Badminton in Belgium

One thing I love about sleeping at a ladies house on tour is that everything is just that little bit nicer. The bed sheets smell of fabric softener and the shampoo is of a higher grade that sort of thing. Last nights host was Ina and her place was the touring equivalent of a 5 star hotel. Luxury. 

Yesterday was a longer drive than I imagined. We woke up at the ADM in Amsterdam. My ankle is in agony. It’s done ok so far on the tour but now it was hurting. I also had the joy of picking out some glass from my feet and also my knees. Will is also inspecting his injuries. He had a drunken fall. He fell head first over a parking space for a bicycle. He says he’s just glad he didn’t break a rib. Sounded painful. 

We skipped breakfast at ADM in favour of an early start on the road. Experience has taught us that driving past Antwerp can be tricky with the traffic. We reached the venue about 6pm. The owner of De Geniepegen Drauk in Aalst was very welcoming. Such a funny friendly guy. Some of the locals help us load in the equipment. We have dinner around 7pm. Chilli con carne. Beautiful. There’s plenty to go round. We all have at least two bowls of food. 

It’s great to see a few friends in the crowd. Pascal, Johan, Christoff, Anders. We met them all on the last tour. After dinner I talk a walk to a quiet spot in a local square where I talk to Nikki on the phone. We try make plans to see each other before I leave. We have to cut the conversation short because she’s a vet and a dog needs to be rebandaged. Also The Rebel Poet is about to take to the stage. He gets everybody’s attention and the crowd are laughing and cheering him on. The bar owner gives me a wink of approval.

Bettie Akkemaai is great again. Though I must admit I was pretty tired and I go sit in a quiet corner. It’s probably just all the food but I couldve sleep right there. The Yalla Yallas all join her for the last song ‘Godforsaken Crown’. I really love playing on this song. Tonight I’m using Lotte’s acoustic guitar. 

After her set we take a break for ten minutes. I’m not playing guitar tonight and we opt to start with ‘Stand Up’ and leave ‘Mi Corazon Part 1’ out of tonight’s show. In fact there are a lot of changes tonight. We play ‘Co-Exist’ and ‘County Court’ for the first time on the tour. Yet again the crowd is full. Though they are more reserved than the ADM show. Though I don’t think anyone could get close to those guys. There’s a smoke machine that’s cranked up way past Spinal Taps 11. As I try get used to the smoke the first four songs are really difficult to sing. Later in the set I change the lyric in Credit Card Crunch to “The smoke machine is kicking in and I can’t breathe” Will bursts out laughing and I follow suit whilst singing. We finish on ‘Rock n Roll Kid’ and during the song I sing a medley of ‘Brand New Cadillac’ and ‘Search and Destroy’ instead of requesting the crowd to drop their pants. After the set the crowd are wanting more. I agree to more. Joel walks of stage though and says he can’t play because one of his ear plugs is jammed in his ear. I play a solo version of ‘Mentira’ whilst the guys are trying to help him. Joel eventually returns to the stage and we play ‘Mi Corazon Part 2’ and we finish on another tour debut ‘I want to be loved’.

After the show the more reserved crowd are in a frenzy at the merch table. The sales tonight ensure that we have cleared our debts for the album. We are in the black again. We even start talking about the next album. 

I go outside and talk to a lady who had bought me a really nice drink on stage. I say thank you. She invites me to go with her to an Irish bar with her. I politely decline. Instead I somehow end up playing badminton in the street. In just my pants. The guys asked me if I could play. I said “I used to be able to” The guys are impressed with my skills. Especially my positioning. “WOW, you really can play” one of the guys said. I play for about 15 minutes with them but I am exhausted.

I thank the bar owner before leaving. He said he was so impressed with everyone tonight. He even pays an extra 50 Euros on top of our fee. Such a huge compliment. Neils the organiser of tonight’s show is equally impressed with the crowd tonight. He said he expected no one to come because of Gent Feesten and also it’s a Belgian bank holiday. Someone said that all the other bars are empty. Everyone has come to see The Yalla Yallas. Another brilliant.

We grab some supper in the form of some Belgian fries. These guys really do make the best chips on the planet. So far away from the shite in the canteen at work. 

We head back to Ina’s. I take a late night shower because I don’t want to dirty her lovely clean house. Joel informs us that we all need to set our alarms in the morning because he needs to be in Den Bosch early to buy some swimming trunks. After rolling on the floor laughing for five minutes we all tell him “No Alarms”. That man is so funny and I don’t think he knows it. I keep chuckling to myself as I try to sleep.

1 comment

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    Max Laffer

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