Poland 2. November 2023.

Breakfast on the morning after the Warsaw gig was fabulous. Another four course job: first fresh fruit and yoghurt with added apricots and sunflower seeds; then scrambled egg with roasted vegetables; then delicious bread, cheese and jam and finally coffee and a little something to round it all off! Not at all my normal routine, but hey…! The drive from Warsaw to Bydgoszcz was about four hours. We passed lots of big Polish forests and it snowed and sleeted for much of the journey. We stopped for a break about half way and had some traditional goulash soup at a motorway services. When we finally arrived and checked into our hotel, I went for a short walk to get some air, stretch my legs and find a cafe. One of the simple pleasures of touring life is just walking out of a hotel and going in any direction to see what there is to see and then finding a nice cafe for a coffee and maybe a cake. So this is exactly what I did and found a lovely little place called Manna that served great coffee and a nutty, cinnamon apple pie.

The venue for the gig (Kuznia Klub) was actually downstairs in our hotel which is always good as it makes getting from one to the other much easier. The hotel itself had been a blacksmiths in a previous life and there were many metal chairs and weird metallic constructions reminding you of this. The stage was quite small and high off the ground. It was also quite dark (especially with shades on!). The audience was very attentive and in fact rather quiet in their response until the very end of the gig. This is something I have noticed with Japanese audiences which can be very quiet (and attentive) in between numbers, but then crazy enthusiastic at the end of the gig. It can be disconcerting as you feel you are not getting much feedback from the audience and that they are not that into it, when in fact they are. As a result John did less chat in between numbers, but then at the end of the gig the crowd was so enthusiastic they would not let us go after the encore. So we did a second encore (the track Grapehound), which was fun.

As I mentioned before, everything is settling in on the gig, and as a result I think we are taking more risks, and certain sections are flying a little higher. I am really enjoying the wholly improvised sections of the gig like the long section at the beginning of The Visitor at the Window, which is going all sorts of interesting places. One part of the gig that is always very fresh and creative is the unaccompanied guitar solo John plays before the ballad whether Broken Hill! or The Stars Apart. I have seen John do this dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, and he does something completely different every night. A true improviser. Always fantastic and totally in the moment. John plays with a great sound, lovely feel and inspired ideas and I enjoy the rhythmic freedom and sense of space that comes from these free improvisations on solo guitar.

After the gig, we hung out for a while and I was introduced by our tour manager to a special Polish vodka with a hint of cinnamon and it was rather good. Then rather a sleepless night for some reason before breakfast and back in the van.

Soundtrack for the day for me was Art Pepper Winter Moon, Stan Getz Windows and Matt Monro The Shadow of your Smile. All very lush and gorgeous. I am just a big softie really!!

Next stop was Poznan where we played in a beautiful concert hall in a castle. The sound onstage was particularly good and the gig went very well. One recent change to the set has been during the track Gesolreut which is a big tenor sax roast up which builds and builds. As we can’t get it more exciting than maximum, we have increased the dynamic range of the piece by starting the sax solo quieter and quieter. That has been really cool and it gives more scope for the epic build. Lots of signing of CDs and LPs after the show and meeting lovely fans. One guy brought 19 records and CDs for me to sign! It has been a really great leg of the tour and the crew have been fantastic. Tomorrow we fly home for a couple of days before we get the ferry from Harwich to the Netherlands for four gigs there and in Germany and Luxembourg.