The sun seemed a rather stark contrast to the grey mornings of late, but it shone us to the SAP Arena situated just out of town. It’s a fairly large venue, but the logistics are a bit of a mess; with room for only one truck on the dock, making for an inconvenient process of trucky-inny-outty and hardly any room behind the stage to store spares and empty cases, Stage Manager Paul tore his hair out trying to make sense of why on Earth anyone would ever build a venue like this. At one point, it looked like things were slow up in the roof — the rigging demanded quite a few bridles, which you might be able to identify in the photo below as Y-shaped concoctions of steel rope. But in the end I think I was wrong — we were set up, mic’d up, and powered up with enough time to enjoy some delicious vegan sausages and mash before line-check and soundcheck.
I dare say tonight’s audience were a little livelier than the past few shows; when Leonard hit the stage, they erupted to their feet in waves, like a body of calm water struck by a meteor. Once into the set, whose list was cut from the same cloth as Oberhausen’s, the crowd quietened a little, but toward the end of the first half, they began to live again. Lover Lover Lover gained such a long and slow ovation, that, if Leonard were to soak up the admiration and delay the beginning of Anthem, the entire house would be on its feet.
In the second half, amid the revelation and appreciation, there was a bit of a boo-boo on stage; we don’t know how, but the ending of Heart With No Companion was fluffed. Perhaps someone forgot where they were (guilty myself on many past musical occasions) or misread some body language, but the crowd were treated to a partial bonus ending of the upbeat song. The Partisan was greatly received, cheered and applauded both at the beginning and end. During the final song of the main performance, Take This Waltz, Leonard introduced band members, and as the words ‘Rafael Bernardo Gayol‘ proudly spoke from his mouth, one anonymously lively woman in the audience squealed with delight.
In the encores, the singers joined in So Long Marianne, and the hoots, hollers, and whistles continued in tasteful short bursts, something a little different than the prepared statements bellowed from the rafters in some North American cities. My favourite moment this evening came in the sound of one lady’s blood-curdling scream for who knows what. Some time after the illumination of the house lights, The Winning Team’s truck was packed and filled with stuff, and before long we caught a van to the hotel where sleep awaited.