NOVEMBRE 28 — MONTRÉAL SHOW #1
Only when the show begins, when the house lights fade and the exit steps are strategically lit, does the Bell Centre look so vast from my perch in Guitar World. I have very few notes on today. Being in Montréal, knowing that my family are nearby and there is bad news around the corner has caused me to do little more than the requirements of my employ.
During September of this year, in Toulon, the audience thought the show had ended after the first set and here in Montréal they seem to believe the same, hooting for more. LC had informed the Montréalers there would be a continuance, but I suppose they were a little too appreciative to hear him. After the first set, Hattie, who remained near the stage to talk technical with one of the crew, politely informed the crowd in English there would indeed be another set to follow. This seemed to placate.
NOVEMBRE 29 — MONTRÉAL SHOW #2
Today was interesting for me in terms of learning. In my technical notes, I wrote some time ago that it might be time to change the thermionic valves in Javier’s Fender Princeton amp. After comparative tests known as ‘A-B-ing’ (pronounced as eh-being) with the Princeton’s spare cousin, I decided that the main, heavily used amp, sounded a little dull in comparison with the spare.
It was on the day of the Saskatoon show when I sent a local man on a mission to find me some replacement ECC83 valves, or ‘tubes’ as many North Americans call them. As the equipment remains in place for our second show here in Montréal, I found the time in which to change the valves, check current flow, and set bias voltage. The process is fairly simple with a Princeton, even if the modern build is not as fun to dissect as the builds from the sixties. Returning from digression and hastening an end, the change of 6V6 valves was eventless, while the swapping of the ECC83 (a.k.a. 12AX7) valves was marred with complexity. At first, the valve to replace that whose function is a (split-load) phase inverter and vibrato oscillator yielded a negative result in the vibrato. As the ECC83 is a dual triode, it is possible that one of its triodes does not work; after replacing the new ECC83 with another new ECC83 the desired result was achieved.
Next, it was time to replace the initial gain stage ECC83. This yielded an interesting lack of volume, which, again, is not entirely impossible with a dual-triode valve, but to see two (new) possibly defective valves in one day is a curious thing; when curious things happen, it is wise to retrace steps and look for clues. The clue did, as they do usually, stare me straight. The Saskatoon valves were not ECC83 valves. Well, actually they were — ECC83/2 models, the 2 being heavily significant. They did not hold the all-important nomenclature ECC83/S. Presumably the S is for Silly Me.
I learned the ‘2’ model was an equivalent of a 12DW7, with whose function I am already familiar; the 12DW7 is more suited to an Ampeg SVT bass amp. If I had known from the beginning that I was provided with and handled 12DW7 valves, I would have sent them back immediately. Saskatoon being a distant memory, one must simply approach the board and chalk, ‘Live and learn.’ After digging through the coffee-soaked trash, into which I ceremoniously pitched the perfectly good but unsuitable ECC83/2 valve, I re-boxed it and labelled it 12DW7 thus reducing any further confusion later.
The tale has not yet ended. I discovered, through a slightly embarrassing event, that the brand new, ECC83/S (the actual, real, correct valve) in the initial gain stage of the Princeton, was indeed FAULTY. It was highly microphonic, completely obvious when sought out, but not apparent at first. The symptom was an intermittent, high-pitched squealing feedback, independent of volume control. It could be brought on by tapping lightly on the valve, a sure sign pointing to Trouble’s birthplace. After yet another replacement, the amp was finally in good health. The task which should have taken perhaps thirty to forty leisurely minutes took a bit longer. But as stated above, one carries chalk for moments like these.
Along we move to less geeky topics, those of tonight’s show. I feel it a dare in saying, but it looks like we have the germ of an olde fashion’d singalong tonight. So Long Marianne sees the first appreciable joining-in of the Old Ideas North American audience. Well done, Montreal, Europe of Canada.
Unmentioned in previous diaries, LC and the band have been working on a cover of an old hit by Georges Dor, La Manic. The song is about the loneliness of working on the construction of a remote hydroelectric dam in Québec, situated on the Manicougan River, near an impact crater. A translation of the French-penned hit can be found here:
If this writer may be allowed to add his thoughts, he would say that it takes only a brief scan of the translation to infer that the voice of the song may as well be that of Romeo, House Montague, pining for a love he cannot have. Specifically interesting to me are the lines,
I throw myself into you
Just like the river into the sea
I find a geographical significance here — just as the meteor which creates the crater in the crust of Earth does not greatly impact the planet’s mood, neither does the river cause the sea much concern — Dor’s pining for his love seems to go unnoticed by its focus, but unlike Earth’s seas, the man has feelings; emotions which spiral like a whirlpool, begging for something to fill the gap in his heart — the words ‘I love you’ printed one hundred times will suffice.
The audience stands applauding LC’s version, likely thrilled that the anglophone has such respect for French-Canadian culture in what is arguably the most politically divided province in the country. As he states in Hallelujah, he did not come home to fool them.