Richard Bennett
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Contrary Cocktail

Moderne Shellac, 2015

Contrary Cocktail

A hypnotic blend of rhythms, landscapes, tones, colors, styles and moods, with melodies leading the way to certain places that only songs without words can go.

-- Pieta Brown, 2015

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We arrived at our Dusseldorf hotel in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and immediately remembered it as where we’d stayed during our tour with Bob Dylan.  John McC. recalled his encounter with Ramblin’ Bob in the lift here… John nodding in his direction, Dylan grunting and that was that.  Got up to my room and on the table was a massive Carmen Miranda memorial fruit platter.  It was the kind of thing you might see at a large banquet as a centre piece.  Grapes spilling over the edges, tangerines, kumquats, cherries, apricots, apples, figs, several pieces of fruit I couldn’t identify all mounding upward to the grand finale… a whole pineapple.  My, my.  I guess I’ll have a cherry.

 

Tuesday the 16th had been a busy day, 4 cities and a gig… beginning in Copenhagen, flying to Hamburg for the show, flying into Koln then a drive to Dusseldorf.  I was knackered and ready to cut the lights and go to bed.  Not so fast there.  How do the goddamn lights in this room work?  Another case of over-engineering.  Several of the lamps had switches that did nothing and apart from one switch in the hallway that put the bathroom lights out there was no obvious way to make it dark.  When I called, the chap at the front desk told me to pull out the top drawer of my nightstand and I would find the master controls there.  How stupid of me, of course the drawer of the nightstand should have been the first place I thought of to shut off the lights.  There it was, a glowing pale blue touch screen that was nerve central for everything in the room.  I began pushing icons until the room went mercifully dark and I put my head down.

 

I’ve been a little slack with the gym attendance the last few days so got myself up after a good night’s sleep, made a couple of cups of espresso with the machine in the room, stared balefully at the mountain of fruit and dragged myself off for a good push in the gym.  I was glad to have some of that fruit when I got back to the room and puttered away the next couple of hours before leaving for a drive to the gig in Dortmund.

 

What was promised as a 1-hour drive ended up as 2 with traffic blocking us in at every turn and each alternate route that was taken.  We finally arrived at the venue, Westfalenhalle and climbed over each other getting into catering.  Two steaming bowls of the best chicken noodle soup I’ve ever had, bread and butter and a cup of tea.  Fortified, we made it up on stage for a quick soundcheck and then onto a meet and greet.  Mike on flute, John on fiddle and I on bouzouki played a couple of tunes while Mark met some contest winners, took pics and signed stuff.  After was another dash to catering for dinner.  It was pie night.. steak and kidney, chicken and a seafood.  Platters of beautifully ripe, delicious tomatoes and salads, fresh baked breads and rolls.. another feast.  I ordered a chicken pie that had just come out of the oven.  Unbelievably great with a thick flaky pastry topping and big chuncks of white meat in a rich creamy gravy with a side of green peas.  

 

Just to top it off was an 8 o’clock show for 8,000 good folks.  It was the kind of performance you wish happens every night, perfectly in control but loose and relaxed all at the same time.  All kinds of great moments from a stage full of guys who really know what the hell they’re doing.  A wonderful audience full of enthusiasm and a terrific gig all around.

 

We piled into the vehicles from the stage and the return to Dusseldorf was indeed about an hour.  Ianto, John and I ended up in the hotel bar for a few then went up to my room.  I took a final glance at the pile of fruit, pulled out the top drawer of my nightstand and touched the master terminal switch.

 

Thursday the 18th is a day off in Dusseldorf.

 

So long,

 

 

Richard