So, it started when we left the beautiful, strange winter wonderland that is Norway, en route for Denmark.
Denmark, that nemesis of a place that very nearly sapped our lust for life during the recording of our last album. A place with so many memories it’s a shame they’re mostly horrible.
You could say that we haven’t enjoyed a great time in Denmark and you’d be right.
Would this time be any different?
Read on, dear reader, read on.
Turns out that the Punk festival that we are booked to play isn’t actually a punk festival at all.
“Just as long as it’s not a glam festival I’ll be happy” snorted Scott.
Ever wish you’d never said something?
On landing in Copenhagen we are met by a guy with half leather, star filled trousers who tells us that we will not be travelling by the traditional vehicular conveyance that would transport six people, as many guitars, a dozen suitcases and various merchandise. Oh no, we will not take a van or any such thing. We will take the train.
Yeah, I’ve seen the Anvil movie and no, I didn’t think we’d ever travel to a gig on a train loaded with our gear. Turns out the promoter, the guy who met us from the plane, is a confirmed pathological fibber and has been suitably economic with the truth.
“I lie to make people happy, and when they realise I’m lying I lie again”, says our promoter and host for the evening.
So we aren’t playing a punk festival, and we don’t actually have transport to the glam gig we are playing.
“It’s just around the corner from the train station”, he tells us, and after dragging our luggage and equipment around Copenhagen for 40 minutes we can see a theme developing.
After finally reaching the venue in time for soundcheck we are told that we have to turn the amps down onstage. Then, on reducing the volume to half of our usual output we are told once more to turn them down. This went on for a comedic amount of time until a stagehand is dispatched to the amps to turn them down quieter than I play my stereo when my son is sleeping next to me.
And on the strangest shaped stage in Scandinavia we locate the bottle of Jack Daniels, a gift from from our wonderful hosts in Norway, and begin to drink.
After coming to terms with the fact that the onstage sound tonight will resemble angry wasps in cookie jars we retire to our hotel. Or, to be more specific, hostel, where we are expected to sleep 6 in one room, including our female manager. The promise of single hotel rooms being less than honoured we settle for sharing two rooms leaving a 3rd single room for Virpi. Me, Scott and Dunc will be crammed into a tiny cell with barely enough space to fit our bags, and sleep on beds that have not been changed this century.
We continue to drink
It is agreed that the majestic waves of disappointment sweeping through our party will be best calmed by good food and fine wines.
This, however, will not manifest and will, instead, be traded in for a visit to the Royal Palace or, as Scott re-named it Hitler’s Chinese Buffet, which, it turns out, is run by the rudest, most obnoxious, unhelpful and over opinionated person living in a country of seemingly many rude, obnoxious, unhelpful and over opinionated people.
Virpi, who earlier, when asked where to buy guitar leads/chords was sent first to a record store, then a piano shop and a drum shop before finally being shown a guitar shop, is told that if she orders water with her meal she can not drink any drink of ours, not a sip of someone’s coke, not nothing. If you order coke you drink coke, if you order water you drink water, sharing is strictly forbidden. After enduring the charms of Denmark’s most disagreeable man Virpi loses the patience she has been valiantly clinging on to, and let’s him have a large slice of her mind.
In a bid to restore a peaceful equilibrium within the ranks it is decided that we should find a pub and just stay there until showtime, some four hours later.
Further to meeting up with the lovely Maria Anderberg (the wonderful woman who put me in touch with Maria Mckee) and friends we stagger, by this point, to the venue, in the pissing down rain, where we will wait for showtime while being serenaded by a DJ specialising in the worst music that the 80’s had to offer, namely hair metal.
The show goes off pretty well, a healthy reception and a very good natured audience, and after hanging out in the dressing room for long enough to be driven insane by the abhorrent music we conclude that the Danish don’t know what ‘Private: The Wildhearts Only’ means, and that taxi drivers would rather drive around at 90 mph than actually pick anyone up.
We drag our gear back through the rain and arrive at our digs around 4am to see a very high member of a glam band straightening his hair in the corridor mirror. We opt to drink to the death of a very strange day indeed.
Virpi wakes with a strange male member of staff leering over her bed instructing her to “leave right now”, the promised Wi Fi doesn’t work and everyone is still scratching their heads at the previous days activities.
We retire to an Irish pub where I decide I can’t leave Copenhagen with no fond memories and opt to visit the infamous hippie commune Christiania.
A very different face of Copenhagen welcomes us as we enter and take the main drag past dozens of hash and pot stalls hawking the strongest smelling weed these nostrils have ever imbibed. We almost get stoned by osmosis, such is the potency and open use of the local herbal fare.
Christiania is an incredible experience, a social experiment that began in 1971 where the only rules are no violence and keep the place tidy. The entire community muck in together and the enjoy everything from shows by major artists to public speakers addressing a huge tent on the benefits of sharing. There is a strong Buddhist vibe here and everyone is chatty and smiling, a far cry from the grumbling control freaks we’ve met just a few miles down the road. Even the dogs seem unnaturally laid back. You could get a place to stay here for around 100 quid a month. The police keep a respectful distance and the 1000’s of inhabitants live in a seemingly hassle free utopia.
I leave Copenhagen buoyant and so smitten by this strange community that I can forgive, easily, the rudeness of some of the people outside Christiania. After all, it would simply appear that most of the friendly people left the city to live in the commune. I know I would.
I hope to come back here one day to write and enjoy the spiritual balance that seems the true currency of this magical place.
I’d also like to continue my on going quest to fall in love with this country.
Denmark, you crazy fucking bastard.