The week back at work passes in a haze. Koko was at heart a champagne reception for people like David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith, there’s even a clip on Newsnight. Basically our ticket money paid for a celebrity chef and load of fizz for politicians, spin doctors and corporate types who got the best seats. And presumably Thom telling them to stop pissing on the planet. This is the sort of thing that makes me want to have words.
On Saturday, I wake too early and go to the airport. I am astonished at how much I’ve spent on tickets for this tour. It feels important to be at the first shows. This being a weekend and a location we’ve not been to before, there are several people heading to Denmark for the trip.
In Copenhagen I take a cab to the hotel where Kim and Ken are already installed in the bar (marvellously called “Backstage”), with beers in and food ordered. I check in and join them, then Gabi arrives and we eat expensive but welcome club sandwiches and chat. We’re in Frederiksberg and the venue is at the other end of a very long street. There’s a vaguely retro feel to the shops, but everything is very clean, Copenhagen is a large, spread out city. The venue when we eventually reach it, is a sort of sports hall (with pitches at either side). There are 100 or so folks sitting around (at 6.30pm) waiting for something to happen.
The hardcore are already here, Tea on Neptune, So-Cal, Yasuko, Astral Chris and a load of other regulars are in the middle but there are three doors which open outwards, there’s going to be a scramble. It gets organised when the efficient lady bouncer bosses them around. We all wiggle to the side as the queue moves back. The tickets are scanned with barcode machines (the first time I’ve seen this, what a great idea) and we get frisked (second time today, they were very thorough when I changed planes at Schipol), then we’re in.
There are seats at either side and up at the back, but all the queue people have gone directly for front and centre. We easily slot in on the far right, Jonny-wards, one row back. It’s already very hot and Kim ducks out and goes back to the seats before Willie Mason, his teenage drummer and crusty violinist come on. He is a bit one note. Damn it, in the USA they’re getting The Black Keys as the support. However, he is prompt and off after exactly 30 minutes.
The crew setting up are reassuringly familiar. Ken stands between me and some rowdy Danish skin-head types with Gabi to one side and for a while Petter is behind me. Unbelievably I’ve almost forgotten how great it is to be (almost) at the front. After the last show especially, to be able to see at all is a huge relief. A sense memory kicks in.
The intro radio interference noise starts at 9pm. It goes dark, there is a minute or more of bewildering samples before the band come on stage. The Rhodes is up front. They play Everything In Its Right Place. Everyone claps along. The band don’t look nervous. They’re all grinning! I’m grinning! The feeling is switched on. They play The Bends, they play some new ones, they play Let Down and Copenhagen experiences what might be its largest ever collective orgasm…
Thom plays a tiny three piece drum kit and thumps hell out of it. Jonny bows his Fender for Pyramid Song. There is some shaky percussive fruit. “Show us your fruit!” I keep saying “fucking hell.” This is the band of, oh, ten years ago? This band is enjoying itself and playing rock and noisy cathartic and wonderful. I’m so happy my boys are back.
By the end I’m soaking wet and speechless. People hug me. Yasuko hugs me for ages, as knocked out as I am. Kim had a good view from the seats. These people get it. I try to avoid the front and centre faction, Ange gets it, but the yanks? I don’t understand. Why the long face? I gather myself.
We get moved out to the foyer. I pop my head around the door and spot Big Colin ushering folks backstage, I get no response to my greeting and it doesn’t bother me right now. We head outside to get soft drinks and walk back to the hotel.
In the bar we flake out and get beers. The UK gang all enjoyed it. Tea on N has a face on because she didn’t like the new stuff (well give it a chance love!) I end up reminiscing with Astral Chris and Ken. Some of the roadies come in for a drink, Duncan and Graham the soundman, they’re all staying here, Plank and Colin and a few more. Not much of an aftershow then? The bar closes at 1.30am but they let us finish up and it’s 2 before I get back to the room where Kim is still half awake. We giggle. Our boys are back.