The Campaign: Mike Noga On Tour With Band Of Horses
A set of belated postcards from the pen of MICHAEL CHARLES NOGA, who stormed Europe in February with American comrades Band of Horses. Read the introductory postcard [here](/news/4186832).
Early victories in Portugal, Spain
My dearest M+N,
Oh, how I miss thee so. Your pale skin. Your pursed lips. Your crooked smile. Your fuzzy red hair and those moles that sit just so on your nose. Oh, to touch you once more.
It is with pride in my heart that I write today, for we have tasted victory in this, the first weeks of our campaign – and victory tastes sweet. Sweet like the Portuguese tarts that myself and my fellow freedom fighters, Patrick Bourke and Angus Agars, gorged ourselves on upon entering Lisbon some days ago.
Such nerves and anxiety I have never encountered as that which I felt before our first major battle in the aforementioned Lisbon. Upon entering the theatre’s stage from the left we were met with the horrific scene of 2000 young Portuguese men and women seated and staring blankly up at us with eyes full of hope. A smattering of applause here – a cough over there. I thought the war was lost before the first shot had been fired. But [BAM!](/news/3993562) I opened fire! Introducing us as being, ?All the way from Melbourne, Australia.? Suddenly we were storming the trenches! My introduction was met with almighty cheers and whoops from the civilians, and now they were on our side. Longing to be freed from the crushing sounds of bad FM radio they have had to endure their whole lives. We let loose with every piece of Australian folk-rock ammunition we had, and by battles end, a standing ovation was the sign the city gave us as a thank you for liberating their hearts and minds.
Afterwards, at the merchandise table, many a CD was sold, many an awkward photograph taken with the local civilians. And I retired to my swag with dreams of a war already won drifting through my head. This was to set the scene for the rest of the campaign.
Espana! And onwards we rolled! Through Madrid and into Barcelona. Our American allies, Band of Horses, have truly conquered these cities and indeed cities all over Europe before, hence, our battles were some of the easiest I have ever faced! Huge crowds of 3000 to 4000 every night, all ready and willing to accept the Australians and their peculiar music into their hearts and minds. They’re a rowdy lot, these jolly Spanish, and there was many a victory drink drunk in the bars of Barcelona with our American allies and our dear Australian friends Lillith Lane (who has been stationed at a Spanish outpost for six months now, fighting the good fight) and BJ who once fought in the Legends of Motorsport Battalion, but has now become a kind of vigilante, ploughing his electronic musical wares throughout the Europes.
It was with red eyes and bleary minds that we undertook the long march towards Italy the morning after our battle in Barcelona. Our rations so far have consisted mostly of bread, cheese, various cold meats and beer, and it is for this that I fear I may have come down with the dreaded scurvy. Some tapas and a quick look at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and we were off, moving ever forward toward Italy.
Our hearts are beating faster and faster now, my love. For we are all filled with dread at what lay before us once Italy has been conquered. We dare not utter it’s name. We sit silently now in the tank. Snow falling outside as we near the Alps. The mere mention of the country is enough to strike terror into the hearts of any young, Australian wanna-be-folk-rock-singer?
Deutschland and beyond
My dearest darling M+N,
Perhaps I have been a fool to assume that the good guys always win. I am hurting, my love, and my heart aches for thee. My fellow soldiers, Patrick and Angus assure me it is just all the Bratwurst we have eaten, but my heart has never felt such a burning sensation – and I know it burns for you.
Things have taken a turn for the worst, my dear, and I fear I may not see thee again. Upon entering Italy by moonlight and bunking down for just a few hours sleep we were whisked away to a local radio outpost to be interviewed. I know now that the radio station workers were resistance fighters trying to sabotage our mission for sure. Upon entering the station we were ushered into a small room where three very rowdy young Italian men tried to confuse us by crowding around one microphone and speaking very boisterously and with great speed in their native tongue, completely ignoring the fact that there were two Austalians in front of them that they were meant to be interviewing. Toward the end of this torturous process one of them turned to me and said in broken English, ?So you are Mike Noga and you play tonight?? To which I replied: ?Yes.? This brought forth much merriment and delight from our Italian saboteurs and one minute later we were ushered out in to the cold. Interview over.
Later that night though a great victory was claimed. It seems the town of Bologna have been awaiting our imminent arrival and, upon our entering the stage, threw their hands up in screams of glee as we and our American brothers, Band of Horses, freed minds and souls over a long four-hour conflict. We received the kind of reception I imagine is reserved only for that of The Ink Spots or Bing Crosby. A joyous victory and one I will never forget. Drinks with the locals was the post-battle plan, and it was here I witnessed a peculiar custom native to this part of the world. Some of the local men thought it necessary to walk out onto the street and expose themselves to passers by! How quaint! A more jovial bunch of scallywags I have never encountered!
On we rolled into Germany. Our hearts slowly filling with dread at the thought of what may lay before us. It was here, my love, that we met our first crushing defeat, and things slowly took a turn for the worst.
