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Louis Baker Takes Europe With Fat Freddy’s Drop

The Aotearoa soul sensation recounts an unforgettable summer adventure with one of New Zealand’s most iconic bands

Louis Baker


Aotearoa singer-songwriter Louis Baker made the trip from New Zealand to join iconic Kiwi band Fat Freddy’s Drop as a solo act on their UK and European summer tour last year. It was non-stop action with 19 shows across nine countries in just four weeks, hitting up places like London, Copenhagen, Italy, and Germany.

Documenting the adventure for Rolling Stone AU/NZ, Baker and the FFD crew travelled in style, cruising around in two double-decker touring buses, indulging in local eats (FFD, it turns out, are serious foodies), taking in the sights, and performing in some amazing outdoor arenas. 

Check out all the highlights from their tour in Louis’s full diary below!

Louis Baker

London, UK, London Eventim Apollo

First show of the tour tonight. I flew in a few days ago with a few of the other Freddy’s – Scott Towers, Toby Laing, MC Slave, Ned Ngatae and Dexta our Production Manager. Really good to be able to get in a few days early.  The Freddy’s team really consider well-being. There are 19 of us on this run, that includes the band, management, crew and myself. It’s good to be back in London and that first pint at the local next to our accom tasted good.  

Tonights venue is the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. I’m stoked to be on this stage tonight with Freddy’s. Artists like The Beatles, Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald have played here.  

I played a 30 min opening set tonight.  My setup is just me and an electric guitar. Really different to having my band with me but I’m also super comfortable with it.  I’ve toured Europe a number of times with just my guitar so it’s familiar.  Throughout the tour Freddy’s have invited me to jump up with them on “Boondigga”, which is one of my favourite Freddy’s tracks, and “Hope” as well. The audience was fire, so energetic. Good to get a show under the belt.  The first one of the tour is always the hardest but everyone smashed it.

After the show, we had a kai while the crew packed our gear into the trailers. There are two double decker touring buses with trailers. This is our home base for the tour.

Louis Baker

Birmingham, UK, Mosley Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival

We woke up next to Mosely Park where the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival is. This is a cool site and the lineup today is killer – Jasmine Myra, Eva Lazarus, Kokoroko, Goldie Live, Emma Thackeray and Freddy’s. I was blown away by Goldie’s set, he had an impressive band including two drummers. Great venue, awesome people and a history of artists performing here that are my heroes.

Louis Baker

Rochester, UK, Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle was a blast. An incredible and unique place to play and the crowd brought the energy to match it. Certainly the first time playing near a huge castle and in a spot like that. I’m a big fan of Lee Fields so it was great to catch his set earlier in the day. I took a walk before the show in the small village down the road, just 5 mins from sight, and caught up with Iain from Freddy’s (Shown in pic).

Louis Baker

Durham, UK, Durham BRASS Festival

This is classic northern stuff with a twist. Pork and chorizo sossy rolls on the menu.

Went to the local record store at Durham Market and found some soul 45s including Grover Washington and Stevie Wonder. The team is finding vinyl in every city we go to (DJ Mu in photo).

Louis Baker
Louis Baker

Utrecht, The Netherlands, Tivoli, Vrendenburg

The Utrecht show was off the hook, once again I was blown away by a sold out crowd. 

Earlier in the day I walked to get some food in town, found an impressive vegan cookie (I’m a cookie fiend) and then walked past Sint Willibrordkerk Cathedral. It’s hard not to be amazed by the architecture over here in Europe. This show felt like I was starting to feel more free on stage and things started feeling a bit more second nature. Beautiful venue and we were really taken care of.

Louis Baker tour

Berlin, Germany, Waldbuhne

This show was off the chain. We played before Tash Sultana and there were around 14K people there in the arena. Incredible outdoor venue and the weather was a perfect sunny day. This was one of my favourite shows of the tour. The catering was on point with heaps of options of food to eat. The gig had this special energy to it which I can’t put my finger on. Was amazing to look out to all the people and such an honour to be on that stage with FFD.

Was nice to see Berlin Cathedral. Such a jaw-dropping piece of architecture. Our tour buses are well stocked and kitted out with lounges, kitchen, bathroom and bunk bed style sleeping quarters. I’ve definitely made home on the bus.

Copenhagen, Denmark, Stagebox

Woke up in Copenhagen. Got off the bus, had a shower and checked out the venue. Stage Box is a purpose built live music venue and is an excellent space just outside the city. 

Then I went for a walk with Dallas and Ned to Reffen Copenhagen Street Food which is an incredible market near the water only 10 mins walk from the venue. It has a wide variety of street food including cuisine from Kurdistan, Philippines, Afghanistan, Mexico and much more. 

We headed back and then I had a snooze. The bunks are pretty comfortable and a chill before the show is totally key in keeping your energy levels up while you’re on tour. Every night before the show I do my vocal warmups and exercises with my stainless steel vocal straw. Life on the road can be a bit fatiguing to the vocals at times and I find this tool great for focussing the voice and helping with singing stamina. 

The show was sold out, a full room of 2500 people. I really enjoyed my 30min solo opening set, and always very fun to play on a couple of FFD tracks in their set as well. After the show was finished we had dinner and got on the bus again for an 11 hour journey to Amsterdam. Den Haag is up next!

Louis Baker

Den Haag, Paard Van Troje

We travelled from our hotel in Amsterdam to our beautiful venue for the evening, Paard, Den Haag. It was sunny so I took off for a walk around the streets before soundcheck and saw many nice buildings, one of which was The Great Church of St. James, which is one of the oldest buildings in the Hague and has a grand clock tower. Then headed back to the venue where we were all given a pair of New Balance shoes of our choosing. Then went into show mode. It was a sold out crowd and the audience were attentive and singing along. Such a fun gig!

Louis Baker

Galway, Ireland, Galway International Arts Festival

Galway really showed us love. The fine cuisine from Jess Murphy and team from Kai Restaurant Galway was off the hook and very tasty. As we pulled up backstage in the buses before soundcheck there was heaps of food for us so we had a nice lunch. The highlights were the oysters, raw fish, mackerel, and crab. The audience was popping. Each show gets a bit tighter and I really connected with this show. Awesome hospitality from Galway arts fest team as well.

Herefordshire, UK, Nozstock

Glad I got some gummies for this one cause it rained a lot. Freddy’s are passionate foodies and so that’s a big part of the culture in the band. There were some nice local cheeses backstage which we loved. Was only a line-check for this show so we had time to go for a walk around the festival. We heard music from Dancehall and Reggae (David Roddigan) to jungle and more. Full of people having a good time and feelings were high during the set even though it rained consistently throughout. Was a super fun show!

Louis Baker tour

Huntingdon, UK, Secret Garden Party

This day was bonkas. We were on the same stage as Róisín Murphy, Grandmaster Flash, and De La Soul which featured a surprise appearance from the one and only Talib Kweli. I love hip hop music so to see Talib was a huge highlight for me. The crowd was incredible for this show. Again, it was a real pleasure to guest with FFD on “Boondigga” and play a guitar solo and sing to that many people, it’s a huge rush. 

Antwerp, Belgium, Openluchttheater Rivierenhof

This spot was right by the provincial park so I went for a stroll when I got to the venue and found some trees and greenery. Always good for clearing the mind. It was a beautiful outdoor amphitheater venue and had great backstage facilities. There are records being sampled and beats being made before every show (photo: DJ Mu and Toby Laing sampling) good to hang with my bro Iain (photo: Iain Gordon (Keys/Synths for FFD and Me) just before going on stage. Featuring a very special leopard print Jacket, a Fat Freddy’s classic).

Louis Baker tour

Locorotondo, Italy, Locus Festival

Locorotondo was a highlight of mine. Such a beautiful little town. It’s part of the Puglia region and is known for its Orecchiette pasta, Burrata cheese, Focaccia bread, and cone-roofed Trulli houses. I went for a walk into the township to see some incredible buildings including the Church of St. George. There were many small shops that were selling things like cured meats, gifts, and cheese, with streets and alleyways that keep winding around. This circular structure is how Locorotondo gets its name, ‘Round Place’. A cold beer was much needed, and the show was sold out. A super fun show to play. The Italians love to sing, and this proved that yet again.

Cesena, Italy, acieloaperto

Santa Sofia was another blisteringly hot day in Italy. We got to the venue and did our usual sound check, then were very happy to find there was a river right next to the gig. Everyone was going for swims throughout the day which gave us more energy to deal with the heat. The water was incredible with a few different swimming holes. A popular spot amongst the locals too. When I opened up with my set I almost felt like I was going to fall over because the heat was intense, and I felt a bit dizzy. Freddy’s played an amazing set and the crowd was loving it, some were holding big signs with names of Fat Freddy’s songs. 

Louis Baker tour

Milan, Italy, Magnolia 

In Milan we were pretty much in and out, so we didn’t have a chance to see the city unfortunately, but the gig was another cracker. The fully sold out show again had incredible crowd participation, and lots of singing along. I didn’t realise I have quite a few fans in Milan. When I went out front in the FFD set lots of people came up and talked to me to either get a photo or say thanks for the music. The sound was really on point too. You could hear all instruments with clear definition. Our FOH and Monitor engineers did a great job on this tour. It’s a joy to have good sound, both through your in-ear monitoring, and out front, and it’s not always easy to achieve.

Louis Baker tour

Zurich, Switzerland

We got to Zurich the day before our show and had a much needed sleep and stay at the hotel.

It was the Swiss National Day, where Swiss people celebrate with bonfires, lantern parades and fireworks, and I managed to see these from the hotel window which was dope. The gig the next day was epic. Before sound check we went for a swim down the Limmat River. It’s a very popular spot where people walk up river and then swim with the current down river to steps where they get out of the water and walk back up again. Was a really fun experience! The gig was also another sold out show with a huge amount of love in the room which you could really feel.

Louis Baker tour

Linz, Austria, Posthof FrischLuft 

At this gig one of our buses had broken down at 2am in the morning heading from Zurich to Linz, which meant that all of our gear got to the stage very late in the day. This was an awesome example of how composed the team was under pressure and I was super impressed with everyone working behind the scenes, from the drivers to tour management – they got it sorted. 

A few of the band and I cruised along beside the Danube river on Lime Scooters to have a look in the city and see the sights before the gig, then headed back to the venue to get ready to play. It was incredible that the team made it all work and in the end we were still able to play a great show.

Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, Ruhr Reggae Festival

The last show was pretty wet and rainy but the crowd was totally up for it. I was stoked to jam guitar and bv’s on some other Freddy’s songs they hadn’t been playing like “Flashback” and “The Raft”, and the crowd was one of the bigger audiences of the tour. After the show everyone had a few drinks and there were speeches and acknowledgements made.

Everyone said a few words, and this was a special moment on the tour, you could feel a lot of aroha in everyone’s sentiments. All and all, This tour was one I won’t ever forget, and some deep bonds and friendships were definitely made. Much love to the FFD whānau.