Click here for accessibility information.

 

Article

News from the front: our favourite reporter

 

Graham Lewis's tour diary from Wire's 2002 European tour—originally printed on posteverything.com.

Part one

Perches selected, the tour bus snails through London, target: Brighton. New recruits are a German tour manager, Christian, and driver, Tilo. Only another 20 days to go...

Scarves and wiggly cigarettes, a gay hotel reception and an available, yet tatty steam iron and board. Brighton is beautiful, man. The sun stings The Pier and The Lanes are alive with the Sound of Music. Massive Attack and heat-transfer prints; Ideal Copyists propagate in The Bristol Bar—a toe in the water, a stomach for slaughter, fresh from the 'States with all that it taught her.

A half-engaged jack provides tension; D.I. on arrival delivers sound; the sea brownbeigepalekharki-withalagertopped. Demolish the walls of your own construction—progress indeed—Mr. Suit is not quite tailored, but the new silhouette is promising.

Smith and Wright shoot in from Berlin, ballistic trajectory, rifled by the Finnish Yakhuza Rudeboy Engineering Front. Mr Wright officiates in plum and black love knit. Smithsonian tendencies abound and envelope; facilitation is an open plan office. Michael Clark wears white Kickers, looking younger than ever and ready-to-go. Smith is a compass, music his binnacle. Blast First; ask questions later. Orbital Parks and The French Connection. The Channel beckons, contraband promises for Chanel Beckhams.

I haven't been there since the Wall came down. Poppies and Remembrance as we ooze through the killing fields of France and Belgium. An excessive moisture situation. Antwerpian engagement is our next objective: the tour is running 120 minutes late. But there's gridlock heading South. F——, now there's gridlock heading North. The tour is now running three hours late. A 55-minute set-up-to-sound-check-completion allows two hours and 30 minutes to be clawed back. Schedule rehabilitation is one of the High Black Arts.

The Antwerpians are damp, unaware of tomorrow's assorted gravel heaps. Fireman in attendance. Enthusiastically, embracing a sugar beet ziggurat. Fun-filled visors and backward hats. Multi-eyed museum cat. What? Whatever happens in Amsterdam. Are you experienced?

23 years late and a lifetime away. A grey-haired Mass reconvenes, genuflects and wonders where the time has gone. With only a short delay, night fell with a sickening thump—blood everywhere, a nasty cut on the eyelid, and an overflowing German Handbag. Perforated anarchists need a screw-top revolution. Cannot drive; don't be late for the Iceless Bar. Sonic paramedics sweep the building.

When I left the Chapman Brothers' Show in Groningen, I didn't know my arse from my elbow. Rhizomic gastropods weave a tender trail; a five-year-old bollard squatter twists my tail. Totally Oscared, the Netherlands are untethered.

The iBook angels, illuminated by their pearly hogs, surf into Germany. It's terribly flat: all swish and hum. Um... Berlin. Night off. Rewind and repair. The frailty of time share. Friendship and tablets. Courses of doses. Contextualisation remorseless. Out-of-pocket expenses. Inhaling, boot-sized lagers.

Trained in Moscow under wooden rulers, DO NOT ADJUST YOUR BLACK AND WHITE TV! Outwardly Honda/Inwardly Trabant. Rude, raw and ravished—fused to the decore. Can't get enough of it—pack a cordless drill.

Marzipan mongeese sport amphibious percussion. Reality production is the topical discussion. Resistance is futile; nostalgia is slaughtered; postcardian trinkets are going for a song. BA-DR bop bandits escape in canoes. A squadron of geese repairs my sense of wonder.

The concrete speculators are liberated by the strategic deployment of acoustic imaging techniques—all emerge from the bunker coated in a frequency of dust. The Pink Panzer hurtles across open country. Eliminating a pointless pocket of dB resistance, she races toward the Northern border. Intelligent projectors anticipate plummeting temperatures, snow, reserve and neutrality.

Adjustments are made and The Pink engages a dance-band camouflage... ALL is preparation.

Generals review specifics; reserves pack their 'shutes. Round wound sound shoes are positively de rigueur. F——-me boots and party frocks await the unlaundered socks. Have the engineers completed their preparations? Has the bridge been blown? Will the reception be open-armed? Does your cupboard harbour an octopus? These and many others remain unanswered. A utilisation of primitive fundamentalism cleaves through the corporate body of rational entertainment. The appliance alliance ensures a progressive and healthy moral: simply marvellous...

ALIZKLAR!