Upon entering Koln, our tank was stopped dead in its tracks. Whether it was sabotaged by our Italian DJs or victim of a crude explosive device we will never know. But we had a punctured tyre, and it was looking more and more like my first day off in weeks was going to be spent trying to rectify this crushing blow, whilst all the time acting behind enemy lines.
The next day the Germans did their best to destroy us. We were sent a local mechanic who could not speak a word of English and proceeded to capture our tank and put it onto the back of his truck. He marched Patrick and I at gun point into his vehicle and drove us to a Peugeot dealership on the outskirts of town. The whole day was spent sitting inside the Peugeot Camp, trying to negotiate with our captors. We were fed only mineral wasser and bread and were lucky to escape with our lives, when six hours and 430 Euros later we were released. Our tyre repaired but our minds forever crippled.
The weather was turning colder now as we continued our assault on Germany. We fought many battles in far-flung towns. Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and on into the capital, Berlin. The heart of darkness. Our American allies, Band of Horses, seem to be losing all momentum, as are we. After such rapturous receptions in the countries already liberated, the icy-cold atmosphere and clinical response from the local civilians is slowly beginning to take its toll. Ben Bridwell, the leader of the BoH Battalion has taken to turning his back to the audience and putting in the least amount of effort required to win each battle. I fear he may be headed for a kind of breakdown. I fear we may all follow soon after.
But we must keep focused, my angel. For the end is near. And the great city of Amsterdam awaits! With all of its prizes and charms! And we have three days off to explore its local culture and entertainment options. A prospect which has been discussed with great vigour inside the van!
Roll on Netherlands! Roll on Paris! And roll on a time when I will gaze into your beautiful eye once more, my darling M+N.
A war won and the journey home
My dearest, darling angel M+N,
How is little Dotty? Did she enjoy her first day at school? Oh, to hug you both again. To rest my head on your bulging bosom. To listen to your sweet voice talk for hours about the time you witnessed Kim Salmon [perform a concert](/galleries/4226321) at The Old Bar. I miss the Old Bar. Oh, how we have laughed inside its music-filled chambers!
We were lucky to escape Germania alive, my dear, and although the journey was not without its own dangers (I have enclosed some photos of the cafeteria menu. It seems death by salmonella was the order of the day) it was with a great sigh of relief that we boarded a ferry into Denmark and were met with the biggest audience of the campaign yet.
Four-thousand civilians crammed themselves into an abandoned brewery after queuing for hours in the freezing cold. This particular battle was won before it began. It seems our American allies, BoH, are much loved in these parts, and we served them up quite a show. T’was the biggest audience we would tackle on this tour, but we have become a formidable foe, my dear, and it was all they could do to surrender themselves without protest and bask in the glorious Australian folk-rock in front of them. Minds, were again, freed. Hearts were captured.
To Amsterdam, and not a bleeding moment too soon, I must say! It was here in this city of scrumptious delights that we positioned ourselves for a well-earned three nights off. I had taken shelter at this particular camp once before alongside my dear friend Colonel Luscombe some years ago. It is called ?The Backstage Hotel? and is completely furnished with the kind of articles and instruments oft found at musical recitals! How very odd I hear you mutter? Indeed it is. A snare drum for a lamp shade? Drum stool for a chair? Road cases as wardrobes? I jest not, my love. A more strange base camp I have never witnessed. But was I going to let it ruin my R’n’R? Golly Gosh no!
Needless to say we enjoyed our time in Amsterdam very much, my darling M+N. I should very much like to visit there again one day soon. The museums are to die for.
In the final stages of our campaign we were lucky enough to draw battle on some of the world’s most famous theatres of war: The Paradiso in Amsterdam, a magnificent building, a stage I have only dreamt of gracing before, and one which comes highly recommended by General Keith Richards I might add; Ancienne Belgique in Brussels; and then, at last, our final battle at the famous La Cigale Theatre in Paris.
It was with heavy hearts and melancholy minds that we stepped foot onto the stage at La Cigale. We new this was the end. Our last night with our American allies, Band of Horses, of who we have grown so very fond. Our final mission.
What ensued was the greatest battle of my life. To step out onto one of Europe’s oldest stages and be greeted by 2000 screaming, cheering Parisians is not something to be scoffed at. We fought with every piece of strength we had left. Eyes stinging with sweat. Hands trembling on fret boards. ?MORE! MORE!? the civilians screamed and it was at this point the entire Band of Horses Battalion joined us on stage for the final song of our set, and to thank us for joining them in this, a hard-fought campaign. A campaign which will forever remain in our hearts as one of life’s great experiences.
And so I return home now to you, my love. A long voyage across the seas and I will collapse into your arms once more. But it will be a bitter sweet reunion, my beautiful M+N*. For I have received new orders: there is another mission on the horizon, a call to arms that I cannot ignore. My new album, *[The Balladeer Hunter](/news/4175379), will soon be in the hands of the citizens of Australia. And I must travel far and wide once more, across that great continent. There are minds to be freed and hearts to be captured. A new campaign has begun.
####?The Balladeer Hunter? is out this Friday (April 1) through Other Tongues.