We recently caught up with our pal Tyler Chester as he was wrapping up his tour w/ Booke Fraser in support of her most recent release, Flags. Tyler, who is Brooke’s musical director and touring bass player, stepped away from the stage for a few minutes to give us a glimpse into his own magical mystery tour of Europe.
The last month has been an incredible journey through 10 countries, 6 languages, and some of the coolest places this American has ever seen. I’m out with Brooke Fraser, who is currently doing quite well in Europe and the UK. We started in Paris, at La Maroquinerie.
Show went great, especially for a first show. We worked up a cool intro incorporating ‘Bookends’ by Simon and Garfunkel, and one of Brooke’s songs, ‘Ice on Her Lashes’. Crowd liked it, even of some of the lyrics were lost in translation.
From there we started the German leg. Brooke’s single is quite popular there at the moment, so all of the German shows were packed out. Of course, the first show, in Baden Baden, was televised live. No small task for a band’s second show.
We played attached to a very fancy casino, where Dostoyevsky once famously came for a winter and lost all his money at Roulette, while writing the gambler.
Then, Vienna, which is just as pretty as they say, if not a little more. The venue we played had 2 important identifying features- 1) the ugliest venue dog ever, and 2) the stinkiest human being alive. Fun show nonetheless.
Then to Munich for Oktoberfest (and a gig in what must have once been a weapons plant). Then fairy-tail like Zurich, and then Köln, home of my very favorite beer (Kölsch).
Then we were off to Hamburg, to play the Reeperbahn festival. The Reeperbahn is the red light of Hamburg, but more importantly the place where the Beatles got so good. We managed on an off day to catch great sets by Friendly Fires and War on Drugs. Our set the next day was great, and I inadvertently had a very short conversation with a prostitute. I nearly sprinted away in fear once I realized what this strange woman was actually saying to me. Sheesh!
From there to Rome, Bologna, and Milan.
Italy is famous of course for it’s sights and it’s foods, but also for their extreme lack of motivation. Sound checks became 6-hour marathons. There were never enough cables or stands. If something went wrong onstage, the local stage guy would usually be found in the alley smoking.
From there, to Amsterdam, and a very crowded show, followed by my personal favorite, Berlin. Post Berlin show, we went searching for some late night adventure, and we found em- dark hot bars playing very loud very cool music, packed to the gills. The soundguy Jamie McLuckie and I had a wager on coin flips that he, inexplicably, won 5 flips straight.
The Berlin night ended with a very Alice-in-wonder-esque bumper car ride at 330am.
Then, across the English channel to Brighton. A real highlight was watching the sun rise, from atop a massive ferry.
Playing Shepherds Bush Empire was something of a dream come true. Literally every important British musician, from Bowie to Radiohead to Elton John, has graced that stage.
2 days later, with an off day in Manchester (where, like Morrissey said, everyday is silent and grey), we caught a train to Liverpool to make the ultimate musicians pilgrimage.
Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, homes of Ringo, George, John, and Paul. Cavern club- places of rock and roll’s genesis.
Now, we’re back in Manchester for the show, with Dublin, Belfast, and Glasgow still ahead of us. Los Angeles is beckoning me home.