Jun 23, Antwerp Sportpaleis

When a mummy chair and daddy chair love each other very much...

When a mummy chair and daddy chair love each other very much…

It was a cool, grey, wet morning in Antwerp when a van-man met us outside our hotel. The short drive to Sportpaleis was uneventful and apart from taking pictures of our truck pack, so was the load in; or so I thought. As far as The Winning Team were concerned, after snapping some shots of the gear as it was unloaded from the truck, the set-up seemed quite chilled, simple, and easy. The audio department had an issue with a fancy cable called a ’50-pair’, and its complicated socket was mended, but the repair made little impact on the schedule, and our line-check was delayed only a few minutes. To be sure, it was a busy set-up, but that was due to taking pictures, making (oh so expert) line drawings and load lists; in truth, there seemed little interesting to share, and indeed just before dinner I asked the dwellers of the production office if there was anything new and exciting going on. The reason I asked at all was because I had thought it was just another day at the office, and was fishing for something, ANYTHING to write about — and I was informed of something which provides a stark contrast to the mundane acts mentioned above: the stage was in the wrong place.

Luckily, the stage was moved BEFORE the points (see hanging chains) were rigged

Luckily, the stage was moved BEFORE the points (see hanging chains) were rigged

Yes, the large stage on which ‘the magic happens’ was at least 15 feet further away from the front audience row than was tasteful, and the entire thing had to be shifted. I am of course providing the short story, as that is the only story I know, but estimating the stage at 5 feet in height by 60 feet in width and 50 feet in depth, one might begin to understand the effort involved in moving what is essentially scaffolding and plywood a whole fifteen feet. So apart from THAT, it was a fairly event-free load-in.

Copying the template of recent pasts, the show was delayed 15 minutes, and once we got going, the crowd were quite tame — appreciative of course, yet somewhat subdued. I can’t explain it, other than to state the obvious: this ain’t no punk rock show. The first set seemed to fly by; Ain’t No Cure for Love and Choices (maybes in parentheses) were skipped and before long, we found ourselves in the mid-show break.

Look at that web of... stuff

Look at that web of… stuff

Again, the cameras seemed to really come out during Suzanne (or perhaps it’s the only time I’m looking into the crowd). Sisters of Mercy was favoured over The Gypsy’s Wife, and Show Me the Place was outta there. When Take This Waltz was in its near-end musical phrases and while Leonard reintroduced the band and gave crew members a mention, the congregation began their exodus: the faithful rose from their seats and descended upon the space between the front row and the stage — the kids are in the pit; perhaps this is a punk rock show after all. Offerings of flowers flew through the air while Leonard skipped off the stage and the band played him out before the encores.

As in London, So Long Marianne gets the kids going; the singalong, voiced by what seemed like the whole floor, on their feet, resonated in the room, and Leonard complimented the singers, one of whom held her butane lighter aloft, lit, for what seemed like an eternity. I hope she didn’t put it in her pocket straight away, once the flame was extinguished, because the spark wheel was probably a few degrees shy of molten.

90 minutes following the last echoes of I Tried to Leave You, your Winning Team were finished with the truckload of backline, lighting spares, risers, chop-shop cars, illegal migrants, live ponies, transformer, washing machines and whatever else they throw our way at the end of a show to fill a 40-odd-foot truck. We were then lifted to our hotel, where dreams of sugarplum fairies denounced by diet fad propagandists awaited.

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10 Responses to Jun 23, Antwerp Sportpaleis

  1. helenoe says:

    Well, you HAVE to have the live ponies; you never know when Mr. Cohen might decide to do the sung instead of spoken version of “Thousand Kisses.” Just think of the great visual as they gallop across the stage, narrowly avoiding putting a hoof through a monitor.

  2. Karen says:

    I’m just wondering if audiences are missing the Dino Soldo punch. Not missing *him* specifically but I read the interview with Roscoe where he said this band is a quiet band. So, maybe it follows that you’ll get a quieter(?) audience. After the Halifax show, which I thoroughly enjoyed from the first row(!), I had to admit to missing Dino a teeeeeeeny bit. And, yes, ponies!!

  3. “The carnal knowledge of chairs” is not to be underestimated; it is an essential part
    of everyone’s sectional edu-mah-cation.

  4. Pingback: “Choices” Not Played But Appears (Parenthetically) On Leonard Cohen Antwerp Setlist | DrHGuy - Another Other Leonard Cohen Site

  5. From past experience I’d prefer a quiet, attentive audience to one full of noisy, drunken louts – especially if they were anywhere near me!! “Pit invasions”, (great term – is it your own, oh creative Leif?) everyone standing, etc. is great for the encores and ends the concert on a high, but we wouldn’t really want three hours of that.

    • Leif says:

      Thanks Ann; Not sure where I got ‘pit invasion’. ‘Stage invasion’ is an old one (although I prefer ‘bum-rush the stage’) so replacing stage with pit probably isn’t worth patenting 🙂

  6. Pit invasion is a gateway to mosh pit! Now that would be something to see LOL.

    I keep meaning to ask but I keep forgetting and you just reminded me in this post; what’s the meaning of certain symbols on the setlist? Ie; brackets, colors and the unified heart by certain songs? Just shits and giggles or is there a secret code going down? LOL

    • Leif says:

      Ha, no secret code as far as I know. The brackets are ‘maybe’ songs, and the colours are my own notes; reminders of which guitars will be used… T for Telecaster, J for Jackson, C for Collings, B for Baritone, G for Godin AC for acoustic… With a circle around it, the B has to be tuned differently and use a capo… Yellow is for the standard tuning of any given instrument, blue is for alternate tunings, and green is for Javier’s electric guitars.

      As for the UH logo, dunno on that one. I asked LC if he’d stage-dive the other day, he didn’t say no. 😀

      • Thanks for the info! Considering I’m currently laying on my floor when I read this, ROFL is pretty darn accurate. I hope he gives a fair bit of warning ahead of time, the gap between the stage and the front row is large and not always filled LOL!

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