Writing this in late November 2020, I last played a live show with an audience almost a year ago in December 2019 at SpaceFest in Gdansk, Poland and it almost seems like a dream to me now.
It was towards the end of a slightly gruelling US tour that I received the invite to appear as co-band leader of Pure Phase Ensemble 9, the house band of the festival, along with revered trumpet player Wojciech Jachna.
The list of previous Pure Phase band leaders includes Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mark Gardener from Ride and Will Carruthers from Spacemen 3/Spiritualized and the remit was simple enough - workshop from Monday to Friday, write a set and perform it live at the weekend.
The band was made up partly of players who had applied to perform in that year’s band as well as musicians selected by the organisers, and so it was that we ended up with a twelve piece band: the four piece horn section led by Wojciech, a four piece guitar battalion - we set up facing each other in the rehearsal room and kept the same V shaped line-up for the show - as well as bass, drums, keyboards, harmonica, clarinet, djembe, Indian flutes.
The first thing we did in the rehearsal room was play a G chord and tune up and make some noise before slipping into the sweet groove that became ‘Sun Is Setting’. We then spent a day and a half just playing and seeing what happened and on the second night Wojciech and I listened through to the recordings and selected sections to develop and turn into songs throughout the rest of the week.
Now I’ve never captained a football team and certainly not one where everyone speaks a language I don’t understand and there were some moments of heated debate in Polish in the rehearsal room where I didn’t understand what everyone was getting so worked up about but had an idea. In a way this actually made it easier for me to step back and ‘lead from the back’. When you’re thrown together with eleven other musicians the whole thing has to work as a collective but I also wanted everyone to have their moment to shine and I think we achieved this with a set that had a lot of scope, covering a fair amount of ground.
Back home in the UK on the Thursday it was the general election and possibly the last chance to row back on Brexit. Of course it ended up as a Conservative landslide which I watched unfold in a bar with UK music journalist Dom Gourlay and our musings on the state of a divided and broken nation ended up being the theme to the three songs I sang and so the set sails out with ‘Day is Breaking’ and a chorus of “C’est la vie”.
On the night of the concert I set up on stage-right at the sharp end of an overall V-shape. To my left were fellow guitar players Magda, Matt and Seb and opposite us were Wojciech’s players Adam on trumpet and saxophone players Jakub and Lukasz. Bogumil (keyboards/harmonica) and Piotr (bass/flutes/djembe etc) were alongside them at the back of the stage next to Jedrzej’s drum kit and last but certainly not least PPE veteran Karol Schwarz, moonlighting between synths, bass, vocals and all-round cheerleading!
I’d like to thank Martyna and Ania for the invitation and Karol and all the band members of Pure Phase Ensemble 9 for the unforgettable time - I’d happily do it all again.
November 29th 2020
released November 30, 2020
music: Pure Phase Ensemble 9
lyrics: Adam Franklin (5, 7, 10); Karol Schwarz (8, 9)
Pure Phase Ensemble 9:
Adam Franklin – guitar (1-8, 10); vocals (5, 7, 10), shaker (9)
Wojciech Jachna – trumpet (1-8, 10)
Jędrzej Jakubowski – drums (1-8, 10)
Piotr Hopcia – bass guitar (1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10); indian flutes (6);
ravdrum (1, 9); Djembe (3); backing vocals (2, 8); shaker (5)
Sebastian Strychu Strycharczuk – guitar (1-8, 10)
Magdalena Kruk – guitar (1-10)
Mateusz Romanowski – guitar (1-8, 10)
Adam Skorczewski – trumpet (1-8, 10)
Jakub Klemensiewicz – baritone saxophone (1-8, 10); clarinet (9)
Łukasz Żurawski – tenor saxophone (1-8, 10)
Bogumił Grala – harmonica (2, 10), keyboard (1, 3, 6-8, 10)
Karol Schwarz – bass guitar (3, 5, 9); synths (1, 6); vocals (8, 9);
backing vocals (7)
7 faz - Phase G (1)
recording: Marek Iwanowski
live mix: Michał Walder
mix, production, mastering: Karol Schwarz
supervision: Anna Szynwelska
art work: Patryk Hardziej
photography: Paweł Jóźwiak
coordination: Martyna Olszewska
nasiono records 115/2020