A man with a match in his hair

He got on the tram. A man of African origin, dressed in an immaculate dark suit. Middle-aged, bespectacled. He sat on the only free seat left. A man like any other, especially in a big city like this. Then we looked at him again. There was something odd about him… A match was half buried in his thick hair! I looked at my fiancee. We winked at each other, smiled, hypothesised. It could have been his naughty grandchildren playing a prank on him…. The tram rattled on but I could not shake off this strange feeling of déjà vu. Then it struck me! Of course! The cult Polish band The Elektryczne Gitary (The Electric Guitars) have a similar song! The Man with a Leaf on His Head.


These are the lyrics, I hope I translated them correctly
(if not, feel free to propose corrections):

Man with a Leaf on His Head

A man with a leaf on his head got on the bus
No one wants to help him, no one tells him anything
Everyone just stares, everybody just stares
and nobody does anything

A man with a leaf on his head is sitting in the bus
It’ll take some time before he learns about the leaf in his thin hair
He just stares out of the window, he just stares out of the window
and he does not do anything

Watch out! These are not clouds, it’s the Palace of Culture
Leaves are flying from the trees, leaves are flying from the trees

That man with the leaf on his head is sitting in the bus
No one wants to help him, no one tells him anything
Everyone just stares, everybody just stares
and does nothing

Another man, just like the first one, got on the bus
Compassionate, he told him all about it
The first one patted his head and took out the leaf
Because, he says, I’m from the woods, because I’m from the woods

Watch out! These are not clouds, it’s the Palace of Culture
Leaves are flying from the trees, leaves are flying from the trees


And this is the song. Enjoy!


A tree walker

Je suis assise dans le parc.
Entre les pétales de la tulipe il y a une lumière chaude où je voudrais plonger comme une abeille, uniquement pour le plaisir, l’air affairé, mais si je n’avais pas le choix, même un bourdon un peu lourdaud ferait l’affaire.
Aujourd’hui je viens de visiter mon ophtalmo, qui m’a reconfirmé que tout va bien et la petite tache noire sur la rétine, qui m’embêtait il y a deux ans, n’est qu’une petite cicatrice insignifiante.
Je pense à l’intensité du bonheur que je ressentais quand je quittais le médecin il y a deux ans avec la confirmation que ça ne bouge pas, qu’il n’y a rien de mal, au contraire que c’est quelque chose de guérri. Je criais en moi: “Je vous aime tous, les gens qui sortez de la supérette, les gens aux vélos, les ados, les vieillards luxembourgeois. Ma vue est parfaite, je…

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Lamb in concert, 30 January 2012, Luxembourg

When it was announced that Lamb would play Luxembourg, I rushed to break the news to my girlfriend, who I knew was their fan. I remember coming to her office once, years ago (we had not been together yet), and asking her about the music she was listening to. It was their famous song Gabriel. She told me there was a time when she had been listening to it over and over again for hours… I did not know the band then, but I liked the song and the band’s name.

Come 30 January and we stand at the door to the Den Atelier venue. It’s freezing outside so everybody is inside in a lobby aptly named the Smoker’s Heaven. Trying not to breathe too much, we put our coats into the cloakroom and move on to the bar. I opt for a glass of red wine, which I get served in a (this is Luxembourg) real wine glass. The second support band has just finished and we squeeze our way among the audience almost to the front of the stage. The Luxembourg crowd don’t like to squeeze too much, which suits us, the weathered Central Europeans who are quite used to it.

It’s a few minutes before 10 o’clock when the lights go down, an instrumental intro comes up and our pulse quickens. The first person on the stage is the bearded double bass player, Jon Thorne, then comes the bubbly “master of the electronic devices” and producer Andy Barlow and the last is the diva of the band, Lou Rhodes. Dressed in an ethereal white dress and black leather trousers, she has a fantastic, low-positioned voice, which she is able to raise into sky-heights, as we will see.

We hear Hello Luxembourg (or something similar, I can’t remember), and on we go. I am fascinated by the way Andy Barlow is playing his multitude of electronic boxes and machines. He twists one knob there, pushes another button here, taps something on the computer…

But it’s all happening really fast, the changes in rhythm come at unexpected moments, harmonious passages are interrupted by ferocious breakbeats… And here comes their gratest hit – Gabriel. My beloved smiles and her eyes glisten… We watch the bass player, who is absolutely absorbed by the music and in the fast, electronic, passages his eyes flash with a sense of ultimate urgency.

Lou Rhodes is the most reserved of the three, expressing all emotions through her voice.

After each song she emits a shy “merci”. The time flies and here comes the beautiful Gorecki, inspired by a work of a Polish composer. One of the highlights for me. I like the way they can build up tension before erupting in orgasmic crescendo.

Another highlight is the last song – Trans Fatty Acid with a faboulous rhythm and otherworldly double bass effects. The band changes into a group of maniacs and as they lead] the crowd to the top. The audience erupts in applause once again and this time even the band’s technical guy backstage raises his arms into the air and joins the happy cheering crowd.

We linger on, watching the techies disassembling the stage, as we always do. Some folks ask for set-lists.
We squeeze among the crowd by the merchandise table and buy the latest album. The members of the band sign it and we congratulate them for their brilliant show. They seem really down-to-earth and amiable.

Only outside, in the wintry, quiet streets we realise how deafened we are. But it does not matter much. Each of us replays his favourite passages from the show as we march on the crunchy, icy, pavement. I love the light in my girlfriend’s eyes after she has seen something beautiful, taken a pretty picture, written something, has done something she likes. We lock hands and march on in the freeze.