Just woke on the bus and stumbled blearily into the front lounge. We’re parked outside the venue, “Nosturi”, in Helsinki and snow is falling onto an already monochrome landscape. To our left is a bay, the existence of which you’d only recognise for the fact there are ships everywhere, though knowing what is water and what is land is difficult as all is frozen and blanketed in white. Funny seeing boats seemingly parked in snow. To the right is the venue and, beyond it, a road where cars move slowly, tyres spinning in sludge.
I make my breakfast of porridge and coffee and sit gazing out of the window. People walk along the roadside dressed head to toe for this icy climate and a woman walks just past the bus in black snorkel parka, ski pants and trainers. I continue my day dream and then notice the same woman walk back again. Then she’s walking back the other way, and back again, a constant diagonal which seems to have no real point and no beginning or end. What is she doing, I’m wondering and soon it starts to bug me a little. I know it’s no business of mine, she has every right to walk pointlessly up and down past the front of our bus, but it’s one of those things that get to you after a while, or to me at least, like many repetitive actions that seemingly have no meaning. Finally I realise that, hidden in the snorkel hood, she’s wearing earphones and I guess she’s attempting to have a private conversation outside. You wouldn’t want to stand still in cold like this after all.
Last night we travelled from Riga in Latvia where we played the “Palladium”, probably my gig of the tour so far. Of course we’d never played Latvia before and so didn’t know what to expect. Riga itself has a really interesting feel to it; seeming culturally distinct from other former Eastern-bloc countries we’ve travelled through on this trip, leaning towards Scandinavia but with its own thing going on. There was a palpable excitement in the crowd from early in the evening, both Jay Leighton and The Ramona Flowers getting vociferous and enthusiastic reactions and, as the time approached for us to take the stage, the restlessness intensified. For me it was one of those magical shows when everything flows like honey, we’re all perfectly in our stride as a band and there’s this incredible, almost ecstatic communication between us and the audience.
We boarded the bus in high spirits and started Jonny’s birthday celebrations early (it’s actually today) which led to many a groggy head this morning. In a way it was a double celebration with our approach to Helsinki. You see it’s become a little tour joke, at least with our band and crew, a joke that’s taken on bigger and bigger relevance as the tour went on. Before we even started out our techie, Geezer, was posting Monty Python’s “Finland” song on the crew Facebook page and, before long, you couldn’t mention the place without a rousing chorus of “Finland, Finland, Finland!!!” Of course it’s exciting going to places we’ve never been before and I was really intrigued about coming here but it’s taken on almost cult status in the build up over the past few weeks and, in the light of that, everything’s been leading us here.
Shame they didn’t write a song for Latvia though. That place went straight to my heart.