Tag Archives: Aftershow

Looking for Europe 8: Budapest – Floating!

June 4th

Budapest! It was a beautiful day again, and the city is stunning!

After a somewhat inadequate amount of sleep we went for a breakfast wander. Very little was open; it turned out it was Pentecost, which I’d forgotten, but we found an incredible café, which blew my mind by serving my iced tea packed with forest fruits! It was already hot by then, we just wanted to jump in the fountains!

We wandered back to the hostel to pick up swim things, admiring all the beautiful buildings on the way, then headed to find a spa. Budapest is famously full of amazing thermal spas and grand bath houses, so it was something we both felt we had to try, especially since we were in need of a bit of relaxation. The first one we went in was too big and imposing for someone who’d had very little sleep, so we went to a smaller one; it didn’t look much from the outside but was perfect for us. It had a lovely little swimming pool so we chilled out, swam some lengths, then went to the gorgeous thermal pools. The main pool was octagonal, surrounded by pillars holding up a beautiful domed roof with coloured glass stars set into it, with the sun shining through them onto the water. We hung out in there, wowing, for a while, then tried the little corner pools, which turned out to be set to different temperatures, 28, 30, 33 and 42oC. I didn’t go in the cold one but went in the others. When I put my foot into the 42 oC pool I thought it was going to cook me! But I stepped back in… and eventually got in fully… and then decided I didn’t want to leave!! Cook me anytime, please! 😀 Eventually we went back to the main hot pool, and floated where the light shone through the stars… 😉 A quick last swim in the pool to get rid of the very slightly smelly mineral water, then we wandered back. On failing again to find a shop, we ended up eating at a Hungarian restaurant, where I was served a nice stew of peppers, and some mind-numbingly fiery fresh chillis, which I took as a challenge and was indeed victorious! It felt good. Then it was back once again to the hostel to get ready for the show, and back out.

It was all so beautiful! Amazing, elaborate architecture, beautiful hills including one with a church built into it, patterned roofs, and the Danube cutting right through the middle of the city. We could see the venue, a boat on the river, so it was very easy to find. A friend we’d met in Germany was there already, so we went in and had a drink on the deck with him and a guy from Ecuador but living in Spain, who had a Where I Belong banner with him. I told him I had one too but I’d make sure his got on stage this time.

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VIP was on time this time, but later in the day and very short. When we got in, the guys were just jamming together; it sounded incredible, very different to when they’re performing something, and they were all turned to face one another, so it was great seeing how they interacted. At one point, Jon looked like he was teaching Drew a riff… were they learning something new?? It was really fun to watch anyway and they were all showing a lot of skill and looking like they were enjoying themselves. Then they said hi, and played us Learning to Breathe, which was just lovely.

At Meet ‘n’ Greet the band got given a gingerbread artwork and a Hungarian football shirt. And Jude was all the giggles! She had her hair in Princess Leia buns and gave the guys a bunch of silly Star Wars themed gifts to go with a Star-Wars-punning poster she’d made to promote Bro Am…! She even brought some bubble wands that looked like light sabres. Legend. Drew used the bubble light sabre to make bubbles, and Chad rolled up the poster and used that as a light sabre, complete with sound effects, to pop them!

I had composed the guys another letter on the journey (written into a card I made at 5am in the hostel!) and I handed it to Chad; I had a job getting him to take it, I think he was surprised I was giving it to him but I had written a message to each of them this time, with only one (silly) line in it for Jon, so I was keen for one of the others to take it. I asked how they were as they all looked so tired, and thanked them for putting themselves through all this for us. My friend prayed with Jon at the end and encouraged him to keep writing. Jon said he couldn’t help it, he didn’t know how to stop, so I said ‘Please, don’t ever!!’ 😀 Music addict 🙂

The show – wow! I was shattered by this point and had trouble staying awake through the opening band, even though they were again really good, and extremely loud, and using a lot of strobe lighting. I literally was falling asleep. But then the crowd got really hyped up. There was a lot of chanting, silly selfies, sitting on the stage, Switchfoot puns…

Then they were on!

So many feels. As predicted, the awesome Romanian crowd was indeed there again; the room absolutely erupted when Jon asked who was from Romania! Again you could tell they were thinking they needed to play a show there, and they actually asked where they should try to play if they came (Cluj!) There were also fans there from India, Dubai, Nigeria, and of course us, and we all got a little shout out. Jon also remarked how amazing Budapest is, and that it isn’t a place they ever hear of in the USA, though he thought they should – we were quite surprised!

Jon took the mic stand into the crowd to sing When We Come Alive and Love Alone…, and got up on the bar to sing. Someone had a Love Alone… banner that he held up on stage. He came back right through the crowd to where I was stood, so I helped lift him back up onto the stage. Everyone started ‘Oreo’ing again after the song supposedly finished so Jon had to sing some more of it!

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Jon once again picked me out to sing ‘Don’t let go’ to in Needle, the same line he’d sung me at an earlier show. Deliberate? Probably not, but I wonder if he thought I might… But I got a lot more interaction in general. All four of them who could move were right up front a lot, leaning right out over us and easily within touching distance. Romey spent more time than ever up front with the guitar playing to the crowd, almost more than he was at the back with the keys!

They were having a lot of fun on stage that night, with each other and with the crowd. Drew soloed like crazy, totally original as ever. And he and Jon had some fun with Where The Light Shines Through (WTLST); there’s a section where they break it down and sort of play solo tennis, Jon playing a phrase and Drew playing a reply. This time Jon had a mischievous look in his eye; he gave Drew some really weird solo lines, and it seemed like they were messing with one another, trying to throw one another off by playing the unexpected, but they were both coming up with awesome ‘replies’ each time! That was very funny to watch! The ‘samba breaks’ were epic too!

Jon came over to me as he introduced WTLST, took my banner, and this time handed me it straight back saying ‘thank you, it’s beautiful!’ He came over as they began Where I Belong too, again as if to ask for the banner, but this time though I had it in my hand I didn’t hand it to him, and instead turned around to look for the other fan’s one. Sure enough it made its way to the front and Jon took that one and held it up instead. Then during the song I got mine out and a bunch of us held it up at the front for a bit… until Jon took it anyway to wear/ use as a towel!

