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Title says it all really. Many months of time spent either living in a van or brief stays in places at the hospitality of others. (Thank you to you if you’re reading this – you know who you are).
70 shows across UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czech Rep, Germany and the Netherlands.
Over 20,000 miles driven through valleys and over ridges. The Swiss and Austrian mountains were especially epic.
The tour started in the UK in Late June and finished back in the UK in Mid November. I was lucky to have little trouble with my tour van ‘Udo’; Only really once when the brakes nearly failed me on a mountain path while driving south in Italy. I was significantly worried but fortunately despite needing to use the fire hydrant to stop smoke coming from the tyres, I was able to get towed to a garage and change the pads.
Musically most of the shows were solo but every once in a while I would share the stage with a guest. Alain in France (above) and Zuzia in Poland (below) spring to mind.
Probably the most prestigious show of the run was at the Blue Balls festival in Switzerland where I shared the days billing with Damien Rice.
A rare glimpse for me into and overground music world. Nice to play to so many people.
And the least prestigious (in theory) were the intimate experiences of playing peoples house concerts (there were 3 on the tour). But to be welcomed into somebodies world for them to share your art with their friends and family is nothing but an honour.
My final shows in Mainland Europe were in the Netherlands with the help of a great guy called Thomas Bruger. I had some Dutch press too talking about my European run ending.
Once the 3 months of concerts around mainland Europe were finished I returned to the UK and continued the touring. Unfortunately I had 5 or my 40 UK dates cancelled which was F**king frustrating to be honest. I booked them all before I begun the tour and in the intervening months various bookings at many venues were changed or simply cancelled. What was most frustrating was that ALL the venues would not bother to contact me to let me know. As far as they were concerned I could just arrive and be disappointed. This remains a total nightmare for me and is pretty much something that remains prominently a UK problem.
Despite this I was able to keep busy and turn a profit on the UK side of things and the European side. A large amount of this had to do with selling my CD’s and Vinyl LP’s. All of which can of course be ordered from here:
Digital from Here: https://stuartoconnor.bandcamp.com/
This years touring also saw the Re-release of 2 albums which had previously been sold out. ‘Go’ and ‘Bright’ were re-issued on CD.
Touring remains a sometimes stressful and often challenging way to get my music out there. Many folks I’m sure achieve the kind of success that commercially surpasses mine without leaving there computer. But for me to focus my time on spreading my music by being a Facebook warrior seems like I would be missing a major point. To tour is to literally follow where the music takes me and in my short 10 years on the road it has allowed me to circle the globe 5 times. I can be sure I have learnt more by logging out and looking up. This way has given me a wealth of experience which was otherwise alien to be and has sent me creatively in directions I would never have considered. In one of my final shows of the tour a well known producer came to me and bought a vinyl stating that he deeply respects what I do because I am a true touring musician. This deeply moved me coming from someone with such a wealth of the touring/music world.
As always my awareness of my missioning possibilities is that is has only happened because of so many. The selfless who help me in so many ways. Wonderful people who extend a hand and offer accommodation or utilities or encouragement or food or guidance or knowledge or support in any way.
Thank you. From the bottom of my over-entitled stubborn-as-hell heart. THANK YOU.
So I have decided no matter how old the tour times should be I will try to blog as best I can.
This show was my final 2012 show in Japan. It must end somewhere and the gods of random bookings decided it should be here.
Unshudo Osaka was once again a show shared with the awesome NolenNiu-de-Ossi.
This once again resulted in us being able to join forces for a performance of `1-2-Seppuku`.
To say it was the perfect send off from the land of the rising sun would to be honest be a lie.
I was littered with technical issues and found it hard to relax.
Then to top it off this was a rare time in which a member of the audience was noticeably loud. She was gabbering away in Japanese ignorant or just choosing to ignore the fact this was a acoustic show with an otherwise very respectful and attentive audience.
I wanted to tell her to be quiet but did not want to destroy the atmosphere for the show for others.
Alas I think I made the wrong choice as the situation only ended up frustrating me further.
Still it was awesome to see and share the stage with NolenNiu-de-Ossi once more. A truly great undiscovered gem of a band.
During their set later in the night the same lady with her loud mouth proceeded to run it. I could see how much of a distraction this was being to Yasushi and Toruko from the stage.
I took great joy in telling her to shut the fuck up. I don`t think she fully understood me but she got the message from my tone of voice. It was great to see this bring a smile to NolenNiu-de-Ossi and they thanked my after 🙂
And from there that was it. Tour done and job done. From here I took the train back to Tokyo and got ready for my flight to the next destination.
Auckland – New Zealand
Socrates is simply a crazy place. Always showing perverse and twistid visuals on it`s TV screen coupled with almost every band I`m lined up next being deep into the world of noise and experimentation.
This was my 2nd time frequenting this venue and was no different.
Sandwiched between Goth, improv, industrial and yep J-pop. I felt adiquatly out of place.
The set list reflected the randomness of the vibe with Electro dirge `As Stubborn as a Sandfly` kicking things off. Also later in the show `One Schizophrenic` made it`s debut live performance. To fill the gaps I was able to loop the cymbals and snare from the house drum kit.
