So here we are in gray England! Feels just like summer in San Francisco. Drizzly and damp.
I think I left off with Brussels. We played this HUGE very professional venue called Ancienne Belgique where Pat Metheny was playing in the larger room that same night. The sound and stage was great. The audience was pretty large, probably 150-200 people or so, and they were really receptive. Giacomo, our Tuscan vegetarian chef-friend, came and brought us more fabulous food: calzones, asparagus spread, and vegan strawberry tarts. I think Kevin was stoked.
After sound check there I went off wandering up to the bottom of a beautiful steeple I saw a couple of blocks away and at the base was one of the most breathtaking, stunning sights I have ever seen. I think it was called the Grand Square or something generic like that, but it was GORGEOUS!!! I couldn't believe it. It was an enormous cobblestone rectangle with all these buildings from the late 16th century. Unbelievably beautiful. I mentioned it to the guy at the venue later and we was like, "Well, it's not quite real." Apparently it was renovated in the 19th century, but it was still amazing. I think the boys went record shopping instead, although Otto did say he stopped up there.
After the show we stayed at the Sheraton. We had a funny encounter with one of the dudes in Pat Metheny's band on the elevator. Our rooms were GREAT, completely the opposite of the crappy Paris hotel! Comfy beds, nice sheets, beautiful view, and free breakfast! I love Sheratons!
The next morning we had to get up really early to drive to London. We had to take the ferry over to bring our van and all our stuff. That was kind of weird and exciting. Lots of families on holiday giving us funny looks. We were all exhausted, too. It was nice to go up to the deck for awhile, though.
We got to the venue in London, The Hammersmith Theater, just in time for sound check. The Theater was beautiful, it had red velvet seats, 2 balconies, and held 540 people. The first night, the bill with M. Ward, was sold out far in advance. There were way too many sound people on stage for soundcheck and I don't think many of them had any idea what they were doing. Too many cooks in the kitchen. But it sounded OK, and actually live, later, it sounded awesome. It was definitely one of the best shows we've ever played. The audience was polite. Not crazy, but how crazy can you really get in a venue like that?! We played really well, especially on "You May Be Blue", which is now probably our favorite song to play. I play bass on it.
We all rocked out to R. Kelly in the van on the way back to our hotel. Our driver, Kelly, is this total punk-rock Dutch dude with a shaved head and a lip ring, and we've taken to calling him "Kells" after R. Kelly's nickname! I think he's amused by our love of hip hop, The Grateful Dead, old folk music, Crime, etc. Quite the variety of music in the van.
Yesterday I woke up early to meet Mariah, from Smith, and we had a great afternoon of the best shopping ever! She took me to Portabello Road, which is basically a flea market with great clothes, accessories, vintage stuff, everything. I finally managed to get some money from my temporary ATM card and bought some pants from a local Japanese designer, some wooden jewelry, a dress, and some huge 70's rockstar sunglasses. Mariah ended up hanging out with us all night. We went to the venue to soundcheck again. Christa Bosch and Ellen Lindner were also there and we had a mini Smith reunion in the dressing rooms. I think we played pretty well, although we all seemed to think the first night there was better. We met all kinds of people there. Oh yeah, we had a photo shoot, too, for this British magazine called "Comes With a Smile" which I'm really excited about because it has great writing and photography.
After the show we took all the beers from the fridge, rocked out to R. Kelly again in the van on the way back to the hotel, and stayed in the hotel lounge for another couple of hours. It was super fun. Our hotel, the Columbia, is apparently notorious for hosting rock bands. Sure enough, there was some punk band from England there with a film crew because they were in the finals of some MTV Battle of the Bands. They tried to come over to talk to us and we told them we were Kings of Leon. It was hilarious.
So now...Bristol. We're playing some festival here tonight with a band called Tunng, who we are excited to see. Andy and Dev are drinking mead in the other room, and I have to sign off the computer!