Baz Francis: The ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks World Tour 2017’ Tour Diary – Part Three Print E-mail
Written by Baz Francis   
Sunday, 23 July 2017 04:30

After that last leg of the tour and my live album 'Trainwrecks In The Desert / Giza 2017' was wrapped up and ready to go, a quiet week at base camp seemed positively torturous to me and my overactive brain. I have however managed to use that time to further extend my current world tour and next recording plans, but more on that soon. For now, I'm just happy to have something exciting to look forward to once this tour is over, because I sure as shit don't want another quiet week this year, but offers always come along like buses: two at a time.


Before I get to the next stage of proceedings, I have two more countries to play in Europe that I haven't before: Iceland and Hungary. Having never even been to the former, I once again embraced another unknown in going there, so that let me know I was heading in the right direction for a new adventure now.


Baz live at Boston Reykjavik 24 June 2017 by Andrea Duarte

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrea Duarte


With all the other things going on in my life of late, I had not really had a chance to do any additional research about Iceland before going there, but I was happy to let myself be surprised with this one. I was, for example, unaware that during these summer months, there is actually constant daylight up there, which then prompted me to remember that Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' and its lyric about “the land of the midnight sun” refers to their own first trip to Iceland. This would prove to be one of many things that make the island unique amongst anywhere that I had been before. I don't want this to turn into a journal for the Icelandic Tourist Board though, so I'll try and stick to the relevant points!


Arriving the 'night' before the gig, our first day was spent close to Reykjavík, which for me shares a distinction with Barcelona of being the most pleasantly fragrant city that I've visited so far in Europe, and having found where the venue was, I arrived there again later on to get set up. Visiting several places in Reykjavik city that day, I noticed an unfortunate theme running through a bunch of them, that being the belief that their establishments were cooler than they actually were. Boston, however, was genuinely neat, and hats off to Lili Rá for making us feel so welcome there and for being a wonderful hostess for the evening.


My evening was further enhanced by this being the second time on this tour that I have had a dear Finnish friend of mine come and see me before a show and then stay for the gig as well. This time however, he had come 1500 miles away from Finland (although not just to see me)! Tapani Olkku happened to be in Iceland at the same time as me, and it was such a pleasure to see his kind and familiar face here at Boston. Once performing got underway, the audience were a little hard for me to read, but getting asked to do an encore once my scheduled set was over made me believe that I must have done something right at least!


One thing that has become evident over my years of touring, though, is that I seem to be a human magnet of sorts. I'm not quite sure how (nor which specific quality it is that I attract), but as my show at Boston proved, if there is one disoriented drunk with aspirations of becoming an exotic dancer in a room, then I have the innate ability to draw that person towards me... mid-performance. It's quite a gift - and one that I am quite happy to disinherit. My backing dancer for this evening wanted to duet with me – but, sadly for everyone concerned, in another language, rhythm and key. Maybe next time though. Continuing on a more cultured angle though, a long trip out the following day took us to see geysers and puffins before an evening swim in the incredible Blue Lagoon (situated in the most amazing Mars-like landscape). That said, I've never actually been to Mars, but I do aim to go there on my next summer tour. Coming to a planet near you soon!


Baz at The Blue Lagoon in Iceland June 2017 by Andrea Duarte

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrea Duarte


Something that has pleased me this year is the co-existence of Magic Eight Ball and my songs from the band with my solo work. Another example of this was me flying back from Iceland to play at Haddenham Summerfest in Buckinghamshire with the boys in the same week that I arrived in the UK. A lot of small festivals make big promises that they don't keep, so I always enter playing them with an open mind. It was therefore a great thrill to arrive in Haddenham to the friendliest of crews who seemed to remember me kindly from Oakfest last month; this before playing to a crowd of thousands of people I had not expected to find there. Massive congratulations once more to Iola Seaton-Reid and the team for pulling off another great event, and also for all the money that I see you have now raised from Oakfest this year. You should be very proud of yourselves.


