***man!***toilet!***rope!—> {a summary de-brief!ng of our U.K. “travails”…}

by efrim.


first show=BRISTOL– venue was once called fleece AND firkin, now it’s just “fleece”.  jetlag=fierce, but mightily we seasicked with the stage buckling ‘neath us like a watery grave. wicked head-cold, and tore thru 2.5 hour set like worried automatons.  BIRMINGHAM– awful dive, big-hearted people.  carpeted stage, concrete floor= a bright-white squall, and us in it like exploded atoms in an infernal pinball machine.  we did not rise, nor did we succumb. and sweet crowd carried us almost home. post-show= bad vibrations outside, and the sky like a death-threat or a whispered curse.  rats in the bushes and a half-finished skyrise complex 1/2-mile south, jutting out from all of it like a dirty tooth.  night-time highway-ride outta town was like a prettiest reverie, all of mt. zion as silent as ghosts with the dirty yellow road-lights splashing across our faces.   DUBLIN– 7AM ferry.  high seas and we are pummeled.  rock-joint= was once temple bar music centre, now it’s called the button factory.  carpeted stage and dead ceilings/walls.  like playing in a congested lung.  a tough slog but we plant a flag on top of it and rest our heads on the crowd’s shoulders for awhile.  too many kids on terrible drugs.  the modern human condition in full-bloom.  load-out is through 4.5 blocks of cobblestoned temple bar debauchery.  rivers of puke and piss and misery.  thierry’s pain continues unabated.  the rain falls in thin lazy sheets across all our horizons.  GLASGOW– 6AM ferry.  the sun rises across flat water.  we play at the art school.  wood floors, wood ceilings and wood walls finally.  first order harmonic reflections thrumming like salve on our torn, wounded ears.  we love glasgow even when she is inhospitable, so tonight’s earnest mercy is doubly golden.  opener is r.m. hubbert, old-school flatpicker of the new-school of gentle strumming bearmanship.  lovely.  post-show drinking on olde sauchiehall,  the folly of drink wedded to anger on full flagrant display, and we flee.  baby ezra wakes mid-night with high fever, wheezing  and screams.  early-morning visit to hospital= ear-infection and chest congestion. sweet scottish nurse, sweet scottish doctor, sweet scottish pharmacist.  no sleep.  no rest.  and onwards, grasping at the light as we tumble, together.


MANCHESTER– lucifer’s sweatbox=manchester academy.  god’s pee played this joint eleven years ago, yesterday’s fresh paint has faded and stained.  pop-idol talent show one floor beneath us like a hallucination.  their clean lines and rosy faces vs. our anxious angles and mottled facades. carpeted stage, concrete floor.  no ventilation, our and their breath condenses as droplets on our arms- we respire like morning’s pale fauna!  sound is clatter, sound is holler, sound is tiny knives aimed imprecisely.  thick air+humidity=we drop heavy anvils that barely make it off of the stage.   audience is golden/loud/sustaining.  sweet hospitality from bernie.  night’s sleep finally.  morning’s rising is gentle finally.  light rain, coffee & cigarette in the garden. amen.   LEEDS–  not the brudnell social club, but a larger joint, gussied like a cruise-ship.  everyone’s a sweetheart. the weather continues to deride us.  uneven ceiling-height means that the p.a.’s speaker stacks have to be mis-aimed.  null spot in centre of room where phase runs amok with it its ruthless cancellation schemes.  carpeted stage, tiled floor.  glassed-in smoking room at the front where the regulars smoke morosely.  audience is clever, bemused.  we flail a little, fall over just to get up again, as if our fuel-lines our fouled, we sputter and dive in fits and starts, and distinguish ourselves by the poetry of our clumsy recoveries (we hope).   LONDON–  we roll in early AM, and just like that we’re in the thick of it.  camden town like a theme park of dead subcultures, dreadful costa coffee/nero coffee/pret-a-manger on every corner, the bustle, the hustle, and we’re all like jon voigt at the beginning of midnight cowboy.  gate-watcher at the rock-joint is fifty-something teddy-boy with a boombox hung from the wall and treble-stomps tumbling out joyously.  wood stage, wood floor, wood balconies, and it thrums like a daydream.  baby ezra’s health has much improved.  thierry’s pain is still chronic.  london-town rock-crowd is generous with us, tho our clamor is a little thin this eve.  nighttime we loiter on the corner, sipping and muttering, incognito and knee-deep in glorious mud, we’re the kings and queens of saturday night.


