For three years since I left Paris, I've been waiting for an excuse to go back, so when Joseph Arthur suggested I should come to his gallery opening, in one of my more impulsive moments, I booked an overnight bus for the next evening and spent one incredible day in one of my favourite cities.
I arrived at 8am and began with something of a nostalgia tour, heading straight for St Eustache, a church that I always preferred to its more glamorous cousin Notre Dame. I then strolled through Ile de la Cité to my "fancy apartment on the Boulevard Saint Michel" (more like a nunnery in reality) and greatly confused the receptionist with my strange desire to wander around and reminisce. I got similarly nostalgic in les Jardins du Luxembourg, which I visited every day while I lived there, whether rushing through on my way to class, catching up on some work among the flowers or just people-watching.
Then in the evening I headed up into Montmartre to Galerie Chappe, "Paris' highest gallery", specialising in art related to music and film. While I'd seen many of Joe's paintings spread around Heath Street Baptist Church, it was amazing to be in a gallery packed full of them, ranging from intricate, detailed pieces to huge murals, all with Joe's signature figures. One of my favourites was a painting on the back of a door that Joe had found on the street and taken back to his hotel room. As well as enjoying the art, I got to chat to lots of interesting music people, including Joe himself, his band - Bill Dobrow and Rene Lopez - and Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Jesse Harris.
Joe performing Saint of Impossible Causes surrounded by his paintings:
I was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time, because that night Joe's good friend and mentor Peter Gabriel was in town, playing the 17,000 seater stadium in Bercy, and I got to go along with Joe, Bill and other friends for free. While not a huge Gabriel fan by any means (I know Solsbury Hill obviously, and In Your Eyes from seminal 80s smush-fest Say Anything) but wow, the man knows how to put on a show! Gabriel bounded with incredible energy throughout, aided by Manu Katché on drums and a spectacular light show. I was completely swept up in the joy of it all and the enthusiasm of the enormous crowd of fans.