the Aspen tonight filming us! I’ve got my LED VU level T-shirt my folks got me for Xmas (posted out to here no problem!) and tonight I’ll be flashing the audience plenty. Stop sniggering, Pearson….

Only worry at the moment is the lack of snow – the cannons were out of commission last couple of days as it got too warm, but it went very chilly today and the cloud has moved in – so here’s hoping for fresh snow and plenty of it!

More later – long long postings can be tiring on the eye…. And the page!


P.S. Chris Last, I'll post some pics ASAP - battery out on laptop!

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