I recline on the TGV to Paris and watch the countryside flash by at 186mph while the band, sound engineer George Bush and our booking agent Amande Diantre pour themselves into the gaps between the equipment in the car. My first sojourn on the Metro results in a descent into the role of ‘un touriste stupide’, walking on the wrong side of the corridors, getting jammed in the ticket gate and all the things that piss me off in London when trying to get past a group of Italians in bubble jackets who no doubt swagger about Rome with great conviction but act like lobotomised Alzheimer’s patients on foreign soil.
A cold shower in the salubrious environs of Hotel Ramey restores my frayed confidence and I navigate myself around the Metro to the venue; La Plage de Glazart, a beach, in the grounds of a venue with sand and everything. We’re met by Artist Liaison Leila who plies us with beer and drinks tokens, and by Pierre, one of the organisers of the famed La Route du Rock festival, and CC’s booking agent for France (with Amande Diantre taking care of the rest of Europe). I throw dignity down the toilet and fan-boy around Buke & Gass who’re playing just before us. They’re exhausted from touring but put themselves across as real nice people, suffering our boisterousness with equanimity and we swap stories over dinner backstage, which – for the vegetarians – consists of green leafs and cakey-bread. The carnivores put on some cooked chicken and potatoes while Ben goes hunting for a large rat he’s spotted wandering around the faux-foliage nearby. We dick around until Buke & Gass take the stage. They’re great: all gnarly bass, discordant mids and tops, bound together with melodic barbed-wire. A treat, a genuine delight.
Our show is loud and fun and punchy and we make many new friends over cocktails and pizza afterwards, culminating in a remarkable human pyramid and lots of drinking of €9 beers in order to numb the pain of the beers costing €9. A taxi takes us back to the hotel then George Bush, Amande Diantre and I climb the steps to Sacre Coeur to see the view over Paris at 3am. The ground is stained with piss, littered with empty bottles of cheap wine and they’ve turned Le Tour Eiffel’s lights off to conserve energy. C’est merde. We retire, the three of us, to a bed best suited to a four year old with a growth disorder, and attempt to sleep.