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They stuck completely to the setlist this time, but got encored again twice, so they played Mess Of Me, We Are One/ Shadow Proves…, and then as they couldn’t finish with the crowd going so crazy and Jon having so much fun, he carried on and played 24, the others rejoining him at the end again. For the second encore, Jon came back on wearing the Hungarian football shirt – and turned round part way through the song to reveal that it had ‘Foreman 24’ written on the back! The crowd went wild!

Towards the end the crowd was giving them so much love and encoring so much the guys all had big teary smiles, Drew, Jon and Romey especially, which was so sweet to see. I can’t get enough of Drew smiling like that! I applauded them all a whole lot, and managed to mouth ‘thank you!’ to both Drew and Romey. And at the very end, Drew came over and emotionally clasped big handfuls of our hands in his saying ‘thank you, thank you’. It was the best feeling seeing them feeling the love. I managed to catch Josh and Chico packing down to say thank you too as well.

Afterwards we stayed on the boat as there was a rumour Jon wanted to play an aftershow on the deck; in any case, an aftershow seemed inevitable! The tweet eventually went out, aftershow on the boat in 15 minutes… but then the staff cleared the venue so we decamped to the gangway and waited there. And then after a while, a clean Jon emerged with a detuned guitar, ready to be packed away, and he led us down onto the steps of the Danube, playing there for us with the city lights reflecting on the water behind him. He joked that the river was ‘exactly like the Pacific Ocean.’! I got front row again, wearing the Where I Belong banner partly because it was wet again 😛 and needed to dry out, and partly because it had actually turned cool and windy by then, I think there had been a storm whilst we were inside.

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Thanks to Jude for capturing this shot!

He played Caroline, The Moon Is A Magnet (WOW! There was indeed a pretty moon, though it wasn’t full and kept hiding behind clouds. Very special!), Vice Verses (he asked did we want a sad song or an upbeat song, and started strumming Just Rob Me! But though I confess I voted for both, Vice Verses won; someone called out we’d had lots of upbeat at the show and it was time for a sad one), and Your Love Is Strong, with everyone singing.

At the end, he said to us that in his mind, the perfect way this would end would be for us all to leave as equals; ‘No elevation, no photos; we’re all one family here, we leave as equals…’ It was both very smart, and very sweet! I let him go; but I did stop him briefly as he passed me just to thank him sincerely for this tour, and I found myself clasping his hand again, just as in Mannheim. And then he was gone, with minimal mobbing. We waved him off and cheered as he returned to the boat down the gangway.

Jude was top of the world as while that was happening she’d met Drew again to hug and thank! We went back to the hostel; a whole group of us across the bridge, then four of us back to get a taxi from the hostel, then after some deep late night conversations with new friends we dropped the other guys off en route and headed to the airport.

We spent an uncomfortable night on the floor of the deserted airport, me wrapped in the banner to keep warm. At 4am the place began to fill up… and suddenly I spotted Josh amongst the crowds, pulling two huge cases of gear!! :O Sure enough, sooner or later we spotted most of the others, and witnessed them checking in the most enormous mountain of kit. That was quite a sight. They were on the flight after ours!! We stayed well out of their way and out of sight at the other end of the check-in hall, and went off to get ourselves some much needed coffee as soon as the café was opened, then checked in for our flight. We saw most of the guys eventually come through security and head to the lounge, looking beyond tired 😦 Love them so much! Their flight was announced just after ours was, their gate was in the same area as ours, and as we boarded, the last person we saw was Romey walking towards it. As our plane took off, we saw theirs pulling out from the terminal (tears!), and then we flew directly over the venue and aftershow spot (more tears!!) and away from them.

Oh the love miles!! Such pain of being pulled (temporarily!) away from these lovely guys, and so many wonderful new friends across the continent and world. I knew I was going to miss everyone so much. I just wanted to stay and hang out with everyone… oh my heart! It was all beautiful, and I cannot wait for more. ‘147 days!!’*

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Read Part 7 here

*I set up a countdown app on my phone when the first tour date was announced; as they announced more dates for the autumn whilst still with us, I reset the countdown on the last day of the tour to give myself something to look forward to when they were gone 🙂

Looking for Europe 5: Cologne, the family gathering

May 31st

Alas we had to leave Basel! We travelled to Köln, and had a short time to look around the cathedral and hang out in the hostel before it was show time again!

We immediately met some friends outside the venue and hung out chatting to them and other SwitchFam for a while. Then Jon came out, and came over to us; we said hi and I told him we’d managed to book new trains and that I was so excited as I’m as much a fan of his solo work as Switchfoot. He wouldn’t look at my requests; he said it’s not how it works, I’d have to add them to the pieces of paper at the show and build the set list like that! Then suddenly some other fans noticed him, and he got somewhat mobbed for autographs and selfies! That would have been me two years ago! He’s so sweet, and it was really lovely seeing fans meeting him for the first time, though I feel a bit bad for him.

At the sound check before we got let in we heard them playing a song we didn’t recognise – was it a cover, or a new song?!? And then Lonely Nation and Saltwater Heart, oh how we wanted to be in there!! Eventually they let us in, and the treats continued as they played Restless and, on request, What It Costs! Tim was brilliant, despite forgetting the words, it was a very special moment. Here are my videos of Restless and What It Costs; unfortunately I meant it when I said I’d taken too many picures in Basel and my camera was getting so full it wasn’t filming properly, so there’s a couple of recording gaps, but you get the idea.

The venue was beautiful, an old theatre with red curtains and retro lighting, and a modern café out front with coloured glass blocks in the walls and ceilings ‘where the light shines through’. We met some more lovely fans, a fun guy visiting from the US, and several Latin American fans.

At Meet ‘n’ Greet my t-shirt (the Wonderlands bird) got some comments, the guys said they don’t see many of those (I said it’s a favourite!), and they liked it (I handed Jon the credit for that!). Then I got my Where I Belong banner in the picture – we got in a mess holding it up somehow with me on the wrong side of it, and all ended up laughing in the picture and the guys mucking about with it, it was funny! Anyway I was next to Tim so I took the opportunity to thank him for playing What It Costs, that I’d wanted to hear that for a long time, and I told them that EP (The Edge Of The Earth, TEOTE) is my favourite. They said they thought it was good too! I told them I thought it was so well crafted. Tim said he wanted to play the song TEOTE (I said yeah!), and I said my dream was to hear Slow Down My Heartbeat live – I’d heard it just once on big speakers and it was huge, it would be epic live, they were like ‘wow, yeah!’ and Tim did impressions of the crashing drums (Drew – ‘definitely mouth drums there…’).

Then the show; Jude got to stand sidestage after the really awesome opening band (at one point all playing the drums at once, and breaking a piano stool at the end!). When we saw her appear there we all went crazy like she was the band, and she was working the crowd like a pro! It was so much fun!

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The set list was nothing new in spite of the awesome sound check, but it was amazing as the crowd was really hyped! Another fan (guy!) up front near me was ‘fangirling’ before they came on, asking if anyone could name one bad Switchfoot song as he didn’t think it possible – I told him even better, that there wasn’t one bad Jon Foreman song at all! I showed him my Wonderlands t-shirt and got a high five! But that crowd – wow! Crowd surfing, moshing, chanting, 3 encores..! Jon said again it was one of his favourite shows and thanked the crowd for making it.

They actually went mostly for gentler songs, a lot of ‘campfire’ with Only Hope, Hello Hurricane, Live It Well, Dare, 24. During the first encore we finally got a disco ball for Float, which was just the best thing ever, and I Won’t Let You Go and Dare. The second encore they played Stars and something else (we all have forgotten what it was – clearly enjoying ourselves too much to make a note of it!), and the third encore 24, with just Jon to begin with and the others coming on at the end. A lot of the concert I just spent soaking in the beautiful music (Only Hope, Dare, 24), or vocals (those yells on Float and especially WIB… wow!). They added Oh Gravity to the set but didn’t play Healer Of Souls. It was awesome though; Romey came to the front a lot, they all came over to where I was stood and at times could hardly be playing closer. Tim broke a sweat, the first time I’ve seen that as he always looks the definition of cool! And I high fived him and Chad at the end, and even Jon at one point – I don’t usually bother trying to touch the guys when they’re up front taking hands, but it felt right that time, I wanted to thank and congratulate them.

I got some eye contact from Jon and Drew at times, including when Jon was introducing Where I Belong and Where The Light Shines Through (WTLST) and he came over to where I was stood and looked to me as if to ask for the banners! When I gave him them he held them up and introduced them to the crowd ‘A friend of mine made this beautiful artwork…’ Wow! And this time he handed them back to me himself too 🙂 There was also a moment when Jon sang part of a song ‘with me’; quite often he’ll make eye contact with us whilst singing, but only for a line or less, but this was a good couple of lines, and we sang it to each other with big grins on both our faces! That was so much fun that I actually forgot which song it happened during, as immediately afterwards I was just left thinking ‘Wow, I can’t believe that just happened!!’!

I loved the way Jon was directing things tonight, I even noticed him calling what were effectively samba breaks in WTLST with the guys! And he’s got me in on the performance too! He’s really in charge 🙂

Then, naturally, there was an aftershow, over in the pretty square by the amazing old church down the street. He was going to play in the middle of the square but there was a disapproving-looking statue there, so Jon said ‘Let’s not play here, he doesn’t look very impressed!’ and took us over to the trees instead! He played Restless, June and Johnny (as good live as recorded! So lovely!), Just Rob Me (even funnier, he cracks me up!! We gave him a really great ‘traditional German’ YEEEEEEHAH!, much to the bemusement of passers by!), and Your Love Is Strong. He thanked us all for doing this at the end(!) and said that it’s so special to him – oh my heart!! I thanked him and totally let him go this time with the crowd following him. That was hard but absolutely the right thing to do.

I went back to the hostel with a bunch of other fam who were also staying there or nearby, singing songs in the street (Enough To Let Me Go, appropriate as I just did 🙂 ), and then back in the hostel on the guitar (I had a good growl by then from screaming so much, so it was fun to sing!) – Southbound Train, Vice Verses, Thrive, Learning To Breathe, This Is Your Life, all with all the JonForemanisms replicated exactly! An after-aftershow. I love the SwitchFam! What a beautiful night 🙂

Read Part 4 here and Part 6 here

 

Looking for Europe 3: Paris – therapy

May 28th

Well that was healing! What an incredible show!

The day did not start well, waking up at 4am with a heavy heart and having to pack down a dew-drenched tent and carry it to the car, then getting lost en route and almost missing the train. But miracles happened; time dilated somehow so we arrived just on time, and the train was delayed and the staff sympathetic. We made it! And we got to the hostel ok, and even got our room early so we could shower and change before the show (much needed in the heat!), though we ended up in a stressful rush but then had to wait ages for the VIP event.

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But when we eventually did get in, Switchfoot were soundchecking Holy Water and Oh Gravity, two of the best songs I’ve ever heard live! That was really awesome. Because Meet and Greet was running late I barely got a chance to tell Jon about last night, but I got to say a bit and told him this show was my therapy. I worried afterwards it had sounded more of a moan than an apology for not being there/ ‘this-is-what-you-mean-to-me’ as I’d meant it to be. But he sympathised a little and told me there would be other aftershows… and then made everything worse by telling me, casually, he was playing a solo show in the UK, that week, whilst we are travelling!!

I was literally speechless. I think I just stared open mouthed with my head going ‘Nooo!!! Why didn’t I know this?! I cannot miss two solo shows in a week after waiting all these years?!’

I cried crazy tears after that, on the pavement outside the venue, partly at the irony of this, partly the despair, partly the ridiculousness of my silly self! I have issues for sure 😀 Then it got surreal. Jude went to buy a drink, but came back with a massive box of salad from a deli, absolutely not the sort of thing I expected to find in a random Paris backstreet, nor the sort of thing one can easily eat standing up! So there I was, on the pavement outside the venue, freaking out in tears, eating an amazing, messy, crazy vegan salad box and finding it all hilarious 😀 Oh Jon, what are you doing to me?! We met some more wonderful French and American SwitchFam though (including a sweet guy who lent Jude a phone charging pack for the night), and enjoyed hanging out. If any of you are reading this; I do apologise for the state I was in!

Then the show! A fun, sweary band opened for them, with amazing rhythms and time signature changes. Then Switchfoot came on with a totally rocked out set! It was crazy, hot and sweaty, so rocked out, and the guys were just having a great time. It was the first time they’d ever played in France! They were so happy to be there, and the crowd was overjoyed to be hosting them. I got front row near Drew, so I got to watch his soloing and guitar work up close. The stage was very low, and the venue small and intimate, which made for an incredible show.

Watching my videos back from this show after I returned I have to admit that they are truly terrible, there’s just noise and sweaty people and jumping; but they do give a good feel for how rocked-out this one was and what it was like to be front row there, so I’ve still put them online. Here are Sabotage, Bull In A China Shop and Stars, hope I don’t make you seasick 😉

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Jon came over and sang ‘Don’t let go’ to me during Needle, we brought out two packs of Oreos and danced with them during Love Alone (‘oreo, oreo…’), and though they almost played Healer Of Souls we got Sabotage instead, which I cannot complain about, it was much fun! Jon went into the crowd for Love Alone, and then as the energy was good he went right into Bull In A China Shop! Wow! There was some crazy Float dancing, which was fun! Jon gave one of his water bottles to a fan who was struggling with the heat. Then they brought it down a little and played Hello Hurricane and Only Hope in the middle of the crowd, 24, Live It Well and Dare.  Stars, Bull… and Live It Well really resonated with me that night, but it was 24 that brought on the tears again.

I could tell the guys were really enjoying themselves; even early on in the gig Jon told the crowd that night had the makings of one of being one of his favourite shows, and towards the end he echoed that, thanking France for the love and saying it was up there.

Then there was an aftershow, sadly cut short by the venue staff at just two songs, but it was still great. He played Before Our Time and Your Love Is Strong, though he was going to play Caroline (‘Is anyone here called Caroline?’ Random guy at the back: ‘I am!!’ ‘You’re the most beautiful Caroline I ever met!’ 😀 ) ‘Caroline’ got a couple of shoutouts at the end too 😀 I was right next to Jon and sang along… and then he was gone.

We both had dead phones by the end of the night and realised we were a bit stuck getting back to the hostel as I’d forgotten my paper map. We asked for directions, but in the end as it was a little complicated we ended up getting a lift back from our French friend, even though she only had one seat in her car and Jude had to hide in the boot! It made for a funny journey and a cute photo 😀

Wowowow! The very best therapy 🙂

Read Part 2 here and Part 4 here

 

Looking for Europe 1: Amsterdam, and not getting run over

(May 23-26th)

Bicycles.

I didn’t notice immediately. It took me a few moments to register, as I woke up on a bus outside Eindhoven station in the Netherlands. A woman was cycling past towards the station, and as my brain slowly caught up with my eyes, I realised that she cycled past rows, upon rows, upon rows of bicycles. Bicycle racks on every single pavement I could see, heaving with bikes. Bikes piled on top of bikes. Bikes chained to or propped up against every available surface. Bikes parked on the pavements. Bikes sailing down the street. By the end of the day I think I had seen more bicycles in 24 hours than I had in the rest of my 34 years put together. And I cycle! Welcome to the Netherlands.

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I had caught the bus the previous evening in London, after taking a train straight from work at 4:30pm that afternoon. The real tour nerves had kicked in about T -2; sitting at my desk, I had glanced up at the clock. 2:45pm. Almost 3. That’s almost 4, and that’s almost 4:30… Suddenly it was all happening, really soon, and I freaked out! I felt so dizzy and emotional I had to leave my desk and go and sit quietly in the kitchen for a bit with a cup of tea and take some deep breaths. It passed, but it was spectacular. And before too long I was signing off at work and catching my train!

This first part of the great adventure I was alone; I was due to meet up with my tour buddy Jude in Amsterdam. Jude is a fellow crazy Switchfoot fanatic who I met on the last tour and we have become the best of friends through our shared love of the band and general nuttiness. But she was travelling separately, and meeting me there. So I spent the journey daydreaming, birdwatching, reminiscing about the last tour, wishing there would be another full moon during this tour, and sitting out on deck on the midnight ferry, on my own, watching the waves in the dark, and listening to Darkness from The Wonderlands

After waking to what appeared to be The Great Bicycle Explosion Of 2017 it was a fairly short journey on to Amsterdam, where after some confusion I eventually managed to locate Jude, and we in turn managed to locate the hostel. We decided to take another train out to Haarlem to see Corrie Ten Boom’s house there that afternoon. When we got to Haarlem, we made the mistake of asking the sat nav to give us directions to get to the house. After telling us it was a ten minute walk, as we expected, it then led us on a 45 minute wild expedition right out across the very pretty town, to a silly yellow scarecrow advertising a carwash, before telling us to turn around and go back a different way to pretty much where we started!! We got there – it was very close to the station in a different direction. 😀 The house was amazing and moving, but that’s another story. We returned to find Amsterdam heaving with crazy drunken football fans, so once we’d got some food we took refuge in the hostel for the night.

Then it was show day, number 1 of 7!!

After a slow start, trying to sleep off the journey and crazy crowd, we got some iced tea and coffee as it was hot already, then went on a boat tour of the canals, which was beautiful way to chill out and see some more of the city. And not get run over.

I have never been so convinced I was going to be run over before in my life! Amsterdam is not the place to be as a pedestrian. Stepping out onto the street from the (usually narrow and crowded) pavement you have to dodge bikes, trams, bikes, cars, bikes, taxis and motorbikes, several lanes of each and all going in different directions. The lanes are not clearly marked, the crossings can take ages, trams seemed to run both ways on all the lines, and bikes often don’t stop for the crossings anyway. Once you’ve survived crossing one lane of traffic there’s often only a tiny thin refuge to stand on whilst you wait to cross the next lane, easily missed, and even once you think you’ve crossed successfully you can easily find yourself standing in the middle of a cycle lane without realising it until you find a motorcycle hurtling towards you! Even the pavements are so much the domain of the bicycle that we often had to walk on the road to dodge round parked and piled bikes. There were some close calls, but I’m glad to report that we are both still three dimensional. Don’t get run over..!

Then it was time for the first VIP event.

We met up with a couple of friends outside the venue, and were enjoying meeting in person for the first time when Switchfoot showed up, coming and going between their bus and the venue! We got to chat to them briefly as they went back and forth, Jon first and then the other guys too. They recognised Jude from being at the Switchfoot Getaway the previous year, which was lovely, but unsurprisingly didn’t recognise me. They had had horrible flight problems so looked exhausted, apart from Tim who had been over already with his family on holiday. We thanked each other for being there, and I told them I was glad they arrived ok, sympathised with their travel problems, and thanked them for bringing the sunshine with them! I confess I turned to jelly a little bit after re-meeting Jon for the first time then, but it was just fine after that.

There were big delays so we ended up standing round for ages before going in, so we had plenty of time to meet other fans. People were there from the Netherlands, Sweden, Indonesia, Germany, USA and more, and were all lovely! 🙂 Suddenly we could hear Switchfoot soundchecking House Burns and Mess Of Me from inside. I had been chatting, but when I heard that I just got so happy that whatever I was saying went out my head and I just gravitated to the door with a big goofy grin on my face, I had to listen! And then we got to go in just as they were finishing Mess and I went to the front and rocked out and sang like it was a show! They said hi to us, played Dark Horses, and asked how we were. It was my Dutch friend’s birthday, so they got everyone to sing her happy birthday, then asked for requests – and got them all! Eventually they chose to play us Souvenirs 🙂

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After that we lined up for photos – my friends and I got to the back of the queue and conspired! We had a plan to get a silly VIP photo involving moustaches in honour of Chad, who was born in Amsterdam. We got chatting to Josh (the merch guy/ guitar tech) a bit while we waited, and he said the guys were going to the sea in Brighton tomorrow, and we told him they should find time to go to the west coast sometime, and maybe play Boardmasters too.

Then it was my turn! They didn’t try to introduce themselves, I just went in and said hi to Chad and Drew and got to chat to them for a moment. Jude filmed as I got out my letter to Jon. I showed the guys I had chocolate coffee beans and before I’d even finished saying it Jon was just like ‘Give, give!!’ 😀 I said I thought they might be needed after all the travel, and he said ‘oh yeah!’ 😀 Then I introduced myself properly (‘Hi, I’m Helen, I write to you too much – and I’ve done it again!’) I handed him my letter, then the one from the SwitchFam (I blanked and forgot who!), and letters from friends from Nepal and India, and then the DVD of our spoof tour video. I said ‘I don’t know if you saw this but Jude and I spoofed your silly tour vid…’ and Jon straightaway said ‘Yes we did, that was amazing! You guys did a great job, you left out no detail, it was all in there. You must have spent ages on it’ I laughed, ‘Yeah you have no idea, 6 months..!’ 😀 And he remarked on my daisies – then I got his real attention for a moment – ‘Yes they’re my favourite, they’ve been really meaningful to me since way before there was a connection with you. I was so happy when you released that song!’ And he said they were very meaningful to him too, and even more so since he named his daughter after them. That was so lovely 🙂 By this point I was really trembling! I took out the ‘Europe is Where The Light Shines Through’ banner (which got some wows!) and got my picture with it. Jon had his arm round me so could definitely feel me shaking, very embarrassing! Then he asked for a picture just with me and the flag, which I was kind of blown away by 😀

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Then I got out the way for my friend’s VIP. She had a birthday sign and confetti cannons – which hilariously failed to go off and resulted in the funniest sequence of photos! I filmed it, they sang her happy birthday and there was a funny moment of confusion with the cannons before they ended up throwing the confetti! They chatted whilst Jude came out and had some lovely chats with them, recognising her and crowning her ‘queen of the UK fam!’.

And then the moustaches came out! The guys loved them! Chad took one and everyone was like ‘no you don’t need one!’ Romey put his on his head. The guys took lots of their own photos and had fun goofing around with them, and then we got our own photos – it was so funny 😀

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And oh I was so happy and so full of love! I know I was giving off the wrong impression but it’s so hard not to with fan love at this kind of level.

We had time to run and get a takeaway and come back and line up. I got some amazing falafels, super spicy and messy! And I got to take a fried aubergine to a show. Never done that before.

The stage was super high but we got in first and went to the middle 🙂 Army Of Bones opened and were really good. I was really excited when I heard they would be opening for Switchfoot, that’s near perfect for me, especially as I had missed seeing Martin Smith’s previous band play with Switchfoot. It felt like I was getting a second chance. They didn’t give us any interaction, but Martin’s performance is so captivating and the music rocked! He spliced New Way To Be Human into Love Song For A City 🙂 I think even Jude, who isn’t really a fan, was impressed 🙂 By the end of their set people pressing in from the sides had got me even more central.

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Switchfoot opened with If The House Burns Down Tonight. I’ve got to admit that’s a bit of a weird opener; all the build up and then just that quiet ‘Ashes from the flames…’ before it gets going… but then it really does get going after that! It wasn’t an easy show to take pictures at, and in any case my friends were covered in cameras, so I just watched the show.

This show felt a little like Munich’s, with similar lighting, no crowd barrier, and a chilled and happy vibe, though this was I think mostly due to tired spaceyness rather than surfing this time! The venue had more climbing potential however, which Jon utilised! He went into the crowd a couple of times, including going up onto the balcony, over the side and down into the crowd in true nailbiting fashion during Love Alone Is Worth The Fight.

At my friend’s birthday request they played Your Love Is A Song, Drew giving it a killer solo.

Early on in the show, a guy called Peter held up a sign saying, in pictures, ‘Can I play guitar on The Sound?’ Jon took the sign, looked at it, figured out what it said and replied  ‘I think we’re going a little too fast; it’s early on in this relationship, maybe we can slow down and see where this goes?’ 😀 But later he did indeed get to play it, and he really rocked! He even got the beautiful Love Is The Movement guitar too!

They went very off piste from the original set list.  ‘I want to take this right back; it’s not on the set list… Chad, what would you do if I said ‘Al Pacino’..?’ And they played Gone – I never really thought of it as a rock song but wow it was quite heavy this time, all crunching, screaming guitars! It was brilliant!

All my banners came out at different points during the show; ‘Europe’ and ‘Where  I Belong (WIB)’ Jon held up, he took ‘Thank you’ to look at too. ‘Healer of Souls’ he just went ‘Ooh :/ ‘! Play the song Jon!!

The encore was amazing; they played Float (YESSS! So much fun!), I Won’t Let You Go (which had Jude in tears), and Dare You To Move (which is always going to make me happy!), so beautiful!

Overall there was a worshipful feel to the whole thing, it felt like we were really involved with the lyrics, personally and collectively…

Afterwards we stood and chatted to ‘fam for ages by the bus. Suddenly after a long wait I picked up Jon’s tweet: Aftershow in 15 minutes by the bus! Eeeee!! I was wearing the (still wet) WIB banner when he came out. He took us along the street to a bridge over a canal and stopped just as I was next to him, so I got front row! He played Vice Verses and All Of God’s Children, which were beautiful and deep, Just Rob Me (oh my goodness..!! Absolutely hilarious!), 24, and On Fire merging into Your Love Is Strong, it was really lovely. During Vice Verses we heard some funny noises in the street (car horns maybe?) joining in the song (‘It’s a duet!’ said Jon!) 😀 Boats passing by on the canal slowed down to watch, and despite how small the bridge is and how quiet the city seemed, several times we had to dodge bicycles and cars (Jon remarked ‘This bridge is busy!’). He looked at me at the end and I just said ‘thank you!’ 🙂

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Afterwards I walked back to the bus with him. There was all the usual hounding and selfie-taking, Jon masterfully steering the crowd towards the bus the whole time, so I stayed aside and just took it in. But I did get to thank him for playing so many songs that mean so much to me and he thanked me for being there. After that, we got to hang around and say goodbye to most the guys. Drew told me he put me in their Instagram, and they had – the picture of me with my flag, as well as them goofing around with the Chad moustaches! So sweet! We wished them safe travels and goodnight and see you at BCDO. They didn’t leave for us to wave them off, so eventually we left instead.

I ate my concert aubergine and fangirled online a bit, then it was a quick sleep before dashing to catch the bus back to London. Getting across Amsterdam proved a bit simpler this time, but the bus was not very comfortable. I picked up some iced tea on the way, and accidentally bought a fizzy kind, which was not right at all! I spent most of the journey getting glitter on the bus, and enjoying the memories.

It was extremely hot and the bus did not have much air conditioning, so it was disappointing to realise we were going back through the tunnel, not on the ferry. The result was we were sat in the tunnel carpark waiting to board for two and a half hours, going nowhere and getting ever hotter. And then I got the news: Switchfoot really are coming back this autumn, and are giving us a proper UK tour!! :O 😀 :’) Wowowow!! Everything got a bit surreal from there. I emerged back into the UK, and immediately saw a dense murmeration of midges over the roadside trees, and then witnessed grown men holding a sack race, and a bizarre junk shop full of weird statues, dummies and ornate lamps, as we entered London…

I love Switchfoot so much 🙂 Also, how many times did Jon shake my hand/ high five me?! Bring on the rest of the tour!!

Read Part 2 here

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 5: Mannheim, and reflections on the journey

(The last of five posts from my adventures: Part 4 here)

Mannheim, 4th June: My final show

We went straight from Munich to see friends in Freiburg in southern Germany for a few days, during which we were seeing Switchfoot for the last time in Mannheim, just to the north. We had a fun few days there in extremely hot weather, lake swimming and exploring the area.

The gig day felt like the hottest day possible! We found a tour poster on a billboard right outside the venue, so M got a photo of me next to it, with the venue and tourbus in the background, wearing my (signed!) Spring t-shirt and other fan gear 🙂 We were totally melting in the heat both on the way there, and waiting in the queue outside in the sun.

But – we connected!! 🙂

This time they opened the set with When We Come Alive, which was really nice. I didn’t capture the set list this time but they also played Meant To Live, Stars, Love Alone Is Worth the Fight (during which Jon came over to where I was stood at the side of the stage and sang part of it ‘to me’, holding eye contact with me till I broke out in a huge silly grin before moving on :D), Dark Horses, Who We Are, Hello Hurricane (with a very surreal intro with drummer Chad on his own!!), Dare You To Move, The Sound, Let It Out and Your Love Is A Song. We were also given a new version of The World You Want, (somewhat imperfect video here!) which was really, really nice. That’s a song that I find very inspiring already, so it was great to get a new version that was even better than the original.

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As an encore they finally played us BA55 – it was total immersion in sound, complete bliss 😀 I just stretched my hands up and soaked in it 🙂 And then Where I Belong – I got the banner out as soon as it was clear they were about to play it and Jon came straight over and took it, and commented on it again, held it up, and looked at me for a moment, then looked round the crowd and spoke about how he’d met people from all over Europe on this tour, and so many new family… 🙂

The crowd was really hyped up again, less insanely energetic than the Vienna crowd but just – they wouldn’t stop!! Any song they could keep on singing they did, Love Alone wouldn’t end, as they kept ‘ooh’ing and Jon had to pick it up again and end it twice 😀 At the end they kept singing Hello Hurricane until they got an encore, and then wouldn’t stop singing ‘oh ay ohh ohh’ from Where I Belong afterwards, even after the second encore (We Are One Tonight/Shadow Proves The Sunshine), even when the crew were packing down the stage! They kept it up without faltering for at least 15mins, until Jon was ‘deployed’ from the stage to clear the venue by means of aftershow!! 😀 😀

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The aftershow was beautiful again! I was at the back of the venue as Jon came out from the stage; I lost him in the crowd pushing to the door but happened to end up right behind him going out, so was right at the front for the aftershow for once 🙂 He played on the grass bank outside the venue, by the road (resulting in much comedy from loud passing traffic). We got Only Hope, Vice Verses, Terminal (‘this one’s even softer – you’re probably the only one who’s going to be able to hear it!’ ‘well, fine with me, it’s my favourite song of the moment!’), This Is Home, and Your Love Is Strong.

Afterwards since I was right at the front I jumped straight in with my chance to hand him my thank you card, but he was thanking me again and I found myself clasping his hand and telling him how much it meant to me – I couldn’t let him ‘out-thank’ me again. However much appreciation I was giving to him, I was getting it back for just being there, I couldn’t out-give the guy! Incredibly I *almost* got a shout out in front of the whole crowd from Jon for being at so many shows, (I forget exactly what he said, I was in shock, but it was along the lines of ‘this girl… she has been here the whole…’) but he got interrupted by someone asking if he’d bring Fiction Family over here 😀 Which I seconded! 😀 Probably good he was interrupted, I think I’d have fallen through the floor! I was so glad I’d written that card!

I can’t remember how but we ended up in pretty much normal conversation briefly as he went to leave, I said it was my last show of the tour, and he asked which had been the best – either this one or Edinburgh, and then said goodbye, and I let him go this time. It felt like a total breakthrough!!!

Then things got surreal – I ended up waiting with M and a couple of others for the bus to leave, but everyone was super relaxed so it was ages this time! Some German guys started singing spirituals on the grass, M and I joined in; the bus driver came out and did a silly dance to our singing, and then whacked ACDC loud on the bus speakers, at which M went off headbanging and air guitarring! We sat on the grass under the Where I Belong banner whilst the bus driver and Ike joked about. Then the guys came out one by one, Jerome first to chat to us all, he came up to me and thanked me, he’d read my card too! 😀 I shook hands with them all, thanked them again, managed to have a funny conversation with Drew since he was in smiley mode, and then a final thank you and goodbye to Jon. As the bus pulled out we noticed someone had written ‘SWITCHFOOT’ and ‘I made a mess of me’ in the dirt on the back 😀

We went and sat by the river, waiting for our 4am train back to Freiburg, M praying with his hands in the water as he sometimes does to mark journeys, me wearing my Where I Belong banner and trying to process what just happened 🙂 All the bittersweet had gone, all was well.

‘Forget sad; I’ll stick with happy’ 🙂

A song for part 5


A Postscript:

So; my reflections on the whole experience:

I think sometimes we don’t know how broken we are till we are healed, or how much of a weight we’re carrying around till it’s lifted.

It’s no less strange to me than it is to you that I should feel like this essentially about music, but the fact stands. Jon Foreman’s work has been so much a part of my life for almost half my life that never expressing the appreciation I have for him and all he does had become a huge burden on my soul, and I’m now feeling such an incredible sense of peace, freedom and release.

This couple of weeks has been an amazing journey, more so within me than the physical journey around Europe. I began as an awkward, emotional, freaking out fangirl, with Jon being very patient and gracious with me but, I sensed, wisely just a little wary of me too. By the end of the trip there had been a real breakthrough; I was, and am, still in awe of him but it all felt a lot more comfortable. I was getting genuine smiles of recognition, semi-normal conversation, and a sense that he was really feeling loved and grateful for the support I was giving. It blows me away to think how quickly and easily things turned around, after all these years and all my worrying, and that I broke through into not just making contact with him but actually finding myself ‘in the family’, a precious middle ground between random fan in the crowd and genuine friendship that I don’t think I’d fully appreciated even existed before it happened. Nothing that happened was outside of Jon’s standard behaviour with fans; he’s famously very good with us, I’m not special, and I don’t care! But what it meant to me was that my message had got through, and that means everything to me.

I’m going to slip into religious language, not because I think this guy’s the messiah; far from it! But it seems the best language I can find to describe what happened. And he is my saint, in the best possible sense, not someone perfect and unreachable, but an ordinary, imperfect human being who is just a little further along the journey in most respects, and whose example and ‘teaching’ is pointing me in the right direction and showing me The Way.

Anyway. This journey has been a pilgrimage of repentance, and a quest to atone for my past failings as a fan. I could never have hoped for as much grace as my repentance has been met with, to be not just forgiven but to feel like none of that matters any more, that I have a new start and am accepted as ‘family’, with thankfulness coming back at me as fast as I can give it away. I feel like I’ve been able to make back a lot of lost time, and that I’ve brought the fan relationship right up to date. I’ve now seen Switchfoot six times in 15 years, during which I’ve met them to say thank you four times, and they know I’ve been supporting them all this time, and know what some of their music has meant to me over the years. Far from being over, it starts here, whatever I’ve been before, right now, I am part of the fan family and will continue to behave like I am. So much grace, it’s overwhelming.

And God’s grace behind it! The whole experience has brought the love and grace of God home to me so powerfully as a faint picture of how he relates to us, responding to our every attempt to reach out to God in love with ever more love towards us, a dance in which God is always a step ahead. Perhaps in our own imperfect way we’re picking up the steps of this infectious dance. It’s unthinkable that God could care about such a ridiculous aspect of my life, and yet God does care! All the time we were singing Your Love Is Strong it struck me as I sang ‘You know what I need’ that God really does know what I need, and was supplying it freely, and the whole experience has given me new insights into God’s grace, reminders of the greater redemption I’ve experienced in Jesus’ acceptance of me.

Every breath is a second chance 🙂

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 4: Munich

(Part 3 here)

Munich, 2nd June

Two shows in two days: Intense! I really don’t know how the guys do this night after night, it’s pretty crazy even for us! We had a half day to explore Munich – apparently the thing to do was, ironically, to go to the Chinese tower in the English Garden(!), so we did, and got some food and drink in the beer garden whilst we were there. Bizzarely, it turns out people surf on standing waves in the river running through the garden, and we went to watch for a while; M guessed, correctly as it turned out, that that was where the band had spent the morning before the show, though we were there too late to catch them attempting it.

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All the shows had been different but this show had a totally different feel this time. It was a really odd venue, a club in a whole huge complex of clubs, bars and takeaways, with no crowd barrier (we were literally up against the stage – I was right in front of Tim this time), but also nothing whatsoever for climbing! 😦 Both the crowd and the venue were far too sensible, and the guys ended up staying back on stage too much. However, since they had been surfing on the river (at least, attempting to!), a new discovery for them as well as us, they were really super happy and relaxed on stage. They just seemed overjoyed to have unexpectedly had the chance to go surfing, in Germany!

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And it was great – we got Only Hope played aftershow-style in the middle of the crowd, my ‘I can feel the ocean’ banner got taken on stage as well as the ‘Where I Belong’ banner, getting more smiles from the guys.

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Where I Belong made me really emotional at the end; it all felt so finite. I just leant right onto the stage and watched through tears as they played.

There was an unannounced aftershow afterwards, which M got to join us for again 🙂 Jon just came out to the waiting crowd and played on a sort of bench outside one of the other bars, it was beautiful. He played us Caroline, Lean On Me (so beautiful!), 24, The Moon Is A Magnet (for the beautiful full moon – video here, the only film I took at an aftershow since they were such precious moments), and Your Love Is Strong, with everyone singing along, it was a really lovely moment 🙂

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This time I got the embroidered t-shirt signed. That felt a bit strange. I’d made a real point about trying to do everything on his terms and not take anything he didn’t give, to just give him affirmation (though that did require me taking a little of his time…), and I’m always uneasy about the amount of people trying to touch him, take pictures with him, get things signed…now I’m one of them 😛 Some other fans told him they were going to be at Mannheim and I said I was too, and he asked if we had any requests; I said Amateur Lovers, and the look on his face..! He looked so taken aback that I’d brought that one up, and he said they’d have to totally relearn it and would be like a Switchfoot cover band 😀 Never mind, at least I asked! It was pretty funny, and also pretty funny he’d asked me for requests – I could reel him off such a list!

I left with intense feelings of happiness and sadness all at the same time – it had first come on during the first show, but now felt really powerful. Posting about it on facebook got me diagnosed with ‘Post Concert Depression’! That would be a new one for me, since I never entirely came down after the Post Concert High I got from seeing them the first time nearly four years ago. We’ll see how it pans out; it was incredibly bittersweet but I majorly had the happies to see that Jon was feeling the love I was bringing.

I was also left with a dilemma; I felt there was more I wanted to say to say thank you (not like I hadn’t said it enough..!), but I wasn’t sure if it would make me too much of an annoying and desperate fangirl to write Jon another letter in addition to the one I’d already given him in Edinburgh, plus I wasn’t guaranteed a chance to hand it to him. After much deliberation I decided to give it a try, since there wasn’t much to lose and still love to give; I made a card with the same design as my ‘thank you’ banner, and tried to keep what I had to say sensible.

A song for part 4

My tour of The Wonderlands, part 3: Vienna

(Part 2 here)

Vienna, 1st June

M and I had a crazy few days between shows whilst we left Switchfoot to play a couple more shows on the continent. We travelled back home for a brief half day to unpack and repack, pick up our passports and leave again on the 2am coach to Köln, for a surreal full day and two nights of travel to get to Vienna. But we survived! It was surprisingly ok spending two consecutive full nights on public transport, perhaps it was because it was for a good cause! We had three fantastic days exploring the city and surroundings, seeing the natural history museum, climbing the eastern most ‘Alps’ (not impressively high that far out!), eating icecream and sightseeing, before catching up with Switchfoot again for the show on our last night there.

This was the sweatiest, dirtiest, craziest rock show I have ever been to! It was around 30oC out, and can’t have been much cooler inside the underground venue even before we all packed into it. We were so hot we were sweating and desperate for air even before the music began!

The crowd were super hyped up, and as it turned out, dominated by Romanian fans, who were really excited to be seeing Switchfoot at all, even if they’d had to travel for it. They yelled and roared and jumped all the way through! When Jon asked the crowd where everyone was from he seemed completely amazed when almost half the audience seemed to be calling back ‘Romania!’; you could see the guys were really humbled by it, and thinking to themselves ‘we need to find a way to play Romania!’.

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Highlights of the set were Oh! Gravity (video here), Twenty Four (mostly! For someone who was 21 that day!), Liberty (video here) and The Sound.

This was the show I was in the best position for, right on the crowd barrier between Jon and Drew. But it wasn’t just Jon interacting with the crowd this time; Tim and Drew both came right out to play across the crowd barrier and connect with the fans, which was so special, and even Chad and Jerome came forward and interacted with us far more than usual – usually they are tied to their instruments at the back of the stage. I was glad I later got the chance to thank them for that. It was really special.

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At one point Jon spoke about entropy – how everything falls apart, and that makes sense, but that there’s something greater, the mystery that holds us together, and transitioned into Your Love Is A Song. I later found this interview he’d given earlier that day, speaking about the same theme. It excites me in a geeky sort of way that he often deals with the idea of entropy, although my ideas on the subject are subtly different it’s a powerful concept that I’ve thought a lot about too. That’s probably for another post 🙂

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The venue was very grimy – I got grimy off the crowd barrier, as did my banners, and Jon climbed something at one point and came down covered in black grime – and then crowd surfed back over us and we got grimy too!! I was crowd surfed on twice during the show 🙂 And then the sweat – we were all soaked, and Jon went through 3 tshirts! 😛 😀 But who cares, it was awesome 😀

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All my banners came out again – Tim really seemed to like the ‘I can feel the ocean’ banner, he kept on looking at it and pointing, and he’d smiled at it when it came out at BCDO too! I had the ‘Thank you’ banner out whilst they played Dare You To Move; when Jon got to the line ‘Everyone’s here’ he looked at me and gave me a smile whilst singing it, it was so sweet of him! The ‘Where I Belong’ banner got taken up on stage this time – Jon came up and took it from me as they were beginning the song and said ‘it’s beautiful!’ 🙂 Here’s a vid of the song. We (…well, mostly those Romanians…) wouldn’t let them go after just one encore, so they came back on to play us The Sound to finish.

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At the end we burst out onto the street desperate for fresh air and feeling really gross! And M was there! He decided to only get tickets to come with me to the BCDO and Mannheim shows, but was starry enough to accompany me to and from the Vienna and Munich shows where I’d otherwise have had to travel back to the hostels on my own. He was rewarded with another aftershow (turns out he’d been listening to the encore literally through a hole in the venue wall beforehand though!); this time it was a bit chaotic as we were crowding the bus. Tour manager Ike came out and tried to move us to the other side of the road where there was a garage, and there was a twitter announcement, but we were given no location so we milled around in the street till Jon came out and took us over there! It was totally owned by the Romanians, they made all the requests, sang along and harmonised, and put a Romanian flag on Jon! I was stood between M and Jon, and it was lovely hearing M singing along with him 🙂

Jon played Only Hope, Caroline, Souvenirs, Vice Verses, This Is Home and House Of God Forever. Afterwards, despite the crowd, I managed to get to him to thank him, and he thanked me for being there!!

We waited for the bus to leave again, and as it pulled out we saw a crazy huge fireball meteor go across the sky!

A song for part 3