Our double weekend began with a flight to Barcelona. For everyone reading this who are in bands and want to tour, you will get there and you will do it, if you continue to pursue it. I will give this one word of warning. The things you can never plan for or forsee will be the very things that fuck up. But here’s the good news…you can do nothing about these things apart from deal with them as they arise. This single attribute could decide how well you will take to, and succeed, in touring life.
For these trips the timings were tight. Flights could not be missed and there was little to no movement in schedules. That’s ok though, that’s just touring. The flight to Barcelona got off to a bumpy start. Stuart, our sound engineer, didn’t like it at all. Personally, I hate smooth flights, frankly they bore me. The plane, though, flew on, shrugging off any turbulence that was thrown at it but I did mange to continue taunting Stu with comments like ‘They don’t make them like they used to!!’ It’s my idea of fun.
We were met at a pleasantly warm Barcelona airport by Alfonso and whisked off to our hotel. Literally just around the corner was the Sagrada Família. In the evening we all trotted up there, had a drink and met up with Alfonso’s friends who had helped to promote the shows. I am not a fan of the Sagrada Famíli. My main issue is that it has been built to look ancient. But it’s not ancient and you can feel it. It is impressive, don’t get me wrong, this is just a personal thing. Eventually, it will become ancient but won’t that mean it’ll just crumble to the ground? Most things wear and crumble as they become ancient so I wonder what will happen to this great building. The latter part of the evening saw Ben, Jim and I popping to a bar with Alfonso and some new friends. There is a picture of us at the bar, below. Notice how everyone, yes, even the hairy bastard on the left, is pretty hot.
The next day, like a bunch of avid tourists, some of us wandered down to the sea, had an ice cream and forgot, just for a moment, how shit the weather really was back in England. Ben and Jim found a little cafe that sold good cold beer for €1. They were very happy. Our show was at Salamandra 2, and a fine venue it was too. I was asked to check over the hire gear and it was first rate. Everything we’d asked for in superb condition. It made setup very quick and soon it was time for the show. Again, we did a good 2 hour show and the audience was fantastic. Keyboards were all run from my poor old G4 laptop but it stood up superbly as did the Blue Meanie which loved going through the Mesa Boogie Mk IV. Hmmm, you beauty.
The next day was an early start and the mega fast AVE train to Milan. Alfonso got off to a bad start as his night didn’t end after he left us at our hotel. He stayed with fiends, spoke to an ex-girlfriend and got into a fight. To cut a long story short, we managed to get our train which takes under 3 hours and reached speeds of 297km/h. Unfortunately, the windows didn’t open. It was cooler, temperature-wise, in Madrid and we attempted to check into our hotel right away. This, much to Alfonso’s dismay, was not going to happen though. He wasn’t pleased as it was not a cheap hotel at all!! We sodded off to get some food and on our return, after all our equipment going in and out of ground floor storage rooms in a monumental fuck up of mis-communication, we got into our rooms and slept for a while. Our venue in Madrid was Sala Cats, another fine venue indeed. We played over 2 hours and it is sooooo good to be playing long sets regularly. I never want to play less than 2 hours ever again. There was no time for anything but sleep as we had to be at the airport first thing in the morning and back home to England. It was a fine trip with fine people.
The following weekend we had our Bucharest show. Romania is a place where none of us had ever played. We were prepared for it to be very cold but the moment we got off the plane (after our 5am UK start) it was very very warm indeed. We were met by Cristian and some helpers. Jim, Ben and I went in the van with our equipment and the rest of the people went in the car. Our driver was Flo and he was a brilliant Romanian. On our drive to the hotel we spoke of Russian and Romanian architecture, the differences in the written word now that there was less Russian influence, the Euro and the European market. As it happens, we were all in complete agreement, we’re all pretty much fucked. Flo gave Ben his number and offered his social guidance that evening if it was so desired. It was a great introduction to Romania. Our hotel was fabulous, small, friendly and unbelievably welcoming.
In the evening a lot of people went to Pizza Hut but I wasn’t going to be in the centre of Bucharest and eat at Pizza Hut. No. I wandered though the mix of Russian and Romanian architecture which sat grandiose amongst the the modern vile glare of new buildings which were mainly commerce. I walked North along Calea Victoriei past the statue of Carol I, first king of Romania which stands outside of the fantastically Romanian Central University Library. There was a Bistro that was recommended to me in the Athenium area, which was, by no accident, where I now was. So I managed to eat Romanian food in Romania. Not a difficult task. I wandered until about 11pm then went back to the hotel. Pizza Hut my ass! It was this evening when I really missed Jon Callender, our former drummer, as he would have also paced the streets of Bucharest in search of Romanian delights. Ben and Jim went to Flo’s house and was treated to an evening of family Romanian hospitality and they had a great time and made many new friends.
The next day was our show day. We were to play at 11pm so it made no sense to make an early start. To accommodate this, I didn’t go to bed until 4am. We walked to the venue where our equipment was waiting for us. Again, all the hire equipment was first rate and I managed to get a couple of quick pics of my setup. The venue was small and packed solid and once again, we played a 2 hour show. The audience were tremendously noisy and I hope our first visit to Romania will be the first of many.
We had to leave the hotel very early to catch our flight back to England and because we’d miss breakfast, the hotel made us all sandwiches to take with us. Unbelievably thoughtful.
A cool couple of weekends. Thank you to everyone who came to the shows in Spain and Romania.
Blue Meanie and Boogie
Keys in Romania