It is rare that any songs from the `Scenic` album get any live air time due to the complex nature of the recordings.
I`m happy to have tried 🙂
Final Tokyo Show of the 2012 tour and so I wanted to end the run on a high.
It was a Gaijin show and I was sharing the billing with other musicians from the UK and Europe.
The Watanabes and Jimmy Binks both provided great sets of both mellow and epicly upbeat music.
I tried to keep the material flowing and imediate as with many gaisin shows the audience does not wait for long before beginning to talk.
The set was a safe call of songs on the whole but was a typical example also of how I was no longer performing material from my 1st album `Autonomous Debut`.
But all in all a enjoyable final Tokyo performance of 2012 and always leaving the door open to return in 2013.
Which I did!!!!
Tom Waits once played here!!!! Tom Freaking Waits 🙂
This just shows the prestige and heritage to such a venue. Thought by many to be Japan`s First Live house it was a true pleasure to be involved in such a wonderful event and live space.
Also playing on the bill was the exceptionally talented Jon Levy. His fluid guitar skills and understated vocals warmed the audience with ease. A truly nice guy also and a pleasure to hang out with.
Next up was one of Kansai`s music legends. Kobe based Wataru `Wax` Minamide. Wax has years of experience touring to the far flung corners of Japan. He has toured the UK twice and tonight it was true pleasure to once again share a billing with him.
I can honestly say there is no way I could have seen my way through the Japanese circuit over the past couple of years without the help of Wax. A great musician and a great friend.
For my set there were little surprises although `Distance From Ear to Ear` has been less and less of a live regular.
Good to dust it down from time to time 🙂
Varit is my Kansai home venue!
Ever since I first played here in 2009 I have always returned with every stop in Japan. It was even my home for a week as I slept on it`s hardened concrete ground to save funds whilst in town.
It was also during that time that I wrote the song `Varit` in the middle of the wee hours.
The night organised was a part of an event with a difference hatched by venue manager Wax. When he had toured the UK with his music he had seen how things were done in the UK and so decided to divert from the Japanese system and make the entry cheaper with the hope of encouraging folks to visit the venue and to make up the difference on drinks.
The quality fo the bands on the night was exceptional and I was drawn especially to the skills of Trumper player for a band called the Gypsies. Her name`s Mio and she was bold enough to join me for 2 songs during my set.
I opened the set with `My Pet Junkie` song `Breathing Without Living`. and managed to break a string almost instantly 😦 However the vibe was a true joy to be a part of and so the momentum was not lost whilst I chatted in broken Japanese/English and changed it.
All in all a great evening to be on the road. So pleased to be in the abyss during times like this 🙂
Once again I return to the English themed pub in the Traditional and quaint town of Nara. Also once again I am sharing the billing with the fantastic `NolenNiu-de-Ossi`
We alternate the show with 3 song sets each taking it in turns. The moment of the evening for me was the chance to perform the darkly twisted `1-2-Seppuku`. This song has a Japanese influence not just lyrically but also as a part of the instrumentation as Yasushi Kita & Toruko Nolen of http://www.de-ossi.com guest on Shimisen & Accordion respectively.
This for me was a wonderful and rare moment to play a song I had never played before. Also the pub does surprisingly good shepherds pie 🙂
Soooo many bands shared the billing with me on this show.
It was one of those nights where simply being something different (English) made the night a worth while experience for me.
The bands did not really support each other when performing and instead opted to stay in the bar area on the floor above. That was until I was due to grace the stage. Then suddently the venue was packed. Not because they knew of my music but because it was a rare chance for them to hear a real professional musician from England (the home of the Beatles and the stones ect…)
So my novelty presented me with the opportunity and I siezed the moment with both hands. A mix of crazy, mellow and loopy enabled me to push the crowd into about as much of a frenzy as anyone can get from what is always a subdued crowd in Japan.
Thank you Kobe….Next Stop Erm….Kobe
Prior to this show in Kobe I was scheduled to play in Osaka. However just a day before my departure I was struck down with food poisoning. This took performing out of the picture for a couple of days as I was forced to cancel the show and stay in and watch episodes of the Walking Dead.
So when it came to this evenings show in Kobe I had a long distance to cover to be there involving many trains, one bus and a shinkansen. It was a pleasure to be on the super fast shinkansen which raced through the Japanese countryside passing rice fiends and industrial areas at high speed.
Eventually I reached my destination city and after missioning it through the Kobe streets I found the venue. I had not eaten in many days and so was feeling a little weak but I was just happy to be returning to normality.
The show was supporting a popular kansai performer called Nanako Minami. Arriving at the venue I found she was a wonderful talent and very friendly and supportive.
The show was a joy to do and I chose to keep it just to 4 songs as I was worried about over running. The place was a totaly sit down vibe and I had a great time playing. I was a little weak after the show but the atmosphere of playing was amazing and the whole place was truley supportive.
Finally after the delay my Kansai tour was off the blocks. Next stop would be a second show in Kobe.