Tour Diary – Spain: San Sebastien and Madrid (Nov 9, 10 and 11)

San Sebastien (Nov 9 and 10)

We were leaving Paris last night when the bus came to a very abrupt halt on the expressway and pulled, suddenly, to the shoulder. Before we could figure out what was happening we saw our back-up driver, outside, standing in traffic, futilely trying to stop oncoming vehicles. The tunnel that we were about to enter was too short for the bus so the only way out was in reverse, 50 yards back up the expressway on-ramp. It may have been midnight, but in Paris the traffic doesn’t stop, it was just car after car after car with the occasional truck blowing by. After spending about ten minutes watching our driver’s failing attempts to stop the flow of traffic, Farns couldn’t take it anymore and forced his way off the bus (yes, Sir John Farnsworth is back on the crew for this run, after the past several years spent in stasis at the Casino-Rama Nirvana). He quickly and forcefully organized the impatient Parisians, stopping and redirecting traffic with the confidence of a New York City cop. It was quite something to see. He actually diverted traffic on a very busy, very fast Parisian street. I think if they gave Farns a chance he could probably solve the Euro crisis…those Greeks wouldn’t stand a chance in the face of Farns’ determination, the Germans and French would become fast friends and move forward with a single purpose, the Italians and Spaniards would be humbled and would quickly get their houses in order…heck, he might even be able to get the English to come join the party. After that he could turn to the US and sort out that mess. What the world needs now is a little more Farns.

We were a little disappointed with San Sebastien. We broke the cardinal rule of touring, which is “No Expectations”. We had way too many expectations for this day off, in this town. We had visions of a small, quaint, seaside town, tucked away in Northern Spain between the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay. Well, it’s not that small, it’s not that quaint, and there is garbage tumbling in the surf. I get the feeling that one comes here on vacation to do a lot of drinking and to be seen by others. But it’s the off-season and it’s time for the locals to relax and perhaps let the town crumble for a couple of months. Aside from that, it’s a beautiful location, the weather is great and it’s hard to complain too much when you’re sitting on the patio of a seaside cafe sucking on a beer watching the local surfers take on the waves. No wonder the Spanish were so taken with California, this could be a Northern California coast. This sure is better than spending a day-off in a hotel on a highway somewhere in the middle of the US, but it ain’t no Bruge….man, we’re getting spoiled.

The audience tonight was close to spectacular. Their enthusiasm transformed this show. I think we were in danger of letting this one get away but the audience kept us focused and inspired. It’s very exciting when something like that happens. Chalk this one up as another very good show.

Madrid (Nov 11)
We got in to town at around noon and we all jumped off the bus and tried to take in as much of Madrid as possible in the few hours before soundcheck. Al and I went for a stroll along the magnificent Paseo Del Prado and ended up at the Prado Museum. I spent the day marvelling at the madness of Velazquez, Goya, Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, El Greco and the absolute bats-flying-out-your-ass maddest of them all, Mr H. “pish-posh” Bosch. I have only had a few sniffs at Madrid in the past twenty five years. We’ve never had a day off here and we have only passed through town (mainly on PR runs) a couple of times. But I’ve always liked what I’ve seen and now I’m more keen than ever for a return visit. I would love to have a few days to explore these streets. This city has a terrific energy.

This was a very tough day for Jared and John (especially for John). Because of the location of the theatre we couldn’t get the bus close to it, so it meant loading the gear from the bus on to a van and then driving the van to the theatre and loading it into the theatre and then repeating the whole ordeal at the end of the night. Two load-ins and two load-outs make for a very tough day for the crew. It’s hard to describe tonight’s venue…a modern facility built underneath a public square, the whole facility was underground. The theater itself was very bunker-like, low ceilings and large comfortable leather chairs for the audience. It was an odd night on stage…it’s hard for me to judge our performance because I had a tough time with my sound and never really settled in (too many images of dying Christ’s and weeping Mary’s in my head). It definitely didn’t have the energy or excitement of some of the best gigs on this tour, but it had its moments. The highlight of the night for me was Pete heading off on some tangent, in search of Max Roach, during Working On A Building. We definitely need to get back here soon.