Locations apparently visited:

07.11.02: Brighton
08.11.02: Antwerp
09.11.02: Amsterdam
10.11.02: Groningen
11.11.02: Autobahn
12.11.02: Berlin
13.11.02: Hamburg

Part two

Our Tank enters the Hashish Casbah with millimetres to spare. Citizens of Kristiania, the cannabis castaways—victims of the cookie-cutter Crucifixion—ramble and stumble along roads of faltering diction. "Anything you like, man! Anything you need!"

NO THANK YOU! NIEN!

DANKE... microdot pupils brew cross-eyeing teas. Star Warrian dialogues with bong-bandy dogs, growling and gnawing the hand that feeds them. A Carpenter's Ark equipped for the Real World awaits the tide, becalmed in Sensimian cloudbanks. You're out of it, man! We're out of here, man! Our Tank slaloms through the narcotic tangle, lungs bursting for straight air. Goodbye, over-baked Danish Pastries.

Ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

Scraping four metres with periscope up, we gingerly navigate the one-way channels of a Stockholmian Friday rush-hour. A rushing Russian hotel check-in. Straight through the kitchen to find your reward: eagerly awaited.

We can't hold the doors. Sound-check completed. Dog-tired on all fours. A ceiling so high, expectations of rain, dB diffusion, ensures a turbulent welcome. A crowd of familiars, lost causes and souls, ghoulish remains of those one thought long dead, distractedly frugs, whilst the reborn and young gyrate with heady abandon.

Salon day and shopping. Strategies and debriefing. The 'paper on Sunday (Dagens Nyheter) records a headline delivery of 'degoods': "Naked and Stone-hard Punk". Pacts of collaboration have been sealed before the march on the Kingdom of Satan's Quizzlings. Inside Baelzebub's bum there's barely head-height, but promises of big bottom. Black, black, black. Satan's servants don't use toilet paper. Nail your heart to my door; pierce your kidneys. Tonal tattooing, practised in public. A battle for souls in the smallest of places. Ecstatic faces tell their own stories. Cloaked by the night we slip over the border. Nowhere Norway.

We wake to find East Germany has been relocated (in superior materials) in the pre-graffiti suburbs of Malmö. Stone-cutters and talkers, chisel runes on pagan pig loos. A too-hot-to-trotter deals samples of Satan's Black Whizz. 99: the recipe for cocoa calamity. Deep and dense strains form a unique blend, on the palates of connoisseurs. Tonsorially tightened by flapping wrists and gums, we spurn the ferry and accelerate on the ramp, Knievel jump and land on the Pastry. A juggernaut fleet of cunning Austrians conceal Audi temptation from acquisitive Russians. Giant amp flight cases contain the quality car cargo, safe and secure, in the belly of the railway ferry. Airbrushed camouflage.

First impressions prove to be deceptive. Which end of the stick have YOU got? Whose side are you on? Which way is the wind blowing? Empty the latrines and scarper. Corruption and contamination leave the DNA evidence inadmissible. No shit on board. The scrubbers are flushed. Automarine cruises, unnoticed, on a concrete ribbed wave.

Tilo, our chauffeur—a gentleman—leaves the tour. Felix comes on board. The police of polite bamboozle the skunk monks at kicker. Two hours from everywhere I meet the buyer of Death Camp MacDonalds and Volksvagon Chaos Junction—a Chapman/Wire fan. A perfect location for another British installation, razor-wire spirals top the perimeter fence of the suburban military camp. Travelling wizards don their cloaks of invisibility, climb into their capsules, to contemplate time travel. Cockburn croaks and another voice of individuality is silent. Embrace your sunset. Today is a good day to die. "George W: not much of a Bush—more of a shrub".

A special date and time: 20.11.02 - 20.11.02. "Munich is Munich." "Didn't you know the club was so famous?" say the locals. Who are we to disagree?

"Please sign all of MY records; I'm a serious collector. Your records have been a good investment." We Wire and move on. Passing large molehills of manure approaching the mountains. Can't help thinking of recent acquaintances.

The Alps. Panoramic majesty lit by strong sunshine. We cross the border into Slovenia. No problems. Low cloud descends delivering a grey drizzle to add sheen to the unstinting monochrome buildings of Happy Valley. Plumes of thick sick smoke provide visual punctuation. All is steam. The Kino is reopened for uncompleted business. Igor is eager. 20 years of resistance. National TV our witness. The kids are confused, removed from the Disco. We're tight as a drum and bright as a button. Very serious. The locals approve. Welcome to Slovenia. Fish, sheep and drizzle.

Locations apparently visited:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Stockholm, Sweden
Oslo, Norway
Malmö, Sweden
Bielefeld, Germany
Munchen, Germany
Ljubiljana, Slovenia

Graham Lewis, November, 2002

Artwork