Two different experiences

02011-04-12 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

The way we travel, visiting a city for a day, or at most for three days, we experience the local culture as a brief snapshot. According to many elements, the weather, the state of the local economy, the vibe of the people, those snapshots can be quite skewed. Impressions can easily be reversed, too. For example, in 1996 I loved Istanbul and did not enjoy Athens… and this time the reverse is true. 

In Istanbul we stayed at the MIM hotel, which some of us dubbed “Miserable Istanbul Memories”. Two cab drivers took us on long detours, racking up double the normal fare and arguing fighting to get their money. One cab driver managed to keep his meter running after dropping his previous fare – I noticed it too late – and wanted 50 Lira for a drive that should have cost 15… After much arguing we settled for 25. Two different restaurants brought out dishes we had not ordered and refused to take them back… of course they charged us for them, with one of them padding the bill even further. And I haven’t even mentioned the gig itself. The promoter, a nice looking Jazz club by the water front, and next to the Radisson Blue, had agreed to our terms, which always include that we need a Yamaha digital mixing console so that we can use our in ear monitor system. This is rarely a problem and we were furnished the gear we needed everywhere else on this tour, in Latvia as well as Belgium, Germany and Italy. Well,the promoter/club didn’t answer our emails clearly, avoided most of our questions and claimed that everything would be fine…

When we arrived at the club we were told that they did not in fact have a console and that Jaren would have to mix on a shitty (only two EQ points per channel) old analog board and we would have to use the club’s wedges (wedges are monitor loudspeakers, so called because of their shape) on stage. I told Michael that there was no way that my ears could take the sound of his drum kit and the corresponding volume of the wedge in front of me. To his credit, Michael put together a special kit, using Houman’s cajon – who consequently played only dumbek in Istanbul – his own hi-hat with a towel thrown over it, a snare with a towel over it and a kick. 

We certainly made the best out of the situation and the audience seemed to really enjoy the music, but it was hard work. The guitar sounded like crap in the wedges and I had to try to imagine what it should sound like… 

And it rained almost the entire time we were in Istanbul. One day I walked with my friend Craig in the rain for three hours… we had our best Istanbul meal during that walk, a lamb sandwich from a street vendor. Interestingly the person helping the cook was an Armenian who spoke five languages.

Ah, how different Athens was!! The sun shined and we discovered that the promoter had booked us into the same hotel we stayed in in 1996 – with a fabulous view of the Acropolis!! So many memories, of walking to the Acropolis at night, of band members over-doing the ouzo and more…

Everyone was very friendly, the food in the little cafes in the area was wonderful, a small bar not far from the hotel served the best drink ever – according to five of us who went there (I unfortunately missed it) – I seem to remember they said it was green tea infused sake with grape juice, or something like that… The Badminton theater, so-called because it was the 2004 Olympic Badminton venue, sounded good. We were very happy to be able to use our IEMs again… oh, and none of the cab drivers over-charged us. 


  1. Boris

    I took a photo of the towel on the hi-hat. Will post it around Easter since I cannot download the pix before. And should be able to write down my impressions of that day the next days … I can assure you that from a listerners perspective, you and the band sounded awesome!

  2. Ottmar

    That’s reassuring and I am proud of the whole band for making it work – Houman and Michael had to make up new parts for every piece of music. But it was an awful situation the promoter put us into and certainly added to the miserable Istanbul experience we had.


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