Some of Magic Eight Ball crowd at Haddenham Summerfest July 2017 by Baz Francis



Talking of duality, great promoters and English festivals, the following Saturday I got to perform once more for the delightful Shani Saunders of That Vibe Promotions, for whom I had done the Acoustic Soup gig with back in May. This time I was back playing solo on my own tour at Basingstoke Live Festival on the UNPLGD! Stage. The response from some people at recent shows has been very heartwarming to me when I'm told by strangers how they were taken in by what they'd heard, enough to want to tell me so. Like Iola in Bucks, Shani is an absolute credit to the Hampshire music scene with all the work that she does for her community. Talking of good souls, it was rather fitting perhaps then that I should get to see Miguel Tovar (who organised Magic Eight Ball's Barcelona gig back in March) and his lovely partner Yolanda whilst they were in London that day en route to watching Tom Petty perform in Hyde Park on the Sunday!


Baz performing on the UNPLGD Stage at Basingstoke Festival 8 July 2017 by Lee Sainsbury

PHOTO CREDIT: Lee Sainsbury


No sooner was Basingstoke played than I was back on a plane, this time to Budapest in Hungary. I had been looking for an excuse to return to this beautiful city since 2008, when I had taken a chance on it, to surprising returns. What better excuse to re-visit than a gig, I thought!


Sometimes visiting somewhere or someone for a second time is the kiss of death for you and that first-treasured gem. I rolled those dice in deciding to come back to Budapest, which I had such fond memories of from before. The briefness of that visit was highlighted immediately upon arrival this time, as I realised just how much of this city I had not had a chance to see the first time around, and yet I loved it then anyway! My 'first time again' feeling there was now only added to when my wife and I happened to stumble upon the opening ceremony of the World Aquatics Championships that were unexpectedly to us being held in the city on our first night there, and the light display, fireworks and classical music engulfing the Danube’s banks in front of crowds of thousands would be the envy of many Olympics organisers. It was quite simply magical, so look it up on YouTube if you can.


Baz Francis live at S8 Underground Club Budapest Hungary by Andrea Duarte

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrea Duarte


The gig itself the following night at S8 Underground Club had been subject to some last minute changes that left me a little unsure how I would go down as the only non-Hungarian and acoustic act closing an evening of talented, local rock bands. As I watched the enjoyable sets from Bridge In The Soul River and Lámpaláz (I apologise for not getting to see you, Dirty Canvas), I gauged how I was going to try and pull off my own set, and going on around midnight, I was thrilled by the fact that people had stayed to properly listen to me and greet my songs with warm applause. The presentation of a Lámpaláz CD mid-performance, and the sweetness of the audience and venue staff after my show was very touching to me too. For an evening that could so easily have gone wrong, I'm happy to now say that as a result of it my return to this great city is both imminent and welcomed by those with whom I had the pleasure of meeting there this time. If you’d like to see and hear what it was like at S8 Underground Club this time though, then you can watch this live video of me performing ‘That’s My Problem No More’ there.


Please do check out Dirty Canvas, Bridge In The Soul River and Lámpaláz if you get a chance.


With that then, my work in Africa and the outer limits of Europe on this tour is now complete, and, save for one more gig in England at Global Cafe in Reading on Friday 11 August, that'll be me done in Europe as a whole for a little while (on the gigging front at least). I shall be in session on Radio Woking on 27 July too, though, which you can listen to HERE. The next leg of the ‘Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks’ World Tour and a whole bunch of new recordings, new places, and new adventures will follow from September onwards. This is my last tour diary in this series, but the tour ain't over yet! You can follow my next moves right here on my official solo Facebook page, or sign up to The Magic Eight Ball Express for all the latest gigging goings-on of both Magic Eight Ball and I. I then look forward to hopefully seeing a lot of you along the trail.


Thank you Mark Ashby and everyone at Über Röck for not only asking me to write this journal for you this summer, but also for your continuing support of my music that now stretches to include my first solo works. I doth my cap to all o' y'all.


Much love, your travelling dandy, Baz.


The first Baz Francis solo album 'Face That Launched A Thousand Shipwrecks' is out now on Magic Cat Records. You can buy the CD version HERE or download with bonus tracks on iTunes HERE.


Also, Baz's new Egyptian live album from this tour is out now too, and goes by the name of 'Trainwrecks In The Desert / Giza 2017’. You can download it HERE for a mere £3.99.


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