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Lisa Stansfield European Tour 2013 – Episode 6: Berlin to Frankfurt

May 23rd, 2013

So, after the high of our storming gig in Berlin, it was back to reality with a day off in rainy Frankfurt.

Last time we were in Frankfurt, we stayed at the Maritim Hotel which is a beautiful place situated very conveniently for the more interesting and picturesque parts of Frankfurt.

This time there is a huge conference in town and all the good hotels are full so we are staying at the rather inappropriately named (given Mickey is still moaning about not getting any sleep) Hotel Dreams, which is very conveniently situated for what seems to be the red light district. Granted, also interesting and picturesque, but not in the same way and certainly not what we were looking for.

Ah well. Ho hum. The ups and downs of touring.

Home Sweet Home

Given the inauspicious nature of the circumstances, there is nothing much to report on the day’s proceedings I’m afraid. I spent most of the day in my room working and I think most people just chilled out and caught up on emails etc.

On the day of the show we made our way to the venue around 4.00pm for the soundcheck. As you will see from the photos here, it’s a much roomier (and much fancier) venue than the last couple of gigs and all the portents looked good.

Walter’s eye view of the sound check

However, for some of us at least, it was not going to match up to the Berlin show.

We have all come to love the small, tight-for-space stages that we have had so far, as the proximity to the rest of the band somehow connects us all together and it feels like playing in a band (if that makes sense).

However, when you are more spread out you are relying more on the monitors to keep everyone together and engender that band feeling. For those of you who aren’t entirely sure what monitors are, a brief description:

When you see a band playing you will notice that in front or to the side of most of them there is a little black cabinet. This is a speaker into which the monitor engineer (to the side of the stage) will route the sound of whichever other instruments in the band you desire. So, in effect you create your own sound mix depending upon what else you like to hear while you are playing.

In the case of brass and singers it can be an absolute life line as we don’t have a dial to turn up when we can’t hear ourselves. We have to cope with it the hard way – by blowing harder or singing louder. Which can be exhausting, especially as invariably the volume in the actual show will be a good 50% higher than it was at the sound check. So we tend to have lots of ourselves in our mix and just enough band to feel like we are all together.

In some cases (Lisa, for example) there is not a black cabinet but you will see her wearing what looks like a pair of hearing aids (which is exactly what they are, I guess). These are in-ear monitors and replace the black cabinet on the floor but fulfil the same purpose.

Now this is all well and good if what you are hearing is what you actually want. However, there is from time to time a scenario which all of you who have ever played in a band will be familiar with.

The Creeping Volume!!

What happens is that, as I mentioned earlier, with the excitement of the show, the volume of the actual gig can be considerably louder than at the sound check. Which can render all of the great work done by the sound guys pretty much useless.

Once we get under way the drummer gets excited and clobbers his kit harder. So the bass player can’t hear himself clearly any more and he simply turns around and turns up his amp. Which means that the guitarist turns up, then the keyboard player…….etc etc

You see where I’m going with this. Unfortunately it is the poor organic instruments (the aforementioned brass and singers) who take the brunt of this and consequently have to just work harder to get themselves heard.

Well, that’s pretty much what happened last night at the Gibson in Frankfurt. We got ourselves into a bit of a tailspin which, no matter how good the sound guys are (and by christ, our guys are good!), they are unable to pull us out of.

Largely because the whole thing, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that it becomes a bit of a mental game and, the more you feel you are having a bad time, the more you are actually going to have a bad time.

In spite of this though, it’s our job to put on a great show for the folks who have shelled out their hard earned cash to come and see Lisa so we have to do our best not to let these difficulties affect the show.

This is where Lisa is an absolute star and, despite the fact that she was struggling with the sound, you would never tell by her performance. She gives it 100% every show and I am always amazed at her resilience. I can honestly say that I have never, in nearly 20 years, seen her moan about stuff which would have other artists throwing a complete wobbler.

She just gets on with it………

Anyway, seasoned pros that we are, we all pushed on in spite of it all and, to our credit (although I say it myself) the promoter came back to our dressing room after the show raving about it being one of the best shows he had seen in a long time.

Just goes to show you. You never can tell………..

So then it was on to the bus for the overnight to Zurich, from where I am writing this episode of the blog.

So for us, not the best show of the tour so far but hopefully the crowd had no inkling. It certainly seemed so judging by the racket they all made throughout and at the end.

So finally, as usual here are some photos of the proceedings.

Auf Wiedersehen alles……..

Late postscript: We just had the sound check at the show in Zurich and the on-stage sound is fantastic! Let’s see what tomorrow’s blog holds eh?………..

Snowboy reassembles his world

Calley, Lisa’s assistant, er………….. assists!

Cuzzy – Ian’s smart guy


Yours truly……….

L to R: Snowboy, Dave Oliver & Davide Mantovani

In full flow……..


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