10 July 2012

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The tour with Getachew Mekuria and the Ex & Friends starts in Amsterdam at the Bimhuis on July 6th. It’s a late show added after the standard jazz concert. The contrast between the jazz performance and the show with Getachew could not have been more extreme- the earlier band played with complete professionalism and technical expertise, and was completely dull; the set with Getachew was kinetic and passionate from the 1st note. By the end of the performance EVERYONE in the Bimhuis was on their feet dancing to the music, audiences members onstage dancing with Melaku and his brother. A totally charged performance, and incredible way to start the tour.

The night ends very late and the next morning arrives very early, the band heads to Kongsberg, Norway to play at a Jazz festival on a double bill with the Flaming Lips (?). Again a concert of contrasts. Despite poorly organized logistics, the Ex & crew follow Getachew’s lead and play a great show to an audience standing in lousy wet weather, it’s a straightforward set about music. The Flaming Lips follow with a stage crew larger than our entire group, confetti and balloons distracting the crowd from a by-the-numbers Rock show; I remember seeing the band about 20 years ago on a bill with Steel Pole Bathtub somewhere in the Midwest after I moved to Chicago‚Ķ it was a completely different band back then. From Kongsberg the group headed to Copenhagen on the 8th where the musicians were faced with terrible stage sound, but the band is good enough to plow forward and get the music across to the listeners, great to see a number of Ethiopians in the crowd dancing- something that always makes Getachew very happy. Luckily, things went much better on the 10th in Paris after we drove in from Amsterdam, the sound was great (we actually had a real soundcheck instead of just 30 minute “line checks,” Jeroen doing an AMAZING job as our soundperson through out the tour), the room was totally packed with dancing fans, a superb night all around and one of the best performances of the series of European gigs. The band at the Bimhuis: