El Lokal, Zurich
Monday 31 March 2008
I had a comment on last night's blog from Frazer at Word Magazine. Apparently the staffers at Word are all in awe of Sleeveface, so all is forgiven. Maybe I should remind them of that when the Sleeveface book comes out in the Autumn. - I'd love to be in Word. Why don't I subscribe to Word? I should do. I read it every month. This month they featured 'Kill Your Friends' a new novel by Jon Niven. I had been recommended this a month or so ago by a friend of mine who works in the A&R of music publishing and I devoured it. It's a brilliant, hilarious, shocking read. I think all bands should read it before mailing their demo off to any major label. It bursts the bubble of those dreams so many people have. It also mocks my kind who often lull into thinking music really matters. I'll choose to ignore that though. Driving yesterday listening to Wowee Zowee and then Jackson C Frank, I'm happy to be dumb enough to let music soundtrack my life and I love it.
Anyway, today flies by wandering around Zurich, having lunch served by the grumpiest waiter known to man, and sitting in a hotel room fleshing out the various routings, hotels and other preparations we need to make for the remainder of this tour and the second forthcoming European dates in May. Tonight is the halfway point in this set of gigs which always feels like a landmark point.
It turns out to be the best show of the tour so far. The hospitality at El Lokal is second to none. Stephen, the resident sound guy, is so accommodating, and as he sits with us at dinner and talks us through the story of the venue, we both fall in love with the place. He tells us how Viktor, the owner, is incredibly passionate about music - handpicking the artistes to play there. Looking on the walls at photos of Will Oldham play this intimate venue, we realise we're in good company.
We get to meet Viktor before the show, and he gives Marissa and I gifts. No one else has done that. It's a simple, but genuine gesture. Chatting to Marissa he wonders if she'll play Cortez The Killer. That song was only available via a blog (and on a download with the US version of Songs III). You don't expect a man in his 50s to be so on the pulse. We like this guy.
It sets Marissa up for a wonderful show. Buoyed by the comments she works the mics more than ever - switching with dramatic effect between them all on one song. She tries to find the chords to Cortez, but unprepared she has to forget it and move on. She debuts another new song 'Mistress On A Sunny Day' and delivers stunning versions of 'Salutations' and 'Old Love'. There's two encores, for the final one she digs deep and remembers the tuning for Cortez, to huge rounds of applause. Leaving the stage a second time the crowd are still baying for more, turnin to laughter when Stephen tries to satisfy their hunger by putting on Marissa's CD over the PA...
The full setlist runs :
Fifty Five Falls
Famous Blue Raincoat
River Of Dirt
Mistress On A Sunny Day
I'm On Fire
Cortez The Killer
We chat to Vicktor after the show - he trialled for Arsenal for 18 months in 1972/73 before playing other serious football in London and Europe. He is a man with some history. It turns out Cat Power has played this venue half a dozen times. He gives us a home pressed, but artiste-approved CD with live songs from Will Oldham, Jaons Molina, Kurt Wagner and Ben Weaver, all recorded at the venue. We taste some beautiful single malt local whiskey, and he plies me with bottles of locally brewed beer to drink another time I'm not driving. We'll be coming back here, even if Marissa is selling 1,000 capacity venues on the next tour, as this is what music is all about.