Literally fresh from claiming the 2015 Taite Music Prize for their breathtaking come-back post rock album ‘Sines’, Jakob embarked on a European tour that, as much as anything, was a symbolic return after a hugely successful tour there way back in 2008. Circumstances including injuries had forced the band to lay low since, missing tours and meaning that their fourth album, had taken eight years to record. Bassist Maurice Beckett generously penned the following tour diary for NZM.
Meeting up with our tour manager/sound engineer James Tulczyn, we then drove from London down to Brighton. Arrived in Brighton early so we took a walk along the pier before loading into the venue and setting up to do sound check. By the time doors opened, we had all fallen asleep backstage, jet lag kicking in.
We went on stage a little worse for wear, but after a few songs the jet lag was forgotten about. We had a good show considering how tired we were, the audience were great and they lifted our spirits. After loading out we headed to our accom.
Morning brought a wet and windy Brighton day. After breakfast we hit the road for London where the nights show was sold out. As soon as we went onstage, it was clear to us that a large percentage of the crowd had waited a long time to see us play live –– 15 years in most cases. It’s gigs like these that make it all worthwhile, and having an audience that were as appreciative as they were tonight is why we do this. This is what it’s all about. Crazy load out after the show as the venue transformed from post rock show to dance party. A few drinks with some friends from NZ. Luckily our accom was an hour north of London, which saved us from huge hangovers! Thank you London for a special night.
It gets colder the further north we travel but the venue’s promoter, Adam, showed us the nicest hospitality so far in the UK. Great pizzas and snacks. Adam was very helpful and couldn’t do enough for us. A lot of promoters could use some lessons from this guy! Quiet turnout, but all who were there were getting right into it. The support, Band of Hope Union, were great. Unfortunately it was their last ever gig! I’m sure the members will show up in other future projects.
As we drove toward Glasgow, the temperature decreased alarmingly. By the time we got to the venue it was raining heavily and the wind cut right through you. We loaded in and sound checked, then headed to our accom.
A small turnout of around 60 people in a venue the size of Valhalla in Wellington made for an intimate show. At the end of the night there were some pretty pleased people, who were all very thankful we had made the journey to go and play for them. All three of us in the band have either Scottish or Irish roots, so it was a special night.
We drove from Glasgow to Newcastle and boarded a ferry bound for Amsterdam. The voyage takes 15 hours. We had two cabins with bunks, a few drinks before it was lights out. We arrived in Amsterdam at 9:30am and headed into the city for food and coffee. Amsterdam is an amazing city, its a shame we are not playing here on this tour, hopefully next time. On we press for Karlsruhe.
Loaded into the venue we were greeted by loaders and warm hospitality from Chris the promoter for Jubex. We had met him before when we played in Karlsruhe last with ISIS in 2008. He was also one half of the support act, Gravelines, who were really cool. We went on stage to a warm welcome and you could tell it was going to be another special night. A young lady started crying when we played Harmonia, which was very touching. Awesome night!
Heading south to Freiburg, the load in was done by the house crew, which was very nice, thank you to them. A small stage and there were a few bugs to iron out during soundcheck, though no support bands which is great because we didn’t have to change over any gear. We played to around 150 people who were all excited to see us play. Another great show. A couple of friends paid us a visit from Luxembourg. So nice to see friends from NZ and a few beers were had whilst the house crew again loaded our gear.
The drive into Bulle was amazing. Beautiful scenery throughout the Swiss alps. The venue is an old theatre, built in 1916 apparently. The acoustics are really nice but the 100dB limit was a first on this tour – and hopefully the last. Smoking is permitted inside the venue so I took full advantage of it. There was also beer on tap in our dressing room. It was the first ever show for support act Hubris but they were great. Another great show and again in front of a very appreciative audience.
After an eight hour drive from Bulle to Padova, Italy, it was nice to check into our hotel and get out of the tour van. We all had our own rooms – nice to have your own space and be able to relax without being woken by snoring. Watched some TV. It is rather weird watching re-runs of Matlock overdubbed in Italian.
Beautiful drive into Croatia. Stopped at the border by the police but all good. Got to the venue, loaded in and sound checked. The venue is located next to a river and its 25 degrees, awesome! The mixing console looks like something from Dr Who, but it sounds good in front and on stage.