NOTTINGHAM– a sad joint called “the rescue rooms” and we’ve played here too often.  the filth is evidence of their rip-off tactics.  every surface as sticky and stained as a spent rubber.  pack ’em in, rob ’em blind, and kick ’em out= customer as fattened sheep.  fuck this place.  BUTBUTBUT sweet workers inside who are also oppressed thusly i guess, but kind to us and we are grateful.  and a sweet crowd also.  open-faced, open-armed, curious and bright.  also, the openers totally slay.  and red roses for sophie from a dashing young fan.  us, we stumble and rise again, lift off just to fall. and fall we do.  and thierry’s pain is too severe to encore.  load-out is uphill through two niteclubs worth of mid-week drunken student discoteque grotesquerie.  and a focused rain dumps buckets across all of that engorged flesh.   a wednesday night culture war, and though our rusty muskets and sabres do not suffice, perhaps our resilience will triumph in the end.   SHEFFIELD–  last time we “rocked” “this” joint”, our set was followed by dismal disco-dancing/mixed-drink social, so we approach the venue with apprehension, sniffing at the corners like spooked dogs.  stage is carpeted and sticky with muck.  a reek like childhood fever, cough syrup gone rancid, stains the heart and closes it to joy.  our set is a cacophony of breakage and malfunction.  we buzz and hiss and bark like an impotent tantrum.  captain stubing is in the crowd, and when they turn the disco ball on, a bundle of dust pours from its northern pole like sad confetti.  post-show is drinks ’round the corner, where the d.j. does no wrong until he plays motherfucking con-man bruce “the boss” springsteen.  fuck.   OXFORD– early roll-in.  weird greek coffee like a psychotic episode.  cavernous theater-gig.  sounds magnificent.  second opener is a ten-piece choir singing arvo part.  lovely.  during our gig, there’s a sound like chains being dragged across a long corridor.  dressing room is littered with champagne corks from previous dubious occupant(s).  post-show is another student discoteque and an all-night  keystone kop routine between the security guards and kids trying to sneak in through the back for free. the moon is like a gentle reminder, and the hole in the clouds too, blue and black and blue.


BRIGHTON–  church again, same as the last time.  display cases full of chalices and vestements.  AA meetings and gymnastic classes in the basement, and a picture of jesus hung dangled above the stage, blood from his wrists pouring out on us.  too much.  brighton is lovely. we are fans of the place and its people.  we could have done better by them i think, but church-gigs are an awkward thing- uncomfortable as those fucking pews.  sweet matthew hosts us in his perfect bar.  the sea is a shining thing as the sun falls.  clocks jump forward and we do not sleep.  england is done, and france is next and then italy beyond.  god bless our mess.  road-worn, we bang through like a homemade locomotive, and we are lucky.  outside nighttime.  and stars through cigarette smoke.  it’s like camping this time around.  and an uncertain slumber.  thank you everybody, you were kind to us and we appreciate it, and goodnight everybody, goodnight everybody, and goodnight everybody.  and amen…



  1. gael wrote:

    Haut les coeurs !
    Haut les coeurs !

    Bon courage pour la suite de la tournée !

    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 04:03 | Permalink
  2. Shane wrote:

    It seems like you didn’t have a good time in Dublin; I’m really sorry to hear that. My friends and I that attended the gig had a wonderful time and we would all really love to see you again.

    I really love these blog posts you make.

    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 07:00 | Permalink
  3. Leslie wrote:

    i can’t sleep i’m so excited about the show (tonight, it’s well into april 2nd now, no more fooling) and meeting up with my friend from france. she who has never experienced these silver reveries. her hubby is staying home to look after their 2 yr old and 4 yr old. she can give you advice on infant ear infections if necessary. we are celebrating my birthday, a few weeks after the fact. There is a light.

    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 07:33 | Permalink
  4. gael wrote:

    scary england, scary europe, scary world.

    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 16:54 | Permalink
  5. Tom wrote:

    The Oxford show was stunning – thank you so much for filling that cavernous room with music. We left sated and elated – we didn’t stay for the disco.

    Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 00:28 | Permalink
  6. ANDREA wrote:

    I’m waiting for you in Turin. I’m so excited! Can’t wait! I have a present for you 🙂

    Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 03:37 | Permalink

    A perfect description of the Manchester gig. I only wish I had known about you guys the last time you played here, and I would have loved to have seen some of you play here with GYBE (how the hell would you all have managed to fit on the stage?). Then again, eleven years ago I would have only been 8, so I suppose some things can’t be helped. Anyway, I hope it won’t be the only time that I get to catch a glimpse of the good ship Zion sailing through the greyest waters of Mancunia. Hope the rest of the tour goes well for you all…

    Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 08:58 | Permalink
  8. Brains 4 Belgium wrote:

    Great show in (bloody) Zottegem yesterday. I’m so, so sorry about the crowd. It was full of drunk, unrespectful morons. I’m glad it didn’t influence you guys playing. It was beautiful. Thank you!

    Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 16:31 | Permalink
  9. Ben wrote:

    You get to see first hand how decayed shit is. London, Manchester… all the cities hustle & bustle, spewing pollution and spawning coffee shops. I had to travel to make it to London for your Camden show. I hate coming into London whilst I’m glad you played somewhere we can reach easily.

    And I’ll be there next time too but for now I’ll stick to air that’s …fresher.

    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 20:02 | Permalink
  10. Rust wrote:

    great show in munich. thank you all so very much – hope you enjoyed it too.

    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 23:46 | Permalink
  11. Roland wrote:

    I’m so happy people treated you well. A lot of us may be in a fix, but we still know what makes the world worth it.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 04:20 | Permalink
  12. jimmy wrote:

    dublin is misery and the kids are on too many horrible drugs

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 07:18 | Permalink
  13. Leeds: You played remarkably well. Every note you hit pretty much emulated the exact sound of the LPs. Only obviously, louder and live-er. Your comments make me want to see you on what you consider a good day. Or am I right in thinking it’s just in your self deprecating nature to claim to be rubbish, when in fact, you know how damn good you are?

    Regarding the sound, the low roof and wall of PA’s sounded absolutely spot on from where I was stood… which was nearly the middle of the room, but quite close to the stage. The bass sounded/(and at those sub-sonic times) felt so huge and heavy!

    You charmed us all completely… very rare bands are genuinely pursued to encore in this city, but you genuinely were. However my friend didn’t like it all. He absolutely hated it. He grilled me for liking it so much. He’s a big Sigur Ros fan. Hasten to say, we haven’t spoken since. Thanks folks. I have one less friend because of you. hehe, maybe I should think twice before inviting philistines to what is in parts a fairly avant-garde performance.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 19:00 | Permalink
  14. Leslie wrote:

    I’m really looking forward to the next batch of pictures and travelogue from Belgie through Italia. If you visit the archive.org you can jump on that fabled tour bus between the cities, crack open a polar beer and listen to the Botanique show (thank you tunic for planting the microphones in the trees–and the morbid pelican statue). My friend enjoyed it, Efrim’s channeling John Travolta is what won her over I think. The next morning we went to the Frida Kahlo show at the BOZAR. beautiful birthday weekend! thank you silver mountain movers and see you again soon.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 15:32 | Permalink
  15. nico wrote:

    i was at the concert you made at the spazio 211 in torino 9 april 2010,
    and i was amazed…it was reaaaaally wonderful.there was something magic in the thing you do all together…  
    i m happy to say that listening to you i’ve  got the feeling there is something else
    much more spiritual and deeep,something which gets in itself a huge meaning of the thing to come and to be…. 
    a really deep meaning ,it was one of the best concert i ve ever listen to..
    and for sure the best of the last 5 years … 
    i enjoed it so much and there was every kind of feeling i could feel ,inside deep. 
    thank you so much to play and keep going cause the thing you do is unique and people need it to understand certain 
    kind of things…i wish i could know more about costellation label and the way you live your music ,your existence 
    and life…but maybe we will meet again and i ll get the chance to get yours words… having a good chat … thanks 
    and cheers … and the best wishes for your tour to come!!!! thankssss!!!there is a light!!!!nico

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 19:22 | Permalink
  16. Mike wrote:

    Those chains in Oxford were truly bizarre. Like a particularly repentant ghost hauling two centuries of misery and regret up cellar stairs. Added nicely to the sound tho.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 22:53 | Permalink
  17. Tom Fox wrote:

    I wonder if you ever got the instrument I made you guys at the London show, the merch monkeys assured me it’d get to you…

    Friday, November 25, 2011 at 00:21 | Permalink

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