The drive to Rouen is not so long, and so we take the time to lounge around and scratch our arses. Amande Diantre and Ben are staying elsewhere so Aaron and I take to the streets, and breakfast on omelettes, before retiring to the flat to read Hemmingway (him) and emails (me). At 13.00, Amande Diantre and Ben appear, we collect the car and hit the road to Rouen, passing along the riverside and a huge funfair which includes a ride that bears a striking resemblance to an ejaculating penis.
Rouen has a one-way system the likes of which causes grown men to weep and after driving down many dead-end streets we arrive at Le Shari Vari, and wait for the promoter, because the venue manager doesn’t seem overly interested in letting us in the venue, or even talking to us. Perhaps he is related to Joan of Arc and is still irritated by that burning-at-the-stake thing 500 years ago. Large parts of the city still look like they’re 500 years old, and some of the timber buildings lean so much we commence to feel very sorry indeed for the painters and decorators here.
Wallpapering must be a fucking nightmare.
Marie the promoter arrives with friends and they are a very friendly bunch indeed, and excited to see us, and Marie takes me to the hotel and carpark after we have loaded our gear in, then she and I walk back to the venue where cold beers are waiting, although after just one day on tour I have decided to stop drinking, since the band and Amande Diantre do enough drinking to keep everyone happy, and I hear that driving whilst drunk is not deemed to be appropriate behaviour around these parts.
The venue is a dark, dank cave of a room, with very few lights, and the basement (which serves as our backstage area) is even darker, with even fewer lights and I cannot see how we get out of here with all of our limbs intact tonight. But with a capacity of around 140, standing shoulder to shoulder, and with a PA that almost reaches the ceiling, and with a ceiling that’s barely higher than the floor, the scene is set for a very intimate show. We are also impressed with the light-show, which seems to have been culled from an illegal rave venue in Central Scotland, sometime around 1992.
We are to be fed at a friend of Marie’s and so we walk there, past a colossal cathedral so spectacularly menacing and Gothically foreboding we half-expect to see Batman.
Or Robert Smith.
We dine on raclette cheese, and many vegetables, and some jambon for those so inclined.
The wine flows and Ben and Aaron are in good spirits, posing idiotically for the camera.
Sated, we return from whence we came and prepare for the show. The venue is packed and I get down the front with the camera and to see the laser light-show, ducking out after the fourth track (‘Lights on a Leash’) so that those who have paid to see the show can see it without my mug in the way.
^’Lights on a Leash’
Those who have paid to see the show appear very happy with it (particularly the lads at the front who seem more interested with how the band are making the sounds they’re making than what the sounds they’re making sound like) and the merch stall does a brisk trade.
The venue manager does not seem overly interested in people hanging around his venue once the show is over and we are encouraged to leave, tout de suite, which is fine with us, because we are tired, and after loading out we drive back to the hotel to sleep. Except Ben. Ben does not do this. Ben decides that nothing will do but he must party with Marie the promoter and her friends, and does so, until the early hours of the morning, when he returns and tells his roommate (Aaron) all about the debauchery that has taken place, and which I feel duty-bound to keep from you, in order to protect your delicate sensibilities.
Ah, fuck it: