Back on track

It’s time for a few notes about the patch of touring on which I’m currently engaged – rapidly approaching a third of the way through it.

My passage through the Lowlands in March was not uneventful. By the time I reached Amsterdam a bout of Flu had already begun to take a grip on me. The show there was tough but the (well accustomed) medicine of Onstage pulled me through.

Alphen, the next day, was another matter entirely. I was by then really quite ill but…the show’s the show, the reason for my being in any given place on any given day. I have to say this was one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done. From the very first note I thought to myself “I’m not going to be able to get through this….”

Still, note by note, verse by verse, song by song I managed to pull my way through the set. I have absolutely no idea as to the quality – or lack thereof – of the performance.

I held myself together long enough to get home at least. Once here I went into full-on bedridden, delirium-raddled mode for a full twelve days. A salutary lesson: the spirit may be willing but the flesh is…not quite as youthful and resilient as of yore.

I was just about back to normal by the start of the week in which I was due to go to Sweden. And indeed – with judicious conservation of energy – I was completely up for the travel (always and now more than ever a wearing factor) and the concerts. The show, in other words, is now back on the road.

In less than a week I’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall once more; I’m lucky enough to be one of the first artists to play there since its recent refurbishment. Of all the venues in the world QEH is the one at which I’ve presented shows in the most wide variety of line-ups. Obviously I’ve been there solo and in duos but there have also been full band shows (from chamber versions to full-on blasts, even including didgeridoo) and wild events such as my duo improv with Guy at the time of “Spur of the Moment”. I even made one of my rare forays as guitarist for hire there in one of David Thomas’s shows.

For this concert I’ve got the intention – for now at least – of playing a fully retrospective selection of songs. That’s to say, in my 50th year of being a performer, one song from every three years (or so, it’s an inexact science) of recordings. I *won’t* be doing them chronologically and perhaps it won’t even be that obvious that this is such a specific set compared with “normal” ones. But this makes a certain sense to me at least. Now I just have to come up with a coherent selection and running order!

One important point about the QEH: it’s a very early show – doors open at 19.00 and I’m meant to be on stage at 19.35. So get there in good time!

For the following shows it’ll be back to the normal, somewhat random, set selection. Usually the choices are made in the afternoon before soundcheck – to give me time to go over any particularly challenging pieces. I’m currently working from a list of over a hundred songs so inevitably there’s an element of unpredictability in what will be played on any given night. Usually, though, there’ll be a balanced mix of the ruminative and the aggressive, the ancient and the modern, the familiar and the challenging. Naturally, if I’m in the same place for two nights (Brighton, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Berlin) there’ll be no repeated pieces over the stay.

Here we are, then. I’m graced that I’m still able to present these songs. I’m in pretty good form, though I say so myself. If you’re at all interested in seeing how this aged trouper is doing on stage these days, get on down to one of the shows. Who knows when the next ones will be?

Of course, a list of upcoming dates is at