Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 14)
This week, Anna Phoebe suffers on an EasyJet flight, gets to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and prepares to put on a spandex catsuit (calm down, fellas!). Check out all of Anna’s previous columns here.
Summer is finally here!
I’ve spent much of the past couple of weeks in Berlin, cycling around in the 30c degree heat. Watched all three German World Cup games sitting out in the street cafes with fireworks – actually got quite into them and fully embraced my German half. I only felt like an England supporter during the Germany vs. Spain game, where Germany played like a bunch of scared children.
Surprisingly, I felt quite emotional when Germany lost – and I didn’t know I had so many expletives in my German vocabulary. Must have been the Weiss Bier. Thankfully, now that the World Cup is over I can stop pretending to know ANYTHING about football and get back to music! Phew.
On Friday, July 2, Roxy Music played the 44th Montreux Jazz Festival – it was fantastic! The only direct flight between Berlin and Geneva was with EasyJet. As compensation, the Roxy management had gone all out and booked me the extra ‘Speedy Boarding’ pass – which is such a hilarious notion. I actually don’t mind Easyjet at all – it’s just the idea of this pretend ‘superior class of being’ which you get for paying a bit extra. All it means is you get to fight for your seat FIRST; a bit like being given a 10-second start in a particularly competitive school egg-and-spoon race. Anyway, I joined in and duly elbowed my way to the front (the violin case is a good block to stop people trying to barge in front of you) and managed to get the front row seat with extra legroom.
There was no champagne, but I did get a few extra smiles from the super-polite flight attendant who looked barely old enough to start shaving. Rather worryingly, he had problems putting on his safety vest during the safety procedure demonstrations. After two hours’ delay, we took off, and after a scarily bumpy landing (one where the pilot does a wheelie on one side), I landed in Geneva.
Montreux is one of those incredibly picturesque Swiss towns located between the Alps and Lake Geneva on the Swiss Riviera. It was already a settlement in Roman times, and then became an important wine region from the 12th Century onwards. In the 20th Century it has had several notable links with music and literature. When Ernest Hemingway’s central characters in the 1929 classic A Farewell To Arms flee to Switzerland by rowing boat, it is to Montreux. Deep Purple’s song Smoke On The Water is based on the 1971 events when a Frank Zappa fan set the Montreux Casino on fire and destroyed it by firing a flare gun. Led Zeppelin and Queen both recorded at the famous Montreux Mountain Studios, and Queen bought the studios in 1978.
Since 2003 the first weekend of September is Freddie Mercury Memorial Day – there’s a HUGE statue of him in the main square of the town. The extensive list of famous residents of Montreux (past and present) include Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, the Swiss philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau – and Bill Gates!
The Montreux Jazz Festival started in 1967 and has had a whole host of amazing musicians – and certainly not all jazz. I was really looking forward to hearing Melissa Auf der Maur perform just before us – but apparently she missed the plane from Canada and couldn’t make it. Luckily, the INCREDIBLE John McLaughlin happened to be in town and performed an impromptu set with Billy Cobham on drums. I was so excited to get to hear McLaughlin play – the Mahavishnu Orchestra are one of my favourite bands of all time, and the album he did with Shakti, Natural Elements, is one of my top five favourite albums. It’s one I always have on tour with me to listen to in my bunk just before going to sleep. The live set was incredible just to watch and hear him play – and the synergy between him and Cobham was mindblowing. What a treat!
The Roxy set was great! It was my third show with them so it’s all starting to slot into place! I got compared to a Roxy Music album cover girl in a review by Reuters, which makes me smile. I have been working hard on those keyboard moves. We’re going to be performing on the last ever Jonathan Ross BBC TV show this Friday (July 16) and then playing London’s Lovebox Festival the next day. I always get extra excited about playing to a home crowd – my mum is flying in especially from Ireland to come see it! Hopefully I’ll be rocking the new catsuit legendary rock designer Ray Brown is making for me. It’s a gunmetal coloured, super-tight spandex affair: could get a little sweaty but it’s worth it!
You may think you’ve never heard of Ray Brown, but you have probably seen his clothes on stage being worn by your favourite bands. Check out his client list gallery here. In next week’s column I’ll be doing a little interview with him, so you can find out more!
Right. Must go to the gym so I don’t embarrass myself in the spandex.
Inspiration Track of The Week: The Daffodil And The Eagle – Shakti with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussein.
Tags: Anna Phoebe Column, Billy Cobham, Deep Purple, Frank Zappa, Freddie Mercury, Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, John McLaughlin, Jonathan Ross, Led Zeppelin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Queen, Ray Brown, Roxy Music, Shakti, Zakir Hussein