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Current page: Concert Diary 2008

Current page: Concert Diary 2008

Concert Diary 2008

Luz de Gas, Barcelona - 28th January

Chris Simpson writes - Most of you on seeing the magic word 'Barcelona' will be instantly put in mind of Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

When you get there, as I last did in 1978, it is the feel of the sea; the Pyrenees; snow-capped and flexing their winter muscles, and the sprawl of the city along the Mediterranean shore that operates an impressive range of contrasts. Look to the mountains and think of hyperthermia and ski hats. Look behind you into the sun and think ambro solaire and sand sticking on your tan.

Matt, Lin and I had left Hebden around 5.45 am. A bleak, black winter morning when musicians are normally coming in.

To Newcastle airport, the north easterly gale pushing the 4-track around on the A1. We were there in good time and found it a friendly and easygoing place, particularly for a Sunday morning. Leeds/Bradford by contrast, I find expensive and stressed. A fine flight with the sun shining brilliantly above the ramparts of cloud. We sleep when we can, in between safety announcements; duty free announcements (which it is not) and finally, 'we shall shortly be landing at Barcelona airport.'

No problem. All luggage arrives with us- not always a definate option, and Jaime, a smiling, pony tailed dude from Robert, the promoter, crushes most of us, guitars and gear into a car meant to contain less, and we spiral along the fine buildings and boulevards to the Balmoral Hotel.

Check in. Downstairs for a few San Miguel beers, then a blissful sleep until early evening.

Matt has heard from two people from the Dutch music business who have come on down just to check out Magna Carta.

Proving it was warmer than England

We walk what seems to be miles along the sreets between grand buildings; catch a paella ( pronounced piejar) and calamari fritti in a street side cafe. Chilled house wine and beers, then on into the downtown side of the city to find Georege and Saskia well on the return trip from a night of Spanish hospitality, albeit in an Irish bar.

At least George was mellow and they were good folk.

I love to watch it all going on around me in between bouts of doing it myself. Going outside to see what had happned to a pavement urchin's old grey dog, I walked smack into a posse of hookers, flaring smiles and bared breasts and entreaties to wander through their version of the Garden of Eden. I pointed out that I had never paid for it in my life and was not about to start now.

Back for a last guiness then we set off on the long walk to the hotel. Hungry again.I got a calamari takeaway,and hey ho the ladies descended again like a swarm of locusts. Lord, they even half inched some of my calamari...

Monday. A fine breakfast, then off around the city doing the tourist bit on an open top bus. Stunning architechture and smiling people and all the bustle of a town caught between Catalanese cultures and the centuries old Moorish tradition.

Back to the hotel. I gather Iain Mathews and two musicians have checked in. Robert Mills, the promoter is spot on at 4.00 pm and we are driven to the Theatre. He is a different kettle of fish to Barsa, the Spanish bandit with whom in the past I had run a hundred vendettas. A beautiful place. Dressing rooms set out in fine style.

Good to see Iain again, and Bart (guitar) and Mike (piano) were fine musicians and nice guys. Robert has a quiet authority and charm; his wife, Angela was a sweetheart.

Lost in translation

Showtime. The place is full. Iain does a long (and very good set) and then we are on. Sebastian does the on-stage sound, and David the out front sound.

Linda kicks in solo with 'Old Man.'

Then her and Matt.

Then me.

I get a welcome that shakes me and in we go down an hour and a half and it is a night to remember and an audience you cannot forget. A young girl came from Italy. She had a pile of vinyl albums under one arm and headed for me. I pointed back at Barnhoorn, the Lothario of the unit, but no, she wanted them all signing right then and there. Once again, it is the power of Lord of the Ages that has brought them all in.

The usual Spanish chaos at the end, but we all end up at 2.30 am in a kind of snack-bar with a Willie Nelson lookalike making faces at a mirror. They could make you anything from entrecote steak, grilled to your choice, to seafood and so on. A young dusky haired maiden sitting opposite to Matt flicks a spoonful of cream at him. He ducks and a guy at the bar gets it all down his jacket. He was not a happy teddy and took some sponging down.

Back to the hotel to sit with Bart and Mike on the veranda drinking beer until sunup, or as near as dammit.

Your head hits the pillow then bounces up again and you are off. Argument over who is paying for breakfasts - we won. One bag left behind. We double around the block and pick it up.

John, who genuinely has every record we have ever made, drops us at the airport...

We are soon above the clouds again. Was it not like that but two days before?

Some  of our audience
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