Jan 21st – Day Eighteen
I drag myself from the bed to shower in our tiny bathroom with what is possibly the least powerful water jet of all time. You know the dripping water that falls inside caves and forms stalactites? Well they would make a better, more powerful body cleaning system than this. An hour later after vaguely moistening my body I go for an interview over coffee with another Saigon local. Another scooter ride in the sweltering heat (i really am becoming an expert at this by now, i barely even have to hang on for dear life) takes us to a blissfully cool cafe and i talk about myself, the band, the UK and then ask probably too many questions about life in Vietnam. It dawns on me how narrow and sheltered my view on life has been and i make a mental note not to ever think i know much about life and end up closing myself off to new experiences and ways of thinking. Its a cliche but sometimes we really don't realise how lucky we are. During this deep thought i get another message to my brain "Jon, this is your body and you feel fucking terrible" so I stop with my relentless questioning and go back to the hotel. The other guys are nowhere to be found but i’m glad of a little peace and quiet and just crash out until sound check.
Today is HOT and tonight we have two shows in the same venue. One upstairs, then 15 minutes after it ends another one downstairs. I seriously wonder if i can handle it in my current state of what feels like constant drowsiness.
Well the soundcheck goes like a dream and instantly i’m restored to what feels like an at least semi concious state. I think i had just been dreading another afternoon of fighting with electricity, freak buzzes and my own lack of ability to express “less of my vocal but more of his vocal and guitar” through sign language whilst melting in the heat.
We have no plans as we expected to be at the venue all afternoon so we all go to our favourite restaurant (its called Margaritas and does the best chilli ever according to Si, but Jon and I opt for the Vietnamese food everytime with James almost certainly getting either chicken or spaghetti bolognese. Unfamiliar food scares the poor boy) and plan our set(s) for the evening.
The first goes without hitch, but the vibe is lacking with the audience mostly made up of businessmen it seems on some kind of afterwork outing. Still, i thought we played really well and on a personal note i thought i sang Come Home better than i ever had done in the past, not that anyone really gives a shit. We had also all sweated so much we looked like we’d jumped into the shower in our clothes, well a poper shower, not the one i have that has a drip every 30 seconds that evaporates before hitting my rancid body, but we still had another set to do. So we pack up, lug our gear downstairs and wait for the seriously foxy Filipino girls onstage to finish their set.
This kind of mix and match just doesn’t happen in the UK but the audience seem to love it here. No sooner are they done than we’re set up, ready to go and the soundman is on it quick as a flash telling us to get going. We bash into “Your Children Are Safe With Us” and see the audience loosen up and start having some fun. This is more like it! However confusing us with a covers band a Japanese tourist calls me to the side of the stage after the first song and presses a request slip into my hand with “U2 – With Or Without You , or November Rain” written on it. I say something stupid that was supposed to be funny and thankfully Jon (Lamont) covers up the tumble weed silence with a drum fill and we plough through to Romeo with the crowd seeming to love us despite not playing one song they knew, something that i think is anathema in small clubs here. Taking a leaf from the Filipino girl’s book i played the end of the song stood on the bar and just hoped i’d not mis judged the jump back to the stage. Buddah however was smiling on me tonight and actually running with sweat i landed on both feet back on the stage and we ended our Saigon adventure with a good blast of feedback and noise (self oscillating Ibanez DE-7 delay pedal screams for the guitar geeks who read this.)
The owner of the bar took no notice of the fact we had a flight at 9am the next day and plied us with whisky, beer and vodka until we could handle no more. The barmaids went photo crazy and seemed to come up with 100 different ways to take photos of us looking breathless, sweaty, pale and just downright British. I hope they got the shot they were after. As soon as it lookedl ike we'd got about halfway through the alcohol provided the owner would call for more and we set about trying to get it drunk quickly whilst protesting we just could not have more. We think it is rude to not have free drinks and he thinks it is rude if he doesn't provide and access so an East meets West culture divide results is us being seriously drunk and done way later than expected.
We stagger up the stairs to the rooms knowing tomorrow morning’s early rise is going to be seriously hard, but without sounding too cheesy we’re all really buzzing from ending the Ho Chi Minh trip on such a high note. Just Hanoi to go.