(Where we say goodbye to Civil Civic, and try and get some sleep)
We wake early and attempt to depart before the sun has any heat in it. I have been asked by Aaron if I will share the driving, and do as I am asked. He passes around the photos of last night’s swim and I pray that the one of me looking like I am at a frat-party with my bros in the summer of ’86 never sees the light of day. We scout for a river to swim in and find one. Ben is straight in, while Amande Diantre and I don’t feel the vibe so much. Amande Diantre votes for a lake outside Angouleme, but by the time we get there the sun is away and only she bathes. I am tired, as usual, not having slept much, as usual, and rest my eyes in the car, while Aaron wanders off on his own and we worry about him for approximately four seconds.
By and by we find ourselves in Bordeaux and it’s like being back in London: the venue owner does not say one word to us when he opens and the sound engineer follows suit, blanking my ‘bonjour’ twice. It is the first time we’ve been worried pre-show. Mattieu the promoter arrives, laden with foodstuffs and is friendly and excited about the gig. We begin the soundcheck. It sounds terrible. We elect Amande Diantre as the link between the band and the engineer, since we figure that he might be more susceptible to her female charms and French language skills, on account of her being French, and being able to translate such terms as ‘bright’, ‘boost’, ‘tinny’ and so on. Also, he has a cough that only those about to die of lung cancer have, and we figure it better that the last person he sees alive is French and pretty.
Half way though the check the PA’s bottom-end starts farting like a goose and it is clear to one and all that something is up. The engineer says that it happens from time to time and off he goes backstage to fix it, the amp being the issue, he figures. He fixes it. We hope. We finish checking, not confident. The venue is a basement cavern with a very low ceiling and, like everywhere else in France, no-one pays any attention to the smoking ban. We eat heartily of a delicious home cooked meal, then two of my pals from London arrive: Audrey (from Bordeaux, used to DJ at Luminaire) and Dan (from Bedford, used to accompany Audrey when she used to DJ at Luminaire). They are living in Bordeaux now and take me for a drink and to school my ass about Bordeaux. Dan is full of amusing facts and I am glad of their company, my head not being in an especially good place at this time, for one reason or another.
Returning to the venue we set up the merch stall and note that the place is rammed, indicating that Bordeaux is indeed a Civil Civic fan-stronghold, as we’d heard. After a couple of tracks of awful sound, the engineer requests that I speak to him directly, since this relaying-messages system is not working out for him. No shit. The temperature in the room is hotter than the face of the sun and I note that, ropey sound aside, the band are enjoying themselves tremendously. I also note that the audience are also enjoying themselves tremendously, what with the moshing and slamming and crowdsurfing (in a 150 cap. room). The sound improves as the set progresses, but the audience don’t really give a shit either way and by this time Ben is absolutely drenched in sweat, like someone just pulled him out of a bath.
Two encores later the merch stand does a roaring trade with all manner of heads fiending for autographs, and holy shit if that wasn’t the best reaction we’ve had anywhere then slap my arse and call me a liar. I lament leaving my camera backstage and manage only to shoot a couple of films on my phone. I say my goodbyes to the band and to Amande Diantre, for the tour is now over for me. After a sleep at Audrey and Dan’s I take a train to Toulouse, hire a car, and spend a week with a herd of cows, while the CC caravan rolls on out to Grenoble…