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Magical Mekong

Start/End
13 to 30 Apr 2023
Location(s)
Cambodia
Laos

38 in the Shade

“They think it’s all over…”
As the Covid pandemic retreated ever deeper into the collective memory of the world at large, things began to return to normal for most in early 2023. And what could be more normal than a PlanB international tour?

Approximately 24 hours after the band arrived in-country, the Magical Mekong Tour of Cambodia and Laos kicked off in the beautiful surrounds of Phnom Penh’s Waterside, an upmarket open-air venue situated at the point where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet. A very warm evening set the scene for the entire tour, where temperatures rarely dipped below 38 during the day. The less said about the humidity the better. Not to be discouraged by something so trivial as the weather, PlanB started as they meant to go on, playing three blistering sets of their irresistible, instantly memorable music.

A big crowd of friends, fans and curious music lovers filled the place and weren’t disappointed by the performance, if feedback from punters and the venue operators was anything to go by - “This was just heavenly… all fantastic original songs”.

This tour, perhaps more so than any other, was defined by the incredible contrast of the venues that hosted PlanB across the two countries. From the salubrious environs of the Waterside and others, to front bars that were eager but unprepared, to clip joints that wouldn’t have been out of place on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, this tour had all bases covered.

Kampot was a combination of work and play. The one gig, at Monkey Republic on the Saturday night, made the weekend trip southward a worthwhile journey, although there were other things to like about the southern coastal town. The people of Kampot, like the majority of folks encountered on tour, were friendly, generous and genuinely enthused by what PlanB offers in terms of performance.

The oft-repeated quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, didn’t exactly hold up to close scrutiny on some stages of the tour. Sometimes, in order to find the enjoyment, quite a bit of work is required. Not least the baking hot conditions on the slow train to Battambang. No air conditioning, no drinks, no relief. Just eight hours in an oven. Recommended for those who want to lose weight by sweating; not ideal for anyone else. It must be said, however, that sometimes the effort serves to make the rewards sweeter. The beers on arrival in Battambang were among the most welcome of the trip.

Siem Reap offered its usual combination of spiritual goodness and tacky tourism; it’s fair to say the gigs offered another wide and varied selection of venues for the band. A beautiful outdoor venue, a welcoming afternoon pub, and a dive bar replete with mild electric shocks, glass on the floor and a punch up. Despite the blistering heat, a few band members managed to visit the beautiful Angkor Wat and its surrounds: some for the first time.

Leaving Cambodia behind, it was on to Luang Prabang in Laos, courtesy Vietnam airlines, where the almost-empty plane had the feel of a private charter. Luang Prabang provided many delights, including monastery tours, a slow boat tour along the Mekong, and $1 gin and tonics. The band enjoyed a restful sojourn in the historic capital before travelling to Vientiane, this time on a very fast and very cool train, where the curtain came down on the tour with a big gig at Tully’s. The massive crowd ensured that band members would finish with a visual memory that will last a long time, well after the last strains of “Wake Up Call” faded into the ether.

Some 48 hours later, a plane full of PlanB departed Southeast Asia once again, destined for the somewhat cooler comforts of home. Nine concerts played, 197 songs performed, and lots of new friends made.

Until next time,

 

Harry Palmer
July 2023

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Music Videos

Music Video
|
August 14, 2023
|
4.09
Music Video
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December 1, 2023
|
3.19

Venues

Waterside

Phnom Penh

Monkey Republic

Kampot

Oscar's On The Corner

Phnom Penh

The Balcony

Battambang

Laundry Bar

Siem Reap

POMME Bar

Siem Reap

Tully's Irish Pub

Vientiane

Duplex Belgian Tavern

Phnom Penh