Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Europe: 4 Nights, 4 Cities!

Greetings friends! A number of you emailed me to ask if I was going to do a review of the Gulf Shores show. Thanks for checking in, but ... well ... I can't write about it cuz I wasn't there!

Why you ask?

Well, because, as much as I love Jon Bon Jovi and the boys, I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to Europe for the first part of the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes tour. It was a QUICK trip, but man, we packed a lot into those four days!

Day One: Amsterdam

After a slightly bumpy and raucous crossing, I arrived at my first destination. Okay, I gotta say … y’all know I’m a New Yorker … things move pretty fast here. But that didn’t prepare me AT ALL for Amsterdam. It’s a well-known fact that the Dutch like to bike everywhere, but seriously … there were things coming at me from every direction – trams, bikes, buses, bikes, little cars, bikes, mopeds, bikes, bikes, BIKES! I think I stood there for a good ten minutes trying to cross the street in front of our hotel. It was like being in the middle of an endless video game.

So after dropping my bag at the hotel, I went out in search of coffee (not a surprise I guess LOL.) It was refreshing to not see a frickin’ Starbucks on every corner. In my jet-lagged state I made a beeline for the first coffee shop I could find … ahh! … but one must remember, this is AMSTERDAM. There are coffee shops and there are “coffee shops” where you can get a side of java with your order of cannabis. At this point, I’ve had about 1.5 hours of sleep in the last 36 … you can imagine what happened … walked in and was like “this is the strangest smelling coffee ever” … LOL.

Eventually found coffee and walked around the canals looking at shops and taking in the charms of the city. Made it back to hotel in time to welcome my crazy German girls who were travelling in from all over. After a great reunion, we headed out for a bit to eat before the show. (note: the Dutch make the best mayonnaise I have ever tasted…and with amazing fries! … and thus began the healthy eating during this trip ... oh lordy!)

Ok … I had heard over and over again how great the Paradiso is as a venue. As a musician and a fan of music, I have played in and seen A LOT of music halls both in the States and all over the world … but this place really IS special. An old church that has been converted, there is a main floor and then these fabulous balconies overlooking the stage. There's a wonderful intimacy to the place and with the backdrop of the incredible stained-glass windows, it was an unforgettable experience.

As for the show itself, Jukesfans know that this has been a challenging time as of late. As a result, emotions were definitely running high … but so was the energy of the band. It’s amazing what the human spirit can do in times of adversity. The crowd was great and that helped and inspired the band even more, I believe.

I love that most Jukes shows are general admission … this was my vantage point for this extraordinary night. Nice, huh?

*that would be me on the right*

Here are some of the funny moments I remember…

During “Paris” when Johnny got to the first line of the chorus which is “Paris you're a drug, you won't let go…” and at that exact moment, this HUGE waft of marijuana smoke drifted to the stage. Haha.

When Johnny got frustrated (no worries...that’s a regular occurrence) and chucked his harmonica at the back of the stage and almost took out Eddie’s head! By the way, the horns were on fire during this show. And the famous "dance moves" by Neal and Chris were a sight to see!

Southside is so great with the fans and at one point he took this guy’s camera-phone and began throwing it around the stage. Later in the tour you'll hear about him taking both my camera and Steffi's and taking pictures with it! Anyhoo, Sandy got this great photo when SSJ handed the phone back to the guy.

I hadn't really told anyone I was going (other than my crazy German girls of course) so it was nice to meet so many Jovi/Jukesfans at the Paradiso - both from the States and from overseas. It was also fun to see the looks on some of the band members' faces when they saw me there ... and what a nice welcome from Johnny, which Sandy captured on video.

As usual, the set was called out as they went along ... which always leaves room for absolutely amazing moments like this incredible tribute to Solomon Burke (who passed away en route to play at the Paradiso last week.)

Exhausted from the show and after SEVERAL bottles of wine and a whole lotta chocolate, we all finally crashed into bed! What an unforgettable day!

And that was just the beginning ...

.... stay tuned for Day 2: Melle, Germany

p.s. I was bummed to only be in Amsterdam for less than 24 hours. I definitely have to go back ... so many places I'd like to see there. And heck! who could not like a city that has the Museum of Bags and Purses?! No joke!!