About 100 or so people turned out, not bad for our first time in Zagreb, and on a Monday night. No support again and we had a great gig. Playing nearly every night makes the band very tight. The audience were awesome. We can’t wait to come back.
Chanel Zero is a squat in Ljubljana. It has four different-sized concert halls. The venue we played in has a cap of 220. The room size and layout reminds me of a cross between Valhalla and San Fran in Wellington.
Croatian support act Emphasis are a really good band, and nice guys. Andreas is a very hospitable promoter and the house crew were very helpful with loading and their supply of homegrown cuisine. There was barely enough room to move, and murky stage sound made the gig a little tough. But we got through it and had a good time.
Innsbruck is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains covered in snow. Funnily enough though it was warm. The venue is situated underneath a train station and we could hear the trains pass over as we loaded in. The catering was very good, best veggie lasagna I’ve ever tasted, topped off with tiramisu for dessert. Caught up with a friend from Salzburg.
Support Doomina were another great band and nice guys, who are also playing at Dunk! Festival. Our set was received well by the audience but it was very loud and murky on stage. The promoter said it was so loud that you could no longer hear the trains pass over the venue and apparently you could hear us upstairs on the station platform!
Innsbruck to Streiburg in Germany where we visited Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the castle the Disneyland one is inspired from. It was built from medieval ruins from 1868-1882 in Hohenschwangau, Bavaria. Beautiful place, lots of tourists. Had dinner at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, Twin Peaks Bavarian style. Schnitzel!
The venue is one of Germany’s oldest surviving movie theaters, it screened its first film on Christmas Day 1912. It’s the biggest we have played so far on this tour and reminds me of the old St James on Queen St. The acoustics were very bright and present, which took a little getting used to, but after that it was a lot of fun.
Another lady started crying during Harmonia, and continued to do so for the rest of the set. Moving. A guy at the front of the stage wrote Semaphore on a piece of paper and placed it on the stage – a very polite way of requesting a song! Great night and we look forward to coming back.
We knew ahead that we have a decent following in Poland, we just didn’t realise how fanatical they are about the band. The audience were right at the front of the stage as we went on and judging by their applause after each song, they were very grateful that we had come to play for them. So were we!
We had so much fun and we smashed hell out of our set. We also added Saint to our encore. We haven’t played that song live in years, so it was a breath of fresh air to play it to our Warsaw fans. A guy sat on the stage in front of the bass drum for the last four or five songs, soaking it up. What an amazing audience tonight, Thank you Warsaw, we love you!
Our show in Berlin ended up being awesome, but it didn’t start out that way. As we arrived at the venue James our TM/sound guy introduced himself to the house engineer. “H,i I’m James, I mix Jakob,” and was met with, “No, only I mix Jakob. Apparently they don’t like touring bands bringing their own engineer and messing with their rig. After some exchange of words, and the band saying we will bail on the gig if James is not allowed to mix us, the house guy was quickly replaced with another. Support act Kasan were massively heavy, my new favourite band. Great show to another very appreciative audience.
Yesterday was our first real day off and not a travel day. Much needed rest was most welcomed. Cafe Wagner is a small venue in Jena, which is also a university town. The glass for Zeiss camera lenses is made in Jena a local tells us. I’ll take their word for it.
Fun show with a fairly decent turnout for somewhere we have never been before. Jason fell off the stage at the end of the set as he went to photo bomb me taking a photo of the audience, misjudged his footing and off the front of the stage he went! Landed on his feet and without injury, but man I laughed so hard!
Dunk! is held in a small town outside of Zottegem. It hosts only post-rock bands from all over the world and we were lucky enough to co-headline the first day along with Mono from Japan. The main stage is inside a huge tent that holds about 1500 people. A second stage holds around maybe 600.
On arrival we had an interview that was more like a Q+A in front of festival goers in the foodhall, a rather weird experience. Our set on the main stage was an amazing experience. We played to a full house and the sound onstage and FOH was awesome, with a spectacular lighting show. We played a very tight set and had a lot of fun.
After our set it was really nice to sit down and watch Mono play. After headlining this tour, we finally got the chance to be members of the audience and watch a band without having to play after them which was really nice! This is the end of the tour for us and what a great way to end it! Thanks to everyone at Dunk! who were responsible for getting us there. We hope to see you again next year.